Excerpt: Dragon’s Eye
The God Ashur followed behind me carrying Tristan, whose body was battered and broken. The cry of our newborn pups preceded me. Their birth was supposed to be a wondrous occasion, but through treachery and lies, that was stolen from us. Instead of enjoying the happy moment, I feared Tristan was dying.
There was so much blood. The damage to his body overwhelmed my senses. I was afraid if I didn’t keep my eyes on him, if I turned my back for a second too long, his Flame would slip away. We ran through the cursed caverns that wouldn’t allow me to touch my wolf or feel the song of the earth. Ashur’s harsh commands to hurry spurred me on faster but I had to look behind me, I had to see with my own eyes that Tristan was still with us, still fighting.
The scars… I couldn’t care less, but Tristan might. I vowed I would spend the rest of my life showing him how beautiful he was to me—but first we had to get him out into the open.
I glanced back. “Hurry, Ashur.”
The corridor seemed much longer than when we’d come in. Glancing over my shoulder again to ensure Ashur followed closely, my impatience caused a snarl to rumble in my throat. Tristan’s skin was a gray-blue, stark and sickly against Ashur’s rich mahogany tone. With every passing moment, we were losing him.
“Please.” I didn’t know if I begged Ashur to go faster, or if it was a plea to the Gods to spare Tristan’s life.
When we entered the darkened corridor carved from the bedrock, I heard Tristan sigh. For months, he’d been teaching me how to listen to the Earth and I could practically feel her rush to him. I climbed the stairs, my foot slipping on the wet step in my hurry to get outside.
The open air had never smelled so good, filling my lungs with the scents of life. My wolf stirred, frantic for our mate. I reached to take Tristan from Ashur, but he dodged my grasp, moving off to the side. His low voice had a musical tone as he chanted in a language I didn’t recognize, and next to him a hole formed in the ground.
“What are you doing? You said all we had to do was get him outside!” Why was Ashur not singing the song for healing? I reached again to take Tristan from Ashur’s arms. Tristan was teaching me the complex chant, but Ashur was Tristan’s tutelary. He knew what to ask the Earth for and how. Why was he not begging her to save Tristan’s life? She wouldn’t say no. She’d never say no to Tristan because she adored him.
It took a moment for the haze of my frantic thoughts to subside enough to realize Ashur was talking and then another for me to process the meaning of his words. What did he mean he couldn’t restore Tristan’s health?
With rising alarm, I said, “You’ve been teaching him how to sing to the Earth. Why can’t you do that now?”
Ashur dodged me, laying Tristan in the hole atop the dark loamy soil. Something eased in me seeing Tristan in contact with the ground, although the Earth didn’t rush up to him as I’d expected. She never missed an opportunity to touch him… until now. Instead, I felt power build until my bones ached and the snakes on my chest writhed in discomfort.
Staring down, I searched for the source of the energy, sure that at any moment, whatever it was would show itself. My gaze continued to return to Tristan with his ruined eyed, his torso ravaged and gaping. Never had I seen him so vulnerable, so small, the very sight calling to the caretaker within me.
Tearing my gaze away, I confronted Ashur who was pleading with me. “I teach him the songs, but She doesn’t respond to me.”
An ancient sadness shone in Ashur’s visage, but I didn’t care. I had trusted him to save Tristan. Never before had I been filled with such useless rage. I didn’t understand what Ashur was saying. Who was he talking about? The Earth? He was the king’s tutelary, so why wouldn’t the Earth answer his call?
Desperation rose up and I barked, “Why the fuck not?”
“Because I took the wrong side in a war, now I’m forever separated from Her.”
What did that have to do with the here and now? What did it matter he’d lost something or someone? My Tristan was dying, and all he could do was talk. Ashur’s pleading gaze held mine and I suddenly understood. I glanced back down at Tristan, lying in a bed of fresh dark soil.
“No! You cannot mean to do this. He’s not dead!” I jumped into the hole; Tristan’s single eye stared at me with clarity, despite the state of his body. His chest rose and fell with each labored breath. There was still time. I could save him.
With the strength of the God he was, Ashur wound his arms around my waist and easily hauled me away from Tristan.
I went mad.