Authors: Jade Lee
The Jade Lee Romantic Fantasies
USA Today Bestselling Author
Reviews & Accolades
"A fantasy of superior quality, bridging the gap between the romance and SF&F genres.... Expert blend of a star-crossed relationship, superb world building, and riveting suspense."
"...imaginative and action-packed... will delight the sword and sorcery enthusiasts among us."
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Kiril slipped through the lakeside foliage, his grip tightening on his dagger as he studied the boy and wordlessly cursed what he had to do. The blond youth—Huet was his name—was about seventeen years old with the kind of face girls lined up to kiss. A smile at the right moment and this boy could have whatever he wanted. Many times at court Kiril had wished for a face like this.
Kiril shifted. Huet hadn't moved in twenty beats time but sat staring resolutely at the fire. Was he listening to dragonspeak? Dreaming dragon thoughts? It didn't matter. Kiril couldn't wait any longer. He had hoped to do this the easy way, but he couldn't stand it any longer. He had to finish this now.
He dove forward. Gripping Huet about a surprisingly muscular chest, Kiril pressed the dagger against the boy's slender neck.
"Where is it?" he hissed.
Huet didn't answer. He didn't even breathe.
"Do you know who I am?" Kiril tightened his grip, pressing down on the blade. A thin line of red appeared on the boy's creamy skin. "I am Kiril, the king's dragon-hunter. I spare no one who congresses with dragons." The unfortunate truth. "But I am tired tonight. Give me the egg and you will live."
Still no response from the boy. For someone so young, this one had nerves of steel. Unless... Was it possible? Had Kiril been lied to? There was something very wrong—
Faster than humanly possible, Huet swung around. Kiril had been prepared, and yet he still couldn't match the boy's speed. The youth shoved Kiril's dagger aside, spun past his campfire and grabbed a large and obviously ancient sword. Kiril barely had time to draw his own sword before his foe was upon him. Extraordinary speed. Lightning-fast reflexes. And d'greth, power in his stroke. Huet had a killing strike with his blade.
Which meant a swordfight was the smallest of Kiril's problems.
"It's not an egg anymore, is it?" he asked, already knowing the answer. Dag Racho had sworn the demon spawn wouldn't hatch for another week at least. "Where is it, boy?" he demanded.
Huet wouldn't answer. He couldn't. He was dragonborn now. Huet—or Dag Huet now that he was joined mind to mind with his serpent beast—was losing his humanity by the second. His thoughts were completely consumed by dragon hunger, dragon power, dragon evil. There would be no sparing him now. Assuming Kiril won this fight.
He swung his blade, parrying for all he was worth. The boy was in the prime of his physical abilities; Kiril was old by warrior standards. Old enough to wish he'd never picked up a blade at any rate—dagger, sword or otherwise.
And bloody claw, this boy was strong!
Then it happened. He heard the sound. Dragons were agile and deadly; they were not silent. He heard the wings flap, felt the breeze on his back. Kiril wanted to turn and face the real threat, but Dag Huet attacked with renewed ferocity.
The boy's blade had the speed of the wind. Thankfully, Dag Huet and his dragon were both young, newly dragonborn. That made Huet's movements jerky, his swings badly timed. It gave Kiril time to find an opening, some way to—
Too late. Dragon claws bit hard into his back, cutting through his leather and wire loga as if it were butter. The beast tried to pick Kiril up, but fortunately was too small to manage a man's weight. Dag Huet had the opportunity to slice off Kiril's head, but the boy was too new to being dragonborn to function as both man and dragon. He could be a dragon or he could be a man. Right now, it was the dragon's turn.
Kiril twisted, sliced his dagger across the dragon claws that held him. The skin was young and very soft. He felt the spurt of black blood, and the wyrm's scream echoed through the small lakeside clearing. The claws straightened reflexively and Kiril was released—but not before he was thrown high into the air, across a jut of the lake. He bounced and rolled, his body slamming painfully into a tree.