The Dragon of Ankoll Keep
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by K. S. Augustin
Description: Human for half a month, dragon for the other half--his salvation lies in the hands of a young, broken thief. Seeking a mythical treasure in a far-off land is, at best, a risky venture. And that's before Gamsin discovers an enchanted man/dragon thrown into the mix. He extends his hospitality, and generous spirit, to her. But, as Gamsin knows from bitter experience, there is always a price to pay. Ankoll has been dragon-cursed for five hundred years and is desperate for someone to help him end his enchantment. Where Gamsin sees only hurt and pain, he sees a woman of depth and strength. In his search for the master sorcerer who punished him in the first place, Ankoll and Gamsin travel to the isolated Twilight Ranges and confront an evil previously banished from the world. Will Gamsin, a broken young woman, be strong enough to give Ankoll the support he desperately needs? And what of the man-dragon who begins to realize that a hated form may be the only salvation for their world? Although this title does contain a rape scene, it also contains tender sex, enchantments and a kick-ass dragon losing his temper.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: July 2009
18 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [154 KB]
Reading time: 88-123 min.
On the twelfth morning of his dragon incarnation, Ankoll brought a kid, its ears still rounded in youth, its face soft with the fat of an animal not yet mature. Gamsin touched its cheek gently before performing the bleeding ritual for the second time. Here, at her feet, was the sum of things--the terror of the dragon and the tragedy of a man forced to take its form for half his life. The sight of the second sacrifice steeled her resolve. Surely it would be no mean thing to lift such a curse and allow a man a chance at a normal life? How many innocent lives--human and animal--had already been consumed by this centuries-old enchantment?
That night, she still retreated to the doorway, but kept her eyes open, watching as the dragon dispatched its meal with an incredible neatness before taking to the sky once more.
On the thirteenth morning, he brought a young stag, and Gamsin hoped this would be the last time he ever seized such quarry. With rising determination and gritted-teeth efficiency, she bled the animal and watched again as the dragon devoured its tender flesh.
As its shadowy wings finally disappeared into the night, she let out a breath and sagged against the wall. That, then, was the first part of the enchantment and it had been well done. She had brought the three animals to the dragon and waited while it finished its meals.
But what about the rest?
Gamsin fell into a dreamless sleep that thirteenth night, waking the next morning with shaking trepidation.
She had to mate with Ankoll.
Mate! No, no, I can't do it! Gamsin shot up in bed, grabbing at the sheets with white knuckles, trying, failing, to stop her thoughts.
He didn't know what he asked, this sorcerer-turned-dragon. She'd already been violated twice in her life, roughly used then discarded. Wouldn't this night be more of the same? Use then discard. How could she willingly place herself in such a situation again?
But then the past three nights would be a waste. Three sacrifices with no resolution.
Resolution? What did she care of someone else's resolution? This was her own body, already sacrificed twice to the unwanted lust of men. No, she could not go through with this, promise or not.
He has been kind to me.
The kindness of an ulterior motive. The kindness of someone who wanted a great favour. Such kindness wasn't worth anything in and of itself.
Perhaps I'll be able to stay in the keep if I do this.
So she was a whore then? A woman who paid for the protection of this building's solid walls and isolation with her body?
I've been free to leave anytime I wanted. He's never kept me here by force.
Gamsin paused and the sigh she exhaled came from the depth of her being. It was true and she could not argue it. Never, at any point, had there been any force applied to her. She had been free to come and go as she pleased. In fact, at any point over the past two weeks, she had been free to ransack his keep and flee the castle, knowing he would not pursue her for vengeance.
And how do I know that he wouldn't?
Because--dear Goddess, was it true?--with his laughing eyes, his gentleness, his sense of humour, a kernel of trust had been planted where before there was none.
As she walked the keep that day, she ruminated on that one, most profound word. Up till now, there was only one man she'd ever trusted and that was Nareg. He'd taken in the street orphan, taught her skills and provided her an opportunity with his circus troupe. He'd complimented and cajoled her, berated and beamed, and turned the obligatory blind eye when she used less savoury means to fatten her personal earnings. Even when she left his troupe to find her own way in life, he had been generous and understanding.
True, Ankoll had not done as much to warrant the kind of respect and trust that was Nareg's due but, she knew, he was on the path to it. Which was why, weeks later, she was still here instead of at a distant village, pawning trinkets she'd stolen from his ransacked chambers.
But the question that plagued Gamsin--the question she knew she had to answer within hours--was, was that enough? Was a fledgling trust enough to overcome her anxiety?
Despite her pangs of hunger, she didn't eat. In the late afternoon, walked up to the top of the keep, sat on one of the balusters by the doorway and lent against a pillar. Lazily, her gaze roamed the countryside, hazy on a day of unaccustomed heat.
She had stayed and kept Ankoll company. She'd listened to him and believed his tale of sorcery. She'd bled and fed him three midnights in a row. Could she continue with the rest? Could she offer her body to him?
The afternoon deepened to a jewel-toned dusk, deep and rich, and she still didn't have her answer. The dusk deepened into fingers of night, the first stars shining their white flickering points in the firmament, and she still didn't have an answer. The constellations asserted themselves, forming intricate patterns in the nocturnal sky and--by the Goddess--she still didn't have an answer.
It was only when the dragon arrived, silent as always, with only the downdraft of his giant wings signalling his approach, that clarity struck.
She watched as the dragon's claws touched on the floor, clicking against the stone. She saw a shimmer obscure the air around it. Then Ankoll emerged from the red-tinged flare. He was as magnificent as the beast he became. Naked, muscles rippled under his tanned skin as he approached her. She couldn't help herself--she looked down at the apex of his thighs. He wasn't aroused but, even in repose, his shaft was thick and long.
The night's shadows hid his eyes from her view, but she could see a slight smile on his face. He reached forward with his large hands and took hers.
"Thank you," he said, his voice husky with emotion. "Nobody has ever done this much for me."
Gamsin swallowed but said nothing, overwhelmed by his physical presence.
One side of his mouth quirked. "Gamsin, saviour of the last descendant of Ankoll, will you do me the pleasure of mating with me?"
Gamsin took a deep breath and looked straight into his eyes.
"Ankoll ... no."