Guest: Will Hahn on Artefacts in the Lands of Hope

As we draw closer to the end of another year I’m pleased to have Will Hahn back on the site. Will is touring in support of his latest novel, Reunion of Souls. As such he’s dropped off quite a nice little read on the items of power which exist in his world. Have a read, and make sure to check out the blurb for more on this installment of Judgement’s Tale. Of course, if you check carefully below, you’ll find Will’s giveaway as well…


Artefacts in the Lands of Hope

by Will Hahn

Lots of epic fantasy stories feature magical objects, and several have hinged on an item of great power: we could each list ten without breaking a sweat. In the Lands of Hope there are several limitations on the use of magic power, and much lore has been lost since the ancient days. It seems clear that at least in a few cases, the heroes of the past were able to create enormously powerful items that broke many of the current limitations and boundaries understood by the mages of today. These are commonly referred to as artefacts.

How to Make an Artefact- If You’re Sure

Age alone does not make an artefact; in fact there is strong evidence that the heroes were able to do things more quickly than their descendants, beginning with the miracle that transformed their fleet hulls to city walls in one night upon their first invasion. But the secret of making such powerful weapons, staves, and other items has been lost to the lore of later generations.

Mages and Preachers of Hope can enchant and bless items, with certain procedures that are well understood. Swords that cut more effectively and even affect ghosts, helms allowing sight in darkness, armbands that increase strength, these are not uncommon to the nobles, though among the commoners they are rare. Artefacts, however, are different in several ways:

  • Power- artefacts usually wield the strength to spread their effects over larger areas, or with longer lasting effects, than “mundane” magic
  • Breadth- while it’s time-consuming and expensive to give a normal item even one enchantment, artefacts typically have three or more powers. And whereas some magic items are exhausting to the wielder, artefacts often work without cost (provided they work at all)
  • Durable- with enough effort any item can be marred or broken, but artefacts are notoriously tough, nearly indestructible

So why aren’t artefacts as common as loaves of bread? It may be that even the heroes found these items hard or costly to create, though almost nothing is known of the process. Sages cannot be certain, but the most likely answer is that the heroes of Hope learned, very early in the wars against Despair, that such powerful items were dangerous and burdensome. The original creators felt responsible for any misuse, for example if the item fell into the enemy’s hands. Most artefacts created in ancient days were for the especial use of the heroes themselves, and none are known to have escaped their sight. Some claim, however, that through sincere prayer in times of crisis such artefacts have been made temporarily available to a Child of Hope. Naturally, these miracles are impossible to verify. There are accounts of certain weapons, crowns, wands and so forth that are heavily limited as to their use; only those whose character radiates Hope, or who can say “Ar Aralte!” in the Ancient tongue, or perhaps only relatives of the creator. Again, how these limitations can be so powerfully imposed, and whether they could ever be evaded, is unknown.

Finally, there are some indications that the Lords of Hope may have set aside some of their most powerful items in a hidden place known as the Hopeward. How to reach this trove, what protections lie upon it, and why the heroes would volunteer to weaken their own cause even as they struggled to free the Lands, are mysteries without an answer.

Artefacts in the Age of Adventure (since ~1995 ADR)

In the southern city of Cryssigens in early 2002 ADR, some seek a fabled artefact dating back over a thousand years ago, called The Brow of the Ecclesiast. A triple-banded gold crown set with enormous gems, it is said to confer the ability to dazzle listeners through speech and persuade them to the wearer’s intent; it can also repulse or even destroy demonic creatures and poison-bearing beasts. But the wearer of this crown must be worthy, or else the slightest touch of the Brow on the head results in incineration. Perhaps it would be best if an item that powerful is never found. But with the threat of civil war, ambitious persons from both sides search for the artefact. The Brow is an important part of the action in Fencing Reputation.

In the Percentalion of 1995-96 ADR, a band of adventurers hunts the legendary Tridium, three artefacts created to invest the ruling line with power to “make the ways straight” in the Land of One Hundred Castles. Since the descendants of Areghel have not held the throne in over four hundred years, chaos rules that central kingdom as it lapses back towards the conditions it had under the sway of Kog the Earth-Demon. But even without the heir to the throne, the sword, crown and scepter of the rightful kings could be powerful weapons against Despair—if they can be found in time. The Tridium is sought in Judgement’s Tale.


Reunion of SoulsWith a world in crisis, its heroes reach out to find companions, to take stock for the struggle ahead, and to look beneath the surface at clues that may make the difference between a person’s fame and a nation’s doom.

On the fringe of the cursed Percentalion, Treaman’s adventuring band revives the glory-days of Trainertown, celebrated by all—except themselves—as the hand of destiny. Somewhere in the remote Marble Swords, Sir Renan abandons name and fortune to seek a brotherhood that no one else believes exists. Near the forests north of Shilar, Prince Gareth wrestles with the choice to preserve his honor alone, or rejoin his royal father’s house and in so doing, cause a war between the children of Hope.

Now at the heart of Conar—safest city in the Lands—Solemn Judgement, the Man in Grey, uncovers the gateway to peril; he is thrown among adventurers that include his only friend, the woman who refused to teach him, and a man who has vowed his death, in… Reunion of Souls.


About Will Hahn

Will HahnWill Hahn has been in love with heroic tales since age four, when his father read him the Lays of Ancient Rome and the Tales of King Arthur. He taught Ancient-Medieval History for years, but the line between this world and others has always been thin; the far reaches of fantasy, like the distant past, still bring him face to face with people like us, who have choices to make.

Will didn’t always make the right choices when he was young. Any stick or vaguely-sticklike object became a sword in his hands, to the great dismay of his five sisters. Everyone survived, in part by virtue of a rule forbidding him from handling umbrellas, ski poles, curtain rods and more.

Will has written about the Lands of Hope since his college days (which by now are also part of ancient history). His current epic is Judgement’s Tale; parts one and two, Games of Chance and Strength of Conviction came out in 2014 and part three, Reunion of Souls is available starting December 26th.

Links

Will’s Weirdly Whimsical Website is where he posts news about upcoming releases and blogs about writing, classic fantasy works you’ve never read and the unique photo-based series “It Figures”.

The Lands of Hope Facebook page contains a chronology of the Lands.

You can find more of Will’s work at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Guest: Zebedy Brightly (Heidi Lyn Burke) on The Strains: Common and Highmost

Zebedy Brightly (a researcher of some acquaintance of author Heidi Lyn Burke) has stopped by the blog to give us some insight into the magic of Gelia City, the setting of Beggar Magic. Have a read through the scholar’s musings on magic as it pertains to this new young adult fantasy, and then check out the cover and blurb. You’ll also want to stop by the giveaway at the bottom of the page for a shot at winning before you’re done.


The Strains: Common and Highmost

by Zebedy Brightly, Junior Fellow at Research Manor (with help from Heidi Lyn Burke)

The Strains are the lifeblood of Gelia. They sing to us, speak to us, and aid us in our daily pursuits. Their music calms us and keeps us company. However, in spite of their omnipresence, no Gelian has ever been able to determine what, exactly, they are.

The Strains are notoriously evasive when faced with questions about themselves, so what we do know has to be deduced from their behavior. They are obviously sentient, capable of moral judgement, and while all of us experience them, the manner in which we do so differs greatly from person to person. In that way they both bind us together and divide us.

No where is this division clearer than in our class system. Every Gelian, with the exception of a few Wordless, is either Common or Highmost. While I myself am Highmost, I would estimate that at least three quarters of our population is Common.

While both the Highmost and the Common can hear the Strains, they only speak to the Highmost. The Common I’ve interviewed hear the Strains in varied ways–music, birdsong, rainfall–but they never report hearing “words”. Because of this they are unable to develop full communion with the Strains or to use them for more than the mundane, repetitive tasks we often call “beggar magic”.

Fellow Forester, a scientist and self-styled philosopher, wrote several decades ago, theorizing that a ‘spiritual deficiency’ impaired the Common’s communication with the Strains. However, looking at his research with a critical eye will show his methods biased. Forester’s sample size was infinitesimal and he never spent more than a few minutes conversing with each of his subjects.

Having actually developed friendships among the Common, I would like to propose a new theory. What makes one Highmost is obviously hereditary. If a couple is half-Common-half-Highmost the offspring seem to have even odds at being either. Considering the genetic component, I suggest that Highmost simply means the inherited ability to hear at a higher or lower pitch, where the voices and words of the Strains dwell.

I further postulate that as the Common cannot hear this frequence of the Strains, they also cannot communicate at it. My friend, Leilani, while Common, is devoted to the Strains. She treats them with as much respect as I do. However, she once said, mournfully, that while she always hears the Strains, she sometimes feels as if they cannot hear her. If my theory is correct, they can hear her, but as she hears them, as music, but not language. This would explain why beggar magic consists mainly of simple, oft repeated actions, which the Strains would be able to learn by watching their Common charges, rather than by listening to their instructions.

My time with Leilani has also convinced me that our current treatment of the Common is both patronizing and ignorant. We are often told we are here to protect, not exploit, the Common, as if we are shepherds and they the sheep. However, in the instance of the collector crisis, Leilani, not myself, was the heroine. The inability to communicate directly with the Strains had no impact on her ability to protect them.

Common is not a lesser state than Highmost, simply another way the Strains can manifest themselves, a difference, not a deficiency.


Beggar Magic


In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the Strains. Hereditary ability to use the Strains divides the city into two classes: the wealthy Highmost, who can access the full potential of the Strains, and the Common tradesmen, who are limited to mundane spells, known as beggar magic.

With the help of the Strains, Common teen Leilani rescues and befriends a gifted Highmost girl, Zebedy. The girls’ friendship opens Leilani’s eyes to the world of the Highmost. She’s intrigued by Zeb’s close relationship with the Strains, and longs to know them as she does. Zeb, in turn, comes to depend on Leilani’s strength and intelligence, making them an inseparable team, ready to take on anything with the Strains at their back.

As their unlikely friendship strengthens and endures, Zeb draws Leilani further into the Highmosts’ intrigues. Beneath the polished, academic facade of the Highmost manors lurks a threat to the Strains. An unknown force consumes their music, leaving only heart-rending silence behind.

Leilani and Zeb will do anything to save their beloved Strains, but as the silence grows, they face danger their previously sheltered lives could never prepare them for. Whoever is behind the death of the Strains is willing to kill to keep their secret safe. To preserve the Strains, the girls may have to sacrifice their friendship, or even their lives.


Heidi Lyn BurkeBorn in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

You can find H. L. Burke on:
Web | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon


Beggar Magic on Amazon


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Guest: Vanessa Finaughty on The Real World’s First School of Wizardry

This week I have another Magic Appreciation Tour author with another interesting guest post. Unlike some of the other MAT authors, I’ve actually been acquainted with Vanessa for a few years now, and that makes it even more of a pleasure to be able to help support the release of her Wizard of Ends series. So, met heel veel plezier, I present to you Vanessa’s guest post:


The Real World’s First School of Wizardry

by Vanessa Finaughty

Harry Potter fans will love this! While researching interesting post topics for the Wizard of Ends virtual book tour, I came across a rather interesting news article from 2011 that describes the real world’s first school of wizardry – Harry Potter style! I don’t know if the school is still around – it’s hard to tell when even Wikipedia contradicts itself in the same article, stating that the founder and his wife are ‘now living in’, and then stating in the next paragraph that his wife passed away this year (2014). However, I believe the mere fact that a real life school of wizardry existed or exists is intriguing in itself.

In 2005, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart founded the Grey School of Wizardry in California, USA – the world’s first, and only, as far as I’m aware, registered wizard academy, which means it is the first of its kind to be officially recognised as an academic institution. The Grey School is an online school that focuses (or focussed) on teaching esoteric magick, and boasts/boasted sixteen departments, along with many clubs and opportunities to receive awards, much like any other school. Some of the subjects taught are quantum entanglement, metaphysics, cosmology, herbal medicine, lore, protection, wand-making, alchemy, spell-casting and beast-mastery.

Intended for teenage learners, the school does/did still allow adult students, and all students are/were separated into houses or lodges, much like in the Harry Potter books. The houses, for students younger than eighteen, are Salamanders, Gnomes, Sylphs and Undines, and the lodges, for students eighteen and over, are Circle of the Standing Stones, Order of the Dancing Flames, Society of the Four Winds and Coterie of the Flowing Waters.

Oberon has described himself as a wizard, and has spent most of his life studying the Dark Arts. In the 1980s, he announced that he had created the world’s first unicorn. He had, in fact, created a unicorn – of sorts – by performing minor surgery on a goat’s horn buds.

The original article includes pictures of Oberon and his wife, gives some nice comparisons with Harry Potter, and has more detailed information about the school and the magical couple. You can read it on the Daily Mail website here. I recommend you do!


Wizard of Ends, Book 1


The Wizard of Ends, Book 1

When Lashlor Leaflin offers to escort Queen Narraki Dragonsbane to the Jeltar Woods, he’s unwittingly caught up in a magical adventure of the type he would rather not have.

The sorceress Assassa believes the Land of Ends to be rightfully hers, but King Lanaran refuses to hand over his crown. In retaliation, the sorceress conjures creatures of darkness to hunt the queen and end her life. Lashlor helps where he can, but it isn’t easy when the Guards of Ends who protect the queen believe him to be false.

A confrontation with Assassa will be the death of him, Lashlor is certain. However, the king insists on his help and it soon becomes apparent that he may have no choice.

And, Coming Soon:
The Wizard of Ends, Book 2

Escorted by soldiers of Ends, Lashlor sets out to find an old flame, Rune Arcana, the only person who can help to remove the curse placed on the Queen of Ends. Lashlor believes that Rune currently resides in the Mountains of Eclador – a place from which no one has returned in all of recorded history. She could refuse his request. She could be dead. Lashlor and his companions could meet the same fate.

If they do not brave the mountains, however, Queen Narraki will remain in the form of a rabid creature of darkness… forever.

Forever is a long time, and King Lanaran fears the Wizard of Ends will not return. Ignoring Lashlor’s advice not to meddle with the curse, the king employs other magic users to attempt to undo the dark magic.


Vanessa FinaughtyVanessa Finaughty is an author of many genres who now focuses on fantasy and science fiction. She’s published 15 books, of which 6 are fantasy. Vanessa grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and still lives there with her husband of fifteen years, her baby daughter and plenty of furry, four-legged ‘children’.

Vanessa has always been passionate about books, and knew from a young age that she wanted to write them one day. She loves animals, coffee and the smell of wet grass, and hates liars, sweltering weather and long queues. Her interests include reading, photography, the supernatural, mythology, aliens and outer space, ancient history, life’s mysteries and martial arts, of which she has five years’ experience.

Website | Blog
Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook
Smashwords | iBooks | Barnes & Noble


Guest: L. Blankenship with an Excerpt from Disciple: Part V

Today I’m happy to welcome L. Blankenship back to the blog with an excerpt from the latest in her Disciple series. This is the penultimate chapter in the Disciple saga, and the perfect time to start working your way though the books in advance of the conclusion coming next year. Getting into the series is easy enough: you can check out the first book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and elsewhere for the not-so-bank-breaking price of free.


Excerpt from Disciple: Part V

by L. Blankenship
She walked to him on delicate feet. He managed to sit up, trembling from the cold, from the pain, from half-remembered terror. That she was a little thing, trailing a braid of black hair thick as his arm, that her lush curves would’ve whetted his appetite anywhere else — that was all a lie, he knew in his bones. She was far more than she appeared.“Such work to save you from the Shepherd, and you race back to his arms? You judge in haste, Anders.”

“I serve my saints,” he gasped out. “I’m discipled by —”

“You are elect, and bound to the Empress.”

His resolve steadied, in rejecting that. “I am a Blessed knight of Wodenberg. Proven in battle. I belong to Saint Woden.” He had his knight’s crest as proof, loose and straggly from melted snow but proof.

The Empress stood over him, without even gooseflesh from the cold. “And what did he give you, for your service? Blessings? A sword? Your sounding does tell it truly; you were as born to the sword as to the saddle. Woden only gilded a lily, with his claim. What you truly need, la…” She crouched down, looked Anders in the eye. “That is a true shifter, to teach you art.”

His chest ached where he’d been stabbed. Anders shifted away from her, pulse pounding in his throat. “Saint Aleks taught me. He showed me how to work it out myself.”

“Saint Aleksandr,” she said, overly patiently, “was a mere stonecutter with stars in his eyes. He did harvest his shifting charms, or I’m a scullery whore.”

Anders straightened, bristling in Saint Aleks’ defense, but the Empress held up one finger in warning. The bond in his palm tingled. Anders shut his mouth.

“Do not waste my time, sir. I am empress of eight kingdoms. I take few apprentices, and spare not my enemies. But mayhaps there is one man in Wodenberg worth sparing. And what, at home, draws you?”

Kate’s name leaped to his lips, and froze there. Her hands, glowing with kir, catching Kiefan as he fell. Stemming the fountain of his blood. Anders’ eyes closed as the pain in his chest stopped his breath. The sword had hurt, too.

When his eyes opened, they swam with tears. “I have…” Kate had said she loved him. But not even a glance at his mortal wound… had their nights together been a lie? Pity?

“For they left you to die,” the Empress said, voice softer. “And I did mend you, then. Saw your worth and bound you, Elect.”

Left him to die. And now they were finally rid of him. Anders’ heart skipped in cold terror; how happy was Kate, now that he was gone? This vulture had plucked him from the Shepherd’s shadow, done what Kate wouldn’t…

“Stay, and you will master your gifts. Which none understand as your own kind do.”

There’d been none in Wodenberg who could teach him; Saint Qadeem himself had said as much. Since Saint Aleks was killed, Anders had largely been left to his own devices. He met the Empress’ eyes, and she was all the world had left for him to choose. Because without Kate…

With her betrayal tearing a ragged hole in his chest at each breath, Anders nodded.

The Empress touched his shoulder, and his aches melted away. The cold vanished. Kir flooded in, lifting his head with a deep, cleansing breath. She stood, and a small blade spun out from one hand. His knight’s crest, she gathered up in the other. With a slash, it came away and she held the handful of flaxen hair before his face. Then dropped it.

“For you are mine. Come home.”


Disciple Part VKate faces winter with a broken heart: betrayed by one lover, the other lost to her.

Kiefan will not give up on the alliance his kingdom desperately needs — even though the Caer queen refuses to speak to him.

Anders, alone and despairing, faces the Empress’s seductive offers of power and privilege.

Each of them must carry the ongoing war in their own way, whether cold, alone, or backed into a corner. Each must patch together a broken heart as best they can. Duty will throw them together soon enough and they must be ready.


Disciple: Part V is available
from Amazon | at Barnes & Noble | and Elsewhere


Guest: Gnaw (Heidi Lyn Burke) with A Dragon’s Guide to Not Being a Trophy

Gnaw (a dragon acquaintance of author Heidi Lyn Burke ) is on the blog today with some advice for his scaly brethren. So check out his practical do’s and don’t, and enjoy an excerpt of Heidi’s novel, Dragon’s Curse. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end!


A Dragon’s Guide to Not Being a Trophy

by Gnaw, a Dragon (with help from Heidi Lyn Burke)

As a dragon, I have been hunted multiple times. It comes with the scales. People see you and they have one of two possible reactions: they either want to kill you or they want someone else to do it on their behalf.

Thankfully, due to the dramatic retaliations against such attacks by dragon parents, the hunting of young dragons and the raiding of dragon nests is illegal in most civilized kingdoms. Though some small scale poaching does exist, men do not pose a true danger to our whelps and eggs. However, once a dragon has passed its tenth year and is recognizable as a juvenile rather than a whelp, all protection ceases. A dragon must be prepared for the dangers of knights.

These are my best tips for head-loss prevention:

1. Settle remotely.

Yes, humans have taken the best lands for themselves and their settlements continue to sprawl, but at this time the Wilderlands mid-Continent offer a sizable territory of mostly-human-free forests and mountains. If at all possible, stay here. No humans, no problems.

However, I know the desire to travel and see the world is in our blood, so if option one is unappealing to you and you must travel or temporarily abide near human settlements . . .

2. Avoid snacking on livestock.

Nothing annoys a human farmer more than missing sheep. (Maybe missing children, but human is not the ideal diet for a young dragon, anyway. Far too fatty.). Some reasonable humans will look the other way if a dragon settles in their area. Few, however, will long ignore you snatching their livestock. Even if they lack the means to hunt you, they can send away for help, hiring knights who will be more than happy to do the farmer’s dirty work.

3. Know your knights.

Sometimes even if you have carefully chosen your lair and avoided angering the locals, a knight will come after you simply because you are a dragon. They’re in it for sport and glory. When this happens, you may have to fight, but sometimes properly wielded intimidation will spare you the trouble. Is the knight young and inexperienced? Is his armor still shiny and new? Are his knees knocking with fear? Try sticking your head out of your lair, flashing your teeth, and blowing some smoke. Nine times out of ten, this will send the idiots running home to Mama. If the knight shows signs of experience or age or if they come in groups, flight is an option. Unlike knights, we dragons do not hold ourselves to archaic ideas of bravery. If you have no reason to fight, don’t fight.

However, sometimes a lair is worth defending. Also, sometimes I just get sick of being chased off. If you have considered all other options, or are just feeling cranky, it may be time to fight. If it comes down to this . . .

4. Save your fire.

Yes, fire breath is big and flashy, but don’t get carried away and lead off with that. The inner heat required to power a decent sized fireball takes awhile to build back up, and you will probably only get one shot during any given fight. If the idiot has started the fight directly in front of your nostrils, then by all means, blast away. However, a dragon has many weapons at hand. My personal favorite is bulk. Sit on the fellow. It’s a delightfully undignified way to dispatch someone, plus it takes minimal effort. Also we have tails to swipe, venomous fangs, and claws to tear.

Honestly, a one on one fight, dragon to knight, the dragon should win 90% of the time. This is why most knights are smart enough to hunt in packs or attempt sneak attacks while we are napping.

So my final word of advice is . . .

5. Be aware of your surroundings.

Always scope out a lair before you settle in for the night. Check for strange smells, campfire smoke, or any other sign of human encroachment.

If you take these simple precautions, you can live a long and happy life, knight free.


Dragon's Curse


On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous. Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family?


Novel excerpt from Dragon’s Curse
The slate gray dragon crouched at the edge of the cliff, his wings flattened against his sleek torso and his long slender neck pressed to the ground. Shadows darkened the narrow ravine below his perch. He could smell the appetizing aroma of fat, sleepy sheep and hear their gentle bleating as the shepherd approached.The drake had not eaten in several days, and while nothing would suit him more than a meal of fresh mutton, he had other concerns today. He had watched dozens of travelers take the pass between Grassel and Regone over the last month, but most came in large groups or were well armed. This shepherd was alone.The narrow roadway flooded with sheep. Their wooly backs stretched from wall to wall.

The shepherd and his dog urged the livestock along the path. The dragon drew a deep breath, arched his neck, flapped his wings, and dove.

The shaggy black sheepdog barked sharply at the dragon’s descent but too late to warn his master. The dragon grasped the man in his bird like talons and swept him into the sky. Lambs scattered every which way and the dog’s yapping grew frantic.

The great winged beast dropped the man on a rocky ledge far above the canyon floor where he rolled about, gasping and shivering. He tried to scramble away, lost his footing, and fell from the cliff. The dragon swiftly struck out. He bit into the man’s shirt, arresting his fall, and pulled him back to safety. The fellow jerked about like a fly in a spider’s web for several minutes before going limp.

The dragon lowered him back to the earth.

“Now that you have realized you cannot fly, perhaps we can talk,” he said.

The man stared up at him, wide-eyed. His Adam’s apple bobbed.

“You aren’t going to eat me?”

“If you answer my questions honestly, no. There shouldn’t be any need for that, though I wouldn’t mind one of your herd for a quick snack.” The dragon’s long tongue darted out and in. “You come from Regone?”

“Aye.”

“The king, Ernest, is he well?”

“Ernest is no longer king of Regone.”

The monster drew his head back and up like a snake posed to strike and the man crumpled to his knees.

“What became of Ernest?” the dragon hissed.

The shepherd’s body shuddered. “He died, natural causes, almost a year ago.”

“Then the dragon-hunter now rules?”

“Dragon-hunter? Prince Edmond? Yes, he has ascended to the throne.”

The creature stretched out his wings. “All right, I have heard enough. I shall return you to your flock, but you must speak of this to no one.”

The man nodded and did not cry out when the dragon snatched him up and plummeted into the ravine. The gray drake deposited his prisoner on the ground, dodged an attack from the panicked sheep dog, and nabbed a fat ewe before streaking into the sky.

He came to rest on a plateau and tore into the animal’s carcass, swallowing great chunks of savory meat.

It is time to decide: settle the score or forget and move on.

He turned his eyes back to the horizon. To the west low, green foothills stretched out for miles, to the south lay near impassable mountains filled with freedom and peace.

“Not yet, but soon,” the dragon whispered. Leaving his meal unfinished he launched himself towards the craggy blue peaks of the Middland range, his path ripping apart the clouds like paper.


Heidi Lyn BurkeBorn in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

You can find H. L. Burke on:
Web | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon


Dragon’s Curse on Amazon


a Rafflecopter giveaway