In this anthology, a young man’s incredible past is uncovered when he saves a young woman from conjured, fire-breathing dragons. A novice wizard’s resolve is tested when he is chased by rabid dogs for accusing a king’s beloved queen of murder. A mother prepares to brave danger by taking on a gluttonous black dragon with an overzealous penchant for livestock in the next valley that threatens, if left unchecked, to see her children going hungry during the looming winter. A cunning assassin sneaks into the castle dungeons to silence a prisoner before his testimony can reveal startling revelations about the queen. A desperate man does the unthinkable when he tries to kill a seven-year-old girl for the bounty placed on her head. An elf risks exposing the world’s best-kept secret – her secret – by embarking on a rescue mission to retrieve captured humans and kidnapped phoenix eggs.
One of the stories in this anthology is Dragon Kin. I hope you enjoy the extract below.
Extract from Dragon Kin
Only an hour remained before dawn. Karas had spent the remainder of the night chopping wood to repair his cabin. He kept his bow and quiver close at hand, just in case another dragon came. None had, and he doubted Sasha’s conviction that any would. The woman still sat in the sand talking Karas half deaf. He’d considered physically removing her, but, since he had no front door left to keep her out and nowhere to remove her to, he had blocked her voice out and focussed on the act of chopping wood, a menial task that always relaxed him.
He almost had enough wood to repair his cabin now, and planned to spend the day sawing it into planks. The coming day would also have to be used to get rid of the dragon corpse before it attracted flies. Sasha’s droning was replaced by a shriek as a large shadow passed overhead and something big and unfriendly snarled.
Karas looked up just as the silver-grey killer spewed a jet of flame at his cabin. The thatched roof caught fire immediately, the flames quickly spreading down the walls and to the interior. Karas’ heart sank. He was going to need a lot more wood.
Sasha cowered behind him as the dragon flew on, having apparently not noticed them.
Karas fumed and hurled the axe after it, yelling, “Come back here, you home-wrecking demon!”
The axe landed in the sand with a thunk as the dragon spiralled back towards them. Karas’ eyes widened; he hadn’t expected it to hear him.
“What have you done?” Sasha whispered.
Karas picked up his bow and quiver, slinging the quiver across his back. “Run!” He dashed into the forest, knowing the dragon couldn’t reach them there. A jet of fire shot towards them and the pile of wood Karas had spent half the night chopping went up in flames. “Damnation!”
They sprinted down the path towards the mountain’s base until they reached a bend, where Karas stopped, panting and sorry that he’d taken the time to don a shirt during the night, since the sweat-drenched cotton now clung to him uncomfortably. He considered taking it off, but didn’t relish the thought of being ogled again.
Sasha asked, “Why are we stopping?”
Karas looked back. The whole forest burnt behind them now – the dragon was driving them out to where it could snack on them. “Follow me.”
He hopped over boulders and climbed a short distance, with Sasha complaining from the rear. When the rock became too steep to traverse further, he slid left onto a narrow ledge that overlooked the valley below. It was a steep drop and a long way down.
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