Authors: Bianca D'Arc
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Erotica, #Fiction, #General, #Dragons
That’s when Lana healed me and nearly died too.
The dragonet grew solemn once more.
But she learned better, you said.
Suddenly, Roland was concerned for the small figure he could just see huddled under the covers against the far wall.
Is she all right after helping me?
The silver head swiveled to look fondly over at his companion, his sinuous neck craning until he could breathe warm air over the small, sleeping form.
Lana is just tired. When she wakes up, she can help you
more. Until then, I’ll make sure Salomar can’t get to you.
You think they’ll come after me?
Without a doubt. Salomar wants a pet dragon. I’m too big but he’ll
probably think you might be easier to control because you’re smaller than
The big head turned and peered down at him curiously.
Is that as big
as you’re going to get? Lana says I haven’t finished growing yet. Have
Roland had to laugh, the snort of dragonish amusement sending a small puff of smoke to the ceiling.
I’m fully grown, Tor. For my family, I’m
large, but black dragons are usually smaller than other kinds. What we
lack in size, we make up for in other ways, I like to think.
The silver perched his huge head on his front paws, facing him.
Well, usually we’re known for our flying ability. Being smaller allows
us to maneuver better than some of the larger dragons.
But the arrows hit you!
Roland shook his head sadly.
That was my own stupidity, son. I didn’t
realize those bolts were diamond tipped. I assumed they’d bounce right off
So did I, the first time.
The younger dragon’s tone was commiserating.
In my land it’s illegal to hunt dragons.
Then I’d like to go there. I don’t like being shot at all the time. And it
would be safer for Lana. I’ve almost dropped her a few times.
She rides a lot?
All the time. She’s my best friend. We’re always together. She teaches
me and sometimes she says I even teach her. I love her and she loves me.
The black dragon shook his head softly in wonder.
Why? Don’t you have human friends? Lana says not all of them are
like Salomar and his soldiers.
Yes, I have many human friends and Lana is wise to tell you that
many humans are good people. It’s just, in my experience, it’s rare for a
woman to be able to speak with a dragon, much less live with one. In my
land, it’s usual for human males to be chosen as companions by fighting
dragons. They bond and live together, training and fighting as a pair.
That’s what Lana and I do. She and I hunt together and we fight
Salomar’s soldiers when they attack us.
If she were male, she would be a knight,
Roland mused to the silver dragon though he knew the youngster didn’t understand the full implications of his words.
Lana woke feeling a bit more refreshed than she expected. Using her healing gift always took something out of her, but this time it felt just a little different. She sat up, keeping one of the furs around her shoulders.
She wore only her thin, patched shirt and leggings. Tor kept the cave warm, but leaving a cozy pile of furs was hard for her when she first woke up. She always felt cold.
Lana relieved herself in the small pot she had fashioned from twigs and clay, then fired in Tor’s hot breath. Later she would pitch the contents into a small ditch she’d dug outside their lair. For now though, she washed up with the melted snow they kept on hand inside and went to check on her patient.
The black’s eyes were open and he tracked her every movement. The feel of his emerald gaze was warming in a way she couldn’t define. His cinnamon-clove scent grew stronger as she neared him, bathing her senses in an odd warmth that seemed to come from within.
Can you hear me?
Yes, lady. You have my thanks.
The intimate feel of his deep voice rumbling through her mind made her twitch. She’d never shared this kind of speech with anyone but Tor.
Lana moved cautiously closer to the black dragon, searching out the wounds she’d begun to heal the night before.
“I’m glad we were in time. How do you feel?”
Alive, which is more than I could have hoped for yesterday.
Lana approached him carefully. She didn’t know this startlingly black dragon. Tor woke and nudged her with his nose playfully.
Roland didn’t move ‘cause I told him you’d be mad if he started
She reached up to hug the silver dragon, scratching behind his eye ridges in the way he liked. “You’re a good boy, Tor.”
He’s not a pet.
The black dragon’s voice growled into her mind alone.
Lana answered him the same way.
No, he’s not a pet. He’s a baby. He
needs love and praise.
The black dragon backed down.
I stand corrected.
Just who the hell are you?
She faced him down with more courage than brains, considering he was much bigger than she and had the advantage of being able to breathe fire.
You should know I won’t let you
hurt him in any way.
You sound like his mother.
I’m the closest thing he has to one and just as protective, so be
The black dragon bowed his head stiffly.
Tor was telling me about
Salomar while you slept.
His words echoed through both her mind and the dragonet’s as he included the youngster in the conversation once more.
“His scouts discovered this lair two days ago. I expect they’ll be back soon in force, to try to capture or kill us again, so you need to heal up quick.”
The black dragon grimaced as she approached, reaching out her hand to the ragged wound in his side. “I’ll do my best to help you but I can’t drain myself so much again in case we need to fight our way out.”
“Can you lift your wing?”
He complied and she stood under the shaky limb, examining the damage.
“Tor, sweetheart, can you help him?”
A moment later, the big silver head was under the black’s wing, taking the weight off his sore and trembling muscles while the woman stepped closer. Reaching out her hands, she hummed softly, expending just a touch of her healing energy to repair the tear in his wing.
“You could probably fly on this now, but a day or two of natural healing and rest would be best.” She moved to check the most painful of his injuries, the one near his groin. Again, she placed her warm little hands on the wound and again he felt the warmth of her energies bathe the area in healing. It was amazing.
When the dragonet said the woman had healed him, he’d assumed Tor meant in the traditional ways with cauterization, stitching and herbs, but this was so much more. This woman was a dragon healer!
Usually only females of the royal line had such powers. Could she be one of the lost daughters of Princess Adora of Kent, the woman recently discovered near the eastern border of his land? It seemed too impossible, yet there was little other explanation for this small woman’s remarkable talent.
Her touch tickled, especially in such a sensitive area, but he was in too much pain to react to her intimate touches. She thought him an ordinary dragon. He wondered what she would think about handling him so intimately if she knew what he really was.
He watched her beautiful face, the slender feminine arches of her brows knit together in concern and concentration as she gave her all to the effort of healing him. She was so beautiful, she took his breath away.
Slender and fit, she was sleekly muscled like a gazelle and just as graceful and innocent.
Her green eyes stirred him in ways he didn’t fully understand as they flashed over his dragon form, assessing the damage to his tough hide. He saw intelligence spark in her gaze as she calculated how to treat him—
what to tackle first and how much of her energy to expend. It was a delicate balance, he knew, for a true healer to give so freely of themselves to their patients. She was a rare and brilliant woman to have figured out so much of her talent so completely on her own.
You have a gentle touch for a self-trained healer.
She stroked the crease where his leg met his body, just barely touching the deep, angry wound there. A pulse of her healing energy shot into him, easing his pain somewhat.
“I’ve had a lot of practice with Tor.”
The younger dragon nodded his big silver head.
I get hurt a lot.
As do all young dragons,
Roland agreed with a bit of amusement.
was constantly in stitches when I first learned to fly.
The old healer in my training Lair used to sew my wounds together
with a needle and thread. Sometimes that hurt more than the wound itself.
Tor seemed to think that over.
Lana sews sometimes, but on skins for
her clothes. Never on me!
You’re lucky she is a true healer, my boy. She doesn’t need to use
He watched as she moved back to the wound in his side. She was rationing her energy wisely this time, Roland could tell, but still she gave him all she could and it made a huge difference. Already he was in less pain and could move a bit more freely. His wing looked almost as good as new, though it was still quite sore. Still, he could fly on it if he 26
absolutely had to. That was important with the possibility of attack at any time.
What is a training lair?
Tor was proving to be a very curious boy.
Well, a Lair of any kind is a place where dragons and knights live
together and train. It’s usually carved into the side of a cliff so it’s only
reachable by flying. Inside, it’s divided up into private suites for the
dragons and their knights. Occasionally, mated pairs will live there, too, in
larger suites to accommodate their mates and children. I trained for a
while in a Lair near the royal palace when I first learned to fly.
Were you paired with a knight?
The black dragon shook his head.
I will never do so. Black
dragons are different from other dragons, Tor. We not only fight with the
dragons and knights, we lead them. I and my brothers each lead factions
of our kingdom’s armies of fighting dragons and their knights.
So there are lots of dragons where you come from?
Oh yes. Many hundreds. They are the protectors of the land and
partners with the humans who live there.
Is it very far away?
A few days flight over the mountains to the south.
The huge silver head swiveled to the woman.
Lana, can we go there? I
don’t think Salomar could find us there.
I can guarantee he won’t. It’s illegal to intentionally hurt a dragon in
my land. You would be welcome there, Tor. As would Lana. The ability to
heal dragons is a rare and wondrous gift.
Lana sat back, resting familiarly on Tor’s bent knee. “I’ve been wanting to leave the Northlands but I didn’t know where we could go.”
I can lead you away from here and to my land. You’ll both be safe
She turned to the silver dragon, hugging his long neck loosely. “Do you really want to go? It would be a long journey.”
I want to go, Lana. I can fly a long time. You know that.
She laughed and kissed his nose. “You fly longer and longer each day, Tor, and if you get any bigger we won’t fit in this cave!”
He is big for his age, isn’t he?
“I only saw Tor’s mother once before Salomar and his witch ran her off, but she was huge. I think he’s nearly her size now so I guess he’ll stop growing soon.”
You’re going to be a mighty dragon when you’re fully grown, Tor. I
know you would do well in my land.
“Then we’ll go with you when you’re ready to fly.” Lana’s voice was a little frightened, but firm. Roland rejoiced silently at how easy it was to convince them. Now all he had to do was heal enough to fly home. The sooner, the better.
Roland contemplated when to reveal his true nature to the petite beauty who kept fussing over his injuries when the attack came. Pain kept him awake while both the woman and the young dragon slept, and it was a good thing. For it was Roland’s sharp hearing that alerted him to the fur-clad soldiers making their way toward the mouth of the cave.
Lana, Tor, wake up. Don’t make a sound. We have company.
The beauty was already slipping from the furs, crouched with a rough blade in her hand that should have been much too big for her small body. But the sleek muscles in her arms said she knew how to swing a sword and Tor had told him how she scrounged their few belongings 28
from the soldiers they had felled. The dragonet had told him how Lana had taught herself how to defend them both as best she could.
They’re on the slope just in front of the cave opening. They’re trying to
set traps, I think.
Can you fly?
If I must, and I think we must. Get your pack and get on Tor’s back as
quietly as you can. I’ll move up to the opening and block the light. They
can’t see past my black hide, I’ll bet.
Good thinking. Tor’s silver scales reflect even the smallest amount of
light. That’s why they come at night.
Roland moved up to just behind the mouth of the cave, watching the enemy soldiers. They didn’t see him, he was sure. There were advantages to having a black hide.
How are we going to do this?
Roland liked that the woman deferred to his expertise without even realizing she did so. Over the past hours she’d come to trust him just a little. On some instinctual level she recognized him, as he did her.
Are you two ready?
Tor sounded eager and just a bit nervous.
Good. Tor, I want you to wait for my signal. I’m going to torch the
hillside where they’re setting traps for us. When it’s clear, I want you to
take to the sky as fast and as high as you can without dropping Lana.
Can you do that?
I can, Roland. I can do that.
Good. Now just give me a minute to get into position.
Roland timed his blast as best he could. He breathed in deep, preparing to flame the humans and their traps. He let loose with a mature roar of fire, incinerating everything within fifty yards of the cave www.samhainpublishing.com 29
entrance. There was plenty of room for the young dragon to escape while the flames roared high. His silver wings protected his rider from the heat and flame as he roared into the sky, the black dragon following close behind.
Roland kept himself between the big silver and the ground, hoping to mask the glinting sparkle of his wings as much as possible from the hunters below. It seemed to be working, but Roland was tiring far faster than he’d hoped. They cleared the first mountain and were nearing the second peak when Roland made a rough landing on a craggy spire of rock. There was a small ledge, just big enough for two dragons. Tor circled and finally landed when Roland did not rise again.
Are you all right?
Tor’s young voice sounded through Lana’s mind though she knew he addressed the black dragon, panting on the ground. She jumped off Tor’s back and went to Roland, her hands outstretched to stop the new flow of blood from the wound in his side.
I will be. I just need to rest.
Can’t stay here, though. It’s too cold up here for Lana.
Between the two of us, we will keep her warm enough for tonight. This
is the safest place for us right now. There’s no way Salomar’s men can
climb up here after us.