Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(75) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Max ground his teeth at those words. For her people, they were the deepest avowal of love, and it made it almost impossible to leave her.
But he had no choice. With one last kiss, he glanced past her to their children. “Don’t forget your sword, my lady dragon.”
She winked at him. “Never.”
Inclining his head, he turned and joined Acheron and his brothers. It’d been centuries since he’d gone to real war with Falcyn and Illarion. Yet it seemed like no time at all as they changed forms and fell into formation.
As eldest, Falcyn took lead. The Katagaria Drakos came to fight with them on Olympus while the Arcadians went with Sera and the others to protect Sanctuary.
By the time they arrived, it was much different than earlier. Apollo and Kessar had virtually torched every building, and most of the gods had withdrawn from the conflict. Only a brave handful remained to try and salvage what they could. Demon and his twin, Phobos. Most of the Dream-Hunters, including Arik and Delphine, as well as Lydia, Solin, and Xypher, who must have been summoned by the others when the fighting started.
Only Apollo’s temple remained standing perfectly intact. But that wasn’t their target or destination.
Ares’s temple was what drew their attention. The iron structure had the front doors ripped open. And the perches that were usually manned by Insidia and Nefas stood empty. Bodies of demons smoldered on the steps.
It was easy to find where the Malachai was still embroiled in a bitter fight against the demons and Apollo.
Max smiled at the sight. Nick had always been stubborn in a brawl. That boy never knew when to give up or surrender. It was one of the things he liked best about the kid, and it was what had kept Nick from turning evil.
Even though Nick had been born cursed and destined to be one of the creatures who ultimately destroyed the earth, he battled an inner war every day to keep himself from crossing over and becoming what his father had been.
Cherise Gautier would be proud of her son. Especially to see him getting his Cajun ass kicked in defense of a pantheon that didn’t care about him. But the ones Nick cared about were bound to Olympus, and to save them, he fought on against overwhelming odds.
Yeah, he was still a good kid.
As they circled, Max caught sight of Illarion and saw the grief in his brother’s eyes. Unlike him and Falcyn, Illarion had been born and trained to fight as a team. Every time his brother went into war without his Edilyn, he felt her loss with every part of his being.
And the fact that Illarion would ride for Sera’s defense meant everything to Max. It was his brother’s unselfishness that he treasured most.
In every garden grows one single rose so perfect that once the frost takes it, no other can ever grow there again. My rose is and will ever be my Edilyn. And I shall never stop mourning her.
Those were the words Illarion had tattooed on his arm with a rose for his fallen wife.
Whenever he was alone, Illarion would idly caress the words as if he touched his wife. She had left a part of him shattered that Max wasn’t sure would ever be whole again.
If I could have one wish, it would be to take away your pain, brother.
But the Fates had never been kind to dragons.
Max moved to engage the winged demons first, in an effort to protect his brothers. Illarion and Falcyn stayed at his back, covering his flank.
Sin had been right. The gallu were vicious in their skills.
“Don’t let them scratch you!” Acheron warned, unaware of the fact that they were immune.
Max spewed fire and swept the ground, razing as much of it as he could. He and his brothers fell in beside Zarek and Jericho while they tried to route a group of demons out of the Hall of the Gods. It took a while, but they eventually had them on the run, headed up the hill toward Apollo’s temple.
Winged himself, Jericho shot up between the dragons. “Thanks for the assist.”
Falcyn inclined his head to him. “What are they after?”
“Apollo showed up, telling Zeus to abdicate. You know how that went. Even though he’s just a figurehead these days, Zeus tossed a few lightning bolts at him and it was on.”
Zarek grabbed a demon that tried to bite him and slung it so hard, it flew up and almost hit Max.
“Duck,” Zarek said, a little late.
Max flipped the surly god off.
For once, Zarek ignored the insult as he headed off after another group. At least someone enjoyed the fighting.
A weird flash distracted Max as he started to turn. He glanced over his shoulder to see Illarion losing altitude. Afraid something was wrong or that Illarion had been wounded, he went after his brother.
Without a word, Illarion tucked his wings and landed near his father’s temple.
“Is something wrong?”
Do you hear that?
“Hear what?” Only the sounds of the battle filled his ears. That and the fierce beating of his racing heart.
Illarion cocked his head. It’s Cercamon.
A twelfth-century troubadour. Edilyn was forever making me take her to see him play.
Max heard it then. Light and subtle. Barely audible and yet distinct.
Bel m’es quant ilh m’enfolhetis
E∙m fai badar e∙n vau muzan!
De leis m’es bel si m’escarnis
O∙m gaba dereir’o denan,
Qu’apres lo mal me venra bes
Be leu, s’a lieys ven a plazer.
What the hell? Why would that be playing in the background? It seemed a strange choice for a Greek god of war.
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