Highland Dragon (The Treasure of Paragon Book 6) - Paperback
Highland Dragon (The Treasure of Paragon Book 6) - Paperback
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Sometimes the things that keep us safe hold us captive.
Sometimes the things that keep us safe hold us captive.She longs for a better future.
Avery Tanglewood has had enough of rearranging her life for the sake of others. After years of prioritizing her family over herself, she's ready to strike out on her own, even if she's not sure what she wants to do with her life. If only she was brave enough to face the backlash the truth will bring.
He's a prisoner of the past.
For hundreds of years, Xavier has used his dragon magic to protect his Highland clan inside a pocket of space called the builgean. Thanks to his unique magical abilities, generations have enjoyed peace and prosperity while cut off from the modern world. But when a fairy trickster captures him and claims his throne, his refuge becomes his prison.
Can they free each other from the chains that bind?
Avery agrees to journey into the builgean to persuade Xavier to help with the crisis in Paragon, but she finds a mysterious stranger in his place—a problematic complication, considering she can't leave the pocket without Xavier's assistance. Worse, although she frees the captured dragon, he refuses to comply without winning back his land and his clan first. And the longer Avery spends in Xavier's world, the harder it is to remember why she should return to her own.
A world away from Paragon, in a place between places, Xavier, son of Eleanor and heir to the kingdom of Paragon, also woke to perpetual darkness. The scent of stale air, moldy stone, and the metallic tang of new blood assaulted his senses. Moans of pain echoed against unyielding stone walls. Someone was being tortured. Someone was always being tortured here.
His chest grew heavy with despair as the understanding of his predicament invaded his consciousness again. To be sure, there was nothing new about his reality. Rather, Xavier’s renewed anguish was caused by the intense and realistic dream he’d had moments before. He’d been flying in the sun, the sweet smell of a tribiscal vineyard filling his lungs, his wings carrying him on a soft, warm breeze. He’d dreamed of freedom, of Paragon, of flying. He’d dreamed of the mountain.
It felt like an eternity since he’d spread his wings. He almost wished he hadn’t experienced the dream. The ultimate despair of his predicament only cut deeper in comparison.
Another scream reached his ears from somewhere deep inside the dungeon, and Xavier came fully into his reality. The wail of agony echoed against the stone and then pinched off as if whatever wretched soul had uttered it had run out of breath. He stretched a talon to the stone and etched a line next to the others. Hundreds of others. If he’d calculated correctly, he’d been trapped in this cage for nearly two years.
Footsteps approached—a guard with his nightly meal. The sandy-haired young man was dressed in clan colors but was oddly a stranger.
“Ye must be new,” Xavier said. “I donna recognize yer face.”
Without speaking or making eye contact, the guard slid the tray he was carrying along the stone floor, through the slot in the door, and into the cage. Venison, bread, greens, and water. It was a decent enough meal, although Xavier would kill for a whisky.
“Ye might be new, but it seems ye ken the rules well enough. Why does that arse ye slave after bother feeding me if he plans to leave me to rot in this hole?”
The guard didn’t answer him, but then he was already halfway down the hall before Xavier asked the question. None of them ever lingered. Feed the dragon and then leave quickly, Lachlan must have told them. Wouldn’t want to risk Xavier breaking the mind control Lachlan kept them all under and perhaps convincing one of them to let him go.
Anyway, Xavier knew exactly why Lachlan continued to feed him. He had to. The very existence of the builgean depended on Xavier’s magic. If he died, their world would collapse. If he became weak, the crops might wilt and the animals would stop producing young. His magic was keeping the clan alive. His clan.
Without the builgean and his clan, there’d be only one place for Lachlan to go, and the evil fairy would do anything to keep from returning to his kind.
Xavier closed his eyes against the rage that burned in his blood and turned his vision red. He must get free, must save his people from the scourge that even now sat on his throne and ruled his clan.
He stared at the food. His stomach rumbled with hunger but somehow still managed to roil at the thought of his predicament. He was helpless here. Trapped. There was no way out. He’d exhausted every option. Unless one of those guards had a change of heart or his oread, Glenna, found a way to break the spell containing him. He wouldn’t be holding his breath for either. In two years of trying, they’d never managed to budge the gate.
All the while he contemplated his fate, his mind kept taking him back to his dream. The sun. The mountain. The beauty of Paragon. Why was his head going back there now? It had been a long time since he’d thought of the place as home. Happy memories of his childhood were few and far between after almost three centuries. Still, he was a child of the Mountain, he supposed. You could take a dragon out of Paragon, but you’d never get Paragon out of the dragon.
A child of the Mountain. His mind flashed through images of his youth, the myths and legends of his people. Xavier had never been a religious dragon, but every citizen of Paragon understood that the mountain was the physical manifestation of the goddess. The scribes who had taught him in school always said the goddess of the mountain was his creator and his protector. Funny, in all the days he’d spent in this cell, he’d never once thought to ask her for help.
There was a first time for everything. He fell to his knees and bowed his head, his arms spreading, palms upturned, and eyes closed in the way of his people. When he spoke, he did so in his first language, one he hadn’t used in hundreds of years. The words, his solemn plea for help, came to him in a rush.
Goddess, I am unworthy of your compassion, but your creation needs your help. Please, I beseech you, send a warrior to free me from this fate or else one to deliver death upon me, for in freedom I can free those you have entrusted to my protection or in death I can force my captor to do the same. I ask this by my birthright as the Treasure of Paragon. By the Mountain, let it be.
He opened his eyes to the same dark world, the same stink and despair. Nothing had changed. Still, somewhere deep inside his heart was a flicker of hope. He reached out and pulled the food toward him and began to eat. There still was no whisky, but thanks to the prayer, he had faith.
- A dragon highlander
- A witch without powers
- A secret realm
- Hidden royalty
- Family saga
- Witches & magic