For years, Heather dedicated herself to winning a tournament that turned out to be a sham. Worse, by revealing the truth, she becomes a hunted enemy of the king. Well, two can play that game. The skills she’s honed as an archer are the exact ones she’ll use to level the playing field…and this time she has shape-shifting dragons on her side.
Suddenly a flock of birds rose from a rocky shelf down below and streaked toward the dragons in a hostile mass. As the birds drew closer, Heather gasped. “Those aren’t birds, they’re flying reptiles!”
“Uh-oh,” Manny said.
“Boratures. They are very dangerous,” Shimmer said.
“Those must be nesting grounds,” Joe called out. “Go faster.”
The boratures were the size of sheep, with a tough hide covering their impressive wingspan. Their long and narrow heads ended with pointed beaks that appeared to be unpleasantly sharp. Heather guessed their long talons were equally lethal. She shuddered to think what they would do to her skin. Although the creatures were far smaller than dragons, they numbered in the hundreds. Even worse was the incredible speed with which the boratures were closing in from behind. Forced to split apart, Shimmer and Manny headed straight up, and Dane angled lower.
“Hold very tight, Heather. I’ll lose them in the trees.”
She flattened herself against Dane’s neck as he hurtled through the forest. Unfortunately, the boratures overtook him and began to claw at his wings. As their vicious talons opened gash after gash in Dane’s hide, he flinched. With a keening cry and a barrel roll, he shot upward once more. Heather’s grip loosened, and then she could hold on no longer.
Thick foliage slapped her in the face as she descended through the trees. A vine briefly broke her fall, but she continued downward when it snapped. Finally her desperate fingers found purchase on a leafy branch. She dropped down to the next branch, and so on, until she managed to reach the ground.
Stunned and dazed, a sharp pain in her midsection made it difficult for her to breathe. Cuts and scratches marked her flesh everywhere, and something warm and wet was trickling down her face. Shaking badly, her knees finally gave way. Several minutes passed before she calmed down enough to assess her situation. Of one thing she was absolutely certain; Dane wasn’t coming back and she was on her own.
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