Smoke and Fire(10)By: Donna Grant
“Her intention was to start a war. Con wanted to prevent one,” Ryder explained. “In an effort to protect Ulrik, Con sent him away on some mission.”
She scrunched up her face. “That was a very bad idea.”
“Aye. As we found out. Every King chased her down and cornered her, and we killed her. We did it for Ulrik and to protect the unsteady peace between our two races. Ulrik, however, didna see it that way.”
“I wouldn’t have either. I’d have been furious with you.”
Sadness came over Ryder’s face then. “He was angry at us. He’d loved the female, and her betrayal cut acutely. His rage was so deep that it consumed him. Ulrik gathered his Silvers, and they began attacking any human they found, killing them.”
“Oh, no,” Kinsey said with a frown.
“Aye. Many Kings joined Ulrik in his effort to rid the realm of all mortals for good. The other Kings remained with Con, trying to stop Ulrik.”
“Which side were you on?”
Somehow Kinsey wasn’t surprised by his answer. She nodded, telling him to continue his story.
“It didna take the humans long to fight back. They began attacking the smallest of the dragons first, wiping entire factions out in a day.”
Kinsey couldn’t imagine what that felt like to Ryder and the others. Especially after they’d made a promise to protect humans and then been betrayed. “Surely not all of my ancestors knew of the betrayal to Ulrik.”
“Of course no’,” Ryder assured her. “By the time Ulrik swept across the country killing humans, it no longer mattered. It was war. Us versus them. So many dragons were killed. And a wedge came between us Kings. Those who sided with Ulrik fought those who sided with Con. We lost many Kings.”
Kinsey felt sadness for the Dragon Kings when she didn’t want to. Especially not when Ulrik was killing humans, and yet she couldn’t stop herself.
“Con knew drastic action had to be taken.” Ryder cleared his throat and slid deeper into his chair. “We created a dragon bridge, linking our realm to another, and we sent every dragon across it. It was their only chance at survival. Though it killed us to see them go.”
“You sent them away?” she asked in outrage. “Ryder, that’s horrific. Those were your people. Why would you do that just for the mortals?”
He met her gaze solemnly. “We made a vow to the mortals. And we hoped that we could return the dragons one day. Had we known what would happen, I doona believe we would’ve sent the dragons away. But the simple fact is, our two races couldna live together.”
“We came after you. Yet you sacrificed your way of life for us.” Kinsey felt ashamed for the actions of her ancestors.
Ryder’s lips softened a fraction. “Sending our dragons away wasna enough. It took Con longer than he wanted, but he eventually got all the Kings back on his side except for Ulrik. We still had Ulrik and four of the largest of his Silvers to contend with. We trapped the Silvers and used our magic to make them sleep.”
“Did you send them with the others?”
He hesitated a bit too long. “Nay. They’re here.”
“Here?” she asked in disbelief. “As in, here?”
“They’re in the mountain behind the manor in a cage bound with magic.”
That didn’t make her feel any better. How could a cage hold dragons? And large ones at that? She decided to move past that for now. “What happened to Ulrik?”
“We united our magic to bind his. He would be unable to communicate with his Silvers. We also made sure he could never shift.”
“So he’s in dragon form?”
Ryder looked at the floor. “He’s in human form.”
“Damn,” she murmured. “That was cruel.”
“We also banished him from Dreagan.”
She shook her head at Ryder when he looked up at her. “Why? Didn’t any of you realize he was hurt? Why take such drastic measures?”
“He started a war, Kinsey. Because of that we lost thousands of dragons and hundreds of Kings. And let’s no’ forget we had to send our dragons away.”
Kinsey crossed her arms over her chest. “No, you didn’t. You could’ve stopped all of that from happening by doing several things. First, Ulrik should’ve been told what his woman was doing. He should’ve been allowed to do what he wanted with her. Second, vow or no’, you could’ve stopped all the dragon killings by using your magic on humans. Whether to kill them or stop them, something could’ve been done.”
“We were no’ thinking that way.”