Authors: Bianca D'Arc
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Erotica, #Fiction, #General, #Dragons
Tor moved away from the other dragons and bent one foreleg so she could climb aboard his back as they had done many times over the years they’d been together. Lana adjusted her furs, though she needed less and less covering to keep her warm the farther south they flew. She felt the curious eyes of the knights and their families—many of whom had gathered on the landing ledge, apparently to see them off—on her as she climbed easily aboard Tor’s broad back.
Roland’s distinctive voice sounded through her mind and she knew he addressed Tor as well.
Tor, eager and happy, answered back.
And what about you, my love?
Roland sent the words to her alone on their private pathway.
Are you ready?
The purr in his deep voice implied he was talking about more than flying.
Lana decided to be daring.
I think I’m always ready for you, Roland.
what I like to hear!
Roland leapt into the air with renewed vigor after blinking one big emerald eye in Lana’s direction. She giggled and held on tight as Tor launched into the air with joyful abandon. The dragons behind them roared and trumpeted in farewell, a few flying out as honor guard with them for the first leg of the journey.
It was a beautiful day for flying.
By sunset they had stopped a few times to allow Tor to rest, and Lana had eaten a bit of the food Candis had thoughtfully packed for her.
Roland took Tor to hunt sheep in the pastures set aside especially for dragons, watching over the dragonet as he learned. Roland instructed him on which sheep were eligible for eating and the various marking systems the shepherds and farmers used in order to keep their flocks and herds organized. The markings allowed the farmers to not only select which animals were set aside for the dragons, but also to receive payment for each animal from the king’s treasury.
The system allowed both dragons and farmers to flourish, and Lana was impressed by it all. Tor had learned the rudiments rather quickly from the older dragons at the Lair that morning, but he also seemed to enjoy Roland’s patient tutelage about the different markings on the flocks as they traveled southward. Lana realized by watching them that Roland was a kind and generous teacher. He would probably be a wonderful 108
father, she found herself thinking, realizing she could very well already be carrying his child.
She pondered the amazing idea as they retook to the sky on what Roland promised would be the last leg of their journey.
Would their child be human or dragon? Or both? Her eyes went wide at the possibilities. She had not fully considered the possible consequences when she’d welcomed him into her arms and body last night, but the idea was heating her insides as she thought about it now.
When they were married, they would have babies, she hoped. She wondered how many he would want, and most importantly, would they be part dragon, able to change like him? The very idea of it boggled her mind.
The faraway trumpeting of dragons drew her attention and she looked up in time to see two black specks in the distance growing steadily larger as they neared. They resolved into two black dragons, only slightly different in appearance from Roland. Their welcome was unmistakable as they circled around to flank Roland, grazing wings in welcome. The pair of them took up escort positions, one on either side of Roland and Tor, though both sets of peridot eyes were looking at Tor…and Lana.
The two new black dragons were like mirror images of each other and they shared traits with Roland as well. The only real difference was their lighter green eyes. They watched her and Tor carefully but made no move to communicate that she could discern, except perhaps with Roland. She would bet the three black dragons were talking at great length back and forth among themselves.
In a way, it was a repeat of what had happened when the Northern Lair’s sentries spotted them coming over the border. Except of course this time, their dragon escorts were riderless and the dragons were pure www.samhainpublishing.com 109
black. Knowing what she knew about Roland, she surmised these dragons might also be the kind that could shapeshift into men. Keeping that in mind, she watched them speculatively.
She was so busy looking at the two new black dragons, she almost missed her first glimpse of the royal palace as they came over the last of the mountains standing in their path. The castle was enormous, seemingly carved into the living rock of yet another mountain. Spires rose into the sky on all sides and little corkscrew roads were carved into the lower levels of the mountain, meandering down to grassy hillsides teeming with sheep, cattle, horses and crops, and a city spread out below.
It was absolutely breathtaking.
Do you think that’s where Roland lives?
Tor asked in an awed tone, his words for her alone.
It’s even bigger than the Lair and I never thought
I’d see anything better than that!
This is where the king lives, Tor. It’s the royal palace, a castle built into
the mountain so that dragons and people can live together there in comfort.
She repeated a bit of what Roland had told her the day before.
I think this
is probably the grandest Lair in all of Draconia.
I guess it would have to be if the king lives here, huh?
Yes, I guess so.
She stroked his neck fondly as his massive wings beat around her. How she loved flying with Tor. She would never grow tired of the magic of being higher than most birds, nearly touching the clouds. She only hoped the king would let her continue to be with Tor as he grew and learned from the dragons of this new land.
As they drew nearer to the amazing castle she saw the tall spires were actually quite a bit larger than she’d expected. Each was big enough to accommodate the take-off and landing of a dozen dragons at any one time. In fact, there were many dragons in the air around the castle and 110
she noted a few awaiting them on the wide ledge of the nearest spire as they moved in for a landing.
As the other dragons saw them, they began to trumpet greetings all around. Soon a large bell began to toll somewhere below and she was amazed by the extent of the welcome. Intellectually, she knew Roland was an important person to the people and dragons of this land, but the warm, joyous welcome still surprised her.
The two new black dragons held back to let Roland land first, then Tor. They set down behind Tor, almost as if they were the rear guard.
Lana couldn’t help but shoot looks behind her as she dismounted from Tor’s back, watching the twin blacks watch her. If they were trying to intimidate her, they were doing a good job.
Feeling scared for no reason soon annoyed her. Lana squared her shoulders as she removed her travel pack from Tor’s back and dropped it to the ground. Rubbing his shoulders almost absently, she turned to face the two new blacks. They were still watching her and she’d had enough of it. Facing them, Lana put her hands on her hips as Tor stood behind her.
Thank you for the escort,
she said belligerently into their minds, easily including Tor and Roland in her silent speech,
but you can stop eyeing us
as if we’re the enemy. Roland wouldn’t have brought us here if we weren’t
to be trusted.
Roland stepped forward,
moving his massive body between her and the other dragons,
I wouldn’t even be alive if it weren’t for them.
Then we owe you a debt we can never repay,
the one on the right said with a wicked, dragonish grin. The one on the left seemed amazed she would bespeak them directly.
You’re a girl!
That came a moment later from the one on the left as she took off her head covering. All of them laughed at his surprise, and if dragons could blush, she knew he was doing so.
The genius on the left,
Roland said wryly,
is my brother Darius. His
evil twin, on the right, is Connor. Please excuse their rude behavior. They
were just leaving.
But, Rol! We’ve never met an Ice Dragon before. Don’t chase us off just
Darius seemed to recover his equilibrium.
Roland limited his words to Lana and the twins.
He may be an Ice
Dragon, but he’s just a baby, only five winters old, and he’d never seen
another dragon before he met me a few days ago. Go easy on him, boys.
He has a gentle, trusting heart.
Lana was touched to hear him describe Tor with such feeling. The other two dragons seemed to realize his seriousness and looked at Tor with new, kinder eyes.
So he doesn’t know about us.
Connor watched the tired dragonet stretch, his icy scales glistening brilliantly in the final rays of the setting sun.
No. Not yet.
But Lana knows.
His long neck swiveled to her, his eyes looking down on her with emerald glints.
Connor prompted, his voice tinged with interest.
Princess Alania of Kent, if I’m not mistaken,
Roland confirmed, shocking her with the strange title,
Stunned silence met his announcement and Lana began to feel awkward, but she kept her spine straight and tried not to let her discomfort show.
Connor began, only to be cut off by Darius.
His joy was so real, Lana felt herself begin to relax.
Congratulations, Roland and to you, milady.
Connor’s tone was more serious.
Tor doesn’t know about that yet, either,
Lana said quickly as her baby’s great silver head loomed over her shoulder. She patted and stroked his cheeks, smiling as he butted into her affectionately.
He was clearly tired from their long flight that day, but wanting to meet the new dragons. Introductions were made quickly and then Roland led the party down a wide, sloping hall leading to an inner ledge. Lana remounted for a quick flight downward within the magnificent inside walls of the remarkable castle.
Roland had picked up Lana’s pack in one front paw and held it now as he led the group off the ledge, spiraling down in wide circles to a well-protected inner courtyard. Lana dismounted again and was immediately enchanted by the trickling waterfall on one side of the secluded court.
Roland strolled through a wide set of double doors opened by two attentive servants as he approached. Tor had to duck his head a little, but once inside the massive corridor, he walked comfortably among the smaller dragons. Decorative tapestries of every color hung here and there on the walls, and the floors were polished smooth and made of the native stone. Lana was impressed by the understated opulence of the huge corridor but the suite they entered a moment later truly took her breath away.
Like the Lair she had visited in the north, it boasted a large, oval sand pit that radiated warmth. Tor jumped in with gleeful delight as Roland told him this was his room for as long as he stayed in the castle.
He commenced to rolling around, polishing his scales the way the dragons at the Lair had taught him, to a blinding brilliance.
And I thought he was sparkly before!
Darius commented as they watched him indulgently. Within moments, he was as clean and brilliant as polished crystal.
Lana approached the edge of the sand pit, sitting down on the ledge near Tor’s large head. He was so tired, he was nearly asleep as he let her caress him behind the eye ridges, growling a little in pleasure.
“Go to sleep, baby. You’re safe here and we’ll be nearby.” She looked to Roland for confirmation.
Lana must bathe and eat, but my brothers will stay near if you need
anything, Tor. If you want Lana, just tell one of them and I’ll bring her right
back, all right?
All right, Roland.
Tor said sleepily around a smoky yawn.
“Goodnight sweetheart. Happy dreams.” Lana left off stroking as Tor fell fast asleep.
I expect one of you to be with him at all times. He’s very special to
Lana and to me, and he’s never lived anywhere but in captivity or a cold,
snowy cave before a few days ago.
Poor little one,
Connor said softly as he looked at the sleeping dragonet.
We’ll watch over him, Rol. Go take care of your lady.
Our soon-to-be sister,
Darius added with a grin.
Hot damn, Rol! You do
Roland swooped his dragon head down to lick her neck with his slender tongue and she squeaked, swatting at him playfully.
see what you want, there’s little reason to dither.
Spoken like the tyrant you are.
Connor grunted smokily as they laughed at their brother.