Authors: Bianca D'Arc
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Erotica, #Fiction, #General, #Dragons
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
2932 Ross Clark Circle, #384
Dothan, AL 36301
The Ice Dragon: Dragon Knights Book 3
Copyright © 2006 by Bianca D’Arc
Cover by Scott Carpenter
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
First Samhain Publishing, Ltd. electronic publication: August 2006
The Ice Dragon
Dragon Knights Book 3
To Jeanette, Pam, Julie, Leah, Patricia, Brenda, Cherie, and Liz.
Thanks for all your support and encouragement. And to my buddies Stella, Serena, Megan, Jess, and all those who have encouraged me and helped me realize this dream, especially my family.
Here there be Dragons!
Salomar threw the useless girl in with the egg. He had no care for the girl, but the egg, now that could be profitable if he treated it right. Tall as a full-grown man and then some, the egg was near maturity, or so he’d been told. He and his men had run off the wild dragon guarding the egg.
It hadn’t been easy, but with the help of his pet witch, it had been done.
The great wild Ice Dragon took to the skies, blinded and without memory of the egg she left behind, thanks to the enchantments of the North Witch, Loralie.
Salomar fancied himself king of the Northlands. He had an army, a pet witch, and many slaves to do his bidding. That the Northlands were little more than frozen crags of rock in between mountainous glaciers didn’t bother him. He was king of it all. Or so he thought.
The slave girl was older than she appeared. Half-starved from years of deprivation, still she managed to cling to life and the illusion of youth she cultivated. It protected her somewhat from the brigands Salomar called his
. The word was wasted on the ruffians muffled in furs and stinking to the heavens. The men rarely washed and most were as foul-mouthed as they were foul-smelling. A few tried to corner her, even as skinny and unassuming as she was, but some quick thinking and agility had helped her evade them. So far.
Lana remembered a time before, when she lived with her mother and sisters. There were two, she remembered, a girl her own age who was her mirror image and a little baby, just beginning to walk. They had called www.samhainpublishing.com 5
the toddler Lora and her twin was named Riki. She thought of them once in a while and wondered what had become of them. The last thing she remembered was being caught in rough hands and knocked senseless.
When Lana woke days later, she was already in the Northlands. Her clothing was inadequate for the freezing temperatures and snow, and her memories were clouded by drugs. At least at first. She realized now, with years of hindsight, she’d been drugged into unconsciousness while being transported to the frozen north. Where her true homeland really lay, she did not know.
Sold into slavery, she was beaten for the first time soon after waking.
Crying didn’t help, and after the first few beatings, she gave in and went meekly about her tasks. She was a slave in Salomar’s house, assigned first to tending the fires, then later she was given tasks that demanded more skill and strength as she grew older. She helped with the washing, sewing, cooking, and whatever needed doing.
Apparently the latest thing that needed doing was caring for a dragon egg. She’d been frightened out of her wits when Salomar threw her into the dragon’s nest and locked the metal bars newly installed across the entrance to the lair. Salomar taunted that she’d be the dragonet’s first meal. Fearing he was right, Lana had no choice but to make her home with the dragon egg for as long as Salomar wished it.
She tended three massive fires placed strategically around the egg, designed to keep it warm. The fires burned night and day, and for the first time since she’d been transported northward, she was completely warm. A few times when she was alone, she found herself wanting to touch the silvery, almost luminescent eggshell, but was too scared to actually do it. Still, she was tempted. One night when the guard who sat outside the barred entrance was snoring loudly, she steeled herself, went behind the egg, out of the guards’ sight, and touched the iridescent shell.
A sudden, plaintive cry echoed loudly through her mind, and her hand darted back. Cautiously, she brought her fingers back to the smooth surface. Again a fear-filled cry echoed through her mind, like nothing she’d ever heard before.
Sweet Mother of All, it was the baby dragon…crying inside the egg.
It sounded so scared—almost as scared as she was—and Lana felt pity for the poor little creature.
Baby dragon, don’t be afraid,
she thought instinctively placing her palm on the slightly shimmering surface of the egg. The soft mewling stopped, replaced by a feeling of cautious curiosity that somehow communicated through the shell into her mind.
Sweet Mother, the baby dragon in the shell was talking to her!
Marshaling her spinning thoughts, Lana tried to send a reply to the dragonet, though she’d never communicated in such a way before.
I don’t know.
Somehow the dragonet picked up on her thoughts. She felt its hopes deflate as it received her message. It was the most amazing thing.
Why warm then?
The dragonet seemed puzzled, projecting its impressions of warmth on the three sides of its fragile home where she tended the huge fires.
I’ve been keeping fires lit so you would be warm,
You new mommy?
She chuckled then.
No, I’m human, not a dragon like you.
But you feel like me. Inside.
She had no idea what the dragonet meant, so she just shrugged.
keep the fires going until you come out of your shell, then you can see
what I look like. I’m very small compared to you, even now.
You stay with me?
She felt the insecurity of the little dragon who had already been abandoned once by his mother. Lana stroked the shell with some affection though she still feared the emergence of the dragonet. In all likelihood, it would eat her as soon as it was born. But that’s what Salomar wanted. That’s why he’d put her in here and she wouldn’t be let out until the dragonet was born and either ate her or not.
Talk to me?
I’ll talk to you when I can. When the others are looking it will be hard.
We are watched almost constantly, but I’ll be nearby if I can’t touch your
Where you are now. One day soon, I think, you’ll be strong enough to
break out of there.
Then we play together?
Yes, then we can play together.
If the dragonet didn’t eat her first. Still, the little thing seemed eager to play and very friendly. Maybe it wouldn’t eat her, and wouldn’t that be a surprise to Salomar?
When the first crack appeared in the egg, the guards summoned Salomar. He came with his vicious dogs to watch the emergence of the dragon. Lana tried to stay out of his line of sight as much as possible, her mind silently encouraging the little dragon who struggled with the heavy weight of the thick shell. Over the last week, the dragon had grown much stronger. She didn’t even need to be in contact with the shell in order for them to communicate now. The dragon reached out to her with 8
its young mind wherever she was and could pick up on her thoughts anywhere in the large nesting chamber.
Lana was grateful to have experienced the dragonet’s friendship even for this short a time. It almost felt like having her sister back at her side.
The ache of losing her twin had been constant since first awakening in the frozen north. Her sister had shared her mind on rare occasions and now this dragon was there full time. It was comforting, in its way.
The eggshell was much thicker than she thought it would be. Half a foot thick, it took all the dragonet’s great strength to break through it, bit by bit. She wondered what he would look like. She knew he was male from his thoughts, but she didn’t know what color he might be. She remembered hearing tales of many colored dragons from her mother when she was little, though she’d never seen one.
Now, it seemed, was her chance. Slowly, a fragile wing emerged from one side of the shell. It was so reflective in the light of the fires. At first, the shiny scales seemed to glow with every color of the rainbow, reflecting and refracting the light of the fires, but then she realized the true color of the dragonet. He was silver! Like smooth, clear, reflective ice, almost.
Oh! You’re going to be so handsome!
You think so? What color?
They had talked about different colors, though the dragonet really had no concept of what color was yet. Still, he seemed curious.
beautiful icy silver color, I think. Like a mirror. Very reflective and shiny.
Wait ‘til you see yourself.
The baby dragon puffed.
Must rest now.
She realized the effort it took the little dragon to get out of the armor-like shell.
Can I do anything to help you?
No. Must do myself.
Again, she felt him mentally steeling himself for another effort. With a little mewling growl, the head of the dragonet popped through the upper portion of the huge egg. Slowly, the great diamond-like eyes blinked open, looking around the cave, then settling on her.
I’ve told you. I’m not your mommy. My name is Alania. I’m human.
You’re a dragon.
My name Tor.
What mommy called me.
A tear came to her eye at the thought of this little orphaned dragon.
He shouldn’t be alone, but then, neither should she. Warriors had ruined both of their lives.
My mother called me Lana. It’s a shorter version of my
His sparkling eyes blinked down at her.
I told you!
She smiled up at him, careful to keep her back to the bars where Salomar still watched.
I’m human. I don’t have wings.
She spread her arms out to the sides and the dragon did the same, bursting through the shell on either side in a great shower of pearly silver. The rest of the shell fell away as baby Tor stood on shaky legs for the first time. He flapped his sticky wings, fanning the flames still roaring all around him.
The fire did nothing to tough dragon skin. Fire was his friend. In fact, the baby dragon seemed to know instinctively to polish his wings and the rest of his sticky skin in the flames.
he said, bathing in the flames. The sight had her staring in awe. She’d had no idea dragons were so impervious to fire. Oh, she 10
had heard as a child that they breathed flame, but she’d never thought much about it, having never met a dragon before.
When he was clean and shiny, he turned back to her, his huge head looming over her small body as he moved closer and closer. She heard the jeering yells from behind the bars. Salomar and his men were taking bets on how the dragonet would eat her. Would he play with his food or devour her quickly? The thought sickened her.
The dragonet’s head cocked in an attitude of puzzlement.
She would be brave. If this was her last moment of life, she would face it with courage.
Are you hungry?
The dragonet’s stomach growled. His head swiveled as the noise from Salomar and his men grew. The hounds barked loudly now as their jaws snapped at the bars.
You must eat to live,
she said sadly.
I don’t mind.
She steeled herself.
Turning from her, the dragonet moved toward the bars and the snarling dogs Salomar held on long chains. The bars were meant to keep the dragonet in but were wide enough in places for the dogs to scurry through. When Salomar leapt back in fear of the approaching dragon, he loosed the chains and the dogs dashed forward.
Tor snapped at them happily, their sharp teeth and fierce growls meaning nothing to him. Within moments, all but one was eaten, the crunch of their bones deafening in the silence of the cave. The remaining dog fled the dragon and began menacing Lana. She backed away, her stomach clenching in icy-cold fear as the dog snarled at her and drew www.samhainpublishing.com 11
closer. Salomar had often used his dogs to savage other slaves and she knew they were used to the taste of human flesh.
Lana focused on the dog, unaware of the great silver dragonet coming up behind the beast until it was plucked from the ground in a taloned paw, run through and eaten like the others. She sighed in relief as Tor grumbled happily. When he’d finished with the dogs, Tor curled up into a sinuous ball almost at her feet and started to snore. He was sated and sleepy and, apparently, would not eat her that day.
Salomar seemed shocked at the dragon’s behavior and not a little upset about losing his favorite attack dogs, but his eyes shone with avarice as he gazed at the dragon. Evidently a few dogs were less important to him than having a pet dragon at his disposal. He sent Lana a sinister smile.
“Seems he likes you. Good then. You can be his caretaker for now. If he comes to any harm, it’ll be your head on a platter.”
Lana trembled as the warlord stalked away, taking his minions with him. Only one guard was left to watch over them both so they wouldn’t try to escape.
A reprieve, she thought. She would make good use of it. Already a plan formed in her mind. First, Tor would need to grow strong. Once he could fly and breathe fire, nothing would stand in his way. She would find a way for him to escape and maybe, just maybe, he would take her along. For the first time in over a decade, things were looking up.