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Her Elemental Dragons: Ride the Wave: Chapter 3

SLADE

The journey to the Resistance hideout in the mountains was tense. None of us trusted Doran or wanted anything to do with him, but one of us had to ride on his back, so I’d volunteered. I considered it my penance for letting Kira be kidnapped. What good was being a Dragon now if I couldn’t actually fly? Kira was captured, Reven was in a coma, and Parin was dead—all because of me. Nothing I did could ever make up for my failures, but the least I could do was return Parin’s body to the Resistance and then prepare to rescue Kira.

As the Earth Realm soared below me, I tried to quench the fear and unease that came with being so far above the earth. Without my feet on solid ground I never felt comfortable, not since the Earth God had blessed me with his favor and his powers. That blessing now seemed to be holding me back. Would I ever be able to fly? Or would I be useless as a Dragon forever?

Doran set down in the forest while Auric—with Jasin and Reven on his back—landed at the Resistance base’s secret entrance in the mountain. We’d decided it would be better for everyone if the Resistance didn’t know we were working with Doran, for fear it would cause a panic or provoke an attack. We needed him, no matter how much we hated it.

A short while later, Auric returned and collected us, along with Parin’s body. With Doran’s commonplace clothes and his hooded cloak covering much of his face, no one recognized him when we entered the Resistance hideout. I wasn’t surprised, since he was rarely seen in his human form, especially in the Earth Realm. Besides, no one expected a Dragon to look more like a carefree drifter than one of the men who ruled our world through fear and death.

As we stepped into the smooth caves of the hideout, we were greeted by an older woman named Daka who we’d met once before. We’d rescued her and a few other people from the Onyx Army in the Fire Realm before they could be executed for being members of the Resistance.

“It’s a blessing to see you’ve returned,” Daka said. Her brown hair was streaked with gray and her skin was tanned and wrinkled, but her eyes shone bright. “Please come in and we’ll get you settled. You must be exhausted.”

“It’s good to see you made it to the Resistance base alive,” I said.

“Yes, thanks to you.” She smiled, but then her smile fell when she noticed our dwindled numbers and the two lifeless bodies we’d brought with us.

“I wish we were here under better circumstances,” Auric said. “Unfortunately, Kira has been kidnapped, one of our men is in a coma, and Parin… He gave his life fighting the Dragons. I’m sorry.”

Daka covered her mouth as she let out a soft cry, her eyes filling with tears. “Oh, Parin, no. What will we do without him leading us? And with Faya gone too…”

Her tears reminded me of my failure, and I looked away, focusing on the hidden town of Slateden behind her. The stone and wooden buildings stood below the high, domed ceiling of the cave, but the roads were nearly empty today. Most of the Resistance members had left to fight the battle at Salt Creek Tower and wouldn’t return for another week, including my sister, Leni. Auric and Jasin had assured me she was alive when they last saw her, but I would continue to worry until I saw her with my own eyes.

Auric stood up straighter, though his voice was weary. “I’ll bring Faya back. She’s needed here now.”

I rested a hand on Auric’s shoulder. He’d already flown across the Earth Realm for hours with no break, and now he was preparing to set out again. The man had to be exhausted, and I respected him more than ever. “And my sister?”

He nodded. “Don’t worry. I’ll get her and Brin too.”

I nearly hugged the man. “Thank you.”

“I should be going with you,” Jasin grumbled, the frustration clear in his brown eyes. “Stupid wing. Make sure you eat something before you go.”

“I will,” Auric said, as they clasped each other in a quick hug. The two of them were like brothers now, which was still hard to believe, considering they’d once hated each other.

As Daka took Auric away to find some food, Jasin sighed. “I wish I could do more.”

I knew exactly how he felt.


Sleep proved elusive that night. I tossed and turned, worrying about Kira, praying my sister was unharmed, and hating myself for my failures. When the sun began to rise, I gave up, threw off my blankets, and went to find some food.

I nearly crashed into my youngest sister in the entrance to the guest house, along with her girlfriend, Brin. Relief flooded me as I swept Leni into my arms. She was the most headstrong, stubborn, and frustrating woman in our family, but she was alive and that was all that mattered. She and Brin had joined the Resistance in the battle at Salt Creek Tower, even though she was too young and inexperienced as a fighter, in my opinion. I wished she was back at home and safe with our mother and sister in Clayridge, but she was an adult and didn’t listen to her overprotective brother anymore, much to my dismay.

“Slade!” she said as she embraced me back.

I pulled back to look her over, my grip tight on her arms. Her dark skin was smudged with dirt and some of her small braids were starting to come undone, but she appeared to be well otherwise. “Are you unharmed?”

“Yes, I’m fine. I twisted my ankle, but it’s already better.” She glanced over my shoulder with a smile. “Brin had my back.”

I turned toward Brin and bowed my head. “Thank you.”

With golden skin and silky black hair, Brin was beautiful and had the grace of a woman born to money and power, although she was an excellent fighter too. She was a noblewoman from the Air Realm and had once been Auric’s fiancé, though they’d never been more than friends. I just hoped she wouldn’t break my sister’s heart.

She gave me a dazzling smile. “I would never allow any harm to come to Leni, and she protected me as well.”

“I did what I could.” Leni nudged me in the side with a grin. “So is it done? Did you and Kira get intimate? Are you a Dragon now?”

My shoulders tensed. It was bad enough talking to my sister about “getting intimate.” It was worse being reminded of my failure. “Yes, we bonded and I’m a Dragon now, although I’m still not used to it. But we were attacked by the other Dragons, and Kira was taken. I… I couldn’t stop them.”

Leni squeezed my arm. “I’m sure you did the best you could.”

“Tell us everything,” Brin said.

I gave them the quick rundown of what happened, although I didn’t mention that Doran was helping us. In return, they told me about the battle at Salt Creek Tower with the Dragons. By the end of their tale they were both yawning, and I guessed they had been up all night as they flew here on Auric’s back.

I sent them both to get some rest, and then caught sight of a beautiful, dark-skinned woman with short hair on the street outside the guest house. Faya’s head was bent and her eyes were red, but her back was straight as she walked alone. I headed outside to speak with the woman I once thought I’d marry.

“I’m sorry about Parin,” I said. “He died a hero and fulfilled his duty to the Earth God. We would not have found the Earth Temple without him.”

Faya nodded. “His mother would be proud. Thank you for bringing his body back to us so that we may bury him.”

“It was the least we could do to honor his sacrifice.” I touched her arm. “I truly am sorry, Faya. What will you do now?”

She gazed down the empty streets of Slateden, her face a mixture of grief and grim determination. “The Resistance still needs a leader. I will step up and do what I can until they can elect someone else. It’s what Parin would have wanted.”

“You’ll make a good leader.”

“I doubt I could ever be the leader Parin was, but I’ll do my best.” Her hand rested on her lower stomach. “Not only for his sake or the Resistance’s, but for his child.”

I stepped back, my eyes dropping to her waist. “You’re pregnant?”

“Yes, I’m three months along. We tried for years without success and never thought it would happen. Now he won’t get to see our child born.” She sighed and her body sagged, all the energy leaving her small frame. “At least a part of him will live on.”

I wrapped my arms around her and clasped her in a warm embrace. She buried her face in my chest for a few moments, allowing me to lend her my strength, before pulling away. Over the years, Faya had been my lover, my enemy, and now my ally. We’d been through a lot together and our shared history would always be a part of us. Until recently I’d wanted nothing to do with her, but now I only wished the best for her and her child.

“I heard you’re leaving soon to rescue Kira,” she said. “Take whatever supplies you need for your journey.”

“Thank you. Please watch over Reven for us until we return.”

“We will. No harm will come to him, I swear it.”

We said our goodbyes and I returned to my room in the hopes of getting a few more hours of sleep before our journey. Gods knew I would need it to face what was ahead.


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