Song of Dragons The Complete Trilogy

War.

War rolled over the world with fire and wings.

The Vir Requis marched. Men. Women. Children. Their clothes were tattered, their faces ashy, their bellies tight. As their cities burned behind them, they marched with cold eyes. All had come to fight this day: the young and the old, the strong and the wounded, the brave and the frightened. They were five thousand. They had no more places to hide.

The dying sun blazed red against them. The wind keened. Five thousand. The last of their race.

We will stand, we will fly, we will perish with fire and tooth, Benedictus thought, jaw clenched. Men will say: Requiem did not fade with a whimper, but fell with a thunder that shook the mountains.

And so he marched, and behind him his people followed, banners red and gold, thudding in the wind. Last stand of Requiem.

It was strange, he thought, that five thousand should move together so silently. Benedictus heard only thumping boots. No whispers. No sobs. No whimpers even from the children who marched, their eyes too large in their gaunt faces. The Vir Requis were silent today, silent for the million of their kin already dead, for this day when their race would perish, enter the realm of memory, then legend, then myth. Nothing but thudding boots, a keening wind, and a grumbling sky. Silence before the roar of fire.

Then Benedictus saw the enemy ahead.

The scourge of Requiem. Their end.

Benedictus let out his breath slowly. Here was his death. The death of these hunted, haunted remains of his kind, the Vir Requis who had once covered the world and now stood, still and silent, behind him.

A tear streamed down Benedictus's cheek. He tasted it on his lips—salty, ashy.

His brother's host dwarfed his own. Fifty thousand men stood ahead: swordsmen, horsemen, archers, all bedecked in the white and gold that Dies Irae had taken for his colors. They carried torches, thousands of fires that raised smoky pillars. Countless griffins flew over these soldiers, shrieking, their wings churning the clouds. The army shimmered like a foul tapestry woven with images of the Abyss.

Benedictus smiled grimly. They burned our forests. They toppled our cities. They chased us to every corner of the earth. If they force us to fight here, then we will die fighting well.

He clenched his fists.

War.

War crashed with blood and screams and smoke.

Benedictus, King of Requiem, drew his magic with a howl. Black wings sprouted from his back, unfurling and creaking. Black scales rippled across him, glinting red in the firelight. Fangs sprang from his mouth, dripping drool, and talons grew from his fingers. Soon he was fifty feet long, a black dragon breathing fire. Requiem's magic filled him, the magic of wings and scales and flame, the magic that Dies Irae lacked and loathed. Benedictus took flight, claws tearing the earth. His roar shook the battlefield.

Let them see me. Let them see Benedictus the Black, for one final time under the sky, spreading wings and roaring flame.

Behind him, the Vir Requis he led changed form too. The solemn men, women, and children drew the ancient magic of their race, grew wings, scales, and claws. They too became dragons, as cruel and beautiful as the true dragons of old. Some became elder beasts missing scales, their fangs long fallen. Others were young, supple, their scales still soft, barely old enough to fly. A few were green, others blue, and some blazed red. A handful, like Benedictus, bore the rare black scales of old noble blood. Once the different colors, the different families and noble lines, would fight one another, would mistrust and kill and