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Her Elemental Dragons: Shake the Earth: Chapter 1

KIRA

I’d traveled the four Realms on foot, on horse, and even on camel, but nothing compared to riding a dragon. I gripped Jasin’s blood red scales to steady myself as he spread his wings and glided over the Air Realm, lifting us higher and higher. Slade’s arms tightened around me while the wind whipped at my hair and exhilaration danced through my blood. I grinned and glanced over at Auric, whose golden body glinted under the sun as he flew alongside us. Reven sat on the other dragon’s back, his pose deceptively relaxed, though he was always ready to leap into action. A sense of rightness filled me at being surrounded by my four mates as we embarked on the next part of our journey.

“We’re about to enter the Earth Realm,” Slade’s deep voice rumbled at my ear. He was probably anxious to get back to the ground. Slade didn’t like heights or anything that prevented him from keeping two feet in contact with the earth. He never complained, but I could tell he was uncomfortable from the tension in his body every time Jasin ascended.

“We should find somewhere to stop for the night,” I said.

Slade scanned the area around us. “If I remember correctly, there is a small lake northwest of here.”

“I’ll find it,” Jasin’s dragon voice growled out.

Another benefit of traveling by dragon—it was fast. Over the last two days I’d watched the desert fade away to grasslands and plains and now to forests that grew denser with each passing minute. Below us I caught sight of the border crossing between the Air and Earth Realms, where the guards glanced up at the sight of us flying overhead, but didn’t seem concerned. Most of the world didn’t know yet that new Dragons were rising to overthrow the old ones, but soon they would. The time for hiding was over.

Within a few days we’d reach the Earth Temple, where I would bond with Slade, allowing him to turn into my Jade Dragon while unlocking my own earth magic at the same time. I’d already bonded with Jasin and Auric at the Fire and Air Temples respectively, and later I would bond with Reven at the Water Temple too. While Jasin and Auric had been eager to become my mates, Slade and Reven had been hesitant until recently. In the last few weeks they’d committed themselves to our destiny and had finally begun opening up to me, but I wasn’t sure they’d ever love me like Auric and Jasin did. Slade and Reven both had secrets from their pasts that held them back, and I was still trying to break through their barriers. If we had more time, I might be able to do it, but we didn’t have that luxury anymore.

My mates had been chosen by the four elemental gods of Fire, Air, Earth, and Water to replace the current Dragons that ruled the world—and those Dragons were not happy about it. At the Air Temple we’d fought their Golden Dragon, Isen, and Crimson Dragon, Sark, and now they knew who we were. We had to hurry to the next two temples before the Dragons could stop us, and they wouldn’t let us succeed without a fight. They would do anything to prevent me from becoming the next Black Dragon and overthrowing the current one—my mother.

I’d recently learned that the Black Dragons were descended from the Spirit Goddess and were meant to protect the world for a short time, before their own daughters would take their place. However, the current Black Dragon, Nysa, had found a way to remain in power and had ruled for a thousand years without having a daughter…until now. Until me.

I still couldn’t believe she was my mother. I’d lived in fear of the Black Dragon and her four mates all my life, especially after Sark killed the people I’d thought were my parents. Their deaths had haunted me for years, and the sight of fire had sent terror through me ever since. Now I could summon fire myself, but I still worried about losing control of it and destroying innocent lives.

How could the woman who spread fear and death throughout the world be my mother? And if she was my mother, then who was my real father?

As we entered the Earth Realm the sun dipped lower into the clouds, casting the sky in purple and pink hues. My stomach rumbled, reminding me it had been many hours since we’d eaten. Jasin’s clawed feet hit the ground smoothly, and his blood red tail swished back and forth as I slid off his back. I stretched my aching muscles, which had grown sore from sitting on his hard scales for hours. At least my magic would heal me quick enough—a useful gift from the Spirit Goddess.

Auric touched down seconds later, carrying both Reven and Brin, Auric’s former fiancé and my newest friend. Despite the dangers we faced, she’d insisted on joining us on our quest, and I appreciated having another woman in our group. She was also an excellent fighter and had guided us through the desert of the Air Realm without any problems. I had no doubt she’d be a valuable member of the team, even if I did worry for her safety.

After we all dismounted and stretched, we began to unload the supplies and gear strapped to the two dragons’ backs. Once we were done, Auric and Jasin shifted back to their human forms. They both staggered a little as their wings vanished and their scales were replaced by skin and hair. They were both doing really well considering they’d only just learned how to fly, but I felt their sudden exhaustion through the bond we shared. Jasin had a little more experience being a dragon, but he’d had to practice flying for hours to get it right. Auric, on the other hand, had taken to flight immediately, as if he’d been born in the sky. But I sensed they needed rest and food or they wouldn’t be able to keep up this fast pace much longer.

We’d landed in a small clearing on the edge of a lake, which was otherwise surrounded by thick, dense trees. The six of us went to work setting up the camp, the routine familiar after many days on the road together, although it had become a lot faster once we didn’t have to hide our magic from Brin anymore. She’d learned the truth about us at the Air Temple when we’d fought the shades that had waited for us there, and she’d taken the news pretty well, all things considered.

As Jasin moved to light a campfire for us, he stumbled over a small rock. I’d never seen him move with anything other than confident grace, a remnant of his many years as a soldier in the Onyx Army. His warm brown eyes lacked their usual hint of mischief, and his auburn hair was messier than normal. He was still ridiculously attractive, the kind of man who turned heads every time he walked into a room, but the hours of flying had clearly taken their toll.

I touched his arm lightly. “Let me do this. You’re exhausted.”

“I’m fine. I just need something to eat.” He shot fire from his fingertips into the pile of wood, then gave me a weary grin. “See? Nothing I can’t handle.”

I shook my head at his display and went to check on Auric. He was using his magic to clear away debris from around the lake so we’d have a place to sleep that night, but his tall frame was slumped with fatigue. Like Jasin, his golden hair was tousled from the wind, and his gray eyes seemed more unfocused than normal. Where Jasin looked like the good kind of trouble, Auric had the face of an elegant, handsome prince—probably because he was one. His father was king of the Air Realm and Auric was fifth in line for the throne, although he’d given up that life entirely when he’d become my mate.

“Tired?” I asked.

“A little,” Auric said, with a thoughtful expression. “Our endurance is greatly increased as dragons, but we definitely feel the effects of flying all day once we return to our human forms.”

“Rest,” I said, rubbing his back slowly. “You and Jasin have done all the hard work so far today. We’ll finish setting up camp and prepare some supper for us.”

Auric leaned close and brushed a kiss across my lips. “I’d appreciate that. Thank you.”

“Hey, where’s my kiss?” Jasin asked with a grin that was impossible to resist.

I leaned close to give him a quick kiss, while Slade pointedly looked away and Reven rolled his eyes. A stab of guilt tore at me for favoring Auric and Jasin over the others, even if it wasn’t intentional. I was still figuring out how to handle all of my mates and keep them happy, though I wasn’t sure I’d ever fully master that skill. With four men as my lovers there was bound to be some jealousy and awkwardness sometimes, no matter how hard I tried to prevent it. It didn’t help that Slade and Reven kept pushing me away either. I had to find a way to get closer to them quickly—and I only had a few more days before we reached the temples.


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