Chapter 5

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Dragon watched the hefty wooden cart rumbling down the muddy lane, as his horse shifted beneath him. The big beast huffed, chewing irritably on the metal bit as clouds of steam blew out onto the cold, damp air and the tack creaked and jingled. The miserable animal was no doubt as tired of hauling his great bulk around as Dragon was of sitting on it, soaked to the bone and frozen. Once again he cursed his own idiocy for getting himself in this position, but there was little to be done now. Get the job done and move on, hopefully far from Alfheim. Assuming he managed to live that long.

He sighed and considered his options. A stint in the human world would probably be a good idea, at least for a while. He should keep his head down until things died down, so maybe the next millennium.

He frowned as he noted the shifty expressions on the faces of the men driving the cart. Not that the crafty knaves were exactly a picture of innocence at any other time but there was something in their faces he truly didn't like. They looked far too pleased with themselves.

"You're late," he said, dismounting and striding towards them.

The two men, both light fae with bright blonde hair tied back off their faces, exchanged a glance.

"Got 'eld up," one of them said, shrugging.

Dragon folded his arms, staring at the one who hadn't answered with alarm bells ringing.

"Held up?" he repeated, not lowering his gaze as the silent one swallowed and glanced at his companion. "By what?"

He didn't wait for an answer but strode to the back of the cart and flung back the sack cloth that was covering the contents.

He knew better that to show any expression in front of men like these but the sight of the beautiful young woman, lying unconscious among the boxes made his stomach clench. He turned around to the men who were now standing behind him with their shoulders squared. One of them made to speak but didn't get the chance. Dragon's massive fist, connected with the man's jaw with a satisfying crunch. He looked down at the body sprawled in the mud with contempt before returning his attention to the silent one who had taken three steps back.

"She's worth s--summat," the man stammered, his blue eyes flashing with avarice. "She was there, pokin' about, we didn't 'ave no choice."

"You damned fool!" Dragon cursed, wanting nothing more than to drive a dagger into the bastard and have done with it.

The man pointed at him, holding the other hand out as if to fend him off. "She'll fetch a good price on the slave market."

"She'll fetch a world of trouble down on our heads!" Dragon shouted, wondering how the hell he was going to deal with this. Dain would be here any moment.

"Her hair's been shorn, she 'aint no lady," the man sneered.

Dragon's hand was at his dagger before his brain had caught up with the action and only Dain's voice ringing out in the damp air stilled his hand.

"What's this?"

Dragon cursed inwardly and looked around as the horse drew up beside him and a large blonde man leapt down. Dain was also light fae, though he was taller and broader than average for his kind. With his Dark Fae blood, courtesy of a father he'd never known, Dragon still looked down on him from a good couple of inches, a fact he knew annoyed his boss no end.

"We got a woman!" The man in front of Dragon crowed, knowing he was safe now the boss was here, he'd see the value of her.

Dain laughed and slapped his man on the back so hard he almost fell face first in the mud. Dragon felt his jaw clench with the desire to make him as he strode to the cart and stood leering over the young woman. "Well, well, so you have, an' a pretty piece too. She'll fetch a goodly sum." Dain turned and stared at Dragon, clearly daring him to say otherwise. Dragon stared back, silent as acid burned in his stomach, though he did his best to keep his face neutral. "Come on then," Dain yelled, grinning and showing a broken front tooth that gave him a feral appearance. "Time and tide wait for no man. Let's go!"

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