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|Priestess Dreaming(Sisters of the Moon #16) by Yasmine Galenorn|
“Tell me who you are and I might tell you where I’m hiding the Raven.” I had no clue what the whole “hiding raven” thing was about, but I might as well use it to my advantage.
A pause, then a long, low chuckle. “Ohhhh. I see now. You are one of the Fae—though I smell human in the mix. And you are magical as well. And crafty and as ready with your false promises as I am. Girl, you know I would never give you my name, but you may call me Yvarr. Not that it will do you any good, but when I wake and escape this prison, we will meet. And girl . . . you will need a name to cry out when I devour you. Because unless you hand over the Raven to me, then I shall, indeed, eat you, skin and bones.”
I gazed at the piercing eyes, and my fear began to drain away. He was frightening, yes, and terribly powerful with a keen sense of magic, but his arrogance was strong. As I’d discovered before, ego often led to a downfall.
Another moment, and the abyss into which I’d tumbled vanished, along with the dragon and his fire. I opened my eyes, still clutching the raven feather, and inhaled sharply, letting out my breath in a slow stream. Derisa gazed at me, waiting.
“Fucking hell.” Shade was shaking. “I have no desire to be anywhere near his vicinity.”
“Neither do I.” Smoky paled. “I never thought we’d encounter one of them. Did you?”
Shade gave a quick shake of the head. “I knew they weren’t myth but . . . I thought they had all fallen into history, into sleep forever.”
“Well, obviously one of them has woken. I pray he never gets free from his prison. For all our sakes.” Smoky actually looked afraid—not a good sign.
So both Smoky and Shade knew what this was? And whatever the strange dragon was, it scared the hell out of both of them. That didn’t bode well. “Explain, please?”
“Allow me.” Derisa leaned back and crossed one leg over the other, a stark look on her face. “Well this pair should know what you are facing, given their backgrounds. An ancient power is waking in the depths, one the great Fae Lords thought they’d imprisoned long ago.” She seemed to be considering her words cautiously, as I did when I was trying to figure out how much to tell someone.
“This has nothing to do with Shadow Wing, does it? This is something different. Something indifferent to the Demon Lord.” Given the reaction of the two dragons and my own, I had the feeling I would rather have been facing a demon general.
Derisa nodded and pinched her brow, squinting as if she had a headache. “Correct. What you met—Yvarr—is an ancient wyrm—he’s a dragon, yes, but not of the Dragon Realms.” She glanced over at Smoky.
“The wyrms are our ancestors.” Smoky’s hair was coiling wildly. “They are the predecessors of the dragons. They lived before my race evolved from them. They are our Titans, so to speak.”
Fuck. Titans were the fathers of the gods. We knew a demon who was half-Titan. There was no telling how much power he had—we were on his good side, but we all knew he was far more powerful than he let on. The dragons were incredibly strong and powerful. If they had their own Titans, then we were all in trouble.
“He seemed to be under the assumption that I am in league with the ‘Raven,’ and he wants me to hand her over. He also mentioned the Black Beast. And the other night, as I was about to head out to buy the turkey, I had a vision of an ancient dragon, and a flock of ravens . . .” I told them all about my prescience in the car. “I was hoping it was just the jitters from all that’s gone on, but apparently not.”
Derisa shook her head. “No, the wyrm is awake and attempting to break free from his prison. He was a danger in the times before the Great Divide, and he is a danger once more. Aeval contacted me and we agree. There is only one in existence who can wield the power to stop him should he escape.”
“There’s somebody still alive who knows how to combat him? I take it, then, it’s not just a matter of run in and hit hard.” Trillian leaned back in his chair. “We have plenty of ancient horrors in Otherworld but it’s far easier to evade them over there unless they are focused directly on you.”
“Yes, there is one who fought him long ago, before Yvarr was imprisoned and cast into sleep. Who still knows the one spell that can bring the wyrm under some semblance of control.” Derisa didn’t exactly fidget in her chair—she’d been High Priestess for so many years she probably wouldn’t even know how to fidget—but there was an evasive tone to her voice. She’d tell us when she was good and ready.
“Why is he waking up? Did we do something? Is our war against Shadow Wing bringing all these ancient critters to life? Don’t tell me Cthulhu is next.”
She smiled softly. “No, Lovecraft did visit Otherworld and saw plenty of creatures to base his books on, but Cthulhu himself is pure imagination. Well, at least the actual god. There are sleeping giants, and Yvarr was one of them till recently.”
Wanting her to just get to the point, I pressed. “What woke him up?”
Derisa bit her lip. “There are many factors, but among them: Aeval waking, woke him up. Titania coming out of her stupor woke him up. Bran crossing over to Earthside woke him up. Camille, you woke him up—killing the Black Unicorn stirred many sleeping cauldrons.”
Soberly, I put down my pen. Sacrificing the Black Unicorn had been an act that had forever changed my life, and one that I would never forget. I hadn’t wanted to do it, but the Black Unicorn himself had chosen me to be the instrument of his rebirth and when one of the Elementals invites you to play in their sandbox, you don’t decline the invitation.
“Aeval . . . Titania . . . Bran . . . and me. There’s a theme here but I’m not quite following it.” Or maybe I just didn’t want to follow it. I didn’t mind working with Aeval or Titania, but Bran gave me the creeps.
Smoky let out a slow breath. “I think I know where this is leading. This journey you want Camille to go on? You are sending her to locate this . . . person . . . who went up against the wyrm long ago.” He turned to me. “The wyrms of the earth cannot shift form like we can. They are alien even to those of us who sit in the Dragon Realms. Most have slumbered so long they will never wake, but others . . .”
“Others will waken as time goes on, Iampaatar, and you know this. Even if we could defeat Yvarr without . . . his help . . . our luck can’t hold out forever.”
Smoky slammed the table with one fist. “Yes, but you know Camille cannot face this wyrm. Yet you seek to send my wife off to get mixed up in this—”
Derisa stood, towering over everyone in the room. She was even taller than Smoky. “Camille is already mixed up in this, like it or not. We must seek out the one person who knows how to handle the ancient wyrms and dark denizens from the battles during the Great Divide. You know he is the only sorcerer who has lived even longer than many of the Great Fae Lords. He comes from a noble line, an arcane family tree. His powers were renowned among the ancient Druids, and he led them with fortitude and might.”
I dropped the cookie I’d picked up, and it crumbled on the table. A wave of panic began to rise. She couldn’t mean who I thought she meant. “You mean you’re sending me in search of him? I thought he was lost in the mists of time, imprisoned at the same time Aeval and Titania were shackled into submission.” During the time of the Great Divide, those who disagreed that the worlds should be separated—into Otherworld, Earthside, and the Subterranean Realms—were either cast into servitude, killed, or stripped of their powers.
Aeval had been imprisoned in a crystal cave and I had helped free her. Titania had been stripped of most of her powers until she remembered who she was and woke from a drunken stupor that had lasted for millennia. While not alive during the Great Divide, Morgaine had come seeking my help, and ended up aligning herself with the two Fae Queens, to become the third member of what I now called the Triple Threat.
Together, the Court of the Three Queens created the new sovereign Fae nation—Talamh Lonrach Oll. Loosely translated, it meant the Land of Shining Apples. They now ruled as a trio, and they had forged treaties with the government for a five-thousand-acre compound.
Derisa gave me a gentle smile and reached out, touching my shoulder. Once again, the cold swath of panic raced over me. She was asking me to go in search of a legend.
And then I realized why she had talked about resetting the portal. “That’s why you want to redirect the portal to the realm of the Elder Fae. That’s where he is, isn’t he? That’s where you’re sending me.” And that thought was even more frightening.
She let out a soft laugh. “Yes, you understand now. We need you to do this Camille, and we are sending Bran, Morgaine, Mordred, and Arturo with you. You may choose three of your own people to go as well.”
“Bran! But I . . .” I stopped. It was no use arguing. The quest was set and nothing I could say would change their minds. No, I’d have to join forces with four people I didn’t trust, on what could well be a wild-goose chase. The best I could do was gather as much information as would help me.
“Why does Yvarr want the Raven so much, and who is he talking about? What’s Raven Mother got to do with this?”
“This, I’m not certain of. But her allegiance with the Black Unicorn has exposed her to danger and the Moon Mother has ordered me to help. I know she’s an Elemental and they are Immortal, but the wyrm must not be allowed entrance into this realm. If he goes on the hunt, he’ll destroy everything in his path to get to her. That’s where you come in. Stop him before he has a chance. And the only way to stop him is to waken the one who knows the Spell of Naming.”
“The Spell of Naming . . .” I had heard of it, but only vaguely. What it was, didn’t matter at this point. I stared at the window. The morning light filtered through, and by the looks of things, we might have a bit of clear sky on the way.
After a moment, I turned back to the High Priestess. “So, that’s it. I’m going in search of the Merlin.”
Derisa laughed then. “Oh, yes, Camille. You’re going in search of the Merlin, and we can only hope that you find him before the wyrm is free from his icy cage and comes after you and Talamh Lonrach Oll. Because once he shakes off his shackles, he will rampage and destroy, and he’s convinced you hold the key to Raven Mother. Not all evils are Demonkin, you know.”
Smoky sputtered. “This is madness. You don’t even know if the Druid still lives, do you? The Merlin is a chaotic force. One who is far too dangerous to bring back into the picture. What are you thinking?”
Derisa stared at him, contemplating her answer. When she spoke, it was in a way I’d never heard a non-dragon speak to a dragon before. “I am thinking—and the Moon Mother agrees with me—that to protect this world you claim to love so much, along with the people in it, the Merlin is your best hope. He’s a wizard—he is the Father Druid and his powers go far beyond the faerie tales and stories of Camelot.”
“I will not allow my wife to set off on a suicide mission!” Smoky leaped to his feet so quickly he tipped over his chair. He swung around to grab it up from the floor, but his expression was hostile. I hadn’t seen him this angry in a long time.
“Love, I don’t think I have a choice—”
“You can say no. You can refuse.” He turned to Derisa, who slowly stood, staring him down. I wouldn’t want to be in the middle between them, that was for sure, though in a way, I was.
She rested her hands on her h*ps and glared him down. “Dragon, do you realize just how powerful the wyrms are? You sat in your Dragon Reaches while they helped scorch the world during the Great Divide and you did nothing!”
“It was not our fight!” Smoky’s voice thundered through the room and his nostrils pinched in. His eyes were frozen over, and I realized he was dangerously angry—I’d only seen him this furious a few times before. I had a feeling this time it stemmed back to his guilt over not protecting me from being kidnapped by his father, but that was ridiculous. It hadn’t been his fault, but he hadn’t been able to let it go.
“Not your fight? But now you seek to interfere? Would you be so quick to help if you weren’t married to Camille? If you didn’t know her, would you be so concerned if she went off traipsing after the Merlin? Or would you just fly back to the Dragon Reaches and ignore the whole situation?” Derisa could be pretty daunting herself when she was angry.
I had to do something. “Stop it, both of you.”
“Camille, keep out of this.” Smoky cast a dark look my way, and his order made me bristle.
“Excuse me? I’m directly involved in this. You don’t get to tell me to shut up and mind my own business.” I let out a low sigh, already tired of the whole mess. “I’ll make my own decisions, thank you.”
Smoky growled. “And you’ll never let me in, will you? Never let me have a say in what you do. You’ll put yourself in danger with no thought to your sisters or your husbands.”
I stared at him. “Smoky, you’re being ridiculous. We’re all in danger. My sisters as much as I am. We have no choice. We never have, not since the day we were sent over here.” Exasperated, wanting to smack some sense into his thick dragon skull, I just stood there, wishing somebody would back me up.
A moment later, Derisa seemed to realize that there was some serious smoothing over needed. “Smoky, your wife . . . she has a place to play in this drama. Destiny calls for her presence. Duty . . . calls her.”
That was a word that Smoky seemed to respond to. He bit back a retort and slammed into a chair, staring at the table.