We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Her Elemental Dragons: Stroke the Flame: Chapter 16


Once our camp was packed up, we continued traveling along the main road toward the Air Realm in the southeast. I rode with Reven first, needing some space from Jasin, especially after that last fireball. Thank the Gods Reven had put it out quickly before the flames took over the entire forest. How was I supposed to bond with Jasin when fear spiked through me every time he used his powers? Better yet, how was I supposed to face the Fire God? And after I did that, I’d be able to conjure fire myself—did I even want that?

Did I have a choice?

I tried to put the thoughts out of my head by focusing on the man sitting in front of me, but he wasn’t exactly one for conversation. Our last exchange had gone like this:

“So, you’re an assassin?” I’d asked Reven, after we’d been on the road for fifteen minutes.

“Yes,” he’d said, his voice showing no emotion at all.

“How did you get involved in that kind of work?”

“It’s a long story.”

I’d waited for him to go on, but he seemed content to leave it at that. Giving up, I’d sighed and turned back to gazing at the forest and the mountains in the distance instead. Good thing the Water Temple was last, because I had a hard time seeing the two of us getting intimate anytime soon. Assuming Reven would even stick around that long.

We stopped for lunch in another clearing and then it was time for me to ride with Jasin, who still wore his military uniform. Even though I would never admit it out loud, it was a good look on him, complementing the red highlights in his hair and enhancing his broad shoulders. There was something about a man in uniform, and Jasin looked commanding, dangerous, and incredibly sexy.

“Don’t you have something else you can wear?” I asked, as he helped me up onto his war horse. Unlike the others, he had me sit in front of him, and the solid presence of him behind me made my heart race.

He took the reins in front of me, his arms brushing against mine. “Not really. I only grabbed a few things when I left, and since I was traveling alone I figured it would be safer if I was in my uniform.”

“Maybe, but it might draw attention now. It’ll be hard to explain why you’re traveling with the four of us. Plus a lot of people don’t look fondly on the Onyx Army around here.”

I felt him shrug. “It’ll have to do for now. I can take the coat off when we enter a village.”

“That could work, and once we get to a larger town we can see about getting you some other clothes.”

He snorted. “Make sure to get some for Auric too then. He sticks out more than I do.”

I cast a glance over at Auric, who sat straight on his white horse wearing clothes that looked more suitable for going to a ball than for traveling. “You have a point there.”

We continued for another few hours through a bit of road that had thick trees on either side of it, cutting out a lot of the light. I nearly dozed off, with the horse moving rhythmically underneath me and Jasin’s very warm body behind me. I almost leaned back and rested my head against him, but managed to restrain myself. My body was comfortable with him already, even if my mind wasn’t yet.

As the hour grew late, we decided to stop at a village up ahead for the night so we could get supplies and feed the horses. But as we approached, it was immediately clear something was wrong.

We walked our horses slowly into the center of the village, their steps the only sound we could hear. The stone buildings around us had all been turned to little more than rubble, with huge pieces missing or crumbled to the ground. It seemed fairly recent, since the nearby forest hadn’t taken over the ruins yet, but there was no sign of anyone still living here.

“What happened here?” Auric asked, as we spun around to take it all in.

“An elemental attack, most likely,” Slade said, his tone grim. “The people must have abandoned the village afterward.”

“I heard about a town that was attacked by rock elementals a month ago,” I said, remembering the doomed travelers’ words. “This could be the same place, or one that suffered a similar fate.”

“If so, where are the elementals now?” Jasin asked, his hand on his sword as he glanced around.

“Perhaps the Dragons took care of them,” Auric said, with a shrug.

“Unless the Jade Dragon is the one who did this,” Slade said.

“It doesn’t matter what happened,” Reven said. “No one is here now. We should look around for any supplies they might have left behind and find a place to sleep for the night.”

The thought of staying here in this abandoned town made my stomach twist. “What if the elementals return?”

He met my eyes. “Then we’ll deal with them.”

I still didn’t like it, and the other men seemed wary as well, but they nodded and dismounted their horses. We did a quick search through the crumbled buildings, with Slade moving the stone so we could look for supplies or any sign of what had happened. We found very little, which made me think we weren’t the first people to pick through these ruins.

We found a small building that was mostly intact except for one missing wall and decided to sleep there for the night. As I pushed aside the debris and laid out my things, I wondered what the building had once been used for before. A small house? A shop? It was hard to tell. I picked up a dusty old doll with only one leg and shuddered, before tossing it aside.

Between exhaustion and the eeriness of the place, none of us spoke much that night before we took to our beds. I fell asleep almost instantly, but it seemed as if only minutes had passed before Reven’s voice woke me.

“Wake up,” he said in a low voice. “We’ve got company.”

I rose to a sitting position and blinked back sleep as his words settled over me. Reven had taken the first watch, and now he stood over the four of us with only the moonlight illuminating his dark frame. Outside, the night was silent. Maybe too silent.

Jasin jumped to his feet instantly. “What kind of company?”

“Not the friendly kind,” Reven said.

“How many?” Slade asked.

Reven glanced through the missing wall, though I couldn’t see anything out there. “Seven at least. Bandits, most likely. They’re surrounding us now.”

Jasin swore under his breath. “They must have been watching this town. Waiting for us to go to sleep so they could attack.”

Yes, that was definitely their plan. I remembered as much from my short time living with a group of them myself.

“Can we get our horses and outrun them?” Auric asked, as he quickly pulled on his boots.

“Not likely,” Reven said.

“Especially not with Kira sharing a horse,” Jasin said. “But we could try.”

“Run or fight?” Slade asked, turning his green eyes to me. The others waited for my answer too.

I swallowed. All my life I’d stayed in the shadows and kept to myself, trying to draw as little attention as possible. I wasn’t used to being a leader and wasn’t sure I liked this new role. What if I made the wrong decision and one of them was injured, or Gods forbid, worse? How could I live with that?

I went over everything they’d said. We were surrounded and couldn’t outrun the bandits, not with me riding with one of them. We didn’t know the land around here, and the bandits probably did. No matter what we chose we were at a disadvantage.

“Fight,” I said, praying I’d made the right decision and wasn’t leading my men to their deaths. I’d only known them for a few days, but I was already terrified of losing them.

“So be it,” Jasin said, flashing a bloodthirsty smile. “I do love a good fight.”

“We have to be careful not to use our powers though,” Auric said. “We can’t let anyone know who or what we are.”

“Or we need to make sure no one is alive to speak a word about us,” Reven said, pulling his hood over his head again.

With that grim thought, we quickly prepared ourselves and left the ruined building, since there was no room to fight inside it. As we stood in the center of the village, the men all drew their weapons and I gripped my bow tight. Jasin clutched his large sword, while Auric held a long, thin blade with elaborate carvings. Slade lifted his huge axe, his stance wide, like nothing was getting through him. Reven disappeared into the shadows or maybe onto a nearby roof, I wasn’t sure.

Dark figures crept out of doorways and blades glinted under the starlight, but my rapid breathing was the only thing I could hear.

Auric raised his sword. “Here they come.”

“Protect Kira,” Slade told the others.

Jasin gripped his weapon tighter. “With my life.”

“I can protect myself,” I told them, readying my bow. I prayed to the Gods it was true.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode