Drakon halted his horse at the end of the pass and stared at the collection of houses and the fields beyond. Last night he and his companion had ridden well past moonrise so they could reach the village this morning. Fall had arrived. Reds, yellows and oranges blazed across the hills.
Why had this village remained untouched? Ten years ago, the lord of Sea Cliff had attacked High Peaks and ravaged the villages closest to the tower. Of the three settlements sworn to High Peaks only this one remained. The answer had to be treachery. Drakon wondered if he would learn the names of the traitors.
*You will not,* the Old One said. *They are dead.*
Drakon tightened his hold on the reins. Every time the ancient yellow dragon spoke to him, he felt warmth and delight. Years ago, his inability to speak to the dragons had doomed him to ten years as a slave. *I wish they were alive so I could see to their punishment. Their treason made me Lagon's prisoner and a thing to be sold to the priestesses.*
*Better a slave than living under the evil one's control the way the heirs of the other towers do.*
A year had passed since Drakon's escape from the temple of Fyre. Though he had sworn to see the man dead, the lord of Sea Cliff Tower remained alive. A need for vengeance invaded Drakon's thoughts. His family, his near kin and innocent villagers had been slaughtered on that dreadful day.
*Patience,* the Old One said.
"Behold the lush growth of the fields," His companion drew his steed to Drakon's side. "Look at the height and fullness of the fyrethorns. The harvest will be abundant." He raked his fingers through his gray-tinged brown hair.
Drakon shook his head. "I see, but do we need all this for one dragon?"
Radlan shrugged. "Who are we to cry about good fortune? There are few dragons in the land. From what I have heard there are five pair at Sea Cliff and none at the other three towers."
Drakon's jaw clenched. His desire for revenge flared anew. If only there was a way to defeat Lagon and free the High Peaks dragons.
*Have faith. There will be more dragons at our tower.*
Some of Drakon's tension ebbed. *First patience and now faith. I'll try. Before I gain those virtues, there's a harvest to be completed.* He prodded the steed with his heels and the horse trotted down the trail into the village.
As Drakon dismounted the headman bustled across the commons with a hand extended in welcome, "My lord."
Drakon straightened. Would he ever become used to being named as the lord of High Peaks Tower? "Just Drakon. Am I in time to help with the harvest?"
The gray-haired man nodded. "The men have started in the fields and the crew for the fyrethorns has just assembled."
Drakon pulled on a pair of heavy leather gloves, grabbed a sack and strode to the row of fyrethorn bushes. Radlan had been right about the size of the harvest. A wry smile crossed Drakon's face. The increased yield was due to the seeds he'd brought from the temple, the only good thing to from his stay as a stud in the harras.
A half dozen young women and four young men joined him. Drakon glanced at his fellow workers. One young woman flipped her glossy ebony hair over her shoulder. He swallowed. Her beauty made him wish for what was impossible.
Of the men, three were his age. The one with black hair was older. He glared at Drakon and drew the beauty away. Drakon frowned. Why did the man dislike him when they had never met?
He shrugged off the stares of the others and moved along the hedgerow pulling handfuls of the long blood red thorns. As he removed them bunches of crimson berries were exposed. The young women pulled the clusters and dropped them in baskets.