The Dragon’s Appraiser: Part Two

BOOK: The Dragon’s Appraiser: Part Two
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The Dragon’s Appraiser
Part Two
Viola Rivard
1

M
adja nibbled
on her bottom lip as she examined the small golden tablet. Although time had faded the ancient symbols engraved on its face, the grooves were still deep enough that a scholar could easily glean their imprint with a piece of parchment and some charcoal.

“If I had to guess, I’d say that this was part of a Basheti book of law. Quite rare, quite rare,” she said. “You see, Emperor Vardeksema was the only person in history to unite all of the city-states of Bashet. He created fifty-seven books of law, one for the governor of each city-state. The laws were supposed to unify the uncivilized people, but the emperor’s plan backfired. Because he engraved the laws on solid gold, the governors all sold the tablets, paid for mercenaries, and then revolted. To this day, even just one of these pages would be worth at least a hundred and twenty silvers in the marketplace.”

That was where she lost the dragon.

“Why would anyone trade gold for silver?” Sevrrn asked. “Your economy sounds absurd.”

Typically, Sevrrn sat atop an ornate throne. Each morning he would lay an array of objects in front of his gilded seat and stare down at Madja as she gave a thorough appraisal of each one. But for the past few days, he had forsaken his throne, choosing instead to sit on the coin-littered floor beside her.

Madja liked to think it was because he was beginning to see her as an equal, or even because he simply enjoyed being beside her. More realistically, he did it to give himself better access to her. After all, it must have been tedious for him to have to get off his throne each time his insatiable libido overcame him.

“Silver is the most common currency in trading. If this were merely a hunk of gold, it would only be worth one point seven times its weight in silver—about fifty-eight coins. It’s the historical and scholarly principles of it that give it value. Does that make sense?”

“I suppose to a human, it would,” he said absently.

Madja recognized his mounting indifference and doubted she would even get to the next appraisal before he’d be on her.

She was right.

“I grow tired of this,” he said. “Let us do something else.”

In one fluid motion, Sevrrn was in front of her, his long arms placed on either side of Madja to cage her in. Beautiful as he was, Sevrrn could never be mistaken for anything but a calculating predator. Any other person would have cowered beneath him. There had been a time when Madja would have as well, but after two months of his antics, she knew how to manage the lascivious dragon.

“Do you ever think of anything besides sex?” she asked.

Sevrrn took the question into serious consideration, his garnet eyes turning thoughtful. “Perhaps on occasion.”

Suppressing a grin, she pressed a hand to his chest. “I’m not really in the mood for that right now.”

Golden brows drawing together, Sevrrn looked at her as if she had just said something inconceivable. “Why not?”

She gave a small shrug. “I suppose I have a lot on my mind.”

Disappointment flashed over his face as he sat back. For all his age and power, one thing the dragon god was not yet adept at was hiding his emotions.

“Such as?” he asked.

“Well, mostly I’ve been thinking about visiting town. Remember when I asked you if we could go to the marketplace?”

Sevrrn grew tense. “No.”

“And here I thought your memory was—”

“I meant no, you will not go.”

“Can you at least consider—?”

“No.”

Madja took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. She had played this scenario out in her head hundreds of times in the past few months, meticulously planning out how she could convince him to let her get out of the lair for a few days. Of all the arguments she’d been prepared to counter, she still didn’t know to deal with outright rejection.

“I’m going crazy in here, Sevrrn,” she said, hoping she sounded every bit as weary as she felt. “I need to go be around other people.”

“Why?”

Well, at least that was something she could work with.

“Unlike dragons, humans are social creatures. We need to spend time with our own kind, even if it’s only for a day or two.”

Anticipating the next “no”, Madja reached out and pressed her index finger to his mouth. After a brief pause, she began to trace the contours of his lips with the tip of her finger.

Sevrrn’s gaze drifted downward to follow her finger as she moved to trace his jawline, and then the curve of his strong neck. She could feel the blood pounding in his veins as her finger reached the triangle of hard flesh exposed at his neckline.

Now that she had his attention, Madja climbed into his lap. She placed her hand on his chest and he allowed her to push him back onto the floor. Intrigued though he was, the dragon’s gaze remained defiant—a silent reminder that at any second, he could be the one on top and in control.

Keep thinking that, bonehead
.

Straddling his hips, she stared down at his robe. Aside from Sevrrn himself, the robe was the most magnificent thing she had ever seen. Comprised of thousands of tiny, golden scales, it practically radiated light. The scales themselves seemed to be alive. Warm to the touch, she could feel the raw power coursing through them.

In countless legends, powerful dragons had been conquered by crafty heroes tricking them into taking human form and then destroying their scales. The robe could very well have been Sevrrn’s only weakness, yet he didn’t so much as bat an eye as she ran her hands over it. Was it because he trusted her, or because he believed her too weak to be any real threat? It seemed the more she got to know him, the less she understood.

In their strange relationship, there was only one thing that was completely unambiguous. Sevrrn craved her body, perhaps even more than gold and diamonds.

Pulling at the sash of his robe, she exposed his long, muscular torso. She kept her eyes locked with his as she bent down low, flicking her tongue over both of his flat nipples. Slowly, she drew her tongue down the hard rows of muscles, until she finally reached her destination.

A curiosity, the likes of which she’d never seen before, blazed in the dragon’s eyes as she took his thick manhood into one hand. Every time she held him, she was amazed, both by his considerable size and the fact that he’d ever managed to fit inside of her in the first place.

Lowering her mouth, she placed a gentle kiss on the crown of his penis. She had to hold back a cry of triumph as his perfect mouth fell open. Seizing the momentum, she ran the tip of her tongue along the underside of his shaft. His hands fisted, gripping at the ground for purchase.

Pulling back, she gave him a saccharine smile. He responded with an inhuman growl.

“Do not stop that,” he said, his voice hoarse.

“I won’t…but you’ll have to do something for me.”

T
here was
a word for what Madja had done to him, but Sevrrn couldn’t recall it.

Deceived?

No, that suggested that Madja had lied.

Tricked?

That word suggested that she had, in some way, cheated or swindled him. Closer—but still not accurate.

Manipulated…

Now that was a word with promise. Madja had taken advantage of his inability to think clearly while his cock was buried in her mouth.

It was becoming clear to Sevrrn that his human wielded a strange power over him. She was far more dangerous than he had initially surmised her to be, though he did not find this unsettling or even distasteful. It was…

Fun
.

Usually.

In the past, when she had tried manipulating him, Sevrrn had always been too clever for her. This time, she had bested him. He would not fall for this again, but he knew that it was only a matter of time before she figured out another way to circumvent his superior intellect. That was…

Exciting
.

As he lay back on the silks, feigning interest in whatever it was that Madja was appraising, Sevrrn contemplated all of the new things he was learning. Much like the countless trinkets within his lair, Sevrrn had a vast vocabulary at his disposal. But until he had met Madja, he had never truly considered what all of these words meant. She was his youngest possession—not even three decades old—and yet she was expanding his universe like nothing before her.

His mind, which was never entirely focused on one thing, latched on to something she said.

“If there are Mandurian traders at the port, we could probably get as much as a hundred and fifty silvers for it.”

Realizing she was holding up his golden tablet again, he scowled.

“We will not be selling that,” he informed her.

After he had taken his release in her mouth—a memory that Sevrrn would not soon forget—she had further convinced him that they needed to sell off some of his possessions in exchange for modern currency. This way, they would be able to purchase things in her precious marketplace.

“Why not?” she asked, waving the tablet in front of him. “What use could you possibly have for this?”

“You told me that there were only fifty-seven of these tablets created. It could quite well be the last one of its kind and you expect me to hand it over to some stranger in exchange for a few common pieces of silver? Do I look like a fool to you?”

He heard her sigh. That sound displeased him, but he allowed it.

“How about this, then?”

He glanced over to see that she had picked up one of the gold coins from the floor. On one side, it bore the face of a sullen prince; and on the other, a symbol that bore a likeness to a fish. There were precisely seventy-two grooves on the rim, two of which were almost completely worn away.

“You are not selling that, either.”

“Why not? You probably have a thousand of these coins lying around on the floor.”

“I have fourteen thousand, twelve hundred and two coins that are
similar
to that one. They bear the same shape, size, and design, though each varies in some way, however slightly.”

This time, she groaned. “I don’t know whether to be annoyed or impressed that you know that. But please, help me out here. There has to be something you’re willing to sell.”

“Why don’t we sell that spoon you’re always carrying around?” he suggested.

What was the word for that?

Petty?

Madja’s face wilted. “I can’t sell that. I told you before, it’s all I have left of my father.”

He arched a brow—by far his favorite of human facial expressions. So much could be conveyed with such a simple gesture.

She said, “I don’t know if you remember, but eight years ago, the Allonans declared war on us. They sent out a fleet of a dozen warships to raid our capital. Everyone panicked. The nobles, primarily traders, were ordered to surrender their ships to defend the city. My father was one of the few wealthy residents of the city that didn’t own a ship and so he was ordered to surrender all of his gold so that we could make an offering to you.”

Sevrrn felt himself frown. “I do not remember an attack on the island, nor such an offering.”

“That’s because neither ever came. My father surrendered all of his gold, except for a set of golden flatware. He wanted to have something to bargain with if we were invaded. The family in charge of collecting his gold—the Kavesh—they hired mercenaries to search our estate. When they found the gold, my father was convicted of treason and sentenced to death.”

Madja paused, blinking several times before continuing. “Meanwhile, in a very bizarre twist of fate, the Allonan warships were all called back to their home port. Apparently their capital was attacked by a dragon.”

Sevrrn nodded. “I remember that.”

“You were there?”

“No, I heard about it in the other realm. It is all they ever talk about.”

His sister Valdyra had been, without a doubt, the most powerful of all the original dragons. She had also been the most impulsive, irrational, and foolhardy, which was likely the reason she was the very first of them to be killed by humans in her true form.

“The other realm?” she asked. “Where’s that?”

“The other realm is everywhere,” he explained.

“Right…”

“You did not tell me what happened to my gold.”

“You mean my father’s gold?” she asked dryly. “The day before my father’s execution, they found out that the Allonan fleet had turned back. Since there was not going to be an attack, the Kavesh didn’t see the need for an offering. They executed my father anyway and kept his gold.”

“Typical,” Sevrrn muttered.

Long past were the days that gold coins would rain down into his lair. When humans would travel continents and cross oceans to make offerings and seek his favor. Now, they only paid tribute when they wanted something from him.

Madja seemed to be saddened by this as well, because he could detect the faint smell of her tears.

“Do not worry,” he said, patting the top of her head. “They will pay for what they have done.”

She looked up at him, appearing surprised. Did she truly believe that he would let them get away with taking his gold?

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