Ansley has been looking for his dragon since Byron was taken from him a hundred years ago. The sacrifice of his shield and the man he was in love with was necessary, but Ansley can’t find peace, and neither can the other five mages he considers his brothers, who also shared that sacrifice. They’ve been without their other half for so long that some of them have lost hope.
But not Ansley.
Parker has no memory beyond the past hundred years. He’s been moving every ten years or so because he’s not aging—which probably has to do with his ability to shift into a dragon—but this time around, it’s harder to leave everything behind. He doesn’t have a choice, though.
When Ansley finally finds the right spell, it leads him straight to Byron. But Byron isn’t Byron anymore. A hundred years and no memories turned him into a new man.
A man Ansley likes even more than he did Byron.
Ansley’s job is to find the other five dragons, but with the threat that caused the mages to lose the dragons rising again, he might not be able to do it in time.
And if he can’t, it could mean death for all of them.
Seeking spells. They hadn’t been Ansley’s specialty until he and the other mages had lost their dragons. Since then, he’d cast hundreds of them, if not more, and not one had worked. What did he have to do to get his dragon back? To bring the dragons back to all the mages?
That was what Ansley had been obsessing over for decades. He’d started with the simplest spells when he and the others were still healing from the fight with Carlyle, and when those hadn’t worked, he’d moved on to more complicated spells. By now, he’d reached the point where he was modifying the spells to give himself hope that one day, he’d find the dragons.
Yesterday had not been that day. He wasn’t sure about today yet, but he’d try.
He always did.
“You could get your head out of your books at least during the meals,” Jarvis teased from the other side of the table.
Ansley blinked up at him. “What?” He’d heard Jarvis, but his brain was having a hard time making sense of the words. He was always like this when he was deep in thought, especially when thinking about spells, which was pretty much always these days.
Jarvis’s smile was indulgent. “Never mind. What has you so focused this morning?”
Penley snorted. “What do you think? There’s only ever one thing on his mind.”
Jarvis arched a brow. “Maybe, but he’s only doing it for all of us.”
“I didn’t say it was a bad thing. I want my shield back as much as you do.”
They all did. Even though they didn’t need their shields anymore, what with Carlyle being trapped, they didn’t feel complete without their dragons. It made them vulnerable and exposed them to other mages and danger, and it had been that way for so long that Ansley had lost count of the years. He didn’t want to think about how long he’d been without Byron. He just wanted Byron back.
He got to his feet, not hungry anymore. Penley had reminded him he had work to do, and the sooner he started, the sooner he’d find the right spell.
“You should eat,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis looked down at Ansley’s plate. “You should eat more. It won’t do anyone any good if you faint during a spell.”
“I’m not going to faint.”
Even though Ansley routinely forgot to eat. His entire focus had been on his spells and finding the dragons for so long that more often than not, he barely thought about anything else. He was lucky he had his brothers and the others who shared the castle with them. If it weren’t for them, he would have become a hermit who never left his rooms. As it was, the only reason he did leave them was that, like Jarvis had said, he needed food.
Jarvis sighed. “Not today, but eventually, this will catch up to you. Do you really think Byron would want you to work yourself to the bone to find him?”
A flash of pain threatened to break Ansley’s heart. “I don’t know what Byron would want,” he snapped.
“I’m sorry. I’m not trying to get you to stop, just to take care of yourself. We don’t want to lose you. We’ve already lost too much.”
Ansley looked around the table. Not everyone was there, but the ones who were present nodded at Jarvis’s words. It touched Ansley, but it wasn’t enough.
It never would be until they found their dragons.
Every mage had a shield. It had always been that way, and it always would be. The shields were dragon shifters who protected mages during battles and while they were casting spells. Both in battle and in spell casting, mages had to focus on what they were doing, which exposed them to whoever wanted to attack. That was where the dragons came in.
Or rather, it had been.
Most mages still had their dragons. It was just Ansley and his brothers who didn’t.
He swallowed and grabbed his notebook from the table. “I have work to do,” he repeated.
This time, no one tried to stop him. They knew it was useless, and he was both relieved and grateful. He shouldered a massive responsibility—finding the dragons. His brothers could do the same spells he did, but they hadn’t been working on them for as long as he had. Every one of them had their specialty, and spells of the seeking kind were Ansley’s.
Yet he couldn’t find the dragons.
Ansley quickly left the dining room. His footsteps echoed against the stone in the hallway, giving him the impression of an empty space.
Like his heart.
He didn’t fool himself. Finding the dragons would be hard, if not impossible. They all wondered why their dragons hadn’t found them in so many years, and while they couldn’t know for sure what Carlyle had done in his last spell, it had to have been bad. It had made the dragons stay away, something they wouldn’t have done if they hadn’t been forced to.
Well, most of them wouldn’t have. Ansley couldn’t be sure about Byron because they hadn’t been that close, even though they’d shared the bond every mage and their shield shared. The thought of Byron staying away from him on purpose hurt.
He needed to have more faith. Byron hadn’t known about Ansley’s feelings for him, but that didn’t mean he would have stayed away. Like all dragons, he understood how vital his role was when it came to protecting the mages. He’d have been here, doing exactly that, if he’d been able to.
Which meant he wasn’t.