Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(30) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The dragon was here and he was ready for war.
Bring it, bitches.
Angling his wings down, he swooped low, following their scents until he was sure his children were near the crumbling remains of an old temple. Then he partially changed over to his human form, leaving only his wings so that he could keep a lower, yet equally lethal, profile as he scouted the entire area. A chill raised the hair on the back of his neck as he listened to the winds rustling the ground around him.
He still felt the presence of haunting evil. It caressed everything around him. But more than that, he caught the scent of something even more peculiar…
What the hell?
His nose twitched at the familiar odor. It was similar to Illarion and yet entirely different. Not his child, but a relative.
Dissolving his wings, Max crept along the shadows, listening intently for any sign of his enemies.
This was a den of dragons. But not just any den… Scowling, he peered through the window at the people inside. They were both wolf and drakos. Two groups that didn’t normally associate together.
Even more peculiar, they were speaking an older dialect of medieval English. Mercian? Or Saxon? He really needed Cadegan, Illarion, or Blaise here for this. It would be right up their alley.
As it was…
He could only vaguely remember their language and pick out a few stray words that made no sense to him.
Not that it mattered. He wasn’t here for them and he didn’t care about their discussion. Closing his eyes, he used his senses to hone in on what had led him to this dark place. He felt his daughter’s presence first.
Her fiery anger that was so similar to her mother’s made him smile. Until he understood the source of her fury and why it was so intense at present.
His sight darkened instantly. Wanting blood, he headed straight for the oldest temple a few yards away, where his son and daughter were being held in a large arena that appeared to have been designed for games or events.
That alone would be enough to piss him off. But what set his blood to a boiling heat was what they were doing there. The elder males were fighting his son in an outlawed game of Prine to see who would be the first to sleep with his daughter.
With only a shield and sword for protection, Hadyn stood bleeding and beaten in the center of the arena with one leg held in place by a large chain. Even so, he didn’t give up or show his weakness. Rather, he fought them off with a gladiator’s courage.
When one of the men rushed his son, Max almost made the mistake of heading him off, and charging in to save his boy. But he was seriously outnumbered.
Not that he needed to worry.
Hadyn caught the bastard with the shield, flipped him to the dirt, and stabbed him before he turned and caught the next one who came at his back. Seraphina had trained their son well. He fought like a champion.
Taking advantage of their distraction as Hadyn cut through them, Max moved quickly to his daughter.
The moment he touched her hands, she tried to fight and attack. “Shh,” he breathed in her ear. “I’m here to save you both.”
Turning her head to look up at him over her shoulder, she widened her eyes as if she might know who he was.
Max tore apart the chains that held her to the steel post. “Can you ride?” he whispered.
Careful not to alert the others about what Max was doing or that he was there, she nodded in silence as she bravely pulled the gag from her lips.
He took one moment to cup her bruised cheek and admire her courage and beauty, as love, joy, sadness, and grief overwhelmed him. This was his flesh and blood. His child. Something he’d never thought to have. Especially once he’d left Seraphina behind. He’d relegated himself to living out his life in complete sterile solitude.
Now his beautiful daughter stood before him, all but grown perfection. Not quite a woman, yet definitely not a little girl.
More than anything, he wanted to crush her against him and hold her for the rest of his life. To keep her safe and treasured.
If only he had more time.
But he still had his son to secure. Kissing her lightly on the cheek, he turned and took his dragon’s form.
“Get on, child.”
As the others screamed and ran for cover and weapons at his sudden appearance in their midst, she jumped onto his neck and secured herself.
Max flew for his son.
Hadyn started to attack him, too, until he saw his sister on his back.
“It’s all right, Hade! He’s here for us.”
Still, he hesitated as he stared up at Max. There was no fear in his eyes, only a healthy appreciation for Max’s size and ferocity. With one claw, Max pried up the stake that held the boy in place and lowered his head so that Hadyn could join his sister.
“Don’t worry. I’ll have you to your mother in a few minutes.”
Yet before Max could withdraw, the Arcadians unleashed a full volley of electrified arrows down on him with a frenetic craze.
Well, shit, this is new.
And it wasn’t the pain of the arrow wounds that was bad. Not that they felt good… particularly. It was the jolts of electricity they sent through his body that forced him to change from dragon to human and back again. Something that felt like the worst kind of muscle spasms imaginable.
His children rolled to the ground and landed near him, out of harm’s way. Max stumbled away from them, terrified he might inadvertently crush them while changing. Face it, no one wanted to be caught beneath a nine-ton dragon. The reinforcements the bears had made on the rafters of Sanctuary to support his weight were the stuff of legends.
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