- Caught By the Dragon
- Realms of the Dragons
- Labyrinth of the Dragon
- Traitors Among Dragons
- Oceans Beneath Dragons
- Deserts of the Dragons
- Island of the Dragon
- Myths Beyond Dragons
- Forest of the Dragon
- Dreams of Dragons
- Maiden to the Dragon Box Set #1
- Maiden to the Dragon Box Set #2
- Maiden to the Dragon Box Set #3
The final chapter in the lives of Miriam and Xander leads them into the last darkness that dwells within their world.
Their guide is an otherworldly crew long-thought lost to time and death, and their foe is one of the last of the gods, a creature that cloaks itself in mystery and enigma. They find their welcome a warm one, but beneath the calm is a storm as savage as the Eternal Storm in which they find themselves.
Unbeknown to them a trap is being laid, a foe is revealed, and their friends are torn apart. Miriam is left alone to face their enemy, a terrible enemy of the mind that entraps her within her own doubts. There, Miriam must face her greatest challenge and her worst fear: living in a world without her beloved dragon lord.
It was dark. And cramped. And generally just damn uncomfortable
I shifted and winced as a stack of quills poked me in the back. So much for this being a good hiding spot.
A clatter of feet made me freeze. They paused. There came the sound of soft breathing.
“Where'd she go?” a small voice asked.
“I don’t know, but she’s gotta be here somewhere.”
Please don’t open the door. I moved again and winced as I was again stabbed by the unrelenting quills. Please open the door.
“What are you children doing in here?” a harsh voice snapped.
There was the clatter of feet and then silence. A heavy pair of boots stalked over to my hiding spot. I held my breath.
The pair of doors flung open and a sharp face stared into mine. The face belonged to a man, the former adviser of the kingdom of Alexandria, to be precise.
His eyes widened and he leapt back with a high-pitched scream I didn't realize a man was capable of making.
I tumbled onto the hard floor and found myself on my back. Around me were dozens of long, tall shelves filled with all the knowledge of the kingdom of Alexandria passed down and painstakingly cataloged for future generations.
Also, one of its quill cupboards had been my hiding spot in a lively game of hide-and-seek.
Renner, the former adviser to Xander, glared at me. In his arms were a half dozen scrolls. The older gentleman had ditched his flowing blue robe with green hems for a plain gray robe with white hems.
He raised himself to his full, skinny height and looked down his thin nose at me. “What are you doing in here?”
I sat up and winced as my back popped. “Would you believe I was improving my mind?”
“I would not.”
I stood and stretched my aching legs. “I wouldn’t believe it, either.”
A noise in the hall outside the doorway made me glance in that direction and forced Renner to half-turn around. “She’s trapped, Darda! You have to save her!” insisted the small voice from before.
“Yeah! A mean man has her!” the other voice agreed.
“Has who?” Darda asked them.
Darda appeared in the doorway, and on each hand hung a small child. One was a boy of seven and the other a girl of five.
The girl pointed at Renner. “He has her!”
The boy’s gaze fell on me and his face lit up with a smile. “Miriam! We found you!”
I jerked my thumb at Renner. “Actually, he found me first, so he wins.”
Renner looked aghast at me. “You were using the sacred library as a game room?”
“No, as a hiding spot,” I corrected him.
Renner’s face turned an unsightly shade of red. Darda noticed and leaned down so she was closer to the height of the children. “Run along now. I must speak with Miriam.”
Their faces fell. “Do we have to?” the boy asked.
“I want to stay with Miriam!” the girl whimpered.
“I think the chef has some cookies for you in the kitchen,” Darda tempted them.
They didn’t need a second invitation. The pair dropped her hands so fast that I think they snapped against Darda’s sides. They bolted down the hall and their clattering soon faded away.
Renner boiled over like a cauldron left too long over a bonfire. “You dare use the library for your foolishness? You who is lady of this magnificent kingdom and Maiden to the great Xander?”
“It had the best hiding spots,” I countered.
Darda hurried up to my side and faced Renner. “I believe what Miriam is trying to say is she meant no disrespect.”
He snorted. “I dare say she did not! What is this library but the favorite place of her predecessor, the beloved Lady Catherine? Why not besmirch her memory for the sake of frivolous fun?”
I frowned. “I didn’t mean any disrespect, especially not to Xander’s mom. I was just trying to have fun with some of the castle kids.”
Renner sneered at me. “Lady Catherine was capable of entertaining the children through reading the books, not abusing them.”
“Sir Renner, I believe that is quite enough,” Darda scolded him.
Renner’s sneer dropped a little before he pushed past me and over to the quill cabinet. He knelt down and muttered a few words of which I only caught a handful. “. . .a shadow of My Lady. . .”
Darda looped her arm through mine and marched me out of the library. The smooth cobble stones were mercilessly pounded by her feet as she shook her head. “The insolence of that man! As though his own actions did not lose him the position of adviser! I will inform Xander of this outrage immediately.”
She whipped her head to me and furrowed her brow. “But he insulted you, Miriam! How can you be so forgiving over his unkind words?”
I smiled back at her. “Because I don’t think I’m as much a lady as Xander’s mom. I mean-” we stopped in the hall and I gestured to the head of a statue in an alcove. The bust was of the beautiful Lady Cate decked out in a tiara and with a bright, gentle smile on her face. “-there’s about a dozen of these busts around the place, and that’s just by this one artist. That doesn’t include the portraits, the life-size statues, and even a dinner plate featuring her face.”
“And there is the fountain statue in one of the courtyards,” she reminded me.
I snorted. “See? It’s a tough act to follow.”
“But you saved the world many times,” she countered.
“Yeah, but it’s really hard to be patted on the back when most people didn’t even know there was world-wide peril,” I pointed out.
Darda pursed her lips as she studied me. “I for one believe you are as much a lady as Lady Cate. Well-” her eyes flickered down to my comfortable attire of jeans and a t-shirt, “-that is, in actions, if not in dress and manners.”
I snorted. “Thanks. That makes me feel better.”
“Are you ill?” a voice spoke up. We glanced down the hall to see Xander approach us.
I rubbed my back. “No, but I could use a massage after hiding in that cabinet.”
Xander stopped before us and blinked at me. “Hiding in a cabinet? What was the occasion?”
“A game of hide-and-seek where it was two against one,” I told him.
A smile slipped onto his lips. “Did you win?”
I stretched my back and winced as the lower part popped. “Yes and no.”
Xander chuckled as he set his hand on my lower back just below the ache. “A massage would do you well,” he mused as he led me down the hall.
“Might I offer my services?” Darda spoke up.
Xander looked over his shoulder and winked at her. “I believe I will handle this duty, Darda.”
She straightened and her face blushed. “Oh! Yes! Of course!”
I glanced up at his mischievous smile as he led me in the general direction of our bedroom. “You’re supposed to relax tight muscles, not tighten them further.”
He chuckled. “I promise you will be very relaxed afterward.”
We stepped through an archway and I tripped over a change in the flooring. Xander caught me before I fell and I got a good look at the floor. The smooth cobblestones of the hall changed to long wood planks. I raised my head and my face fell.
We stood in the lobby of the Mallus Library. The caretaker himself, Crates, stood near the wide opening to the countless bookcases. His hands were clasped behind his back and his expression was as dark as the books that lay in darkness. The whole place was illuminated only by a few candles that hung on holders beside the bookcases.
I straightened and frowned. “Come on. We didn’t even go through a door that time.”
Crates took a step forward and pursed his lips. “I apologize for the rough entrance, but we have much to discuss.”
“You mean the two missing gods?” I guessed. He gave a nod. “Are they really that much trouble? I mean, it’s been three months since our last fight and the world hasn’t ended.”
“The world continues to hang in the balance, though I have watched you from afar and must congratulate you on your many amazing feats,” he complimented us.
“We couldn’t have done it last time without our friends,” I pointed out.
The corners of his lips twitched upward. “Yes. Like nature attracts like nature, and around you have amassed a wealth of such special people. However-” his face fell as he looked from Xander to me., “-the final two gods have made themselves known to me, and I feel I must warn you about one of them.”
“How do they ‘make themselves known to you?’” I asked him.
He swept his hand over the countless books at his back. “The vast knowledge of this library, and the location of your own battles, has allowed me to ascertain the identities of the remaining gods. Though I am bound to keep most information from you, I can warn you that one of those ethereal creatures is by far the most dangerous of any that remained in your world.”
Xander arched an eyebrow. “In what way?”
Crates shook his head. “I cannot give you any specifics other than to say this creature will test your bonds-and even your sanity-like no other. You must keep your faith in one another and hold tight to what you know is the truth.”
My face fell. “That’s it? That’s your ‘specifics?’ I get better advice from a fortune cookie.”
His unblinking eyes fell on me and I shivered as I felt a cold chill sink into me. “You will tested the worst of all, Miriam, so I will give you further advice: keep the chime to yourself and do not give it over to anyone.”
I arched an eyebrow. “Not even Xander?”
I held up my hands in front of me. “All right, no one. Is there anything else you can tell us about this unspeakable evil?”
“You will know all too soon.” He raised his hand and snapped his fingers. Invisible hands pressed against our fronts and pushed us backward toward the archway at our backs. Our last view of the old caretaker was of him raising his hand in farewell to us. “Good luck, my friends. You will need all you can find.”
We were pushed through the archway and the view of the library in front of us vanished like a card in the hand of a magician. I looked up at Xander and frowned. “This sounds like fun.”
He pursed his lips and gave a nod. “Yes. We have our hardest fights before us.”
A thought hit me and I threw up my arms. “Crates didn’t even tell us where these last two gods were!”
A horn blew loud and clear through the castle. Xander stiffened and whipped his head around so he looked at the front of the building that faced the lake.
“What? What is it?” I asked him.
His eyebrows crashed down. “Trouble.”