Authors: Bianca D'Arc
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Erotica, #Fiction, #General, #Dragons
“William!” he thundered, causing both sleepy dragons to blink blearily.
The little black scampered back from Roland’s obvious wrath. He hopped out of the wallow and changed to human form. Lana realized he was just a boy, maybe a teen at best.
“What do you think you’re doing here?”
“I wanted to meet your girlfriend and the Ice Dragon.”
Roland advanced on the boy, anger in every movement. “We’re about to go to war here, Wil. This is no place for you.”
“You’re here. And so are they.” He looked accusingly at both Lana and Tor before turning back to his brother, courage in every line of his young body. “I don’t see why I shouldn’t be here too.”
“It’s too dangerous. Believe me,” Roland ran an exasperated hand through his hair, “if not for the knowledge they have about the Northern army, they’d be safely back at the castle, where
supposed to be.
Blast it, Wil! I don’t want any of you here. It’s too dangerous.”
“Sire!” Jures ran into the room. “Salomar’s forces are advancing across the Arundelle.” Lana knew that was the name of the river marking the boundary between the two lands. The battle was beginning.
Roland’s eyes hardened. “I’ll be right there. Form up the ranks.” He turned to Lana and strode forward to take her into his arms. Delivering a quick, hard kiss, he let her go. “I want you to stay here, sweetheart.” He began moving into the short hall leading to the ledge and she followed.
“But—” Suddenly she needed to be at his side, fighting with him. She got the feeling if she wasn’t with him, she would never see him again.
The idea made her shiver with fear. “Let us go with you! Tor and I can help. We’ve fought them before.”
Roland stopped in his tracks to pull her against his hard body. “I can’t.” He crushed her to his chest and she felt the tremble of raw emotion in his powerful arms. “I can’t put you in danger, my love. Neither you, nor Tor.” He kissed her roughly, the need to possess seeming to overcome his more civilized human side for a moment. She didn’t mind at all as something wild inside her own soul answered his urgency. “I’m leaving William to watch over you.” He said it loudly, looking over her shoulder to the boy who trailed after them. “Promise me you’ll stay with www.samhainpublishing.com 147
him and keep each other safe.” He refocused on her, pitching his voice lower. “Please. If you go out with Tor, I’ll have no way of keeping William behind and he’s too young for what we’ll be facing. If I give him the mission of protecting you and Tor, he’ll stay. I need to know you’re safe—
all three of you.”
He was pleading with her and she could not refuse him. The emotion in his green eyes was so deep, so genuine, she knew she couldn’t make his burden even heavier by insisting. Slowly, she nodded, praying her sudden feelings of dread were all wrong.
“I’d rather be out there helping, but I’ll keep William safe for you.”
“That is help, my love. That boy would be in the thick of it without some honorable reason to keep him here. He’s too brash, too young, and I don’t want him hurt.”
She nodded against his chest. “I’ll keep him safe.”
“And yourself and Tor.” He raised her chin with one gentle hand. “I love you more than life, Lana. I couldn’t take it if you were hurt. It’s my weakness, not any of yours. Please understand that. I know you’re a capable woman. I know you fought and evaded Salomar’s soldiers for years before I ever knew you, but I can’t help the need I have to know that you’re safe. Thank you for humoring me.” His gentle smile warmed her heart.
“I love you too, Roland.”
He kissed her long and deep then, lighting a fire they didn’t have time to quench. When he pulled away, he held her gaze for long moments before finally stepping back to transform. A moment later, the man was gone in a swirl of black mist and the dragon stood in his place, breathing warm air over her. His long tongue licked out and wrapped around her neck briefly in a caress before brushing across her cheek.
Stay safe, my love, and keep William and Tor by your side. I don’t
trust either of those two young scamps to stay put unless they are within
“I’ll keep them close. And safe.”
Then I can ask no more. You put my mind at ease. Stay here and try
not to worry. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Never forget that I love you with
all my heart, Alania.
“I love you too, Roland.” A tear trickled down her face as she walked with him out to the landing ledge where dragons and knights were grouped in number, ready for flight. He took his place at the head of them and launched, leaving her behind with a trumpeting roar.
Almost immediately after the last of the fighting pairs were gone, she felt Tor’s large body nestle up against her side. He was a little scared, judging from the slight tremor in his forelegs, so she put her arms around him.
“It will be all right, Tor.”
They stood there for a moment before she became aware of the smaller black dragon watching them. She moved back from Tor and regarded her other charge. William. Somewhere along the line he’d changed to dragon form and followed Tor.
I’m to stay and guard you two.
Wil didn’t sound all that happy about his assignment, but willing to carry out his duty nonetheless.
Lana smiled and walked up to him. “Thank you, Prince William. Tor and I are glad of your protection.” Her thoughts turned grave, though she tried to keep a brave face for the youngsters. “Though like you, we’d rather be out there helping.”
The black’s head tilted to the side.
If we go up top we can probably
watch most of the battle.
Tor piped in, moving closer.
“Is it safe?”
William snorted smokily.
We’re miles away. It’s safe. There’s a
lookout position up there. Our sentries use it all the time.
A few minutes later, Lana found herself with Tor and a now-human William near the lookout post at the top of the peak into which the Lair was built. One young man had been left behind to act as sentry, but he didn’t object to their company and even loaned Lana an extra viewing lens they used to see far distances. After he showed her how to use it, she could see a great deal of the action as the battle was launched. She couldn’t see the knights’ faces, but she recognized individual dragons and Roland was easily identifiable, leading them.
She watched as he employed the tactics Tor had shown them against Salomar’s weapons and seemingly endless army. There were so many soldiers! Where had they all come from? She hadn’t suspected Salomar commanded so many men.
Lana recognized the big, rolling machines they used to fire diamond-bladed bolts into the sky and cheered when each of their shots missed their marks. The dragons were using what Tor had learned and passed on to avoid the potentially deadly bolts. A few dragons were caught by some of the other traps, but none were hurt too badly. Lana felt her palms itch with power, needing to heal them, but knew she would get her chance to help when they came back to the Lair. For now, she could only watch from afar as the battle progressed.
She followed Roland most of all, watching his skill in the sky with joy.
He performed acrobatic feats many of the other dragons could not due to their greater size and bulk. He also didn’t have to worry about a rider on his back and achieved angles much steeper than the other dragons who had their knights to consider. He was graceful and fierce, flaming 150
brighter and flying faster than any of the dragons, though she thought privately Tor might give him a run for his money when he was fully grown.
She loved them both so much. She kept one hand on Tor’s sinuous neck, the other on the lens through which she watched the action. Tor and Wil saw well enough with their sharp dragon eyes, but she needed the lens, limited by her human body. Even so, she was the first to see disaster when it struck.
“Roland!” She screamed as she saw the black dragon fall, tears whipping down her face as something inside her stirred to life.
Something wild. Something untamed. “Roland!”
She fell to her knees on the ground as the ache in her heart turned to molten fire, spreading outward to her limbs. She hurt all over and realized something was terribly wrong. Not just with Roland, but with her own body. She looked up to see Tor winging away at full speed toward the battle and she knew her baby was heading out to try to save Roland.
Without her. He was going into danger without her!
Anger stirred. Anger, determination and a soul-blinding fury of flame that came from deep within. She caught movement at her side and watched the black mist envelop William as he changed.
But no, the black mist wasn’t around William, it was around her own body.
“What’s happening to me?”
“Stars above!” William whispered in awe as he backed away from her.
“You’re changing, Lana. Don’t fight it! Let the change take you. Fighting will only make it hurt more this first time.”
His words followed her into the mist as all light faded from view, only to come back in startling clarity a moment later as she came back to herself. Her eyesight was a thousand times sharper. At first she thought www.samhainpublishing.com 151
she must still be looking through the borrowed lens but as she blinked, she realized two things—first, that she was looking through her own eyes, not the lens, and second, her eyes were huge!
She was no longer human. Lana tried to move her head to look down at herself, but everything felt foreign and strange. She was high above where her body should be, looking down on a…a…black dragon. A female black dragon.
Sweet Mother! I’m a dragon.
Wil barked in startled laughter as his eyes widened.
changed before, have you?
I didn’t know I could. Before I met Roland, I didn’t know anyone could.
Oh, no, Roland!
She turned her ponderous head and realized she could easily see the action so far away now without the lens. Her dragon eyes were much more acute. Her heart reached out to her fallen lover and she knew he was unconscious…or worse. Roland wasn’t moving at all. He was definitely down and within range of Salomar’s men, vulnerable on the ground. Tor was nearing him at a fast pace but he would need help and all the other knights and dragons seemed to be engaged. She saw a haze over the battlefield. It was an unnatural, ghostly blue glow springing up like a barrier between the dragons and knights and where Roland lay on the ground. She saw how it prevented anyone from getting close enough to help him. It was evil magic, she knew it in her bones.
She unfurled her wings in agitation and flapped, surprising herself when she lifted off the ground.
Stars! Can I fly?
I don’t see why not.
Wil’s calm voice steadied her. She could do this. She’d helped Tor learn to fly, after all. She knew how he did it in theory, and Roland 152
needed help. As did Tor. He was big and brave, but he couldn’t stand alone against that many armed men and still manage to help Roland.
They needed her.
I’m going to help them.
She flapped a few more times and took a running leap off the high ledge, surprised when she started to soar rather than plummet. She flapped her wings and started to get used to the rhythm of flying, the way she’d seen Tor do so often. She felt a presence at her side and looked over to see the smaller black dragon alongside, watching her.
You’re not going without me. I promised Roland I’d look after you.
I promised him the same thing about you. If you get hurt, he’ll never
I could say the same, sister.
Wil chuckled softly, streaming smoke out behind him as they ate up the distance between the Lair and the battlefield.
I don’t know what he’s going to say when he sees you. To my
knowledge, there hasn’t been a female black dragon in centuries.
She fumbled in the air a bit as she got used to the beat of her wings.
She was small and fast, maybe even faster than Tor, she realized as she caught up to him quicker than she thought she would. He was running below the weapons fire, evading the bolts and shards sent at him from the ground and just skimming the tops of the swordsmen’s reach as he made his way to Roland.
Lana knew she’d have to follow that same deadly path if she was going to help. William too, but at least the young prince had more flying and fighting training than she did.
Damn, he’s good,
Wil commented as he watched Tor’s dangerous path.
They’re going to be watching for us to do the same. Can you flame?
The thought shocked her.
I don’t know.
Now would be a good time to find out. Take a deep breath and then let
it out through your mouth. The flame should engage at the back of your
throat. It’ll feel warm and a little ticklish. Aim with your neck. Point your
head where you want it to go and narrow your mouth to narrow the
stream. It’ll shoot farther that way.