Miriam and her friends face their most dangerous adventure yet as they head off across the sea to stop the Red Dragons from reaching a mysterious power.
Their search leads them to the old city by the bay, Boldwela, where the Red Dragons were exiled by Xander and the other dragon lords. Among their foes they find an ancient secret of the dragons and come face-to-face with one of Miriam’s less-friendly relatives. Friends are made and lost, and Miriam must face her heritage as their destinies collide with the leader of the Red Dragons for one final confrontation that will decide the fate of the world.
I leaned over the railing of the elegant vessel and looked out at the calm waters of the lake in Alexandria. A cool breeze wafted by me, bringing with it the sweet smells of cooking and the sweet sound of children laughing as they raced along the shore following the path of the small ship.
I heard a flutter of sails and looked over my shoulder. Xander stood at the helm, and beside him was the captain, Magnus, and behind them was the first mate, the tall and pale Nimeni.
My dragon lord’s eyes flickered between what lay ahead of us and the children that ran along the bank. He drew the ship parallel to the shore while the rough-cut sailors opened the sails to give the ship speed that matched the quick kids.
The outcropping for the temple of the lake face forced us to turn left while the children scurried onto the thin strip of land. They hurried to the end and waved to us. I strode over to the railing and waved back.
One of the young lads cupped his hands over his mouth. “Lady Miriam! Come play with us!”
I glanced over my shoulder at Xander. “Can I, Dad?” I teased.
He smiled. “I hardly believe a naughty Maiden like you deserves to play.”
I climbed onto a box and from there onto the railing. The white water below me splashed against the waterline of the ship as though reaching out for me. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes.’”
I dove outward away from the rough waves and into the water. My water dragon drew out of my body and slipped beneath me so that I rode on its back. The children laughed and clapped their hands as I rode the beast to within a few yards of shore.
“I want a ride!”
“Please let me ride!”
I looked behind me at the dragon’s long body and laughed. “I think there’s enough room for all of you.”
“Do you have room for one more?” a voice spoke up.
I looked past the children at a familiar figure that strode our way. I couldn’t help but smile. “Were you the one who brought them here, Tillit?”
The sus stopped behind them and made a majestic bow in my direction. “I am guilty as charged, my fair Lady! I thought they might want a good swim before the water turns too cold.”
I looked up and squinted at the overcast skies. “So does this world have Fall, too?”
“All the four seasons that yours does, My Lady,” he assured me.
“Can we have a ride?” one of the kids pleaded.
“One last one! We promise!” another spoke up.
I patted the back of the dragon behind me. “Climb aboard. You, too, Tillit.”
He picked up one of the smaller kids and waded into the water. “Much obliged for the honor, My Lady.”
I grinned. “You won’t think so when I’m done.”
He set the kid in front of him and took a spot near the rear of my beast. “Surely you wouldn’t be rough with children aboard, My Lady.”
“Be rough, Miriam!”
“Yeah! We like it fast!”
I looked ahead and hunkered down. “Then hold on!”
My dragon sped forward across the surface of the water. Tillit yelped and grabbed hold of my beast as its lithe body slithered like a sonic-speed snake across the lake. We slammed through waves and skipped over rocks as we made our way along the shore. The kids cheered at every wave while Tillit winced.
The ride wasn’t long. I didn’t want to lose a passenger, or for Tillit to lose his lunch. Within a few minutes we slithered onto shore. “All right, everybody off.”
“Aah,” came the collective sound of disappointment as the children slid off the back.
Tillit lifted his leg over the dragon’s back and winced as he stumbled into the water. “A very exuberant ride, My Lady. You have great control over your powers.”
I shrugged as I stood on my own two feet. “It’s all in the-” My dragon slipped out from beneath me and knocked its tail against my legs. I yelped as I fell backward into the two-foot deep water. My head disappeared beneath the waves and my bottom hit the soft-stone floor.
I came up coughing and with my ears ringing with the sound of the kids’ laughter. Tillit himself stood over me with a twinkle in his eyes and his hand extended. “Very great control.”
“Ha-ha,” I retorted as I took his hand.
He helped me to my feet and I, along with the children, stumbled to the sun-drenched shore to dry off.
“You dropped something,” Tillit called out.
I turned in time so see him stoop and pick up a small book that floated beneath the waters. It was the shrunken tome given to me by Crates.
I felt the color drain from my face. “Oh shit!” I ran over to him and snatched the book from his paws so I could furiously try to wipe the cover dry with my wet shirt. “Crates is going to kill me!”
“Crates of the Library?” Tillit guessed.
I nodded. “Yeah. If he found out I ruined his book-” My breath caught in my throat as I recalled that terrible griffin and its merciless justice. I scrubbed faster.
Tillit yanked the book from my hands and smiled at me. “You have nothing to worry about, My Lady.”
I stared at him with wild eyes. “Nothing to worry about? He’s got a griffin that eats people. That’s something to-”
“The book is dry.”
I blinked at him. “Come again?”
He opened the tiny pages toward me and flipped through them. “See?”
I looked down and watched the dry pages flip over one another. “H-how?”
Tillit chuckled as he shut the book. “The Mallus Library hasn’t survived this long without having precautions placed on all its books.” He turned the book over in his hand. “I’d say with him knowing your powers he probably put a water-resistant spell on it.” His eyes flickered up to me. “Though I’m wondering why you’re keeping such a valuable book on you.”
I breathed a deep sigh of relief and shrugged. “I asked some people in town if they could read it, but they couldn’t even tell me what language it was in. Nobody seems to be able to read it, not even Apuleius.”
I arched an eyebrow at the sus. “Really?”
Tillit grinned. “Of course I can. I can’t sell any books for a good price unless I know what’s in them.”
I nodded at the cover. “Then what’s it say?”
He cleared his throat and squinted his eyes at the tiny runes on the cover. “‘A History of the Dragons By Crates of Mallus.’” He started back as the book expanded to its normal size. He rubbed his scrubby beard and furrowed his brow. “I think I just said the secret password to open this thing.”
I grabbed the book and tucked it under my arm before I grabbed Tillit’s hand and dragged him along the shore. The children followed behind us. “Come on. You’re going to the castle.”
He winced. “But My Lady, think of the children if you executed me!”
I snorted. “You’re not going to be executed, you’re going to read me what’s in this book so I can find out why Crates gave it to me. Now stop squirming and let’s get going!”