Hidden Dragon is the start of Mei Walker’s story.
It’s about to be finished up with book 5 in the series, but this book is the start, where it all began.
Mei is a kick butt heroine, who can’t help but be the protector. Even when she thinks she can’t win, she’ll give it her all.
Since the age of twelve, she’s been taught how to defend herself and now, at the age of nineteen, lives a strange, outsider’s life in the care of two mentors who are tasked with protecting her from the constant attempts on her life.
Someone out there thinks she’s going to do something terrible, and they’ll stop at nothing to make sure she doesn’t.
Except Mei’s pretty sure she’s just an ordinary water elemental, and it’s all a huge mistake.
But the real truth of who she is has been kept from her—with the best of intentions—and the worst of results.
When disaster strikes and she’s left on her own with no idea of who she really is and what she’s capable of, Mei decides her only hope is to go on a search for the truth of why she’s been kept hidden all her life.
She’s about to be set loose on the world, and it’s fifty-fifty whether the world will survive…
This is one of my favourite excerpts from this book:
They’ve locked me in a stone room.
No windows, nothing that isn’t stone. I know it’s underground, because they led me down from the pool, but that’s all I’m sure of. It’s dry, not at all damp, but I can see small round openings on the roof, like water sprinklers.
I have a terrible feeling they aren’t sprinklers.
My brain is whirring, and I’m almost dizzy with the number of possibilities for how he’s going to kill me. I’m so busy being scared that I don’t notice the heat rising at first.
It’s only when I wipe sweat away from my forehead that I notice what’s happening. I glance up and see the wavy air as heat blasts through the tubes in the ceiling.
Heat is fine, I can handle hot. Si always says I’m almost as much a lizard as he is, and he’s a chameleon, so that’s saying something. But there’s a limit. I was never impervious.
Not like a dragon would be.
When fire erupts through the ceiling vents, I scream. I can’t help myself. Vincent wasn’t lying when he said I’d emerge a dragon or dead. My only option is death at this point.
But there’s something in me that won’t stay down, and I start hunting around the walls of the room, avoiding the fire blasts, trying to find an exit door, a way out. On my fifth circumference of the room, I slam my hand into the stone and admit defeat. This place is sealed tight. There’s no water to help me escape this time.
Again the anger surges up in me. Who does he think he is? He doesn’t have the right to decide life or death, particularly mine.
I send out a tendril over the spell web, and am surprised to find it hearty and strong beside me in here. I had half-expected Vincent to have some secret way of blocking me from it. I think of the men he sent to capture me, and the extra magic they gathered from the web around them. Can I do that as well?
It can’t hurt to try. I’m going to die if I don’t do something.
I’m not entirely certain how to pull magic from the web, so I start by connecting myself to the area around me, sending feelers out, drawing it in closer. As I draw it in, I sense the energy around me, and I pull at it. It comes easily, and I’m shocked. I hadn’t really expected this to work.
I drag it closer and closer, until I feel a buildup of the spell web around me like a wall. I wrap it over me, hardening it until it’s like a physical presence, and not simply the glowing grid I normally see.
I’m cooler now; the heat can’t get through my protective barrier. I take a few deep breaths, and then realize the other problem with this scenario. I might be cooler, but the fire will burn up all the oxygen, and soon I won’t have any air to breathe. I need to get out of here, fast.
But I’ve already checked, haven’t I? There’s no way out.
I slump down onto the uneven stones beneath me. Tears form in my throat. At least the people I love will stop being killed on my behalf. No one else will die because of me.
A pebble wriggles under my butt, and I lean over to sweep it away. Another loose pebble shifts under me, and I sweep it away too. Then I move over and look properly at the small patch of pebbles and stones in this corner. They’re all loose and crumbling.
My breath hitches.
I start clawing at the stones on the floor. Not much happens. I keep grabbing at the stone until I notice the tips of my fingers are bloodied and scratched. I look at them like they belong to someone else, and maybe they do. It doesn’t hurt, nothing hurts, because I’m about to be burned alive down here. The protection barrier won’t last forever; I can already feel myself heating up again. A sob escapes and I hold the back of my hand against my mouth. My magic is already weakening.
And then I hear Seth’s voice in my head again. We need to turn this situation around.
What else can I try? The spell web is protecting me from behind, but…
Quickly, I gather magic from the grid and push it at the stone surface. The stone peels away like orange skin. I can’t help but gape down at the stone, wondering how that’s even possible. There’s a flare of heat behind me as the spell web barrier weakens. I need to hurry; it’s going to break. I’m taking too much magic from the barrier keeping the heat at bay.
The surface below is metal. Maybe there’s no way out. Maybe it’s all just metal under here. But I keep moving the stone floor until I find a handle. There’s just a tiny door in one corner. I pull on it, but it doesn’t budge.
But I’m not taking no for an answer, and I pull again, using all my might. It moves slightly. Not locked, just pulled tight. Hope flares in my chest and I pull with both hands on the latch, grunting with the effort.
When it eventually comes free, I fly back into the wall, smacking my shoulder against the stone. I don’t even care, because there’s a way out, and I’m taking it.