Dragonfall is out in the shops in time for Christmas (or December 21st and the end of the world), and I thought I’d post another fragment, taken at random, to give a little flavour…
Ceri pushed the bag with her clothes in it into the hole in the tree roots where she always hid it. Getting to her feet, she stretched and then reached for the leather, silver-studded collar around her throat; it and the fairy silver chain around her ankle were the only things she was wearing. A small push of power, a shimmering, tingling sensation that washed over her skin, and the world was different.
Of course, technically, it was Ceri who was different. She had black fur, a dog-like head, eyes which saw much better in the dark, and a nose which almost immediately caught Michael’s scent on the breeze. She estimated he was a hundred yards away, give or take a bit, which likely put him at the edge of the lake. He probably had not caught her scent yet and was possibly busy. Giving a soft snicker, she slipped through the bushes and out onto the footpath, staying low and trying to ensure she was not seen.
She spotted him as he was sending two of the Guards off on a perimeter run. Dropping down behind a bush, she waited for the two wolves to lope away before making her move. Michael was entirely oblivious until about a second before she tackled him. Then he let out a yelp which turned into a gurgle as they both went into the boating lake. They emerged from the greenish water spitting and coughing, and in Michael’s case growling. Ceri snickered.
Rolling his eyes, Michael waved for her to follow him and set off across the lake toward the island in the middle. She got the feeling Alexandra wanted to talk to her and she was not wrong. Michael shifted as he climbed ashore, and started toward the clearing. ‘I can’t believe you did that,’ he huffed. ‘I just got dry.’
Ceri lifted her hand to her collar, shifting back to human and then running a couple of paces to catch up. ‘You were going to bring me here anyway. And you jump me every chance you get.’ They emerged into the clearing with its oil drum in the middle where Alexandra usually had a fire, though not tonight. ‘You’re just sore because I turned the tables on you.’
Alexandra, curled up beside the oil drum, lifted a mug of tea toward Ceri, who took it without a word. The old woman tended to know when she was going to have visitors; she was kind of annoying like that actually. ‘Of course he is, dear. You’re getting to be as good as him. He won’t be able to use training you as an excuse for al fresco sex in the bushes.’
Ceri’s cheeks coloured a little, but she smirked. The embarrassment was irrational; it was down to being caught out by Alexandra more than what she was suggesting. The Battersea Alpha was well over a hundred years old and her age was showing, just not nearly as much as it should have. She was a black-fur, like Alec was, and they tended to age slower than humans, or other werewolves. Alexandra was a picture of fading beauty made regal by age. She always held herself straight and her body, while not as perfect as it had been, was still attractive. Her hair, long and silver-white, gave her the look of a wise grandmother. Under a full moon her hair shone and she looked truly incandescent.
‘You wanted to talk to me?’ Ceri asked, curling onto the grass. Michael settled behind her, sliding in close and wrapping his arms around her waist. His chin rested on her shoulder and he nuzzled her neck. Werewolves had no idea of personal space and a very tactile view of affection.
‘I told you that my visions of the future had… more or less stopped?’
Ceri nodded. ‘Things were probably too uncertain for anything clear to come through.’
‘Well, I’m starting to get fragments. Little bits of dreams. Well, more like nightmares.’
‘When you said you’d lost sight of the future I didn’t think it was going to good.’
‘No. True. It’s not much, really, but it doesn’t seem good. I’ve been dreaming of battles between demons and dragons. It seems abstract. I don’t recognise the locations. I’ve seen no one in those dreams who resembles you, or anyone else I know. It’s as if I’m seeing cyphers. Two huge armies, lines of battle, a representation of a war rather than a prediction of one.’
Ceri frowned. ‘Demons fighting dragons. Do you think this is happening already?’
‘I think that it has been going on for some time, yes. I also think that things are changing. Lines are being drawn. Something big is going to happen.’
Ceri sipped her tea. ‘If the demons are planning something, there aren’t very many dragons in this part of the world to fight them. I mean, I know most if not all of them and none of them seem like they would be much use in a fight. Brenhines, maybe, but she’s pretty isolated.’
‘Perhaps,’ the old wolf said, ‘they need to become more engaged.’