More Dragon Kin novels from G.A. Aiken Online

Chapter 1

“Oy! Addolgar!” they yelled into his human face. “Oyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! You awake?”

Idiots. Every one of his brothers and sisters were utter idiots. Even these two—Ghleanna, his older sister; and Bercelak, his younger brother—who he believed to be the smartest of his kin, were still . . . idiots.

“Maybe he’s dead then,” Bercelak suggested.

“Nah. I think he’s breathing. He just sleeps like the dead, is all.”

An elbow, probably Ghleanna’s, rammed across his jaw. “Addolgar!” she screamed. “You awake?”

His jaw throbbing, Addolgar knew he couldn’t keep ignoring his siblings or he risked losing part of his face.

He slowly opened his eyes. “What?”

“See?” Ghleanna said to Bercelak. “He’s not dead.”

“Such a relief. Mum would have had a fit if he’d turned up dead.”

“Your concern overwhelms me, brother.” Addolgar cracked his neck. “So what do you want?”

His brother and sister, also in their human forms, stood tall, hands on hips, staring down at him. The two of them looked the most alike of their siblings. Black hair, black eyes, rude natures. Bercelak had the nastiest attitude, but really he was only the most focused. He had big plans. He didn’t just want to be a warrior; he wanted to lead the Queen’s Army. It was a lofty goal, especially for one of the low-born Cadwaladr Clan, but if any of them could do it, it would be Bercelak.

Ghleanna was more like Addolgar. They battled because they liked it and were good at it. They loved the armor, the weapons, the blood, the death. When the Queen had no wars, Addolgar and Ghleanna found human wars to fight. They were always fun and good training.

But still, could Addolgar not get a few minutes to himself? He’d just wanted to have a meal and get a little nap before heading back to the human troops he’d been fighting with. As always, though, with his kin . . . that apparently wasn’t possible.

“Why are you two bothering me?”

“Her Majesty,” Ghleanna sneered, “wants to see us.”

Addolgar smirked. His sister didn’t even bother trying to hide her dislike of the current monarch, Dragon Queen Addiena. She’d taken over for her mother, the much-loved Queen Ganieda, nearly a century ago, and Ghleanna still barely accepted Addiena as their ruler. True, she’d protect her as the monarch of their people, but that was as far as Ghleanna the Black was willing to go.

Curious as to what was going on, Addolgar asked, “She wants to see us for what?”

“You don’t question,” Bercelak snapped. “You come when called.”

“When did we become pets?” Addolgar asked his brother. Ghleanna snorted.

“Don’t anger me, brother. We serve the Queen—without question, without delay. Now get off your fat ass and let’s get going.”

Knowing quite well that his ass was perfect, Addolgar was getting ready to argue, for no other reason than to annoy his brother, when Ghleanna cleared her throat and motioned behind her. A group of humans were running toward them, all of them poorly armed with pitchforks and rusty swords and pikes.

“I’ll handle—” Bercelak began, but Ghleanna quickly stepped in front of him.

“No,” she told him. “You’ll keep your mouth shut.”

The humans quickly crossed the open field until they reached them, the one out front stopping in front of Ghleanna. “Did ya see him, soldier?” he demanded. “Did ya see the dragon?”

Ghleanna nodded. “We have troops searching for the bastard now. We’ll find him. And we’ll kill him.”

“He destroyed my cattle!” one of the men yelled. “Look at this!”

They did. All those bones, sucked clean of meat, fat, and marrow. It wasn’t the entire herd that Addolgar had eaten but at least half. He’d been hungry, though. Very hungry.

“That bastard,” Ghleanna snarled. “We’ll wipe the land of him, I promise you that.”

The humans looked at Addolgar. “What’s wrong with him then?” the leader asked.

“He . . . was attacked by that dragon.” Ghleanna nodded at Addolgar.

With a sigh and a barely suppressed eye roll, Addolgar raised his arm and weakly stated, “Don’t mind me. I’m just slowly bleeding to death from the attack.” All that cow’s blood smeared over his human flesh helped with that lie. Of course, he’d been dragon when the blood had splattered, the human herder running off, screaming hysterically and pissing himself. And after Addolgar had finished eating, he’d shifted to human so he could relax with his back against a sturdy tree and his long human legs stretched out in front of him.

One of the humans studied Addolgar and asked, “Why’s he naked?”

The three of them blinked and then Bercelak lied, “Because