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Her Elemental Dragons: Ride the Wave: Chapter 12


We left for the Water Realm in the morning, beginning a journey that would take many days and return me to the place where I’d grown up. I’d avoided going back ever since I’d left when I was thirteen, and I both longed to see the sparkling blue waters again and dreaded returning to the place where I’d lost my family. I wondered if Reven felt the same. Our childhoods had so many similarities, at least from the bits and pieces I’d learned from him, and I wished he would open up to me more, but it was something I couldn’t force.

He was doing better physically, at least. Some color had returned to his face, and he no longer looked quite as frail and thin. I tried to touch him as much as possible, hoping my healing would help him recover faster, and to reassure myself he was truly all right.

We soared southwest across the Earth Realm, leaving behind the ice-covered mountain peaks and flying over forests and fields. There’d been some argument over which dragon I would ride, with everyone saying that Doran couldn’t be trusted. Both Jasin and Auric wanted me to fly with them, but that meant Slade or Reven would have to ride with my father. In the end, I decided to have faith in Doran and told my mates I’d be riding with him—end of discussion. They didn’t like it, but Doran had proven himself so far, and I wanted to show I trusted him, even if I was still hesitant about it. I hoped it might bring us closer, and as a result of that he might reveal more about the past.

And maybe I just wanted to be near my father too. I’d spent my entire life yearning and searching for a family. I’d moved from place to place, trying to find a replacement for the parents I’d lost and the twin sister I never knew I was missing. First I’d tried to find my family with merchants, then with bandits, before landing with Tash and her mother. Now my family consisted of my mates, but I loved them in a different way.

A part of me knew that my relationship with my father would be fleeting and short-lived. I wanted to soak up as much time with him as I could before it was over. Even if he was something of a monster, I was curious about him—and my mother too, if I was honest. They’d lived a long time, and I knew so little about them, beyond the myths and rumors.

“What did you do before you became Nysa’s mate?” I asked, when we stopped to take a quick break. Talking while flying was difficult except for a few short words yelled into the wind, so this was our first moment to chat.

“I was a pirate,” Doran said.

“Really?” I had to admit he did look the part.

He leaned against a tree and took a swig of water. “It’s been a long time since I thought about those days. I grew up in the Water Realm, and your grandmother and her mates had brokered a truce with the elementals, so they didn’t attack us as long as we stayed out of their way. That opened the seas to travel, and I joined a merchant’s ship at thirteen. At sixteen, we got attacked by pirates. They told me I could join them or die. Seemed like an obvious choice.” A slow grin spread over his face. “By the time I was twenty-five and the Water God came to visit me, I was captain of that ship.”

“What happened then?”

His grin faded. “I gave it all up for Nysa.”

Of course he did. Just like my mates gave up their previous lives for me. “Did you love her?”

“I did. I do. I always will.” He met my eyes. “But I love my daughter more.”

I stared at him and grasped for a way to respond. He turned away before I could find an answer, and then he shifted back into his dragon form to take off. All I could do was stand there, reeling in shock, while a warm feeling spread through my chest, followed by a deep, unbearable sadness. I’d waited so long to hear words like that…and now they were from my enemy.

Doran led the way, pushing us hard the entire time. When we finally stopped it was late in the evening, and we managed to find an abandoned farm to spend the night in. The roof was caving in on the farmhouse and everything had a layer of dust, but I supposed it was better than camping outside. Jasin lit a fire in the slightly moldy hearth, and we sat around it while we ate some of the food we’d packed.

Doran spread the map out in front of us. “We’re going to take a slightly longer route to avoid the other Dragons, who will no doubt be looking for us around the old Water Temple.”

“What can you tell us about the other Dragons?” Jasin asked.

He lifted one shoulder in a casual shrug. “What do you want to know? I’ve spent many lifetimes with the bastards. It’s hard to narrow it down to a quick summary.”

“Tell us about each one of them,” Auric said. “What did they do before they were chosen by the Gods? What are they like now?”

Doran leaned back in a rickety wooden chair and folded his hands behind his head. “Isen was a nobleman, Sark was a soldier, Heldor was a carpenter, and, like I told Kira earlier, I was a pirate.”

“That sounds oddly similar to our lives before all of this,” Slade said.

“You’re probably more like the Dragon you’re replacing than you realize, and you’ll probably take on similar roles once this is all over. Her protector, her enforcer, her scout, and her diplomat.” He chuckled softly. “What can I say? Each of the Gods has a type.”

“I’m nothing like Sark,” Jasin said with a scowl.

“No? He’s brave, passionate, and hot-tempered. He acts without thinking but can be strategic when it comes to battle. He’d fight and die for his beliefs and he’s willing to stand up and be a leader when required. Sound like anyone we know?” He smirked, and Jasin’s scowl only deepened. “But you’re right—Sark is different from you in some ways. He will murder innocents, including children, and feels no guilt as long as he believes it will help the Black Dragon. Sark’s the darker version of you, twisted and corrupted by years of serving Nysa.”

“Does that make you the darker version of me?” Reven asked, arching an eyebrow.

“I suppose.” Doran appraised Reven. “We both have a view of the world that’s more gray than black and white. We’re both willing to do whatever needs to be done, preferably from the shadows. We collect secrets to use as leverage. We guard our hearts and can come across as cold, but only to hide how much we feel. Am I right?”

Reven looked away sharply and didn’t answer.

I leaned forward, curious. “What makes you darker than him?”

Doran’s face turned serious. “I doubt Reven would have waited centuries to act when he believed something was wrong.”

Awkward silence fell over the room. “And Heldor?” I finally asked.

“Heldor is fiercely loyal to the Black Dragon and rarely leaves her side unless she commands it. Most of us have had other lovers over the years, but Heldor has never once strayed. He’s the strong and silent type, calm under pressure, and generally level-headed. But he has a low tolerance for nonsense, and he follows Nysa without question. He’ll do anything for her.”

“What about Isen?” Auric asked.

“Isen is smart, calculating, and likes to collect knowledge, although his motives are different from yours. For him, it’s all about power. In the old days, he was often the mediator of our group, and trust me there were many times when none of us got along. He prefers not to fight unless he must, although he has no problem murdering people in cold blood either. His favorite method is to suffocate anyone who disagrees with him.” Doran turned to Auric. “I can teach you how to do that, if you’d like.”

“No, thank you.” Auric’s face paled. “That sounds horrible.”

“Why hasn’t Isen done that to us?” Jasin asked.

“Suffocating someone with magic requires a lot of concentration, and it takes longer than you think to choke someone to death. He prefers to use it to make sure he gets his way—anyone watching is usually too terrified to disagree with him after that.”

“How do we defeat them?” Slade asked.

Doran let out a harsh laugh. “Right now? You can’t. They’re stronger than you, and they’ve been Dragons for centuries.”

Reven sneered. “What are we supposed to do? Wait a hundred years before trying to take them down?”

“No, because I’m going to train you.” My father leaned forward, the firelight dancing in his eyes. “I’ll teach you how to use your powers and how to work together. In our time, the previous Dragons mentored us before they stepped down. You’ve been at a disadvantage because you’ve had to figure everything out on your own.” He looked at each of us in turn. “With my help, you might actually stand a chance.”


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