Storm is a Dragon who lurks in the dark, surrounded by violence and filled with lust. When he meets Silver, she dares him to follow her into the light. They’re destined mates, but Storm swore he’d never love again. But can he resist their bond?
Age Rating: 18+
Dragon’s Shadow by C. Swallow is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.
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I remember our first encounter. I had been watching him, my gaze drawn to the light glowing in the lines in his left cheek.
The skin was unsealed and cracked because of his inability to stay human for too long.
The luminescence was from Broken Fire, which glows underneath a Dragon who has been in too many battles and too many fights.
A Dragon who has lost too much.
The two girls I was with didn’t take an interest in any of the travelers here.
Summer and Elena hadn’t known who he was, and they simply glanced at him sitting at the bar of the common inn, but I had heard the legends.
The Storm of the Lost Horde. A tale about a Dragon Horde once consumed with extreme bloodlust and passion beyond acceptable limits.
The sex had been so violent that burning mates was common practice…and after all they upheld… In the end, only one Dragon had come out alive.
Storm. A Dragon plagued with identifying Broken Fire, which permanently shone through the cracks in his left cheek.
Also famously adorned with burned-silver hair that mirrored the color of his thundercloud scales. Hence his other legendary nickname of Shadow in the Sky, invisible to the mortal eye.
And he was here, drinking wine.
As I walked to the stairs that led to the room I would share with my two friends, he swallowed his jug of blood red liquid in a few effortless gulps.
He stood to turn and leave the bar, while no one paid him any attention. Only Dragons would notice the magic leaking out of his skin; to anyone else, he was disguised as any traveler.
But not to me.
I was a Dragon, a Silver one like him.
I was born with the ability to persuade others with my own Heart Magic, Dragon Fire based on feeling.
It was not something I used for evil, as it gave me an overwhelming sense of empathy for all living beings.
I could tell that this mythical character from children’s nightmares who should not exist oozed the opposite: tainted, bloodied Heart Magic.
Mental wounds open, still not healed, but embraced.
I remember how he turned to leave and paused, catching me staring right at him as my two friends continued to ascend the stairs, and I was still stuck on the very bottom step.
Three shocking seconds passed as his golden eyes watched me.
A cold shiver ran through my soul, as if I had been acquainted with death…or something just as powerful.
He tilted his head.
And then he left.
And I was breathless.
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The streets are crowded with many humans selling exotic silks. Bickering young groups of kids run around to see the fresh produce and strange articles from a foreign market.
I stand by a corner in the shade, nervous of the humans trudging past stinking of sweat, shit, and piss.
For a town held in high esteem, Graceful Springs is quite stinky, especially to a Dragon’s senses.
“Little violet-eyed miss.” An old man with a crooked smile and missing teeth bows toward me as he stoops. Along his shoulders lies a piece of wood holding various silk scarves.
“Do any of my scarves satisfy your touch? Come, come. Have a feel.”
I narrow my eyes at his bony little body, and my Dragon mind can’t help but wonder how crunchy he’d be for a snack.
My mother, Elaine, likes to occasionally snack on an annoying older human. However, the silk scarves do look beautiful, so I decide to take his offer to feel one.
I smile at the old man and come forward with my hand outstretched. He leans forward and slides the stick toward me. The scarves hang off brass hooks so I don’t have to come closer.
“How much?” I ask curiously, my fingers pleased by the red one.
“I’d only require a half hour, my beautiful violet-eyed sweetheart.” He winks and stands straight. “Perhaps the alleyway around the bend?”
I gasp internally and shake my head at him, my lips pursed. He just stares at me in confusion as I quickly dodge away into the crowd, hurrying along around a corner of the market.
I slip behind a tree, breathing heavily in fright. Of course; how could I have been so stupid?
I’m wearing nothing but a coat. I’m naked underneath.
I’m still feeling woozy from the frog poison–tipped arrow I was punctured by this morning, and clearly I’m not thinking straight.
My mother warned me about vile humans. I still, despite her warning, like to believe I can be kind and receive kindness in return. Yet, I still have to be careful.
I came flying to this town in search of my Horde’s missing princess. I found her—but not before I was shot down by an army of Dragon-loathing soldiers who followed Xander’s rule.
A Rogue Dragon saved me this morning—Elena. She hates me, and I don’t particularly like her.
But I guess she loathes humans more than enough to want to save me from their slaughter or imprisonment.
Now, because I assume I am relatively safe, I’ve gone exploring. The morning is still fresh as people wander the markets.
Summer, the runaway human princess, is safe with Elena, and I want to explore around the common inn, where we chose to take refuge. At least for a little while.
My Dragon Lords will want me home soon, along with their runaway princess. Dane and Aneurin are very protective Twin Leading Breeds of their small Dusk Dragon Horde.
My mother, most of all, will want me back by her side.
But…I’ve always wanted to explore on my own, and now is my chance!
After spying on him from my window above, I left the inn to find the ash-haired Dragon Legend roaming the area. I left the safety of the inn without thinking too much about my clothes.
With just a single coat and my ankles exposed…I look like a whore.
I’m scared for my safety now I’ve realized this. However, I have a solution.
I have no money, so I find myself wandering the back of the market stalls until I find one particular stall filled up with stocks of dresses.
I edge through into the open back of the stall and quickly clutch onto the first dress I can find.
I quickly roll it up and stuff it into my coat before running out the back toward a public washhouse.
I see a little stone structure where men and women are lining up to have their turn to relieve themselves. I wait in line anxiously.
From my position, I can see the whole market near the center of the small town of Graceful Springs in the Requiem countryside.
The orange sky lights up the small town beautifully, bathing the early-waking inhabitants in morning light. So many mortals are keen to explore the markets set up in this popular back street.
I admit I have wandered a few too many streets away from the common inn where my friends are. Ha—if I can consider Elena a friend. She’s half the reason I’ve gone exploring, to be perfectly honest.
When Summer departed briefly to get some fresh air, Elena yelled at me cruelly for being stupid and young after she guessed correctly that I’d told my Dragon Lords of Summer’s location.
I’m glad to have space from the temperamental Rogue Dragon, and now, one woman at a time, I eventually get my turn in the washroom.
I slink my way into a separate stall and take off my coat to put on my dress.
It is white with purple floral patterns. The purple matches the violet of my eyes, and the white suits the silver of my hair. I shrug it on and leave the coat behind.
When I enter back out onto the streets, I feel more respectable. I push my silver hair behind my shoulders and continue to watch the crowd.
This time, I wander slowly; I’m still looking for the Legend with the golden, piercing eyes, Storm.
I’m not planning on speaking with him, but I just want to sneak a closer look. Nothing silly, nothing unsafe. I just want a second glance at his Broken Fire. I’d love to tell Mother about it.
I’m intrigued by it and pulled toward its luminescence. I simply need to have a closer look; every fiber of my fledgling being makes me want to see.
I slowly exhale in disappointment as I wander for a while longer, and I realize almost at once how silly I am for hanging around the silks and dresses.
Clearly, he will be somewhere near the weapons…if he’s even in the market area.
Wouldn’t weapons intrigue a mythical Dragon such as he?
I smile to myself as I skip along the path toward the stalls selling leather saddles, freshly forged swords, custom shields, and new leather solider boots.
Most of the young men of the town crowd around here, inspecting the new trade with excited whispers.
I try to calm my own joyful steps. I can’t be too silly about this. Even though I’m stalking a mythical monster… Perhaps I’m being too obvious. What if he knows I’m looking for him?
I admit I’ve only been in a human town four times in my whole life. I am merely seventeen.
My birthday is next week, and although Elaine promised to take me out among the mortals more often when I come of age, I’m still unsure how things work.
Two of the times, I snuck away from Mother to explore in human towns, and in both instances, when she brought me back she threatened to put me on a leash to stay by her side.
A young, beautiful silver Dragon is in danger from dreadful mortals and their greedy desires. Our scales are worth a mint. Far more than any other type of Dragon scale sold on the black market.
I personally like to believe my mother just made up those stories to keep me away from humans. I actually quite like humans. Besides how tasty some are, they are also quite lovely.
After meeting Summer, I decided she was to be my friend…and, well…I don’t really want to eat humans anymore after meeting her.
They are far too much fun and quite entertaining.
I’m about to make my way toward a stall selling ornamental figures made of old, recycled steel, and this is when I get lucky.
I freeze as a familiar, towering figure suddenly appears from the side of this very shop.
“Your assistance is appreciated, old man.” I clap my open lips shut as I hear the Dragon tone vibrate from Storm’s throat. I sidestep to hide behind a rack of beaten-leather skins.
A few feet from me is the monster I have been searching for. He takes another step farther into the crowd.
His voice…wow…it hardly sounds human. In fact, he sounds fully Dragon while pronouncing human words.
“My pleasure, ah, my Lord—” The old man raises a hand to make a few points, but Storm has already stalked out of hearing distance with a few easy strides.
He is holding a polishing towel, which he uses on his sword. I sidestep back into the cobbled street to see Storm place the bloodied rag back in a pocket of his gray, worn coat.
I find myself taking a few extra steps to follow Storm, and my eyes light up and focus as he shrugs his coat farther over his shoulders, and a coin pops out and plummets from his pocket, clinking to the cobbled ground.
However, just as I’m about to approach and run for the dropped coin, I’m completely inundated by a crowd of passing soldiers.
“Out of the way, miss!” One helps me stand off to the side with a hand to my shoulder. “Thank you, miss!”
I stand off to the side now, huffing in frustration as the soldiers march past on a regular patrol of the city.
Once they are out of the way, I lunge forward for the silver coin on the ground. I find it after scanning the dirt and rocks with quick eyes. I pick up the little fingernail-sized coin.
It’s tiny and has the letter T on the back of it.
“T…,” I murmur; this is not Requiem currency. “Tempest?” I guess, thinking I must be right. I look up and see where, at the very end of the street, the forest meets the edge of the town.
My eyes light up as I see a gray coat disappear into the edges of the bushy trees.
“Oh…” I think for a moment, narrowing my eyes at the coin. I can’t just steal it! “Wait!” I call out, extremely worried he will leave without his money.
I start to run, heading for the trees.
“Please! Wait!” I call out again as I finally reach the tree line. I have no idea if he will stop. Will he even know my calls are for him?
I have no fear, skipping into the forest, jumping from tree trunk to tree trunk, trying to spot his form through the brush. “Sir!” I call out. “You dropped your money!”
I make sure I am loud and clear—I don’t want him to think I’m trying to sneak up on him. Wherever he is.
I bite my lip and tilt my head as I let my Dragon senses roam. Silver Dragons can feel emotions and extreme empathy.
Right now, I can’t feel anything. No emotions.
But I feel a presence.
I continue into the forest, coin in hand.
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