Elemental Heir : Book 1 Of The Elemental Heir Series

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Chapter 16



Dristan slid his calloused hand from my mouth and reached for the hilt of his sword. He moved away from me, leaving me feeling cold and vulnerable, and leaned over the side of the branch. He gazed down toward the forest floor with cold, hard determination written across his face.

“What are you doing!? Fly us out of here!” I whispered urgently through the shadows.

The increasing pain on the right side of my body, along with the chilly night air and growing fear creeping across my skin, was a sickening combination. I shivered uncontrollably and had to clench my jaw to keep the noise of my chattering teeth under control.

“I can’t. They know your scent, now. They’ll follow us... and I cannot risk anyone finding the Aviary.” He answered with hushed frustration.

“What are you going to do then? Take on four of those... things? They’ll kill you!” I argued, panicked.

Dristan had been able to take out the human soldiers easily. But this was different. These were supernatural beings, and they couldn’t be killed by fire. And I seriously doubted that Dristan would just so happen to have a large amount of liquid silver on his person.

“You’ve left me no choice!” He snapped. Even though he was whispering, his words dripped with poison, causing me to flinch away.

He stepped toward me, backing me fully against the tree again. His hands flattened against the bark on either side of my head. His eyes flashed with animosity and his face was only inches from my own.

“You are the most stubborn gods damned woman I’ve ever met! Why couldn’t you just listen to me? Why?! Do you have some sort of unspoken death wish?! What the fuck were you thinking?!”

I gaped at him, feeling myself shrinking away out of fear due to the inhuman look in his eyes. His slitted pupils stared into me, his nostrils flared in fury. The large, twisted horns atop his head only intensified his intimidating display and I whimpered slightly.

“I-I had to... try...” I whispered shakily.

He noticed my sudden, magnified fear of him and he frowned. He pulled away slightly, studying my face. His reptilian, sapphire eyes seemed to thaw a bit and he sighed heavily through his nose. He was silent for a beat, his eyes alternating intensely between my own pair. I stared back, my brows pulling inward and up toward my hairline.

“I was afraid.” He whispered brokenly.

My lips parted as I watched his face crumple in anguish. He dropped his head, staring down at our feet with furrowed brows. “I looked for you all day... I knew you were close, but I couldn’t pinpoint where. And then I heard you scream...”

He lifted his gaze back to mine. “I haven’t felt fear like that in a very long time. Not since my father...” His voice trailed off as he stared at me. I couldn’t remember how to breathe properly.

“It felt like it took an eternity to get to you. I didn’t know where, exactly, you were... I was miles away, but the closer I got, the stronger your scent became. I could smell your fear.... I knew you were in danger. I didn’t know if I’d make it in time... I didn’t even know if you were... if you were....” He couldn’t finish his sentence. But I knew he wanted to say alive.

“I’m sorry...” I whispered, meaning each word. The tortured look on his face tore at my heart and I longed to reach for his face. I wanted to wrap myself around him, inhale his pine and ember scent, and comfort him. But I didn’t move. I couldn’t.

A voice from below sounded against the stillness of the night again, this time much closer to the tree we were perched atop.

“We just want to talk, love! There’s no point in hiding, we’re going to find you!”

I inhaled a sharp breath at the sound of Kale’s voice and then winced as pain shot through my ribs. Dristan’s sorrowful expression was instantly replaced by ferocity once more as he held my stare.

“Did they harm you?” He whispered with lethal calm. I swallowed the lump in my throat as tears sprang to my eyes.

“I... I fell out of a tree...” I whispered. Flashes of the vulgar man’s hands on my body replayed in my mind and I felt my stomach turn. I squeezed my eyes shut in an attempt to fight the images and the nausea that accompanied them.

“None of them touched you then?” He asked with the same deadly stillness.

A hot tear slid down my cheek as I opened my eyes again. My lower lip trembled. “One of them... He...” I shook my head slowly, unsure of how to finish. I could feel the lingering horror shining through my teary eyes.

His eyes grew into a fierce, ocean blue storm. “What. Did. He. Do.” He said through clenched teeth. His eyes began to glow through the darkness and I knew that it was his dragon, rather than him, looking at me now.

“He...” I let out a shaky breath. “He fondled me... against my will... He touched my breast...”

A spine chilling, guttural growl came from of his lips, and he bared his elongated, glistening teeth.

He pushed off of the tree and turned his back to me.

“Get on my back.” He demanded.

“What?” I gasped.

“I can’t leave you here while I fight them. I need you close to me so I can defend you. Now, come.”

I eyed the massive, black wings that sprouted from beneath each of his shoulder blades. There was just enough space between them for my torso to fit. I took two small steps toward him and stopped.

“What... what are they?” I whispered.

He looked at me over his muscled shoulder. “They are Wolf Chaimara.”

“You mean like werewolves?!” Fresh terror ran down my spine, rising the hair on my arms and neck.

“Essentially. Now, get on.” He hissed.

I hesitated. A sudden protectiveness washed over me, a worry for him. What if they hurt him? What if they... killed him? I began to pant, panicked by the disturbing idea of Dristan not existing in my world.

“Brenya. Do not make me ask again.” He growled.

“I don’t want you to get hurt.” I whimpered.

He bared his teeth at me over his shoulder. “Perhaps on an off day, they might get in a few lucky blows. But to their misfortune, one of them touched you. They’re dead. Now... Get. On.”

The warning in his voice was crystal clear and I hastily climbed onto his back. He tucked his arms beneath the crook of my knees and I wrapped my arms around his neck in a vice like grip.

“Hold on.” He said darkly.

And then I was falling again.

Only this time, I wasn’t afraid.

We landed with a light thud on the earth below and I stepped off of Dristan’s back, staying close behind him. He stood on bent legs, his arms splayed out to the sides, a protective shield in front of me. His right hand was wrapped tightly around the hilt of his sword, which shimmered eerily beneath the moonlight as if it were ready for bloodshed.

It was only then that I noticed his hands. His long fingers were each tipped with thick, curved, black talons. One swipe across your belly with those, and your insides would undoubtedly spill out of you and onto the ground at your feet.

We waited silently. I was sure that the fear and nervousness billowing out of me was palpable. They’d be here any moment, unaware of what waited on the other end of that line of scented bait.

On cue, four figures emerged from the trees, each moving at a leisurely pace. As they strolled closer, I noticed that all of them had the same, strange dog ears that Kale had. The only difference was their color.

The female had beautiful, pointed silver ears which protruded from her long, wavy, white hair. She was the most lovely creature I’d ever seen. Her face was the image of female perfection. Her skin was almost as pale as her hair, making her look like a ghostly apparition as she stood in the shadows. Her large, shimmering eyes were bluish grey and they accentuated her moonlight colored hair in a hypnotizing way.

The tallest male, who I would’ve pegged for at least six feet, seven inches tall, was thin and gangly looking. His hair was a dirty blonde color and was slicked back over his head. His dog ears were tawny brown, like honey, and his large, emerald green eyes looked as though they could pierce my very soul.

The shorter male, who was still a good six feet tall, had short, spiky hair as black as tar. His wolf ears were also black, but a shade lighter than his inky head. He had dark brown eyes to match the rest of him, and he seemed to hold a permanent scowl on his handsome, tanned face.

And then there was Kale. He stood at the head of the group, the others only a few footsteps behind him. Whatever injuries he’d sustained from falling out of the tree were gone, healed miraculously by the supernatural blood in his veins. He was the second tallest of the males, standing at about six feet, two inches, and was by far the most muscular and intimidating of the bunch. His shaggy, chin length, grey hair was untamed around his thin, angular face.

His onyx eyes locked onto mine and I crouched lower behind Dristan’s shoulder, desperate to look away but paralyzed by his gaze at the same time. After a few beats, his obsidian eyes slid to Dristan and he smiled darkly.

“Well, well. Looks like you found yourself a bodyguard, didn’t you love? I’m very impressed.” He drawled. “It’s too bad he’s outnumbered. Now he’s going to die, thanks to you.”

Dristan growled in front of me. His wings, which had been tucked tightly against his back, suddenly flared out in a threatening display. Each of his membranous, leathery wings had to be at least ten feet in length, giving him about a twenty foot wingspan.

Kale’s eyes widened in surprise, and his comrades each took a noticeable step backward.

“A dragon... Well, that’s... certainly unexpected. I thought your kind were all dead by now.” Kale said carefully. “What’s your business with this woman?” He asked boldly.

“It’s no concern of yours, mutt.” Dristan hissed.

“Come on... Humor me! I’m dying to know....” Kale chimed, clapping his hands and rubbing them together. He grinned from ear to ear. His companions glanced at each other in uncertainty.

“I thought she was human at first, but then I saw her ring. It’s a Fae ring, right? So that means she had to be Fae... But see, I’m confused, because she looks utterly human. I’m intrigued, and that doesn’t happen often. So please, I must know... What is she?”

His grin never faltered, and he took a daring step closer to us. I felt Dristan tense in front of me.

“I’ll tell you.... But only after you tell me which one of you mongrels put your filthy hands on her.” Dristan countered acidly.

Kale laughed maniacally. “That’s the worst compromise I’ve ever heard! Why don’t you tell me first. Then I’ll tell you.”

“Who touched you?” Dristan growled impatiently to me over his shoulder.

I stretched my finger through the space between his wing and shoulder and pointed at Kale. “H-He did.”

Kale’s grin fell from his face as his eyes slid to mine. What had been a relaxed, pleasant expression before now transformed into an evil, disturbing mask. “You shouldn’t interrupt adults when they’re talking, love.” He said unnervingly smoothly.

“Don’t look at her.” Dristan warned, lifting his sword in front of his body.

“What are you going to do about it? Scratch me with your pathetic little sword?” He taunted, his grin returning. “I haven’t fought a dragon in quite a long time. From what I remember, it’s quite a satisfying challenge. Don’t hold back.”

The others remained still behind Kale as he stepped closer, crouching low. Dristan flared his wings wider and bared his teeth as he mirrored the stance.

“Dristan, be careful!” I warned.

Kale's head tilted to the side.

“Dristan... as in Lord Dristan Draconian?” He straightened his spine, a hint of uncertainty dancing behind his tar colored eyes. I heard the female gasp, as the others took another step back.

“The very same.” Dristan said with cruel amusement.

“Oh, fuck, Kale! We’ve gotta get out of here! Now!” The tallest male shouted. He grabbed Kale’s shoulder, trying to pull him back. Kale stumbled a step, his eyes growing with shock and horror.

“You’re not going anywhere.” Dristan hissed.

He lifted a hand in the air and twisted his wrist. An unpleasant, familiar smell filled my nose. Sweet, and slightly putrid, like rotting fruit. The hair on my arms stood on end as static filled the air.

Magic...

The three wolves behind Kale suddenly froze where they stood. They looked like statues, frozen in the motion of fleeing. The only thing I could see moving was their eyes, which darted around in terror as their bodies refused to obey their mind’s commands.

He immobilized them!

Kale remained unaffected, and stared at Dristan with dread in his onyx eyes.

“Listen, I- I didn’t know who you were! I had no idea, please-”

“Shut your foul mouth, dog.” Dristan interrupted, straightening his spine and cracking his neck. He stepped forward, away from me.

I watched the scene before me as if it were a dream. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening, or seem to be able to make my legs move, to follow Dristan. So I stood in place, my jaw hanging open, and watched helplessly.

“Please! I’m sorry!” Kale begged, stumbling backward and into one of his companions statuesque bodies.

“Sorry? Sorry doesn’t even begin to describe what you are.” Dristan said hatefully.

Kale’s chest rose and fell in escalating panic. And doing the only thing left that he could do, he shifted.

The monster that exploded out of his skin was the second most horrifying thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Second, only to Dristan’s dragon. I stared up at the fifteen foot tall creature as it opened its mouth and tilted its head back. It’s razor sharp teeth dripped with glistening saliva as it let out a deafening roar toward the night sky.

I think I might’ve screamed as I beheld the enormous, bipedal creature that towered over Dristan. But it was impossible to hear anything over the haunting call of the wolf. How he was going to defeat a nightmarish beast like this, I did not know. But he did not seem very impressed with the monster as it rose to its full height before him.

“Pathetic.” Dristan spat.

And then, they exploded into a blur of fur, teeth, and black, leathery wings.



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