First time reading? Find out more on the Wingborn Series page or start World’s End here.
~ Previous Chapter ~
Some unexpected visitors are better than others.
THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH!
Or the mountains at the end of the world, which is kind of the same thing, right?
*ahem* Anyway, I’m back and I’m bringing the Overworld with me for the last Wingborn adventure. Have fun, everyone ;)
So it begins, again, in a dark cave on the far-side of nowhere…
14th Sun Month, 788 Cloud Era
THERE WAS SO much blood. Yullik stepped over the shattered remains of the door, feet crunching over charcoal, claws raking through ash. He had no words. He was hollow inside as he stared around the wreckage of what had once been his home.
Black blood covered the walls. Bodies littered the floor. Smoke still hung in the air.
His kaz-naghkt had been slaughtered.
For two hundred years he’d lived in these mountains, hiding, grieving, plotting and planning, brooding on his fate and nursing his hatred. For two hundred years he had been safe. No one had known where he was. No one had dared to look for him. He had been feared and reviled, and he’d liked it. His kaz-naghkt had terrorised the Overworld, made enemies of the mighty Rift Riders and finally brought them low.
Yullik walked through the ruins of his mountain fortress, carved straight from the rock, buried beneath tonnes of ice, snow and stone. No one had known it was here. No one except for him. No human had ever found it. No human had even tried.
Bones cracked under his feet as he turned in a slow circle, taking in the death and destruction, the unmistakable signs of fire and magic.
For two hundred years he’d fought against the Overworld. For two hundred years he’d punished them for his existence. And he’d been wrong.
It wasn’t humans who deserved his hatred; it was dragons.
Clenching his fists until his claws dug into his palms and made them bleed, Yullik closed his eyes and breathed in deep, feeling the fire of his power rise within him, filling the hollow spaces, making him burn. The old rage ignited, but this time it was the dragons who would pay.
Claws clicked as his escort landed outside. He opened his eyes to a world washed in gold and stared at the unconscious Rider lying limp in his kaz-naghkt’s arms.
Yullik smiled and lifted the woman into his own. “Come, little Wingborn,” he crooned. “We have work to do.”
Thanks for coming back!
~ Next Chapter ~
At last, the moderate wait is over.
Rift Riders is Book 2 of the Wingborn series. This is a twice weekly serial updated every Friday and Sunday, and if you missed the first one, you can still read it for free. It’s a high fantasy world with giant, talking eagles, Regency-esque manners, a YA protagonist and lots and lots of clouds.
Book 2 starts about six months after the first one ends, with Mhysra and friends having just completed their first year at Aquila. But before we get to any of that trouble is brewing in the Wrathlen and a new world player is about to step onto the stage…
Appropriate snacks at the ready, people, we’re going in!
Kincarg, the Wrathlen
23rd Feather Month, 787 Cloud Era
THE WIND WAS bitter as it whistled across the top of the Wrathlen and crept into the crevices. Down below all was dark, while the sky above frowned with rain clouds. Everywhere was cold, but it was always cold here, even in the middle of summer.
Out of the grey sky, six kaz-naghkt approached, leathery wings beating in time, wiry arms taut with the strain of keeping a fur-lined cocoon aloft. They struggled to hold steady as winds buffeted them from all directions, roiling off the tumultuous Stormwash. But the pouch hanging beneath them remained smooth. Even when the right rear kaz-naghkt dropped its rope and collapsed on the landing crag, the other five took the extra strain and lowered it cautiously onto the rocks before allowing themselves to rest.
Panting, bone ridges flushed with exertion, the lead pair gently unwrapped the pouch, pulling leather strings and peeling back padded layers, each one marked with a series of breathing holes. Fleece blankets came next, followed by another leather cocoon. No matter how tight the knots, or how many growls of frustration the kaz-naghkt emitted, they never once lost patience or used their sharp wing spurs to rip or sever the cords. Even shaking with cold, they treated each layer as something unimaginably precious. At last, the pouch stirred on its own and the kaz-naghkt stepped back, taking up guard positions around it.
Which was just as well, because their arrival had drawn a crowd. Wary and suspicious, the inhabitants of the Wrathlen waited at a cautious distance, weapons ready, to see what the kaz-naghkt had brought. The crowd was entirely human, wrapped up against the chill, though the quality of their garments varied from the plushest furs to the cheapest wool. No one spoke, though many shivered. They stared at the kaz-naghkt and the kaz-naghkt stared back.
The pouch shifted, leather laces hissing as they were pulled from their holes, and the blankets loosened. A hand emerged, encased in fleece gloves, followed by an arm, then a head covered with thick waves of blue-black hair. The man looked up, pale barley eyes taking in his audience as he stretched and emerged from his cocoon, the only creature on the Wrathlen not shivering.
A sly smile curved the corner of his mouth as he stood between his kaz-naghkt guards.
“Take me to your leader,” he announced, eyes narrowing with amusement. “I believe she is expecting me.”
~ Next Chapter ~
Thanks for reading!