House of Dragons (Royal Houses #1) - K.A. Linde Page 0,1

of her head. She gasped and crumbled forward, landing hard on her hands. Her magic wavered in her veins as she blinked away the pain. She couldn’t see straight.

Not good. Scales, that hurt.

Kerrigan wrapped her magic around Bruiser’s ankles, yanking hard and fast, felling him like a tree.

He cried out in anger. Good. The fight had finally started.

She heard a whoosh and looked up just in time to dodge the rock that would have crushed in the back of her skull. She rolled out from under it. Another gasp escaped her lungs. That had been too close.

Another rock crashed into her back as she tried to get up.

“Gods,” she groaned as she slammed back into the hard floor.

She rolled away again and came swiftly to her feet. Her back ached already.

Bruiser was smiling as if he were already victorious. He raised his hands to the sky, pumping up the raucous crowd. Kerrigan picked up the air again and slashed fiercely. The first cut through his bicep, the second down his thigh, the third was supposed to hit his cheek, but he somehow flowed around the wind.

Her eyes widened. He’d trained with an air Fae? Doubly not good.

“That’s a neat trick,” she said.

Bruiser laughed, and as he weaved away from her, and then threw dust right into her eyes. She slammed them shut on instinct, crying out in shock. There were no rules in the Wastes. Certainly none inside the Dragon Ring. But it was dirty play. Dirty, dirty play.

She blinked rapidly, tears welling as the grit ground into her eyes. Concentrating so hard on her eyes, she didn’t hear the rock that catapulted into her nose. Something snapped, and she cried out. Blood gushed from the wound.

Her eyes flashed cold death to her opponent. Now …she wasn’t losing on purpose.

“Say good night, Red,” Bruiser said.

Kerrigan lifted her hand. She was barely able to see through the sand in her eyes, but her own anger propelled her forward. She froze the air around Bruiser and held him tight in her grasp so that he couldn’t even blink without her permission. If she wanted, if she had the strength, she could crush him right where he stood.

Her hand shook, just holding him in place. It took an immense amount of power to be able to do what she was doing. More than she had claimed to have when she started this fight.

She needed to let him go. She needed to dispel her anger and release him. If she didn’t, she was going to pay for it later.

“Go back to the underworld you came from,” she growled.

She dropped her magic at the same time that she brought her knee up to his balls with a satisfying squelch. He doubled over in pain. Then, she reared back and punched him in his face. He fell backward with the force of her strike. Her knuckles split, and she couldn’t stop her hands from shaking.

But there was only one end here: the end where she won.

She stepped over Bruiser’s body and kicked him in the temple. A perfectly placed shot to knock him out but not kill him.

The crowd went wild. Cheers and shouts and objects fell from the sky above to litter the Dragon Ring while a man hobbled hastily into the ring and held her arm up.

“Winner goes to Red!”

After the fanfare, Kerrigan stumbled out of the fighting ring and into the back room—where, typically, a small weasel of a man waited to give her the earnings from the fight.

That man wasn’t there.

In his place stood the owner and proprietor of the Wastes and the biggest crime lord in the city of Kinkadia—Dozan Rook.

“Dozan,” Kerrigan said through gritted teeth.

She could barely stand. Her nose ached from that last hit. It was definitely broken. Her back was probably already black and blue. Still, she straightened and held her chin up high. She would never let him see that on her.

“Red,” Dozan said with his cocky smirk.

“How can I help you?” she drawled lazily.

“You can take off that ridiculous headband. No one to hide from down here.”

Kerrigan frowned and tugged the gold headband free, releasing her bright red hair from its trapping and revealing the delicately pointed ears beneath. The ears that revealed her for what she truly was—half-Fae, half-human.

Full-blooded Fae had sharply pointed ears. And full-blooded Fae was the only right thing to be in Kinkadia.

Up above, in the city of Kinkadia, half-Fae were persecuted for their heritage. They were looked down upon by the