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Her Elemental Dragons: Ride the Wave: Chapter 15


My father ran a hand over his beard, which was looking more rugged with each day that went by. “I’d planned to tell you about this once we reached the Water Temple, but I suppose now is as good a time as any. Sit down. This might take a while. And someone get me some ale.”

I sank onto the ground across from him, pulling my knees to my chest, while my mates gathered around. “Nysa told me she had to drain my life in order to contain the Spirit Goddess. What does that mean? Why would she need to contain her?”

Doran scrounged up a bottle of something dark from his pack and popped off the top of it. “I’ll get to that, but I need to start at the beginning. The first thing you need to know is that the Spirit Goddess is really two entities: Life and Death. Twin sisters, two sides of the same coin, bound together as one.”

Auric grabbed his notebook and began furiously scribbling in it. “Why have we never heard of this before?”

“All records of this are long gone. Nysa made sure of that.” My father took a long swig of his alcohol before continuing. “Long before any of us were on this earth, the Spirit Goddess ruled with her four mates, the other Gods of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. They created the elementals to represent each God and humans to represent the Goddess. But over the years the Death side of her became too strong and corrupted the Spirit Goddess. The balance of life and death shifted too far to one side. To stop the world from falling into darkness, the Gods broke up the two aspects of Life and Death, creating two separate Goddesses instead of one. The Death Goddess was banished to the Realm of the Dead, where she became its ruler, while the Life Goddess stayed here with her four mates. They created the Dragons to act as their representatives in the world, and to make sure that the Death Goddess could never return.”

“I thought the Dragons were created to keep the balance between elementals and humans,” Jasin said.

“That is one of their duties, yes. But they were also created to ensure that the Life Goddess had assistance in protecting the world from the Death Goddess. Kira you are actually a descendant of the Life Goddess, as were all the other female Dragons before you.”

That would explain why the bone cage harmed me the way it did, but not why my mother was immune to it. “What about Nysa?”

“I’m getting to that.” Doran scowled and stared at his bottle. “When Nysa turned twenty, she became a Dragon, like her mother. Back then she wasn’t dark or evil, not like you know her now.”

“What happened?” Slade asked.

He took another chug of his drink as he gazed into the fire. “Shortly after she became a Dragon, shades began appearing in our world in vast numbers, sucking the life from both elementals and humans alike. We learned later that they were the creation of the Death Goddess. She’d grown tired of living in the Realm of the Dead and jealous of her twin for having all four mates to herself. She sent the shades to attack us, and they fed her power with each life they took. Soon, she had enough power to leave the afterlife and return to our world. When she did, she brought death and darkness everywhere she went, and every time she took a life, she grew stronger. And with the Death Goddess gone, the way to the Realm of the Dead closed, trapping all fallen souls between the two worlds. No one has been able to find peace since then.”

“Enva mentioned that,” I said, nodding.

Doran arched an eyebrow. “How do you know of her?”

“She comes to visit me sometimes.”

“Does she? Interesting.” His eyes turned haunted, the firelight flickering in his eyes. “Yes, the Death Goddess’s arrival changed everything. The Life Goddess fought her twin sister, but their battle nearly tore the entire world apart. The Death Goddess had become too powerful from all the lives she had stolen. As a last resort, we worked with the Gods to bind the two Goddesses together again, but all it did was create a dark, twisted Spirit Goddess who began to devour all life with an insatiable hunger. We realized we’d made a terrible mistake, but the other Gods refused to help us separate them again. The Spirit Goddess was their mate, their queen, their leader, and they had to obey her. So we decided all the Gods had to be stopped, for the sake of the world.”

“How do you stop a God?” Reven asked.

“It’s not easy.” Doran drained the last of his bottle and tossed it aside. “We imprisoned all the Gods in their temples, one by one, using the element that is their opposite. Fire versus water, earth versus air, you get the idea. Once they were gone the Spirit Goddess was weakened and we tried to imprison her in the Spirit Temple, but we failed. She was too strong, even then. But Nysa found a way to cage the Spirit Goddess…by trapping her within her own body.”

I gasped. “The Spirit Goddess is inside Nysa?”

“She is. It was the only way to stop her, although we didn’t realize the consequences of doing such a thing.” His jaw clenched. “Nysa fought against the Death Goddess’s darkness for years, but eventually she succumbed to it and became the Black Dragon. She still maintains some control, which is how she keeps the Spirit Goddess contained, but she’s become twisted…and incredibly powerful. She controls both life and death magic, along with all the elements, making her nearly unstoppable. With a single touch, she can drain a person’s life, and her body heals itself immediately. That’s on the rare occasions she is injured at all, since she’s immune to all five elements.”

I dug my toes into the sand, taking in everything he’d said. It was a lot to absorb, and it made our task seem even more daunting. “Is it even possible to defeat Nysa? And if we do, what will happen?”

“It’s possible but won’t be easy. And if Nysa dies, the Spirit Goddess will be unleashed upon the world again. This is why she started sacrificing her own children…and why we reluctantly went along with it.”

“I don’t see how any of you could agree to that,” Slade said with disgust, echoing my own thoughts.

“No, because you didn’t see how bad it was when the Spirit Goddess was free. She would have wiped out all life on this world within months. If we let her continue, this would be a second Realm of the Dead under her rule.” Doran pinched the bridge of his nose. “Nysa was desperate to keep the Spirit Goddess contained, and she tried draining humans, elementals, and shades, but none of it extended her life. But then she had a daughter, continuing the Dragon cycle. The magic within the child was strong enough to keep Nysa—and by extension the rest of us—alive for another thirty years, when she could have another child.” He shuddered a little. “It was horrible, but we told ourselves it was one life taken in exchange for millions saved. We didn’t realize what the toll would be on our own souls.”

“And yet you kept doing it,” Jasin growled. “For hundreds of years.”

My father dropped his head. “We had no other choice. Until Kira and her twin sister were born.”

“Why were we different?” I asked.

Doran’s eyes rested on me again. “All of our daughters were born with both life and death magic inside them, except for the two of you. Your magic was split, with Kira having life magic, and Sora having death magic. I thought it was a sign that the Spirit Goddess could be divided again, and our mistakes could finally be undone.” He clenched his fists in the sand. “After I got Kira to safety, I released the Fire God from his prison. I was the only one who could do it, since I’d been the one who put him there. Once the Fire God was freed, he helped me release the other Gods one by one in secret, so that they could choose Dragons for Kira’s mates when her twentieth birthday arrived.”

Silence settled over the group as we took in everything he’d said. His story explained so much about my past and about why Nysa did so many horrible things, but I didn’t feel any relief now that I knew the truth.

Finally, I asked, “How are we supposed to stop the Spirit Goddess?”

“That I don’t know,” Doran said. “All I know is that this horrible cycle can’t continue. We thought we were saving the world, and maybe we did for a short time, but now I fear we’ve made it even worse.”

“Would the Gods be able to divide the Spirit Goddess into two halves again?” Auric asked.

Doran shrugged. “They have the ability, and that was the deal when I freed them. Will they hold up their end of the bargain? Who knows.”

“Then we can’t trust them either,” Reven said.

“I agree,” Doran said. “But right now, we need to focus on defeating Nysa. Otherwise, we won’t have to worry about any of that.”

Everyone’s faces were grim as we prepared for bed. My mates asked me if I was all right, but I didn’t know what to say. Doran’s words had shaken all of us, making us realize the task ahead of us was much more daunting than we’d realized, and the price of our failure was even higher than we’d imagined.

As I pulled my blanket around me, my eyes stared at the moonlit waves and tried to make sense of it all. We’d reach the Water Realm the next afternoon, thanks to Doran’s relentless pace. I was torn between wanting to hurry as much as he did, and wondering if we should stay away, after what we’d learned. The longer we waited, the more chances the Dragons would find us or the new Water Temple first. The sooner we got to the Temple, the sooner I would have to face my mother. The Gods had told me it was my destiny to defeat her, but they hadn’t told me everything. By defeating my mother, I would be unleashing something much worse on the world. How could I do that, without some plan to stop the Spirit Goddess?

I’d have to ask the Water God for advice when we spoke to him, except now I wondered if the Gods had been honest with us all along. They could be as twisted as the Goddess, manipulating us to do what they wanted—freeing her.

Things had once been so clear. The Gods were good. The Dragons were evil. Now I realized nothing was as simple as black and white. My mother had a reason for what she’d done, something she and the other Dragons had believed was right. The Gods had their own plans and their own reasons. Even Doran and Enva had motives that might be contrary to what I wanted. The only people I could trust were my mates. I knew in my core they would never betray me, and they would always steer me true. Everyone else wanted something from me. My life. My service. My power.

But I wasn’t sure what I wanted anymore, or what the best action was for the entire world. For the first time since this all began, I wasn’t certain of my path anymore.


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