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Synopsis

To Light The Dragon’s Fire – Book 1 of the Dragons, Griffons and Centaurs, Oh My! Series brings all the mythological creatures you know and love into a modern world uniquely their own. Follow the adventures of Draven, Terra, Lanni and Arin as they battle a brand new kind of Evil who will stop at nothing to rule it all!


Chapter Two

None

Draven Taraxus stared out his window, only half-listening to Jarex Copsa and Kyde Phara, current Regents of the Griffon and Pegasus population go at it.

“I will not stand by and let you insult my Roost, horse, much less my people,” Jarex squawked. His short beak clacked together a couple of times and his wings expanded, flapping loudly. “I demand you withdraw these accusations, at once!”

Kyde snapped a hoof against the stone floor of his private conference room, sparks shooting off in several directions. “I will not!” His large head nodded toward the table and he snorted. “The evidence of the Griffon’s involvement in the raids is right there! Your Majesty, I implore you to not only sanction Roost Baltus, but all the Griffon Houses.”

Draven didn’t move. Internally he sighed, really wanting to set aside his crown and give the two overbearing, arrogant leaders a lesson in manners. He wouldn’t, but that didn’t stop the desire from coursing along his arms. Silence stretched across the room and he caught two of his personal guards shifting ever so slightly out of the corner of his eye.

They were nervous in the face of their natural enemies and he couldn’t blame them. He hated dealing with them as well, but as King, he didn’t have much choice. Not anymore.

He stamped down his primal instincts and turned, keeping his tone appropriately measured. “I will peruse the evidence presented and adjudicate my decision in four rotations.”

Jarex’s green eyes narrowed but he bowed his head in acceptance. The Griffon couldn’t argue with the decision and they both knew it.

Kyde’s head dipped regally and he spun, hooves sparking against the stones as he left.

Jarex waited two heartbeats and followed, his long front talons scraping the floor.

The scurrying of much smaller feet across the table drew his gaze. Furiem Corlant darted toward the sheaf of papers the Pegasus had left and stacked them together with his small hands. “Well done, Sire,” the Ferret said. He rolled the ‘evidence’ up, stuffed it into a tube then tucked it into a bag he dragged along behind him. “I will compile a report forthwith,” he added, patting the canvas cover.

A smile tugged at his lips. “Thank you, Furiem. I look forward to it.”

The animal bowed its head and scampered off the table again, humming a jovial sounding tune. He skipped across the stones and disappeared through a small door at the other end of the room.

Draven liked the little guy and was thankful he’d hired him as the official Reporter.

Left alone, save for the guards, he turned back to the window. Staring up at the fluffy blue clouds in the sky, he wanted to be up there, right now, instead of stuck in this cold, impersonal place, waiting for the next dispute in need of settling.

He longed to feel the wind lifting him higher and higher. He ached deep in his chest to float among the masses of fluff, almost desperate to feel the moisture slide across his scales…

It wasn’t to be though. He hadn’t had a free flight in a number of Suns, not since they’d set that ugly monstrosity on his head.

The door behind him swung open and his second in command strode calmly across the room. Catching his reflection in the glass pane, he smiled.

Arin Manus returned it and stopped beside him. Handsome in his own way, he swiped shoulder length tawny hair back over his shoulder and his golden brown eyes swung toward him with a look he couldn’t read. Dressed in a three-piece pinstriped suit of black, he folded his corded arms across his chest and sighed softly. “How did it go?”

He snorted once and clenched a hand into a fist. “The same way it always does when the Griffons start shit,” he answered honestly. “How about you?”

Arin shrugged a shoulder. “The market took a hit today,” he said calmly. “According to rumor, the Centaurs are on the verge of revealing some new machine that will greatly improve harvesting. Buzz is, it will revolutionize the farming community and the Goblins are all over it, buying up stock as fast as they can mine the gems to do it.”

“And the Ogres? How did they take your questions?”

Arin snorted softly and his thumb grazed across his upper chest. “Fine. I handled it well enough.”

He scrubbed a hand down his face and dropped his eyes to the city below, watching the throng of his citizens moving here and there. It wasn’t yet evening and the city still hummed with life. Buildings of stone and steel stretched away from his vantage point, some almost as tall as his own offices.

They were a contradiction in terms and he could only blame his bastard of a father for the change in their lives. A hundred Suns ago, the aging ruler had just…disappeared. When he reappeared, he was full of tales of the human world. A place that most believed no longer existed, himself included.

He’d ranted and raved about technology and computers and vehicles that moved faster than any Centaur or Dragon and great machines that moved the soil with hardly any effort and foods more delicious than any in the Five Kingdoms and drinks more intoxicating than even Goblinale…

The Council thought him utterly mad, of course, and voted immediately for impeachment.

And that left him with the crown firmly seated on his head, something he never wanted! He’d been happy before that, content to take flight whenever it suited him, or wile away the daylights and darkfalls in whatever bed of whatever female companion he might choose at the time.

Two Suns after the council had declared his father insane and his own Coronation had taken place, he’d found the laptop the King had brought back with him and all the marvelous wonders it contained.

It was too late to help his father though. Sadly the King had taken his own life after being removed from the Throne. After finding the device, though he realized that some of the things from that place could be used to vastly improve their lives. Along with Arin’s help, they’d slowly been introducing the advances to their world.

His father may have had his issues, but it was only fair to honor what few good memories he had of the man by doing what the King could not during his tenure.

And it worked. Over the next 10 Suns, the wars between the various races had ceased in the face of ever improving technology. Age old feuds were set aside when factions realized they could use one another and both gain profits from the interaction.

For the last 90 Suns, life had been good. Peace reigned and he was proud of all they had accomplished.

Until now. Now life seemed to be nothing more than a never ending series of reports and meetings and conference calls and, and, and…

The door swung open again drawing his attention. One of the guards stepped in front of their newest visitor, hand falling to the sword at his hip.

Draven couldn’t quite see who was trying to enter, blocked from view by the broad shield he carried. The guard’s head bobbed once and whomever it was retreated as another closed the door in their wake. Tane, if he remember correctly, spun on a heel and started across the long room, the look on his face a combination of shock and confusion. He stopped right behind them and bowed to a knee, chin dropping to his chest. “Forgive the intrusion, Sire, but there is news you should hear.”

He turned and waved a hand. Realizing a bit belatedly Tane couldn’t see the gesture, he added, “Go on.”

The man’s head snapped up and concern flashed through his eyes. “Humans, Sire. Two of them.”

He blinked, pressing his lips together. “Impossible.”

Arin turned as well and gestured wordlessly for the man to say more.

Tane turned a look toward his commander then back to him. “They were spotted, this morning, near the Northern Caves.”

***

Despite the mythological antiquity of the creature under them – one that shouldn’t even exist – the city toward which they flew looked as modern as the one she’d grown up in. Buildings, some sixty stories tall, stretched for the masses of blue clouds above, glittering brightly in the late afternoon sun rolling toward the west.

Terra Heegan hadn’t known what to expect, couldn’t have guessed really, but from the moment they’d met Enon to now, a part of her had wanted there to be a majestic castle looming in the distance. It would fit the beast better than the modern day skyline ahead, that’s for sure!

“Is, is that a city?” Lanni yelled above the wind.

Enon’s head swung around and he smiled, exposing two rows of body length, very sharp looking teeth. “Sure is,” he replied, his tone gleeful. “That’s Bra’ka!”

She dug her fingers deeper into his scales as they tilted over and began to descend. Even after the proclamation that he hadn’t eaten anyone in a long time, she’d still been tempted to grab Lanni’s hand and rush back into the cave.

Seeming to read her thoughts though, Enon had blocked the entrance with his massive body and again lowered his head. “You can ride, or I can carry you, your choice.”

Thinking back on it, she should have taken him up on the offer to be carried. Sandwiched between two of the hard scales along the ridge of his back, his talon laden paw might have been more comfortable. It certainly would have been warmer! The wind had long since ripped off the hard hat she’d worn for the spelunking and hair covered her eyes. She swiped it away, wishing she was able to reach her pack and dig out a pony-tail holder.

He landed on the tallest building and lowered his head.

Her stomach lurched into her throat but she slid to the gravel covered rooftop. Her legs were shaky, not only from the climb earlier but gripping into his neck during the long ride. She wobbled for a minute then forgot her own pain when Lanni landed beside her. Reaching out to steady her sister, she spoke to the beast again. “Where are we?”

“My office.”

The two words rumbled over her in a wave of heat the likes of which she’d never felt before. It started in the pit of her stomach, similar to an oven on low then built quickly, spreading through her body in a blaze of wildfire she couldn’t have stopped if she tried.

“Thank you Enon, you may return to your post.”

The majestic beast bowed low before lifting off again with a hard flap of his wings. The burst of air kicked up the tiny pebbles, pelting them and she closed her eyes against the barrage. When the wind stopped, she sputtered, swiping the long, unruly mass of hair out of her eyes and spun to confront the man giving such calm sounding orders.

The air stuck in her lungs and her heart stopped dead in her chest. She clutched a hand at her flimsy t-shirt, twisting the material in a fist as if that would start the muscle up again. Her mouth fell open and she tried to suck air past her lips, failing miserably as she stared into the most gorgeous pair of eyes she’d ever seen…

Molten colored, like the lava of a volcano, they drifted up and down slowly, roaming over her from head to toe. Something flashed through them, lightening the irises to the color of a setting sun. His chest expanded, his nostrils flared and the color shifted to a bright red then settled back to the original, glowing orange.

She couldn’t breathe, much less move, and felt similar to a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car.

“Who are you?” Lanni asked.

His gaze swung toward the question, breaking the spell and she gratefully dragged air into her starving lungs. When she could, she gathered her wits and gave him the same once over.

Strong shoulders stretched beneath a double-breasted jacket of light grey and his smoky hair fell past the collar of a pristine white button down shirt. His stance was wide and grey slacks that matched his jacket covered his long, thick legs. The muscles of his thighs bulged as he shifted his weight forward minutely.

“Who are you?” he countered on a growl, those delicious eyes narrowing.

Her beloved sister didn’t seem as mesmerized. “I’m Lanni Heegan. This is my sister, Terra.” She cocked a hip out, crossed her arms and waved a hand toward him. “And you are?”

The man’s spine straightened. The reaction was nearly imperceptible and she’d have totally missed it if she hadn’t been looking right at him. She knew that move, it was the same one her father used whenever an underling questioned his authority.

“Draven Taraxus,” he said in a firm voice. His mouth opened then snapped shut with a clack as the door behind him opened. He cut a look over his shoulder, clearly irritated at the interruption. “What?”

Another man, just a hair taller than Draven with long tawny brown hair and golden eyes, stepped out into setting sun. He was different, not quite human though. His face was slightly elongated, with a short snout and a black, triangular nose. His jaw was thick, block like, his eyes were sunken back into his skull and reminded her of a bi-pedal lion. Crossing his arms over a barrel chest, he shrugged. “Nothing, just wanted to see if it was true for myself.”

Draven turned back and grey smoke coiled out of his nostrils. “Apparently it is.”

Shaken out of her stupor, she put herself between the men and Lanni with a single step. “That’s it,” she said. “Someone better start telling us what the hell is going on, right now!”

***

Arin shoved an elbow in his ribs and jerked his chin toward the women, a hint of teasing in his next words. “Feisty one that.”

Draven snorted softly. No one in a hundred Suns had spoken to him in such a manner. Despite the fact he’d never wanted the crown, it was his by birth and every creature in the Five Kingdoms respected him for wearing it. At least they pretended to, but civil unrest was brewing.

The latest evidence of it was the confrontation just that morning between the Griffon’s and Pegasus.

“Do you know where you are?” Arin asked, interrupting his thoughts.

He swung his eyes back to the pair, locking with the sparkling silver of the one named Terra. He did not expect the same reaction to her as before.

But it happened.

His three hearts seized roughly, each catching on a beat and straining to start up again. The need to become his true self nearly overwhelmed him, making his bones ache to expand and twist and crack before reforming into a beast not unlike Enon. Fire coalesced in his blood, swirling through his body until it threatened to burst from every pore.

He’d been alive hundreds of Suns, slept with hundreds of females in just about every type known, but none had ever lit his Dragon Fire.

Until now…

Oh sure, they all tried, it was tradition, but none had succeeded.

He drew in the burst of cold air that rolled up the side of the building, trying to calm the insistent need to throw her over his shoulder and take her back to his private suite.

It didn’t work.

His palms burned to squeeze the breasts pushing against her too thin shirt. His dick expanded, filling with blood and fire and a desperate need to plunge into her folds. The muscles in his arms vibrated, impulsively wanting to wrap around her and never let go. His fingers itched to dive into the fire-red tresses dangling down her back…

The other one, Lanni, stepped around her sister, her answer to Arin’s question breaking the spell for a second time.

“If we knew, we wouldn’t ask to know, now would we?” she said, tapping a boot covered foot against the roof.

He could hear the wariness in Arin’s reply. “I suppose not. Very well. You are in Bra’ka, the Capitol City.”

Terra spoke up, once more drawing his gaze. “Of?”

He blinked, almost scared to look at her again. “Of?”

Those gorgeous silver eyes pinched into a glare, rolling over him like he was a stupid, just hatched youngling. “Of what? The Capitol of what?”

“The Third Kingdom,” he replied. “Bra’ka is the Capitol of the Third Kingdom.”

The two exchanged a look and it was Lanni that spoke, her voice a low whisper he had no trouble hearing with his hyper-sensitive ears. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Sis.”

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Margaret Taylor

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