Thank you for having me on the blog today! Releasing Chaos is the last book in the Sumeria’s Sons series. For the final sendoff, I have put together a series of flash fiction pieces that happen near the end of Dragon’s Eye or in between Dragon’s Eye and Releasing Chaos. These are little on-the-side scenes that don’t have an impact on the plot arc of Sumeria’s Sons so you won’t encounter any spoilers for the final book. Ladon’s adventure takes place right before the end of Dragon’s Eye, before Mithra announces Tristan as Tiamat’s Sword. Enjoy!
Ladon’s Bovine Fascination
Ladon inspected the edge of Sanctuary, satisfied at the progress being made. The birth of Tiamat’s Voice brought the ancient city back to this plane, and the touch from Tiamat’s Heart awakened Ladon and his brethren. Ladon rubbed his scales along the growth covering the column as he thought about his Heart, Ushna. Ushna was a fine, strong name, but Ladon prefer to call him Heart.
A couple of snails tumbled out of the underbrush and he smacked his lips in delight before snatching them up. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. So much yum. Well not as tasty as sausages or runny egg. Ladon’s mouth watered at the thought of cheese. Oh, yes, cheese. He thought it was the food of the Gods until Heart showed him the divine food came from a cow. Now, Ladon wanted cows. Many, many cows so he would never run out of cheese. Gouda cheese. Swiss. Blue cheese. Yummy spicy Gorgonzola cheese. Cheddar cheese. Provolone. Havarti. Goat cheese. Mozzarella cheese. Camembert. Brie. Manchego. Cotija cheese. Feta cheese. So much yum Ladon’s tummy rumbled with hunger.
Cleaning off the final bit of debris from the column, Ladon looked out over Tiamat’s Sanctuary, pleased. Once the grounds were uncovered and revived to their former glory, the guardians would be at their maximum health. They would be able to leave the grounds safely, like Ladon could. He wasn’t attached to the city like the others were. The Heart touched him first, waking Ladon, thus the rest of the guardians from sleep. He became the conduit between Heart and Sanctuary, and as such, he could share his mind with Heart. Soon, when Heart completed his transformation, becoming the embodiment of Sanctuary’s Heart, Ushna would then be connected to the land and share dragon speak with the guardians. The doorway to Tiamat’s Sanctuary would be unlocked, drawing in those in need. Ladon couldn’t wait to be useful again. Until then, he spent time with Heart and watch the wolves, letting them feed him snacks and treats.
Seeing Tiamat’s three readying to leave, Ladon scrambled down the column, apologizing to the serpent polishing the stone when he stepped on his brother. On the ground, he scampered after Heart, belly swaying with each step. He hoped they were going back to the ranch. He didn’t know what ‘ranch’ meant but Ladon was enthralled with the open space. The red dirt made him reminisce about his misspent youth and all the trouble he caused right out of the egg.
Scaling Ushna, Ladon settled on Heart’s shoulder licking the shell of Heart’s ear affectionately. He thought Tiamat chose her Heart well. Calm. Patient. Thoughtful. He listened more than he spoke. He loved fiercely and exuded a loyalty that lived only in legends, until now. Ladon love sharing his mind with Heart. So much easier than relying on sign, but Heart seem to automatically understand when Ladon spoke with his hands. But it would be so much easier when Heart could use and understand dragon speak.
The tall, dark shadowman would take them through the void to the ranch. Ladon could have traveled through the earth just as quickly. In the beginning he had done so several times. Getting lost in the void landed people in Irkalla. If Ladon fell, he would be trapped there until the key to Ereshkigal’s cage was delivered to her. Though visiting the Goddess would be nice, Ladon didn’t want to miss the action. The wolves prepared to battle the petulant children, Inanna and Marduk. In return, He readied his brethren for the coming battle. He couldn’t wait to spread his wings as the forces clashed.
Ladon dug his claws into Heart as the shade swallowed them. He thought he sensed Ereshkigal watching, the rushing wind tinkled with joyous laughter. How could he sense her when she been trapped, caged to her plane like a feral creature? Before Ladon could decide to jump off Ushna to see if Ereshkigal had been freed, the Shadow Mover pulled them out of the void. He forgot the peculiarity when something delicious on the air claimed his full attention.
Torn, Ladon wanted to go with Heart but as he passed the kitchen he saw the counter covered with consumables he hadn’t yet encountered. Curiosity peeked, he jumped to the doorframe, and then to the table. Sniffing the air, he searched for the shewolf, Mary Jane, who usually could be found in the kitchen. Fortunately, he was alone.
Across from him a fine white powder covered the counter. Carefully hopping over, he sniffed the powder then sneezed, causing a white cloud to fill the air. He sneezed again. Clear film covered the mouth of a bowl. He could not scent the puffy substance inside and turned his attention to the green and white container. He recognized the odor, buttermilk. Another yummy from cows. Cautious to keep the nectarus liquid from spilling, he opened the cardboard container and used his teeth to gnaw off the rest of the top. Once the opening was larger he stuck his head in and slurped up the mouthwatering delight.
He was licking the last drops from the corners when the hatchlings invaded the space. They were loud and their shrieking giggles hurt Ladon’s head, but he knew to be patient and endure, for hatchlings always had food.
The littlest wolf, Justus, pulled the container out of the winter box. Cow’s cream. Ladon left a line of drool as he scampered across the counter to watch the boy scoop out cold balls of cow’s cream into earthenware.
“Do you want some?” The smallest hatchling asked him. She pushed her curly hair out of her knowing eyes.
Ladon lifted onto his back legs, using his wings to hold him up as he clapped his hands. The hatchlings knew the gesture for they fed him often. They even snuck him things the shewolves forbade him to have. She smiled and pulled another bowl out of the cabinet.
“Can he have chocolate?” The warrior shewolf asked. Ladon nuzzled Neoma for her concern over him. She didn’t know he could eat molten rock if he had to. This ‘chocolate’ could not be that spicy.
“I don’t see why not,” Little Wolf said, filling Ladon’s bowl. “He eats everything else.”
Smart Justus, Ladon thought.
The hatchlings sat at the table and consumed the cold cow’s cream. Ladon attempted to swallow one of the icy balls whole. The chill from his mouth caused his eyes to cross when his snout throbbed with sudden ache.
The small shewolf giggled. “Ladon, if you eat it too fast you’ll get brain freeze. It hurts, you know.”
He did know but he loved all things cow and sometimes it was hard to eat slowly. Reluctantly, he slowed his consumption of the cold cow’s cream and was licking the bowl when the older shewolf, Mary Jane, entered the kitchen.
“Ladon! You are not allowed on the counter. Look at this mess!” Mary Jane waved a hand at the powder-white trail crossing all the counters and the bigger area where the powder cloud had settled. “And ice cream?”
The hatchlings all scrambled to the back door. Ladon hastily jumped to the floor and followed. He knew better than to stay in the domain once Mary Jane had claimed it.
“And where do you three think you’re going?”
“They are bringing the cows in to be inoculated. We wanted to watch,” Little Wolf replied as he opened the back door.
Ladon heard nothing else that was said. He slipped out onto the porch. There were cows here? Why didn’t Heart tell him? Show him? Ladon turned in circles but saw nothing out of the ordinary. The not-wolves rode four-legged, long-faced herbivores but he saw no cows.
Quickly, he climbed a post and from the top he espied a growing cloud of red dust. The hatchlings ran out of the house and headed for an enclosure. Ladon pushed off the porch post and flapped his wings hard, gliding down to the ground where he followed the hatchling’s trail.
When he reached the enclosure, the hatchlings sat on the top railing. Lading climbed the metal pole and perched next to the youngest shewolf. Dawn. He should really remember their names. There were so many of them nowadays… His complete attention was captured by his first view of a real cow.
Ladon’s heart swelled with excitement. How majestic could these creatures be? They came in all sizes and colors. Some had wonderfully arched horns. Of course, the creature that made cheese would need a means to protect it. His Heart had so many cows and more were still coming. He wondered if Heart would give him some cows of his own, then he could have his own cheese and not have to share. And buttermilk. Even cold cow’s cream.
“Aww! Look at the baby calf drinking milk from its mom.” Dawn pointed and Ladon hopped off the fence.
Was the little cow stealing cheese from the red and white beauty? Ladon hissed and the cows shifted, scattered, and kicked. Ladon was heading to the little thief cow when he was scooped up.
“Ladon, what are you doing?”
He scrambled up Heart’s arm to his shoulders. Ladon chattered in dragon speak but also shared his thoughts with Heart. “Thief! Thief! Little cow was stealing your cheese and no one was stopping it.”
Heart’s chuckle was a deep rumble that set Ladon at ease. “The little cow is a baby who needs his mother’s milk to survive.” Heart scratch under Ladon’s chin. “Cheese does not come from the cow directly but from the milk the cow produces.” When Ladon looked at Heart and waited, Heart continued. “When the calf no longer needs the mother to survive, the milk is caught and made into cheese, butter—”
“Buttermilk and cold cows cream?”
“Yes, those, too. But they don’t come out of the cow already made.”
Something deflated in Ladon. He thought he’d get cheese directly from the cow. He perked up. “Goat–cow cheese?”
Heart pulled Ladon off his shoulders and into the cradle of his arms. “Goat cheese comes from goats, not cows.” Already reading Ladon’s mind, Heart added, “and the process is the same. First comes the milk.”
Ladon sagged. He had so looked forward to having his own supply of cheese.
“Hey now, it can’t be that bad. One of these days I’ll milk the cow for you and you can taste it before it has been pasteurized.”
Ladon pouted. He didn’t want milk. As he sulked he barely noticed that Heart carried him back to the house. Inside, Heart took him to the room they called an office. Ladon had been there several times before and immediately noticed a new addition to the room. A small white metal box sat in the corner humming softly. Heart took Ladon over to it and set him on his feet.
“Now this is your small fridge. We’ll keep it stocked for you.”
When Heart opened the door, Ladon’s breath caught. It was filled with cheese of all different kinds. His mouth watered.
“As you see, you have your own cheese stash. Tristan ordered a variety. If you want one in particular, let me know and I’ll put it on the list. There’s buttermilk in the door and the little icebox has ice cream sandwiches. I don’t think that you have tried one of them yet.”
Ladon glanced up to Heart who still knelt next to him. “Mine? Truly?”
“Yep. You don’t half to beg the guys for theirs, and you don’t have to share.”
Ladon looked back into the interior of the metal box. A large red wheel sat on top of all the packages. When Heart’s words were fully absorbed, Ladon scrambled into the cool box, trying to touch all the packages at once before he slid out clutching the red wheel in all four limbs, landing on his back.
Heart laughed and put the packages back into the box and closed the door. He sat behind the desk as Ladon gnawed through the waxy layer to find a sharp pungent cheese underneath. He didn’t have to have a cow to have his favorite food. Heart had provided without Ladon needing to ask. Warmth spread through him as he chewed the tasty delight. He thought back to the majestic beauties in the corral and wondered if Heart would give him a cow too. Perhaps a small one that wouldn’t squash him.
Heart laughed out loud and glanced over his shoulder. “Really?”
Ladon widened his eyes and blinked slowly. Heart laughed harder… but he didn’t say no.
Title: Releasing Chaos
Author: Lexi Ander
Series: Sumeria’s Sons #6
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Categories: Gay, Paranormal, Poly, Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 132,000 words
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow
Everything Tristan, Ushna, and Brian have fought for comes down to the moment they face Inanna and Marduk. Before then, Ushna must embrace his destiny and be transformed by Tiamat. But he returns with a fractured mind and will need the help of the new firebird or he’ll be lost to the insanity of a primordial God. If he’s lost, so is the balance Brian and Tristan sorely need.
Tristan has vowed to care for his ex-Flame, Theo Sullivan, who is doomed to forget more and more with each use of his new ability. When not dealing with his stubborn ex, Tristan must free the warriors stolen by the government and devise a trap for Inanna.
And that’s only the start of the challenges, and everything that can still go wrong.
Find Sumeria’s Sons series on Goodreads
We Nameless had been running hard for many days. Something crawled under our ruff, beckoning us to go southeast. The part of us that was once human cowered in the back of our minds, pleading with us to stay in our dens, but we could not. The pull was strong, and we responded to the urgent need that seeped into our paws from the ground.
“Hurry,” The Earth Mother whispered to us.
Months ago, our alpha freed us from the vileness of our human side, locking away the corruption so we could teach our humans the lessons they had either forgotten or were never taught. We shared the joys of running on four paws, of being family, of supporting each other through the hunt. We gave them our love for the land, the sky, the water, and for each other. We showed them how to work together and yet still be individuals. For we were wolf. Hunter. Predator. Mother. Father. Family.
Now as they proclaimed their fear, we would teach them how to stand together, to use their instincts to discern right from wrong. The Earth Mother called us to the alpha’s aid. Though he made us Nameless, he had shown us mercy and set us free. He would forever be our alpha and we his tribe, his people.
As we loped, closing the distance between us and the one who needed us, the Earth Mother pushed healing through our paws, fortifying our energy and curbing our hunger. We stopped briefly alongside a stream to drink our fill before once again we hurried on. The urgency rode us as we ran across fields, through sleepy towns, over grassy plains, and entered foreign woods. We were close now and we hoped we would arrive in time.
As one, we threw our voices into the wind. “We come to stand by your side. To be your shield. To hunt with you and take down your prey. To protect our people. We come, our Alpha, we come.”
I didn’t know what disturbed me from a sound sleep, but an itch between my shoulders forced me from my room to prowl the dark house. For a couple of days now, I’d been sensing… I pushed out the back door, barely catching the screen before it slapped noisily against the frame, waking the whole house.
Before tragedy had taken Tristan away from us for half a year, he’d entrusted into my care the wolf forms of the traitors who’d attempted to murder him. Members of Tribe Uras collaborated with the rogue, Craig Stoiler, and invaded Tristan’s ranch. I would’ve had them killed for their treachery, but Tristan had another idea. He’d stripped the people of their human form, giving their wolf dominion. The demonstration of his power as the supreme alpha and prince of our people proved his lineage to the doubting members of the Council of Five, but there was an additional reason for his action. He’d given them a second chance, of sorts, and ordered some twenty-eight wolves to follow my commands as their handler.
Whatever type of transformation magic Tristan performed had a lasting effect. With the events that had transpired following his return, I didn’t have a chance to relay to him I could still feel those wolves. He’d tied them to me that fate-filled day, not that I was upset. What I sensed of them was harmless, a simple awareness nestled in the back of my mind, telling me their state of being and general welfare… until now.
The stars shone sharp and bright overhead, the sky a virtual blanket of diamonds. The sight still made my breath catch, especially after spending so many years in California cities, where the light was muted. My eyes were drawn to the northwest. The string attaching me to them pulled with their sense of urgency. They were coming. Perhaps it was time to tell Tristan about my relationship with them. Something caused the pack to leave their dens in the Canadian tundra. I wasn’t sure if this sense of urgency coming from them was a portent of good or evil. For Tristan’s sake, I hoped the banished members of Tribe Uras didn’t intend to attack him a second time. I’d grown quite fond of the playfulness of their wolves in the corner of my mind, and I’d hate to be the one who sent them on to their next reincarnation.
WIN SIGNED paperbacks of Sumeria’s Sons series, SIGNED paperbacks of Releasing Chaos, Dragon mugs and Dragon Goblets
About the Author
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.