Elemental Heir : Book 1 Of The Elemental Heir Series

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Chapter 64

Four days had passed since Ronan’s disappearance.

None of it made sense. Somehow, he had escaped the heavily locked and guarded dungeons without anyone noticing. I couldn’t understand how he’d achieved something like this, especially so soon after being dealt a hefty amount of iron lashes. Not to mention that his legs had not had time to fully heal yet, and would have still been broken.

He hadn’t even left a rutting blood trail...

My first inclination was to believe that someone in the Aviary had to have helped him. There was absolutely no way in hell that Ronan could’ve escaped in his condition without help.

But... After the high council and I interviewed every single resident in the Aviary, and gave them a healthy dose of candor potion, we had come up empty handed. Even Ferrin was found to be innocent. He had no knowledge of the attempt on Dristan’s life or how Ronan had disappeared. Ferrin was only guilty of his own crimes, which he had spent the following three days being pilloried for.

It had been painful to watch, although necessary. He had been bound to a post in one of the main hallways of the Aviary, where everyone would see him. I’d watched as he had to endure being spit on and called horrible names by passerbys. He’d been punched and slapped and beaten by anyone who felt that he deserved it. And by law, no one could intervene. He had to endure this for three straight days.

I had to keep reminding myself that this was a merciful punishment for what he had done, no matter the reason behind his crime. It was either pillory... or execution. That reminder was the only thing that had gotten me though it.

After his three days of punishment were over, he had been banished from the grounds. I’d once wanted to allow him to stay at the Aviary, to allow him to live among our people... But after the second attempt on my mate’s life, and by someone I trusted... I could not risk allowing known traitors to remain within the walls of our home. That sort of mercy would have been seen as weak.

I only prayed that Ferrin had found somewhere to go, and that he might find peace one day... When I’d watched him leave the Aviary, I’d allowed myself a small amount of time to mourn his friendship, to feel pity for what had happened to him and his family...

And then, I dried my tears and I moved on.

After the interviews and interrogations of our people, we had all taken the candor potion as a last resort. Me, Dristan, Warrick, Torryn, Andromeda, Marrok, Sylvie and Aella. When it turned out that all of my comrades were innocent, I’d felt both relieved and frustrated.

Relieved that there were no more traitors here claiming to be my friend. Relieved because it further solidified my resolve that Ronan was guilty... And frustrated because it left us with still no answer to the same, impossible question.

How did Ronan escape and where had he gone?

I had proposed that perhaps someone slipped past the wards of the Aviary and helped him, but Dristan claimed it was not possible. The others agreed with him. The wards were incredibly powerful and if anyone had so much as tried to get past them, Dristan would have felt it though his direct link to the magic infused in the wards.

Leaving through the wards was simple. All anyone within its walls would have to do to leave would be to simply walk through it. The wards were not designed to keep people inside. They were only in place to keep others out. Only those approved by Dristan himself were able to pass them and enter the grounds of the Aviary.

Which left only one plausible answer. Someone inside had to have helped him escape. Except... No one was missing from the Aviary. Andromeda showed me an enchanted list of the Aviary’s population. It had the name of every single person who resided here. Their names, their age, their rank... Everything. Everyone was accounted for.

Everyone, except for Ronan.

It made no gods damned sense...

If he had managed to escape on his own, it meant that I had severely underestimated how powerful he was. I’d never really seen Ronan fight, never known the extent of his power. I knew that he was a high lord, which meant he was among the highest ranking Fae. Perhaps he had been planning to escape after killing Dristan for a long while, and already had precautions put into place if he were caught?

I just did not know...

What made matters worse was that we had still not cracked the code of the last rune riddle.

“What once was lost, but never was.
Unheard, unseen, untouched because...
Those who seek our shibboleth,
Those who cling to sun and breath,
Will sooner reach their certain death.”

The sun had set hours ago and I was still in the library, slaving over piles of books, searching endlessly for a clue that might help me solve the riddle. I was all alone in the vast, dimly lit room. The three, white candles that burned on the edge of my desk were the only sources of light in the sleepy library. Long, fat trails of melted wax pooled around the bottom of the candles and rolled into stiff formations down the side of the desk. The smell of old pages soothed my frustration as I sat perched on a stool, hunched over a book titled “Fact or Myth?“.

The words on the pages were beginning to blur as my eyes grew weary, and I had to keep blinking my eyes hard to try and keep my exhaustion at bay. The words taunted me, my brain too tired to make sense of them anymore. After reading the same paragraph eight times, and still having no idea what the hell it said, I let out a groan of frustration and slammed the cover shut.

“Rutting book, damn you to hell.” I huffed, burying my face into my hands.

“How rude.” A sudden, deep voice hummed from directly behind me. I yelped in surprise, nearly falling off of my stool as I instinctively snatched the dagger I’d left out on the desk. I stood and spun around, the point of my blade coming to a halt an inch away from Dristan’s throat.

He didn’t even flinch. He stared down at me, his hands folded behind his back, his wings tucked in tightly against his broad back. I blinked rapidly, realizing who I was pointing my weapon at, and immediately withdrew it. His beautifully shaped mouth lifted at one corner, and his eyes sparkled with humor as he smirked down at me.

I was stunned to see him out of his usual fighting leathers and armor. He was dressed in soft, black pants... And nothing else. His hair was damp and tousled atop his head in that way that tugged at a place deep inside of my belly. He must’ve just finished training with Warrick, Torryn and the wolves and gone back to our chambers to shower. When he’d found that I was not there, he came to find me.

“Books hold a great deal of knowledge. You should treat them with more respect.” He said, assessing my wide, startled eyes.

A surge of irritation rushed through me, both with his success at scaring me, and with the fact that he was wandering the halls without a shirt on. I did not like the idea of other females getting an eye full of his taught stomach and toned chest. The thought caused a low growl to rise up my throat and escape from my lips.

I scowled at him. “Yes, well, you claim to hold a great deal of knowledge as well. I’d like to think you would know better than to sneak up on a well armed woman.” I snapped. “Just as I’d like to think these books might know better than a bunch of useless nonsense. It seems holding knowledge isn’t as respectable as one might think.”

His brows rose and his grin grew a fraction wider. He leaned down suddenly, forcing me back onto the stool, and placed his hands on the desk on either side of me. I was pinned between him and the desk.

“Your ready wit never fails to surprise and delight me, Brenya.” He murmured, his lips only inches from my own.

I blinked, my lips parting, as his heady scent encircled me. He licked his lower lip, running his teeth over it as his electric blue eyes burned into mine. The heat of his bare chest seeped through my thin cotton shirt, thawing my icy irritation.

“Even when you’re being cross.” He added in a low voice. He leaned closer, before I could respond, and ran his teeth along my jaw.

I suppressed a moan. “I wouldn’t be cross if you weren’t so keen on irritating me.” I said, unable to hide the smile in my voice.

I felt his answering smile against my neck. “How can I make it up to you?” He whispered, planting gentle kisses up and down the column of my throat. He moved to the other side of my neck, flicking his tongue once against the mating mark near my shoulder.

My hands slid up his abdomen, exploring the dips and hard lines of his muscles. Heat uncurled deep in my belly, spreading lower, and lower, until I felt my panties dampen. He growled into my ear, sending shivers down my entire body.

I tried to hold onto logic as every instinct in my body begged me to spread my legs for him.

“You can start by refraining from roaming the halls without a shirt on.” I breathed, moving my hands to his broad, chiseled back. My fingers roamed upward, careful to avoid touching his wings, which I only touched with his permission. Dragons were very protective of their wings...

He chuckled softly, moving his face back to look at me. “Is that so?”

I pursed my lips, nodding slowly.

“Why?” He asked, a knowing smile spreading over his lips.

I gritted my teeth. “You know why.”

Briefly, he bit his lip again, then lifted his chin and looked down his nose at me. “I want to hear you say it.” He said darkly.

My cheeks heated and I squirmed beneath his gaze. How could he still make me feel so shy, still cause butterflies to explode inside of my belly, still make my thoughts trip over each other this way? It was so much easier to think, to speak, to form a coherent sentence when he wasn’t so close. So tantalizingly close... My eyes left his, trailing down his perfect body.

My chin was suddenly trapped between his thumb and index finger. He lifted my chin, forcing me to look at him, and he tugged down. My lip, which I hand’t been aware I’d been biting, was instantly released from my teeth.

“Tell me why.” He said, his tone hypnotic. Any trace of a smile was gone from his lips.

I stared into his piercing eyes, suddenly hyper aware of just how much I wanted him, needed him, longed for him... I wanted his skin on mine, wanted to feel the length of him pushing into me, deep and heavy...

The last few days had been so filled with stress and worry and frustration. I was sick of thinking of Ronan, and the elusive answers to how he’d escaped. I was sick of books, and pages, and riddles that made no sense.

I wanted him. I wanted to touch him, to consume him, to think of nothing else aside from him, if only for a little while... The severity of my need devoured me, and I thought I might die if I didn’t have him this very moment.

“Because you are mine.” I said sternly, surprising myself. “And I don’t want any other female to lay eyes upon what belongs to me.”

A deep, guttural snarl of approval crept up his throat. “Yes... I am.” His hand left my chin, settling back onto the desk. He leaned closer, pushing my back against the edge of the desk, pressing the length of his torso against my body.

I moaned softly, rolling my head back and exposing my throat, showing him my trust, showing him my love, showing him my submission, which only he could ever hope to obtain. His mouth hovered a breath away from my exposed throat as my fingers dug into his back.

If he wanted to, he could tear into my throat with his sharp, elongated canines. If he wanted to, he could... That was the symbolism of this action. Me, allowing him so near to my vulnerability. It showed him just how much I trusted him, showed him that I would submit to him and only him...

“And who do you belong to?” He growled, the heat of his breath causing liquid to pool between my thighs.

I closed my eyes. “You.. I belong to you.”

And his mouth was on mine.

I mewled against his kiss and his hands were suddenly beneath my thighs. He lifted me, kicking the stool roughly to the side. It clattered against the stone floor noisily as he situated me onto the desk, spreading my legs with his knee and settling his hips between them.

When I felt the mass of his rock hard member pressing against my core, I squeezed my legs around his hips and rocked myself against him. The heat of his tongue swept against mine as his hands slipped beneath the hem of my shirt and began traveling north. His fingers halted when they met with the bottom of my lace bra and he pulled his face away.

“Put your hands behind your back.” He demanded, his eyes blazing.

“What?” I panted, trying to lean closer, to capture his lips with mine again.

He caught my chin with one hand, stopping my efforts. His other hand slid into my hair, and he gently pulled out the black ribbon that had been holding my hair up. Thick, dark waves were released, and fell loosely over my back and shoulders.

He held the long ribbon up for me to see, his lips curling into a mischievous smile. “Put your hands,” He repeated slowly, “Behind your back, Brenya.”

Oh gods... This was unexpected. And unbelievably arousing.

I felt my eyes widen as I glanced over his shoulder at the open library door. The hallway outside was dark and quiet, but anyone could happen upon us if they were out for a midnight stroll...

My eyes slid back to his. “Are you daft? We are in the library, Dristan!” I hissed.

He cocked his head at me, his smile growing, and softly said, ”Clo ni y tu mewn.”

I gasped, jumping slightly, as the heavy library doors suddenly flew shut. The seams of the door lit up in a brilliant, golden flash. I blinked and the light faded, but the seams continued to glow subtly, sealing us inside with his magic.

I looked up at him, my stomach free falling at the devilish gleam in his eyes. He rose a brow, silently questioning me as to why I still hadn’t done as I’d been told. He’d never bound me before... Not since taking me from my village... A small feeling of unease plagued me as the memories flashed through my mind.

He instantly sensed my emotions and his hands were on my face, cupping my cheeks gently. He kissed me so softly I thought I might cry.

“Don’t be afraid.” He whispered against my lips. “I will never, ever harm you, love. You know that.”

I nodded, my lips brushing his. My hand slid up to his forearms, holding him in place as he cradled my face. “Why do you want to bind me?” I asked softly.

“Because...” He kissed me, flicking his tongue against mine. “The only time you ever fully submit to me... The only time you don’t defy me... Is when I am inside of you.”

I gasped quietly at his words and he ran his thumb over my lower lip.

“And as much as I love this smart mouth, and your intransigent tendencies...” He said with a wicked grin. “You have no idea how much it pleases me to see you submit yourself to me.”

My core heated at his confession. I watched his slitted pupils dilate as the scent of my arousal bloomed around us. A low growl rumbled in his chest.

“Do you trust me, mate?” He asked in a gravely voice.

“Yes.” I answered breathlessly, not missing a beat.

He smiled triumphantly. “Then show me... Submit to me... Show me that you are mine, and only mine.”

I stared into his wild depths, fully understanding why he wanted this. Why he needed this... And I wanted to give it to him. I wanted him to see me this way, in a way that no one else ever would. I wanted to give him the gift of my submission.

So I sucked my lower lip between my teeth, slowly moved my hands away from his arms, and slid them behind my back.

“I am yours.” I submitted.

He bared his teeth, his eyes igniting with lustful approval. His stare did not leave mine as his hands disappeared behind me. My heart hammered against my ribs as he wrapped the thick ribbon around my wrists. Our mingling breaths were the only sounds as he roughly secured the ribbon in three knots, binding me tightly in their restraints. The silk bit into my skin, but the pain was one that I welcomed.

I watched him with anticipation as his hands moved back to the hem of my shirt. He slid the cotton material up, exposing my toned, tight belly. He growled with appreciating as his eyes devoured my body. I thought he was going to remove my shirt, but he surprised me even further when he lifted the front of it over my head and tucked it behind my neck.

He stared down at my exposed body, his eyes sparkling with desire as he studied the white, lace bra that I was still wearing. His jaw flexed, and he suddenly hooked his index fingers under the tops of it and then roughly yanked the cups down, freeing my aching breasts. I was panting so loudly it was almost embarrassing, but I could not hide how excited I was by what he was doing to me. How helpless I was...

The cups of my bra were bunched up beneath my breasts, pushing them upward, enunciating their fullness as they rose and fell with my uneven breath. I waited for him to touch me, longed for it more than anything I’d ever wanted in my life... But he didn’t.

He stood between my legs, his hungry eyes raking up and down, up an down... My head rolled backward and I pushed my chest forward, baring myself even further to his watchful eyes. His jaw flexed, un-flexed, and flexed again. Still, he did not touch me.

I looked into his eyes, waiting... For what, I did not know.

“Do you have any idea how beautiful you are, Brenya?” He said, his tongue sweeping over his lower lip. “How much I want to taste these?” His eyes lowered to my breasts.

“Please...” I whimpered, needing his touch. I closed my eyes, completely at his mercy.

“Please what?” He uttered.

“Please, touch me... Taste me.” I begged, my eyes squeezed shut.

I cried out when I felt his mouth close over my left nipple. His tongue was like fire as it circled the stiff peak. My other breast was swiftly captured in the warmth of his hand, which lifted and gently tightened around it. He groaned against my skin and then bit down, extracting a high pitched whine from my throat.

His lips moved to my other breast, kissing and sucking and nipping me until I thought I might die from the unbearable need that pulsed between my thighs. He seemed to know this, because without removing his mouth from my breasts, he gracefully tugged my pajama shorts off in one, quick movement.

When I felt his fingers brush against my sex, I bucked my hips against him. He hissed as he found that my lace panties were completely soaked through, and he lifted his face to suck my lower lip between his teeth.

“Fuck,” He mumbled against my mouth. “You’re wet.”

His nimble fingers pushed my panties to the side, and his thumb slid between my slippery folds. It pushed softly against my entrance, then slid up, spreading my liquids, and pressed firmly against my swelling clitoris.

“I want to feel your heat against my tongue.” He said, circling the pad of his thumb around my bundle of nerves. “I want to taste your need for me.”

Three, needy whimpers slipped past my lips, and I longed to tangle my hands into his hair... But I couldn’t. I pulled at my restraints as his lips left mine. His tongue trailed down my jawline, down my neck, down my breasts, my navel...

By the time he was on his knees before me, I sounded like I’d run a full mile. His hands gripped me beneath my thighs, and his eyes met mine as he firmly spread my legs open wide.

“Don’t move.” He growled.

With one hand still holding my thigh in place, his other hand closed over my throbbing mound. My panties bunched in his palm, and when he tore them off, I cried out in ecstasy. He tossed the ruined underwear to the side, replacing his hand on my other thigh.

He met my hooded gaze again, and without a shred of shame, he buried his face against my entrance and inhaled deeply. I gasped at his audacity, trying to pull my hips away from him, but his hands tightened on my thighs and kept me in place.

The stubble of his jaw scraped softly against my thighs, against my exposed sex, and the sensation sent a tingling sensation throughout the entirety of my lower body. The muscles deep in my belly clenched deliciously.

He snarled as a new wave of arousal seeped out of me. The tip of his tongue dipped between the highest point of my folds, flicking lightly against the sensitive bud hidden between them. My head fell backward as a long, strangled cry erupted from me.

“You are mine... This,” His tongue glided over my clit once more. “Is mine.”

“Dristan...” I begged, pleaded, prayed.

“Fucking hell...” He whispered.

Two of his fingers slipped inside of me, spreading wide as they pumped in and out, teasing and filling and stretching me. His mouth closed over my sensitive nub and his tongue began a slow, sensual rhythm that had me seeing stars behind my closed eyelids.

I rolled my hips against his face, matching the pace of his fingers as a steady stream of moaning fell from my trembling lips. His mouth was so hot, so slick and wet against me. I could taste my flavor on his tongue through the bond, could feel how much he absolutely loved it, could feel how painfully hard his cock was as it pressed against the confines of his pants.

I could feel his pleasure. I could feel how in control he felt, how much it turned him on. I could feel his power over me, and it tripled the sense of how helpless and at his will I truly was. It was absolutely riveting.

His tongue knew exactly what to do. He could feel what he was doing to me through our mind link, making it impossible for him to make one wrong move. He feasted upon me mercilessly, his fingers assaulting me in the most delicious way. He snarled against my wet center, and the vibration from his deep tone was my undoing.

I detonated around his fingers, screaming his name. He lapped at my entrance as my walls pulsed, pushing streams of liquid onto his lips.

He grunted loudly, and through the bond, I could feel his pants soak through as he came inside of them. “Brenya, fuck...” He growled.

He stood as the aftershocks of my orgasm continued to rock through me. His flaming sapphire eyes scorched the edges of my being as he freed his cock and wrapped his fist around it. There was a dew drop of his release still at the tip of him, and it gleamed in the candle light.

“Stand up.” He demanded, his wings flaring to his sides.

The sight of him, so tall and strong and packed with muscle, his wings spread wide, his hand pumping up and down the thick length of him... It was the most arousing thing I’d ever seen. I would do anything he told me to do. I would do it without question. I would bend to his will, submit to his deepest desires, this man. My mate...

I stood immediately, my legs trembling beneath me. I watched him, my lips parted, my breath panting, waiting for him to tell me what to do next, ready to obey. The corner of his lips lifted as he felt my complete submission through the bond, and he grew even longer and harder in his palm. My mouth watered.

“Good girl.” He breathed. “Turn around.”

I did as I was told, my excitement growing. I needed him inside of me. I needed our bodies joined, I’d never wanted it more. I stared down at the table, my breath quick and shallow, waiting...

“Bend over the table and spread your legs for me.” His voice demanded, low and filled with satisfaction.

I smiled to myself as I leaned forward and rested my torso against the cool table, ignoring the books and pages that crinkled and shifted beneath me. My hands, still bound together by my wrists, rested against the small of my back. I could feel his greedy eyes on me as I spread my legs and arched my back, lifting my ass high for him.

“Such a fine ass,” He murmured, stepping close and palming the left side of my fleshy cheeks. “One day I will claim it.”

I gasped, both terrified and excited by his words. His hand slid up, pressing against my lower back, and he slapped the head of his cock twice against my folds. I mewled at the sensation, loving it, needing so much more...

“Now...” He said, sliding the tip of himself up and down my seam. “I’m going to fill you.”

“Yes...” I moaned, pushing my hips back against him.

He palmed my ass again, holing me firmly in place, as his wide tip nudged at my soaking entrance. A long, deep moan was extracted from my throat as he flexed his hips forward, pushing into me.

My tight walls resisted his entrance, causing him to hiss and push harder. “Fucking hell, I love this tight, pink pussy...”

“Oh, gods... ” I moaned, his words already building my next orgasm. And I knew, if he wanted to, he could probably make me come with his words alone. He wouldn’t even have to touch me... He owned me, body and soul.

His grip tightened on my backside, and he spread me wider. He circled the head of his manhood firmly against me, relaxing my muscles, coaxing my body to accept him. He pushed into me again, using more force this time, and I gasped as he finally slipped inside.

A low, guttural sound passed his lips. He pushed forward again, sinking even further into me. Fuck, he was just so massive... I groaned as he pushed forward once more, fully submerging himself in my heat. He was buried inside of me, from the root to the tip. I felt so heavily encumbered with him. It was exquisite.

“There we go, baby.” He groaned, slowly circling his hips without withdrawing from me.

“Dristan,” I panted, pressing my ass against his hips. “You feel so...”

I paused, not knowing what to say. He was so good at speaking sensually. I was not like him in that way, so inexperienced, still so unsure of myself.

He pulled back slowly, then flexed his hips forward again, sinking back inside. His hands kneaded my ass. “Tell me, baby.” He said, sounding almost pleading. “Tell me how I feel inside of you.”

I moaned as he massaged my backside, withdrawing slowly and then pushing into me again. He felt... So...

“You feel like you’re everywhere.” I moaned. “You make me feel so full... It feels so good.”

He pulled back and slammed into me, panting and groaning at my words. “That’s right,” He gasped. “Feel me.”

He picked up the pace, holding me firmly in place as he began pumping his thick cock in and out, in and out, in and out. I cried out against the wood table, my body forcefully rocking up and down it with his violent motion.

I could feel myself quickening around his girth. He was pushing me higher, closer to the brink of my inevitable orgasm. The sound of his labored breath, the force with which he speared into me, was liberating. Nothing else existed but him, this, our joined bodies.

He was close, so close, and I was right there with him.

“Brenya,” He grunted, his thrusts becoming disjointed and desperate. And I knew he was going to come. My toes curled, my belly clenching tightly as it readied to let go and send me the sweet relief I so desperately craved.

“Yes,” I gasped, my hands balling into fists behind my back. “Yes, fill me...”

His hand slid up my back, pressing me firmly into the table, while his other hand gripped my ass so hard it nearly hurt. He grunted. “Take it, baby... Take it all.”

I cried out incoherently as I let go, coming around his cock. He slammed deep, filling me to the hilt, and the thick, hot ribbons of his release shot into my depths.

He collapsed onto my back, his panting breath hot against my ear. Every muscle, every bone in my body felt like it was made of gelatin. I was certain that if I stood, I would fall onto the floor in a useless heap of blissful exhaustion.

He remained inside of me as we came down from our high, our breaths calming with each passing minute. I could not stop smiling.

Suddenly, a rather frightening thought occurred to me.

“Dristan?” I whispered.

“Hmm?” He hummed against my neck, his hands skating lightly up and down my sides.

“Shouldn’t we be worried about me getting pregnant?”

His hands stilled against me.

I waited, holding my breath, suddenly feeling very wary of his reaction. We had never used protection... And he always came inside of me. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before... Perhaps because I was just too wrapped up in him to care. But he had never mentioned it either...

“No, baby.” He finally whispered. His hands continued so softly stroke my skin.

My brows furrowed in confusion. “Why?”

He chuckled softly and then lifted off of me. His hands went to my wrists, and he untied me with graceful, nimble fingers. When I was free, he tugged me up, lifted me in his arms, and set me back down on the tabletop. He re-situated my bra, smoothing it, then reached behind my neck and pulled my shirt free, letting it fall down over my naked body. He leaned into me, pressing his bare chest to mine, and kissed me gently.

“Dragons can only conceive when there is a solar eclipse.” He stated, lifting a hand to brush my hair away from my face.

I leaned into his touch, distracted, but still interested in what he was saying. “Oh... Why?”

“Dragon’s are born by the power of the sun... Because we hold the power of the sun inside of us. Our dragons breathe fire. Legend says that the very first dragon to ever exist was given that gift by the sun himself. Since the dawn of time, Dragons are only able to impregnate their partners under the darkness of the solar eclipse. That is why Dragon children are so rare.” He explained.

My brows rose. “Oh...”

He smirked. “Have you seen any Dragon children running around here?”

I frowned. “No.”

He nodded. “That’s why.”

“Hmm...” I said, feeling a bit odd for some reason. My eyes trailed to the floor.

He was silent for a long moment. After a long beat, his fingers lifted my chin. I met his eyes, not understanding why I was feeling this way.

“Do you want to have a child?” He asked, his voice so soft I could hardly hear him.

My eyes widened. Several emotions passed through me.

Fear... Longing... Uncertainty...

He stared at me, his expression unreadable, but gentle.

“Do you?” I asked.

He studied my eyes, my lips, my cheeks...

“Someday, when we’ve built a world worthy of a child... I would want nothing more than to create life with you, Brenya.” He whispered lovingly.

My eyes burned with endearing emotion, and I smiled softly at him. He smiled in return and leaned forward, planting a breathtakingly tender kiss against my lips.

“Come,” He said, pulling away. “It’s late. Lets get dressed and go to bed.”

I nodded, feeling how truly exhausted I was as I slid off of the desk. He curled his hand around mine and began to guide me toward the door.

“Wait,” I paused, pulling against his hand. “I left my dagger.”

He let go of my hand and I padded toward the desk, searching for the blade. I pushed some loose papers to the side, thinking it might be hiding beneath them, and that was when my eyes fell upon the book that had fallen open during our wild lovemaking.

My heart stumbled, and then began to hammer against my chest as I read the title of the chapter. Something in my mind clicked into place. And then my eyes slid to the illustration near the bottom of the page. A surge of fear washed over me, prickling over my scalp and down my arms.

“Dristan.” I murmured, unable to rip my eyes away from the image on the paper.

I felt his warmth appear at my side. He said nothing as he stared down at the page with me. I waited for him to speak... He didn’t.

But he didn’t have to. I could feel him through the bond. I could sense the realization as it clicked into place in his mind. I could feel the unease as he realized what we were looking at and what it meant. It was the answer to the rune riddle.

The title read, “The lost city of the Sirens.”

And as I stared into the cloudy, white eyes of the creature in the drawing... As I studied it’s sharp, needle like teeth, strange translucent skin, and long, shimmering fins...

I knew where the final elemental rune was hiding.

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