Dragon's Son [Lord of Wind and Fire Book 3]
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by Elaine Corvidae
Description: As the armies of Argannon sweep south across the Kellsmarch, Jenel's forces frantically organize to stop them. Caught in between are the common people of Jenel, driven from their homes by the horrors of war. After their harrowing escape from Segg, Suchen, Auglar, and their companions find themselves lost in the midst of anonymous masses of refugees. Devoid of hope, they want only to return to Kellsjard and lick their wounds. But the journey is long, and the dangers many. Lost to his friends, Yozerf must also make his way back to Kellsjard, his only companion an eight-year-old human girl. But as conditions continue to deteriorate, he soon finds himself at the head of an army of refugees--men, women, and children, human, Aclyte, and Wolfkin. And as opposing armies converge on them, the fate of the kingdom itself may lie in his hands....
eBook Publisher: Mundania Press LLC/Mundania Press LLC, 2004 2004
eBookwise Release Date: November 2005
84 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [441 KB]
Reading time: 302-423 min.
"...A wonderful fantasy world with well-crafted characters and an engaging saga."--Christine Filipak, Dark Realms Magazine
"Elaine Corvidae's gift of capturing the "human spirit" and portraying it in a tale of betrayal, grief, love, and hope is a rare and lovely gift."--Dena Kosche, Fallen Angel Reviews
"This story is incredible! Beautifully written with vivid imagery and strong plot."--Kelley A. Hartsell, Love Romances
300 years ago.
Telmonra stood atop the Dragon Stone, her heart clenched with a mixture of grief and pride and desperate hope. The mountain wind whipped her long hair into a storm, held back from her eyes only by the gold circlet of her rank. Below, in the city, there would be wailing and tears this night, but here were only the wind, the monotonous words of the ritual, and the cries of dragons.
The cries of her kin.
It had been a long time since all of the clan had gathered together in one place. Madness ran in their line, it was said, and mingled with that were the petty quarrels and rivalries found in any family. Jonaglirs had murdered one another in the past, spilling the blood that bound them.
Spilling the blood that was the key to their power.
"Our need has never been so desperate," she had told the swarm of cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews. They had stood in the great throne room, which lay open to the mountain weather, all of them watching her with eyes as gray as her own. In that moment, she had almost hated them, because none of them could take this burden from her. She was the last surviving child of King Osha; all the rest had been carried away by the same plague that had claimed their parents.
Whether the plague was natural or wizard-made ... that was a question that haunted her sleepless nights more and more often these days.
"Jenel has broken our ancient alliance," she had gone on, even though they knew it already. "Maak and Shalai have broken it further by refusing to aid us. Jenel has the aid of a powerful wizard, and their armies have already taken the southern passes. How long they have planned this, I cannot say, but they have struck hard and fast. Our need grows great, so I have called you here.
"The dragons are our most powerful defenders, but as of now they are too few. Those under the age of sixteen must remain behind, and those women who are pregnant. The rest of you ... make your farewells."
And so it came to this. One by one, they walked to the Dragon Stone, exchanged the ritual words with her ... and cut their own throats. One by one, her kin gave up their lives in exchange for Caden's protection.
One by one, new-made dragons rose into the air.
Let it be enough, she prayed, watching them. Jonaglir was decimated by this act, and it would be many generations before the clan recovered in number.
If they lived to recover at all. * * * *
"I am not pleased, wizard."
Ax glanced up from a crystal basin on a pedestal. Power rippled and danced like sunlight on the water within the basin, showing flashes and glimpses of far-off images. Most of them were half-obscured by smoke or dyed red with blood.
Fellrant, King of Jenel, stood before the only window in a high tower, looking out over his domain. A flowering vine had climbed the outside of the tower to form a curtain that hung over half the opening, perfuming the room with its purple flowers. The slow drone of bees came from without, accompanied by the singing of birds. If not for the ring of the smiths' hammers and the cries of practicing warriors, the scene outside would have seemed nothing more than a sleepy spring day.
Ax's sharp blue eyes narrowed slightly, but he hid his irritation well enough. "And why is that, Your Majesty?"
Fellrant cast an annoyed glance over his shoulder. He was a small man, but he nevertheless radiated a regal air that confirmed Ax's choice to boost him to the throne. Impatience snapped in his blue-violet eyes, but years spent as a northern lord, plotting first for survival and later for power, had taught him to curb his temper.
"Why indeed, wizard? Let us think. Over the last year, both my winter and summer palaces have been destroyed, so that I must make do with the leavings of a dead lord. Segg, my capital, is nothing more than a burned ruin. Argannon is attacking from the north, apparently having struck an alliance with Jenel's so-called ally Maak that allowed Jahcgroth to simply march armies through the kingdom without a fight. Shalai will send us no aid, and Undah is too distant to care. Is there anything else?" Fellrant pretended to think, his youthful features twisting into a frown. "Oh, yes, that's right. My only rival for the kingship has gone missing."
"If Lord Auglar survived the fall of Segg, then he is most likely dead by now," Ax pointed out testily. He disliked being reminded of Auglar, whom he had backed before learning that the lord had betrayed Jenel by marrying a Wolfkin. Only humans had the right to Jenel's throne--for a potential king to breed with a half-beast was nothing short of treason.
Fellrant's eyes narrowed. "I will remind you that he is no longer a lord. I stripped him of all titles and lands. He is nothing more than a vagabond, at best."
"And therefore nothing for you to worry about," Ax pointed out soothingly.
"And the Aclyte? Yozerf?"
"Are you certain? He had power."
Ax snorted. "None worth mentioning, Your Highness. He was nothing more than the bastard heir of blood long spent. His minor tricks were not enough to save him. All the portents say that he was killed in the destruction of Nava Nar."
And good riddance. Yozerf had once been a useful tool, but those days were long over.
Footsteps rang on the stair outside, and a moment later a man appeared in the doorway, heavily armed and dressed in mail. Crossing the room, he dropped to one knee before his king.
"Lord Tybalt," Fellrant said, acknowledging the soldier. Until a few weeks ago, Tybalt had only been a minor thane. But with the deaths of most of the Jenelese lords, Tybalt had found himself not only a lord, but also commander of the King's armies.
"Your Majesty," Tybalt said, with the worshipful air of a man who had no doubts as to the origins of his good fortune. He was a big, burly man, his hair cut short to fit under a helm, and he made an interesting contrast to the small, beautiful Fellrant. "The armies are gathering. Your lords have brought every trained soldier they could spare from the defense of their own keeps."
Fellrant nodded. "And the conscripts?"
"Every able-bodied male peasant found is being brought in as well. They will make useful foot soldiers, if nothing else."
"Excellent." Fellrant folded his hands together and smiled. "Take your forces north, then, Lord Tybalt. That is where the main threat of Argannon comes from, despite their trickery in Segg. Supply yourselves as you may--the army is the most important consideration now, do you understand? If any village refuses you food, take it by force. And if any village is found to be housing Argannon sympathizers ... burn it to the ground."
"Understood, Your Highness."
Fellrant dismissed Tybalt and went back to stare out his window. Ax returned his attention to the bowl in front of him. Jenel was wracked by war, and refugees were already beginning to stream across the Kellsmarch from their burning villages. It was a desperate time, and it called for a strong king like Fellrant, who would not hesitate to do whatever was needful to turn back the invaders. Ax had made a good choice indeed.