Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(11) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
“You really are related.”
Max smirked at her stunned disbelief. “Our mother was as discriminating as an Amazon in heat, and had the morals of one to boot.”
She glared at him. “Which is the only way you could have ever been deemed worthy of one of us.”
Blaise sucked his breath in sharply. “Ouch, Max, she’s quick. I like her.”
He ignored the comment. “Why are you here, Blaise?”
“I was coming to warn you about something fairly significant… am thinking now that I might be too late.”
“Someone accessed the power of the Emerald Tablet. It fractured a part of Merlin’s spell around Terre Derrière le Voile and almost unleashed the great evil back into the Myddangeard.”
Seraphina scowled as Max cursed under his breath over that potentially fatal near miss. “Back into what?”
“Midden-guard,” Max repeated the Old English word slowly. “You’d know it as Oecumene… the world inhabited by mankind. This realm.”
“My boss in Avalon,” Blaise explained.
Max knew that would be meaningless to her, too, since she long predated Arthur and all the legends that surrounded the medieval fey king and his court. “It’s an alternate dimension, similar to the one you were banished to.”
Her jaw dropped as indignation darkened her cheeks. Her eyes telegraphed that familiar disdain that had once cut him to the core of his soul. “You bastard! You knew I was trapped and yet you left me there to rot for all eternity?”
The irony of her righteous anger amused him. “Again, I remind you of how we parted ways. I begged you to come with me to start our family in peace, together, away from the corrupted politics of your tribe that you knew and agreed were wrong, and what did you do? You collared me for your queen and handed me over to her tender loving care. So tell me why I should have defied your gods who punished you for her rebellion and risked my life to free you after what all of you did to me?”
Seraphina wanted to remind him that she was his mate, but that cut both ways. How could she expect him to defy the gods to protect her when she’d refused to defy her own basilinna, who had far less reaching power?
He was right. She should have stood by him, instead of surrendering him for something she’d known even then was wrong.
And that just made her all the angrier. Not at him, but at herself… which she took out on him for making her feel this way, for reminding her of the shame she bore for her own part in the travesty of his wrongful trial and punishment.
“I hate you! If not for my children, I wouldn’t be here.”
Max gave her a cold, dry sneer. “If not for my dragonets, I’d have already killed you.”
The saddest part was, she didn’t doubt that. He was, after all, an animal. A reptilian serpent. His cold-blooded, merciless nature was what had caused him to be branded the Dragonbane.
Mistaking him for human was what had gotten her into this mess. She couldn’t let herself ever forget again that at the end of the day, there was no real human in him. Though he might wear the skin of a man, his heart was and would forever be that of a winged dragon serpent.
One born not of a mother’s warm, nurturing womb, but from a cold, empty egg.
He hadn’t been held and nursed as an infant. Never protected or loved. Within minutes of his solitary birth, he’d clawed his way from his egg and made his first kill so that he could live. Had crawled into the corpse of his prey so that he could be warm for a bit as he gnawed on its entrails.
Maxis had been spawned with no understanding of love, compassion, or decency. Only pecking order, and where creatures fell on his food chain – a food chain where he reigned supreme. Every creature that walked this planet was on his menu, and subject to his invincible martial skills. Nothing and no one was sacred to him. And he’d left a bloody trail of human and Arcadian bodies in his wake.
Trying not to think about that or else she’d be sick, she looked to the newcomer who appeared to have somewhat more humanity in him than Maxis. While his species of dracokyn was familiar to her, she didn’t know much about the mandrakes. Yet the aura of magick he could command was unmistakable. He, like Maxis, was a sorcerer of supreme skill. “What is this great evil that you spoke of?”
“Morgen le Fey. You know her?”
She shook her head.
“Lucky you,” Blaise said under his breath, then louder, “She’s related to the Tuatha Dé Danann, and is a dark sidhe queen.”
“Should you ever cross her path, you will want to avoid her.” Maxis’s tone was flat and dry. “Even though you’re Arcadian, she’ll take your heart same as ours and use it for her spells.”
“Speaking of… where’s Illarion?”
Maxis cut a chilling sideways glare to her before he answered Blaise’s question. “Resting. And since you’re here, can I ask a favor?”
“Will you watch over him while I attend a matter with my dragonswan?”
Blaise frowned. “What matter is this?”
“A personal one I’d rather not involve my brothers in.”
Seraphina saw the dragon light flash in Blaise’s lavender gaze as he realized Max was about to do something extremely dangerous. Alone.
“No lip. This is something I need to do without either of you getting in my way and annoying me in the process. Illarion is still adjusting to this world and time. He doesn’t need to be left on his own right now.”
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