Chapter 22: Daerius
“Why the hell would you have to fight your ex-fiancé to the death?” I ask, completely confused.
“Because it’s a sign of disrespect to interrupt a bond and the consequence of disrespect is a fight to the death,” she growls furiously.
“You are a great fighter though, you have nothing to worry about,” I shrug, trying to make it seem like nothing. I wipe the blood that is still running from my nose and wince at the pain.
“I’m a good fighter compared to wolves, but I am nothing compared to male dragons! Much less a dragon warrior!” She yells, shoving me back into the wall.
I stay silent, my face going emotionless as I try to look strong.
“I hope you’re underestimating yourself,” I mutter before walking over to the guards.
“I’d like to go back to my cell now,” I growl and they escort me back to the prison. They push me into my cell and I immediately sit down against the wall.
“Oh god, Daerius are you alright?” Angel gasps, reaching through the bars to examine my nose. I smack her hand away.
“What the hell happened up there? Is Lyza married?” She questions. I shake my head.
“No, right before they were bonded, I lost control, yelled and Lyza ended it,” I tell her.
“What else happened to make you so upset?” She asks, seeing right through my façade.
“Apparently with dragon shifters, the punishment for interrupting a bonding ritual is a fight to the death in dragon form, and it’s tomorrow.”
“So? Lyza is a really good fighter, I mean you saw how many of our guards she put in the hospital and all those shadows she killed. What’s the big deal?” She shrugs.
“That’s what I said. But Lyza said she is nothing compared to male dragons, and the guy she was going to marry is also a warrior, so trained,” I sigh, rubbing the bridge of my healed nose.
Angel grabs my hand and squeezes it. She lets out a heavy breath.
“I still fucking hate Lyza’s guts, but for your sake, I hope she wins tomorrow.”
“Let’s go, don’t want to be late,” the guard chuckles, pushing me in front of him.
I frown, glancing over at Angel whose guard is following her like a drooling puppy.
What the hell is wrong with your guard? I mind-link her.
I flirted with him a little and now he is much nicer, I would suggest you try it but I don’t think he is gay, she replies, a small smirk on her lips.
I make an irritated face at her. You are so helpful you know that? I ask sarcastically.
I try, she chuckles. I roll my eyes and look forward as the guards guide us out of the palace-castle-looking building.
“Is the fight always at night?” I ask a guard.
“Yeah, it makes it much more difficult for the fighters. It helps make sure strength is not the determining factor in who will win,” he says.
“That’s good, maybe Lyza will have a chance,” I mutter, looking over at Angel who nods.
“Princess Lyza has nothing to worry about,” Angel’s guard scoffs. The path we are walking on suddenly inclines.
“Wait, what? She said she is nothing against a male warrior,” I say, confused.
“Yeah she doesn’t, but her dragon is one of the most powerful here. She has to wear a cold iron collar when she shifts otherwise she won’t be able to shift back,” the guard tells me.
“Why would she be mad then?”
“Maybe because she actually loves this guy that she is going to have to kill?” Angel suggests.
“Princess Lyza and Kailo have been promised to one another since they were teenagers, they never left each other’s side except when Kailo had guard duties,” her guard tells us.
We end up walking between two of the volcanoes and on the other side is a massive bowl-structure in the black dirt. It is easily more than 100ft across and over 50ft deep.
The guards take us to what I guess are viewing stands. They are like stairs but further spread and taller like seats.
Angel and I are pushed onto the lowest bench while the guards sit behind us.
My heart begins to pound as I look at the blood stains in the dirt below. I turn my head just in time to see Lyza walking towards the dirt bowl.
She looks extremely hot in a red dress that is tight at the top but flares out at her hips. Her red hair is curled and the makeup she is wearing makes her green eyes unnaturally vivid.
She makes eye contact with me for a moment before looking away. She walks to the edge before jumping down into the dirt.
“Wow, I can’t do that barefooted,” Angel mutters when Lyza lands in a crouch. She dropped about 50ft and made it look easy.
“Well that’s not good,” a guard mumbles behind me to the other.
“What’s not good?” I ask, panicking.
“Princess Lyza has a different collar, so that will either be good or bad for her,” he says. I follow his gaze to a group of men carrying a large metal collar.
“Shit! That is a huge collar!” Angel exclaims. She’s right, it is a few feet in diameter and looks extremely heavy.
The men bring the collar into the ring and lay it down in the dirt. They yank on either side of it and it snaps open.
Then Kailo appears, followed closely by Lyza’s uncle, and jumps down into the bowl. He stand on the opposite side as Lyza.
“Do they always dress so nicely?” Angel asks. I notice Kailo’s black suit and wonder the same thing.
“Of course, for one of them this will be their initiation into the afterlife,” her guard replies.
“Today we will witness the trial of Princess Lyza and Kailo of the guard. The werewolf prisoner Daerius interrupted the bonding ceremony. Lyza is taking the werewolf’s place in the challenge against Kailo,” her uncle announces in a booming voice and my eyes widen.
“What? I’m the one that is supposed to fight?” I ask, looking towards Lyza who simply gives me blank stare.
“Technically yes, but it is customary that if the offender is not a dragon then a shifter will take their place in order to make it a fair fight. You should be thankful, if it weren’t for Lyza, you’d be dead already,” the guard tells me.
“Kailo and Lyza will shift, then after Lyza’s collar is put on, the fight will commence. It does not have to remain in the circle, but must stay within the borders of Fire Dragon Territory. The fight is to the death, so the winner will be declared after the death of their opponent,” King Adarath says.
All eyes turn towards Lyza and Kailo. The sound of cracking fills my ears and I watch as their limbs start to contort. Kailo shifts quickly, his clothes ripping, and his body increasing in size.
In seconds, Kailo becomes a large orange-red dragon, with a muscular form and short, powerful wings.
“He’s not a Fury,” I mutter in realization. One of the guards nods.
“Lyza and her uncle are the only Fury dragons that anyone knows of.”
I hear a cry and see Lyza on her hands and knees. Her face is twisted in pain as her bones move and rearrange themselves. Her skin slowly becomes black and scaled, and her limbs bend into clawed feet.
Her eyes snap open and they are the fiery red I have seen only twice before. She lets out a scream when sharp spikes suddenly burst from her spine and in less than a minute, her dress falls in shreds to the dirt and a massive black dragon lays in the dirt.
My eyes widen as the men suddenly snap her collar on, then run. The dragon lets out a roar and leap to its feet.
“That’s Lyza’s dragon?” Angel hisses in shock.
“She said his name is Talon and that when she shifts, he takes over completely. There is no middle ground like with wolves, you don’t share control I guess,” I explain.
Talon has scales that look like obsidian and gleaming claws on his wings that match the spikes running down his back and tail. The end of his tail is barbed, and look just as sharp as his talons.
Talon and Kailo’s dragon both stretch out their wings and I am shocked to see that Lyza’s dragon is bigger by a few feet, however much more slender and appears to be less muscular.
“Let the challenge begin!” King Adarath’s voice rings out.
Talon immediately darts forward, slamming his head into Kailo’s chest and knocking him onto his back. Talon locks his jaws around his opponent’s neck, the sharp teeth piercing through the tough scales, but only for a few moments.
Kailo throws him off and attempts a slash at Talon’s chest but catches his shoulder instead. Blood, so dark it looks black, flows onto the dirt from both dragons’ wounds but both appear to be undeterred. I close my eyes and bury my face in my hands.
“This is going to be a long and brutal fight.”