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Born of Legend

By:Sherrilyn Kenyon

CHAPTER 1

This looked like a damn good place to die. And at least it wasn’t blistering hot.

Grimacing in pain, Dagger Ixur pressed his hand against the wound that was slowly killing him and stepped inside the dive hole where some of the worst vermin of the Nine Worlds had crawled to find refuge from the blistering binary suns of Steradore.

His breathing labored, he hid his agony behind a mask of steeled boredom and made his way to a back table where he sat down, making sure to keep his wound concealed. Like rabid animals, the creatures here would attack en masse should they suspect for even the hair of a nanosecond he was incapable of defending himself.

Especially given the massive bounty on his head.

Hell, if he had a brain, he’d turn himself in for that amount of cred. At least it would get him a good meal for the first time in four years.

But then, he couldn’t spend it if he was dead.

“There’s a thirty crona minimum to occupy this space. You got thirty cronas, slag?”

Dagger sneered at the smug purple-skinned humanoid waitress. She had no idea that she was talking to a former prince who’d once been heir to two of the largest fortunes in the universe.

But that was years ago.

Today, he was heir of shit and shit’s second cousin. And if he wasn’t on the brink of death, he wouldn’t have thirty cronas to waste on the watered-down, fifth-rate, synthetic hooch they no doubt served here.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the coins and tossed them on the table. “Tondarion Fire.”

She swept the creds into her palm and examined them to make sure they weren’t counterfeit. Then without a word, she went to fetch his drink.

Adjusting his dark red-tinted glasses to make sure they kept his betraying eyes concealed, Dagger expelled an exhausted breath, hoping he lived long enough to taste the knock-off garbage he’d just ordered. At the rate he was bleeding …

It won’t hurt much longer.

Sadly, he didn’t know what burned his blackened soul more. The poisoned knife wound or the raw fact that as he sat here bleeding out, he had no one to call and say a final goodbye to. No one who would give a single shit that he would be dead in less than half an hour.

A scuffle to his right drew his attention.

Immediately on alert, he reached with his left hand for his blaster, expecting it to be more enforcers or assassins after him.

He relaxed as he saw nothing more than two filthy humans and an alien hauling a scraggly boy in chains. From the looks of it, the kid was probably a crew member being punished or a prisoner being transferred.

No more than fifteen or sixteen, the boy with white-blond hair jerked away from a much larger and older male. Hissing, he exposed a set of fangs in a specific, insulting manner that was known as fanging someone. Dagger frowned at that particular defiant and aggressive gesture.

The boy was Andarion with that hair color?

For a full minute, Dagger thought he was hallucinating from blood loss as he saw in his mind not the child in front of him, but his own fraternal twin brother, Nykyrian. Though there were legends of other blond Andarions who had existed at one time, Nykyrian was the only white-haired Andarion Dagger had ever seen in the flesh. The rest of that breed had been brutally put to death long before he and his brother had been born. Hunted down and exterminated for that trait and any other ability or skill their grandmother had deemed an inherent threat to her reign and authority.

Because yeah, really, she was that insecure a bitch.

The larger alien slugged the boy.

“Don’t bruise my merchandise!” the buyer snarled. “I’ll only pay half the creds he’s worth if he’s damaged.”

Dagger winced at those harsh words. Slavers out to make a quick profit off the poor kid’s innocence and beauty.

Like the other occupants who didn’t seem to care at all, he started to stay out of it. But then, he’d lived his whole life in selfish fear surrounded by those who were only out for themselves. And what had it gotten him?

An early death on a backwater planet, bleeding out alone.

No friends. No family.

Once he was dead and gone, these maggots would raid his corpse for his meager creds, weapons, and ring, and dump his remains like forgotten garbage.

He was going to die. That was a given.

But he did have a choice in whether he went quietly …

Or fighting his way to the gods, doing some good for a scared child who might have a future out of this. A boy who needed to be at home with his family and friends. Not in the hands of these callous, money-grubbing bastards.

Four years ago when Dagger had finally faced the truth in a broken mirror of a filthy bathroom, and stood sober for the first time in over a decade, he’d seen what a piece of shit he really was. In that instant, he’d forever buried the selfish, terrified prince who’d been bullied and cowed by everyone around him, and been reborn that night as the fearless survivor Dagger Ixur who was done taking orders and trying to please his worthless, back-stabbing family.

Someone who wasn’t a total scabbing bastard.

While the chemically-numbed Jullien eton Anatole would have walked away and not cared what happened to the boy, the stone-cold killer Dagger damn sure wouldn’t.

Rising to his feet, Dagger slowly slid his coat back, and moved his hand to his blaster grip to show them clearly that the clock on their lives had begun to click down. The only way to stop it now was for them to make the right decision. “Let the kid go.”

The larger thug who was planning to buy the boy, turned to sneer at him. “Well … what have we here? Aren’t you a fancy one?”

Dagger arched a brow. “What? Because I bathed a week ago? Really?” He was filthy, sweating and bleeding, and wearing clothes that should have been burned a year ago, at least. He smelled like the back end of something dead and rotten. Disgusting truthfully. Even he was offended by his stench. How in th

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