Kiss of Flame (The Dragon's Virgin Tribute)

BOOK: Kiss of Flame (The Dragon's Virgin Tribute)
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Kiss of Flame

The Dragon’s Virgin Tribute



Madelene Martin


This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.


First edition. Copyright © 2013 Madelene Martin. Written by Madelene Martin.



rincess Lily had never felt particularly close to her royal parents, who barely saw or spoke to her. She was the fourth daughter of the King of a tiny country, and had lived a pampered life, with the finest clothing, jewels and food, the best tutors and nurses, and a gaggle of maidservants.

None of that mattered now, as she struggled against the armored men – her father's guards – who bound her wrists and ankles tightly together.

At first, she hadn't understood. Lily had grown up blissfully unaware of the troubles of the kingdom. When she'd turned eighteen – barely a week ago - she had finally started to wonder why she hadn't yet been betrothed. All of her sisters had been married one by one - and all by the age Lily was now.

She'd tried to ask her sisters about it, her chambermaid, and finally her mother. All of them had turned away or hurriedly excused themselves from the room. Her mother had tightened her mouth and told her to stop asking questions.

One day, she had looked out the windows of her tower room and seen, on the horizon, a huge gout of black smoke rising into the twilight sky.

The smoke hadn't stopped. On different days, different areas of the sky were blackened, and it seemed to be moving closer and closer.

The castle became busy, with many people visiting, rushing in and out. When she looked out the windows she could see streams of people coming into the city. She was constantly ordered to stay in her room, under guard. The guards wouldn't speak to her or tell her what was happening, but she could sense the tension in everyone she encountered.

Then came the day when she was given a white dress to wear, and taken from her room. She was put on the back of a horse next to Mattias, the captain of the guard. He had always been kind to her so she wasn't afraid. She asked where they were going, and the man told her they were going to meet her future husband.

Common folk and nobles alike lined the streets, cheering as she rode past with the captain, his guards trailing on horses behind them. Lily was astounded – she had never been cheered before – had never even been among the people since she was an infant.

She smiled, and waved at them, enjoying the attention. Her heart was fluttering with excitement and nerves. Somewhere deep inside she noticed there was a strained quality to the crowd, and many of them were gaunt and dirty. But for all she knew, this was normal.

They had travelled for most of the day, and finally they'd reached a huge swath of burned land. She could see the remains of a village, burned to the ground. Shells of huts and houses stuck out of the earth, only charred wood remaining.

"What happened here?" She asked, confused.

To her surprise, Mattias dismounted and helped her down from the saddle.

"Dragon fire." He said.

"Dragons?" Lily's eyes went wide. "But I thought all the dragons were gone!"

He nodded, an uncomfortable expression on his face. "Yes," he said. "So did everyone."

"But... why are we here?" She looked out over the husk of the village, smoke stinging her eyes.

Mattias didn't meet her gaze, only taking her by both hands, and holding them together, pulled a rope around them.

"What are you doing?" Lily cried in alarm. She looked at the guards for help, but they all sat on their horses, just watching. She shot a look back at Mattias. "What's going on?"

"I'm sorry, my Lady," he said sadly. "We had no choice."

She struggled then, but the captain was far stronger than she was. He pulled the ropes tightly until her wrists couldn't move.

"Stop!" She yelled, and tried to kick him, now angry. Two guards dismounted as Mattias grabbed the struggling girl and easily slung her over one shoulder. They ignored her screams and struggles and followed as Mattias carried her through the village.

They tied her to a tall metal pole that stood just outside the ruins. She fought as hard as she could, landing a few good scratches on Mattias' cheek. In her struggles, her dress was torn at the neck, a flap of fabric dropping down to expose one breast. But it all was to no avail.

They had secured her wrists up over her head and tightly bound to the stake, her ankles tied at the bottom of the pole. She could only just stand, and it was pointless to try to struggle any further. Tears stung her eyes and began to roll down her cheeks.

"But why?" Was all she could ask as the guards began to turn away from her.

"Hundreds of years ago," Mattias said quietly, hanging back. "A dragon ravished the kingdom. It ended when the King sent a sacrifice. One of his virgin daughters."

Lily was speechless, her mouth hanging open in shock.

"Take heart, my Lady." Mattias said, lightly patting her on the arm. "You are a heroine to your people."

She screamed fruitlessly at him as he turned and walked away. She hurled every abuse and insult she had in her limited vocabulary, and cried and begged until she could only see the distant shapes of the guards riding off into the sunset.

Then she turned her blue eyes to the sky, tears streaming down her cheeks. Hope abandoned her. She was completely lost. Her family had given her up without a second thought. She remembered the townspeople cheering for her. Cheering for her death. A heroine! The dragon would come, and it would devour her. What was heroic about that?

She waited. The sky was empty, except for birds casually circling overhead. The wind increased, picking up the skirts of her white dress. She shivered, in cold and fear.

As the last rays were fading from the sky, Lily sagged in her bonds, her strength spent. She cried silently, tears running down her cheek and falling on her chest.

All of a sudden, there was a roar like thunder in the sky. She looked up, but was buffeted by a mighty gust of wind, and had to turn her head and squint her eyes shut. It was as though a sudden storm had come up, right above her.

Finally, a hot blast encompassed her and dust, soot and rocks were kicked up into the air as the dragon landed in front of her. She felt a heavy thud reverbrate up from the ground. Then there was silence and stillness.

Whimpering in fear, she kept her eyes clenched tightly shut and her head turned to the side. For a long moment there was nothing. And then, she heard the breathing. Slow, deep inhalations, and then a huffing sound and warm air exhaled over her.

This is it, she thought. It's going to breathe fire on me now, and cook me, and eat me right here.

She had never seen a dragon outside of pictures, of course. No one had. Like all children, she had gone through a period of fascination, reading endless stories about the beasts. In the end, she had outgrown it for more feminine interests. But - if she was going to die anyway, this would be her last chance to see what a dragon really looked like.

Steeling herself, Lily opened one eye, cringing as she turned her head to face the monster.

Its head was as big as she was, so that its glowing eyes were level with hers. It was covered by blue-black scales, myriad and varied, and long horns jutted backwards from its skull.

It bowed its head down to look at her curiously, its nostrils flaring as it took in her scent. She could see its huge body fading into the dim light, and a suggestion of wings, half-spread, as though warily.

It was magnificent.

"Gods, save me." Lily murmured hopelessly. But the Gods had never answered her before, and they didn't now.

The dragon tilted its head at the sound of her voice, one huge eye rolling toward her. It snaked its tongue out. It was long and forked, like a snake's, and it brushed over the skirt of her dress, then higher, where her arms were bound. The tongue curled over her wrists, and she could feel the heat of it, and a hint of moisture.

She froze as the tongue flicked down over her neck, caressing her skin as gently as a lover's fingers. Then it dipped below where her dress had torn, brushing across her exposed breast.

Lily was terrified, and distantly aware she was quietly whimpering. All she could do was close her eyes as the long tongue tasted her. She could feel its hot breath surrounding her, as though ready to engulf her in flames any second.

But suddenly, the dragon huffed out a breath and got to its huge haunches. With one claw, it snapped the rope that held her up.

Lily collapsed down to her knees, her ankles still trapped at the foot of the stake. She shook with fear, and the muscles of her arms ached with fatigue. She could barely support herself.

She felt the ropes on her ankles pull and twist. It's going to carry me off to eat me, then. She thought. As soon as the ropes snapped and she felt herself come free, instinct took over. She leapt to her feet and began to run as fast as she could.

Picking her skirt up, she tore over the ground, dodging debris and stumbling here and there. The breath tore out of her lungs in choking sobs. She knew she had no hope of escape. At most, the dragon was letting her run so it could chase her for sport. But she had to try.

Lily kept running, not daring to look back. Sure enough, after a minute, the wind picked up, and blasted her as the great beast swooped down from the sky. She cried out in terror and fell to the ground, curling up and covering her head with her arms.

She felt its claws on her, and braced herself for the pain. But the dragon was surprisingly dextrous. It wrapped its huge scaly toes around the girl, scooping her up off the ground and cradling her in its claws. Then it took off up into the sky.

The wind whipped past her ears, tearing her screams from her throat. After a minute she gave up on yelling – it was futile. When she had worked up the courage, Lily opened her eyes and peered out from between the dragon's claws. They were high up in the air. Very high. She watched the land skim by, far below. She saw burned fields and villages, deserted towns, and a stream of people on the roads. The castle that had been her home was visible far off in the distance.

The dragon wheeled and climbed gracefully, holding the girl in its cage of claws. Quite dizzy and terrified, Lily curled up and wrapped her arms around her legs, despairing.





She must have dozed – or passed out. Suddenly she was jolted awake. They were inside a huge cavern. It was open to the sky – where the dragon had entered – but deep, and dry.

The beast deposited her gently on the stone floor, flapping its huge wings and flying off. Lily stood on shaking legs and looked around, wrapping her arms around herself and shivering in the cool air. The cave was lit by flaming torches along the walls. There were multiple exits to small passageways or rooms. Aside from that, it was too dim to make out much.

She wondered if this dragon had a treasure hoard like the ones in her stories. Then she vaguely thought: who maintained the torches?

The dragon suddenly alighted behind her. She whirled, just as it folded its wings. It looked at her eerily as she stood, trembling and trying to cover herself.

"Why did you bring me here?" She yelled, edging on hysteria. "If you're going to eat me, just get it over with!"

The dragon lowered its head and hissed, steam rising from its jaws. Then it began to slowly stalk toward her, walking faster and faster. As it reached the girl it opened its mouth, snapping its long sharp teeth in front of her face. Lily closed her eyes tightly, waiting for death.

It swiped at her, bowling her over with one huge paw. Somehow she was unscratched, but pinned to the ground. She sobbed, tears running in rivers onto the hard stone. But she couldn't look away.

The beast sniffed at her, its giant snout nuzzling at her body. She could feel the heat of its scales and steamy breath through her thin dress. There was intelligence in its eyes, deep and red and flickering with reflected torchlight. Perversely, she wanted to reach out and touch it, to feel its smooth scales. But she was too frightened.

BOOK: Kiss of Flame (The Dragon's Virgin Tribute)
8.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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