Broken Aro (The Broken Ones Book 1)

By: Jen Wylie

Fifteen Years Ago

He soared high above the coast, air rippling beneath his wings. Dipping through clouds, he enjoyed the coolness of the light wind whirling around him. Sunlight sparkled on the ocean waves far below, little winking lights breaking the monotony of the empty waters.

Like a fledgling, he played amongst the wispy clouds. Snapping his giant wings open, he broke a dive, spun, and with powerful beats, rose higher once more. Even after thousands of years, the joy of flying still excited him. It was one of the few things still able to send a thrill coursing through his veins.

From the corner of his eye, a dark spot caught his attention and he turned, spiraling around it. A ship, while not uncommon along the coast, usually wasn't found this far north. He dropped lower, noting it was a large vessel capable of making the long journey across the sea. There were fewer of them now that the humans occupied the entire eastern coastline with their pathetic little cities.

He twisted, flicking his tail, and circled. There, on the secluded beach...little spots scurrying around a smaller boat. The humans of the east were mostly pirates and slavers. Few partook of practices such as legal trade or simple transport, particularly anyone with such long range ships. They were all criminals anyways, so why would someone be picked up from a beach when there were perfectly good ports available?

Even more curious, he dropped lower, expanding his senses and almost missing a wing-beat.

Fey? It couldn't be... He circled above, watching with his senses fully alert. Most of the little bodies below were human, but two were indeed Fey. He watched the humans fill the small boat with items from the shore and then head back to the larger ship.

He debated investigating further. If he was seen by the humans in dragon form it could prove troublesome. He couldn't help himself. This was interesting. Anything that could catch his attention, or give his mind something to do, was treasured. Like flight, curiosity still brought him joy.

He did take some care not to be spotted, dropping quickly, and into a cove further north. Large rocks cut the beach into small pockets and provided some cover. Once on the ground, he quickly shifted forms.

The Fey knew he was there before he emerged from the outcropping of rocks separating the coves. The only two people left on the beach, he watched their reaction to his arrival as he walked toward them. Their momentary confusion amused him.

The woman's eyes opened wide as they took in his appearance. They knew at a glance he was none of the known races. "You're not..." Shock of what stalked toward them spread across their faces.

A smile twisted at his lips as he drew closer. The male stood straighter, stepping in front of the woman. Their eyes glowed with an inner orange light.

Orange...not red. Even more interesting.

He stopped before them, extremely pleased with his decision to investigate. These Fey could easily pass for human. Young, beautiful ones, but still human. Each wore their hair long, covering their slightly pointed ears. His hair was brown, hers pale as corn silk. By the quality of their dress, he could tell they weren't wild Fey. They were not covered in scavenged rags or hides. Their clothing was handmade, clearly bought from one of the city's markets. Most importantly, they weren't raving mad. How this could be, he couldn't fathom. Since their fall centuries ago, the creatures had become red-eyed killers, locked in their fury, rarely able to escape or control it.

This pair had managed it, somehow. That they did not fall into it now, in his presence, spoke highly of them.

"Dragos," the male said stiffly. "You are not wanted here."

He smiled. As if such things would ever bother him. "I go where I wish, when I wish. You should know this, Fey." His eyes narrowed slightly. There was something familiar about them... He searched his vast memories, carefully flipping through those that involved past encounters with their kind. Yes...there. Almost six centuries ago, the last time he had visited their city and their queen. This male had been at court, though not introduced.

He looked to the woman. She had been. "Dalsia." He tilted his head slightly to her. "Seer's daughter."

She stiffened, her eyes widening and shifting slightly more toward red. She tilted her head, not at him, but to whisper to her mate. "He is the Dragos named Damon."

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