Some things never go away, like vile enemies, bad ale, and annoying kin. But I thought I was finished with the one dragon I’d have done anything for: Éibhear the Blue, a big, gorgeous, blue-haired beast who thinks the world belongs to him. The world and, apparently, me.
So if Éibhear wants to play the caring hero and travel into the most forsaken of Gods forsaken lands to protect the one woman who doesn’t need it—namely me—I’ll let him. Because while I’m trying to fulfill a ridiculous quest for a pushy god, I’m going to draw this overconfident warlord much too close, rekindle his fires, and enjoy every minute of his delicious defeat...
Praise for The Dragon Who Loved Me
“A chest thumping, mead-hall rocking, enemy slaying brawl of a good book.” --All Things Urban Fantasy
“Aiken aces another one.” –RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“A hot, hot series.”
The orders from their queen had been direct and to the point: Stop the Ice Land dragons from regrouping and attacking the Northland dragons on their coast.
The Northlanders had been holding their own for years, pushing the Ice Land dragons, called the Spikes, back to their territorial lines and holding them there. Yet the Mìrunach were the ones who stopped the Spikes from ever really gathering enough forces in one place, at one time, to push their way back into the Northlands and putting the dragon warlords’ territories at risk.
It had not been easy, though. Not for them. For they were the Mìrunach and they were all Fire Breathers trapped in one of the harshest lands known to dragon or gods. The Ice Lands with their hard winters and their even harder people. But that’s why the Mìrunach had been sent here.
Because among their own, the Mìrunach were considered hard and harsh. They didn’t belong. They were the outcasts, the troublemakers, the pit fighters. They were the ones you didn’t want setting up camp near your cave, but if you’d run out of options . . . then they were the ones you called.
They were the ones who killed. For their honor. For their queen. And because they were all really bloody good at it.
Mìrunach Legion Commander Angor landed on the mountaintop and watched his troops move in. As he’d trained them, they moved quick and quiet. Dragons they might be, one of the largest beings in the world, but that didn’t mean they had to stomp everywhere. Not like the Spikes who let their snowandice storms hide their presence. But the Mìrunach didn’t let storms or being outsiders or anything else get in the way of their queen’s orders.
Angor smiled a bit when he saw a flash of blade and then, as if from nowhere, a blue claw caught the Spike leader’s head by the hair and yanked it back. A broadsword rammed through the neck, cutting off the Spike’s chance to do anything but look stunned.
The Spikes, who had been rallying around their leader to begin their flight into enemy territory, froze, blood splattering their white and silver scales. Then the Mìrunach attacked, coming up from under the ground where some of them had been hiding for days.
He watched and waited while his troops decimated the Spikes. It didn’t take long. They’d been trained not for battle but for massacres. That’s what they did best. They struck with no warning, no negotiations, no prisoners. There were only sixtysix of them total, but they could do—and had done— the work of a fullsize legion. They were the Dragon Queen’s deadliest weapon and were hated and feared amongst the dragon world—and for very good reason.
Angor sat back on his haunches as his squad leaders landed in front of him. “We’re done,” one of them reported. “And I sent out my team to strike down any stragglers.”
“Good. We’ll be heading back to the south in a few days.”
“Really?” another asked, but he wasn’t the only one thinking it. The queen had kept her Mìrunach in the Ice Lands off and on for years, but it wasn’t for him or the rest
of the Mìrunach to ask. Merely did as they’d been ordered by their queen.
“Really.” He jerked his head to the side. “You lot. Get ready to move out for the night. Wait,” he said to the one who’d killed the Spike leader. “Not you. Not yet.”
Angor waited until the others had gone back down the mountain before turning to the dragon he’d trained himself.
To be honest, he’d had no hope for this one when he’d been forced on Angor nearly a decade ago. He’d been uselessly angry and astoundingly bitter. He’d refused to do even the simplest of tasks and put himself and his brethren at risk more than once during important assignments. But Angor had been able to see past all that rage and he’d kept the young dragon close to him and trained him hard from day one. Beat him when necessary, praised him when deserved. And now . . . ?
And now he was the most heartless, vile, and murdering bastard many of them had ever had the displeasure of knowing, and the most loathed dragon in all the Ice Lands.
For he was Éibhear the Contemptible, a Southland prince, and one of the dreaded Mìrunach Squad Leaders. He was also blindingly loyal, incredibly smart, and as close to a son as Angor ever had since he and his mate had never wanted offspring of their own.
The only problem with the royal? He read a lot, which Angor thought added to a lot of his problems. Who needed all those bloody books anyway?
“What do you need?” the blue dragon asked.
“We’ve stopped these Spikes from moving into Northland territories and meeting up with that young leader from the Ice Land tribe. But I want you and yours to go in, strike that leader down, so that them Spikes will understand this ox shit is over.”
“Just your squad. The others will come with me.”
“You’ll find them near that territorial line by them Mountains of Depression or whatever.”
The Blue chuckled. “I think you mean the Mountains of Pain and Suffering.”
“Yeah. Whatever.You go. You kill the leader, end this. That way we can head home without worrying about it.”
“Consider it done.”
“Then you can go back to your kin, Éibhear the Contemptible. You go back and see your mum.”
The dragon stopped, blinked. “What?”
“Go home. See your mum.”
“Um . . . why? Is something wrong?”
“Other than you being an ungrateful son? No.”
“Ungrateful? I’ve destroyed dragon after dragon in her name.”
“You enjoyed it.”
He shrugged. “That’s true.”
“It’s been ten years. Your mum should see you.”
“I see you’re still drawn to my mother.”
“I am loyal to my queen. Do you know why?”
“Please not this story again,” the Blue begged.
“Because when that bastard father of yours wanted to have me executed for insubordination—”
“That was probably because you’d come after him with an axe when he gave you an order.”
“—your mum said no. She saw me worth. For that I’m loyal to her until I breathe me last. So take your ungrateful blue ass and go home.”
The Blue studied Angor. “So you’re kicking me out then?”
“Once Mìrunach, always Mìrunach, boy. You should know that by now. But you can’t avoid your kin forever.”
“I haven’t been avoiding anything.” He gave a small smile, showing one side of his fangs. “Not anymore.”
“There’s truth to that. So go home. See your mum. Make her happy. For me.” Angor turned from the younger dragon, moving
toward some Ice Land oxen he’d seen earlier. Watching his warriors kill always made him hungry.
“And my squad when we’re done in the Northlands?” the boy called out. “Should I send them on ahead to meet you?”
“Don’t you dare. Take those mean bastards with you. No other squad will have them anyway.” He flicked his claw in the air. “Go home, Éibhear the Contemptible. See your mum. See your kin. Spend some time with those who raised you. Think of it like a holiday. Then remember why you left in the first place, and return to the Mìrunach. We’ll be camped near the Western Mountains. Waiting to do what we do best.”
“Kill?” the blue dragon asked Angor.
“Some would say,” Angor muttered on a chuckle. “Some would say.”