Download to your Kindle (eBook)
First in the Portals of Destiny Tales, Dragon Rider Trilogy:
Roark of Nedres spent his life absorbing lore, legend, and rumor to claim his dragon beast in order to save his people. Nothing has prepared him for the ultimate bond fate will demand.
Download to your Nook (eBook)
Download from Smashwords (eBook)
Adult Fantasy Romance - One dragon, one rider, and princess bound by destiny.
GENRE: Adult Fantasy Romance
HEAT LEVEL: 3 out of 5
Princess Nira Meriel Estar was born with the power of prophecy. Her most recent vision forecasts a dire fate for her people, promises few answers, and will deliver the country of Fyrhall a victorious future or crushing defeat.
Kraz, an ancient dragon of mythical power and knowledge, has eluded capture for a thousand years. However, only a dragon of great wisdom would consider an eternal bond to his warrior rider to save his dragon race.
Three souls. Two hearts. One courageous calling.
Readers: For more of the romance and battles in the war to control the portals, follow the Portal of Destiny series. Book 1, Return of the Legacy now available
Threatened to extinction, the children of magic fled Earth. The most powerful of them ripped great holes in the universe to hide their brethren throughout space with one true bloodline, forever charged with the protection of the great portals between worlds.
The World of Tir Thar shelters the oldest and most powerful of Earth’s benign and malevolent magical beings. Hindered from free access to the portals, the dark mage of Brennagmore turns his hunger for power on those of his own world.
Prophecy earmarks Fyrhall, the kingdom of renowned dragon riders, as the mage’s first vulnerable target. Yet even joined by their allies, the dragon riders’ battle will take more than courage and skill to defend against the attack.
The difference between slavery and freedom for Fyrhall and those who fight at their side—one dragon, one rider, and one future queen.
Dimension of Tir Thar
Wasteland of Ichorae, Devil’s Fork
Sleet whipped through the gaps in Roark’s head wrap, stinging his eyelids and forming icicles on his lashes. To save fifty days travel around the mountains, he’d chosen this godforsaken path.
His plan, to be sure. One based on investigations at his various Fyrhall border postings over the years. The borders attracted vagrants, thieves, and refugees, each with their own twisted tale. Mystics and wise men from beneath the northern desert lands added rich lore and legend to the exotic mix of tavern boasts.
The knowledge he’d gained had reinforced the recent warning from a wizened soothsayer whose path he’d crossed some fifty leagues and two hamlets back. It had all steered him to the jagged mountains now before him.
No monarch or deity claimed Ichorae, and he understood why. Filled with inhospitable terrain and treacherous peaks, it offered habitat to neither man nor beast. Not a country, but barren mountain ranges wrapped around worthless miles of bog. Yet after fifteen years, Roark would finally end his search here. He had no one to blame but himself if he came up empty-handed.
He shrugged the leather rucksack higher on his shoulder beneath his cloak and adjusted the cloth across his nose as he squinted through the freezing rain. Search as he might, no crevice distinguished itself from the sheer cliff face before him.
In hindsight, the confusing exchange with the soothsayer, an elven Alfar if he judged correctly, had provided Roark only enough details for him to dismiss the old man as a charlatan.
The man had waved him to the back of his small wagon. A barrel for a primitive table and threadbare tuffet for a seat formed his office, while a slight breeze shook the canopy overhead. The makeshift furniture broadcasted austerity, but in a town so arid and stifling from the heat that even lizards cowered in the shadows until moonlight, the breeze’s magic vibration had been obvious. The air’s elemental resonance, a soft and prickling brush he could still feel on his skin, had drawn Roark closer.
The man tapped the barrel top once. “Follow the eagle’s course, Rider, and you will find the object you seek.”
A passerby overhearing the delivery cast a quick glance to Roark’s red cavalry scabbard, then sneered at the wrinkled husk of a man ensconced in more robes than skin.
“I no longer serve the border guard,” he responded, but moved closer despite the man’s apparent error.
With surprising strength, bony fingers grabbed his wrist over the barrel and slid the dark brown jacket of his uniform up his arm. One finger scraped over black markings on his forearm with a hiss. “To walk unseen is a boon, but even such magical aide will fade as quickly as sand through your fingers. You must seek your prize quickly.”
Roark withdrew his arm, keeping a vigilant watch on the narrowed, slit-like pupils in the man’s eyes. The brands, Roark’s wards against black magic recommended by an Ouahe oracle, had proved useful several times. They were worth every coin he’d parted with and the long, painful moments endured beneath the blacksmith’s iron to burn them into his flesh.
“This proves you claim a fate other than a king’s soldier. Not feet, but wings hold your future.” The words slithered in a twisted language of ophidian whispers and ancient tongues. The old man’s glittering black eyes bore into him as he leaned closer. “The pass through Devil’s Fork will test your mettle. Begin your journey there.”
“I need no test, wise man.” Uncertain whether to believe or not, Roark slid two silver ingots across the wood. Offending an elven messenger wasn’t worth withholding the few coins he could spare.
The man leaned closer and slid a pouch beneath Roark’s palm. “For what you dream and what you stand to gain, there is much left to test, Rider. For you, one must become three or you will lose more than you can imagine. Remember the words of the ancients and you will prove wiser than the others of your ilk.”
Before he could ask more, the old man had dragged down the tarp covers and closed shop.
Roark blinked back the memory as the narrow passage trembled below his boots. A responding vibration in his body brought him back to the icy reality around him as he rubbed at the warm tingle over his chest. Vigilance to prophecy, in a time when many shunned the oldest ways of magic, offered him his only guidance. That, and the stories emblazoned in his memory from a man many considered unstable and demented—his grandfather. It remained to be seen whether a dragon warrior’s blood ran in Roark’s veins or that of a disillusioned soldier.
He glanced at the gray sky laden with a week’s worth of snow. Another obstacle to his goal if he didn’t hurry. He patted his chest in a ritual tied to his last hope. The soothsayer’s pouch, tied by a rawhide string, hung around his neck projecting inexplicable warmth. The contents could not by themselves create such a response, but nestled next to his medallion, they stirred in him a hunger to claim his prize. Forged of metals dropped from the rings around his planet of Tir Thar, the medallion’s creation by the elven smiths from the farthest realms held power and connection for only a dragon rider and his beast. The heat had burned steadily since Roark had entered this narrow pass. A heartening sign.
He removed his glove and sought along the cliff wall. Forty shuffled paces farther, his numb fingertips slipped inside a fissure in the rock. A large enough space to squeeze through standing if he pushed hard and dragged his sack behind him.
The slit widened several feet in, enough so he could squat and catch his breath. Cold buffeted at his back, but warm moist heat tingled along his face as he tore the layers of scarves from his head. The path ahead doubled in width, a hazy bronze glow reflecting off the walls.
Roark rubbed again at the medallion, easing the growing tingle. Relief and elation, followed by a healthy dose of raw fear, swept through him. Euphoria won, leaving him lightheaded. After years of hope, his blood raced at the likelihood of success. Every impulse demanded he shout aloud and revel in his luck.
Good sense kept him quiet.
Feeling restored to his extremities, he stood, undid his cloak, and unharnessed his sword. He set his belongings aside before heading closer to the light. Agility and speed were his allies now. The sword and cloak, while he would need to claim them on the way out, would do him no good in his next challenge. He secured the rucksack on his back and took a deep breath.
Flexing his hands at his thighs, he moved forward. His fingertips brushed the Bolleus boar tusk handles strapped in their sheaths. His spoils from a cunning night of cards. The blades, honed to a keen edge, would slice any normal object. The warded runes on the handles guaranteed the blades would pierce even things elven forged—those conjured in the deepest bowels of the blackest phantoms or the lofty heights of the Volarian mages. However, his target today wasn’t living flesh.
No, if he succeeded, his task wouldn’t require bloodshed. If he failed, knives would be no help. He’d be dead.
After a sharp turn and then another, the tunnel before him opened into an orange globe of light. He lifted his arm to shield his eyes from the reflection off the bright yellow and rusty red mineral striations embedded along the tunnel wall. The vibration and power of diamonds and iron ore—what better safeguards to fortify a sorcerer’s dungeon?
Three months of travel, a lifetime of service to his country, a promise to his dying grandfather, and here he finally stood—in the heart of the forbidden zone between the God-fearing Fyrhall and the land of the people beneath the desert—about to face his fate. He’d walked hundreds of miles and absorbed magical lore and tales as if they were air and water. Then he’d severed his few personal ties for what lay at this tunnel’s end.
Roark walked slowly to the edge, squatted, and stared into the cavern below.
Rivers of molten rock and magma lakes covered the cavern’s perimeter. Occasional lava sprays reached for an island rising from the center. Spider webs of heavy iron chains on the spit of land covered a chrysalis of leathered flesh.
Clamped and manacled, the object of his quest remained motionless. Then, as if in response to Roark’s presence, the flesh flexed. Narrow bones spread like a Merian dancer’s fan to expose mountains of thick muscle covered in glistening ruby and bronze scales.
The creature shifted. A thick iron collar circled a neck the size of an elephant. More iron connected claws and hind legs to chains riveted to the four compass points of the cavern.
In awe, Roark watched as the huge head turned toward him. Two nostrils flared and exhaled smoke. From beneath a browridge longer than Roark’s body, moon-sized marbles of orange and black zeroed in on his position.
He forced a smile. He could fake confidence if need be. “Before you consider blasting me to hell and back, it’s fair to let you know I’ve come to release you.”