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~ Previous Chapter ~
Short update today, but it’s Yullik, so I thought you’d all be happy about that ;D
YULLIK STOOD AT the top of the eastern tower, watching as the pathetic remnants of the pirate fleet were smashed against the mountain walls. He’d warned them. Not very hard admittedly, but he had warned them about what they would be facing. After the disaster that was their attack on Aquila, Admiral Akavia had sailed back to the Wrathlen long ago, but a few last stubborn pirates had remained here, determined to hold the town. As if the town meant anything. As if those rocky little hovels were anything to boast about.
Well, now they were learning. Taking the cove was far easier than defending it. Not that the Riders had used ships, having learned their lesson in the Miryhl Shadow disaster. No skyships had exploded this time, but the wreckages of five stricken craft made just as pitiful a sight.
The Riders didn’t need pyreflies and hordes of attackers to achieve their result – they used a dragon. Some might call it cheating. Dragons weren’t in the rules of engagement, after all, but Yullik was in no position to throw stones. Besides, what was a little cheating if it meant you won in the end? It was a tactic he could admire. He’d used it many times himself.
Although, he thought, wincing as the enormous black monster roared thunder over the last flailing pirate ship, never in so uncouth and obvious a way. That was the trouble with the old Clan dragons – no subtlety.
Seeing the black dragon winding himself up for another powerful roar, Yullik sighed and flattened his palm against the window. The Thunderwing wasn’t aiming for the ships this time – he’d straightened up a little too much for that. Yullik had expected it, of course, because Clan dragons had little grasp of tactics. So Yullik put his hand against the glass and punched his power into the stones of the tower, bracing himself as the black dragon roared.
Yullik had heard thunder before. He’d felt the direct lash of lightning. He knew all about storms and a Storm Goddess’ displeasure. He had studied nature’s fury and marvelled at a power beyond his reach. But others could access it, and when they did, the world flinched.
Sound as a weapon. It struck the tower and shuddered through Aquila to the citadel’s foundations. Yullik absorbed the blow, teeth rattling in his head, bones aching. He clenched his jaw and held the stones together. His father had been a fire dragon, and fire was his greatest strength, but Yullik had always had an affinity for stone, for mountains, for foundations and strong places. He used that now, holding the tower together through strength of will. His body ached, but Aquila still stood.
The glass cracked beneath his palm and rain kissed his face. Yullik opened his eyes. Through a wash of gold, he saw the black dragon flap his enormous wings and drift back towards the Rider fleet.
The battle was over. All things considered, Yullik called it a draw. A loss for the pirates, perhaps, but only a semi-victory for the Riders. They may have won the town, but what good was that when the citadel still eluded them?
Smiling, Yullik lifted his hand to his mouth and pulled a glass shard out with his teeth. The sharp edges bit at his tongue, but he swallowed it down, his inner fires melting it back to the sand it had once been. A desert sand, far, far away. An ancestral home he had never, nor ever would see.
“For you, Father.”
A sharp knock on the door broke his thoughts and he whirled, glaring as two familiar figures stepped into the room. “What -?” he began to ask the pirate twins what they were still doing there, having hoped they might have been dispatched with the rest of their ilk, but only the first word escaped before his attention was drawn elsewhere.
Willym had returned, limping, wounded and tracking blood all through the halls like the ill-mannered wretch he was. More importantly, something else moved in the woods to the west of Aquila.
Returning to the window, Yullik stared up at the ridge, barely visible in the stormy gloom, and sighed. “What now?”
“Now,” Riame sidled up to him to purr in his ear, “the real fun begins.”
~ Next Chapter ~
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