Elemental Queen : Book 2 of the Elemental Heir Series

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Summary

"How long had it been? A month? Six? A year? More than a year? I didn't know. Couldn't say with confidence how long it had been since I had actually spoken out loud. I wondered if my vocal chords still worked... Or had they rusted over? Sometimes, I mouthed words to myself as I sat in the darkness. I didn't speak them... Just formed my lips around the syllables, just to see if my mouth remembered how. Sometimes I would sleep, and wake, only to lay there, un-moving, until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, and then I'd sleep again. Over, and over... Sometimes, I'd open my mouth just to stretch my jaw muscles after going days without using them. Sometimes, I'd stand up and stretch my arms and legs and back after not moving for hours on end. Sometimes, I'd close my eyes and try, try, try... Try to feel the weight of my wings, which were no longer there."

Genre:
Fantasy / Romance
Author:
xKJFERGUSONx
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
4
Rating:
4.9 10 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter 1



(Dristan’s POV)

I had lost count of how many days had passed.

I had lost count of how many nights I’d spent alone, screaming internally.

I had lost count of how long I had wished that I could scream out loud, if only to release the all consuming anguish that had burrowed inside of me like a tick and taken root in my heart.

But I couldn’t scream.

I couldn’t make a sound.

They would hear me if I did.

Those things...

Those things that had devoured the other soldiers that had fallen through the portal with me. Those things, those creatures, that lurked within the permanent shadows of this world. This world, this wretched, inky world, where the sun never rose and the moon never set.

Night ruled this world.

The constant darkness made it impossible to decipher how long I’d been in this realm. Time didn’t seem to exist, here. There was no cycle of sun and moon. There were no clocks, no tools, no logic... No hope, or happiness. There was only the night, and the stillness, and the distant crying of tortured animals...

And so, with only quietude, darkness, and empty thoughts filled with consternation to keep me company, I did the only thing that I could do...

I existed.

I sat in the still, dark world I’d been damned to, existing within the immeasurable seconds that tiptoed onward. I clung to the memories of my home, praying to the gods to somehow keep me from losing my mind, to keep me from slipping away from myself.

Did the gods exist here? In this realm? This realm, with no sun?

The sun... Oh, gods, how I missed the sun.

Though, not as much as I missed...

I winced as her name rippled across the surface of my isolated thoughts. Like a petal across a still, cool pond...

I tried not to think of her. I would sometimes stare into the pitch black abyss for hours, willing my mind to go just as blank as that dark space. And sometimes, it would work.

For awhile...

But never for long.

She always came back to my mind, to my wandering thoughts. Sometimes, it pained me so greatly that I couldn’t remember how to inhale. Sometimes, The memory of her face, of her scent, of her voice... It felt like a hot iron blade to my gut.

But as the endless time continued to pass, I began to treasure the thoughts of her. The longer I was stranded here, the more I clung to her memory. It was starting to become the only thing that seemed to help me get from one lungful of oxygen to the next.

It was starting to become the only thing that reminded me that I was still alive. The only thing that reminded me of who I was... Or, who I used to be, at least. She was the only thing reminding me that something existed beyond this darkness...

Maybe...

I couldn’t feel her anymore. Our mate bond had gone silent when I had awoken here. The absolute horror I’d felt when I’d first realized it had nearly destroyed me. I’d spent hours, maybe even days, curled up on the frigid ground. I’d been nothing but a shuddering ball of anguish, without even the luxury of being able to cry, or scream...

Not when those things would hear me if I did.

The other end of that steel cord between us, where there once had been a warm, familiar soul attached, was now occupied by nothing but cold silence. Just like this place... Although, sometimes, I would swear that I could hear the whisper of her voice in my head. I was never sure if it was real, or if I was truly going mad.

It would be so easy to lose my mind here, in this God’s forsaken place...

So, so easy...

Crunch, squelch, crunch...

The sudden rustling of leaves, accompanied by the heavy crunching of twigs and the squelching of mud, snapped me out of my unfocused thoughts.

I didn’t move a muscle. I remained seated on the floor, my back pressed tightly against the rotting wood of the wall. I stared toward the withered, cracked door of the cabin as the sound drew closer.

Ragged, uneven breathing filled the silence of the night just outside that door. The sickening clacking and twisting of unnaturally jointed legs caused my eyes to close as dread crept up my spine.

My jaw flexed over and over again as I waited, willing myself to become the embodiment of silence. It was always this way... Sitting, waiting, listening... I was beginning to feel less like a man, and more like a part of the wooden walls around me.

The several, flimsy locks on the door did little to set my mind at ease. As did the few pieces of furniture that I’d crammed against it. Those things could easily get through.

If they heard me...

As long as I stayed silent, they would eventually wander away.

I wished I knew what the creatures were. Wished I knew how to kill them. Wished I could do something, do anything, other than sit here and exist.

Upon waking in this world, Gods knew how long ago, I’d found my fellow soldiers being slaughtered. The ones who had fallen through the portal with me, Human, Dragon and Fae alike, were all being torn apart by something in the darkness.

It had been difficult to see them through the sooty veil of the night, but from what I could see, the creatures were like my deepest nightmares come to life. We had fearsome creatures in our world, but I had never seen any that compared to the vile, horrid things that walked this realm.

They were somewhat humanoid. Their skin was pale white, shriveled and twisted, like sun bleached prunes along their limbs. They did not speak. They wore no clothing. They had no hair. Their arms and legs were twisted, as if their joints hadn’t formed correctly. They were thin, lanky and frighteningly tall. Some reached ten feet, others neared fifteen. Their heads were unnervingly misshapen.

Their movements were odd... Stiff. And the sound they made when they moved... Like bones, clacking against each other. I couldn’t see any evidence of their eyes. Their noses seemed to be missing, with just two small slits in their place. The most memorable feature was their mouths. Their mouths were huge. Gaping and blood stained, with thick saliva glistening as it dripped from their uneven, razor sharp teeth.

Their bent fingers were long, with talons protruding from the ends. They didn’t seem to posses any kind of higher intelligence. They didn’t speak, or observe, or even seem to have any form of thought process behind their chaotic attacks...

They only snarled and growled, killing anything they could sink their teeth into, like wild, blood thirsty animals.

After waking, it took a few moments for the shock to subside. I had stared in confusion and dread at the bodies that lay strewn across the forest floor, some un-moving, some still fighting for their lives. I’d watched in disbelief as the few of my remaining men swung their iron and silver filled weapons at the creatures, only to find that the creatures did not fall once they’d been struck.


Our weapons could not kill them. And if our weapons could not kill them, then what weapon would be able to? There were no weapons stronger than ours.

I had observed in horror as each limb that my men cut from the creatures grew back almost instantly. Even their heads...

When the shock finally let go of my body, I’d jumped to my feet, conjuring my magic to fight them off. But my blood ran cold when I realized that my magic was missing. There was a small, insignificant amount of it still stuck to the bottom of the pit of power that dwelled inside of me, but not nearly enough to help me fight. It was so weak that it hardly even sparked at my fingertips.

This realm had stolen everything from me.

My magic was...

Gone.

My dragon...

Silent.

My knees had given out from beneath me as I felt for him in the frozen tundra of my mind, only to find that he, too, was missing. I couldn’t feel him. I couldn’t hear him in my mind. I couldn’t feel his power in my bones. I searched desperately for his strength, his anger, his unending instinct for survival that had always fed my own...

WHERE ARE YOU?!

No answer.

ANSWER ME!

No answer.

Please...

But there was still no answer. Where my dragon had once resided now lived a deep, cavernous hole, filled with nothing but the grief and desolation that his loss had left behind.

I was weak. Helpless.

Practically human...

And unmistakably, unimaginably, unfathomably...

Alone.

More soldiers were being slain. The creatures used no weapons... only their claws and their teeth. Soon, there would be none of us left. Stunned and disoriented, I pulled my sword from my sheath. The creatures had not spotted me, yet because I’d landed further away from the other men. They would see me soon enough. I knew I couldn’t fight them off, but what choice did I have? I wouldn’t go easily. I would give them hell, first.

But then, when the dead soldiers on the ground began to twitch and spasm against the earth, I’d lost my sense of determination to fight. My sword had lowered as I watched, my eyes bulging out of my skull, my legs frozen with dread.

Impossible...

But I had watched it with my own two eyes. I’d watched as those dead soldiers were resurrected. And when they had stumbled to their feet and begun to growl and hiss like the other creatures had...

I knew I had to run.

Whatever these things were... They were turning my men into more of their own kind. The last of the men perished quickly, coming back almost instantly as the same, repulsive monsters that had killed them. I made up my mind right then.

Whatever these things were, whatever they had turned my men into... They would not do the same to me. I wouldn’t allow it.

I would not stay here. I would not die here. I would find a way out, find a way back to my own realm, to the people that loved me.

To Brenya...

I had to run.

With what little magic I could conjure, I’d managed to mask the sound of my movements. I did not know how long I cold keep my sounds camouflaged, but there was no choice left for me.

I fled.

I ran, blinded by the night, silent and desperate for an escape. As long as I was silent, the murderous creatures roaming the forest didn’t seem to notice me. I’d passed several of them, but they hadn’t chased me.

I soon realized that they were blind.

This made sense to me now. Why would they need to see in a world that was constantly dark? They were driven by their sense of sound. As long as I remained silent, I could evade them. I could survive.

I mourned my men as I fled, wishing there had been something I could’ve done to save them. I was their Dragon Lord, and I’d failed them. But what could I have done, other than joined them in death? There was nothing I could’ve done to save those men.

This wasn’t my world.

I wasn’t a Dragon Lord here.

After searching for some form of shelter for what felt like hours, I’d finally come upon an old, crumbling cabin. I’d almost missed it. Everything in this realm was surrounded by thick woods, and cloaked in darkness. As I neared it, it appeared abandoned, and fragile, but it was better than sitting out in the forest and waiting to be noticed.

So I’d slipped inside.

I’d been hiding here ever since.

I left the cabin only to find food, of which there was very little. I’d been surviving mostly on potatoes, carrots and leeks, which luckily grew wild nearby.

I’d once spotted a rabbit, which I’d nearly killed and eaten, but then I’d noticed it’s rotting flesh and the exposed ribs that were poking out of its sides. I noticed it’s eyes, glazed over and vacant, and the odd way in which it moved about the forest floor...

It was dead... Yet, alive.

Like my men...

Like the creatures.

Crunch, crunch, squelch...

Clack, clack, clack...

I held my breath, pressing my head against the cold, wooden wall as their steps drew closer. The walls were cracked and ancient... I could hear their ragged breath just on the other side. I could see their shadows slicing though the pale, dusty beams of moonlight that shone through the cabin’s cracks.

I closed my eyes, not making a single sound. I’d mastered this ability. I was the embodiment of nothingness. I was stillness, personified. I was silence, incarnate.

I simply existed, without existing at all...

Just like I had done every day since I’d been stranded here.

How long had it been?

A month? Six? A year? More than a year?

I didn’t know. Couldn’t say with confidence how long it had been since I had actually spoken out loud. I wondered if my vocal chords still worked... Or had they rusted over?

Sometimes, I mouthed words to myself as I sat in the darkness. I didn’t speak them... Just formed my lips around the syllables, just to see if my mouth remembered how.

Sometimes I would sleep, and wake, only to lay there, un-moving, until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, and I’d sleep again. Over, and over...

Sometimes, I’d open my mouth just to stretch my jaw muscles after going days without using them. Sometimes, I’d stand up and stretch my arms and legs and back after not moving for hours on end. Sometimes, I’d close my eyes and try, try, try... Try to feel the weight of my wings, which were no longer there.

Clack, clack, clack clack clack...

I gritted my teeth, my hands balling into fists in my lap. I listened to the creatures as I slowly dragged air in and out of my lungs.

Inhale... Exhale...
Inhale... Exhale...
Inhale... Exhale...

Brenya...

I wondered what she was doing right now, this instant.

Was she alright? What happened after I fell through the portal? My jaw ached as my teeth clamped down hard, thinking about the mysterious male who had pushed me into that bright, blue light. I thought of how he had looked at her, how he spoke to her as if he knew her.

He coveted what was mine... And I was no longer there to ensure that he never got what he wanted.

Helpless. I was helpless. And helplessness, I decided, was the most terrifying thing I’d ever faced. Scarier, even, than the creatures lurking outside of my door. Scarier, even, than the endless, black silence. Scarier, even, than the possibility of being forever alone in this place.

I would kill that man. Somehow... Some way, I would.

I continued to count my breaths as I sat in the stillness, and I imagined myself slowly pulling off his fingernails, one by one. I envisioned the satisfaction I would feel when his tortured screams filled my ears. The elation I would find as his blood coated my skin.

Inhale... Exhale...
Inhale... Exhale...
Inhale... Exhale...

Brenya...

Was she thinking of me?

Did she still exist?

Had she ever existed at all?

Had my old world ever existed at all?

Was anyone looking for me?

Had I fallen through the portal, or had I died?

Was this hell? It felt like it.

I felt like I’d always been here. I could hardly remember what it felt like to be anywhere else. The reality of my old life felt as if it were slipping away, disappearing through my fingers, like sand.

All that was left was a silent cabin and the creatures lurking outside it’s walls.

Everything else seemed like a long lost dream, now...

A dream that I clung to with all of my might as I existed within the walls of what I could only describe as the opposite... A nightmare. Except I wasn’t asleep. I couldn’t wake up from this nightmare, this place.

There was no relief, no promise of the morning, no rising sun to chase the devils away.

There was only the night.

And the demons.

And me.

Someone...

Please...

Help me.


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