The Death of the Sun: BEFORE


Previous Era

Marcin lay on his back in the tall blood-soaked grass, staring up at the sky. A lifetime of service to his king, and this was how it ended. A part of him had always known that sooner or later his life would end the same way he’d ended so many others.

Death was imminent. There was nothing to do but wait. Thankfully, no one was left to drag him back to Crenalin because the healers wouldn’t be able to save him. All they’d do was prolong his death, which meant more pain. He’d witnessed it happen too many times. It was a horrible way to die. Death on the battlefield was the best that a knight could hope for. And that was what he’d been granted. He was thankful Aliza wouldn’t have to watch him die.

While Marcin waited, he tried to focus on the peacefulness above instead of the pain. A sort of calmness existed in the clouds floating slowly by, occasionally shading him from the sun. He tried to remember what the sun felt like shining on him on a crisp spring morning, but all he felt was pain.

A dragon soared into view. It glided serenely in and out of the clouds, high in the sky, barely discernible. Spotting a dragon wasn’t unusual; they were often seen soaring about. What was unusual was talking to one. As far as he knew, no human had ever interacted with a dragon. They avoided humans like deer avoided wolves. As the beast soared overhead, Marcin reflected on the recent conversation he’d had with a dragon. That he could remember. Who could forget talking with a dragon?

His horse had almost thrown him when they’d rounded a bend and found the dragon blocking his path. It was just lying there, waiting. It was the closest he’d ever been to one. He’d spun his horse to flee, but the dragon spoke. It asked him to stop. So he did. Its deep, sonorous voice was calming. It wanted to know why he killed—why humans killed. The strangest part—stranger than a dragon talking to him; stranger even than the dragon knowing Marcin’s language—was that it admitted to watching Marcin. But what it never said was why. And then it left, leaving Marcin wondering what had just happened.

In the weeks since, Marcin had reflected on that strange meeting. What was the purpose of it? And why him? He was nobody. He’d never told Faran about it, and he never kept secrets from his king—he would never have become First Knight if he had. It didn’t matter now, though. If Faran wasn’t dead yet, he likely would be soon.

And Aliza… poor Aliza. He hoped she was safe. She didn’t deserve to die. He hated that he had brought her into the middle of a war, but their marriage had been vital to a treaty with her father. And it had worked: Varias had sent his knights to help defend Crenalin. But in the end, the treaty had come too late. Barely a week had expired, and Marcin was about to make her a widow. She should be back in her home, safe in her father’s castle. Instead, she was far from anyone she knew or loved, alone in an unfamiliar kingdom. When the enemy sacked Crenalin, she would be killed… or worse. And he wouldn’t be there to stop it, to protect her like he’d promised he would.

The dragon still circled. Strangely, instead of gliding out of his view, it remained overhead. The clouds changed as they drifted by, but the dragon remained stationary, high above. As Marcin watched the dragon, darkness slowly enveloped him. It started at the edges of his vision and moved inward. He’d lost consciousness before, so he knew what was happening—only this time, he wouldn’t wake. The end had come.

Before long, all Marcin could see was a small circle of sky at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Then, in the little window of blue that remained at the far end, the dragon tucked its wings and dove like a hawk diving for prey. The dragon grew in the tunnel until it was all Marcin could see.

He never imagined a dragon would be the last thing he saw when death took him.

But instead of death, he felt warmth—the warmth of the sun. It wasn’t the warmth of a crisp spring morning; this warmth permeated him throughout. It dulled—no, stopped the pain. Marcin’s vision returned. He felt as hale as he ever had. He would have stood and run to Crenalin, to Aliza, were it not for the dragon’s muzzle looming uncomfortably close, its breath incredibly hot.

“In exchange for life eternal,” the dragon boomed, “you will end the wars.”

Pain exploded in Marcin’s chest before he could ask the dragon what it meant.

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The Astronomer – Part III


295 UE

Drashon stood before the gold-plated doors of the throne room. He stared at the dragon emblems emblazoned on each door while he awaited entrance. Huge tapestries hung on either side of the doors featuring the once common dragons soaring among the clouds. He resisted the urge to pull out his time piece and check the time. He knew it was a nervous tick and he didn’t want to betray his emotions to the guards standing on either side of him.

The captain of the guard emerged from the throne room and, after he closed the heavy door behind him, said, “Chancellor, if you would permit a search of your person.”

Drashon unclasped his coat and held out his arms. The captain signaled one of the guards to search him. The guard patted him down and checked the pockets of his coat, inside and out, looking for dragon bones or Energy powered Machines. The guard found the rolled-up parchment in his inner pocket and briefly examined it without breaking the wax seal. There was nothing suspicious about it, so he returned it to its place. The guard then found his timepiece, took it out of its inner pocket, and showed it to the captain.

“I’ll need to keep this until you’re finished,” the captain said.

The guard handed it to the captain and then, finding nothing else, returned to his place at Drashon’s side.

“Thank you, Chancellor. You may enter.”

The guard to Drashon’s left stepped forward and opened the door.

Drashon took a deep breath. Meeting his father here instead of in his personal quarters made him uneasy. He let the breath out and stepped through the gilded doors. He passed through the entryway with stairs on the left leading up to the viewing area, into the throne room.

At the far end of the room, up the stepped dais, his father sat on his throne, illuminated by the sun. Drashon’s step faltered when he saw that his father was wearing black armor. The dragon statues perched above the throne looked toward him ominously. He forced himself to approach the dais where his father clutched the Dragon Scepter. A golden dragon clutched the scepter, its tail winding down the gilded bone. He wished desperately to fill himself with Energy, but he couldn’t. The shields over the glass ceiling blocked the sun from reaching him. Even if he had access to Energy, it would be a mistake. Watchers would undoubtedly be keeping an eye on him from the balcony.

When he arrived at the foot of the dais, he knelt on one knee, bowed his head, and waited.

“You may rise,” the emperor said.

Drashon stood and clasped his hands behind his back.

“No point in delaying the matter at hand, Chancellor. I’ve waited fifty years for the astronomer to finish. Do you have his report?”

“Y-yes, Your Blessed Highness,” Drashon said, matching the formality his father chose to utilize. “Though, I don’t think you’ll be pleased with his conclusions.”

“Did you take care of the astronomer’s… needs?”

“Yes, Your Highness. The astronomer won’t be sharing his discovery with anybody. The only person that knows what’s contained within his report is me.” Drashon reached into his overcoat and drew out the rolled-up parchment sealed with wax. He held it out and said, “May I?”

The emperor gestured with his hand in a sweeping motion toward himself.

Drashon climbed the steps and squinted when the sunlight shined directly into his eyes and handed the parchment over. As he stood in the sun, he briefly considered filling himself with Energy, but abandoned the thought just a quickly. Instead, he stood helplessly before his father.

The emperor took a few moments to study the report. He looked up and said, “This is much worse than I’d imagined, Drashon.”

“Indeed, father,” Drashon replied, matching his father’s drop in formalities.

“It’s been almost three hundred years since I first sat on this throne, Drashon. And it wasn’t until now that I finally understand the full ramifications of the war.” He paused for a moment and stared blankly at the parchment. “I’ve often wondered why my father surrendered. We fought for thirty years, neither gaining any significant advantage over the other. And now, I think I might understand why.” After another pause, he added, “Perhaps his way would have been better.”

Drashon look at his father, confused, “Father, the war was necessary. What grandfather proposed was—”

“Yes,” Drakonias said. “But this,” he said, shaking the parchment, “proves our actions weren’t worth it.”

“It would be treasonous for me to agree…”

“Son,” the emperor said, eyeing Drashon pensively. “It seems that everything we fought for was for naught. Unless this problem is remedied—if that’s even possible—we’re all going to die.” Drakonias paused again before continuing. “You understand how vital it is that this information not leak out, don’t you?”

Drashon nodded.

“Imagine the wide-spread chaos should this ever escape this room.”

“I agree,” Drashon said. He hadn’t wanted to kill the astronomer, but he understood why it had been necessary.

“I simply cannot allow what’s contained within this report to ever get out.”

“Word of this will never—” Drashon stopped when he felt a familiar warmth enter his body. He looked at his father, confused. The emperor was directing Energy into him. “Father? I-I’m not due for Regeneration…”

“No,” Drakonias said, “you are not.” He rose from the throne with the Dragon Scepter in hand and said, “But this is necessary.”

Drashon panicked when he realized what his father was doing. He turned and stumbled down the steps of the dais as his body filled with Energy. He’d grown accustomed to the sensation from the many times his father had restored his youth, but this didn’t feel quite right. Normally the intense heat dispersed as the Energy wove through his body, undoing the ravages of time, but the heat didn’t abate. It was building. He ran for the doors, pulling the Energy into his Core, but it was building too fast. The heat overcame him, and he stumbled. He fell to the floor a dozen paces short of the exit. He dispersed Energy into the marble floor, but it was too late. The acrid smell of his burning flesh filled his nose.

Drashon writhed in pain. He forced himself to lift his head with the little strength he had left and looked toward his father. He reached out with a hand, pleading for mercy, but screamed as his body burst into flame.

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The Astronomer – Part II


295 UE

Vashon sat at his desk, and with frail fingers, put the finishing touches on his life’s work. His second life, thanks to the blessed emperor. Despite having lived nearly twice as long as was natural, apprehension and fear gnawed at his senses.

He remembered the day he’d read the edict. He remembered dropping the piece of parchment onto his chart-covered desk and watching it roll back up on itself. He’d stared blankly at it, stupefied, wondering why the emperor would ban astronomy, his trade. It also declared all astronomical implements be surrendered to the Regency. He’d forgone many of life’s pleasantries, including that of a wife and children, so that he could fully devote himself to his studies.

He remembered looking across his study at the Telescope positioned next to the window. It had been but one of many that he’d owned. That particular one he’d used for leisure. His other, bigger, Telescopes were at his observatory outside the city. He remembered the feeling of complete meaningless. What was he to do without astronomy? He’d been too old to learn a new trade.

The knock at the door still rang clear in his memory and drew his attention away from his Telescope. As quickly as his frail body permitted, he’d shuffled along the narrow path that wove around stacks of books. He’d gasped in fear when he opened the door just enough to peer out. The door swung open, forcing him to step back. A man wearing orange armor stepped in. Vashon bowed as deeply as the pain in his back allowed and said, “Welcome, Your Highness.” He struggled to erect himself, then stepped aside to permit the chancellor entrance.

Two guards wearing gray-scaled armor pushed their way in first, knocking over stacks of books, and took up position just inside the door. The chancellor strolled in with his hands clasped behind his back. Two more guards followed him in and closed the door.

The chancellor walked down the narrow pathway between Vashon’s lifetime of accumulated books. He picked one up from a pile, flipped through it as he walked, then set it back down on another pile. He stopped in front of the Telescope and slowly ran his hand down the polished bronze. After inspecting its many parts, he turned to face Vashon, who still cowered by the door.

“The emperor has need of your services,” Drashon said.

“The e-emperor?”

“And with it, comes both riches and immortality.”

The fear that held Vashon frozen by the door melted away. Moments ago, Vashon sat at his desk wondering how he was going to survive. But Draego had supplied. He grinned broadly as he silently said a word of thanks.

And all too quickly, fifty years had passed since that fateful day. He sat at his desk in the twilight years of his second life. As he hesitated to put the finishing touches on his work, he reflected on his solitary meeting with the emperor.

Drashon ushered him to Kyinth on a Train. Along the way, he enjoyed countless pleasantries. The pleasantries increased manifold upon his arrival in the capital of the United Realms. The privilege Vashon felt when he stood before His Blessed Highness was like nothing he’d ever before, or since, experienced. He counted himself as one of a blessed few who stood before the emperor and had the emperor’s sole, undivided, attention as the emperor commissioned him for a great work.

He still clearly remembered that wonderful day when, after accepting the task the emperor laid before him, a strange sensation filled his body. Tingles coursed down his spine. Every day since then he got the same feeling when he thought about the emperor using his gift to reverse times ravages on his body. He remembered the intense burning and the amazement he felt as he watched his withered hands grow smooth again. He remembered the shock he felt when the emperor directed him to an ornate mirror, and he peered once again at his youthful self. He stood amazed, inspecting his reflection. He’d been eighty-five years old, and he stared back in time at his younger self.

After that, he was escorted out of the emperor’s presence and out of the royal palace, never to set foot in it again. But his gift was forever tainted when he returned to Tieger and learned of the horror bestowed upon his fellow astronomer’s and their families. But with time, his greed overshadowed his horror. After all, the emperor was the Blessed of the Dragon—his ways were perfect.

Twice a year, for the last fifty years, the chancellor came to Vashon’s study and received an update. And now, once again old and frail, he was about to present his final report to the chancellor. Did His Blessed Highness remember his promise? Vashon wondered. Even though he had lived two full lifetimes, fortunate to have been bestowed with such a wonderful gift, he wasn’t ready to give it up. He’d grown to love his gift of renewed youth, reveled in every experience he forewent in his first life. But now, he sat in his chair having once again grown old, the end of his life again nigh. With his task completed, would the emperor sweep him aside as a tool whose usefulness was spent? Like he did with the other astronomers?

He imagined he would feel joy and satisfaction after faithfully completing the task given to him, but that didn’t turn out to be so. Instead, the apprehension he’d felt when he first read the emperor’s edict grew stronger the closer he got to completion.

After much reflection, Vashon picked up a pen and inked his remarks. He set the pen down and sat back, his second life’s work now complete. He glanced to his side at the mirror hanging on the wall and gazed at the reflection of the once again frail, gray-bearded man he had for the second time become.

Fear accompanied Vashon’s apprehension. The chancellor saw that Vashon wanted for nothing. Unlike his first life, his second was lived in comfort and luxury. The lifestyle had made him greedy and unwilling to give it up. Worried about what would happen to his support after he turned in the report, he’d been considering his need to possibly look after himself, especially since he was old once again. He turned from his reflection in the mirror and contemplated the bag of gold on his desk. It represented half of what was promised should he make a copy of his report and ensure it fell into the right hands. He stared at the bag and weighed the possibility of a painful death against more than enough gold to live comfortably for his remaining years. He turned again to his reflection in the mirror and decided he was likely to die soon either way. With his usefulness spent, he couldn’t count on the emperor’s gift a second time.

Vashon made up his mind. He turned from his reflection, grabbed a fresh piece of parchment, and began duplicating the report. As he worked, the setting sun began to shine through the window of his study and inched its way across the room. It worked its way up the legs of the desk and onto the surface. When it reached the pale parchment, it reflected brightly, making it difficult to see what he was writing. He set his pen down and rose to draw the shades.

At the window, he paused, and gazed at the sun. For fifty years, at the direction of the emperor, he studied it. During that fateful meeting long ago, Vashon listened to the emperor’s concerns and had, through careful observation and measurement, confirmed them to be true. The sun was changing. In truth, it was dying. The emperor wouldn’t be pleased.At least, Vashon thought, drawing the shades and turning back to his desk, I’ll be long dead before things get bad.

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Final Cover Reveal

There’s an old adage that goes something like “don’t judge a book by its cover”. In today’s digital age, though, I don’t think the adage rings as true as it once did. Absolutely there are amazing books out there with so-so covers. There are also so-so books out there with amazing covers.

I’m hoping my books are somewhere in between. Thanks to Jake at Jcalebdesign , I have an amazing cover. Actually, to quote his tagline, I have a “badass cover”. Whereas I don’t know if I meet the high standard for “badass stories”, I’m hoping those of you who have made it this far at least find my stories better than so-so.

And now, a little more than a year after I started down the self-publishing highway, the end of The Blessed of the Dragon series is nigh. There’s just one more book left to finish the series. Which means I had one last opportunity to join collective artistic forces with Jake to design the final cover.

With each of the first three covers, I was amazed at Jake’s ability to bring excerpts from each book to life. He knew just what details from each excerpt to focus on and which ones to omit, not because they were unnecessary to the scene but because too much detail will bog down the limited amount of space available for a book cover. There’s obviously more going on in each instance but he zeroed in on what was most important and gave the greatest visual snapshop to those who stumble across the book in a sea of competing opportunities. And he did it again with the final book in the series, The Death of the Sun.

The first book in the series, The Path of the Synthesizer, was published a mere eight months ago. It’s cover depicted Yolken, the main character of the series, standing on the precipice of a giant waterfall, facing a decision. With the Blessed hot on his tail, he needed to quickly decide his path forward. Those who’ve read the book would now recognize the significance of the sword Yolken is holding.

The Path of the Synthesizer art

The cover of the second book, The Island of Kvorga, captured another pivotal moment for Yolken. He traveled to the mysterious island of Kvorga in search of help rescuing his brother. There he learned the fate of Dradonia rested on his shoulders. His return was met with his first face-to-face confrontation with the Blessed. Worse, his brother rejected his aid. The purest expression of the Blessed’s magic is fire–Draego’s Fire, to be specific–and they don’t hesitate to utilize it. Fortunately, Yolken was taught how to defend himself. He fought off their attack and, due to a little help–okay… a lot of help–he managed to escape the Blessed’s carefully laid trap.

Island of Kvorga art Wide

The cover of the third book, The Dragon King, captures the moment when Yolken purposefully threw himself into the lion’s den. Knowing the challenge he faced–restoring balance to a dying sun–Yolken sought help from a man who wanted him dead–the Emperor of the United Realms. Yolken willingly put his life on the line in an effort to bring an end to a centuries long war in order to save Dradonia. I particularly like the Dragon Scepter and the dragon’s perched above the throne looking forward ominously. The detail of the emperor and his Dragon Guard’s armor is exquisite.

Dragon King wide

And now…

…the big finale.

The opening scene of The Death of the Sun, the final book in the Blessed of the Dragon series, finds Yolken standing atop the tallest building in the empire–a place he didn’t want to be–pondering a problem he didn’t know how to solve.

Knocked out of balance by centuries of war and greed, the sun was dying. And somehow it was up to him to fix it. But he didn’t know how. The very notion was insane. Impossible. He was just one man. And he barely understand the gift of Synthesis.

The Death of the Sun is the epic conclusion a story I’ve been working on for the better part of seven years so naturally I wanted an epic cover. And Jake was up for the task. What ensues is the beginning of the end of The Blessed of the Dragon. But before you scroll down to see the cover I just want to say how great it was working with Jake. If you haven’t already, hop on over to his website and take a look at some of his other work. And if you are writing a novel that you one day might self-publish, I would highly recommend Jake. I’m already excited about working with him on my next project which I’m tentatively planning on publishing in the spring of next year.



…without further ado…


…the cover of The Death of the Sun!




Death of the Sun eCover

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The Dragon King: Javen

Javen trembled as he climbed the spiraling stairs, resisting the urge to vomit. He stepped around chunks of marble as he passed Devin and Karina’s floor and looked up at the hole in the spiral. He didn’t want to think about what had just happened, but just as when Drenan had killed Astora, it kept replaying in his head.

The whole plan made him nervous. He’d had a hard time concentrating in the days prior to Yolken and Kaylan returning to Onta. He attended the planning meetings, but hardly paid attention to what Devin and Drenan discussed. The first portion of his role was relatively simple: greet Kaylan to reassure her that she was safe. That had gone as well as it could have. Kaylan wasn’t happy—he had known she wouldn’t be—but she was safe from the fighting. The second part was what roiled his stomach for days, making it so he could hardly eat: confront Yolken. The moments immediately before Yolken arrived in the roundabout were the worst, but when he’d arrived and Javen approached him, a calm overcame him. He did what he could to talk some sense into Yolken—but then Yolken had attacked him! His brother!

Yolken and Javen had had their fights growing up, but never in his life had he thought Yolken would actually hurt him. And now that they both possessed the gift of Synthesis, Yolken had used it to attack Javen. Javen had hoped that Yolken had resisted the rebels’ lies, but now he knew that Yolken was completely corrupted.

He’d been unable to participate in the ensuing fight. Despite knowing that Yolken was lost to him—no longer his brother—he couldn’t bring himself to return Yolken’s attack. He didn’t want Yolken to die any more than he wanted Kaylan’s mother or uncle to die. Instead, he’d lain there on the ground, at the foot of the palace steps, and watched, in horror, what was likely his brother’s final moment of life. Yolken had fought back against several regents—something Javen still couldn’t believe—but Javen had known the regents would eventually overpower him. He was one against many, and the regents had centuries more experience with Synthesis. When Yolken stumbled on a broken piece of marble, he knew Yolken was losing. Like a coward, Javen had looked away. He couldn’t watch his brother die.

But then he’d heard a deep, booming roar overhead. He’d looked up and couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw a dragon diving toward the roundabout. The dragon had crashed to the ground amid the fiery maelstrom, then carried Yolken away.

When cleanup in the roundabout began, he’d heard about casualties on the east bridge. As Devin made his way back into the palace, Javen asked permission to go inspect the bridge, and Devin had granted it. Javen needed to know what had happened to Kaylan’s mother and uncle. The sight of the first burned bodies was more than he could bear. The anxiety that had been building over the last several days finally erupted in him, causing him to double over and vomit. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve, then forced himself to inspect every single corpse. Fortunately, he didn’t see anyone he recognized. They survived, he had convinced himself.

When Javen arrived at the final landing, Reago’s floor, it was blocked by a dozen guards. Standing behind the guards, Reago’s modestly dressed servant said something that made them part. “Right this way, Master Javen,” the girl said.

Javen still trembled as he followed her down the hallway. When she opened the door leading into Reago’s quarters, shouting from within greeted them. He paused a moment before entering, but after taking a deep, shuddering breath, he proceeded.

“I insist we give chase!” Drenan shouted as Javen stepped through the door.

“I said no,” Reago said, through teeth clenched on his pipe. His hands were in his pockets.

“They attacked Onta! They’ve never done anything so brazen!”

Javen stood by the door and observed the scene. Instead of meeting on the balcony, which seemed to be their preferred place of gathering, they were in the sitting room, the first room within Reago’s quarters. Are they afraid of being outside?

Drenan and Reago stood on opposite sides of a chaise, and Devin sat about five feet away on a couch. When the door closed behind Javen, the two regents and chancellor turned to look at him. Drenan sneered before returning his attention to Reago.

Reago took the pipe out of his mouth and said, “I permitted you to undertake your fool plan, and you failed. Besides, it seems we aren’t simply dealing with a few weak rebels.” He replaced his pipe, and it spontaneously started smoking. Javen figured Reago had a dragon bone in his pocket.

“So they found a dragon and convinced it to fight on their side,” Drenan said. “We’ve dealt with them before. We destroyed them. I’m not worried about one dragon.”

Reago removed the pipe once again. “We don’t have the Machinery to deal with a dragon in Onta. By your report, it killed two dozen guards at the east gate. Besides, the dragon is not what worries me.”

“What, then?”

“Deanna has aligned herself with them.”

“Deanna?” Drenan said. “Deanna is dead.”

“That was certainly the story Drakonias propagated,” Reago said.

“It’s treason to suggest that the emperor lied.”

“It’s not treason if it’s the truth,” Reago said. “The truth is that she disappeared, and Sheal was unable to track her down.”

“How do you know it was her who attacked the gate?”

“That’s what Javen’s brother said.”

“He was probably lying,” Drenan said.

“What other reason would the Order have for going to Kvorga?” Reago said.

“K-Kaylan said they went there to find her,” Javen said.

Drenan’s eyes twitched toward Javen, who hadn’t moved from the door, then back to Reago, who stood firm, not budging. Then he looked over at Devin, and Devin nodded. Drenan shifted his stance. “So, let me see if I understand you correctly,” he said. “Deanna assaults your city, damages the east gate, the boy attacks you on the steps of your palace, killing dozens of guards in the process, the dragon kills dozens more, and you’re going to simply let them go?”

Reago remained fixed like a statue. “I’ve made my choice.”

“You’re afraid of them,” Drenan said derisively.

“Drenan,” Devin interjected from the couch, “we must accept defeat when it has been dealt. We need to regroup and consult with Father.”

“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” Reago said.

“So you’re conceding defeat to the rebels?” Drenan said. “If this had happened in Hantlo I would have—”

“It didn’t happen in Hantlo, though, did it?” Reago said. “And yes, I’m conceding defeat. You said there were several casualties—not only in the tower but on the bridge as well. And none of the casualties were rebels. Only guards under my authority and innocent bystanders.”

“The rebels have never—”

“Haven’t they, Drenan? How’s your wife? What about your daughter?”

Drenan stepped toward Reago and said, “How dare you! Never speak of them!”

Devin stood and moved between Drenan and Reago. “You were assaulted by Deanna, Drenan; Father’s sister. And the boy was much stronger than we anticipated. Not to mention that he has somehow figured out how to Synthesize without dragon bones.” After a pause, he added, “And… Draego’s Fire… they have a dragon!”

Drenan shook his head and stepped back. “I refuse to accept defeat. They assaulted the city, so we must give chase!”

“You assaulted them!” Reago shouted. “They were merely passing through, and you assaulted them. In my city.”

“It doesn’t mat—”

“Enough!” Reago shouted.

Javen hugged the door, wishing he could pass through it.

“I have had enough of your insolence, Drenan,” Reago spat. “You will do as I say, or you can return to Hantlo.”

Drenan stood rigid. “What is it that you propose, Uncle?”

“We will go to Kyinth and consult with Drakonias.”


“Myself, Devin, the boy,” Reago said. He gestured toward Javen with his pipe. “And you, if you lose the insolence.”

Drenan glared toward Javen then turned back toward Reago. “Consult with him about what?”

“I believe what is transpiring is much larger than killing the son of a dead rebel against whom you have a vendetta,” Reago said. “It’s time to put behind us the policies of a war that we never should have fought. As evidenced by what transpired tonight, we are still experiencing the fallout of what we did four hundred years ago. We must at last face the ramifications of what we’ve done.”

“Again, you speak treasonously,” Drenan said.

“As I said, it’s not treason if it’s the truth. On the morrow, we will travel to the capital. And, because of the urgency of this… situation, we will use a Train.”

“That is treason,” Drenan said.

“Stay behind if you wish,” Reago said, “but Devin, Javen, and I will leave at first light. Now leave me be. I intend to spend the remainder of the night in peace.”

Devin and Drenan moved toward the door. Drenan eyed Javen icily as he approached and shoved the door open.

When they were gone, Reago said, “See you at first light, Javen.”

Javen nodded, and followed Devin and Drenan out of Reago’s quarters.

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