Excerpt

“Well, that’s hard to say,” Sun mused. “They aren’t uncommon on Ylithriel. The constant darkness makes it comfortable for them, since most of them hate sunlight. And they do attack people. But I discussed it with Azzie, and he doesn’t think it was a chance encounter. He had a difficult time sending it back, so he’s convinced it was Damia’s thrall.”
“Sending it back?”
“He’s a Prince of Hell. An unranked demon should obey him without question. But it resisted.”
“We haven’t really encountered much, have we? The griffons, mainly. The Elves weren’t Damia’s doing. That was just crappy luck.” And one assassin, but Sun doesn’t realize I know about that. Best to keep it quiet.
“It seems we’ve walked a charmed path, doesn’t it?” the dragonlord agreed. He, too, knew that they were making better progress than any of them could have hoped for. “She’s been very careful about testing us. Specifically, I think, in testing Azzie. She really doesn’t know who he is, and he’s caught her eye.”
“Testing him?”
Sun shrugged. “She knows what my powers are. You’re human and have no magic, so she dismissed you out of hand. But Azzie? She’s trying to find his limits.”
Frank laughed, then winced as pain shot through his head. “He has limits?”
“She knows he’s from Hell,” Sun continued, although he seemed to be addressing himself now. “She didn’t know that demon would be constrained to obey him, but she probably suspected as much. And she seems to want him intact. She hasn’t sent anything that might seriously harm him, although if you or I get caught in the crossfire, it would be convenient.”
“Yeah, I’m doing my best to get killed,” Frank quipped.
Hell, I was going to slice my wrists before that thing even showed up. I might have saved her some trouble.
“Where is our uppity friend, anyway?”
Sun waved his hand towards the cave opening. “Wherever he generally goes. Scouting for trails, I believe he said.”
Frank raised an eyebrow. The dragonlord’s voice suddenly held a bitter edge. Jealousy? Irritation? He wondered what had passed between his companions while he was unconscious. Perhaps they’d fought.
Of course they fought. That’s all they do. And Sun can’t win an argument against Azzie.
Let them fight. And if Sun wanted to be grouchy, he was entitled. He’d saved Frank’s life for probably the fourth or fifth time; he was welcome to his little snit.
But the dragonlord’s annoyance passed quickly. “The plan is to take Moon by surprise,” Sun said. “Hundreds of tunnels honeycomb the mountain. There have to be at least a couple of other entrances besides her cave up top, but they’ll likely be hidden or overgrown. We’ll lose more time searching around the base of the Claw trying to find our way inside.”
“You know this area better than Azzie. Why aren’t you scouting?”
“I didn’t want you left alone.”
Because I was hurt? Or because he didn’t want me alone with Azzie? Frank hated how suspicious he’d grown lately, but every word out of Sun’s mouth only convinced him further that there was a dangerous rift growing between the two gods. A rift that Azzie wasn’t even encouraging; although it would be natural to blame him.
Somehow, he knew Sun was deliberately keeping him and Azzie apart. Why?
Does he think I’m still pissed about Az tearing that poor lizard apart? As if I’d force a confrontation in this condition. I can’t even lift my head.
Or does he know something about our little chat outside Nazzarone?

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