I’d give you the working title, but for the life of me I can’t recall it and it’s still saved under SS3. Dang it. I know I wrote it down somewhere and I’ll probably find it right after I post this.
Now on to the excerpt from Chapter 1
Tiern glanced across the celebration hall of Geohn Hold once again. Draeus should be here. Tiern had come to his home fold, group of vampires, to see his sister’s formal mating. He’d expected to see the large dragon before the ceremony was finished. That had passed and he was worried.
The celebration was in full swing, but his mind barely took in the festivities. Food and wine flowed. The hall was lavishly decorated. Glittering gold and brilliant green fabric draped in dipping arches between the wall sconces. The tables were covered in white cloth accented with a runner of gold and green. A deep green carpet ran up between the rows of tables. Petals of the senita flower scattered across the carpet and tables. The golden yellow flower had streaks of white shooting up the silky petal. More senita nestled in vases atop the tables and the delicate sweet scent drifted around the room.
Draeus had gone to talk with other dragons about reports of something akin to dragon bite illness near cities along the Olsana river. It shouldn’t have taken long and then he’d said he’d be coming to join the celebration. The meeting had taken place in secret, away from the regions the river ran through.
Whatever was happening there wasn’t normal and the dragons hadn’t wanted to give away their knowledge until they learned more. Since the meeting had been near the eastern edge of Beserl region, the trip shouldn’t have taken Draeus too long. It was basically a straight, uneventful flight. He’d have to cross a bit of the desert, but it wasn’t the first time he’d done it.
“Still no sign of him?” Reyes stopped beside him and leaned a shoulder against the wall. His hair hung in braids down his back, as did Tiern’s and every other vampire in Geohn hold. The ceremonial gold and green beads woven through the braids clicked together with every move.
“No.” Tiern shook his head. He wouldn’t be standing here, getting more worried with each passing moment if he’d seen Draeus. His gut churned, but it wasn’t only anxiety. Something was wrong.
“Are you certain he left?” Reyes asked.
“Yes, I talked with another vampire from a bonded pair who was there. Draeus left yesterday to come join us. He should have arrived this morning.” Tiern shook his head and took a deep breath. He couldn’t go tearing out of here to search even though he wanted to grab the nearest chitan and start looking. The four-legged beast could carry him across the desert if necessary, but he had no idea where to start.
“Go talk to Marse about this, Tiern.” Reyes frowned.
“Something I should know, Reyes?” Tiern faced his brother expectantly.
“There’s been some talk about dragons and the desert that’s as much as I know. It’s something from witches in the city near Tassich canyon.” Reyes shrugged. “I overheard that much from the messenger, but not more. I’d thought it wasn’t important since there wasn’t an announcement.”
Tiern nodded. He might not have spent much time beyond his childhood here. He’d been sent to train with one of the old bonded pairs, but even with that he knew that sometimes the elders of the fold kept some things to themselves. At times, it was because they didn’t have enough information and others because they wanted to spread the word only through the warriors.
He moved through the crowd looking for Marse. He needed to have that conversation. His gut was telling him something was very wrong. He spotted the elder’s silver hair near the end of the room. Tiern wove his way through the room. Luckily everyone was wrapped up in the celebration and congratulating the couple. He wasn’t stopped before he reached them man.
“Tiern, good to see you. Where’s your dragon?” Marse smiled and clapped him on the shoulder.
“That’s what I need to talk to you about. Draeus should have been here this morning. He was flying because he really wasn’t that far away. Well, not as a dragon flies anyway. He hasn’t shown up and one of my brothers said there might be something you know.” Tiern looked at the man and tried to remain calm.
“Ah, yes, come with me. We were slowly telling the warriors. We’re not sure how much credence to put into it you see.” Marse nodded and led him out of the celebration hall.
Tiern raised a brow, but followed. They hadn’t put much credence in what? Was it a rumor? Marse led him through the street to one of the training houses. The building was shielded with magic so that even a spell gone awry couldn’t hurt the population of the fortress. It would also provide them the privacy to talk without fear of anyone listening to the conversation.
“What do you mean how much credence to put into it?” Tiern held on to his impatience.
“We don’t want another panic`such as the time when the wizard went after the dragons and that specific dragon and vampire pair were being attacked. Not even close to this area, yet people starting to pack up in fear.” Marse walked over to a table and leaned a hip against it. “There hasn’t been any proof of what they’ve been telling us.”
“What have the witches been telling you?” Tiern paced the length of the room.
He could understand in a way the problem Marse faced. Some of the population of the Hold wasn’t vampire or tied to it in any way. There were human families who sought the protection of a defended stronghold. A few traders also made their homes and sold their wares here. Families such as the humans and the traders had fled in panic when there was no danger. The attacks had been focused in another area.
“They have said that they’ve found dragons being held by Dark Sorcerers. We haven’t had any reports from the dragons about that sort of thing. Since they haven’t asked for help and in the absence of more information, all we can do is make sure the warriors are aware of it.” Marse sighed.
Tiern sighed. Dragon ego or maybe even simple male ego. “Would a vampire admit something like that outside of to his friends or commander?”
Marse frowned. “Probably not. And if he could get away with it, he might not even tell them.”
“Dragons, especially the younger ones can have huge egos. If one was captured and freed without another dragon knowing of it, they might just get out of the area. The younger dragons probably wouldn’t think about the need for a warning until it was too late.” Tiern looked to the door, wanting to leave and go to these witches. They’d know where to look for Draeus or at least where to begin.
“I’ll take you to their city and introduce you to the leaders. I should have gone there before for more information, but better now than never.” Marse shook his head.
“When will you be ready? I want to go as quickly as possible.” Tiern took a slow deep breath to keep from pacing or raising his voice in aggression. The worry whittled away at his normal control.