Raptor (Dragon Blood Book 6)

By: Lindsay Buroker
Foreword



Greetings, good reader, and welcome back for another adventure with Tolemek, Cas, Ridge, Sardelle, and their comrades. If you read The Blade’s Memory (Book 5) without picking up Under the Ice Blades (a novella set between Books 5 and 6), I highly recommend taking a peep at that story before jumping into this one. In addition to showing the world through Captain Kaika’s eyes, it introduces a new bad guy, one that plays a big role in this story. It’s also a fun adventure!



Raptor is the longest Dragon Blood adventure yet, and I hope it will keep you entertained. As always, I would like to thank my beta readers, Cindy Wilkinson and Sarah Engelke, my editor, Shelley Holloway, and the cover designers at Deranged Doctor Design for sticking with me for this series. Now, I’ll let you jump into the story!





Prologue

“Hope we get her delivered before the rain starts.” Jort clucked at the horse team, encouraging greater alacrity on the muddy street.

“That’s why she’s under a tarp.” Jort’s comrade, Ox, yawned and scratched himself, the wooden bench shivering as the big man adjusted his weight. “A few raindrops won’t hurt her.”

“I was thinking of us.” Jort eyed the late spring clouds scowling down from the heavens. “Figured we’d be delivering this to base housing, not some dead-end out in the middle of nowhere.”

“We’re less than twenty minutes from the city walls.”

“It feels like the middle of nowhere.” Jort waved at the towering firs and hemlocks closing in on either side of the puddle-strewn road, the branches leaving only a strip of cloudy sky visible overhead. “Besides, twenty minutes is a powerful long time if you’re getting poured on.” He spotted an algae-covered pond up ahead, marking the end of the road. They had only passed three houses since the turnoff, and he had checked the addresses on all of them. No sign of 374 yet. “You wouldn’t expect a general to live out so far.”

“Bet his witch picked the place.”

“Don’t say things like that.” To ward off evil magic, Jort circled his heart with two fingers, his movements so hasty that he dropped the reins. “There’s no such thing as witches. Not real ones.” He circled his heart again before picking up the reins, just in case. A man couldn’t be too safe.

“If you believe that, you can knock on the door and be the one to talk to her.”

“You don’t think she’ll be there, do you?” Jort licked lips that suddenly seemed drier than the white-sand deserts. He didn’t believe in magic, but he’d heard plenty of stories about General Zirkander’s lady friend, stories that would make any man twitchy. She supposedly had all sorts of potions and kept the famous pilot under her spells. And she had a sword that could melt a man’s balls off. No wonder the general had bought her such an expensive piece of furniture.

“Better be there,” Ox said, not sounding concerned. “Someone’s got to sign for the couch.”

Jort’s heart rate was up about five hundred percent by the time the horse team stopped in front of the last house on the road, a cozy two-story cottage with a tidy, green lawn out front and picnic tables and a horseshoe pit in the back. It looked innocent enough, but the tall trees along the borders hid it from its neighbors, and nothing but an overgrown blackberry patch occupied the lot across the street.

“It looks… private.” Jort eyed the windows, wondering which room the witch used to brew her potions. A curtain upstairs stirred, and he froze. He couldn’t see anyone, but he felt certain someone was watching them.

“Yup.” Ox hopped out of the wagon and strode around back to untie the canvas tarp.

A raindrop spattered Jort’s nose, and he tore his gaze from the cottage. He needed to help his partner so they could deliver the couch and escape back to the safety of the city.

“They probably like it private so they can get wild without anyone hearing,” Ox added, dropping the gate on the back of the wagon. “Maybe on this very couch.”

“Gross.”

“Pilots got needs, same as anyone else. Now, go knock and ask the witch where she wants it.”

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