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       The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga Book 2), p.1

           Elise Kova
 
The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga Book 2)


  This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters and events in this book are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  Published by Keymaster Press

  3971 Hoover Rd. Suite 77

  Columbus, OH 43123-2839

  Copyright © 2016 by Elise Kova

  All rights reserved. Neither this book, nor any parts within it may be sold or reproduced in any form without permission.

  Edited by: Rebecca Faith Heyman

  Cover Design by: Nick D. Grey

  Proofreading by: Christine Herman

  Layout Design by: Gatekeeper Press

  ISBN: 9781619845534

  eISBN: 9781619845541

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2017940126

  Printed in the United States of America

  ALSO BY ELISE KOVA

  LOOM SAGA

  The Alchemists of Loom

  The Dragons of Nova

  The Rebels of Gold

  AIR AWAKENS SERIES

  Air Awakens

  Fire Falling

  Earth’s End

  Water’s Wrath

  Crystal Crowned

  GOLDEN GUARD TRILOGY

  The Crown’s Dog

  The Prince’s Rogue

  The Farmer’s War

  Contents

  MAP – LOOM

  MAP – NOVA

  1. Arianna

  2. Petra

  3. Cvareh

  4. Florence

  5. Arianna

  6. Yveun

  7. Arianna

  8. Florence

  9. Arianna

  10. Petra

  11. Arianna

  12. Florence

  13. Arianna

  14. Cvareh

  15. Yveun

  16. Florence

  17. Petra

  18. Arianna

  19. Cvareh

  20. Yveun

  21. Florence

  22. Cvareh

  23. Petra

  24. Yveun

  25. Arianna

  26. Florence

  27. Cvareh

  28. Petra

  29. Florence

  30. Arianna

  31. Florence

  32. Cvareh

  33. Yveun

  34. Arianna

  35. Florence

  36. Arianna

  37. Petra

  38. Cvareh

  39. Arianna

  40. Florence

  41. Yveun

  42. Florence

  43. Cvareh

  44. Arianna

  45. Yveun

  46. Florence

  47. Petra

  48. Cvareh

  49. Arianna

  50. Florence

  51. Yveun

  52. Louie

  Appendix: The World of Loom

  Acknowledgements

  About the Author

  MAP – LOOM

  MAP – NOVA

  1. Arianna

  It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Cvareh piloting the glider, it was that she valued her life a lot more than a superfluous notion like trust.

  His hands, the color of the blue-gray sky that stretched above them, clutched the handles of the vessel with less than inspiring certainty. They shook as though they held birds or writhing snakes, not gold. His magic flowed through the metal and into the glider beneath them, filling the air, giving lift and speed, before discharging out behind the glider’s bat-like wings as a full prism’s worth of color.

  Arianna clutched his waist, pushing her own magic under her heels, rooting herself to the glider in a battle against gravity. The contraption was not built for two and she had to manage her magic carefully to avoid interrupting the flow of his—a fate that would send them spiraling back earthward toward a near-certain death from the fall. His magic was fluctuating at best; the man had clearly never been taught how to pilot a glider and didn’t even understand the basics of how magic was channeled through the gold to give it lift.

  It would be easy for her to assume control. He was powerful, but she would have no reservations and a firm understanding of how the glider functioned.

  Arianna grit her teeth and kept her magic wound tightly around her feet. She let him struggle silently. Piloting a glider was something that, as far as Loom was concerned, only a Dragon could do. Even a strong Chimera couldn’t sustain the magic required to give it stable lift for very long. Which meant that there was no way Arianna should be able to.

  She could, however. She could pilot it more gracefully than the Dragon she was pressed against and the fact made her dangerous. It was a secret so great it would make her both revered and hunted should it ever be discovered. So Arianna kept her mouth shut. She remained the Chimera, the White Wraith, and nothing more.

  Her eyes drifted down behind them at the diminishing earth. Loom spread out beneath her, smaller and smaller until the tallest trees in the forest looked like toothpicks, and the coastline was nothing more than the teeth of a cog she could fit in the palm of her hand. Down there, was the Alchemists’ guild hall, reduced to nothing more than a speck, and in it was Florence.

  Her dearest friend, her ward, her Florence, had set out to change the world. The girl had challenged Ari to do the same and dream again as she once had. But the birth of dreams stained reality. Dreams charted courses beyond the line of possibility that the present drew. They turned that forbidden threshold into an invitation, one that offered no absolution to those who boldly ventured into its alluring unknown.

  Arianna knew this all too well.

  She had dreamed. She had carved her infamy from the impossible. The dreams had wrapped reality in a sweet illusion that had turned sour with betrayal. If she dreamed again, she would no longer dream for the world. She would not risk leaving another mark on such a scale. She would merely be a player in other’s dreams—like Florence’s.

  When the girl awoke this dawn, Arianna hoped she would understand. There wasn’t room for goodbyes between women of action. It would be wasted words. If Florence wanted to assume the post of a visionary, she had to weigh the importance of deeds before the importance of words, not just from Arianna, but from the whole world.

  “Brace yourself!” Cvareh shouted over the gusty currents.

  The winds howled with greater ferocity the closer they got to the thick clouds that perpetually engulfed Loom. Ari grabbed her elbows at Cvareh’s sides, locking muscle against muscle as she pressed into the taller man. The closer they were to each other, the less possibility for drag or for a rogue gust to get between them and knock her off.

  His magic washed over her in pulses that increased in frequency until they were a sustained force across the entire glider, including her. Surviving through the clouds required a hefty amount of protection—a corona. This was the second barrier that prevented a Chimera from piloting a glider. Built into the handles Cvareh gripped were golden channels designed to funnel magic into a protective shield. Even if a Chimera could manage lift, it wouldn’t be enough to sustain a suitable corona that would protect against the wind.

  Light sparked across them, shining like scales, as the wind battered the magical force-field. Ari’s refined goggles were whitewashed from the magic and clouds, her ears nearly deaf from the roaring wind that echoed through the magical barrier—a paper-thin separation between them and certain death.

  But she never closed her eyes.

  She remained alert, poised to take over should Cvareh falter. She would not die this day and
certainly not due to someone else’s incompetence. Arianna waited, her breaths shallowed with nerves, until they broke through the line that separated the world she knew below, and the world of Dragons in the skies above.

  Magic snapped audibly as they crossed the threshold between worlds. Ari blinked into unfiltered sunlight for the very first time.

  Her eyes had no trouble adjusting. They had been cut from a Dragon and implanted in her sockets. Her irises closed to thin slits and adapted instantly. But her mind rejected the blinding light. It was a struggle to process, like a ribbon of magnesium exposed to flame.

  How could anything be so bright?

  The sunlight illuminated every nook and cranny of the world that floated before her. It defied all logic, hovering in the empty air in violation of every scientific law that formed the load-bearing walls of the structure of her life. Nova, the homeland of the Dragons. She was loath to admit it, but the sketches in books hadn’t done it justice.

  Diamond-shaped islands drifted like icebergs through tides of wind. Inverted towers and honeycombed living quarters had been carved into the shade of their underbellies. Sunbeams winked through the hollow spaces where gardens thrived and waterfalls fell into the nothingness below, spilling a seemingly infinite amount of liquid into the void as if it were tithing for an unknown god.

  Smaller masses floated around the larger ones, like islands to continents. The glider rose higher and higher, giving Arianna her first glimpse of the tops. The land was as colorful as its people: purple mountains offset against emerald trees, gold splattered atop grasses as if the sun itself had been poured out. Every building was painted and adorned on all possible surfaces. Not one had escaped the artist’s brush or sculptor’s touch. Every. Single. One.

  “What do you think?” Cvareh shouted over his shoulder.

  Arianna wanted to quip back with some scathing remark. It was tacky. It was over the top. It was too much of everything. There was no appreciation for the beauty of simplicity. But her tongue had gone soft and spongy, and her usual wit hadn’t caught up with her.

  “It’s not what I expected.” She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of more than that. “Now focus on not getting us killed.”

  He must’ve agreed with the sentiment, because Cvareh said nothing further. Ari could feel his magic thinning. Bruises were beginning to form on his skin as his body broke down from the exertion. Arianna had no doubt he had a large mark around his torso where she’d been gripping for her life. But the man had yet to speak a word against her potentially painful proximity or hold on his person.

  The glider banked. Carved into the far side of the mountains, she could see the outlines of a grand series of structures that defied all sense of logic and necessity. They were suspended in the air, connected by gusty bridge-ways and narrow spiraling stairs. Cvareh tracked them to a large building above it all at the top of the mountain.

  “You need to slow us,” Ari cautioned nervously, realizing he intended to land on a flat alcove just on the other side of the structure.

  “I’m working on it.”

  “Work on it more urgently.” They were coming in far too fast for such a narrow ledge. Numbers flashed through her head, estimations based on estimations, but in every scenario they were splattered against the back wall of the wide-mouthed cavern.

  Cvareh tugged on the handles, his magic straining in spite of his obvious will. “You want to try flying this thing?”

  The question was obviously meant to be rhetorical, but Arianna had to bite her tongue from answering a resounding yes!

  She waited until what she estimated to be the last possible second for Cvareh to pull himself together and get the glider back under his control and on a proper trajectory. He met her expectations of failure. Ari pushed her magic into him, into the glider through her feet. It wasn’t possible to assume complete control without gripping the handles, but it had the desired effect. His magic was vastly weakened by the dominant influx of her own, resulting in the almost total arrest of the vessel’s momentum—and thus knocking it off the suicide course it had been propelling them along. Arianna mentally accommodated for the falter by adding extra lift beneath the wings.

  They skipped like a stone on water, skidding to a stop with a crash that crumpled one wing and sent them both tumbling from the glider. Ari’s ears were ringing from the sharp bang of metal crushing against stone. She winced at the sight of the technical masterpiece that was a Dragon glider reduced to half a heap of scrap.

  “Are you all right?” Cvareh drew himself to a seated position, taking note of her expression.

  “Takes a lot more than that to fell me.” Ari quickly checked for any rogue cuts or scratches she’d need to hide.

  “Isn’t that the truth?” He stood. “We need to get moving.”

  “To where?” Ari was already in step behind him.

  “The Temple of Xin.”

  Arianna had studied Dragon culture enough to know of the culture’s pantheon—the twenty needless gods they prayed to for everything from love to peace to luck. She could list off a good fifteen, maybe even all twenty, but Arianna could only align three to what they were said to be the gods of—and Xin was one of them.

  Lord Xin, the death-giver and patron of the House of his namesake—Cvareh’s family’s House.

  “Unless you can sprout actual wings on Nova, I doubt we’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.” Arianna shuffled toward the edge of the cavern, looking up and down. The walls were sheer and frustratingly smooth. Climbing would be a trick. Her mind was already turning around what they could salvage from the wreckage of the glider to help them scale the face when magic popped faintly around her companion.

  Cvareh murmured softly to himself in Ryouk, the language of the Dragons. Arianna’s ears picked up half of the conversation, but he spoke too softly for her to catch anything substantial. She stepped closer and his hand promptly fell away from his ear.

  “Wings are coming.”

  “What does that mean?” She raised her eyebrows.

  He laughed. The infuriating Dragon had the audacity to laugh at her as though she were a child inquiring about how water turned to ice. Arianna narrowed her eyes at him in warning.

  “You’ll see.” He leaned against one of the side walls, folding his arms over his chest.

  The Dragon had become bolder around her and Arianna hadn’t done enough to discourage the disdainful behavior. His mannerisms were his own, but every now and then she saw the shade of someone else in them. Someone that gave her pause even when she was at her boldest.

  “I’d rather you just tell me.” She leaned against the wall at his side with a hefty sigh.

  “By the time I did, you—”

  The air from the flapping of large wings buffeted the side of her face and Arianna turned as a loud screech nearly deafened her. A giant bird-like creature had been saddled with an ornate leather seat like those intended for horseback. Her fingers closed around the hilt of her sharper dagger.

  A Dragon the color of pale sea foam sat poised on its back as the bird perched with ease on the ledge. The rider had golden eyes not unlike Cvareh’s, but his hair was a darker shade, closer to the color of fired brick or wet clay. He ran a hand through his shoulder-length locks, smoothing them from the ride. His eyes drifted to her instantly.

  “You brought a Chimera?” Disapproval radiated from the man’s pores.

  “The ends, Cain.” Cvareh’s tone had a cautionary punctuation, the words strung together with a vibrato of authority Arianna had never heard from him before. It made her look sideways at the man she’d traveled across Loom with.

  “Looking forward to hearing more of those.” Cain shook his head. “Come on then. Petra’Oji wants you in the Temple post haste.”

  Cvareh made a start for the bird, Arianna at his side. He stopped her with an arm. “You need to wait here.”

&nb
sp; “Excuse me?”

  “The boco can’t take more than two riders at a time.”

  “Then leave this petulant Dragon and take me.” Arianna motioned rudely to the man named Cain. Cvareh had earned his name; all others would as well.

  “What did you call me?” The man on the boco growled.

  “Peace.” Cvareh held out his hands between them. But amusement was alight in his eyes—amusement for her.

  Bloody cogs, first his boldness and now she was endearing to him? She was losing her edge.

  “Wait here. Time is of the essence and I can’t explain now. Cain will come back for you,” Cvareh said.

  “If he doesn’t—”

  “He will,” the Dragon cut off her threat. “Trust me, Ari.”

  She rolled her eyes and leaned against the side wall again, arms folded across her chest to communicate her general displeasure at the situation. Cvareh shook his head, squeezing awkwardly into the saddle behind Cain. She watched them depart, questioning the choices that had led her here.

  Arianna drew her dagger and commenced flipping it in the air, attempting to take her mind off the fact that she had just willingly walked into the Dragon’s den.

  2. Petra

  Petra walked the tightrope of treason. On either side were the voids of failure, an oblivion from which there was no escape. Dangled at the far end before her was the title of Dono, Queen of the Dragons, glory of House Xin. The sight of it was enough to keep her toeing a line that even the most suicidally ambitious dragon wouldn’t dare to walk.

  She grinned madly into the wind, baring her canines to an invisible foe.

  Islands of Nova flashed beneath her, reduced to green blurs by Raku’s speed. She fisted his feathers and altered course slightly. The other three bocos behind her followed suit.

  She had the Dono and two riders in tow. Their magic sparked with aggression, but only one held weight. Yveun Dono, King of the Dragons, barely held his emotions in check. She knew when his eyes fell on her back by the ferocity that lit the wind between them.

 
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