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She took up her stance and glided through the forms, feeling at peace with the night. Lorelai blocked out the world slowly as she let the stress of her life go into the staff to be flung away from her.
Time stopped for her. It was only the meditation of the staff, the stone beneath her feet, and the starshine from the dark, moonless sky above her.
She was finally home. She missed Drake. One night of passion was all that they’d ever shared. Still, he was her warrior. No other would come between them. Not when she was human. Not now as a dragon. There had always only ever been Drake.
Memories of their life together swirled through her mind as she moved through the practice. In her mind, he was still hard, strong, fluid motion, and powerful. There had always been something undeniably attractive about the way he lost himself, to the pleasure of a good fight.
She moved past a staff leaning against the wall unattended and added the second staff into her routine without breaking her stride. Both staves moved independently of the other.
She had a lot of time to practice in the Lan Damhan. Lorelai had even taught Emily and the elves that King Leas had sent with them. She honed the skills she gained and used fighting next to her warrior long ago.
They’d entered Valhalla side-by-side. The table was set as the mead flowed endlessly. The feast was never-ending. Only the dead don’t speak. They don’t drink and feast. It was a silent, motionless affair. Not what she’d always believed it to be.
She hadn’t needed to think long to join her warrior in immortality as a dragon. Her soul had longed for the fight. She liked the challenge.
First, she kicked the elves’ asses, then she taught them. She almost laughed at that. Few men had her skill.
The elves practiced the staff with the same fervor as they practiced their music magic. They were good. Still, they weren’t good enough.
The great equalizer was a stick of wood. She might be a woman, but the staff had never cared about that. It always followed her desire to defend and fight just the same as if she’d been a man.
She wasn’t ashamed to be a warrior woman. It had let her be close to the man who’d always held her heart. Drake had been a warrior. Her need to be near him had led her to walk a different path.
Lorelai had no regrets. She was a dragon protector. She was a shield maiden as she’d always been, and she’d won Drake as her warrior. Dying was made nothing but an inconvenience for her and the lesson that Drake needed to learn.
She hoped Dross could feel his Emily and that he came for her soon. If that happened, Drake would come back for her as he should. He was still there, even though the link had faded after so many centuries.
When she stopped, the sweat poured off her thick black hair. The night air was humid as she let the ends of the two staves thump to the concrete lightly. She breathed easily as she rested. Then she felt the eyes on her.
Eldur was staring, standing next to Andrei, who was also staring. Two more grey dragons had stepped onto the patio. They, too, stood frozen, staring at her.
“What are you boys all staring at? Have you never seen a shield maiden practice before?”
She laughed, and the sound floated over the lake beyond the patio. Draoithe was a truly beautiful, magical place. Flirting with the surrounding men was second nature.
“My lady, we’ve never seen the warrior queen of dragons practice before.” One of the grey dragons bowed to her.
“I’m not your queen of dragons. I’m only an oath-sworn shield maiden. I have no desire for titles or castles. I have only ever been Ri altoir dragan for one man. A good fight, a good story with a pint, and Drake is all that I desire, gentlemen. You have me mistaken.” Lorelai shook her head.
“I’m Flame, this is my brother, Blaze.” The grey dragon introduced himself and the other dragon.
She extended her arm to clasp forearms with them. They both looked at each other first, then clasped forearms with her. Shield maidens weren’t something these men were used to. They would learn or they would die if they crossed the line.
“I'm Lorelai Teragon. It’s nice to meet you.” The vampire studied the entire exchange, then he teleported before her.
“I'm Andrei Alexandrescu, my lady. Will you spar with me?” He asked as he offered her his arm. She clasped it and nodded.
Eldur agreed to keep time. The vampire settled into his stance easily. She faced her opponent.
She might enjoy being at Draoithe. There was certainly an interesting mix of people willing to spar before midnight. When she couldn’t sleep, it seemed someone would be awake to help her meditate or fight the demons of her mind.
Two steps in and the fight was all she concentrated on. The vampire was good and faster than any opponent she’d ever faced. The staves clicked and whirled between them as they thrust and parried, seeking a weakness to exploit.
Lorelai had spent her whole life fighting. She was no easy target. When she struck first blood, Andrei smiled and nodded at her. He was pleased that she was good enough to be a real challenge.
She laughed and redoubled her efforts. He thought she could only follow the routines. She was a true warrior. Many foolish men had died by her hand by underestimating her. Sometimes a girl just needed to offer proof of her skill. Respect went further than the fight.
Lorelai might be a woman, but she wasn’t weak. Her skill was nearly unmatched. Andrei yielded five minutes before the time would have been called.
More people gathered on the patio, clapping. The vampire stood, heaving breaths and sweating before her. The man clasped forearms with her, smiling that he’d lost. Just like a true warrior, he was pleased to lose so that he knew where he needed to improve.
“Another time. That was simply too good.” He acknowledged her skill and demanded another shot at her.
“Sure, say when.” She liked the easy camaraderie that was between warriors on an athletic field. That was where she felt most comfortable.
“No way, Fangs. We get a chance first,” Flame demanded.
Eldur shook his head, grinning. He’d worried that Lorelai would have an issue because she was female. She just smiled at the assassin.
“Ask to be included in the rotation, or they’ll bother you forever,” a man standing to the side spoke, grinning.
He stood leaning against the door frame, slouching with his hands in his jeans pockets. Chocolate hair and green eyes on a handsome face. He was a direwolf shifter.
His aura dwarfed the patio space. Physically, he was six-two, with a military bearing and the shape of a man who didn’t just sit in a chair in an office.
The man wore marks on his throat and along his arms. His mate had marked him as hers ferociously. He seemed pleased with himself and his marks. He liked his mate’s territorialism.
Lorelai smiled at the amiable nature of a commander who truly cared about his men. She liked him as much as she’d liked the Norse assassin, Eldur.
He moved away from his position against the door and stepped toward her with the same effortless grace of a fighter. He held out his arm to her, and she clasped forearms with him.
“That was impressive, Lorelai Teragon. I’m Luke Mendez. Welcome to Draoithe.” Lorelai blinked.
He was the one the dragons called the Dire Wolf King. She should’ve known. He was wearing jeans and a button-down shirt with the collar open at the throat and the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. It hadn’t been what she expected.
“Thank you. It was just a long trip. I needed to unwind. You know.” She smiled up at the direwolf. He nodded.
“Yeah, the staff is the best form of meditation that I ever found. Yoga mats just don’t work as well as a good stick for flinging away the thoughts that plague an active mind. I’m a bit crazy for a stick.”
Luke let his grin slide into a pensive far away expression.
“Will you walk with me?” He nodded toward the path around the lake.
“Your mate won’t like it.” Lorelai took the chance and teased the man.
He just didn’t feel like an old stuck-up king. Lorelai had never been much of a dutiful servant. The high from the match was too good to let go so quickly.
“I’m counting on that.”
He grinned again, and she laughed as she slipped her shoes on. Luke Mendez was an interesting man.
“In that case, let my warrior know where I am if he shows up looking for me, will you?” She looked at Eldur, who nodded, still grinning at her.
Lorelai had spent her life around men who were warriors and acted like the alphas that these men were. Once they realized she wasn’t weak enough to be forced into sleeping with them for protection, and she was strong enough and skilled enough to kick their asses if they tried to force anything on her, they settled and accepted her as just another one of them that had tits and a pussy instead of a dick and balls. She walked off with the Dire Wolf King.
“Tell me, Lorelai. What’s your story? How did a wisdom and her dragon warrior protector get trapped in the Ainglean and need my help to get home?” Luke asked point-blank as they walked the path.
Lorelai told him the short version of the story.
“A wizard fell in love with a wisdom. They helped a white dragon escape the Leaindeail when she was fleeing from a devil from the Dorcha who wanted to use her oracle daughter to break the barrier between the Dorcha and the Solas. The wisdom became trapped in the Ainglean when her home was destroyed by an angry bear shifter who’d traded the daughter to the wizard in exchange for immortality.” She paused. She glanced at Luke to be sure he was following her story and didn’t have questions. He nodded for her to continue.
“The wizard lost everyone he loved except his wisdom. He created two fated mate dragons to watch his and his mate’s backs. He hid the oracle in a tower of light while he traveled the dream, looking for a way to destroy the devil and bring his mate back without endangering anyone he was trying to save.”
“Let me guess, the wizard is Droskyn Rothstein, and you’re the dragon who guards his wisdom. That means his dragon is your warrior, and the wisdom is Emily Erskine. The home they lost was Lachsmead Castle and Tarlington Tower in Leinster. Nine hundred twenty-nine years ago sounds about right,” Luke said it as if he had known it all along.
“Why ask if you knew?” she asked, confused. Was he playing a game with her?
“I just wanted my thoughts validated. Will you keep that information to yourself? Warn your lady to keep it safe, too. I have allies who, as yet, don’t understand Rothstein’s position. They believe he betrayed them. He likely thinks they’re dead. I doubt he would have ever betrayed them. If he’s the man I believe him to be, I need him as an ally. I need time to ensure I don’t alienate the allies I already have. Will you help me?”
“If I don’t?” She had to ask.
“I won’t turn my back on you, nor will I go back on my word. You and your lady have a sanctuary at Draoithe. If word of who Emily is was to get around before I can handle those who need to be handled, Rothstein may meet his demise here instead of at the hands of the devil he flees. I think a family reunion is in order first,” Luke answered.
“A family reunion?” Lorelai was confused.
“Give me your word that you’ll keep what you told me to yourself, and you’ll advise Emily to do the same, and I’ll offer you the information you want.” Luke wanted to make a deal.
“You have my word so long as it doesn’t endanger Emily,” Lorelai answered. Luke clasped forearms with her.
“The dragon, Blaze, is Lachlain Erskine. Flame is Diarmuid Cinead. The warg, Wade Leviathai, was once Vadi Kavanaugh. Droskyn Rothstein was once ridire to Diarmuid and betrothed to Lachlain’s cousin, Emily. The grey dragons and Wade all believe that Rothstein turned traitor on the night Lachsmead fell.” Lorelai shook her head at that. Luke continued.
“The oracle that Rothstein hid in the tower is Cerie Fiancha, a falcon shifter and the lifemate to the Demon Lord of Envy, Leviathan. She’s here as well. Leviathan and his brother, Asmodeus, see your wizard as their eternal enemy. They don't know Elias abducted Cerie, not Rothstein. I know Dross turned Elias into a shifter under duress, and rather than kidnap Cerie, he hid her likely without ever realizing that Leviathan would lose his mind over the loss of his love,” Luke answered her.
Lorelai’s mouth fell open. Then she realized how stupid that must look. She snapped her jaw closed and blinked to get her eyes to sink back to their proper place in her head.
“Do you know where Dross and Drake are?”
“Drake?” Luke asked, confused.
“Drake Lesarde, Dross’s dragon, my warrior. Drake won’t leave Dross. They’ll be together,” Lorelai explained, hopeful that Luke would give her information.
“I don’t know. The magic here seeks balance. I believe they’ll come here now that you and Emily are here. Please try to be patient and keep Emily safe. Don’t give your story to others yet. Let me offer them a chance to see Rothstein as he is instead of how they believe him to be.” Luke looked at her carefully.
She nodded mutely. There was nothing to say. So far as she knew, Rothstein never betrayed anyone. so far as she knew. He was a good man.
Sure he’d killed before. He was a knight. Real men didn’t fear violence. It was a tool to be used, like any other tool.
The First Wizard had honor and integrity. He’d stood up for a frightened woman who’d needed help and helped keep her daughter safe, even though it cost him the woman he loved.
Dross had lost everything, doing what he believed was right. Even when pressed to choose between two evils, he’d done the least harm.
Droskyn Rothstein had even asked Lorelai and Drake to serve. He hadn’t demanded it even though he had the power to do so. They’d chosen to swear in exchange for their second chance.
She made her way upstairs to Emily when she returned to the house with Luke. He thanked her for understanding his concerns. She went straight to Emily to discuss the issues.
Emily understood. Lorelai was hopeful beyond reason she would soon have her warrior by her side where he belonged.
Thank you for reading this episode of Drake and Lorelai by Ophelia Kee. If you are enjoying this tale, please be kind and leave a comment to let an old tiger know your thoughts.
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