Hearts in Exile
Tallenmere - Book Three
by Mysti Parker
Somewhere, hidden in the waters of the Southern Sea, lies an island unlike any other. Within the amber glow of its pyrogem-laden cliffs, legend says the very heart of the dragon god Drae keeps the island, and its occupants, alive.
Loralee Munroviel, daughter of Leogard's High Priestess Arianne, had no idea what she would face when she arrived by boat ten years ago and was left alone in exile. All she knew about Draekoria's inhabitants was written in one tattered notebook. Now, her life revolves around keeping Drae's descendants happy. Never in her life did she imagine being a Dragon Keeper.
Captain Igrorio Everlyn, known as Sir Robert to his unit of Holy Paladins, has faced his share of hell, battling the evils of Emperor Sarvonn's tyranny and the dark god Tyr's abominations. But none of that compares to the ten years of hell he's been without Loralee, presumed dead.
One freak storm changes everything. Now the two of them must fight to reestablish the delicate balance of the island before the dragons take things into their own hands. Through it all, they discover the secrets that kept them, and their hearts, exiled for a decade.
Please, take me home.
I clung to the sides of the rowboat, pleading silently for my life. Behind me lay a lush island that had appeared out of nowhere when I touched a pyrogem embedded on the ship’s rail. After I climbed aboard the much smaller craft that was no more than a glorified skiff, I couldn’t bear the sight of the white sand, the swaying fronds, and those imposing red cliffs any longer. I resisted every urge to look over my shoulder as the crew lowered Sanvar and me into the sea.
After too short a time, he stopped rowing.
“My lady, I have no choice. I’m so sorry.”
The wood-elf oarsman’s guilt-ridden face made me loosen my grip on my brave façade, and a sob broke through.
“I told you yesterday. I don’t belong here. Please, Sanvar, take me somewhere else, anywhere else. Tell them I died on the voyage. But, don’t leave me here alone.”
His lip quivered. “I have a wife and three boys. If your mother found out … please, Miss Loralee. You’re just having second thoughts. There’s a little house up there.” He pointed across the rolling waves to the cottage on a ledge—a thatched dot against rust-colored rock. “The last Keeper seemed quite content.”
Why did he have to remind me about his family? Over the course of the month-long voyage, I’d learned every detail of each crewmember’s life. Such conversation came naturally to me, after having spent the better part of a century talking to countless people during my duties at Leogard’s Temple. Being left indefinitely on a remote island without another soul to converse with had me on the verge of panic. I had to do something, but I knew only one other option.
“You can’t do this. The other Keeper is missing, presumed dead!” I let go of the rowboat to rummage through my bag, but tears clouded my eyes and kept me from finding that accursed journal.
“But, you’re replacing him, aren’t you?”
“No! I don’t want to die here. I can’t die here!”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
I closed my eyes for a moment, snatched my bag from between my ankles, and tucked its bulk under one arm. I removed my slippers and hooked my fingers in the heels to hold them. Sanvar leapt from the boat and offered a hand, but I ignored him and swung both legs over the side, almost capsizing before adjusting my weight to steady the boat.