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Clarabelle flew silently, passing over the Basilisk Preserve, an area deep within the Sídhí forest.

Snarling, her gray lips curled tight above dagger-sized teeth. She knew her long, beautiful snout bore little resemblance to its normal elegant appearance, but she couldn't help it. Her throat ached to release pent-up dragonfire. The deadly fire bubbled deep in the pit of her gullet, a special side-pocket connected to her throat.

She didn't dare release the tinniest wisp of her deadly fire. A single lick of her potent flame and the rubber containers filled with fairy water would burst before she was ready.

She had wanted Harry to fix his own mess and hopefully learn a much-needed lesson, but quenching the forest fire, before one of the interfering guardians showed up, was more important than training her younger brother. How he managed to live to be a hundred twenty years old was beyond her understanding.

She was cutting the rescue of her bumbling brother much too close, but it had taken time to snatch several containers of the expensive fire retardant. During the summer months, the large rubber balloons containing fairy-water were stacked three deep at the forest rangers storage facility located near Basilisk Pass. She thought she got in and out of the facility before anyone noticed her. Trying to explain why she was not at the Peace Camp and doing her assigned duty would be irritating.

Not that anyone would connect her sleek gray body with the traitorous member of the Khr'Vurr who kidnapped and tortured Guardian Alexander. To put it simply, she was hiding in plain sight. A trick easily accomplished since she was a throwback to the powerful Vürst dragons, a dragon clan thought to be extinct long before Sídhí appeared on Earth. The only way other dragons might guess her true heritage was by the strength of her dragonfire, but that wasn't something she could control. Anyway, people only noticed her elegant gray scales.

Clarabelle was a true Vürst dragon. A Vürst dragon of Sídhí lore who could tap into the synth crystal of her blood, extending her lovely back and tail spikes any time she wanted. Only her mate knew the truth of her bloodline and he would never betray her. He had been the one to encourage her current plan of action as they soaked in the hot springs beneath his castle.

She snorted in derision, remembering the conversation. Certain members of the Khr'Vurr were becoming too chummy with non-dragon members. The non-dragon members had been added for two reasons, a way to extend the Khr'Vurr's power into the other valleys and a way to search for Ancient ruins. She chuckled evilly. Non-dragon members were also a way to create scapegoats among the Khr'Vurr. Yes, she had a lovely supply of disposable members.

She sighed disgustedly, knowing she would soon hand over several dragon members of the Khr'Vurr to the guardians. She didn’t regret her decisions. A few prissy – modern thinking – dragons needed to be culled from active duty. They'd forgotten the true purpose of the Khr'Vurr.

In a way, the modern thinkers were worse than the stagnate Dragon Council.

The Dragon Council thought they were so smart, gathering hundreds of dragon together, dragons who were suspected members of the Khr'Vurr, a righteous group of freedom fighters. The council and guardians had stumbled happily along with Clarabelle’s plans as they hosted the Peace Camp in an attempt to hunt down the members of the Khr'Vurr.

Ha! She loved it! The council was actually making her job easier. It helped that her own beloved mate was a member of the council.

Hiding under the guardian's snouts, keeping them in the dark was highly entertaining. She hadn't felt this alive in hundreds of years. Yes, she walked a very fine wire, where one wrong move and years of planning would blow-up in her face.

She wasn't concerned.

A member of the Fore’Syth clan (a clan gifted with foresight) had 'seen' Clarabelle’s success. Failure was not an option. She was assured a victory against the council.

With one exception, her plans were perking along nicely and her rise to power was slowly falling into place. She growled deep in her throat and a tiny lick of flame curled around her snout as her mind centered on the one disaster. No, not everything was going as planned.

It would take the wrinkly, little gnomes several weeks of digging to reach her sister. Fury engulfed her. For the past few days, she had grieved for her dead sister.

Once Clarabelle healed from her serious chest injuries (and once she calmed down), she remembered one simple fact of life: Dragons were incredibly tough, nearly impossible to kill, even among the other Sídhí races.

The guardians never searched the collapsed cavern, assuming her sister was dead. But until Clarabelle held her sister's lifeless body, she wouldn't believe it. Her sister was twelve hundred years old. And old Sídhí were nearly impossible to kill. Her body could've been crushed and mangled, but as long as Ella’s head stayed attached, she might be alive.

A thrill of anticipation raced through her sleek body, running from her head to tail. Clarabelle had a special reception planned for Guardian Alexander and those two wretched teenagers responsible for her sister’s untimely accident. The fact that the teens were now bonded lifeMates would intensify her pleasure each time one of them screamed in agony.

The pungent smell of burning furble needles pulled Clarabelle from her enjoyable dreams of retribution.

Good thing Harry mentally called for help the moment the fire started.

Her sharp eyes searched the treetops, looking for the telltale plume of smoke. There. Of course, the doofus had picked the meeting area in plain view of any dragon passing overhead, right smack on the crest of a hill.

She grimaced as smoke spiraled beyond the tops of furble and pine trees. The entire area was littered with last year's pine needles. Add in the – highly flammable – furble needles and it was a firebug's dream.

Sending Harry to set-up the next step in her plan had been foolish. She knew it, but she kept thinking her younger brother would grow-out of his weird affliction. Sídhí were not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but Harry was sadly lacking in every area. Whoever heard of a dragon choking on his own smoke? Maybe once in a while, but not every day.

She angled downward, skimming past blue and green treetops. Harry appeared below her, hopping up and down like a hibbet in heat, dashing from one blossoming blaze to the next. His flapping wings sent gusts of oxygen to the greedy flames, increasing the size of the burning area.

She flew lower, preparing to drop the six desk-sized balloons of fairy-water. One by one she staggered the balloons down the length of the grassy area. The moment the fairy enhanced rubber detected the warmth of fire its molecular structure changed, disintegrating the thick red rubber like a drip of water hitting a hot iron skillet.

Once the fairy water touched air, the synth enhanced water expanded until the nasty liquid quadrupled its original mass.

A high pitched wail erupted from below. The furious shrieking nearly drowned the sound of Harry's antics. Clarisse, the traitorous Clan vampire, dashed from her hiding spot behind a cluster of large furble trees, shaking her fist in the air and screaming obscenities at Clarabelle.

The young vampire’s threats came out spluttered as Clarabelle dropped her last balloon. The foul smelling liquid crashed around Clarisse, soaking the angry vampire. Under a face full of fairy water the girl shrieked in fury.

The horrid fairy-water, laced with synth crystal, smelled nasty and tasted worse. The compressed liquid filled balloon-like spheres that helicopters and dragons dropped on forest fires that plagued the area during the dry season. The horrific smell was something out of a nightmare, crossing spoiled milk, dog crap, and sulfur. Whatever the twisted fairies actually did to the altered water was anyone's best guess.

The murky water clung to Clarisse like slime, turning her fair colored skin a sickly yellow and her brilliant red hair into a rather splotchy orange color.

Clarabelle circled the open area between the trees, assuring herself all the fires had been put out. She landed. One clawed foot crunched in hot, blackened grass while the other sank in an area drenched in fairy-water.

Harry ducked his head, refusing to meet her angry glare.

Clarisse stomped up. “Look at me! I'll never get this slimy mess out of my hair. It's horrid!”

“Silence,” Clarabelle said, snapping her jaws a hair's length from the girl's short orange hair that lay matted around her head.


Clarabelle hissed at the girl, throwing scorching heat in the girl's face without expelling any dragonfire.

The girl shrieked and stumbled backward, squalling that she could've died.

Clarabelle ignored the teenager's foot stomping temper tantrum and turned to Harry. “Did you give her all the instructions?”

Harry quickly nodded his head, his mottled frog green scales not looking any worse for being drenched in the fairy water.

“You,” Clarabelle said, turning to the girl, “leave before I decide to add a little flame. A few holes in your body certainly wouldn't kill you, but it would teach you not to question your betters.”

“You aren't my boss,” Clarisse said, shaking her finger at the gray dragon. “You can be sure that my father will hear of this atrocity.”

Clarabelle snorted. “He has been paid for your troubles, but your continued well being, as well as that of your sister's, relies on a job well done. Now leave!”

Clarabelle watched the girl flounce away, stomping through the surrounding forest as if she owned the place. The girl had an attitude, a snotty attitude that reminded Clarabelle of her younger self. Given enough time, the hateful little teenager might grow on Clarabelle.