Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(58) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
“Did I throw logic at you? No. Why do you want to be mean to me like that?”
She laughed at his teasing tone. “I’m serious, Maxis. I can get them to help us and fight them.”
“And if you’re wrong?”
“I’ll build you a nice funeral pyre.”
He let out a short laugh. “You are all kinds of not funny.”
“Do you have a better option?”
“Sadly, no. At least nothing that wouldn’t get me slapped for proposing it.” He let out a long sigh as he heard the demons closing in on them. They had to decide and move fast or they’d be captured again. “All right. We’ll try this your way with your tribe. But if I get eaten or speared to death… I will not be happy.”
She took a step, then paused. “Any idea where the demons might have taken my tribe?”
He groaned at her question. “None.”
Before she could speak, he pulled her behind him and began hammering the demons with fire again. It terrified her how close they’d come to them while she’d plotted an escape. Had he not been paying attention, the demons would have had them. As it was, they screamed from Max’s attack and fell back, into the darkness.
Max pressed her forward, deeper into the nether realm he wasn’t completely unfamiliar with, wishing he had another way out. Worse, the smell and sight of the damp cavern dredged up long-buried memories he didn’t want or need at this particular time.
In the back of his mind, he saw Dagon as the ancient god walked between their cages, trying to decide who to use next in his inhumane experiments. The young dark-haired prince who took after his father and not his Apollite mother trailed after him.
“I want to be a dragon! You have to make me one! You promised!”
Dagon had glared at the prince. “Stop whining, Linus. I’m doing the best I can. You saw what happened. The last Apollite I merged with a dragon exploded into gory pieces. You really want to risk that?”
Linus had expelled a frustrated breath and stomped his foot like a petulant child. “It’s not fair! I’m a prince. Second in line to the throne. I should have my choice of animals I want to merge with!”
Dagon had passed an irritated glare at the younger man. “You’re lucky your father’s half sister is a goddess whose devoted husband is willing to do this shit for you. So instead of bothering me with your insipid complaining, you should be saying, ‘Thank you, Uncle Dagon, for doing everything you can to save my life and for not merging me with a hyena or a donkey.’”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
Dagon turned on him with an evil smirk. “I’m a god of black magick and possessed with a wicked sense of irony and hostility, you really want to push my patience, boy?”
Linus had wisely backed down and left Dagon to pull a lion from its cage toward the room where he performed his grotesque experiments.
Alone, the prince had drifted to Max and Illarion. His gaze tinged by insanity, he’d stared in at them. “You can understand me, can’t you? I know you can. I want to be a dragon, too. Like you. To have your power and strength. Imagine what we could do together… the power of a dragon and the bloodline of a divine prince. We could rule this earth and all the kingdoms and peoples. Then we’d show my father and brother who the real heir should have been…”
As he wandered off, Illarion had glanced over to Max. Are you going to tell the god what his nephew thinks?
No. Let Dagon merge him with one of us. The best thing that can happen for this world is that Prince Linus explodes and dies. Preferably in a great deal of pain.
Maxis! You can’t do that. We’re supposed to protect human life.
He’s not human, Illy. He’s Apollite and he’s insane.
Even so, I think we need to tell Dagon.
And I think we should stay out of it. No good has ever come from drakomai meddling in the affairs of gods or man. They dragged us into this, and we need to extricate ourselves as quickly and cleanly as possible.
But true to his most irritating nature, Illarion hadn’t listened. He’d told Dagon of the prince’s illustrious plans. And to protect his nephew from them, Dagon had lied and told Linus and his father that he didn’t want to risk merging the prince with the dragons. Rather, Linus’s elder brother, Eumon, had been crossed with them, and Linus with the wolves.
An even more dangerous concoction and not the safer alternative Dagon had imagined. Since the merging heightened the essence of both species, it’d taken the ambition of the Apollite prince and crossed it with the extraordinary cunning and bloodthirsty ruthlessness that marked the wolves.
By trying to save his sons, Lycaon had damned them all.
Thus proving that even the gods and kings could be stupidly blind when it came to family and wanting to do their best for them. Feelings forever got in the way of common sense and blinded the most intelligent of beings.
And because of that, Max and Sera were about to be eaten by gallu.
Max groaned in frustration. His entire life had been screwed by the gods messing with things they should have left alone. And that included his mother and her fascination with his father. But for one horny afternoon, he wouldn’t have even been conceived.
Right now, Max would have been deeply grateful had his father kept it in his pants and not gone dallying with the bitch who spawned him. How much alcohol had his mother plied him with, anyway?
Irritated about it, Max gently grabbed Sera back from the way they were headed, and pulled her down an offshoot. He had no idea where this led. But it seemed a bit safer than the way they’d been going.
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