Read Dragonmark Online

Authors: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dragonmark

 

Begin Reading

Table of Contents

About the Author

Copyright Page

 

Thank you for buying this

St. Martin's Press ebook.

 

To receive special offers, bonus content,

and info on new releases and other great reads,

sign up for our newsletters.

 

Or visit us online at

us.macmillan.com/newslettersignup

 

For email updates on the author, click
here
.

 

The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you for your personal use only. You may not make this e-book publicly available in any way.
Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author's copyright, please notify the publisher at:
us.macmillanusa.com/piracy
.

 

To my boys and husband, who are my life and who have seen me through untold heartaches. For my readers, who are family, and to my friends for keeping me sane. Thank you all for being part of my life.

 

And as always, to Monique, Alex, Robert, John, Eric, Ervin, Mark, Nancy, Angie, Jen, and everyone at St. Martin's and Trident who work so incredibly hard on the books to make them a reality. And The MB Staff: Kim, Paco, Lisa, and Carl, and all the volunteers who keep things running smoothly! You guys are the best!

 

PROLOGUE

Samothraki, Greece
9501 BCE

“The bastards cut his throat. Severed his vocal cords entirely.”

Materializing from the frigid depths of his lair, Falcyn cursed as he saw his brother, Maxis, dragging Illarion into his dark den behind him. For years they'd been searching for their youngest dragon-brother, who'd been captured by humans for who knew what nightmarish horrors. But no trace had ever been found of the young dragonet.

Until now.

So large that he barely fit through the cave opening, Maxis released his hold on their baby brother and allowed Illarion to sprawl across the floor. Blood seeped over his yellowish-orange scales. Both of his wings lay broken and useless against the cold earthen floor.

His breathing shallow as he struggled desperately to stay conscious, Illarion blinked his serpentine yellow eyes slowly. Painfully.

So much needless misery—it radiated from the child to the core of Falcyn's being. And it made his own eyes turn vibrant red as bloodlust rose within him. Knowing he couldn't tend his brother in his native dragon body, Falcyn shifted into the hated form of a human.

The moment he did so, Illarion let out a gurgling hiss and rolled into an attack position even though it had to be agony for him to move.

“Easy, little brother.” Falcyn spoke in their native drakyn—the true language all dragons spoke. One that sounded feral and unintelligible to humans.

He held his hand out toward Illarion as a peace offering. While he might temporarily wear the skin of a man, Falcyn was and would always be a dragon in his heart and soul. “You know me. I need this form to heal you. Now calm yourself before you do more harm.”

A single crystalline tear fell from the corner of Illarion's serpentine eye.

In that moment, Falcyn hated humanity more than he ever had—something he wouldn't have thought possible. He reached to stroke Illarion's gray-scaled snout. “Shh…”

Illarion backed up, then collapsed.

Maxis gasped as he gently nuzzled the much smaller dragon and tucked his own wings against his body.

Ignoring the fact that Max was a giant beast of a dragon who could swallow him whole in his current incarnation, Falcyn shoved Max's head away. “He's passed out from the pain, Yaya. Now move your hulking arse so I can help him.”

Max shuffled back to make more room. “Will he live?”

“I don't know. Where did you find him?”

“I didn't. He found me.” Guilt and agony haunted Max's eyes. “He can no longer Bane-Cry. The bastards took his ability to call us when they slit his throat.”

Falcyn ground his teeth as even more unmitigated rage tore through him. “Then we will teach him a new way to call for us. One they won't be able to stop.”

Max nodded and looked away. “This is my fault.”

“Don't!”

“It is and you know it. My mother gave him to the humans to get back at me for what I said to her. Had I cooperated … given her what she—”

“She would have screwed over the world, and he still would have paid for her cruelty. The lilitu are without the ability to care for their young. You know this. My own mother watched as they sacrificed me on my birth. All it did was teach me that we're in this life alone, cradle to grave, and make me bitter and disgusted.”

Max swallowed before he spoke again. “Is that why you can take human form when no other dragon can?”

Falcyn didn't answer his question. It was the one thing he would never speak of.

To anyone.

No one needed to know anything about him. Not even those he considered his brothers.

Nor was he the only dragon who could shift …

But there were many things his brothers and sisters didn't need to know about this world.

“His physical injuries are not so bad,” he said, changing the subject. “We should be able to heal him.”

“But?”

“He's only a child. I fear for the mental damage they've wrought.”

“As do I. They were using him to fight in their wars. Riding him like he was a thoughtless beast.”

Falcyn winced. Too bad Illarion hadn't been a full-grown drakomas. That was the fury the humans deserved.

Not the small child who lay helpless at his feet. One who'd been unable to fully fight them and give them the fyrebreath and dragon's fury they deserved.

In that moment, he felt the demon within him rising. It wanted to set fire to the world and watch it burn to cinders. If mankind had any idea how often they tempted him toward destruction they'd never sleep again.

Times like this, it took everything he had not to give in to that darkness that burned inside him, calling for the hearts and souls of all sentient beings.

Even the gods.

That was what made it so hard to relate to Maxis.

Part Arel, he was the direct opposite. He saw only good inside even the most corrupt.

It was sickening, really. The way his brother wanted to help others. That innate need Max had to protect and to serve. It was ever revolting.

Now Illarion had been given his first taste of humanity. And like Falcyn's, it had been a most bitter meal. If the dragonet did survive this, he wouldn't have Max's blood in him that would want to protect the human vermin who'd tortured him.

Illarion's father was the Greek god Ares. A war god. The humans had no idea what they'd been toying with. With the blood Illarion carried, he would become one of the strongest of their kind once he reached his majority.

A dragon of fierce, unmatched powers.

Falcyn's hand lingered at the brand on his brother's back where the humans had marked Illarion like cattle. It festered and bled.

Sadly, it would leave as bad a scar on his body as this entire ordeal had left on his brother's psyche.

May the gods have mercy on them all.…

For Illarion would not.

 

1

St. George's Day, 619

“If you could piss away stupid, I daresay the majority of the candidates today might actually stand a chance against you.”

Edilyn ferch Iago bit back a squeak of laughter at Virag's unexpected words. “Shh … you get me into enough trouble as it is.”

Barely the size of her index finger, he looked up at her with a cocked, innocent brow. “Can't help it if the rest of those wankers are too dim-witted to see your ebullience right before them.” Walking along the edge of the shoddy, worn sill, he mocked the village voices they could overhear passing by her open window, making faces and rude gestures to go along with their innocuous conversations. It was all she could do to not burst into laughter.

“Stop it, or I shall force you back into your bottle.”

He snorted dismissively. “As if
that's
a threat. I like my bottle. Much better than being out here with all these—” He glanced out the window to the street and wrinkled his nose. “—people.” With a fierce shudder, he sat down on the edge to eye her with an expression of even greater distaste. A light breeze fluttered his golden, gossamer wings. “Why are you dressed like that again?”

“St. George's Day.”

“Ah.” Virag released a long, tired sigh. “This year went fast. So what are your plans for being unacceptable to the dragons this time?”

Biting her lip, she stepped forward and revealed the small vial she'd purchased from the old witch woman who lived on the edge of the forest. She held it out toward him.

'Tis the scent of rotted bear guts.”

He let out a fierce sound of protest before he fell back and kerplunked on the sill. “That would do it,” he choked between gasps for air. “Yeah. Please … bathe that off your skin before tonight. My eyes are watering. Burning, too.” Crossing his eyes, he stuck his tongue out and feigned a dying pose that left one arm and leg dangling off the edge as he continued to sputter and gasp.

Edilyn laughed at her half brother and his antics. It was hard to take him seriously in his natural state of a gold-skinned, golden-haired and -eyed, winged sprite. Like this, he was ethereally beautiful and a far cry from the terrifying dark-shadow beast she knew he could transform into. “What kind of pixie are you?”

“Not a pixie,” he snarled indignantly as he kicked his fur-covered legs at her. “Kikimora! Sheez! Inhaling those fumes has already addled your noggin. Any more and you'll be as daft as those lackwits outside.”

She snorted at him. “Like you don't smell worse than that on a regular basis.”

Other books

Birthday Party Murder by Leslie Meier
ORCS: Army of Shadows by Stan Nicholls
A Risk Worth Taking by Hildenbrand, Heather
Right Hand Magic by Nancy A. Collins