Dragon Rider – Part Nine

Dragon Rider

Chapter Six

Going Nowhere, Fast

Drake was sprawled on a threadbare sofa, his Zephyr guitar lying across his chest. He couldn’t play here, not when he would end up bewitching Willow and Gizmo. Instead, he pretended to run his fingers over the strings, mentally playing the chords to soothe his aching brain.
But no matter how hard he concentrated on the music in his mind and tried to ignore the millions of questions that rattled around with it, he couldn’t; they kept bubbling to the surface, forcing him to think.
He stopped and gently dropped the guitar to the ground, trying hard not to look at his reflection in the shiny bridge of his instrument. But just like the questions that refused to go away he could neither ignore or liberate himself from the tattoo-like marking that blighted his face, “The Devil’s Mark”, a black swirl that ran from his right eyebrow, around his eye and then down his cheek; The Mark of the Dragon Rider.
It had begun to develop when he was four years old and, from that point in his life, he had either been an object of terror or one of curiosity and infamy. The latter helped him greatly in his work, for some people couldn’t help but be attracted to him (like his informant, Heaven Cadenza, Funestus Black’s Personal Assistant in the Law Department) but Drake had learned the hard way that this attraction was not really for him, but rather for what they thought he stood for, and what they thought they could get from him. In the end, this sort of attraction was very short lived.
The only person who had seen through all of the trappings of his heritage and had loved him, not because of it, but in spite of it, was Willow. But that was long ago, in the past, before he had run out on her. And what did she know of him now and what he’d been up to in those intervening years? Did she still feel that way, or had she turned on him also, throwing him out to a dog like Funestus?
Drake closed his eyes but the heat of his anger wasn’t helping to ease the knot in his stomach. Every vein and sinew in his body shrieked at the idea of working for Funestus; he wanted to finish Fenrik off on his own, not as part of some mad quest to find something that probably didn’t even exist. But it had also become painfully clear that he couldn’t walk away from Funestus’ offer. And that troubled him. Greatly.
‘If you’re with us,’ argued Willow, bringing Drake back into the present, ‘we’ll find the book quickly; Gizmo can do the techie stuff, I can do the magick and you’ve got experience from whatever it is you do when you’re out doing whatever it is you do. It’s simple really.’
Drake huffed. ‘Simple,’ he muttered under his breath.
‘Maybe you shouldn’t help us to find it,’ snapped Gizmo, tapping codes and text onto the virtual keyboard.
‘What? Don’t say that Giz, we need him,’ said Willow, pulling up Drake‘s legs and flopping onto the sofa next to him.
‘Do we?’ asked Gizmo spinning around in his chair. ‘He doesn’t seem to be that bothered.’
Drake reluctantly opened his eyes and swung his legs down from Willow’s lap. His eyes lingered on Willow, his mind trying to work out if she’d sold him out. He sighed and shook his head. ‘When do we start?’
‘Now,’ said Willow.
Within minutes Ailsa was dispatched to Funestus Black’s residence with a message accepting his offer.
Funestus’ reply was stark; No book, No money, No protection. Find it fast before Fenrik’s Demons did.

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