Feel the Burn Page 5

Aggie refused to talk about what had happened, but some nights she woke up screaming. Some nights she didn’t sleep at all.

And yes, Gaius blamed himself, although he knew Aggie never did. But how could he not blame himself? His poor, weak, defenseless sister trapped in the web of that evil—

“You!” Aggie gripped Gaius’s throat, causing him to gag before yanking him into another room. “Excuse us, Lætitia,” she told their aunt before slamming the door in Lætitia’s stunned face.

“What have you done?” his sister demanded.

“That’s vague.”

“There are Mì-runach in our throne room. Why?”

“Mì-runach?” Warriors who answered to absolutely no one but the Dragon Queen herself? “Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. Now why are they here?”

“I don’t . . . oh.” Gaius cringed. “Oh.”

“What have you done?”

“I had your best interests at heart.”

“You idiot,” Aggie sighed out just as Lætitia knocked on the door and quickly entered.

She closed the door, turned to her niece and nephew, and announced, “There are peasants in your throne room. Southland peasants!”

“They’re Mì-runach,” Aggie told her and gestured to Gaius. “That this idiot requested.”

“Gaius!”

“I did not request them.”

“Then what did you do?” his sister demanded.

“I requested help from the Dragon Queen, but . . .”

“But?”

“But I thought she’d send Cadwaladrs.” The Cadwaladrs were a Southland clan of Low Born dragons trained from hatching in the ways of war and defense of the Dragon Queen’s territories. They might not be respected, but they were greatly feared. And with reason.

“Why would you want those pit dogs here any more than you’d want the Mì-runach?”

“You need protection.”

Aggie suddenly stood tall, her spine straight, her long steel-colored hair reaching down her back in intricate braids and curls. She looked amazingly regal, which was how she always looked when she was getting defensive. “Why would I need protection?”

“Because he’s going off on a fool’s errand, that’s why.”

Gaius briefly closed his eyes. “Lætitia,” he sighed.

“What? I’m not lying. Tell me I’m lying,” she ordered. “Tell me.”

If Lætitia hoped to get Aggie on her side, she’d just failed because now the twins were giggling. Like they used to when they were hatchlings.

“The two of you! I swear by the gods.”

Aggie cleared her throat. “Aunt Lætitia, could you excuse us?”

“You’re sending me back out there? With those plebeians?”

“Or you could just go to your room. But you need to go . . . you know . . . away.”

Lætitia snatched the door open, gazed back at her niece and nephew. “Hmmph!” she snapped before walking out, making sure she slammed the door in the process.

“Mind telling me what’s going on?” Aggie asked. “You know I hate when Lætitia knows more than me. It gives her way too much enjoyment. And we both know that I can’t allow that.”

Dagmar Reinholdt was deep in paperwork, scrolls and parchments littering her desk. Ink covering her hands. And six of her best-trained dogs surrounding her. It had been that way since the last attempt on her life nearly seven months ago. Her mate, Gwenvael the Handsome, had insisted. She still had an assistant, but he’d been chosen by Morfyd, who used her magicks to ensure the Northland male sent by her brothers and approved by Dagmar’s father had no loyalty except to reason.

The only problem, though . . . he loathed dogs. And, in turn, her dogs loathed him.

So he had his own space in the towers, along with Bram the Merciful, Dagmar’s nephew Frederik Reinholdt—who was currently in the Northlands working with the local warlords to ensure they were ready for any attacks from Duke Salebiri and the Chramnesind cult—and Dagmar’s only son, Unnvar.

That tower. That ridiculous tower the queen had built had become a hub of thoughtful reason and decisive war-planning. Hard to believe since, for months, Dagmar had assumed the queen had been creating a killing factory for her enemies.

Dagmar’s dogs began to growl seconds before the door swung open. Three of them went to leap at the intruder, ready to tear face from body, but Dagmar’s calm “No” stopped them. They grudgingly pulled back, still snarling, while the queen strode into the room. Oblivious as always.

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