Black Heart Page 34

I threw my head back, let the power flow through me, the power of the sun tempered by shadow, the power of Lucifer that I had tried for so long to suppress, to deny. Now that I was no longer holding it back, it burst forth in a great array of light.

The ground beneath began to shake, and I rose up, higher and higher. Puck shot into the air as the rock he perched on began to crumble.

He did not have a visible pair of wings, but I’d long suspected he could fly anyway.

Puck came to my side as my power hit the mountain before us and the whole thing started to fall. First rock sheared off the sides and crashed hundreds of feet below. Then the mountain seemed to cave in, collapsing inward upon itself.

I rose higher in the air as giant clouds of dust billowed upward. The sound was tremendous, like the earth itself was being rent to pieces. And in a way, it was.

Puck said nothing as the final resting place of the Cimice was covered with the remains of the mountain. Then we both turned in the direction of the forest, because we could feel him coming.

The dragon.

“I told you it was dangerous to fly,” Puck said, cursing. “You’ve attracted his attention.”

I shook my head, closing my eyes. I felt his approach like fire in the blood, a blaze that spread throughout my body, all-consuming. “That’s not what draws him here. He felt my power when I brought down the mountain. It pulls him to me.”

“Great,” Puck said, obviously disgusted. “The two of you are connected.”

I opened my eyes again, looked toward the forest. The dragon was coming for me with all speed. Smoke and flame trailed behind it.

“Who is he?” I asked Puck. “I know you know. Don’t pretend otherwise.”

Puck appeared more annoyed than I’d ever seen him. “You know yourself. You do not need me to give the knowledge to you.”

And just like that, I did know. My heart had known him from the moment I’d see him.

“Daharan,” I breathed.

“Yes,” Puck said. “My brother.”

Beneath us the ground shifted and settled as the last of the mountain crumbled to pieces. I flew away from the Cimice’s graveyard, toward the dragon. Toward Daharan and the strange pull I could not deny. Inside my body, my son fluttered his wings in welcome.

I had never felt this way about Lucifer or Puck or Alerian. With them there was always dread and repulsion and annoyance and fear on a sliding scale, depending on which brother I was dealing with. But Daharan—he was the one the others feared the most, yet from the moment I’d met him I’d felt a sense of safety, of coming home.

“Daharan,” I said.

The dragon curved its body as I approached. I landed on its neck, on the smooth expanse in front of the ridges that covered his back. I laid my head there. The dragon snorted in response and flew off in a different direction.

My mental map of this world told me we were heading toward the ocean. I wondered what Batarian and the other fae would make of the collapse of the mountain and the destruction of the Cimice. Maybe Batarian would finally realize he’d dodged a major bullet, and that he should never have messed with me in the first place.

I settled more comfortably on Daharan’s neck, glancing behind only to see what had become of Puck. He followed several feet behind. If a person could fly resentfully, then Puck was definitely doing it. He obviously didn’t want anything to do with Daharan, and he was glaring at his brother like he’d just taken Puck’s favorite toy.

I turned back, smiling to myself. I have to admit that it was enjoyable to see Puck being thwarted.

Daharan flew over the forest. It was even wider and longer than I had thought. Even when I’d done the tracking spell to find the portal, I hadn’t fully conceived of the size of this place. It made me realize just how difficult it would have been for me to reach the portal, even with my wings.

I was so warm and comfortable. I didn’t feel like I could fall, even though I wasn’t holding that tight to Daharan’s neck. My exhaustion caught up with me again, and I drifted off to sleep, waking only when Daharan nudged me with his nose.

The sound of waves rolling to the shore filled my ears. I could taste the salt in the air. I opened my eyes and slid off Daharan’s back to the sand below. Daharan took off flying again, and I covered my eyes to watch him circling above, expelling flame.

“He wants to change to his human form, but he’s got to get rid of some of the fire first,” Puck said behind me.

He’d done some kind of magical quick-change act with his clothes and was wearing a pair of leather pants with a black T-shirt. His hands were stuck in the pockets and he was glaring at Daharan, his jewel-blue eyes bright with anger.

“What are you so pissed about?” I said. “Aren’t you happy to see your brother?”

“We don’t get along,” Puck growled.

“So why don’t you just leave, then?” I said.

“I can’t,” Puck said, and there was a wealth of frustration in his voice. “I cannot show such disrespect to the eldest.”

I looked thoughtfully up at Daharan. “He’s the eldest, huh? Who’s second?”

“Alerian, then Lucifer, then me,” Puck said.

“That explains a lot,” I said. “Lucifer seems like he has middle-child syndrome.”

Puck snorted out a laugh. “Yeah, that’s his problem. Middle-child syndrome.”

“Wait—you told me that Lucifer was the firstborn,” I said. “You told me that in my apartment, when you revealed yourself as Nathaniel’s father.”

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