- Author: Emma Hamm
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Dawn of Cobalt ShadowsBurning Empire Book 2
Copyright © 2019 by Emma Hamm
Cover Design by Julijana Mijailovic https://julijanam.com/
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Every once in a while, you meet someone who lets your soul run free with theirs.
I hope, someday, you meet this person who knows you’re going to render their soul to ashes.
But who also knows a dragon cannot burn.
About the Author
Dappled sunlight played across Sigrid’s face. The warmth of the sun stroked her cheeks and left lingering heat in spots on her bare arms. Birds sang bright and clear, their songs lifting up to the clouds, twirling in the wind that toyed with her loose golden curls.
How long had she felt trapped here? How long had she lingered in the shadows of this land hoping that someone would leave her alone long enough so that she could feel this one more time?
“Sigrid?” a voice called out.
And there went her peace.
She rolled onto her side. The skirts of her simple overdress twisted through her legs with her movement. A white undershirt kept her arms warm. The chill of autumn had arrived. Thankfully, the afternoons were still filled with the sun, if she could find a private spot to linger in solitude.
“Camilla,” Sigrid called out. “You’re supposed to be at the feast.”
Her dearest friend, the only person she would truly call her sister, pushed aside a branch and ducked into the small clearing where Sigrid waited. Camilla, as always, was dressed like a wild thing. She’d taken to wearing furs now that it was colder out. A hide skirt revealed the long expanse of her bare, dark legs. A leather corset paired it, and she’d placed a sheepskin over her shoulders for a little extra heat.
One of the other Beastkin had braided her hair into rows at the top of her head. When had Camilla’s hair gotten that long? The ends hit her hips as she walked and whirled like whips when she turned too quickly. The look suited her, although it made her perhaps a little less approachable.
Sigrid and Camilla had always liked being intimidating, however. Perhaps this was her friend’s way of continuing to push people away.
Her onyx skin gleamed in the sunlight like the sheen of her warhorse after battle. Camilla’s face split into a grin, and she shook her head. “The feast? You mean the one which can’t start without you?”
“They know very well I don’t care for those kinds of revelries.”
“And they’re still waiting for you.” Camilla crunched through the fallen leaves, then landed hard on the ground next to Sigrid. “They’d rather have their leader eating amongst them.”
Sigrid hated it. She’d somehow managed to gather herself an entire kingdom of people who wanted her to be something she wasn’t. They wanted her to be lethal, a dangerous creature who thirsted for blood and wanted to burn all the kingdoms to the ground.
She might be a dragon, but she wasn’t a monster.
“Well, even leaders need to get away from everything sometimes.” She rolled onto her back and stared up through the red leaves rattling above them. “Maybe I should disappear in the night and not return for a few days. Would they starve themselves, you think? Or would they somehow manage to survive?”
Camilla smacked her shoulder with a laugh. “Get up, you. They’re going to start gnawing on each other’s arms if we don’t get back soon.”
Good. Maybe they would relax once the blood started flowing.
Shaking her head, and knowing it was a bad idea to stay, Sigrid sat up and rubbed a hand on the back of her neck. “Help me with my hair then?”
“They don’t care what your hair looks like, Sigrid.”
But that was the difference between her and Camilla. Her owlish friend could walk among them and no Beastkin would ever question why she was there. They would look at her and laugh, no matter what clothing or style she chose. If she wanted to walk through the camp naked with her face painted, she could.
Everything Sigrid did was a sign to them. If she changed her clothing style, then suddenly everyone in the camp was wearing the same kind of dress. If she wore her hair down, they wondered if she was sick. If she wore it up in a different way, they wondered if something was changing.
Each detail of her life had suddenly become an omen. She had to watch what she said or did.
This was worse than Bymere. At least there, the people had looked at her as if she was some kind of nightmarish creature. They’d wanted nothing to do with her and, because of that, they’d freed her from the cage she’d always lived in.
It seemed that she’d traded her freedom for yet another cage.
Camilla must have seen all the emotions playing across Sigrid’s face, because she sighed and twirled a finger in the air. “Turn around then, you fool. If that’s how it’s got to be, then I’ll make sure the braids look normal this time. Do you remember what happened when we tried a different style?”
Sigrid snorted. “I don’t want to see that many people running around looking like we were going to be attacked from every direction. Did you know that you’d given me a traditional battle hairstyle?”
“Of course I did. That’s why I gave it to you. I thought it made you look fierce.”
She didn’t need anything else to make her look fierce.