Dragon Blues (Immortal Dragons Book 1)

By: Ophelia Bell
Chapter One

“It has to be you, Sister.”

Belah dug her talons into the soft grass-covered earth of the Glade in an effort to suppress her objection to her sibling’s request. Ked was right, as were the others. Leaving the Glade was the only way to accomplish their goal. And of course they chose her to be the first, in spite of her history. Or maybe because of it.

Ked’s black eyes watched her steadily from beneath his heavy, black-scaled brow. The infinite depths of those twin voids disconcerted her even though she knew the level of compassion that hid in the shadows behind them. Of all her siblings, Ked knew the true extent of her reluctance. He’d seen her at her worst, saved her from continued torture and exploitation at the hands of a human man she’d once loved. The mistake she’d made still haunted their race more than three thousand years later.

“We’ve already altered our laws to increase our numbers as quickly as possible. The six of us are not exempt from the breeding requirement, sister.”

She and her five siblings were organized in their typical circle, the others all watching her, waiting for her to agree to a thing she had begun to believe would never happen again. She would leave the Glade for the first time since the very first Hibernation cycle. It had to be her because she could most easily attune herself to the human populations, would be able to sense the unique patterns of hostile intent that were the badge of their enemy, the Ultiori. And she would be the first member of the immortal Dragon Council to breed since their Mother first breathed them into existence with the prismatic flames from her own lungs.

They’d all been viewed as gods back then, and had taken full advantage of their roles. Not only had she been a queen, worshiped by thousands of human subjects, she’d also had her pick of human partners to take to her bed. Nik had been the man she’d chosen, the only one who didn’t fear her true shape, and who was willing to take the chance of being bedded by a goddess.

They had loved each other, in their own ways. His betrayal had been even more heartbreaking for the fact of their love. Or what she believed was love, but may only have been abject submission that she let fester into something horrific, even though she never abused the man. Every emotion she read from him spoke unadulterated love and nothing else. The fact that she—a Blue of the Mother’s first brood—had been mistaken still haunted her. They had all paid since, in so many ways, when her lover turned on her.

The ruthlessness he’d exhibited afterward had forced her entire race to hide itself with nearly permanent human disguises and guarded magical temples for their children. They’d changed their laws to protect their offspring, but somehow their enemy—the enemy she was responsible for creating—still managed to find them.

“It’s surely too big a risk still, for one of us to walk among humans. The Ultiori would know …” It was a weak objection, but she couldn’t help but try to at least put it off.

“This is why only one of us at a time will go. You would be well guarded. Kol’s Shadows are very well trained, and you’ll be hosted by Bren’s son and his mate, who will take very good care of you.”

“I remember Erika,” she said. “It’s a rare human who can assert herself so well with a dragon mate, to fit in among our kind.”

She let out a short gust of breath, trying to tamp down the memory of Nik and how ideal she’d thought him at the beginning before he betrayed her. Like a fool, she’d been too certain of the depth of his worship of her, and hadn’t marked him because she believed it showed weakness to admit to loving someone.

Her siblings hadn’t criticized her for her mistake, at least. The same thing could have happened to any of them. But they made new laws to prevent the mistake from occurring again. The distance three thousand years gave her from that event still hadn’t diminished her shame, however. That a single drop of her blood on her lover’s tongue could drive him mad with power had never occurred to any of them.

The bigger mistake was the one that followed—she forgave him and forbade the others from destroying him once they did track him down. The truth was, he hadn’t caused trouble for them for nearly a century. He’d simply become a king in his own right, though maybe not a kind one, but he hadn’t been a threat.

It wasn’t until his son had died in an attempt to kill a dragon and steal its blood that they realized their mistake. The boy had done it in an effort to become as powerful and near-immortal as his father, but failed, and their entire race had suffered the father’s vengeful grief ever since.

“It’s been so long since they hunted us,” her sister Aurum said. “Their newest acolytes believe we’re a myth, that some other power infuses the elixir they are initiated with. We would have the element of surprise if we spend the next two decades raising a new brood, the likes of which the world has never seen. The Ultiori will be outnumbered, their hunters too overwhelmed to fight back.”

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