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Her Elemental Dragons: Ride the Wave: Chapter 29


Over the next week we trained harder than we ever had before. We faced each other in teams and one on one. We fought with our weapons, with our magic alone, or—for the men—in their dragon forms. Doran barked out orders the entire time, pushing us to fight harder, to keep going, to never back down. He gave us tips on the other Dragons’ weaknesses and showed us how to use our powers together to defeat them. We learned more from him than we had in the entire few months we’d known each other.

And I worried it still wouldn’t be enough.

Every night, we returned to our rooms in the inn, exhausted, beaten, bloody, and burnt. My men and I had no energy for lovemaking—we simply curled up in bed together, all five of us holding each other tenderly, and my touch healed my mates while we slept. Our bonds grew stronger, and with it, our magic.

The other Dragons had hundreds of years on us. We would never be as strong or as experienced as them. But we had something they’d lost over the years—love.

The days rushed by, and soon it was time for another bittersweet goodbye as we said farewell to Slade’s family and the town that had sheltered us not once, but twice. We packed our things, hugged everyone tightly, and then prepared to take off—and that’s when I noticed we were one person short.

“Where’s Doran?” I asked, as I glanced about.

Slade frowned. “It’s not like him to run late.”

“I saw him fly away last night,” Leni said. “I assumed you knew, so I didn’t mention it.”

I took a step back as my knees nearly gave out on me. The world spun around me, and I felt like I might actually throw up. “He left?”

“Oh Gods,” Auric said, his eyes wide. “Doran had the map with all the battle plans. If he took that with him…”

Jasin swore under his breath. “That bastard. I knew he’d betray us!”

“We don’t know that for certain,” Brin said, though her voice wasn’t very convincing. She rested a sympathetic hand on my back. “There must be some explanation.”

“Yes, exactly.” I clung to her words, desperate to hold onto hope. I refused to believe my father would betray us, after everything he’d done. “He told me to remember he’s on my side. Maybe he’s not really betraying us but trying to help us in some way.”

Slade wrapped a strong arm around me. “I know you want to believe that, but it doesn’t seem likely. If he was helping us, he would have told us his plan, not sneak off in the middle off the night.”

“The Water God warned us about this,” Reven said. “He said Doran would turn against us because he would never be willing to give up the power and his own life.”

“But why would he help us all this time only to betray us?” I asked.

“Because he wanted us to trust him!” Jasin growled. “Now he’s run back to Nysa and he knows all our weaknesses and our plans.”

“We’ll have to completely redo our strategy,” Auric said, his brow furrowed. “If that is even possible.”

Jasin’s eyes flashed with anger. “We can adjust some things, but he’ll be able to anticipate which ones. We’re doomed. We might as well call this all off now.”

“We can’t call it off,” Brin said. “We’ll just have to do the best we can.”

I stared at my mates, feeling their rage and frustration through the bond, and knew they were right. My father really had betrayed us. Everything he’d told me was a lie. All this time he’d been working for Nysa, acting as her scout and her spy, like he always did. And we’d played right into his hand, doing everything he asked, falling for all of his lies. In the end, he was as corrupted as she was, and there was no redemption for him.

I clenched my hand around my sword, feeling the magic within it. “We’re going to continue with our plans. And when we come face to face with the Dragons, we’ll destroy them.” My voice hardened into steel. “All of them.”

We set off for the Spirit Temple, which was in the middle of a large plain just south of Soulspire. We’d advised all our allies to meet us in a valley east of there on the day of the Fall Equinox. It would take us a few days to get there, and it never escaped my mind that Doran was hours ahead of us with all of our plans. My mates pushed themselves hard, flying as fast and as long as they could, and every night they were completely exhausted.

On the last night before we expected to arrive, I tossed and turned beside my men, unable to sleep. All I could think about was facing my father, and what I would have to do to stop him. Eventually I stood and walked away, hoping the quiet forest would bring me some peace.

I found Enva sitting on a large rock nearby, like she’d been waiting for me for hours.

“Hello, Kira. Come sit beside me.”

I leaned against the stone, gazing across the dark forest and listening to the quiet sounds of night. “Did Doran really betray us?”

“It seems that way. He’s heading to Soulspire now with your battle plans. I’m sorry.”

I covered my face with my hands as I tried to gain control over my emotions. “I can’t trust my mother. I can’t trust my father. I’m not even sure I can trust you. The only people I can count on are my mates.”

“Yes, as it should be.” She patted my arm softly. “Doran had to return to Nysa. He is bound by magic to be loyal to her. He might have been able to resist it for some time, but when she calls him through the bond, it’s difficult to ignore.”

“Does he even care for me at all?”

“Yes, I’m sure he does. He did save your life as a baby, and he has watched over you your whole life, much as I have. But he has been bound to Nysa for nearly a thousand years. Their lives are entwined. It’s difficult for him to fight against her, even for you.”

“I feel so stupid. Everyone warned me not to trust him, but I wanted to believe in him.”

“You’re not stupid. You wanted a father. There is nothing wrong with that.”

“There is when he now has all of your secrets and can turn them against you.”

“Don’t give up hope.” She smoothed my head softly, the touch so nurturing it surprised me. “You and your mates were chosen by the Gods to protect this world. I have faith that you’ll succeed.”

I leaned against her body, which looked frail but was surprisingly sturdy, especially considering she was a ghost. “I wish I didn’t have to kill my parents,” I whispered, giving voice to the thing I’d kept inside so long and was afraid to admit.

“I know. I wish the same thing.” She sighed and continued stroking my hair. “It’s a terrible situation the Gods have placed us in, but there’s no other way. If it makes you feel better, I believe by ending my daughter’s life, you will be freeing her. She wasn’t always like this. She was brave, and kind, and passionate. Sometimes a little too confident, arrogant, and reckless, but she took after her father, my Fire Dragon. Like him, she would do anything to protect other people, which is why she imprisoned the Spirit Goddess inside herself. Now she’s become corrupted and I don’t recognize her anymore, but I know my daughter is in there somewhere, screaming for all of this to end.” She took my face in her hands gently. “Deep down, Nysa wants you to win too. I truly believe this.”

I nodded slowly and she wiped away a stray tear I couldn’t hold back. “I’ll do my best to free her.”

She wrapped her arms around me. “I know you will. You’re the only one who can.”

With those words, she vanished.

I sat there for some time, listening to the sounds of forest, thinking about Enva’s words. I didn’t know if she was right about my parents or not. The more I learned about myself and the world, the less I truly knew for certain. All I could do was listen to my gut and hope it led me down the right path in the days to come.

A branch snapped behind me, and I sensed Jasin approaching. His strong arms slid around me, and I relaxed against him. He said nothing, simply held me close, letting me draw upon his strength until I was ready to talk.

“Now I know how you felt when your father betrayed us,” I said.

“It’s a terrible feeling, isn’t it?” He pressed a kiss to the top of my head. “It’s horrible enough when your parents believe in something you know is wrong, and no matter how much you try to convince them otherwise, they won’t be persuaded to see your side. When they turn against you for those same beliefs, it’s like a dagger in the heart.”

I leaned my head against his shoulder. “You were right about Doran all along. I should have listened to you.”

“I wish I’d been wrong. Gods know I’d do anything to save you from going through this and from suffering the same hurt that I did.” He smoothed my hair away from my face and gazed into my eyes. “But we’re not defined by what our parents do. We make our own choices, and we can choose to make better decisions than them. Or we can try, at least.”

I turned in his arms and pressed a kiss to his lips. “When did you become so wise?”

“I’m spending too much time with Auric obviously.”

I snuggled up against him. “I like that the two of you are close.”

“We’re a family, all five of us—thanks to you. You brought us together, and you made us work out our differences and fight for a common goal. You made each of us want to be better people. And no matter what happens, none of us will ever betray each other. Or you.”

The truth of his words flowed through our bond. My adopted parents were long gone, my birth parents were my enemies, but my mates…they were forever.


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