Eric paced a tight circle in the hallway. The mirror was bright in the dark. “I haven’t heard anything from James.”
“I’ve been wondering,” Triston said eventually. “How do dragons swear?”
“Welcome to Cheers!” A girl in red beckoned James into the bar. The lights were too low and the ceiling was too glossy. James thought the carpet smelled like blood.
The needle went in, out, and in the assassin’s heart. The icon took shape: blue as black, the damned kingfisher. James’ dragon raged around inside him, trying to thrash loose, but the thrall had ordered him to be still. James’ teeth rattled in their sockets. His magic rattled in his bones.
Burn scars were etched around each, odored faintly by old fire. The man’s eyelids were raw and pink without eyelashes.
The weeks passed. No word came. The winter solstice did.
"Outside the unintelligible grumbling and angry hissing of dragon language, the home of the draca was known as Dragonhalf, Crown of Dragons. The original words translated into something more like Grave of Dragons, but the two were synonymous to draca. Once assigned, authority could not be escaped by the holder or revoked by those beholden. Unsurprisingly, in the history of draca rulers, only a handful had died from confirmed natural causes. "