Catch up with everything on the Wingborn page.
You can also visit the frequently updated Character List to help keep track of everyone.
~ Previous Chapter ~
Picking up directly where we left off, and uh oh, someone’s in trouble…
MHYSRA SAGGED AGAINST Lyrai, the fight and fear burned out of her, but he could feel her tears as they trickled down his neck. He closed his eyes and held on. Gods, what was he going to do with her? She felt so right, so familiar in his arms, but there was no denying something uncanny had happened to her today. The way she’d fought… She was magnificent. He couldn’t help but feel proud of her, yet it terrified him too.
She was dangerous. She could have killed Corin. She’d done her best to kill Jaymes – only the timely arrival of Dhori had saved him. If Dhori hadn’t run back when he did, Corin would never have been able to find them in time. Gods. That was not a pleasant thought. They’d lost so many friends already, but he knew this would have been the one that broke them all.
So what had caused it? Had she really seen kaz-naghkt, or was it all in her head? Was she going mad? He ran his fingers through her feathery curls and shut his eyes again, praying fervently to Maegla that she wasn’t. He couldn’t bear it if she did.
“Well, that’s one way to break an illusion,” a dry voice said behind Lyrai. “Not what I would have recommended, but effective nonetheless. Perhaps I should write it up for the Archives?”
Mhysra stiffened in his arms, but Lyrai didn’t let go, merely tipped his head to one side so he could see the two dragons standing behind him in their human forms. Unconsciously, his hands balled into fists, one in Mhysra’s hair, the other in the shirt over her back. She gasped, and he forced himself to relax. Not that it mattered, when Dhori was there to beat him to the punch. Almost literally.
“Where were you?” Dhori demanded, with such venom that even Mhysra raised her head. “You knew what our plans were for today and you still left her alone and undefended. How could you?”
“Calm yourself, Auriaen,” Goryal soothed in their chiming voice. “You reveal yourself.”
“Damn myself!” Dhori roared. “And damn you both! They could have died! You were supposed to guard her. Where were you?”
For the first time the two dragons, with untold numbers of centuries between them, looked uncomfortable. Reglian even shuffled his feet. “Exploring,” he murmured.
For a moment it looked like Dhori would explode. His eyes glowed so brightly, his jaw bulging with enough tension to crack his teeth. Then, with a sudden exhale not unlike the roar of an approaching hurricane, he deflated. “Then I hope it was worth it,” he growled, and thunder rolled in the distance. “Because I cannot trust you now.”
The two dragons looked as if they’d been slapped. And not just by the downpour that burst unexpectedly over their heads.
“Since no harm was done, Auriaen, surely -” Goryal began.
Dhori rounded on them, his glare fierce enough to silence the elder. “Harm was done,” he snarled. “Great harm. Blood is not the only sign of injury.”
With a last raking glare of contempt, he turned his back on the dragons and stalked away. As he passed Rhiddyl, the young dragon hunched as small as she possibly could, practically white with distress. Dhori patted her reassuringly on the foot before vanishing into the rocky cliffs beyond the flying field, heedless of the rain.
No one followed him. No one dared.
Slowly, they each turned to look at the dragons. Corin helped Jaymes to sit up, crouched together on the grass with their dragonets, while Lyrai still held Mhysra in his arms. The older dragons sighed.
“Yullik again,” Goryal muttered, glancing at Mhysra then turning to Reglian.
“Yes. He is becoming quite a nuisance.” The Archivist flexed his extra long fingers and nodded at Mhysra. “You are not mad,” he assured her. “He planted a temporary illusion, that is all. It then fed off your deepest fears until the good lieutenant broke it. An unorthodox but efficacious method. I applaud you both.” He smiled.
No one smiled back.
Goryal shifted uncomfortably. “There is no madness here. You are quite well.”
Except Lyrai didn’t agree. Surely they all had to be mad to continue this farce of a journey. Dhori was right. The price of this day had been very high. He no longer trusted either of them.
The fact that Mhysra was trembling in his arms told him that she hadn’t emerged from this unscathed either. “Come on,” he murmured, turning her away from the dragons and the rain. “Let’s go see Cumulo.”
Corin and Jaymes followed, each giving Mhysra extra strong hugs along the way. Whatever damage had been done this day, it wasn’t to their friendship. As they entered the eyries, each patting Rhiddyl soothingly along the way, they left the older dragons standing alone. To think about what they had done. If they dared.
Overhead, the thunder carried the voice of their anger, while the rain shed all their tears.
* * *
FAR ACROSS THE Overworld, in his tower above Aquila, Yullik smiled. It was all working rather nicely, he thought. Yes, very nicely indeed.
As he opened his eyes to the winter-shrouded north a tingle ran down his arm. He clenched his fist and fought it back. Not yet. Not here, not now. Perhaps not ever.
The power flexed through him and Yullik rolled his shoulders, feeling his skin tingling with a half-forgotten promise. One made in the far distant past, when the sun was shining and he was still young.
Strong hands held him, tossing him high with effortless ease and a beloved voice laughed: “One day, when you are grown, you will have wings of your own to carry you high.”
The tingle turned into a burn, a full body cramp and he folded to his knees with a stifled grunt. He fought it off, forced it back. Now was not the time to give in to a promise long expected, long denied. There were other, more important things on his mind for now.
But as he lay there the snow clouds gathered once more above Aquila, and this time he had no thoughts to spare to hold them back. Fiery cramps racked his body, and Yullik made the mountain ring with his roar.
~ Next Chapter ~
Thanks for reading.