Disclaimer; Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing. Hope you all enjoy it.
The horses bolted towards the round structures as the sand dragon coiled, snake-like, between them and the breach in the wall. Xin inched backward, feeling the wall of one of the buildings behind her. The dragon was moving forward, head swaying beck and forth. From its snout were long, thin rope-like whiskers that swayed hypnotically. Its eyes narrowed, lips curled back, revealing long sharp fangs.
“Xin, do you feel the water anywhere?” Geb asked, his voice low. She tore her eyes from the advancing beast and felt for it. She frowned, half turning and looking up at the building behind her. She pressed her hands against it and looked down at Geb.
The dragon gave a wheezing warble darting forward. Xin looked towards them in time to see Rale dive out of the way and Tier swinging his sword, lopping off one of the whiskers. The creature yowled, jerking back from the two men. The whisker flopped on the ground, reminding Xin of a fish out of water. Tier and Rale both backed up, towards Xin.
Geb tapped her hand and she looked at the boy and back up at the water cistern. She met Geb’s eyes and nodded, pressing her hand against the wall of the building. Geb made a motion with his hands, drawing the stone apart like a curtain, and Xin held the water, keeping it from pouring out. The dragon wasn’t close enough.
Tier reached them, sword still pointed at the dragon. “I don’t think we’ll be able to kill it.”
“Just get it distracted so we can slip away.” Rale said.
“Do you think it’ll follow us?” Geb asked.
Xin focused on the water, waiting as the dragon moved closer, still swaying back and forth, blood dripping from its whisker stump. Xin narrowed her eyes, watching the beast loom closer.
“There is a passage back behind the water tower.” Geb was saying.
“They ducked down it.”
The dragon struck, mouth open, and Xin pushed the water out in a powerful stream, catching it in the mouth and knocking it backwards against the rock wall. They heard the loud crack as its head hit the huge stones and it fell, twitching in the mud as the water stream lessened.
Tier crept closer. “It’s still breathing.” He looked at Xin. “Just knocked out.”
“Uhm, Tier.” Rale pointed. “It wasn’t alone.”
Xin stared, trying to wrap her mind around it. From the breach slithered three more sand dragons, half the size of the one they’d knocked out.
“Oh this is not good.” Tier backed up rapidly. “Get down that passage back there. Geb! Are you sure the horses went down there?”
“Yes!” Geb grabbed Xin’s arm. “Come on!”
Xin blinked, the daze broken. She nodded and followed the rock shaper around more tumbled rocks and through a tall, narrow opening in the cliff wall. The crack ran all the way up the cliffs, letting sunlight trickle through, though it was dim. She turned just inside as Tier and Rale darted through, the beasts snarling and snapping behind them.
“Geb!” Rale yelled.
The boy was already in action, his hands on the rock, pulling it closed. The Sand dragons roared on the other side, their claws scrabbling at the rock that had been shaped between them and their prey.
Xin leaned back, trying to catch her breath.
“The horses are back here, packs intact.” Rale called. Geb disappeared around the corner and Xin looked up at Tier.
“I think that was a mother, trying to feed her babies.” He said, his tone odd. Xin gripped his arm. He didn’t look injured, but she was worried by the look on his face. He looked down, glancing back the way Rale and Geb had gone before looking back at her, sliding his arm around her waist pulling her closer. “You all right?”
She nodded, leaning against him, she felt safer than she had in a long time, even with the sand dragons snarling at them on the other side of the rock. “I’m just shook up. You?”
“About the same.” He looked towards the rock and shook his head before meeting her gaze again. “I shouldn’t be, the way this journey has been going I should be used to the impossible.” He lifted his hand, hesitated and pushed a strand of hair from her face. Her skin tingled where his fingers brushed her cheek. She swallowed. He was an imperial prince! She was a nothing. But the way he was looking at her, she wondered if he was going to kiss her. She halfway hoped he would. She nodded, trying to focus on what they were saying not what she felt.
“It’s been pretty unbelievable.” She said, her heart pounded in her ears. They were very close, and the way he was looking at her warmed her to her core. He leaned forward, hesitated, brushed her lips with his, his arm tightening around her as she opened her mouth, and leaned into the kiss. His taste swirled around ehr, spicy, addictive. Hers. They parted slowly, Tier searching her face. Xin smiled hesitantly as he brushed her cheek with his fingertips.
“We’d better join them before they come looking for us.” He said hoarsely. She nodded, leaned forward and kissed him again. She wanted to find a little place to just curl up with him, to forget the mission, forget the trip, and just be.
“Thank you.” She said softly. She stepped away as footfalls approached. He chuckled.
Rale and Geb came around the corner looking excited. Rale halted, excitement fading as he looked back and forth between them. An eyebrow arched and he cleared his throat.
“The passage goes further on, though it’s going to take some doing to get the horses through it.” Rale peered at Tier. “Everything okay?”
The sand dragons on the other side of the rock roared, shaking sand from above.
“Just fine.” Xin smiled at Rale and moved past the lord and the baffled looking rock shaper into the wider passage beyond. She felt Tier watching her, and forced her breathing to calm down. Her heart was still pounding in her ears, and she could still taste him, almost feel his arms around her.
The next chapter will be posted Thurs, Oct 23rd.
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