Mated to The Dragon Lord
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Fate brought them together, will destiny tear them apart? Lord Sylvin of the Silver Dragon has two missions in life, to keep and protect the Lady Yelena of Elliard, and to fill the gaps of his past. To do the first, he trains as a knight with the Fae Kings army, and in their war against the humans, wins honours, titles, and land – but the years apart from Yelena do not come without a cost, and when he returns, it is with a mistake that both holds promise for their future together, and threatens to destroy it.
Sylvin stood on the highest point of the hill, his eyes scanning across the carnage of the battlefield below. The wind picked up strands of hair that had worked its way free of his braid during battle, its silver catching the setting sun. There were dents in his chest plate from battle, and blood dried in a rust-coloured crust where the spray had struck him, droplets caught in the silver stubble on his jaw.
He was a big man, towering half a head over even the tallest Fae, and years as a knight had moulded shoulders, arms, and legs with muscle. Months of battle and war-camp food had hollowed his cheeks and tightened his waistline.
Absently he rolled his shoulder, judging its injury and the impact it would have when battle resumed, as his eyes travelled over the ruins of the last melee. Bodies laid scattered like leaves in autumn, amongst the litter of dropped weaponry, armour, and amputated limbs.
Fae soldiers and camp followers picked through the bodies, collecting weapons and armour, coin, and jewellery if it could be found, finding wounded loved ones, and making sure that the enemy was dead.
A Fae soldier bent over a panting horse wearing an enemy pennant. The mare lay on her side, her guts spilling out onto the grass from a terrible gash along her stomach. The soldier murmured soothingly, stroking along her nose, and the light caught on his dagger as he dispatched her.
As the mare breathed her last, the Fae man lifted a tear-streaked face to the sky, praying to his god for the innocent animal who had lost her life in a battle that belonged to men and not to horses.
Mage fire glowed red and purple as bodies were thrown upon the bonfires it like tinder. The mage fire burnt clean so that the Fae Kings that camped up the hill would not be turned off their evening meal by the smell of roasting flesh.
Sylvin turned his head easterly. Not far to Elliard, he judged. He could be there within an hour or two and return by morning. It had been months since he had seen Yelena and that sat ill at ease within him. It was not how it should be.
None of this was how it should be, he bared his teeth in a snarl as he turned his gaze back towards the battlefield. Humans spread like a plague across the land, driving back all others before them, cutting down the forests for their fields, forcing other people to live as they lived, worship who they worshiped, to follow their laws and swear to their Kings.
And the Fae, he sneered, turning to look at the war-camp that spread behind him, were proud and arrogant, believing themselves to be the rightful heirs of the land, and all who had come before them to be interesting primitives. They were only minimally better than the humans in that they would let the forests to grow and would leave the ancient people in peace rather than seeking to kill what they did not understand.
“My Lord Sylvin,” one of Macedius’ pretty Fae mages paused seeing his expression, evaluating the danger of continuing her approach. He eased his expression to neutrality, and she drew in a relieved breath. “King Macedius requests your attendance in his tent.”
He did not reply, striding by her, the heavy metal plates of his armour clanging with each step. She followed at his heels, used to his silence.
Deep within the camp, the three Fae Kings’ tents circled the neutrality of a central clearing. A table had been set there within a ring of torches, although the night was yet to fall completely - the Fae’s night vision was poor, unlike his own.
Each King’s tent was a complex multi-chambered arrangement, housing both the King and his company – his servants, pages, squires, and quite often a selection from his harem – and many eyes watched the company that gathered within the circle of torchlight.
Around the table, the three Kings, their Lords, and various army leaders crowded. Lord Rithelwen’s sharp boned, handsome face caught Sylvin’s eye, and he bit onto his back teeth in displeasure. Lord Rithelwen’s lands bordered Elliard and Rithelwen had Macedius’ favour.
“They will recoup overnight,” Macedius leaned over the table and used a croupier stick to move the figurines that represented the human army across the map that was spread over its surface. “They are gathering here. Our scouts are trying to determine their number.”
“Our armies have this night to rest and re-arm,” King Talyre continued, and Macedius shot him an annoyed look. “Battle will resume at dawn.”
The relationship between the three Kings was complex. Sibling rivalry often broke out between them in peaceful times, as each sought to prove himself and his Kingdom superior, and that rivalry was only just held contained during wartime, when alliance between the three was advantageous to all.
Between them they had a dozen legitimate children, and an uncounted number of illegitimate. When the three died, there would be a bitter and savage battle for their thrones, Sylvin predicted, but, unless someone was successful in assassination, or there was an accident, the Fae lived long lives, and none of the men were old by Fae standards, so that danger was far off.
“So soon?” King Anrellian protested. “We have wounded.”
“And so do they,” Talyre pointed out. “They will be hoping that we delay a day. We can take them by surprise if we move swiftly.”
It would be tight, Sylvin thought, eying off the map over their heads, but he could make it, his eyes judging the distance between the war camp and Elliard.
“Hmm,” he reached between two Fae Lords and moved his forces to a better position.
“Lord Sylvin!” Rithelwen scowled, irritated.
“Leave it,” Macedius evaluated the new position. “He is right.”
“When is he ever wrong?” Talyre noted wryly.
Having adjusted the battle plans to his liking, Sylvin left, ignoring Macedius’ protestations, and Talyre’s laughter. They were learning that he fought on his own terms, and Talyre, at least, found his refusal to respect their ways amusing. Their ways simply were not his ways, and he had never seen reason that he should adhere to them.
Back at his tent Sylvin gestured to his page. “Get together a small company, quickly. I ride for Elliard,” he told him and then turned and raised his eyebrows at the mage that lurked to the side of Sylvin’s tent as the page hurried away.
“Macedius won’t like that,” Cerilius noted. To Fae eyes, the darkness of his robes would swallow all but his hands, the point of his nose, and a slice of cheek and chin into shadow, but Sylvin’s vision could see the mage’s face in tones of silver, black and white. “But, of course, you don’t care.”
“Mmm,” Sylvin’s lips curled in amusement.
“Elliard…” Cerilius stepped forward to stand at Sylvin’s side. “Macedius’ pet, Lord Rithelwen, has his eye on that Lady and her lands, but you know that, and you don’t care to let him have it.”
“Yelena is mine,” Sylvin replied. “Always has been, always will be.”
“And suddenly he is verbose,” the mage commented with surprise, and waited to see if Sylvin would offer more. When he did not Cerilius shrugged slightly, accepting Sylvin’s silence. “That will be trouble when they find out,” he predicted as the page returned with the horse.
“Yes,” Sylvin agreed but it did not concern him. He would win the battle on the morrow, and Macedius’ irritation would be moderated. He mounted his horse, stroking his hand down its neck. It took time to win over his horses. They did not like him, sensing the predator in him, and this mare still huffed nervously as he neared.
“Where to, My Lord?” One of the knights that were mounted and waiting for him asked.
Greshyn, Sylvin remembered, from one of the new lands Macedius had award Sylvin for his battle prowess, along with the title of Lord that would now enable him to claim what had always been his. Greshyn was trying to establish himself with his new Lord, placing himself near Sylvin’s tent, and being at hand when Sylvin called for a company.
“Elliard,” Sylvin replied.
“Blessed nuptials,” Cerilius chuckled.
Sylvin’s teeth flashed as he turned his mare’s nose to the east.
Beyond the darkened points of the village, the horizon glowed a sickly red and purple.
Yelena leaned her cheek against her hand as she gazed out of her window. The fires that turned the sky that terrifying hue were far away, and yet also too close. She knew that it did not bode well that she could see the fires of war as it meant that it grew closer.
In contrast to that ill omen, it was a mild night, holding the intoxicating scent of summer but not causing the skin to sweat beneath its heat.
The summer scent was designed, she thought, to raise the heartbeats of primitive creatures and drive them to seek a mate. There was something wild and wicked beneath the hewn grass and flowers.
How could air smell sinful? She did not know, but it made her want to do the most wicked things, and brought to mind stolen moments in the past, and eyes that held the shimmer of silver in their depths.
She sighed as she sank onto her back.
The nursery was a chamber
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