- 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
For Miriam Cait, one adventure has closed and another door opens as Xander and she are thrust into a new world within the realms of dragons. Enlisted by Crates of the legendary Mallus Library, they must scour the world searching for ancient gods who have, against the heavenly laws, made their home in the world of dragons.
Their refusal to return to the land of the gods wreaks havoc upon the world, and only the combined powers of Xander and Miriam can stop them from destroying not only the five realms, but the joined worlds as well.
They just wouldn’t stop popping up. Like those dots you see when you look at the sun too long, no matter how hard I tried to look away the visions were still there.
That’s why I stood at the edge of the lake in Alexandria. The shoreline was touched by ice, but three yards into the lake the water lay open. The shadows didn’t touch me here, or so I hoped. Behind me towered the ancient water temple, and between us stood the arch that guided the path up to the religious building.
I raised my hand and studied the palm. The tips of my fingers were a little red, but the unmistakable color of my skin gave me comfort.
A cool breeze blew past me and across the late, disturbing the tranquil scene for a brief moment. I wrapped my coat tighter around myself and shivered. “You’d think a water fae wouldn’t get cold. . .” I muttered.
“Temperature and water are very different,” a voice spoke up.
I spun around and found Xander walking down the path toward me with a teasing smile on his face.
My own face fell as he came up beside me. “How’d you know I was here?”
He nodded at my covered shoulder. “I always know where you are.”
I pressed my hand on the part of my coat that lay over the mark and looked out over the lake. The water was as calm as glass, and just as reflective. The castle across the lake was illuminated with candles, and a perfect picture of it lay on the watery surface.
“Something troubles you,” Xander spoke up.
I snorted. “Does my mark tell you that, too?”
He gently cupped my chin in his hand and turned my face so we gazed into each other’s eyes. His were penetrating. “I do not need help to know when you are bothered, I need only your help to tell me what it is that bothers you.”
I bit my lower lip and cast my eyes to the ground. “I’m not really sure myself, and it’s really hard to explain.”
“I will try to understand,” he replied.
My eyes flickered up to his face and I frowned at him. “This isn’t funny. I really think there’s something wrong with me.”
His eyebrows crashed down and all humor fled his face. “You are ill?”
I shook my head. Then I shrugged. “I don’t know.” A snort escaped my lips. “With all the weird things that have happened, this has to be the weirdest.”
“Have your headaches returned?” he guessed.
I shook my head. “No, but-” I jumped as a flock of snowbirds flew out of a nearby tree and headed out over the lake.
Xander smiled down at me. “There is nothing to fear so long as we are together.”
I looked out over the lake and pursed my lips. “I’m not sure we can do this-” There came the sound of a single drop of water hitting the surface of a puddle. The sound was faraway, like an echo from a distant world.
I froze, and so did the rest of the world. The flock of birds that flew over the lake were frozen in mid-flight. The breeze no longer stirred the bare branches of the trees. The colors became muted, as though someone had taken most of the life out of the world. The cold that had chilled me now sank into my bones.
My shoulders slumped and I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Not again. . .”
Then I remembered I wasn’t alone. A smile stretched across my face as I spun around. Xander stood behind me, but he, too, was a muted statue. My face fell. I walked up to him and reached up my hand to cup his cheek.
“Et tu, Xander?” I whispered as I stroked the smooth, warm surface. Wait, warm?
His eyes fluttered like he had just awoken and he stumbled forward like a man walking out of a moving vehicle that had suddenly stopped. I caught him before he fell onto the ice and stared up at him with wide eyes.
“You’re awake?” I whispered.
He shook himself and raised his head to look at the colorless world around us. “What has happened to Alexandria?”
I steadied him and swept an arm over the timeless area. “Welcome to my world, or what’s been my world off-and-on for a few months.”
“Is this your old world?” he asked me.
I shook my head. “Nope. Mine had just as much color as yours especially when someone painted their house purple.”
“How did we come to be here?” He glanced down at me and tilted his head to one side as he studied my face with a furrowed brow. “Is this some new power you have?”
I cringed. “I hope not, and if it is I don’t feel myself using my energy. Besides-” I held up one of my hands, “-no glow.”
He raised his eyes to the lake and pursed his lips. “Then perhaps were are in another-” he frowned.
I half-turned and followed his gaze. His eyes lay on the lake. The reflective surface showed the castle. Its colors were as they should have been, but the castle across the lake was the drab one.
“That’s. . .that’s the castle, isn’t it?” I guessed.
Xander nodded. “It is. We are in a reflection of our world.” He returned his attention to me and grasped both my hands so we faced each other. “Tell me everything you know.”
I shrugged. “It’s not that much. I hear this drop of water hitting more water and suddenly everything becomes a black-and-white movie.”
He arched an eyebrow. “A ‘movie?’”
I shook my head. “Never mind. Everything loses its color and everything stands still.”
“And you touched no one else?” he wondered.
I snorted. “I touched everything I could think of hoping it would be my red slippers out of this world, but nothing happened until I tried you.”
“Then you had not tried me before?” he guessed.
I shrugged. “I’m not usually in here that long, or even this long. Usually it’s just long enough for me to panic and start slapping my hand against walls and people, and then I’m snapped back into the Wonderful World of Color.”
“How long have you been coming to this world?” he questioned me.
He frowned at me. “And you spoke nothing of this to me?”
I bit my lower lip and lowered my eyes. “I. . .I kind of thought I was going a little nuts, you know? Like maybe I’d been whacked around a little too much by a Red Dragon and was imagining all of it.”
Xander lifted his gaze to the mute world around us and pursed his lips. “Unfortunately, it is very much real, and we are both a part of it for the present.”
I smiled up at him. “I’m glad you’re the one who’s with me. Well, not glad you’re with me, but-”
He chuckled. “I understand.” He took my hand and guided me toward the arch. “Together we will search the library and contact Apuleius to learn what he may know-” We walked beneath the arch and came out in a whole new world.
We stumbled forward as the incline of the short hill straightened to a flat wood floor. I looked up and saw we were surrounded by floor upon balcony-lined floor of bookshelves filled to the top with books. Far above us was a glass dome that allowed bright light to illuminate the countless floors filled with knowledge, along with a walkway that stretched out from our floor into the void in the center of the circular structure to a free-standing platform that looked out over all of the books.
Xander stepped forward with his mouth agape and looked up at the skylight. “Is this the fabled Mallus Library?”
I followed him and frowned. “Yeah, but how’d we get here without a door?”
“Even an archway is a door to a new place,” a voice spoke up.
We both turned to the free-standing pathway to see Crates striding down it toward us. He slipped around the corner and stopped a few feet from where we stood with a smile on his face. His gaze fell on Xander and he inclined his head. “It is an honor to meet the son of Cate, wife of Alexander the Tenth.”
Xander arched an eyebrow. “You knew my mother?”
Crates nodded. “Yes. She was very curious and often found herself here in search of answers.” He chuckled. “At one point her visitations were so often I wondered if I shouldn’t make a room for her.”
“So were we brought here so you could give us a book only Tillit can read on how to paint the world?” I asked him.
Crates shook his head. “On the contrary. It is I who need you.”