Elemental Heir : Book 1 Of The Elemental Heir Series

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Chapter 19

Dristan’s body visually stiffened beside me. His brows furrowed tightly, the deep V between them puckering out.

He and Sylvie continued to stare at each other in silence, her grey blue eyes glistening through the darkness. Marrok hung his head.

“You and Kale were married?” I asked, confused and appalled. Sympathy and horror overflowed from my core, stinging inside of my veins and turning my blood to ice.

A strangled chuckle fell from Sylvie’s lips. “No, we were not married. We were mated.

“I don’t understand... what does that mean?” I asked, glancing between her and the Dragon Lord.

“You don’t know? What kind of Fae doesn’t know what a mate is?” Marrok chimed in, lifting his head and looking at me as if I’d grown a second head.

I swallowed the uncomfortable lump that had formed in my throat and my cheeks began to burn.

“I, er...” I stuttered, looking away.

“You are in no position to ask questions, mutt.” Dristan growled defensively.

Marrok bared his elongated teeth, but dropped his gaze submissively at the authority in Dristan’s tone. I turned my eyes back to Sylvie, who was now staring blankly at Kale’s body behind me.

“Being mated is different than being married... Marriage is a choice. Mates are rare, but when you find yours... There is no choice involved. When two mates meet, their entire world, their entire reason for existing, changes. It’s an unbreakable bond between two beings, a blessing cherished above all else... It’s the merging of two souls.” She said sadly. Tears fell from her eyes as she stared, unblinking, at her mates lifeless figure.

“O-oh...” Was all I could manage to respond with. I had never heard of such a thing. I never knew something like that could exist... “I’m so sorry...” I added.

Dristan remained silent, studying the female’s sorrowful face. He hadn’t apologized, or shown a hint of emotion on his hard, tanned face.

“Don’t be sorry.” Sylvie said, surprising me. She squeezed her eyes shut and licked her dry, cracked lips.

“What?” I whispered, completely perplexed.

“I fucking hated Kale.” She said as the seemingly never ending stream of tears continued down her damp cheeks. “He was a monster. He was constantly fucking other women, some against their will, some begging for it... He beat me regularly... He wasn’t as bad, before his parents and siblings died... But it got much worse after it happened.” She began to sob again. “Roux was the only sibling he had left.”

“Roux?” I asked.

“The dark haired one Lord Dristan killed.” She muttered. She obviously didn’t care much for him. “He was just as bad as Kale. Fucking bastards...”

I whipped my head toward Dristan, my brows tucked tightly together. He glanced sidelong at me, his expression unreadable. I turned back to the silver haired girl, wondering if perhaps she was insane.

“If he treated you so poorly... The why did you stay with him?” I asked.

She laughed bitterly. “Did you listen to a word I just said? He was my mate, don’t you get it?! I couldn’t leave. I was bound to him, body and soul. I could never escape him. If I ran, he’d find me. Mates have a direct link to each other’s consciousness.”

I lifted a trembling hand to my lips. “That’s awful...”

“I told you I would kill him for you.” Marrok suddenly snapped from beside her, his eyes still glued to the ground.

“You know I couldn’t let you. The bond wouldn’t allow it.” She hissed through her teeth. “I hated him... But when you’re mated, you are forced to love that person. No matter how cruel they are...”

I threw my palms up in front of me and shook them around wildly as I closed my eyes. “Wait, wait, wait.... So, let me get this straight. You hated your mate, but you loved him?”

She locked eyes with me, her lips pulling down into a somber frown. “Yes.”

“So... You are upset that he’s dead?” I asked, cocking my head.

She smiled weakly. “My soul was merged with his. So yes, I am upset... Naturally, my entire body and mind are screaming with grief right now.” She let out a strangled sob. “But I’m also... elated. I’m... I’m free of him... But he’s dead. My mate is dead!” She began to sob uncontrollably again, but there was still a manic smile plastered across her face.

“What the rutting hell...?” I breathed, turning to Dristan.

“Two emotions are waging war inside of her mind and soul. She’s both destroyed and renewed at once.” He said flatly, still watching her. “Though I’m sure she’s quite angry with me.”

“I’m not angry with you, Lord Dristan...” She gasped, gazing at him through grief and joy and tears. “I’m grateful.”

I blinked at her. This was all so confusing.

“You freed me. And you... Brenya... You spared our lives. We are forever in both of your debts.” She whispered.

My heart swelled with both sorrow and happiness as I smiled at Sylvie.

“And what of your pack? Where are they? Can they be convinced to join our alliance?” Dristan asked, stepping forward. But he wasn’t speaking to Sylvie. He was staring intently at Marrok.

Marrok lifted his gaze to Dristan’s, his face settled into an expression of doubt. “I don’t know. Our pack is... It has been difficult, since the king started killing us. We aren’t unified as we once were. Everyone is panicked, scared... It’s unstable.”

Dristan frowned. “We were the same way, once. My people. The Fae. But now we have joined forces, and things are better than before. Do you think there’s any chance this could work?”

Marrow furrowed his brow. “Maybe.” He said slowly. “If you let me go, I will talk to them.”

“No.” Dristan growled. “Absolutely not.”

“I owe you a life debt, remember? You can trust me.” Marrok retorted, his eyes narrowing slightly.

“Trust must be earned.” Dristan said. “You will come with us to the Aviary until I decide I can trust you. Then, and not a moment sooner, will you be allowed to go speak to your pack of an alliance.”

Marrok’s eyes sparkled with irritation, but he nodded his head once and then lowered his eyes again. “Fine.”

“And you will remain immobilized until we get there.” Dristan added, turning his back.

“What?! Why?!” Marrok snapped, baring his teeth. Sylvie groaned in displeasure.

Dristan glared at him over his shoulder. “Like I said, pup.... Trust must be earned.”

He waved his hand and the wolves faces became statuesque once again. Dristan stalked away from us, his aura bright red and swarming with agitation.

I felt sorry for the wolves, having to remain this way. I was sure that once they were eventually unfrozen, their bodies would be sore and tired. But I agreed with Dristan. Even if they said they owed us a life debt... It would be unwise to trust them at their word. At least, not until we were at the Aviary.

I trailed after Dristan, forced to jog to keep up with his swift pace. “Where are you going?” I said between breaths as I ran.

“I need to gain some distance so I can shift.” He said.

“Shift back to your human form?” I asked.

“No. I need to get us to the Aviary as soon as possible. The sound of Kale and I’s battle was surly heard across the forest. Others may come looking. We need to leave. Now.”

I slowed my steps. “Wait, your going to fly us there?”

He stopped and turned to me. “Yes.”

I gaped at him. “You want me to ride on your dragon’s back?!”

He nodded. “Yes.”

“Isn’t that... dangerous?” I asked warily.

He grinned. “There is no safer place for you than on my dragon’s back Brenya, trust me.”

My eyes widened. “Well... What about Sylvie and Marrok? They can’t exactly hold onto you when they’re petrified.”

His grin fell. “Hmm...”

“Wait!” I gasped. I pulled my backpack over my shoulders and took it off. I pulled the remaining rope out, smiling at him. “Will this work?”

His face lit up. “Clever little princess...”

My smile widened.

The second time I’d watched Dristan shift hadn’t been any less amazing than the first. It took me nearly twenty minutes to maneuver the stiff bodies onto his back and tie them down. But after several attempts, I finally got it right.

“There.” I sighed, wiping the sweat from my brow.

I’d had to nestle them between the large spikes that protruded from the dragon’s spine. There was just enough space for them to fit snugly between them. Then I’d wrapped the rope around the beasts belly, over the wolves on its back, and tied it several times near his back leg. They weren’t going anywhere.

I walked around Dristan’s body, toward his head. He’d been lying on the ground so that I could have better access to his back. It was still a significant climb to reach it, but much easier than if he’d been standing.

His massive, scaly head was resting on one of his clawed paws, his eyes closed. He must’ve fallen asleep.

I crept closer to his face, studying him. His head was the size of a merchant’s wagon. Bigger, maybe. The ebony and silver colored scales covering every inch of his body were shiny and silky to the touch.

His nostrils thinned when he inhaled, and flared when he exhaled, a constant, fluid motion. As I neared him, one of his exhales hit me directly, nearly causing me to lose balance and fall backward. I squeezed my eyes shut as my hair flew behind my head, the wind of his breath causing my clothes to billow. He was just so massive!

A branch suddenly snapped beneath my foot and his huge, slitted eyes snapped open. Each of his eyes was almost as big as me. I stared, wide eyed, into one of his. His pupils dilated as he stared at me and he blinked.

I knew this was Dristan but... I couldn’t help feeling afraid. I was standing a foot away from a gods damned dragon. I held my breath, my eyes refusing to blink, as we stared at each other. Then I realized that I’d never really met his dragon before. Should I say something?

“Uh... Hello...” I murmured timidly.

I stumbled back as he suddenly lifted his enormous head. His mouth opened and his razor sharp teeth glistened lethally under the moonlight. When he lowered his head and those thick, white teeth began to move toward me, I let out a startled gasp.

And just as I thought he was about to eat me, something entirely different happened.

His long, forked tongue slid out of his open mouth and he licked me! I let out a startled scream as his wet tongue dragged from my lower legs, all the way up my body, and over my face. Thick slobber coated my clothes and hair.

“Ew!!” I shrieked, wiping desperately at my drenched face.

He pulled his head back and snorted, cocking his large head at me. His intelligent, blue eyes glinted with wicked amusement and I scowled at him.

“Very funny!” I shouted. “Can we go now?”

He blinked at me in agreement and snorted again, almost like a laugh. I smiled to myself as I climbed up his scaled shoulder.

Damned overgrown lizard...

When I was seated at the base of his long, barbed neck, my legs tucked in tight on either side, I wrapped my hands around two of his small, thorn-like spikes.

“O-okay... I’m ready...” I said shakily.

But nothing could’ve prepared me for the amount of forced he used when he launched us into the night sky. I clung to his neck like a leech, gasping in an expansive lungful of air.

And the shrill, terrified scream that left my lips was nothing compared to the booming, barked laughter that erupted from the dragon’s throat as we soared into the sky.

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