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Her Elemental Dragons: Embrace the Dark: Chapter 6

Ipushed my way through the crowd toward Varek, vaguely aware of my other mates following behind me. Everyone’s eyes were on me, until large silvery dragon wings blocked out the moonlight. People scrambled out of the way as my mother landed with a heavy thud, then bared her fangs at Varek.

“What business do you have with my daughter?” Kira roared.

Varek stared back at the dragon without fear, and then bowed, but not out of respect. He made it seem flippant or cocky somehow. “The Death Goddess sends her regards.”

Mom let out a roar that would have most men quaking in their boots, but Varek just crossed his arms. Unbelievable.

As I moved beside my mother, my other fathers showed up too. They weren’t in their dragon forms, but they were just as intimidating. “Explain yourself,” Slade demanded.

Varek’s eyes landed on me again. “The Dragon Goddess has named me her champion, and she demands Sora take me as her fifth mate.”

A chorus of gasps went up from the soldiers and other onlookers, making me wish we’d gone somewhere private for this conversation.

“Impossible!” Auric said. “The Ascendant has only ever had four mates.”

Varek lifted his shoulder in a casual shrug. “Not anymore.”

“This is preposterous,” Parin said behind me. “Send the man away.”

“No,” I finally said, my voice ringing out through the courtyard. “He speaks the truth. I’ve had dreams of him.”

“What?” Erroh asked.

Mom shifted and shimmered back into her human form, her brow furrowed. “He is the one from your dreams?”

I nodded, swallowing hard. This dark, deadly, dangerous man was one of my mates. There was no escaping it, no matter how much I wanted to resist the idea. Yet as much as it horrified me, I was drawn to him too. I couldn’t look away from his skull tattoos, or the wicked gleam in his eye, or the sensual curl of his lips.

“Prove it,” Zain said, and Carth nodded in agreement.

“I don’t think you’d like to see my powers in action,” Varek said, his voice dripping with threat. “But perhaps a small demonstration is in order.”

He bent down and ran his fingers through the grass, and a wave of death and decay spread out around him, instantly turning it brown and dry. The entire crowd gasped, and the hollowness inside me grew. There was no denying it now. The Death Goddess had given him her magic.

“You don’t need him to gain your elemental powers or your dragon form,” Reven told me. “You could refuse him.”

Varek let out a cruel laugh. “If you refuse, the Death Goddess is prepared to unleash the Realm of the Dead upon the living.”

“She wouldn’t dare,” Mom said.

“She would. She has been denied respect for far too long. Every other God has a Dragon, and she demands one as well.”

Hushed mutters and whispers rippled among the crowd, until Jasin called out, “Silence!”

I stepped closer to Varek and faced him, keenly aware of the eyes upon us. “Do you even want to be my mate?”

“I’ll serve the Goddess however she requires.” His dark gaze turned hungry as it slowly roamed down my body. “Though I can’t say it will be a hardship to mate with a princess.”

“I’m not a princess,” I snapped.

His only response was a harsh laugh. I hated him already, even as the look he gave me sent desire racing through my veins. It wasn’t fair—the mating bond made me want him, no matter how awful he was.

“You have a week to accept this, or there will be a war between the living and the dead,” Varek said. “Find me at the Lone Wolf Pub in the north end of Soulspire with your answer.”

He turned on his heels and began to walk out the gate, but Jasin and Reven raised their swords. “Halt!” Jasin shouted.

Varek laughed. “What are you going to arrest me for? Coming to see my mate? I think not.”

No one made a move against him, because he was right. No one would defy the Gods like that. As we all watched, he strolled out of the gate and disappeared into the night.

“I’ll follow him,” Reven said, before he slipped into the shadows. Having a former assassin as your father had its perks. Or it was going to make everything worse. I couldn’t be sure yet.

‘Leave us,” Jasin commanded, and the guards departed and the crowd reluctantly dispersed.

As soon as they were gone, Mother rushed toward me and pulled me into her arms. I was too horrified and shocked to do anything but let her hold me.

‘You’re certain he’s the one from your dreams?’ Mom whispered with her head against mine.

I lifted my head away and nodded. ‘Yes. I’m sure of it.’

‘That doesn’t mean you have to accept him,’ Kira said. ‘We will deal with the Death Goddess. We’ve done it before.’

“I appreciate that, but we can’t have a war against the dead,” I said.

“I think you need to tell us about these dreams you’ve been having,” Carth said.

I turned to face my mates, who did not look happy—not at all. Erroh was scowling, Parin had his arms crossed, Zain’s jaw was clenched, and Carth’s usual flirty smile was replaced with a frown.

‘I’ve been having dreams of only one man every night—a man I’d never met until now. At first, I thought he was my Earth mate, but then Parin came and set that to rest.’

“You never dreamed of us?” Zain asked.

“No, only of him. I can’t deny it—he is my mate, just like the four of you are.”

‘It’s completely out of the question,’ Jasin, said. ‘He’s the most wanted criminal in Soulspire. The Silver Guard has been trying to dig up something concrete on that man and the Quickblades for years. Every time we get something, there never proves to be enough evidence to charge him, and no one will speak up against him. He cannot be your mate.”

‘Besides, we are your mates,’ Parin said with a note of finality in his voice. ‘There are always four, and four alone.”

“Not anymore.” I sighed. “Believe me, I don’t like this any more than you do.”

Erroh took my hand. ‘I’ll support whatever you decide, but my vote is to throw him in the dungeon.’

I pushed at his shoulder. ‘That’s obviously not an option.”

Slade met my eyes, his face filled with fatherly disapproval. ‘He’s a villain, Sora. A criminal.’

“Yes, but he seems to be telling the truth,” Auric said. “And I don’t see the other Gods stepping in to stop the Death Goddess in this matter.”

“This is going to be a disaster,” Carth muttered.

“Agreed,” Zain said. “But we’re with you Sora, whatever you decide.”

I turned away, my head spinning. Whatever I decided wouldn’t just affect me, but my other mates too—and possibly the entire world. We were meant to be guardians, protectors, mediators…could a champion of Death serve those roles too?

“I need to think on this some more,” I said with a sigh. “I’ll make a decision tomorrow.”

Mom nodded. “Only you know the dreams and what they mean. If this is what you must do, so be it. If not, we will stand beside you against the Death Goddess.’

I gave her a weak smile. “Thanks. I have a feeling I’ll need your help either way.”

Mom would support me no matter my decision, and could help me figure out how to navigate being mated to such a man. But my four fathers were another story. They were likely to band together and try to force Varek to leave the city. Or arrest him.

Or kill him.

I went back to my room alone and then paced back and forth as I went over what happened. It was too early to sleep, and my mind was too restless for that anyway. I had to figure out what to do about Varek or the anxiety would eat me up inside.

I couldn’t refuse him. Somehow I knew that deep in my core. Not only because unleashing the dead upon the world was a horrible idea that would sacrifice many lives, but because when I looked at Varek I felt…something. The same connection I had with my other mates, even though I’d never met him before. I didn’t want to feel it, but I did.

He was one of my mates and I had to accept that, no matter how much I disliked it.

But accepting it wouldn’t make things easier. My other mates I had feelings for, and I knew they cared for me. I could envision sharing many years with them by my side, and knew that love would grow between us. Varek, on the other hand, I could only feel apprehension about. We had no love for each other. Could I ever grow to love the champion of Death? Would he care for me in return?

Pacing back and forth in my bedroom would do nothing to answer these questions. It was time to take action. I hadn’t really gotten a chance to speak with Varek because I’d been surrounded by my mates, my parents, and an entire audience of guards and palace staff. I needed to talk to him alone. Tomorrow I planned to go to the Air Temple, and I didn’t want to put that off unless I had to. Which meant facing Varek tonight.

I changed from my evening dress into my fighting leathers, strapped on all of my throwing knives, and put my wild curls up in a high bun, out of my way. Then I donned my black cloak and pulled the hood over my head, before grabbing my sword.

Once I was ready, I opened the large window by my desk and climbed onto the tree, then slipped down into the darkness. Reven had taught me everything about stealth, and I used those skills now to easily maneuver around the patrolling guards and head outside the palace grounds. I was allowed to leave the palace by myself whenever I wanted, since who would dare attack me? But in this matter, I wished to be discreet. I didn’t want anyone to ask me questions or try to stop me. Or worse, get my fathers or my mates. They’d all want to send someone with me for protection, and I needed to do this on my own.

Our palace resided inside the great city of Soulspire, located at the center of the four Realms—one each for Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Soulspire was neutral and not part of any one of them, ruled completely by the Dragons and the Silver Guard. The palace loomed over the city with its shining arches and tall tower in the center, where my parents lived. They told me that in their day the palace had been dark, run-down, and imposing, but now it gleamed like a beacon of peace and stability that all residents of Soulspire could look upon.

I made my way through the dark streets under the faint moonlight, past taverns and cafes bustling with people. Drunken couples stumbled by me, but no one gave me a second glance as I searched for the place Varek had mentioned. I passed a bar filled entirely with elementals, and nearly collided with a water elemental as it came out of the place. Luckily I moved away from its giant watery body in time before I got soaked. It mumbled that I should be more careful in the elemental language, probably assuming I wouldn’t understand. Few humans did, but I’d learned it from Auric as a child.

Finally I turned onto a dimly lit street and saw an image of a wolf on a tavern sign. As I got closer, I made out the name Lone Wolf Pub above the door. The windows were darkened so I couldn’t see anything inside. No music drifted from the black door. No one stumbled out drunk and laughing. Was the place empty? Or closed?

I wiped my damp palms on my trousers, then felt annoyed at myself. I was the daughter of Dragons. Varek was my mate. I had no reason to be nervous.

I opened the door and stepped inside.


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