Dragons Against Them (Kingdoms of Fire and Ice Book 2)

BOOK: Dragons Against Them (Kingdoms of Fire and Ice Book 2)
3.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Dragons Against Them
Dragons Against Them
Kyra Jacobs

Blood is thicker than water…but can it melt a heart of ice?

Book 2

Adelaide Miller gave up everything she knows to remain in Prince Zayne Godfrey’s alternate reality and assume her rightful place as eldest princess in the rival kingdom of Forath.

For an independent, free-spirited woman, however, royal life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s downright smothering. Especially since the vengeful Rosalind has gone AWOL.

Zayne is eager to wed Princess Addie—but their fathers seem more intent on keeping them apart. The longer Rosalind goes missing, the more suspicious each monarch becomes that the other is guilty of foul play.

Both kingdoms may soon face a strong, new rival intent on gaining power foretold by an ancient prophecy. To protect their chance at happily ever after, Zayne and Addie must partner with unlikely allies to save the one person intent on destroying them both.

But victory will not come without a price, and in the end, someone may have to pay—in blood.

© 2016 by Kyra Jacobs

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

ISBN: 978-1-61923-440-6


o my amazing beta readers
—never could I have done this without you.

Chapter 1

delaide Miller stood
at her chamber window, watching the hive of activity below in awe. Servants of all shapes, sizes, and ages milled about, dutifully fulfilling their roles assigned by the Forath Monarchy. She’d heard the phrase “it takes a village” before, but had no idea how much truth was in it. Not before she’d moved into a castle of her own, anyway.

Technically it wasn’t
castle, though. It belonged to her family, the Bennetts, this kingdom’s ruling family. Up until a few weeks ago, she hadn’t known they existed either. But that was before she’d traveled from Indiana to Hertfordshire, England, taken a tumble during a jogging mishap, and landed in an alternate, medieval-like realm where men could transform into dragons, sparring monarchs ruled its two kingdoms, and powerful wizards watched over them all.

At first, she had every intention of finding her way back home. No electricity, no denim, no Maroon 5—who would want to live like that? But then she’d fallen head over heels for a man who, by every definition, was way out of her league: Prince Zayne Godfrey of Edana, the last golden dragon shifter and heir to his kingdom’s throne. Edana had been thrust to the cusp of war when Zayne chose Addie over his betrothed, Princess Rosalind of rival kingdom Forath. As would be expected, Rosalind hadn’t taken kindly to coming in second to Addie. Had taken it even harder when, after ordering Addie be kidnapped, she’d discovered the shocking truth that Addie was actually her long-lost—and presumed dead—half sister.

In a single afternoon, Addie had regained a father, discovered she had a twin brother, Tristan, and unintentionally driven off a half sister. A sister who yet remained on the lam…and had the rest of Addie’s family worried sick.

Her gaze shifted to the dense woods that surrounded the castle. Wherever could Rosalind be?

“I have come to recognize that look in your eyes, daughter, but I hold fast to my decision. It is too dangerous for you to venture beyond the castle walls.”

Addie turned to spy her father, King Jarin, approaching and offered him a sheepish grin. She still wasn’t quite sure how to act around the man—he was a king, after all. And though the resemblance between Addie and her twin brother, Tristan, was undeniable, her father’s coloring was vastly different. Where her hair was pure blonde, his was the darkest of browns. French roast, hold the cream. Deep hazel eyes, so different from her own light blues, stared her down now, imploring her to heed his words. But following the rules wasn’t a trait Addie came by naturally.

“I know. I just…everything is still so new to me. I want to soak it all in, learn as much as I can.”

“And you shall, once Rosalind has returned and my peace of mind is restored.”

He came to stand beside her as his focus shifted to the tree-lined horizon, and Addie felt a fresh pinprick of guilt. If it weren’t for her, Rosalind would still be here. Heck, she might even be married to Zayne by now and the treaty of peace between the two kingdoms already signed.

But Addie’s planned wedding to Zayne would still ensure a pledge of peace between the lands, so that couldn’t be the reason Rosalind had run off in a huff. And since there was no love lost between Rosalind and Zayne, that couldn’t have been her reason for running off either. So why go? Did she really hate the idea of having a sister that much? Or was Rosalind still too embarrassed about having Addie kidnapped, intending to exchange her for Zayne’s hand in marriage?

Addie thanked her lucky stars for the millionth time that Zayne and Edana’s high wizard Berinon had arrived before her imprisonment had gotten any uglier. Being chained to a wooden rack overnight had not and never would be her idea of fun. But this was a different realm, run by different rules—something Addie was still getting used to.

As were her family’s dynamics.

“I’ve made a mess of things, haven’t I?”

“No, Adelaide.” Her father sighed. “Your sister…she has my temper. Though while I presume her initial disappearance was of her own doing, I fear returning may no longer be within her control.”

Addie took a step back from the window, her gaze shifting to the horizon too. It seemed like every time she started to settle into this place, something tried to reach out and bite her. First the wolves that had attacked her when she first fell into this realm, then the kidnapping… What other enemies might be lurking out there, waiting for any of them to make a wrong move? A shiver zigzagged down her spine.

“You think she’s been captured?” she said.

“Until Rosalind either returns to us or is found, I must consider the possibility.”

His hand cupped her chin, and though it was a fatherly gesture, Addie made a conscious effort not to flinch from his touch. The father she’d grown up with, the one she’d believed to be her real father until learning the truth in this very castle only weeks ago, had never been gentle with her. Or affectionate. No, theirs had been a relationship of convenience—it was convenient for him to punish her for merely breathing, so she’d found it convenient to remain out of his reach. Photography had become her frequent companion, a pastime that had grown into a lucrative career before she’d tumbled into this world and into the arms of Prince Charming.

Or rather, Prince Zayne Godfrey of Edana.

“Be patient, my child. We shall find her soon enough. Then may you resume your dances among the wildflowers.”

He offered her one last smile, then strode from the room, leaving Addie alone once more. But alone wasn’t how she wanted to be right now, not while fretting about possible dangers lying in wait beyond the castle walls.

If Zayne was here, she wouldn’t be worried about a thing—having a fiancé who could transform into a giant golden dragon certainly had its advantages. Unfortunately, he was stuck in another castle a kingdom away, dutifully answering every beck and call of his yet-healing ill father. And while Addie longed to get their happily ever after underway, she knew better than to assume he could just walk away from his royal responsibilities.

Didn’t mean she had to like it, though.

With a sigh, she left her post at the window and padded across an elegant hand-sewn rug of silvers and purples, missing Zayne. Missing blue jeans and underwire bras. Missing going wherever she wanted, whenever she wanted, without worry of medieval torture devices or lethal, flying arrows.
Welcome to the new normal…

Ah, but the new normal was also chock-full of adventure. While she might have been too big a scaredy-cat to venture outside alone, that didn’t mean she had to sit and twiddle her thumbs either. Not when she still had half a castle left to explore.

She’d been given a cursory tour her first few days there. But several rooms on the upper floors had been intentionally passed by, their doors kept tightly shut. Her brother had promised to play tour guide as time allowed, but so far that’d been next to never. It seemed he too was just as consumed with worry about their missing sister as their father. That, or he was naturally uptight. She hoped it was the former, not the latter.

On the off chance he was around and in good spirits, Addie’s first stop was at his room across the hall first. She’d only been in her twin’s room a few times and always when he was with her. But yesterday was the first time she’d ventured in far enough to spy the beautiful, wall-sized tapestry of a woodland landscape surrounding their family crest: a silver shield inlaid with a royal blue cross, the base of which was encircled by a black dragon’s tail. Addie had reached for it, wanting to feel its silky, jewel-toned strands, but Tristan barked at her to stop. The piece, he advised, had been handed down for countless generations and was both easily stained and quite fragile.

Disappointed, she’d withdrawn her hand and stepped back. That was when she noticed movement at the artwork’s base. It had gently flared from the wall as if moved by a breeze or draft, which struck her as odd since the room’s windows were shut and a draft in that space was unlikely.

Sure, she could have just asked him if drafts were more common in the castle than she’d assumed. But this was Tristan, and a question like that might send him running off in a tizzy to their father as so many of her other questions had. Which was sad, really. When she’d discovered she had a twin, Addie was thrilled. Finally, someone who would understand how her mind worked, be wired the same as her. But where she was a rebel without a cause, he was Mr. Goody Two-shoes through and through, always following their father’s commands, always doing everything expected of him, always so freaking perfect.

And always so very opposite to her.

Addie stopped before his door, took a deep breath, and gave it a light rap.

She listened, waited. After several seconds, she carefully pushed the door open and poked her head inside. “Tristan?”

When nothing but silence answered, she maneuvered her way inside as quietly as the heavy wooden door would allow and slid it shut behind her. Inside, the room was brightly lit by the afternoon sun. But aside from the drifting and floating dust motes that danced in the air at her hurried entrance, nothing else stirred.

Nothing, except the slightest flutter along the bottom hem of that grand tapestry to her right.

Unable to help herself, Addie drew closer and reached out to touch it. Tightly stitched silken thread greeted her fingertips as she marveled at its intricate patterns. How long must it have taken to make something like this? In the modern world, a machine could be programmed to do it in a matter of minutes. But here? Unless magic was involved, this had to have taken months, maybe even years.

A cool draft tickled her ankles, and she looked down to watch the tapestry drift out from the wall by an inch or so, then settle back into place. Drift and settle, drift and settle. She squatted in her princess-y attire as best she could—damn these poofy gowns and corset-like undergarments!—and placed a hand on the floor. A cool, steady stream of air passed beneath the artwork’s hem and kissed her knuckles. But where was it coming from?

Addie moved to the tapestry’s left edge and carefully drew it away from the wall. Instead of stone or lumber, a dimly lit tunnel came into view.

“A secret passage,” she breathed, giddy with excitement.
No wonder Tristan barked at me not to touch it.

Addie eased behind the tapestry and followed the tunnel a short distance, its path lit by small windows set a story higher in the castle’s outer stone wall. The corridor appeared empty and clean, not a cobweb in sight. Someone was keeping it clean, but why?

She shook her head, frustrated that Tristan wouldn’t share this delicious find with her, and continued on. Soon she found herself staring at the back of a matching piece of artwork and paused to listen for movement or voices on the other side. Again, silence greeted her. Addie gave the artwork a gentle push. It swung from the wall in a gentle swoosh, leaving space for her to step into the room beyond.

A thrill ran through her as she realized this was indeed a place unfamiliar to her. At first glance, it looked quite similar to the royal parlor on the castle’s main floor, in terms of both layout and furnishings. But one corner of the room held an object the other parlor did not: a bookshelf of sorts, one lined with old, unrolled scrolls that had been crudely bound together into what looked like large reference books.

Was this the castle’s library, perhaps? And if so, why on earth would they hide it from her?

She stepped toward the shelves, eager to see what tales they might hold of her family history. Maybe even something about her mother, whom she still knew so little about. Addie had overheard one servant whisper in passing that she was her mother’s mirror image, but there had been no portraits for her to compare, no sketches that she had found on her prior explorations. Maybe there would be a sketch of her mother in here, though. Or some scrolls written by her very hand.

Addie tugged from the shelf a bound collection that looked less dusty than the rest, laid it out on a nearby table, and carefully turned to the first page. Elegant script greeted her, full of words and spellings that looked nearly foreign to modern-day English. After struggling through a few sentences that made little sense, she flipped the page. And then another. And another.

Poems, she soon came to realize. All of them. Retellings of battles won and battles lost. Of princesses stolen, and princes slain. Nowhere was her mother or father mentioned, nor any of the current members of their extended family (the ones she could remember, anyway). Bedtime stories, perhaps. Nothing of real interest, though she decided they might be entertaining at a later date if she became truly desperate for something to do.

With a sigh, she closed the book and lifted it from the table, intending to scope out another. But the bound scrolls were heavy, their bindings large and awkward, and Addie felt them begin to slip from her hands. She adjusted her grip, shifting its weight from one arm to the other, and watched, helpless, as the cumbersome thing flopped open once more.

“Pesky book,” she grumbled as she worked to close it again. But a quick glance at the open pages found one scroll to be different from the others, its parchment a slicker, shimmery material. Addie set the book back onto the table and watched as prisms of light reflected off the unique paper, casting a small rainbow across the room. The page itself, though, was badly frayed, its bottom third completely missing. And while the script remaining seemed larger and easier to read than the previous pages, it was the title that caught her attention:
The Legend of Fire and Ice

Two kingdoms kept behind the veil,

Possess a magic for all to hale.

One made of fire, the color of gold;

One made of ice, its powers untold.

Both kingdoms great, both kingdoms strong,

The powers of each too much to bond.

If ever—

f ever
? If ever
With a frown, she lifted the page to see if more was written on the back, but that side was bare. The end of the poem was simply gone.

BOOK: Dragons Against Them (Kingdoms of Fire and Ice Book 2)
3.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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