To say I was upset about being kidnapped by Larkspur, the self-proclaimed dragon king and all-around asshole, would be one of those grand understatements, like saying a cyclone was just a little storm, or Braxton Compass just a little deadly. No, I wasn’t upset, not upset at all – my emotions were running hotter than the depths of hell, fire burning in my gut and utter hatred swamping every feeling in my body.
It felt like weeks since my entire world had been turned upside down, but I knew it was no more than a single day. Twenty-four hours—nothing really in the eight hundred plus years I could live—and yet it was the longest day of my life so far.
My mind continued reliving the moment Larkspur had snatched me up from Krakov, the Romanian supernatural prison, and flew like a freaking human lizard through his step through. I had no idea where the frig we were—some sort of castle floating through the sky. I was pretty sure we were nowhere on Earth. The tall, honey-blond dragon king had dumped my butt into this room and then left without a word.
I stepped gingerly through the mess of wood, feathers, and linen that covered the floor and made my way to the one, tiny window. I took my time examining the landscape and grounds again, memorizing the visible stone paths that led from this building, trying to orient myself so I might have a shot at escaping. The castle seemed to consist of a weird mixture of rough, grayish stone, and a cream-colored, porous granite, all of which swirled together into large turrets and a mile-wide series of smaller buildings, a mess of mazes which would make escaping extremely difficult.
Not to mention the entire concoction was floating about ten miles in the air.
If I didn’t hate the dragon king so much, I’d admire his genius.
My wolf and dragon were restless inside. We did not like the strange magic surrounding us. It was not natural—it felt like the fey, only a million times stronger. Yeah, I was taking a guess here, but it made sense that Larkspur would hide in Faerie. Few supes lived here, and the land was pure magic. The perfect world in which to hatch his dastardly plan.
A low thud at the door had me swiveling and falling into a semi-crouched position. The door was heavy and metal, reinforced and bolted. I knew this because I’d spent the first part of my time here trying to smash it down. Even calling on my dragon hadn’t helped, and she was strong. Obviously, old Larky had planned for that. Larky. I was totally calling him that from now on. I just knew it was something he’d hate. He was all regal and proper and king-like, and Larky sounded like a baby bird or some shit.
I stalked closer to the door. Whoever walked through was going down. I could already feel my body changing as my wolf shifted closer to the surface. We did not like to be caged; we would kill our abductor and we would make it hurt.
I was about three feet from the massive door when I felt the stirring of magic, and then a small gap appeared in the stone, just above my head. I caught a flash of a face, skin which looked to be a scaly green. Then a tray was pushed through to my side.
I lunged forward, prepared to pull scaly through also. I was not above using a hostage to try and get out of here, but the magically-reinforced opening only allowed one-directional movement. My hand slammed against the gap like it was solid rock. Which kinda hurt. Cursing, I yanked the tray out and flung it like a Frisbee across the room. It smashed against the far wall and joined the rest of the rubble on the floor.
“You should eat,” a low voice murmured through the door. “I won’t bring you more food for six hours.”
Truth. Even the demi-fey couldn’t hide truth from me.
My stomach protested. I hadn’t eaten for a while, but I’d be damned if I took any of king asshole’s food. I would rather starve.
Okay, that might be some crazy talk going on there. Maybe I’d just make a decent attempt at a self-induced starvation protest.
Shut it, I mentally chastised my stomach.
I focused on scaly again. “Come in here and make me eat it,” I said. I could only hope the supe on the other side was one who couldn’t resist a challenge.
There was a brief pause, then I swear I heard a chuckle before the magic dissipated and the opening was gone. New waves of anger and frustration rose up in my mess of emotions. I wanted to scream loudly. It was on the tip of my tongue. But I would not give them the satisfaction. I had no doubt the dragon king was watching me. I was getting a creepy vibe, and he was as creeptastic as all hell.
I stepped away from the door again, making my way over to the last space on the floor clear of debris in the large, round room. I settled down and crossed my legs, my back against the gray stone wall.
Time to connect to my dragon.
Closing my eyes and settling my thoughts were step one. I breathed deeply, deliberately, trying to calm the tumult of emotions. It took some time, but finally, when I felt that I was as Zen as I could be under current circumstances, I reached for my beast.
For most of my twenty-two years, I thought the dragon was a demon living inside of me. My dragon mark had been spelled and she was hidden away, which had damaged the bond between us. I could feel her there. I practically saw her as she prowled around inside, but I couldn’t shift on command. The wall between us was always present; the only time it busted open was when I was in mortal danger.
Braxton had said that my dragon and I needed time for our bond to properly form, that after this all the issues would disappear. So since I had nothing but time right now, I was going to try and bond with the biggest weapon I had at my disposal.
I let my consciousness drift toward her, bypassing my wolf, who was content to let our dragon sister have the floor. I hovered on the near side of the wall, trying to seep through, trying to figure out how to reach her. She roared at me, sensing my need. We needed to escape. We needed to find our family. We needed our Compasses. We needed Braxton.