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Her Elemental Dragons: Stroke the Flame: Chapter 17


As dark figures approached from all around us I nocked an arrow, my heart pounding in my chest. We were outnumbered and would soon be surrounded. What if I’d made the wrong decision?

When the first bandit came within range, I released my arrow. It struck the man in the chest and he hit the ground. I grabbed another arrow immediately, but by then the attackers were already upon us.

Thin knives appeared from the rooftops above us, landing in the throats of two of the bandits, killing them instantly. Thrown by Reven, no doubt. He leaped off the rooftop and his twin blades sliced through another bandit as he landed. He then launched himself at the next attacker in a blur of movement.

Slade swung his axe at a man wearing a gray hood, while Auric’s long blade clashed with a curved sword wielded by a woman. Jasin moved in front of me, meeting two bandits with his heavy sword, his movements swift and powerful. He spun and slashed between the two of them, keeping them at bay.

Everything happened so quickly it was hard to tell who was friend or foe in the darkness, and I hesitated to release my arrow while wishing I could be of more help in the fight. When Auric narrowly dodged a blow from the woman with the curved sword, I saw my chance and let my arrow fly, taking her down with a well-placed shot in the chest.

The two men fighting Jasin pushed him back against a wall and I saw a burst of blood under the moonlight. Panic shot through me and I readied another arrow to help defend him, but then a woman lunged at me with a dagger. Auric let out a shout and blasted a gust of wind toward her, sweeping her off her feet—and me along with her.

I hit the ground hard on my back, all the air knocked from my chest and my head smarting from the impact. The bandit woman recovered faster and grabbed her dagger off the ground, already getting back to her feet. I sucked in a breath and lifted myself up, but I wasn’t quick enough in reaching for my own knife from my boot. She raised her dagger, but then a barrage of rubble slammed into her, courtesy of Slade I assumed.

Only problem was the rocks went wide and smashed into Jasin and Auric too. Flames lashed out from Jasin’s hands at the two bandits in front of him, setting them both on fire, along with everything around them. In an instant, the nearby brush was alight and blazing with heat.

Behind me, Reven swore under his breath and conjured a downpour of water over the flames like he’d done this morning, except on a larger scale. A much larger scale. Suddenly we were up to our knees in a flash flood of muddy water, which swept two of the bandits away into the forest. I grabbed onto a nearby piece of rubble to steady myself as the water rushed around me.

Within seconds, all our attackers were either dead or gone. I wasn’t sure if any of them had escaped or not. If they did, then our secret would be out.

A body floated up beside me and I shuddered, while our nearby horses stomped their feet in the rising water. I lifted my bow above the water and each of my men looked somewhere between stunned and exhausted, which was about how I felt too. We were all soaked through, covered in mud and blood with a few cuts and bruises, but at least we were alive.

“Is everyone all right?” I asked.

Jasin touched his neck, which was still bleeding. “Nothing serious.”

“I’m fine,” Auric said.

Reven regarded the ruined village like he still expected trouble to emerge from its dark doorways. “We should get moving.”

“No kidding,” Jasin said, as he trudged through the knee-high muddy stream. “Think you summoned enough water here?”

Reven’s eyes narrowed at him. “I wouldn’t have had to use my powers at all if you hadn’t set the entire place on fire.”

“That wouldn’t have happened if Slade hadn’t attacked me with a pile of rocks,” Jasin snapped.

“That was an accident,” Slade said.

“We all made mistakes,” Auric said, glancing at me. “I’m sorry I hit you also.”

“We’re still alive,” I said. “That’s what matters. We just have some things to work on, that’s all.”

“That’s an understatement,” Jasin muttered.

We made it to the horses and began packing up quickly, all of us eager to get away from this wretched place. But then Slade stopped just before mounting his horse and moved to rest his hand against a large rock nearby. All of us paused to watch him, wondering what he was doing. He closed his eyes and stood there, his palm pressing on the smooth stone, before finally pulling away. “There’s a cave nearby. We can camp there tonight.”

“Now you tell us,” Jasin said, throwing up his hands.

“I didn’t feel its presence before.” Slade frowned. “Actually, I didn’t know I could do that until now.”

“Fascinating.” Auric said. “I suspect we’ll all discover new uses of our powers the more we use them.”

Reven mounted his horse in one quick movement. “Let’s go.”

As Jasin pulled me up onto the horse behind him, he flinched a little. His neck was soaked in blood from the wound he’d received earlier. The wound he’d gotten defending me.

I lightly touched his neck, inspecting the gash. “We should take care of this.”

“I’m fine,” Jasin said, as he flicked the reins of his horse. “Just a scratch.”

“We should at least clean it and wrap it.” As we left the abandoned village behind us, I covered his wound with my hand, trying to stop the flow of blood. It was the only thing I could do while we were riding. Warmth flared as we touched, making my fingertips tingle against his skin.

“It’s not so bad, really. I’ve had worse while shaving.” Despite his words, he rested his hand over mine, like he didn’t want me to pull it away. I became acutely aware of how close we were, with my fingers on his neck and my other hand on his hip. But I didn’t pull away either.

I ran my thumb slowly along his skin. “I just hate seeing any of you hurt.”

“Ah, so you do care about me.”

“You may be growing on me a little,” I admitted.

“I knew it.” He flashed me a roguish grin over his shoulder.

“Don’t get—” I started, but then I pulled my hand away to check the flow of blood and the rest of the words caught in my mouth. Jasin’s neck was not only no longer bleeding, but it didn’t seem to be injured at all anymore. How…?

“What is it?” Jasin asked, twisting on the saddle to look back at me. Auric glanced over at us, his brow furrowed, while Slade stopped his horse.

“Your neck,” I said, running my fingers over it, not believing my eyes. “The wound. It’s gone.”

Jasin touched the area where he’d been cut with a frown. “Gods, you’re right.”

“Kira must have healed it,” Auric said.

“Me?” I asked. “I didn’t do anything.”

Slade shrugged. “You’re the representative of the Spirit Goddess and the next Black Dragon. It makes sense you would have some powers of your own.”

Jasin stretched his neck, but he didn’t seem to be in any pain anymore. “Incredible.”

Auric examined Jasin closely. “I’ve heard rumors that the Black Dragon can heal her mates. I should have realized that would apply to us as well.”

I stared down at my hand, which was still coated in Jasin’s blood. “When I touched Jasin my hand felt warm, but he’s always warm so I didn’t think much of it. Maybe that’s how I did it?”

“Is anyone else injured?” Auric asked.

Slade shook his head, and we turned to Reven, who’d been watching the entire conversation in silence. When all eyes fell upon the small cut on his forehead, he sighed. “Fine, you can heal me.”

I slid off of Jasin’s horse and climbed up behind Reven. I was even more hesitant to touch him than Jasin, but I braced myself and lightly rested my hand over Reven’s forehead. While Jasin was comforting and warm, like sitting near a hearth on a cold night, Reven was cool and soothing, like diving into a refreshing lake on a hot day. That same tingling feeling returned to my fingertips, and when I pulled my hand away, the cut on his forehead had vanished.

“Praise the Gods,” Slade said quietly.

I stared at my hand. Even though I hadn’t been given any direction by the Spirit Goddess, it seemed she’d given me a gift too. Praise the Gods indeed.


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