Feel the Burn Page 80

Kachka couldn’t hide her disappointment. “Oh.”

“But everyone else has been calling you lot—oh! Here it is.” She stood, a small jar in her hand. “This will help with healing.” She unscrewed the top and dug a large white glob out with her finger. She came at Kachka with whatever that shit was, and Kachka pulled back.

“Come on. Give it a try. It won’t hurt.”

“The rest have been calling us what . . . exactly?”

Brannie briefly glanced away before admitting, “The Scourge of the Gods.”

“What?”

“For their great sins . . . the gods have sent you as punishment.”

“I see.”

“I wouldn’t take it personally, Kachka,” she rambled on, taking Kachka’s silence to mean she was upset and also that she acquiesced to putting that useless cream on her face. “Annwyl gets mad when they call her Annwyl the Bloody, but I don’t know why. A name like that buys one respect. Strangely, she doesn’t mind Mad Bitch of Garbhán Isle, and that one seems a tad rude to me. But,” she kept going, continuing to put that stuff on Kachka’s throbbing wound, “neither of us likes Whore Mother of the Abominations.”

“Because only women can be whores.”

“Not with dragons. We are quick to call out our male whores. Like Gwenvael. My grandfather.”

“You have many whores in your family.”

“I wish I could say we don’t . . . but I’d be lying.” She stepped back. “There. Now don’t you feel better?”

She did, but Kachka wasn’t about to admit it. Instead, she just walked away and appreciated that doing so didn’t seem to offend the She-dragon.

“The Scourge of the Gods,” Gaius said from behind Kachka. “Fancy name you’ve got there.”

“If you knew name, why did you not tell me?”

“I’m a royal. I was trained to only reveal so much excitement. But Brannie is still a young dragon. She can happily reveal all to everyone without concern. I thought you deserved that.”

“We should camp together!” Brannie suggested. She had a spear in her hands and was moving through the fallen soldiers, finishing off any who still breathed with a quick jab to the back of the neck or to the heart. “It’ll be fun! But let’s move away from this smell. It’s getting a bit over—gods! Caswyn! Stop eating! I can’t think with all that bloody crunching!”

“But I’m still hungry!”

After eating her dinner, Annwyl was lounging on her throne, deep into a fascinating book about the wars between the Southland dragons and the Irons, when she saw her daughter walk quickly into the Great Hall. Talwyn leaned down and whispered to Elina. The Rider’s eyes grew wide and she abruptly walked out; Celyn and Talwyn went after her.

A minute or so after that, Talwyn returned, quickly moving over to Dagmar. They spoke in whispers until Dagmar stood and together they rushed out, with Morfyd, Briec, and Keita right behind them—leaving a table with fresh food behind.

Dragons didn’t leave fresh food unless it was important, and Annwyl briefly debated going outside to see what was happening. If it was important, though, wouldn’t someone tell her? Of course they would. So why bother getting up?

But the voices became louder, angrier, ruining the quiet enjoyment of her book. Sighing loudly, Annwyl marked her place, set the book carefully on the floor beside her throne, and stood. She walked over to a far wall and studied her options. With a shrug, she pulled off the battle axes that once belonged to Fearghus’s uncle Addolgar. She took a few practice swings, liked the weight. This was a giant steel axe covered in ancient dragon runes that could be used by a dragon in human form. When it was hit at the right angle at the base of the handle, it would extend to a weapon that could easily be used by Addolgar in his true form.

But since one of his nieces had become an amazing blacksmith who created weapons that could go from human-sized to dragon-sized with no more than the thought of its handler, Addolgar and many of the Cadwaladrs had given Annwyl their old weapons to decorate the house walls. She liked how such mighty steel looked on her walls . . . and the very direct message they conveyed.

Now, with this battle axe in hand, she walked outside into what was quickly spiraling into a very ugly fight.

The strangers sat on their almost-too-tiny-for-their-size horses and glared down at Dagmar and Brastias, completely ignoring Elina, who stood three steps up from them. Keita and Briec stood on one side of Brastias. Keita with her arms crossed over her chest, bare toes tapping, and Briec appearing beyond bored, occasionally yawning. But both quite ready to unleash their collective flames, which could take down most of the courtyard and all the humans within it. And on the other side of Dagmar was Morfyd, appearing concerned that everything would get out of control. She hated that. She liked things nice and orderly.

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