The Dragon Oath - Megan Linski

Chapter One


“You misunderstand. You think I’m a man with something to lose.”

My voice was low as it echoed around the dark chamber of the dungeon. The sound of water dripping onto stone rang throughout the chamber— or was it blood?

A cultist was tied to the chair. Red soaked his hands. The Black Claw robes he wore were stained with gore. The only light in the cavern was a single candle I’d placed on the table.

The cultist’s face was swollen with bruises. Both his eyes were black, and fresh cuts littered his skin. I’d caught this one sneaking around Dolinska’s streets at an hour known for dark magic. He’d been following a sorceress to her home and was waiting to abduct her for some sinister purpose.

He wasn’t planning to run into the Phantom.

I had captured him and dragged him back to my hideout in the chasms of Arcanea University, where I’d tied him up and made good on my dirty work, trying to obtain information.

Prince Ethan would be appalled by such behavior. He’d find it abhorrent and beneath himself.

But the Phantom had no reservations. There was a darkness in him that waited inside and swallowed him whole. The Phantom was a hidden specter that lurked in the shadows, eager to be let out of his cage, so he could take his rage out on the world.

And the only way I could do what I had to these days was if I separated the man from the monster.

Two different personas. A singular man. One a devil, the other a saint. It was enough to make one man go mad. Doctor Jekyll had it easy.

Yet this fellow wasn’t going to crack. I’d questioned him for the better part of an hour, and he hadn’t uttered a syllable on anything remotely interesting to my cause.

I hadn’t really hurt him. Even though there was gore on my mask and cloak, I hadn’t even pursued the sick fantasies I wanted to do to this man. They thrilled the Phantom, but scared me.

I didn’t understand why I had such reservations. This man was, most likely, a murderer. He’d plotted to hurt an innocent woman, and would’ve if I hadn’t gotten there first. He deserved this.

The cultist let out a wet laugh, and blood dribbled down his chin. “You think you’re so high and mighty. I’m certain you’re getting some pleasure out of this.”

“You’d be wrong.” I wasn’t proud of this. But a man could only be pushed so far. And I’d lost everything only a few weeks prior. I’d let my father down and sacrificed the throne. There was nothing, nothing I wouldn’t do to prevent my cousin Elijah from taking the crown.

I was merely getting started.

“I can do this all night,” I told the cultist. “I’ll ask again. Where are you hiding?”

“I can’t give up the location of my brethren. You won’t find the Black Claw through me.” He spat a globule of blood at my feet, and my nose wrinkled.

I needed to find where the Black Claw was. Only then would I be able to rip this disease out of my city for good. “I think you need more convincing. Shall we?”

The cultist’s eyes shone with fear as I raised my hand. As amethyst sparks flew from my fingers, the cultist began screaming. Bloodcurdling yells of agony lifted past his lips as I made him see visions.

An easy illusion. Nothing was happening to him physically, but in his head, he felt pain as if I was peeling off his skin layer by layer. I pushed the magic further inward on his mind, to make the torture worse. As he begged me to stop, I tapered the magic away. He took labored breaths, and I crossed my arms.

“Like I said, I’m not fooling around,” I said. “I will push you until I get what I want.”

“And then you’ll let me go free.” The cultist laughed. “You must think I’m stupid. You’ll kill me the moment I tell you what I know.”

He was right. I couldn’t have him running off to his little friends. He’d tell them the Phantom had discovered their hideout. Though sparing his life was something Prince Ethan demanded, the Phantom wasn’t so merciful.

I’d figure out what to do with him when the time came. “Last chance. Either tell me now, or I won’t lift the illusion.”

“I’ll die for the Black Claw. The descendants of the Unseelie fae deserve to be in power,” the cultist hissed. “Do your worst.”

“This is a final warning.” I was