Today I have a New Release for you, Dragon Justice, another in the Dragon series by my friend J D Hallowell. I am currently reading it and it’s awesome, so I highly recommend it. JD has given an excerpt to give you a taste of what is to come.
Young as he is, Simon thinks he has it all worked out – he knows just what he needs to do to free his mother and himself from indentured servitude to the corrupt Lord Bastian and escape the constant threat of abuse from Broderick, the lord’s cruel teenaged son. It seems that everything is going according to plan until a violent confrontation leaves Simon on his own, fleeing from Lord Bastian and the law. His future looks bleak, with no chance at redemption, but when he finds himself bonded to a dragon hatchling, things get even more complicated. Can Delno and Nassari, the leaders of the Legion of Riders, prevent the boy from being used as a pawn by nobles eager to ignite a civil war? Can they help him receive Dragon Justice?
As Simon neared the top of the second ridge shortly after noon, he heard a sound that made his blood run cold. It was the same barking sound that the lead Rorack had made the day before. He started to turn away, but the next sound, even louder and more frightening, caused him to stop short. That sound had obviously been made by something extremely large, and it was quickly followed by a higher-pitched scream of anger and pain that was abruptly cut short. He wasn’t sure how he knew, but he was certain that something had just killed the beast-man he had heard seconds before.
Though terrified, he was unable to keep himself from moving toward the sounds of battle. He just had to see what creature could put a stop to one of those monsters as easily as he might step on an insect. He was about to pull himself over a rock outcropping at the top to have a look when a bright light came from just the other side. Simon could feel the heat of an intense fire, and several more Roracks screamed. Again the cries died suddenly rather than trailing away.
Realization swept over him. He had heard that dragons and Roracks were natural enemies and would kill each other if they got the chance. He had also heard that wild dragons could be dangerous to humans as well, so he hesitated for a moment. Then there was another cry of pain, but this was no beast-man. It wasn’t exactly human, but it had a quality to it that struck a chord deep inside him. It had to be the dragon. Whether it would turn on him or not, to ignore that cry would be no different than to ignore the cry of any person in dire need. He quickly fitted a javelin to his throwing stick and climbed to the top of the rock.
What he saw on the other side of the ridge made him pause involuntarily. There were seven beast-men still standing. The leader he had seen yesterday had stabbed a blue-green dragon below and to the left of the neck with a rough-made spear that was little more than a sharpened log about eight feet long, and was trying with all of its might to drive the two-inch diameter lance in deeper. Simon took only a second to size up the situation before throwing the javelin directly at the large Rorack, desperately hoping that it wasn’t too late for the dragon. The missile flew straight and penetrated all the way through the monster’s chest from one side to the other. It looked down and pivoted its head from left to right examining the object that now stuck out of either side of its body, but it appeared to be more surprised than in pain. It did, however, lose its grip on its own spear. The respite gave the dragon time enough to lash out and knock the beast-man close to five yards away. The creature struggled briefly and then went still.
Two of the remaining six Roracks looked in the direction that the deadly projectile had come from and, seeing Simon, charged toward him. Boron had once told him that in the heat of battle, time can appear to slow down, and the beast-men seemed to be running at him in slow motion. The smith had explained that the effect was caused by physical changes that happened in the body under stress, and by narrowing your focus too much. He had said that the way to counter it was to widen your perspective; otherwise, it could get you killed. Simon, his first time in actual combat, forgot to widen his perceptions and nearly lost his life.
He managed to fit another javelin to the throwing stick and launch it, but he was momentarily confused as to why he seemed to be moving as slowly as the two beast-men. He saw, in vivid detail, the projectile hit its mark and take down the target, but he couldn’t move fast enough to either fit another to the throwing stick, or even get up a reasonable block in time to prevent the second assailant from hitting him across the side of the face with its clawed hand. Simon was knocked several feet to his right, and he fell down the slope onto a curiously rounded rock. There was a bright flash as the wind was knocked from his body by the impact, and he felt strangely disconnected from his own body for just a second or two. He closed his eyes, and he could still see a reddish light, as well as feel the searing heat of the dragon’s deadly breath, so he knew she was again using that fearsome weapon on her attackers. He laid there for several more seconds to let his senses return to normal.
When the heat eased, he opened his eyes and looked back over his shoulder in time to see the beast-man who had hit him raise a crude club over its head to make a two-handed swing. Just as he thought he would die, something the size of a small tree whizzed over his back, and the Rorack disappeared with a thud and a grunt. He noted that the passage of time was returning to something close to normal as he watched the beast-man’s club spin, at first slowly, but with increasing speed, as it flew into the nearby brush after being knocked from the monster’s hands. Simon looked around and realized that the dragon had used her tail as a weapon, saving his life.
As he rose, he took stock of the situation. The dragon hadn’t been idle while he was being knocked senseless. Two of the remaining Roracks had been burned to a crisp by her last blast of fire, and the remaining two, smoldering, but alive, were in full retreat. The beast-man who had tried to kill him a moment before began to rise awkwardly, and Simon surprised even himself by pulling his knife and quickly diving onto the creature and shoving the blade hilt-deep into it just where the base of its skull joined the back of its neck. The monster died before it had the chance to either attack or run away.
The dragon stirred behind him. An old tale about wild dragons killing and eating humans briefly surfaced in his thoughts, but he put it out of his mind. If she wished to attack him, she would have done so by now, and he was more worried about the blood running from the wounds on his face. Also, his chest smarted where he must have abraded it when he was knocked down.
“I thank you, human, for helping me, though I fear you came too late to save my life.” The dragon’s voice was definitely feminine, and actually quite pleasant.
Simon turned to her and responded, “Too late? Are you wounded that badly?”
As he asked the question, he looked her over; he could see the numerous large wounds that the beast-men had inflicted and the spear still embedded in the front of her shoulder.
“There must be something we can do to stop the bleeding and heal you. You’ll be all right!” The last was, though he wasn’t sure why, as much a plea as it was a reassurance.
The dragon chuckled and smiled, though the smile was almost a grimace of pain. “No, young human, I am afraid the beast men employed poison on the makeshift lance that pierced my flesh, and that I will soon pass to shadow. If I had not been so exhausted from my journey and then laying my last egg, my scales would not have been slack, and the attack wouldn’t have penetrated. However, it did, and I am dying. I wish it were not so, because that will leave you to care for my daughter with no guidance, but that is the way of it.”
Simon was completely confused. He looked around and saw no other dragon in evidence. “Your daughter? I don’t see her. Is she close? And why am I to care for her?” He paused to quell the panic he felt creeping up his spine. His voice broke as he asked, “How am I to care for her?”
The dragon laughed out loud, which caused her more pain, and said, “You are nearly standing on her. She is inside the egg that you landed on when you were knocked down.” She smiled at him and added, “I perceive that you are not very old by human standards. You are very brave for one so young.”
The compliment was completely lost on Simon. He stared at what he now realized was a dragon egg. It was a little less in length than a man’s height, and roughly the diameter of a rain barrel, perhaps just a bit more.
“I don’t know anything about dragons,” he pleaded. “How can I care for her? I can barely care for myself.”
“You will find a way, young human,” the dragon replied softly. “Now, I am fading fast. I must pass on my lineage to my daughter while I still have the strength to do so. Please stand to one side and don’t interrupt.”
Simon moved away from the egg and was stunned by his unwillingness to do so. He felt an intense impulse to protect the unhatched baby inside the shell. He actually had to fight down the urge to get between the mother and the unborn dragon-child. Then a voice that he knew was coming from inside his head, but which originated inside the shell itself said, “Do not worry, no harm will come to me. This must be done, and then we will be together for all time.”