“Here’s a snippet from Hatchling’s Mate, the third book in the Dragshi Chronicles.”~Helen Henderson
The thud of the lockbar hitting the ground entered Talann’s senses.
“Time to earn your keep,” Marbh said through the open door. He stepped back and grunted to the men beside him. “Bring him. The Parant awaits.”
Two men grabbed Talann. Rather than resist, he let them pull him to his feet, then sagged against them. If they want me to pull the plow, they’ll have to carry me to the field.
Arms around their shoulders, the followers dragged him through the maze of damp passageways. Talann gave up trying to keep track of the twists and turns and concentrated on keeping his feet beneath him. By the time they reached the exit to the Parant’s valley, his shoulders ached from bearing his weight.
Outside, a line of torches danced in the breeze, leading across to where more formed a great circle. “Not the field,” Marbh said. “The amphitheater, to see an old friend,” he added with a laugh. He turned and followed the lit path across the damp grass.
At Marbh’s command, the men stopped at the entrance. Fingers twined into Talann’s hair, lifting his head. “No plow for you today, dragon lover,” Marbh hissed. He gestured at the mill stone. “Tonight you are the entertainment for the Parant’s dinner.”
Cries pierced through the dark haze surrounding Talann. Blinks cleared his vision to reveal Ohlmar harnessed to one of the spokes. The stallion cried and tried to move to Talann only to be brought up by the ropes that held him between two massive poles. One of the men shook out a long leather strap and laid it across the stallion’s back.
Marbh laughed at the animal’s struggles before returning his attention back to Talann. “Thank you for your help. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to convince the Parant of my loyalty.” His head shook in mock sadness. “Unfortunately for you. I’ve convinced our master no son of a dragon lord would ever betray his people.”
Pleasure radiated from the mercenary. “You won’t be alone,” Marbh hissed. Anger darkened his features and the burn scars stood out in white contrast. “For biting me, after he kills you, the stallion dies.” He stepped back and raised the whip. “Here’s a taste.”
Talann tried to twist away, but the guards held him firm. Fire streaked across his back. Blackness edged his vision and he sagged in his captor’s grasp.
Marbh leaned in close. Insanity danced in the bloodshot eyes. “The Parant and Haldric have a bet on as to how long you’ll last.” Steel fingers gripped Talann’s jaw, forcing him to look at the platform. “Winner gets Glyn.”