Tomorrow Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s amazing Dragonmark comes out in paperback! Read an excerpt below…
Samothraki, Greece 9501 BCE
“The bastards cut his throat. Severed his vocal cords entirely.” Materializing from the frigid depths of his lair, Falcyn cursed as he saw his brother, Maxis, dragging Illarion into his dark den behind
him. For years they’d been searching for their youngest dragon-brother, who’d been captured by humans for who knew what nightmarish horrors. But no trace had ever been found of the young dragonet.
So large that he barely fit through the cave opening, Maxis released his hold on their baby brother and allowed Illarion to sprawl across the floor. Blood seeped over his yellowish-orange
scales. Both of his wings lay broken and useless against the cold earthen floor. His breathing shallow as he struggled desperately to stay conscious, Illarion blinked his serpentine yellow eyes slowly. Painfully.
So much needless misery—it radiated from the child to the core of Falcyn’s being. And it made his own eyes turn vibrant red as bloodlust rose
within him. Knowing he couldn’t tend his brother in his native dragon body, Falcyn shifted into the hated form of a human. The moment he did so, Illarion let out a gurgling hiss and rolled into an attack position even though it had to be agony for him to move.
“Easy, little brother.”
Falcyn spoke in their native drakyn—the true language all dragons spoke. One that sounded feral and unintelligible to humans. He held his hand out toward Illarion as a peace offering. While he might temporarily wear the skin of a man, Falcyn was and would always be a dragon in his heart and soul. “You know me. I need this form to heal you. Now calm yourself before you do more harm.”
A single crystalline tear fell from the corner of Illarion’s serpentine eye.
In that moment, Falcyn hated humanity more than he ever had—something he wouldn’t have thought possible. He reached to stroke Illarion’s gray-scaled snout. “Shh . . .”
Illarion backed up, then collapsed. Maxis gasped as he gently nuzzled the much smaller dragon and tucked his own wings against his body. Ignoring the fact that Max was a giant beast of a dragon who
could swallow him whole in his current incarnation, Falcyn shoved Max’s head away. “He’s passed out from the pain, Yaya. Now move your hulking arse so I can help him.”
Max shuffled back to make more room. “Will he live?”
“I don’t know. Where did you find him?”
“I didn’t. He found me.” Guilt and agony haunted Max’s eyes. “He can no longer Bane-Cry. The bastards took his ability to call us when they slit his throat.”
Falcyn ground his teeth as even more unmitigated rage tore through him. “Then we will teach him a new way to call for us. One they won’t be able to stop.”
Max nodded and looked away. “This is my fault.”
“It is and you know it. My mother gave him to the humans to get back at me for what I said to her. Had I cooperated . . . given her what she—”
“She would have screwed over the world, and he still would have paid for her cruelty. The lilitu are without the ability to care for their young. You know this. My own mother watched as they sacrificed me on my birth. All it did was teach me that we’re in this life alone, cradle to grave, and make me bitter and disgusted.”
Max swallowed before he spoke again. “Is that why you can take human form when no other dragon can?”
Falcyn didn’t answer his question. It was the one thing he would never speak of. To anyone. No one needed to know anything about him. Not even those he considered his brothers. Nor was he the only dragon who could shift . . . But there were many things his brothers and sisters didn’t need to know about this world.
“His physical injuries are not so bad,” he said, changing the subject. “We should be able to heal him.”
“He’s only a child. I fear for the mental damage they’ve wrought.”
“As do I. They were using him to fight in their wars. Riding him like he was a thoughtless beast.”
Falcyn winced. Too bad Illarion hadn’t been a full-grown drakomas. That was the fury the humans deserved. Not the small child who lay helpless at his feet. One who’d been unable to fully fight them and give them the fyrebreath and dragon’s fury they deserved. In that moment, he felt the demon within him rising. It wanted to set fire to the world and watch it burn to cinders. If mankind had any idea how often they tempted him toward destruction they’d never sleep again. Times like this, it took everything he had not to give in to that darkness that burned inside him, calling for the hearts and souls of all sentient beings. Even the gods.
That was what made it so hard to relate to Maxis. Part Arel, he was the direct opposite. He saw only good inside even the most corrupt. It was sickening, really. The way his brother wanted to help others. That innate need Max had to protect and to serve. It was ever revolting. Now Illarion had been given his first taste of humanity. And like Falcyn’s, it had been a most bitter meal. If the dragonet did survive this, he wouldn’t have Max’s blood in him that would want to protect the human vermin who’d tortured him. Illarion’s father was the Greek god Ares. A war god. The humans had no idea what they’d been toying with. With the blood Illarion carried, he would become one of the strongest of their kind once he reached his majority. A dragon of fierce, unmatched powers.
Falcyn’s hand lingered at the brand on his brother’s back where the humans had marked Illarion like cattle. It festered and bled. Sadly, it would leave as bad a scar on his body as this entire ordeal had left on his brother’s psyche. May the gods have mercy on them all. . . .
For Illarion would not.
Need to read more? We feel your pain! Order the PB below, and keep watching Piatkus Fiction for upcoming Kenyon competitions….
Sherrilyn Kenyon returns with the next addictive novel in her globally bestselling Dark-Hunter series . . .
Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed - a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the only thing he ever really loved.
Now he has a chance to regain what's been lost - to have the one thing he covets most. But only if he gives up his brothers and forsakes the oaths he holds most dear. Yet what terrifies him most isn't the cost his happiness might incur, it's the fact that there is just enough human in his dragon's heart that he might actually be willing to pay it and betray everything and everyone - to see the entire world burn . . .