Home > Snow Dragon (Dragon Knights #13)

Snow Dragon (Dragon Knights #13)
Author: Bianca D'Arc

 

PROLOGUE

The past…

 

Luc, an adolescent warrior of the Veil, stood firm in the driving wind as tiny crystals of snow scoured his fair face. He awaited the imminent arrival of his heartmate, the creature that would share his life and his battles for the rest of their existences. Like many of his kind, he listened closely to portents and visions.

Today was the day his heartmate would come to him.

He’d seen it in dreams. The giant iridescent egg, the swirling snow that matched the hue and sparkle of the creature inside. The crack that had become many and the creature that had emerged.

In the distance, Luc saw a solid blur of white standing within the driving snow. A massive wing took shape in his vision, then another on the other side. A moment later, a draconic head loomed between them on a long, sinewy neck and crystalline eyes blinked open, meeting his for the first time.

Even across the distance of the snowfield separating them, a connection was made. One that would last a lifetime.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

The present…

 

“There’s another one camped on the south side.” Roja stowed his tack in the chamber common to all dragon scouts in the enclave. He’d just come off duty with his dragon partner, Bruuk, while Luc was preparing to go out with Shilayla. They’d spent years training together for this duty while Luc had grown into a man and Shi had blossomed into a lovely juvenile dragon. She was not quite full size yet, but she was larger than most of the other dragon scouts already, having been hatched in the wild. On the verge of full maturity, she was already a force to be reckoned with physically, if still a bit immature in other ways.

“There’s always a new one camping on the edge of the Veil.” Luc shrugged as he buttoned his fur-lined cloak. “What’s so special about this one that made you mention it?”

Roja paused, a strange look passing over his sharp features. “This one looked up.”

All activity in the bustling room ceased. “Did he see you?” Luc asked.

Roja stopped to consider. “Hard to say. I thought for a moment when we banked to the left…” The young scout scratched his head. “But it was not meant to be. When we came back around, she wasn’t looking upward anymore.”

Luc’s curiosity piqued enough to make the tiny hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He knew enough to pay attention to such feelings. In his years of training with his heartmate, Shilayla, he’d learned the value instinct.

“A female, then.” Shivers of fate coursed down his spine.

Roja shrugged. “From what we could see. Bruuk says she smelled female. And human, with a hint of magic.”

“Strange.” Luc said no more, though he was intrigued. Humans rarely had magic of their own, but a dragon’s senses were seldom wrong.

A sparkling white scaled head loomed through the massive archway. Shilayla had less patience than other dragons. She used her long neck to reach in and butt her nose against Luc’s back, almost knocking him over with her urgency.

“Must go. Must go now!” The young dragon’s voice sounded through Luc’s mind as it had since even before she’d hatched. She’d been just a baby, orphaned in the snow. It had been a prophetic vision paired with the baby dragon’s anguished cries from inside the egg that had led Luc to her in the middle of a blizzard.

“Hold on, precious.” Luc turned to stroke her scaled head. “We’re going.”

“Now! Must go now. She needs me. She needs us.”

Luc came to full attention at the dragon’s startling words. “Who, Shi? Who needs us?”

“Must go!” The young dragon opened her huge jaw and took hold of her partner’s arm. Such an action was unprecedented among the dragons of the Veil Lair. All of them knew the danger the dragon’s razor-sharp teeth presented to their fragile-skinned fighting partners. Shilayla had certainly never done anything like this in all their years together, no matter that she’d been born wild.

Luc tried to reach her on the pathway that connected them mind to mind, soul to soul. “Let go, sweetheart. I’ll go with you.”

“Go now!” He felt the distress that made her nearly incoherent as their minds connected.

“Yes, my love. We’ll go right now.”

She loosed his arm and backed out of the room, waiting impatiently for him in the cavernous hall, shifting her weight from foot to foot in agitation. Luc felt the eyes of his brethren on him in the silent room, but he didn’t take time to acknowledge their curiosity. Something had his dragon partner in a fit, and he suspected the human woman camped out on the border had something to do with it. Though how Shilayla could know about the trespasser, he didn’t yet understand.

Luc climbed onto the white dragon’s back, and a split second later, she launched into the air in one powerful push. Massive wings unfurled on either side, flapping in great sweeps to give them lift. The exhilaration of flight was something Luc never took for granted, but this frenzied launch into the cold morning air was even more powerful than usual for his young dragon partner. Shilayla was truly agitated. So much so, she’d reverted to the stunted sentences of her babyhood.

“There!” she cried into his mind, her voice laced with both distress and triumph.

Luc felt them cross the Veil that separated the Lair from the surrounding barren landscape. The ripple of magic against his exposed cheeks was followed a moment later by the blistering cold of the unprotected lands.

Squinting against the wind, he could just make out a huddled figure sitting at a tiny fire, shivering. The fur-wrapped stranger looked up as they passed overhead, and even over the distance separating them, Luc felt a shock go through him.

Snow Dragons were not to be seen. The sparkling white of their hides and the special magic they wielded made it nearly impossible for them to be detected in the snowbound lands by ordinary folk. For a supplicant to be aware of their presence was rare and usually rated a closer look and invitation beneath the Veil. The only way for a stranger to enter the hidden enclave of fair folk and dragons was by invitation. Needless to say, such invitations were rarely issued.

Shilayla made a hasty spiral downward. Even in her rush, she was an elegant flyer, and Luc had no difficulty sticking to the giant dragon’s back as she plowed up only a small amount of snow with her massive clawed feet. She came to rest not far from the stranger, though only the woman’s head followed their progress.

Why hadn’t she gotten to her feet? Wouldn’t the appearance of a sacred Snow Dragon merit some display of courtesy or even alarm? Something was very wrong. He felt it in his bones.

Shilayla trotted over to the fur-bundled figure, not even giving Luc a chance to dismount before she was hovering over the stranger, her wings blocking most of the wind. Shilayla created a warm little shelter between her natural inner fire and the protection of her wings that would bring comfort to a near-frozen traveler, but still, the stranger didn’t get up. She only followed Shilayla’s movements with wide, wonder-filled eyes.

Luc slid down from the dragon’s back and approached the woman slowly. Her dark eyes stayed trained on Shilayla until he moved. When the woman caught sight of Luc and their gazes locked, a tingle of magic made the ground ripple beneath his feet—at least, that’s what it felt like. Shock spurred him to motion.

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