Hello, dear readers! Since I posted that I was participating in this year’s DragoNaNoWriMo, I have had dozens of messages from my clamoring public asking for a sneak preview of my work. Here is a brief excerpt from my current project, an epic fantasy adventure based partly on my personal experience, which I have titled The Queens of Dragoria.
Return to the Castle
There could be no denying it: the ancient curse had come back to haunt the royal line of Dragoria. The oracle’s words rang through her ears and made her scales tremble. “Lord Krakenatus is returned!”
But how could it be true? How could the demonic sorcerer have made his way out of his eternal prison, freed his tentacles from the hardened lava, raised his head from the cinders that the fiery mountain had rained down upon it? How could this nightmare of generations past have returned to haunt Queen Maelyss?
So caught up was she in these dark thoughts that she hardly noticed that no warden had met her at the gates and no retainers had come to untie the traveling cape from her throat. Only once she had entered the great hall of the castle did it become clear to her that something was not right at all. The room was silent, empty, devoid of the partying gryphons and members of the royal family who usually shook the vaults with their noise. Gone were the lords and ladies roasting nuts and marshmallows with their breath, the singers of ancient dragon ballads, the flying acrobats.
Claws had rent the banners that hung above the high table. The old Dragorian coat of arms, which consisted of two dragons and an open book, was in tatters. The Queen stopped dead in her tracks.
This was not the work of any sorcerer. It was too slight, too petty. A new threat had arisen from among the castle’s own inhabitants.
“You have returned, I see,” remarked a voice behind her that made her jump and lose her royal composure. “It was most unwise to leave your realm so long without a queen!”
“I was not gone more than a fortnight,” she replied. “And what makes you think that you can address your ruler with such a familiar tone, Mirabelle?”
The young retainer laughed wickedly. “Ah! You still do not realize who I am. Of course, your parents did their best to erase my name from the chronicles.”
“Whatever can you mean?” Queen Maelyss asked. “You have had too much pomegranate wine, surely. Go back to your chambers and sleep it off!”
But Mirabelle only laughed again, sparks flying from her open gullet. “Ha! Once I have explained you shall know all, and then you will be sorry you ever hired me to serve your banquets, attend your carriages, even rock your children to sleep at night! Oh, you have been a fool, Maelyss. All the more, because you have had not the faintest idea these many years that I was plotting revenge!”
“Who are you, you wicked serpent?” the Queen snarled.
“None other than Mirabelle, daughter of Maerwynn, cousin of Moribund, son of Mulric, heir to the throne of Dragoria!”
The Queen’s wings shook and bristled at this revelation. She was silent a moment, connecting the lines on her family tree. But now it was her turn to laugh. “Fool! The laws of the land state that only the first, second, or ninth children of the previous ruler can inherit the throne. Your claim is null!”
“Ah, but the rules of succession were not always so. It was only when your mother, Queen Muriel, took the throne that she twisted the laws of the realm to suit her own ambitions and silence my family’s right to the throne! When Moribund died, the charter clearly stated that if the first-born offspring of the king had died and could not succeed to the throne, as your uncle Melatonin had in the Battle of Draghorn Field, the closest living blood relation of the former monarch, be she sister or cousin, should take the throne before a second-born child!”
“Lies! I have never heard such a thing.” Even if Mirabelle’s claim was true, Maelyss could not bear the thought of a member of the Marvinian clan on the throne. The dragons of that side of the family lacked all literary taste! They could never be the keepers of the royal library.
“Of course you haven’t! Your mother usurped the throne and banished everyone who disputed her claim, including my mother. She brought me up in exile, in a tiny village at the edge of the realm, yet she taught me the ways of a courtier and assured me that one day I would be Queen of Dragoria!”
“Why, you insolent, treasonous viper! I should have the sentries sever your wings for such a claim! Eric! Enobarbus! Seize this villain at once!” But the guards must have been driven out of the castle during the insurrection.
“It is no use! Your court and your army have abandoned you! The kingdom is mine!”
But just as Mirabelle raised her snout to give a howl of victory the doors to the hall burst open, and another member of the court entered.
“Lord Merlon! Put this traitor in shackles! She is trying to depose me,” cried Queen Maelyss.
“Fool! Lord Merlon was the first of your court to recognize my claim,” said Mirabelle.
“Or so you thought!” said Lord Merlon with a wicked grin that showed his sharp white teeth. “In fact, I have merely been biding my time, waiting for the kingdom to sink into such a state of instability that I could take my rightful place on the throne! You are both fools for believing that I was ever a faithful courtier. Did you never recognize my true identity?”
“Surely you jest!” said Mirabelle, shocked by the treachery of her fellow traitor.
“No indeed,” said the old dragon. “For I am truly Merlon son of Milleflora, daughter of Moratorium, brother of Mitanni the mother of Mulric, father of Moribund, and the true heir to the throne of Dragoria! And if my seamless genealogy is not enough to convince you, perhaps this can!”
He raised a taloned hand to reveal a clear-blue crystal ball.
“But that’s -” Maelyss sputtered.
“The lost Magic Orb of Montgomery, father of Mitanni and Moratorium, progenitors of Marvin and Mulric and Milleflora, respectively. It is the only hope you have for saving the kingdom from the attack of the Many-Armed Sorcerer!”
I am afraid this is as much of the book as I am able and willing to release at the moment. You will have to wait, my dear, patient readers, for the full novel to be published to learn what becomes of our reptilian heroine. I am not sure yet when it will be available on the human market, but it is currently under contract with Tooth & Talon, the premiere publisher of dragon literature. It is to be the first of a planned trilogy. (Karl tells me I ought to make it eight books! I am seriously considering the idea. Apparently octolagies are standard among krakens.)
But I must return to my keyboard now to hammer out the next 1,667 words! The page awaits!
Daisy the Dragon