Island of the Dragon: Maiden to the Dragon, Book 7 - Mac Flynn - ebook
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Miriam and her friends face their most dangerous adventure yet as they head off across the sea to stop the Red Dragons from reaching a mysterious power.Their search leads them to the old city by the bay, Boldwela, where the Red Dragons were exiled by Xander and the other dragon lords.  Among their foes they find an ancient secret of the dragons and come face-to-face with one of Miriam’s less-friendly relatives.  Friends are made and lost, and Miriam must face her heritage as their destinies collide with the leader of the Red Dragons for one final confrontation that will decide the fate of the world.

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Island of the Dragon

Maiden to the Dragon, Book7

Mac Flynn

Copyright © 2018 by Mac Flynn

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Continue the adventure

Other series by Mac Flynn

1

I leaned over the railing of the elegant vessel and looked out at the calm waters of the lake in Alexandria. A cool breeze wafted by me, bringing with it the sweet smells of cooking and the sweet sound of children laughing as they raced along the shore following the path of the smallship.

I heard a flutter of sails and looked over my shoulder. Xander stood at the helm, and beside him was the captain, Magnus, and behind them was the first mate, the tall and pale Nimeni.

My dragon lord’s eyes flickered between what lay ahead of us and the children that ran along the bank. He drew the ship parallel to the shore while the rough-cut sailors opened the sails to give the ship speed that matched the quickkids.

The outcropping for the temple of the lake face forced us to turn left while the children scurried onto the thin strip of land. They hurried to the end and waved to us. I strode over to the railing and wavedback.

One of the young lads cupped his hands over his mouth. “Lady Miriam! Come play withus!”

I glanced over my shoulder at Xander. “Can I, Dad?” I teased.

He smiled. “I hardly believe a naughty Maiden like you deserves toplay.”

I climbed onto a box and from there onto the railing. The white water below me splashed against the waterline of the ship as though reaching out for me. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes.’”

I dove outward away from the rough waves and into the water. My water dragon drew out of my body and slipped beneath me so that I rode on its back. The children laughed and clapped their hands as I rode the beast to within a few yards of shore.

“I want aride!”

“Me, too!”

“Please let meride!”

I looked behind me at the dragon’s long body and laughed. “I think there’s enough room for all ofyou.”

“Do you have room for one more?” a voice spokeup.

I looked past the children at a familiar figure that strode our way. I couldn’t help but smile. “Were you the one who brought them here, Tillit?”

The sus stopped behind them and made a majestic bow in my direction. “I am guilty as charged, my fair Lady! I thought they might want a good swim before the water turns toocold.”

I looked up and squinted at the overcast skies. “So does this world have Fall, too?”

“All the four seasons that yours does, My Lady,” he assuredme.

“Can we have a ride?” one of the kids pleaded.

“One last one! We promise!” another spokeup.

I patted the back of the dragon behind me. “Climb aboard. You, too, Tillit.”

He picked up one of the smaller kids and waded into the water. “Much obliged for the honor, MyLady.”

I grinned. “You won’t think so when I’mdone.”

He set the kid in front of him and took a spot near the rear of my beast. “Surely you wouldn’t be rough with children aboard, MyLady.”

“Be rough, Miriam!”

“Yeah! We like itfast!”

I looked ahead and hunkered down. “Then holdon!”

My dragon sped forward across the surface of the water. Tillit yelped and grabbed hold of my beast as its lithe body slithered like a sonic-speed snake across the lake. We slammed through waves and skipped over rocks as we made our way along the shore. The kids cheered at every wave while Tillit winced.

The ride wasn’t long. I didn’t want to lose a passenger, or for Tillit to lose his lunch. Within a few minutes we slithered onto shore. “All right, everybodyoff.”

“Aah,” came the collective sound of disappointment as the children slid off theback.

Tillit lifted his leg over the dragon’s back and winced as he stumbled into the water. “A very exuberant ride, My Lady. You have great control over your powers.”

I shrugged as I stood on my own two feet. “It’s all in the-” My dragon slipped out from beneath me and knocked its tail against my legs. I yelped as I fell backward into the two-foot deep water. My head disappeared beneath the waves and my bottom hit the soft-stone floor.

I came up coughing and with my ears ringing with the sound of the kids’ laughter. Tillit himself stood over me with a twinkle in his eyes and his hand extended. “Very great control.”

“Ha-ha,” I retorted as I took hishand.

He helped me to my feet and I, along with the children, stumbled to the sun-drenched shore to dryoff.

“You dropped something,” Tillit calledout.

I turned in time so see him stoop and pick up a small book that floated beneath the waters. It was the shrunken tome given to me by Crates.

I felt the color drain from my face. “Oh shit!” I ran over to him and snatched the book from his paws so I could furiously try to wipe the cover dry with my wet shirt. “Crates is going to killme!”

“Crates of the Library?” Tillit guessed.

I nodded. “Yeah. If he found out I ruined his book-” My breath caught in my throat as I recalled that terrible griffin and its merciless justice. I scrubbed faster.

Tillit yanked the book from my hands and smiled at me. “You have nothing to worry about, MyLady.”

I stared at him with wild eyes. “Nothing to worry about? He’s got a griffin that eats people. That’s somethingto-”

“The book isdry.”

I blinked at him. “Come again?”

He opened the tiny pages toward me and flipped through them. “See?”

I looked down and watched the dry pages flip over one another. “H-how?”

Tillit chuckled as he shut the book. “The Mallus Library hasn’t survived this long without having precautions placed on all its books.” He turned the book over in his hand. “I’d say with him knowing your powers he probably put a water-resistant spell on it.” His eyes flickered up to me. “Though I’m wondering why you’re keeping such a valuable book onyou.”

I breathed a deep sigh of relief and shrugged. “I asked some people in town if they could read it, but they couldn’t even tell me what language it was in. Nobody seems to be able to read it, not even Apuleius.”

“Ican.”

I arched an eyebrow at the sus. “Really?”

Tillit grinned. “Of course I can. I can’t sell any books for a good price unless I know what’s inthem.”

I nodded at the cover. “Then what’s itsay?”

He cleared his throat and squinted his eyes at the tiny runes on the cover. “‘A History of the Dragons By Crates of Mallus.’” He started back as the book expanded to its normal size. He rubbed his scrubby beard and furrowed his brow. “I think I just said the secret password to open this thing.”

I grabbed the book and tucked it under my arm before I grabbed Tillit’s hand and dragged him along the shore. The children followed behind us. “Come on. You’re going to the castle.”

He winced. “But My Lady, think of the children if you executedme!”

“An execution!”

“Wow!”

I snorted. “You’re not going to be executed, you’re going to read me what’s in this book so I can find out why Crates gave it to me. Now stop squirming and let’s get going!”

2

Tillit and I met the ship at the dock where Xander grinned at me and my companion. “That is an unusual fish you have caught, but I suggest we throw himback.”

I released Tillit and shook my head. “This fish is too valuable. He’s going to read this-” I held up the book, “-tous.”

Xander arched an eyebrow before he looked to Tillit. “You know how toread?”

The sus frowned and snorted. “After all this time and you know so little about me, My Lord? Tillit ishurt.”

I shoved the book against his chest and he instinctively wrapped his arms around the cover. “Now’s the time to prove your stuff. Read us a couple of pages.”

Tillit opened to a few pages in and cleared his throat. “Chapter One. The beginning.” He wrinkled his nose. “Crates wasn’t much for exciting poetry, washe?”

I rolled my eyes. “What else does itsay?”

He flipped to the beginning and browsed over a list of the unusual letters. “There’s just a bunch of chapters on the supposed origins of dragons and their cousin species, like the naga.” His eyes stopped roaming and he smiled. “This might be worth alook.”

“What’s worth a look?” I askedhim.

“A compendium of legends and mysteries related to the dragons,” Tillit told him as he flipped through the pages to the very back. His eyes searched the ancient words and we caught the gist of the entries through his mumbling. “The Great Bear of Bruin Bay. The Lost Legion of the Great War. The-” he paused and furrowed hisbrow.

“Is something the matter?” Xander wondered.

Tillit shook his head as he flipped to the very last pages. “There seems to be an entry on the Ealand of ReodFyr.”

I blinked at him. “You sounded like something got stuck in your throat.”

“There is no mistake in his speech. It is the old name for the Island of Red Fire, a damned place,” Xander told me. I looked up at him and my eyes widened. His face was twisted with a scowl and his eyes had a faraway look in them. “What about that place?”

Tillit browsed the pages and frowned. “It says here something about Sæ, the water, that’s hidden on the island. It’s supposed to be able to grant dragons enormous power, making them as powerful as the ancients of the GreatWar.”

The color drained from Xander’s face. “Where exactly is it located?”

Tillit pursed his lips and shook his head. “I don’t know. It says something here about within the dragon’s mouth, but I have no idea what that means. Then again-” he lifted his head and shrugged, “-that island isn’t exactly my stomping ground.”

Xander half-turned and swept his eyes over the ship with its crew. “Then we shall have to ask someone who is familiar with the island.”

He moved toward the ship, but I grabbed his arm. “Wait a sec.” He glanced over his shoulder at me with that dark look on his face. “What’s going on? What’s this island that sounds like someone choking on hairballs?

He wrenched himself from my grasp and shook his head. “We do not have time for explanations.” He marchedoff

I balled my hands into fists at my sides and glared at his retreating back. “Don’t you-” A heavy hand settled on my shoulder. I looked behind me to find the hand belonged to Tillit.

The sus closed his eyes and shook his head. “I wouldn’t follow him too close.”

“But what’s his problem?” I snapped.

Tillit looked past me at Xander as my dragon lord hurried up the plank. “You know him. He always gets this way when someone talks about the Red Dragons, and especially that place.”

I arched an eyebrow. “What about them and that place?”

“That island is where they banished the Red Dragons that survived the War of the Lords fifty years ago,” he told me. He pursed his lips and turned his attention to me. “Xander wanted all of the army to be executed, but the other dragon lords made a deal. The survivors told them where the Red Dragon’s gold was in exchange for letting them live. They were all banished to the Island of RedFire.”

I frowned. “Seriously? The lords accepted blood money so they’dlive?”

He grinned. “What’s a dragon without his loot, and even a lord might think he doesn’t have enough.”

“So the Red Dragons are still there? What about the one I saw at Ui Breasail and Hadia?”

“It was a permanent banishment, so he wasn’t supposed to be there,” Tillit told me. He looked past me at where Xander had gone and pursed his lips. “I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that Xander killed the guy, even against King Colin’s orders.”

I grabbed Tillit’s hand and dragged him toward the plank. “Then let’s make sure he doesn’t do anything that stupid with what you toldhim.”

We followed my stomping dragon lord up the plank and to the wheel where Captain Magnus stood with the pale Nimeni at the helm. The captain shook his head. “I’ve been all over that island, but it beats me what the dragon’s mouth is supposed tobe.”

“There is the Dragoi Haitzuloa,” Nimeni spokeup.

All eyes turned to him and Magnus frowned. “Don’t be speaking with yer strange tongue, sailor. Spit itout.”

“That is what my kind calls the Cave of the Dragon,” he explained.

I arched an eyebrow. “Yourkind?”

He nodded. “Yes. I am what humans refer to as ‘vampire.’”

I felt the color drain from my face. “Seriously?” I glanced at Xander. “There are vampires in this world, too?”

“Whatever tales they tell of vampires in yer old world, My Lady, Nimeni’s isn’t anything to be worried about. He’s got himself cured of the worst of their habits,” Magnus assuredme.

“And what are those habits?” I askedhim.

“That’s neither here nor there, My Lady, but His Lordship was asking us about this place,” Magnus remindedme.

Xander’s full attention lay on Nimeni. “Where on the island is thiscave?”

“Near the mountains that skirt the sea,” Nimeni toldhim.

Magnus stepped between Xander and his first mate, and stared the dragon lord in the eyes. “What are ya thinking, Yer Lordship? Ya can’t be thinking of going there.” Xander turned his face away and narrowed his eyes. The captain’s bushy gray eyebrows crashed down. “Ya know they want yer head there, Yer Lordship. They’d kill ya as soon as they saw ya, and dump yer body into the seas without a thought.”

Tillit held up the book. “We don’t know if this legend is true. If that Crates thought there was something more than he would have put it in the history section.”

Xander lifted his head and glared at Tillit. “But we cannot risk them finding such a power, if such a power exists.”

Magnus stepped forward. “Then let me and my men go in yer stead, Yer Lordship. None would care if they saw me for Ah’ve not been there in such a time Ah probably wouldn’t recognized meself.”

Xander shook his head. “I would rather do this task myself, but I will have you take me across the Pilvien and land me at Begeondan.”

I frowned and grabbed his arm. “You’re not going without me. We’re partners, remember?”

He turned to me and grasped my upper arms. His eyes caught mine in their unwavering gaze. “I cannot allow my partner to follow me to what may be a horribleend.”

“And that’s why I need to go with you, so you don’t get yourself killed,” I insisted.

“If something were to happen to you, I could not live with myself,” he argued.

“And if something happened to you I’d lose my job as a Maiden. No dragon, no Maiden,” I countered.

His eyebrows crashed down and he dropped his hands from my arms. “I will hear no more of this argument. You will remainhere.”

I half-turned away from him and crossed my arms over my chest. “I’m going.”

“I forbidit.”

“I don’tcare.”

A chuckle interrupted our tense standoff. Everyone looked to Tillit. His large belly jiggled as he quietly made known his amusement. Xander arched an eyebrow. “What do you find so amusing?”

“That you’re making a fuss when you know you’re going to lose,” he explained. “You should just kiss and let bygones be bygones.”

Xander frowned. “I willnot-”

“That’s not a bad idea,” I spoke up. I grabbed Xander’s chin and pulled him down to my level so I could press our lips together. He was stiff for a moment before he softened to my touch. I pulled away and left him still puckered. “Well? Are we going now or later?”

Xander drew back and pursed his lips as his bright eyes studied me. He sighed and his expression softened. A crooked smile slipped onto his lips. “Now, or as soon as Captain Magnus can outfit the Blå Engel.”

Magnus grinned. “She’s always ready to sail, Yer Lordship. How many will we be taking on this voyage?”

“You will take only as many men as you need, and Miriam and I will be your only passengers,” Xander toldhim.

Tillit raised one hand with his finger extended. “Don’t forget Tillit, My Lord. I might not know the island, but a port is always a sus’s home and I’m sure I can scrounge up some more information on this cave before you sprint into another bunch of trouble.”

Magnus grinned as he looked over our group. “Then it’s agreed. We sail tomorrow.”

3

The morning dawned cold and quiet. A cool breeze swept over the deck as I wrapped my fur coat closer around me. Before me was a ship railing, and beyond that was the foggy waters of Alexandria’s bay. “Why can’t these adventures start out in a comfortable carriage. . .” I mumbled.

I stood on the deck of Magnus’s vessel, the Blå Engel. She was a full-rigged sailing ship that stretched three hundred feet from bow to stern. The tallest mast stretched a hundred and fifty feet above my head, and between the deck and the tip were a dozen square sails of various sizes. Half of them were drawn up, and a dozen sailors worked at securing the others as a gentle breeze pushed us along the openseas.

The bay of Alexandria was far behind us, and had been for a day. All around was was stretched the blue-green waters of the ocean. I wondered if my cousin Aearion was somewhere out there and up to nogood.

Tillit stepped up beside me with his satchel over his shoulder and a greenish tinge on his face. He leaned on the railing and looked out on the endless expanse of water. “It would be a carriage worth its weight in drachma if it could take us to RedFire.”

“You okay?” I askedhim.

He straightened and managed a smile. “Just a little of the seas working its dark magic on my stomach. Sus weren’t really meant for sea traveling, and I’ll be glad when Tillit is back onland.”

“How far away is it?” I askedhim.

“Two hundred miles, but-” he glanced at his right toward the bow. Xander stood at the point. His back was to us. “-I think something a little closer needs your attention.”

I looked past Tillit at my dragon lord and pursed my lips. “He’s really not looking forward to this, ishe?”

Tillit closed his eyes and shook his head. “Nope, but it’s something he’s needed to face for a longtime.”

“His mom?” I guessed.

He nodded. “His mom, and his dad. They were Joined when she was murdered.”

My eyes widened. “So they were both killed?”

He looked out over the water and sighed. “Yeah. I’d never seen Xander mad until that happened, and then he was like a man possessed by demons. He was the one who led the armies of the five dragons against the Red. He killed the lord with his own hands.”

I grasped the railing and bowed my head. “Ferus Draco. . .”

“Fierce Dragon, and from what I saw at that final battle he was the fiercest,” Tillit toldme.

I raised my head and studied the sus’s pensive expression. “So you were there? When it all went down, thatis.”

He pushed away from the railing and turned to face me. “Yeah, I was there, but you need to be there for Xander now.” A small smile slid onto his lips. “Xander doesn’t need ol’ Tillit to be by his side anymore, not when he’s got a beautiful face like yours to look at.” He jerked his head toward the brooding lord. “Go on now. He needs some cheeringup.”

I walked past Tillit and joined Xander at the bow. I leaned my arms on the railing beside him and studied Xander’s tense face. He continued to stare ahead. I leaned forward to catch his hard eyes. “So what’s out there on that island? What are we up against?”

He shook his head. “I do notknow.”

I pursed my lips. “Maybe that’s where all the bad guys we met ran offto.”

“Perhaps.”

I rolled my eyes and gazed out over the endless water. “Tillit told me about the end of the war. He said you didn’t want the Red Dragons to be exiled.” He stiffened, but made no effort to reply. “What were they hoping the dragons would do over there?”

His eyes narrowed. “They hoped they would mend theirways.”

“But you don’t think that would happen?” I guessed.

“No.”

“What’d you think the Red Dragons would do over there?”

Xander looked out on the waters and pursed his lips. “I hoped they woulddie.”

I cringed. “All of them? Weren’t there any kids and wives that went there?”

He pushed off from the railing and turned to face me. “All ofthem.”

I spun around to face him and balled my hands into fists at my side. “You can’t do that! They didn’t do anything-”

“They murdered my mother.” I froze. My face fell. He turned his face away and looked out on the sea. “They murdered my mother, and my father’s death was the consequence. In one single instance, and without any warning, they destroyed my life. They took from me what I held most dear.” His eyes flickered to me. “They continue to doso.”

I frowned. “But that still doesn’t mean you can wish death on the ones who didn’t kill your parents. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair toyou.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Fair tome?”

I nodded. “Yeah. Holding all that hate for so long and before you know it you’re just as bad as the guys who have tried to kill us. Maybe worse because you should know better.”

Xander studied my face for a while before he turned away and sighed. “Perhaps you are right.”

I snorted and folded my arms across my chest. “Of course I’m right. I’m your Maiden.”

A hint of a smile curved the corners of his mouth upward. “No one who knows both you and I would doubtthat.”

“Yer Lordship! A word!” Captain Magnus called out from the platform that held the large wheel. The round wooden contraption was three feet circular and needed two men to turnit.

“Coming,” Xander called back. He turned to me and gave me a genuine smile. “Thank you for thetalk.”

I shrugged. “Any time.” He bowed his head and left me alone.

But not for long. Tillit came up beside me and studied me with a wide smile. I frowned. “What?”

“You certainly are a mare fae,” he commented.

I furrowed my brow. “Why do you saythat?”

He set his hand on my shoulder and met my gaze. “Because I think you could purify just about anybody, even our brooding younglord.”

“Even a Red Dragon?” I teased.

He dropped his hand and shrugged. “Like I said, just aboutanybody.”

I glanced to my left and the seas that lay beyond the railing. “That’s a lot of water.”

Tillit nodded. “Yep. From coast-to-coast it’s two hundred miles of open water. That’s why it’ll take us two days, if the winds keep withus.”

“And if they don’t?” I askedhim.

He chuckled. “Then you’ll get to see this dragon crew work their wings.”

“Speaking of those, has anyone tried to fly across the sea?” I wondered.

“Once,” Xander spoke up as he came up tous.

Tillit turned to him and grinned. “Thebet?”

Xander nodded. “Thebet.”

I turned and leaned my back against the railing so I could glance from one to the other. “Whatbet?”

“There is a legend about a powerful dragon who made a bet with a friend that he could fly across the sea,” Xander toldme.

“What were they trying towin?”

He smiled as he looked down at me. “The hand of the fairest maiden on the island who they both coveted.”

I snorted. “Figures. So what happened?”

“The dragon crossed the sea from the island to the continent, but he collapsed on the western shore and died soon afterward.”

“That’s not how I hear it,” a voice spoke up. We looked over our shoulders to see Captain Magnus walk up tous.

Xander turned around and leaned his back against the railing. “How do the seas tell the tale, captain?”

“They tell that the gods rewarded the dragon’s epic feat by snatching him from death and making him one of their own. A god of the air and-” he nodded at the wide expanse of water, “-this sea in particular. Some say he lives in the eye of the Eternal Storm.”

I arched an eyebrow. “Eternal Storm?”

The rough captain nodded. “Aye. Ya can’t miss it on this voyage.”

“We should reach the safest point to view it in three hours, shouldn’t we?” Xander askedhim.

“Aye, and I won’t go a bit closer than that. It would be only insanity that leads a man to sail into those dark clouds,” the captain agreed.

I glanced at Xander. “So what were you two talking about up there?”

“Whether to dock at the harbor or go ashore in an away boat,” Xander revealed.

“And?”

“We will be docking at the harbor.”

I arched an eyebrow. “Isn’t that more dangerous?”