Storm of Fury (Legends of the Storm #4) by Bec McMaster

One





“Find a missing dreki prince, they said,” Tormund grumbled, shielding his face against the swirl of snow seeking to drive him from this mortal world. “It will be fun, they said.”

“Come now,” his cousin Haakon bellowed behind him. “Don’t you want to be a legend?”

“I killed a wyrm,” he yelled back, though the true death of the creature was still hotly debated. “I am a legend!”

“And I killed three dragons. I’m two ahead of you,” Haakon said, cutting him a fierce grin as he appeared out of the snow. “But if you want to find a nice warm fire and sit out the rest of this journey, then I’m sure we can find you a blanket for your lap. Or a cup of tea. Perhaps a cat to stroke? When I return with Prince Marduk, I’ll tell the court tales of the brave warrior who doesn’t like a bit of snow—"

Tormund shoved him onto his backside, where the bastard merely threw his head back and laughed. Haakon was a different man to the one he’d known for the past seven years. “I liked you better when you were pining for your wife.”

Then he reached down a hand and hauled Haakon to his feet, because he wasn’t an utter wretch.

“We need to find you your own wife,” Haakon said, brushing snow off himself. “Then we might be able to tempt you out of this surly mood you’ve found yourself in of late.”

“Oh no.” No wives. No matchmaking. “That was my task. And I’ve reunited you with the lovely Árdís. My mission is complete.”

“Then why are you still here?” This time, there was actual curiosity in Haakon’s eyes.

Tormund scrubbed at the beginnings of a mighty beard.

He didn’t know how to answer that. He’d spent seven years trailing his cousin in his search for his missing wife. He’d kept Haakon’s head on his shoulders—and out of a vat of ale—and he’d managed to help him kill three dragons.

He’d always said he’d return home the day Haakon found his wife, the dreki princess, Árdís, but… that had been two months ago.

And here he was now, still following his reckless cousin, this time in search of a missing dreki prince who hadn’t been seen in almost a decade.

“Árdís will kill me if I don’t bring you back alive,” he muttered. “Someone has to watch your back.”

“Someone is watching my back.” Haakon pointed up.

Tormund snorted as they staggered through the thick snow. He swore his pack was growing heavier. “You trust that vicious overgrown lizard? He did try to steal your princess.”

“If Sirius returns without me, his wee pretty wife will make a throw rug with his hide. I trust his fear of Malin’s wrath more than I trust the bastard himself.”

“Are you two quite finished?”

A massive black shape reared out of the blizzard, spreading its wings. Tormund missed a step, and clapped a hand to his chest. Until that moment, he’d merely thought the shadow a part of the cliff face.

Dreki were creatures of myth, and though he’d once made the mistake of calling one of them a dragon—a mistake he’d barely survived with his life—he knew the difference between them now.

Dragons were larger, lumbering beasts that couldn’t breathe fire nor shift shapes. They flew poorly and were widely reputed among the dreki world to be their hideous, inbred cousins. Dreki were far more elegant creatures with long sinuous necks and wider wings. Of all the goddess Tiamat’s children, they alone shared her gift for magic.

And they owned a god’s share of arrogance.

“Odin’s balls,” Haakon cursed. “I thought you were supposed to be scouting ahead. What the hell are you doing down here?”

“Sunning myself.” The dreki prince’s words imprinted themselves directly in Tormund’s mind. The enormous creature had draped himself over a rocky outcropping, looking for all the world like an overbred cat. “This is the best the Zini court had to offer me as escort?”

Tormund drew himself up. “You’re the best the Zini court could send us as transportation?”

“Transportation?”

“We hunt dragons,” Tormund replied.

“And kill wyrms,” Haakon added.

“And you might be a vicious warlord with a reputation that could send other dreki quivering, but you’ve no skill in tracking down lost myths.”