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Her Elemental Dragons: Shake the Earth: Chapter 30


I was leaning against the fallen statue of the Earth God and trying to ignore the way the mountain kept shaking, when something made me reach for my twin swords. A flicker of movement. A change in the air. A sense that danger was coming.

I’d stayed alive this long by trusting my instincts, and I wasn’t about to stop now. I gestured at Parin, who crouched down in the debris while I moved into the shadow of the dragon statue.

Three men walked inside, and I sensed their power immediately. Sark, with hair so pale it was almost white, Heldor, as large and broad as Slade except covered in tattoos, and a third man I’d seen only once before in his human form—Doran, the Azure Dragon. He had blond hair hanging past his shoulders and a matching beard, with skin that spoke of many hours under the sun. All three of them were in their human forms, probably because the cave entrance was too small for them to get through as dragons. Each was dressed in black leather fit for fighting or traveling, but none carried weapons.

“We’re too late,” Doran said, his voice icy cold. “They’ve already left.”

Heldor shook his head. “No, I sensed the earth moving. They must still be here.”

“If they are, they won’t be leaving,” Sark growled.

My hands tightened on the hilt of my swords at his voice, but I couldn’t let my rage or my need for vengeance consume me. I wasn’t sure if Kira and Slade were finished or not, but I had to hold these three off as long as I could—and Parin would likely be no help. It was just me, a former assassin with a bit of magic, against three immortal Dragons. I didn’t like these odds.

“Fine, let’s look around,” Doran said, sounding bored.

I waited until the three of them split apart, then I crept into position. As Doran passed by, I lunged out with my sword—but he quickly dodged it. He spun around, a blade made of ice forming in his hands, and blocked my next blow with it.

“Found one,” he called out to the others.

We struck and parried, beginning a complicated dance of swords, while the others moved closer. Sark let loose a blast of fire at me, but I ducked under it, while Heldor grabbed rocks leftover from the temple’s destruction and hurled them at me. I threw up a wall of ice to block them, then continued my assault on the man I would soon replace. Doran moved with the grace of a seasoned fighter and was as fast as I was, providing me a challenge. If it were just the two of us I thought I could probably best him, but all three of them? Even I wasn’t that good.

I sensed Sark moving behind me, and realized I was surrounded. But then Parin let out a shout as he lunged from the corner and struck Sark with his sword from behind. Sark let out a roar and grabbed Parin by the neck, instantly lighting him on fire. The man’s horrifying screams echoed throughout the cave, and I summoned water to douse him, but it only dulled Sark’s flames for a moment before they sprang up again. With Doran and Heldor both attacking me, and Sark’s hand around Parin’s throat, the man didn’t stand a chance.

But then Sark was knocked back by a strong blast of air, which also snuffed out the fire covering Parin’s body. Kira and Slade stood at the side of the cave, and they didn’t waste any time joining the fight. Slade grabbed some of the boulders around the room and sent them to knock Doran down, freeing me to throw knives of ice at Heldor. Three against three—I liked those odds a lot better.

Magic flew and swords flashed as the fight broke out across the ruined temple. Kira faced Sark down with a look of pure hatred in her eyes, throwing both air and rocks at him. At least the bonding was completed in time. Now all we had to do was escape.

A section of the cave suddenly broke apart and crashed down on top of me. Slade turned and caught it in time, stopping Heldor’s magic with his own. Lava erupted in front of Sark at the same moment, making Kira step back with a gasp. Doran moved behind her, his movements swift and decisive, and caught her arm. He pressed something across her mouth and nose, a cloth of some sort. From my days as an assassin I knew it had to be some sort of poison or intoxicant. Probably nightwillow oil, which could knock a grown man out in seconds—I’d used it before to incapacitate people I had no interest in killing.

Kira tried to fight, but she was caught off guard and trapped between Sark and Doran. I called out and lunged toward her, but lava sprang up all around me and Slade, keeping us away. She struggled for a few seconds while Slade and I desperately tried to put out the molten lava flowing around us, and then her body went limp. She collapsed against Doran, and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

The Azure Dragon swooped Kira into his arms and began walking out of the cave with her. Sark and Heldor turned toward us to make sure we couldn’t follow, and the lava suddenly leaped up—directly at Slade.

I knocked him out of the way, throwing up a wall of ice at the same time. Some of the lava still got through and splashed against my side, making me hiss from the burning pain. My magic put it out, but the damage was already done.

Sark turned and followed after Doran, leaving only Heldor behind. I clutched my burning side and turned to face the remaining Dragon, while calling out to Slade, who was getting to his feet.

“Go!” I said. “You’re the only one who can save Kira now!”

Slade hesitated, glancing between me and Heldor, before nodding. His magic would be useless against Heldor anyway, and he could fly and I couldn’t. We both knew this was what had to be done.

Slade created a bridge of rocks over the lava and dashed across them, while Heldor made the cave around me quake. Rocks and crystals fell as Slade ran, and I threw bolts of ice at Heldor to distract him. As Slade reached the cave’s exit, he glanced back one more time at me. I could see from his eyes that the decision haunted him, but Kira was more important than any of us. He knew this as well as I did, and he finally turned and ran down the tunnel, leaving me to my fate.

It was just me and Heldor now, and if these were my last moments alive, I wasn’t going out without a fight. I reached deep inside myself, finding that connection to the Water God I’d once tried so hard to escape from, and let it free. Cold water rained down from the roof of the cave, turning the lava to sizzling black stone. As Heldor tried to go after Slade, I closed up the cave entrance with a wall of thick, glimmering ice.

“Not so fast,” I said.

The Jade Dragon turned back to me, his face hard. I limped forward, shooting shards of frost his way, but he knocked them all aside. He gestured and the ceiling above me ripped apart and came tumbling down. I threw up some ice to stop it, but knew it wouldn’t be enough, not when the entire cave began to break apart over me.

The air grew thick with dirt and stone as it rained down on me, and even my strongest magic couldn’t stop an entire mountain from collapsing on my head. No matter how I tried to hold up the stones above me, they soon surrounded me, striking me and rendering me immobile.

As the world around me went dark, my last thought was that I should have told Kira how I truly felt about her—and now I’d never have that chance.


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