Dragon Actually:Dragon Kin 01(4)

By: G.A.Aiken


“That’s not from him.” Annwyl pulled the robe tight around her body. Velvet and lush, she loved the softness of it against her battle-hardened skin. She wondered what rich baron the dragon took this from as he tore his caravan apart and ate the occupants.

The woman put her arm around Annwyl’s waist and helped her to a table laid out with food and wine. “Your name is… Morfyd. Yes?” Annwyl lowered herself into a sturdy chair.

“Yes.”

“Did you help heal me as well?”

“Yes.”

“Well, thank you for your help, Morfyd. It is greatly appreciated.”

“I did it because the dragon asked. But betray him, lady—”

“Don’t threaten me.” Annwyl easily cut in without even looking up from the food before her. “I really hate that. And you need not remind me of my blood debt to the dragon.” Annwyl sipped wine from a silver chalice and stared at the woman. “I owe him my life. I’ll never betray him. And don’t call me ‘lady.’Annwyl will do.”

Carefully placing the chalice on the wood table, she found Morfyd staring at her. “Something wrong?”

“No. I’m just very curious about you.”

“Well,” Annwyl grinned, “I’ve been told that I’m fascinating.”

Morfyd pulled out the only other chair and sat across from Annwyl. “I have heard much about your brother. It amazes me you still live.”

Annwyl began to eat the hearty stew, desperately trying not to think too hard about what kind of meat it contained.

“It amazes me as well. Daily.”

“But you saved many people. Released many from his dungeons.”

Annwyl shrugged silently as she wondered whether that was gristle she currently chewed on.

“No one else would challenge him. No man would step forward to face him,” Morfyd pushed.

“Well, he’s my brother. He used to set fire to my hair and throw knives at my head. Facing him in combat was inevitable.”

“But you lived under his roof until two years ago. We’ve all heard the stories about life on Garbhán Isle.”

“My brother had other concerns after my father died. He wanted to make sure everyone feared him. He didn’t have time to worry about his bastard sister.”

“Why didn’t he marry you off? He could have forged an alliance with one of the bigger kingdoms.” Annwyl briefly thought of Lord Hamish of Madron Province and how close she came to being his bride. The thought chilled her.

“He tried. But the nobles kept changing their minds.”

“And did you help them with that?”

She held up her thumb and forefinger, a little bit apart.

“Just a little.”

For the first time, Morfyd smiled and Annwyl found herself warming up to the witch a bit. Annwyl pushed her nearly empty bowl away from her and drank more of the wine. It shocked her how well she ate. Shocked her that she still breathed.

“Make sure you finish off the wine. I have added herbs that will heal you and stave off infection.”

Annwyl stared warily into her wine chalice. “What kind of herbs?”

Morfyd shrugged as she stood, picking up Annwyl’s empty bowl. “Lots of different ones. It’s my own potion. It works quite well. It can also heal rashes and gout. And prevent a woman from becoming with child. But I guess that doesn’t matter to you.”

Annwyl glanced up from her wine. “Why do you say that?”

“Because you’re a virgin.”

Annwyl froze. That couldn’t be just an assumption. She’d lived with a male army for well over two years; everyone assumed she’d lost her virginity ages ago.

“How did you … know that?”

“He told me.”

Annwyl knew the witch meant the dragon, and that’s when the fury built up in her chest. A fury she never could control. “Dragon!” She bellowed his name so loudly, Morfyd stumbled back away from her.

The ground shook as the dragon returned to her. “What? What is it?”

Annwyl forced herself to her feet, her hand against her recent wound. “How did you know? And tell me true.”

“Know what?” He looked at Morfyd who shrugged and quickly left. Almost ran.

“That I was a virgin. No one knows that. How did you?” She had no idea how long her deep sleep held her. Unable to protect herself. Unable to stop someone from … she shook her head. She couldn’t bear to even think it.

“This is why you demand my presence? Because I know your deep, dark secret?”

“Not that you know. But how you know.”

He lowered his head until they were eye to eye. But Annwyl, too angry for logic, did not flinch or back away. Considering his head was the length of her body and she towered over most men, she probably should have. Instead she let her anger wash over her. Just as she always had. “Well? Answer me!”