In the medieval world of Tarlis, Meggahn du Val, daughter of the Low-Lord of Gola-Dah, watches a strange light flare across the night sky. Little does she realize it is the return of the legendary Black Dragon and she will be immersed in an adventure that will change her life.
After 800 years in the guise of a black dragon, Garrik le Fey, First King of Tarlis is released from the world of shadow between the pages of an ancient spell book, where he has guarded against the escape of the Dark Priest to the God of Blood. Garrik finds himself a man by night and dragon by day.
To keep from becoming a dragon forever, Garrik must journey to a legendary elven pond, and is forced to lay his trust in the cynical elf, Vellandril Ballindoch, who has no love for humans.
With the elf’s help, he must lay claim to the enchanted Sword of Niraz. It is the only means by which to stop Narokah from steeling the Orb of de Danann, and making the sacrifice that will raise his dark god from the Hell Pit.
A tale of action, adventure, romance, myth, magic, and legend …
‘THE DRAGON AND THE ROSE’
A voice from behind the closed door caught her attention.
“So mother, it has come to this. A King without a Kingdom – a man by night and a dragon by day. What advice would you give now to a son who finds himself in such turmoil?”
Meggahn peered through the narrow slit in the door. The room was lit only by the glow of a roaring fire. A figure sat at a large desk, his silhouette carved by the light of the flames, his face resting in his hands. Even in the dim light Meggahn could tell a mantle of despair weighted the man. The feeling was almost tangible. Close by, above the huge library grate, was a painting of a beautiful dark-haired woman. Meggahn surmised it was to she, to whom the man spoke.
She slipped the torch into a bracket beside the door and contemplated the man’s strange words. King? There had been no king in this land for eight hundred years and certainly not of Gola-Dah. And what was this talk of dragons? Her father was murdered by a sorcerer who was able to transform to a dragon. Could Garrik have murdered her father? And if so, why? And why burn the village of Gola-Dah then lead the inhabitants to safety? Was it a trap? She realized she would have to tread carefully. If Garrik was not who he said he was, then just who was he?
Fortifying her courage, she tapped softly on the door and entered.
He raised his head. “Meggahn?”
She wondered briefly how he could recognize her in such dim light. But she guessed to a sorcerer who could see in darkness, her identity held no mystery. “I could not sleep and intended to seek some air.” The lie slipped smoothly from her tongue. “I heard voices and thought I would investigate. You were late in returning, my lord.”
Garrik eyed her warily as she moved to warm herself innocently, seductively, by the fire. He wondered if she realized how beautiful she really was. Even more so now, with her thick fiery hair spread about her shoulders and the lie still trembling on her lips, than the first time he had seen her sprawled in the dust with her skirts hiked around her thighs. Or the second time with soot smudging her cheeks. He realized she must have heard him leave her room and followed. What a fool he had been. He had not been able to resist a glimpse of her before becoming the dragon in the morning. How much had she heard of his plaintive ramblings? He rose to stand beside her at the fire.
“I would urge you to dress more warmly for your sojourn outside,” he cautioned, curling a lock of her bright hair about his finger. “The air is chill on the mountains at night and the mist is said to seep into your bones.”
His breath fanned her face, and her own labored in her throat. He had cut his black hair, and now wore it short at the neck and sides in the style of the other men at the castle. A shadow of a day’s growth covered his jaw, but it only proved to make him more handsome. “I will do that,” Meggahn whispered. Reluctantly, she lowered her gaze from his face and followed his line of vision. The silken cloth of the nightgown Johden had loaned her, pulled tightly across her breasts, and the reflected light behind her from the fire left little to the imagination. She drew back, folded her arms across her chest, and moved to lean on the desk away from the fire, and the man.
He glanced at her with an unreadable expression. His eyes were such a brilliant gold, Meggahn felt almost mesmerized. He seemed so different from the man she had met on the mountain, the man who had led her from the burned ruins of Gola-Dah; some how more dangerous.
“Do I make you nervous?”
She jumped as his question sounded into the silence. “I fear no man,” she responded with a slight tremble to her voice.
“That is not what I asked.”
“Why were you in my room?” She countered, ignoring his question and replacing it with one of her own.
“I wished only to make certain you were well. Business takes me from the castle again come morning.”
He had not denied he’d been in her room. “The same business that took you away today?” She asked softly.
He seemed to hesitate, then nodded. “Much the same, yes.”
She picked up a small bejeweled dagger from the desk and twirled it between her fingers. The firelight caught at the gems, and they showered her gown in multicolored rain as she spoke. “My mother came to this castle once. Or so my father said. She never returned.” She looked up quickly, to catch his expression. “Do you remember her? Her name was Ejinerah.”
Meggahn could have sworn a look of recognition crossed his face as she studied him, but it may well have been the flickering of the fire.
He shook his head. “Sorry, the name does not ring familiar, but I will question Gwayne when I see him on the morrow. I have been gone from the castle many years and have not yet had the opportunity to learn all that has occurred in my absence.”
“And where was it you said you had traveled?” she asked, with a raise of a fine brow.
His smile was strained. “I did not say.”
“And how many years?”
“That also I did not say.”
Meggahn glanced down at the knife with feigned indifference. “And why is that, my lord?”
Garrik closed the gap so fast she did not see him move. She squealed and reared back. The knife clattered to the floor as his fingers dug into her shoulders. “What game do you play here, Meggahn? What do you want from me?”
She struggled, but he gathered her tight and held her close to his body, his lips pressing to the curve of her ear. Then his mouth moved and his breath was hot on the slender line of her throat.
“I want to locate my mother and avenge my father.” Her words came in short sharp gasps. She could feel the hard outline of his body pressing close to hers. He was not as unaffected by her as he would like her to believe.
“I have no knowledge of your mother.” He breathed against her throat. “And I did not know your father. But I warn you, Meggahn du Val, be careful, extremely careful. There are forces at work in this castle of which you have no knowledge. Of which you could not begin to comprehend. So stay out of matters that are no concern to you. Live here as long as you wish, but do not interfere with me or mine.” His grip tightened on her waist and she thought she would faint from lack of breath.
She nodded, barely acknowledging his words. She couldn’t think. No man had ever held her like this – with such familiarity. Not even the Baron. Her hands tightened involuntarily on his shoulders. She released the breath she had been holding to relax against him, instead of struggling. Whether he felt the slight change in her stance, the acceptance of his arms around her, she had no time to ponder, for he pushed her to arm’s length then released her.
She staggered, righted herself and glanced up at him. Never had she met a man like Garrik le Fey – hard yet soft, strong yet gentle. Any other man, she was certain, would have taken advantage of this situation. But not Garrik le Fey, the one they called the Dragon. His words had meant to be threatening, but she sensed neither danger in the words nor the man.
“Goodnight, Meggahn.” His tone was hard, dismissive.
Meggahn remained as she was, taking in his appearance. Dressed totally in black, with the golden glitter of his unusual eyes and the shadow of a day’s growth covering his chin, he could have been anything from an angel to a demigod. But to her, he was an enigma that she was determined to understand. Momentarily, she contemplated the foolhardiness of throwing herself back into his arms, but instead, raised her chin. For the moment she would do as he asked. “Goodnight, Garrik le Fey, Dragon Lord,” she said meeting his gaze. “May you discover in the daylight the peace which you cannot find at night.” She pivoted and strode to the door.
It closed with a soft click behind her and Garrik stood in the darkened room. Her words had come perilously close to the truth. Though she had no way of knowing the extent of the torment that cut at his heart and wrenched at his soul. Nothing of what it was to live as only half a mortal, and to have all the longings and frustrations of a man. To be trapped in the body of a beast and have no inkling of what it was to want someone so bad you could taste it, yet know they could never be yours.