Home > Court of Dragons (Dragon Isle Wars #1)

Court of Dragons (Dragon Isle Wars #1)
Author: Frost Kay

 


Prologue

 

 

Trust your heart.

Three little words that would lead anyone to ruin.

My mother taught me early to never trust my heart. It was a treacherous, fickle thing that would eventually lead to downfall. Her scars proved it. Every time I looked at her face, I was reminded of the pain the heart could cause.

Trust your mind.

Now, these were three words that would save my life over and over.

My heart wanted to believe the young elven sailor when he promised he loved me, but I knew better. He wanted my body, my access to the throne, and my dragons. He didn’t want me—Wren—the wild girl who fought like a man and screeched like a fish monger’s wife.

When I turned sixteen, the southern delegation tried to woo my family and people with gifts of friendship. While I longed to experience new cultures and make new friends, I put my dreams aside and used my head. The dark elves were only here for one thing. Our throne. It was the way it had been for five hundred years.

The fables say we are all born from the flora and fauna of the world. It’s a pretty thought for bedtime stories, but I know the truth.

We were born from greed, jealousy, selfishness, and desperation.

We were born warriors.

My heart longs for fairytales, but my mind knows our reality.

The elves are coming.

The sand people are coming.

I am the only thing standing between the enemy and our dragons.

I will not fail.

 

 

1

 

 

Wren


The sun shone brightly, the sky clear and blue on the morning of Wren’s wedding, which was a bloody miracle in Lorne. She tipped her head back, basking in the afternoon warmth. If her granddad were there, he’d say the weather was a very good omen indeed.

Cracking an eye open, Wren glanced toward the southern beach. The waves lapped calmly along the black sand beach. A lucky day indeed. The weather for the last month had been atrocious. The sea had been stormy and unsettled, tossing waves, salty foam, and debris across the beaches that lined the shores of the island. It had been nearly a fortnight of gray skies and pelting rain. The night prior, the wind had railed and howled, but when she’d woken this morning, the clouds had finally parted, giving the sun a tiny, blessed chance to shine down upon this most auspicious of days.

“Have you finally tired yourself out, Daughter?” Her mother’s melodious voice carried to her.

Wren sat up and fluttered her fingers across the tiny purple flowers that grew along the moor and peeked at Anneke through her tangle of red locks as her mum crested the nearest hill.

“Never,” she called. Her mum grinned and picked her way down the incline.

Wren flopped back, the spongy plants cushioning her spine as she inhaled deeply, enjoying the fresh air and quiet time before the festivities began in a few short hours. The wind, sea, and land spoke to her, always urging her to run faster, dive deeper, push harder. Her papa said she had a wild spirit, and, on that, they both agreed.

A shadow blocked out the sun as her mother’s soft steps paused. “Enjoying your meadow, I see.”

She cracked a smile. Her mum always knew where to find her. Wren patted the ground on her left side. “Sit with me for a bit.”

Fabric rustled, and the shadow disappeared. She sighed as Anneke ran her fingers through Wren’s hair, her eyes closing for a moment. She rolled toward her mother and opened her eyes. Her mum lay on her side, facing Wren with a smile. Her mother was a beautiful woman. Deep-auburn hair, creamy skin, and fawn-like eyes. The only things that revealed her age were a few silver hairs and crow’s feet around her eyes. Many of their people had mistaken Wren and her mum for sisters.

“I wish I had hair like yours,” Wren grumbled. Her blazing, bright red hair had been the bane of her existence for years. She could never blend in or get away with anything, because someone always recognized her.

Anneke chuckled and ruffled Wren’s hair. “We all wish for what we do not possess.”

“I could have been born with any shade of red: copper, auburn, rust, pale orange, but not me. No one has hair as bright as mine in the isles.”

“It suits you. Bold just like you, and it’s lucky, too.”

Wren rolled her eyes. “For our people, the color of red is lucky, but it hasn’t brought me any good luck. Just a lot of punishment.”

Her mum snickered and cupped her cheek. “Now that, Daughter, had nothing to do with your hair and everything to do with your actions. You just can’t keep yourself out of trouble.” She wiggled her brows. “But you are almost no longer my responsibility. Soon, your husband will have to deal with your mischief and antics.”

The nervous jitters in Wren’s stomach tumbled about at the reminder.

Husband.

In just a short time, she’d be married. Be someone’s wife.

“Love?”

She focused back on Anneke.

Her mum studied Wren, pulled her hand from Wren’s cheek, and pushed back her own hair, securing it behind her slightly pointed ear. An elven ear. Her mother hailed from the northern kingdom of Verlanti and possessed the prominently pointed ears of the elves. Anneke had once told Wren that her sire had not been native to Verlanti. Instead, he had belonged to the kingdom of Vadon, which lay well to the south of Lorne, the sand kingdom so hot you could taste spices on the air. It was hard to imagine.

Anneke fiddled with her simple earring, pulling Wren’s attention back to her mum.

“You know some of my history,” her mother stated softly, her gaze becoming distant.

Wren swallowed hard. Her mum’s origins were a dark tale. Stolen from her family’s farm, she’d been taken to a high lord to be his concubine. Anneke had fought, but it hadn’t been enough. The lord brutally took her innocence, and when he was through, he gave her to his men. Even thinking about it made Wren sick. She was a product of force, of ravishment.

“I know what it is to feel trapped. To feel like there is no other way out.” Her mother focused back on Wren, her expression grave. “We’ve made a good life here in the isles, with your father.”

“Papa is a good man,” Wren said. He loved her mother fiercely and had raised Wren as his own.

“He is, but I would spirit you away right now, if you wished it.”

Wren’s eyes rounded as she gaped at her mother. “What?”

Anneke held her gaze. “You and your sister are the most precious gifts I’ve been given in this life. I know you’ve made promises to Rowen, and that your father has certain expectations for your future, but they mean nothing if you want out.”

“Do you think I don’t want to get married?”

Her mother sat up and picked a leaf from Wren’s dress. “No. I believe you love the boy. I just want you to know you will always come first, and, that if you have any doubts, I have a ship in the harbor we can board now.”

Wren sat up and pushed her hair from her face. “You would leave Papa?”

“I love your father dearly, but it will never surpass the love a mother has for her child. I will do what I must to protect you.”

Wren reached for Anneke’s hands and squeezed them. To anyone else, her mother’s offer would seem extreme, but, to Wren, it meant everything. Her mum had a dragon heart. No one and nothing would break the bond that they had.

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