Dragonfire, Book 5
by B.J. McCall
eBook ISBN: 06863-02210
For Adatha Krytt there is only one dragon, but he has vanished leaving her to pursue her dream of becoming a dragon warrior. Duty is everything until the day comes when Trynt’s quest becomes Adatha’s mission.
“Race me to the river?” Adatha Krytt fluttered her golden wings. “I’ve shaved five minutes off my time.”
Dressed in his dragon warrior uniform, Trynt Andrak sat on the spread wing of the headless dragon statue that graced the roof of the Wyryk Temple. The wind generated by her wings ruffled Trynt’s sun-streaked brown hair. Just looking at Trynt made Adatha’s heart flutter faster than her wings.
He grinned. “You know I can beat you without working up a sweat.”
Trynt was the fastest flyer in the Wyryk Mountains. “That’s why I want to race you,” Adatha said. “The warrior training tryouts are next week, and I’ve got to be ready. Shift already and let’s fly.”
Adatha whipped her long tail and flapped her wings. She executed a four-point turn, banked her right wing and flew a tight pattern around the temple, coming within inches of the tall columns, then swooped over the headless statue without touching a hair on Trynt’s head. Flapping her gossamer wings, she circled around and hovered before the statue. Only accessible from the air, the Greek style temple was built on the top of a mountain. Far below a river snaked through a wide, fertile valley. The dragon clans of the Wyryk Mountains had worshiped here for over ten thousand years.
Trynt clapped his hands together. “Well done.”
Daily, she’d performed the precision maneuvers Trynt had taught her. “Thanks. I’ve been practicing,” Adatha said.
He gave her an approving smile. “I can see you have.”
She’d flown the length of the valley looking for him. Rarely home now that he was a warrior, Trynt was usually surrounded by family and friends. Adatha wondered why he was alone and hanging around the temple.
“Teach me something new,” she said, eager to spend time with him.
“Sorry, I don’t have the time.”
“I miss flying with you.”
Trynt’s smile faded. “It’s almost time for the bell game. Relax and have a little fun. You have a fine nose for gold. Use it.”
The traditional bell game had originated in the Fire Mountains. Gold bells were hidden in the forest and the dragon that found the most bells won. The games were very popular. “My friends don’t want me to compete,” she said, snorting smoke. “I always win.”
“Find something to track. Tracking is a good skill for a warrior.”
“How about if I track you? I know I can find you.”
Trynt’s gaze met hers. “Not where I’m going.”
“You’re leaving? Already? You promised to evaluate my progress.”
“You’re ready, Adatha. You don’t need me.”
She needed him. He didn’t know how her heart longed for him. “You just came home yesterday. Why are you leaving so soon? Is your unit being called into action?”
“I’m resigning from the dragon warriors.”
“Resigning? I don’t believe you.” Snapping her wings, she executed a head-over-tail roll and did a pinpoint landing on the roof of the temple. “We were going to serve together. I don’t understand.”
“I can’t explain.”
Adatha lowered her horned head and looked into Trynt’s brilliant green eyes. “You know I’m good at keeping secrets. Why are you resigning from the warriors?”
Trynt looked at the sheared neck of the statue.
Adatha gasped. “You’re taking up the quest?”
“I have to leave. I’m sorry about the tryouts. I wanted to be there, but I can’t.”
She’d counted on Trynt’s support. He had to be there. Once she was accepted into warrior training, Trynt would have to accept her as an equal. Adatha was tired of being treated like a friend. She wanted Trynt to see her as a woman. She loved him. She knew in her heart that Trynt was her destined mate. If Trynt took up his clan’s quest, she might never see him again. “I don’t care about the tryouts.”
Trynt grabbed her by the horns and drew her whiskered muzzle close to his handsome face. “I care, and you’d better do me proud. Commander Aurumon needs warriors, and you have much required skills. Don’t you dare say you don’t care!”
Love and fear welled in Adatha’s chest. A tear slid down her scaled cheek. “I care about you. Tell me the truth.”
Pain filled Trynt’s eyes. “My uncle is dead,” he said, releasing her horns. “The quest has been handed off to me.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“He’s been gone so long, I barely remember him.”
Trynt’s uncle had taken up the Andrak quest the year she was born. Now Trynt was leaving. “You’re a dragon warrior. Surely, there is someone else?”
He stood and looked out over the valley. “The clan council has made its decision. I must go.”
“When are you coming back?”
“I can’t return until I have fulfilled the quest.”
“The head’s been missing for two hundred years, and no one has fulfilled the stupid quest!”
He squared his shoulders. “I can’t dishonor my clan. The task is now mine. I must find the dragon’s head.”
She didn’t think about the consequences but reacted to the fire that had been burning in her heart for two long years. Adatha shifted, shrinking in size. Horns, scales, wings and tail disappeared. Cool wind caressed her bare skin and lifted the strands of her long, blonde hair.
Trynt gasped. “Adatha?”
Forgetting her natural state, she ran across the roof to the edge of the statue’s wing and reached out. “Help me up.”
He grasped her hands and lifted her onto the statue’s wing.
“You can’t leave me.”
He hesitated for a heartbeat, then pulled her into his arms. He held her fast and sure, yet his calloused hands were gentle upon her flesh. Trynt buried his face in her neck, and an anguished groan tore from his throat.
“Promise me you’ll come back for me,” she whispered.
Shoulders shaking, he lifted his head and looked into her eyes. “Say goodbye, Adatha, and get on with your life.”
She gripped his shoulders. “I have no life without you.”
“You have your family, your clan and the warriors. You don’t need me.”
She reached up and threaded her fingers through his hair. “I need you.” She pressed her lips to his, willing him to feel her need.
Trynt raised his head. “Don’t tempt me, Adatha. Not today.”
She fisted his hair. “Kiss me. Just once, kiss me before you go.”
Trynt cupped her face and caressed her cheeks with his thumbs. His lips touched hers, softly, then deeply.
She kissed him back, opening her heart. Passion flared, burning red hot. Dragonfire hot. Smoke poured from their nostrils. When the kiss ended, billowing smoke surrounded them.
He ran his thumb over her mouth. “You’re so very beautiful.”
Her breath caught and her heart pounded. “Beautiful? You think I’m beautiful?”
“You take my breath away. I was hoping, once we were both warriors we might, but that’s impossible now.”
Adatha dug her fingers into his shoulder. “Don’t leave. Don’t go on the quest.”
“I have to go. What’s a dragon without honor?”
She saw the set of his jaw and heard the determination in his voice. Nothing she would say or do would stop him. “When are you leaving?”
So soon! The sun had already fallen behind the high peaks. Soon darkness would blanket the mountains. “Grant me one wish before you go?”
“I’d give you the world if I could.”
“One wish, Trynt.”
His gaze searched hers. “Okay.”
“I want you. Give me tonight?”
His pale green eyes widened. “Are you sure?”
She pulled his face down to hers and kissed him. He fisted her hair and deepened the kiss. His mouth was hot and his lips demanding.
Fire swirling in her middle, Adatha unfastened the collar of his uniform and ran her fingertip along the breastplate searching for the release. She needed to feel the heat of his skin.
Trynt groaned and caught her hand. “Be careful. I’m not in battle gear, but I’m armed.”
“I love you, Trynt. There has never been another for me.”
He kissed her palm. “You have no idea how I’ve longed for you.”
“Shall we go?”
His eyes blazed with desire. “Where?”
“Our cave.” It was common for the unmated dragons, especially males, to have private caves in the mountains. Trynt’s hidden cave was deep in the mountains, far from the inhabited valley below. Usually a cave was handed off to a clan member, but Trynt had given his to Adatha. “I often stay there at night. Alone.”
He fastened the collar of his uniform, letting his gaze slide over her like a slow caress. Telltale wisps of smoke seeped from his nostrils. “Let’s fly.”
Trynt ran to the tip of the gilded wing of the headless dragon and jumped, shifting in midair. In a green and silver flash, Trynt changed from a uniformed man into a glorious green dragon.
Warriors were trained to engage an enemy in either form. Once she became a warrior, Adatha would master the technique of the shifting launch. The uniform also transformed during the shift, allowing the warrior to move easily between forms and remain fully armed. The uniform’s breastplate expanded to protect the dragon’s chest. The metallurgy and unique textiles used in weapons and uniforms remained a closely held secret by the warrior dragons of the Fire Mountains.
Adatha shifted, her skin scaling before her arms became wings. Ridges appeared on her back and ran the length of her powerful tail. Horns sprouted from her head, and her teeth were long and sharp.
Trynt roared and blew a stream of fire.
She snapped her wings, caught air and lifted into the sky.
Flying side-by-side, the two dragons headed away from the valley and deeper into the mountains.