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The sun blazed fiercely as it crested the mountains and poured its light into the valley and straight into Roman’s workshop.
He paused and closed his eyes as he soaked up the rays. In his mind, he was flying high in the sky, his wings slicing through clouds as the warmth of the sun wrapped around his body.
Roman allowed himself just a few more minutes of the memory before he opened his eyes and took a deep breath. Then his gaze returned to the two-foot-tall metal dragon he’d made. He ran his hands over the silver scales. It was to be a gift for Ulrik.
Now that the King of Silvers had returned to Dreagan where he belonged, it was time the Dragon Kings got down to business. First up was V. His friend had suffered long enough.
Roman placed the sculpture in a box filled with tissue paper and closed the lid before taking it and striding toward the manor. On his way to the great house, Roman saw V standing outside, his gaze directed eastward.
Roman placed the gift outside of Ulrik and Eilish’s room before he made his way to V. They stood side by side for several quiet moments, each lost in thought.
While every Dragon King had suffered in some way, the betrayal V bore hit Roman hard. None knew why someone had taken V’s sword and hidden it. Sadly, they hadn’t had much time to search for it after the theft because they were at war with the humans and then they sent the dragons away.
After that, each of the Kings found their mountains and slept away centuries. They woke in turns, but Roman knew Constantine, the King of Dragon Kings, had always kept a lookout for any weapon that even came close to matching the description of V’s sword. Many of those were in the armory because Con sent the Dragon Kings to retrieve the weapons—either by buying, bargaining, or stealing—to see if any were V’s.
All the while, V remained asleep in his mountain on Dreagan. The few times V woke, his need to search for his weapon overruled everything else. And the outcome was always disastrous for mortals. Which was why Con made sure that V remained asleep.
Until there was no choice but to wake all the Kings to fight a foe bent on revealing them to the humans.
“You doona have to do this,” V stated without looking at him.
Roman shook his head. “Same old V.”
Piercing blue eyes swung to him. V’s gaze narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that you still doona understand. All these thousands of eons, and you still believe that you have to do this on your own.”
“It’s my sword.”
Roman glanced at the ground and tried again. “Aye, old friend. It was your weapon that was taken, but how many times have you gone searching alone?”
A muscle ticked in V’s jaw.
“How many of those times resulted in catastrophic events?”
“I didna set the fire in Rome,” V argued.
Roman held up his hands. “No one said you did.”
“Nor did I cause the Black Plague. Or—”
“None of it happened until after you woke and went looking for your sword,” Roman interrupted. “I’m no’ blaming you. I’m simply stating facts.”
V stared at him for a long moment. “I lost my sword. I should be the one to find it.”
“I agree, but there’s no harm in having help.”
“You control metal, Roman. It’s Kellan who can find it. If any King can help, it would be Kellan.”
Roman cocked a brow. “I’ll try no’ to be offended.”
V ran a hand down his face. “That wasna my intention.”
“You’ve spent most of our countless centuries asleep. You’ve no’ interacted with the humans. Or anyone, for that matter.”
“So you doona trust me alone?”
“We all want you to find your sword. It’s time. And I’m going to make sure that happens.”
V looked off into the distance once more. “I can no’ remember where I lost it.”
“That doesna matter. It’s probably long gone from there anyway.”
His head jerked to Roman. “You know where I lost it.”
Roman held his gaze for a long moment, hesitating just a heartbeat before nodding. “Aye.”
“Do the others?”
Fuck. This was so not how Roman wanted this conversation to go. V was unpredictable without his sword, and each time he had gone searching for it, horrible things happened to everyone around him.
“Roman,” V growled dangerously.
“After the last time you woke from the dragon sleep, I went looking.”
V’s eyes blazed with fury as he faced him. “You’ve known.”
“I told Con the next time you woke, that I was going to help you. We would’ve left sooner if no’ for the whole Mikkel issue. I know you’re angry, and I’m sorry for that. But let me help.”
“I can no’ remember anything of that day. I had my sword, then I woke and I didna. Only because I refuse to go any longer without it will I accept your help.”
“Good. No’ that you could’ve stopped me from going,” Roman said with a grin. “I’ll let Lily know so she can get the helicopter ready.”
V let out a loud snort. “Nay. We’re going ourselves.”
Roman opened his mouth to argue the danger, but no words came out.
One side of V’s mouth lifted in a smile. “I didna think you’d mind. I’ve already asked Arian for some help.”
Roman looked up at the clear, blue sky but dark clouds were fast approaching Dreagan from off in the distance. “Con’s no’ going to be happy.”
“No human will see us,” V stated. “Arian will make sure of that.”
After a brief period where no dragon was allowed to fly around the sixty thousand acres of Dreagan, Con had finally lifted the ban. The magic barrier around Dreagan kept most mortals away, and anytime someone crossed it, the Kings were immediately alerted.
Years of being private had been shattered in one night when the Dark Fae released a video showing the Dragon Kings in battle, shifting in and out of dragon form while battling the Dark. Now, everyone wanted to know if real dragons existed on Dreagan.
A part of Roman wanted the humans to know the truth. Though there was little doubt that history would repeat itself and there would be another war between humans and dragons. Except this time, the Kings wouldn’t turn the other cheek. If there were another war, the outcome wouldn’t be the Dragon Kings hiding in their mountains for centuries.
A whistle above them had Roman and V turning toward the manor to see Arian leaning out the window of his chamber with his mate, Grace, by his side.
“Well?” Arian asked.
V gave a nod. But Roman watched as Arian’s champagne-colored gaze shifted to him. After a brief hesitation, Roman also gave a nod.
“Where are you two headed?” Arian asked.
V swiveled his head to Roman and waited.
Roman looked at the sky, already itching to shift and spread his wings to fly. “Romania.”
His advanced hearing caught the sound of Grace’s gasp, but he paid no attention. Arian would fill her in on all the details.
“We own homes in every major city around the world,” Roman told V. “There’s one in Bucharest, but we also have another in Timisoara, which is nearer the mountains.”
“Of course you do,” V said with a shake of his head while wearing a smile. “And I suppose there is a closet full of clothes for each of us.”
Roman grinned. “Con doesna do anything halfway.”
“He has always looked out for us, thinking of details few of us ever would.”
The clouds were nearly upon them, rolling into each other and growing darker by the second. Excitement rushed through Roman. He wanted to fly, yes, but it was more than that. Almost as if he awaited something.
Or something awaited him.
With every second the clouds took to reach them, Roman’s skin grew tighter. He yearned to be in his true form, to inhale and feel the fire rumbling in his chest.
To soar into the sky until the ground below was nothing more than a speck.
“And I thought I was the one with secrets.”
V’s words caused Roman to look his way. But he didn’t deny anything. What good would it do?
With a sad smile, V nodded and took off his black boots. Roman waited for him to remove the rest of his clothes, but V casually set the boots aside away from him.
Roman raised a brow. “Just the boots?”
“I like them. Shara bought them for me,” V explained.
Roman hid his smile. Shara was not only a Light Fae, but also mated to Kiril. She’d been one of the first mates to approach V, and she did it with the designer boots.
“What about you?” V asked.
Roman looked down at his clothes. He shrugged and quickly removed them. Unlike V, he tossed his boots toward the manor before wadding up his jeans and shirt and lobbing them near his shoes.
V rolled his eyes with an irritated shake of his head. “You couldna fold them?”
“Why?” Roman asked as a crack of thunder pierced the air.
Roman shot V a smile before he shifted and immediately launched himself into the air. The moment his wings spread and he caught a current, he drew in an easy breath. This was where he was meant to be, not stuck on the ground in a form not his own.
Shifting had made it easy to talk to the humans when they arrived, but he would always prefer being in dragon form. Everything felt … right.
The air smelled sweeter. He could feel the electricity from the lightning crackling in the atmosphere. And the rain … ah, the scent was divine. He loved how the drops hit his scales and rolled down his body toward his tail.
He glanced down as V came alongside him and spotted Con standing at the backside of Dreagan Mountain.
“Well,” V said via the mental link all dragons shared. “He’s no’ yelling at us.”
Roman studied Constantine for a long minute. “He’s different now that Ulrik is back.”
“Ulrik is where he was always meant to be,” V said. “Everyone knew that. Even Con.”
Roman flew higher into the clouds and shifted his direction southeast toward Romania. He glanced over and caught the sight of copper scales meandering through the clouds.
They might be on an important mission, but V was enjoying himself. It was such a change from the other instances when V had woken from sleep and left his mountain. Perhaps this time would end differently than the others, as well.
Maybe this time when V returned to Dreagan, he would have his sword with him.
Roman glided upon the air currents and, for just a moment, he allowed himself to believe that the mortals had never come to the realm to settle. That at any moment, his pale blue dragons would join him.
It was a dream he only allowed himself once every few days. And, frankly, it was getting harder and harder to remember what his old life had been like.
“Perhaps you should’ve slept more,” V said.
Roman glanced to his right to find his friend. “Meaning?”
“I see the far-off look in your gaze, but more than that, I see the misery.”
“I feel like memories of our other life are fading. I can no’ hold onto something I can no’ remember.”
“Maybe it’s better if you doona,” V said.
Roman’s head snapped to him. “You doona think the dragons will ever return.”
Roman searched his mind and realized that he didn’t either. “We will be hiding for eternity.”
“Give the humans long enough, and they’ll destroy themselves. Look what they’re doing to this planet. I give them another two hundred years.”
“Before they die out?”
V chuckled. “Before they leave. They’re looking for another planet. I’m ready to point them in the right direction to hasten their departure.”
“No’ all will leave.”
V’s lips peeled back to show his long teeth. “Then we help them.”
Roman had to admit, he liked the idea. If only the Dragon Kings hadn’t sworn to protect the mortals. On a realm filled with magic, the humans didn’t fit in.
The Kings had felt sorry for them and gave them a place to live. After a couple of generations, a select few mortals were born with magic. They weren’t nearly as powerful as the dragons or even the Fae, but they could still do magic.
There was a time when some humans revered the Druids, but those without magic, who wanted a taste of that kind of power, grew jealous and soured the others until the Druids finally gathered in a safe place.
Roman hadn’t been to the Isle of Skye in ages, but the Druids survived there even now. Their numbers were dwindling, but they clung to the old ways and their magic.
Just as the Dragon Kings did.
Copyright © 2018 by Donna Grant