Can a lady of fire help a knight to slay the infamous dragon?
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Excerpt from The Dragon and the DreamWalker:
Brynn grabbed the coverlet from the bed and wrapped it tightly around her body. Then she eased herself to the floor, hoping her father’s ivory-handled dagger still lay hidden under the loose floorboard. She would never be the spoils of war. Nay, she would kill him before she lived at the side of the man who murdered her parents.
“I’ve heard it said that the former lord and lady of Thorndale Castle had a daughter,” the man continued. “Supposedly, their daughter befriends fire and has magical powers at her command,” he said from the darkness.
“Well, I’ve heard that the man who leads the Klarens into battle, killing and ransacking everything in sight, is a black-hearted man who gains his power at the hands of others’ misfortunes,” she retorted. “This man’s reputation is known throughout the hills of Lornoon. He’s the one mothers warn their daughters about. He is mentioned to threaten children when they’re bad. Yet this man’s name is never spoken aloud, for fear the darkness that possesses his soul might follow his name, striking down dead the one who spoke it.”
It was then that the man slowly stepped out of the shadows and into the soft light of the fire that flickered from the bedside candle. The glow encompassed him as his dark eyes bored into her. One large fist gripped a tankard of ale in front of him. He was tall, handsome, yet foreboding. He carried his body frame straight and proud as he strolled toward her. His bare chest was wide and sturdy. Every muscled ripple showed in his physique. His arms were huge and strong, empowering the rest of his warrior body. And like a warrior, he still carried a weapon though he was half-clothed.
With his penetrating perusal, she felt a slight hesitation in his action as he stopped in front of her with his free hand hovering above the sword strapped at his side. It was as if she’d called him a traitor or insulted him by saying the legends of his name aloud. Here was the most dangerous man alive, and she was alone with him in the dark, with only a coverlet between them.
“’Tis true then. It is you,” she said barely above a whisper. “I’ve heard of your crest described by the bards. You are Drake of Dunsbard, are you not?”
A slight upward turn pressed at the corners of his mouth. “You so daringly let my name slip past your noble lips. Aren’t you afraid you’ll drop dead at my feet for such carelessness?”
Clutching the blanket around her, she raised her chin but kept her teeth gritted. “I’d welcome death to the alternative of what you’ll do to me.”
Drake of Dunsbard chuckled. “So sure are you that I’m that dangerous?”
“You are a Pendragon!” she cried. “You’re the one they call the Dragon’s Son. You are the devil and you’ve come to claim my soul.”
He quietly placed the tankard on the bedside table and stared at her. His penetrating gaze seemed to reach all the way down to her soul. She knew she should look away, but stubbornness made her match his glare. It was said that the son of the dragon could turn one to mere ashes just by fixing his gaze upon them. But it mattered not to her because she had an ally in fire. His dangerous stare could not harm her. Brynn was sure to be protected from the fires of hell.
He chuckled again, his lips turning up into a lopsided grin that only made the indentation in the cleft of his chin more pronounced. His ebony eyes sported a glimmer as he seemed to find amusement in her words. Then the glimmer was gone and the danger was back. He took a step closer, so close that she could feel his breath on her face when he spoke, though he did not touch her.
“You’re only partially correct with your legends, my lady.”
Not trusting him so close to her, she craved protection. What she needed was her father’s dagger, but it was hidden under the floor at the far side of the room. Brynn scooted away from him, never turning her back as she shifted around the foot of the bed.
“I am a Pendragon,” he admitted, “’tis true. And I am the one they call the Dragon’s Son as well. But I assure you, I am not the devil and I want nothing to do with your soul.”
He made his way toward her, causing her to dart around the back side of the bed.
“I don’t believe you,” she spat, noticing the slight tremble in her voice. From the corners of her eyes, she looked to the floor, trying to remember which board the dagger was hidden under. Then her toe caught on a loose end and she realized she had found it.
He took another step toward her, this time with more definition. That was all she needed to see. The look in his eyes told her that he knew she was about to deceive him. She had to move fast. Releasing the coverlet that concealed her nudity, Brynn dropped to her knees. Wedging up the floorboard, she thrust her hand beneath it, groping for the weapon.
Drake’s boot heels clicked on the floor and stopped in front of her face. Her outstretched fingers reached for the dagger in one final attempt to protect herself but, to her horror, she found the hiding place empty. When she felt his hand on her arm, her body stiffened in fear. Her breathing labored as he pulled her to her feet, causing her body to tremble from his mere presence. He pulled her closer, her hip grazing the flat end of the sword at his waist.
“Looking for this?” he asked. Still holding her arm, he raised his other hand and displayed her father’s ivory-handled dagger in the air.