Our bond is stronger than ever. Or so I thought.
But when war comes to the academy, everything crumbles. Taron and Harper are missing, Erritt’s giving all of us the cold shoulder, and Skye’s behaving strangely.
Love ought to be enough, but war always requires sacrifice. And this time, that sacrifice might be me.
Facing a growling feathered lion three times my size isn’t exactly my idea of a welcoming party. In fact, angry haechis aren’t anyone’s idea of a welcome, and therefore sit squarely in the ‘life experiences to be avoided’ category.
Unfortunately, one stands between us and our school.
“Wow!” Ava murmurs, clearly stunned by her first view of our academy chancellor in his real skin. The 2D version seen via the mirror in his office really doesn’t do the huge, savage beast justice. Harper’s hand strays to the knives under his shirt as he eyes the beast sparking with mica motes of green qi, the gravel path under his paws pulsing in waves.
The guardian of De Tuan academy lets out a roar, revealing a double row of sharp teeth bordered by tusks, and I spread both arms, instinctually protecting my human lover and her boyfriends. Our boyfriends. The air shivers with the force of the haechi’s outrage, setting the hairs on the back of my neck on end.
“What’s wrong, Mr Katen?” I ask carefully, surveying the solid school walls and gate behind him, Clearly something threatened our academy while Ava, Harper, Skye, Taron, and myself were out trying to survive my murderous brother’s attempt at destroying us. I shudder as a memory of how close he came to succeeding rips through me.
You’d either be a lunatic or have an entire army at your back to threaten an institution guarded by a haechi, fierce creatures famous for their protective natures.
The golden feathers on the giant creature’s back ruffle and he stamps both his front feet down, head snaking in Taron’s direction as he growls, “While I’m relieved to see you unharmed, Prince Erritt, that salty threatened my territory. I told him not to return!”
I groan as I swivel in Taron’s direction, careful to maintain a line of sight to the angry chancellor. Of course the newest member of our harem pissed off a haechi, since the finer points of tact are not his style. Neither are the more basic aspects, now that we mention it.
“What the fuck did you do now, Taron?” Harper hisses, also rounding on the salty, who grins and shrugs unrepentantly.
Skye elbows him hard, and I don’t blame him. Half a day spent out on an island in the middle of the ocean recovering after our deadly ordeal was fun, but we’re all desperately desiring fresh clothes, showers, and food, not to mention dealing with pressing matters like the fact I’m missing from the palace.
“Yes you, you big bag of qi,” Skye says with a low growl. “He’s the boss here, and if you don’t make things right, he won’t let you into the academy.” My beloved dragons throws me an apologetic look, but he’s right. There’s a good chance not even royal authority’s going to make a haechi budge.
“I could just kill him,” Taron offers unhelpfully, sparking a small cyclone of sparking wind around the furious guardian.
I pinch the bridge of my nose. This kraken elder and his complete lack of regard for the lives of sentient beings are going to cause us some problems, I can tell.
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