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Her Elemental Dragons: Shake the Earth: Chapter 7


I slid off of Jasin’s scaled back while Kira dashed through the ruined town. Slade started after her, but I stopped him with an arm across his chest. “Give her a moment.”

He scowled, but reluctantly nodded as Kira slipped away. I keenly remembered coming home to a scene like this, and the shock and horror that came with it. There was nothing we could do for her until she had a few minutes to process what she was seeing. She’d lived through this before too and she was strong. She simply needed time.

Jasin growled as he looked around. “How could they do this?”

“This is what they do,” I said, willing my voice to be hard to keep it from wavering. “We’ve seen it before.”

“Never on this scale,” Auric said, turning to face me. “Doesn’t it bother you?”

I crossed my arms and ignored his question. Of course it bothered me, more than they knew, but I couldn’t show that side to them. If I let one crack break through my cool exterior, I’d fall apart completely. The memories would come rushing back and they would wear me down until I was nothing but a husk, like those buildings in front of us. I wasn’t going to let that happen, not when Kira might need me.

“These poor people,” Brin said, clutching her hands to her chest. “They never stood a chance.”

“Someone might have escaped,” Slade said.

Jasin nodded, standing taller now that he’d found a purpose. “We should look for signs of survivors. Auric and I can scout the surrounding area from the sky, while the rest of you can search the town itself.”

Fools. There were no survivors, that was obvious. They just needed something productive to focus on to make them feel less helpless at the sight of so much death and destruction. I knew what that was like, so I let them carry on without voicing what a waste of time it would be.

Auric and Jasin took off into the air while Brin and Slade carefully examined some of the rubble. Once they were gone I picked my way through the debris, following Kira’s path to the end of the town. I spotted her kneeling in front of what was once the inn she’d worked at, and now was nothing more than ash and bone. I really should give her a few more minutes alone, but something tugged at me, urging me to join her. If anyone knew what she was going through, it was me.

Kira didn’t stir when I approached, even when I rested a hand on her shoulder. She simply stared at the place that had once been her home, her arms hanging listless at her sides, her knees pressing into the blackened ground. Dirty tears stained her face, and I resisted the impulse to wipe them away.

“The others are searching for survivors,” I said quietly.

She finally looked up at me with haunted eyes. “But not you.”

“We both know the Dragons wouldn’t leave anyone alive.” Unlike the others, Kira and I had seen this before. We’d both lost our families to the Crimson Dragon’s fire, and we knew how he worked. But her face crumpled in response to my words, and I wondered if she’d held onto some hope that her friend was still alive. I was a complete ass. “I’m sorry, Kira.”

“This is my fault,” she whispered. “This wasn’t random. The people here weren’t part of the Resistance. They’re dead because of me.”

“They’re dead because the Dragons are cruel, heartless bastards who think nothing of destroying lives.” Gods, how did I always end up as the one who comforted her? One of the other guys should be doing this. Even Slade would be better than me. I wracked my brain, trying to think of something I could say to make her feel better. “For all we know, the Dragons had problems with the town that had nothing to do with you.”

She shook her head at my feeble attempt, and though we didn’t share a bond yet, the guilt and heartbreak were clear on her face. “I led them here by sending Tash that letter. The Dragons must have intercepted it and guessed we’d stop here while we traveled through the Earth Realm. They did this to leave us a message that this is the price of opposing the Dragons. They won’t simply destroy us—they’ll destroy everyone we love.”

I couldn’t deny what she was saying since it was probably the truth, but if I let her sink into this kind of grief she might never come out of it. She blamed herself for what the Dragons had done, and that guilt would crush her spirit and make her want to give up entirely. I knew that all too well from experience.

Kira was the next Black Dragon and we needed her to be strong. She had to keep fighting. She had to rise above this and move forward. We needed her—and so did the world.

“And how are you going to respond?” I asked, making my tone hard.

Her head snapped up. “What?”

I narrowed my eyes at her. “You’re the next Black Dragon, aren’t you? Are you going to sit back and do nothing? Are you going to let them do this again to another town? Another family? Maybe Auric’s, or Slade’s?”

“No!” she cried, her hands clenching into fists.

“Then what are you going to do about it?”

She rose to her feet and wiped away the last of her tears. Resolve straightened her shoulders and made her stand taller. Determination tilted her chin up, and anger made her eyes turn to deadly slits. I watched the transformation take hold of her, turning her from victim to avenger in the space of seconds.

When she spoke, her voice was like ice and I heard the steel behind it. “I’m going to stop them.”

“Yes, you are.” I didn’t doubt it for a second.

She stared into the ruins of her village one last time, before turning to me with an unforgiving look that made me wonder if I’d pushed her too far. “And then I’ll make them pay for what they’ve done.”


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