Excerpt for Dragon Fyre: Musings From The Dragonlady by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

This page may contain adult content. If you are under age 18, or you arrived by accident, please do not read further.





Dragon Fyre

Musings From The Dragonlady

Sandie Bergen




Mature Content Disclaimer:

This book contains some sex and violence.

Books by Sandie Bergen




Table of Contents

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Foreword

Onyx

First Conflict

Breakfast

The Price of Desire

Vixen

The Hunt's Truth

The Cairgnorm

We Knew It Was Coming

The Legend of the Vale

Publisher's Note

About the Author

About the Artist

Find More Books




The Jada Trilogy


The Jada-Drau

Tyrsa’s Choice

The Angry Sword


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Cat’s Tales


Arvanion’s Gift

Silver Cat Black Fox

Sleepers

In The Company of Elves




Dragon Fyre: Musings from the Dragonlady

Published by Marion Margaret Press on Smashwords


This is a work of fiction. All characters and events in this book are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

There is some mature content in this book.


DRAGON FYRE

Musings of the Dragonlady

Sandie Bergen


Copyright2017 Sandie Bergen/Charlie Bergen


All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof in any form. This ebook is licenses for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


Edited by Sandy Fetchko

Cover art, design and layout by The Woodsy Fawn.


Published March, 2017


Marion Margaret Press

Headquarters:

PO Box 245

Hebron, NE 68370


www.marionmargaretpress.com

A division of Cacy Enterprises LLC




Dedication


I am not a writer, nor an author or even a storyteller. I was however, lucky enough to be married to one. As such, I get to do the dedication for this anthology of Sandie's works. I was told I could dedicate to whomever I wanted, but there was only one possibility to my mind. Therefore, this anthology is dedicated it to my wife, the author of these stories, the mother of my children, my best friend, my everything, Sandie Bergen, who I had the immense privilege of spending 37 years with. Time may ease the pain, but I miss you everyday and always will.

~~Charlie





Acknowledgements


I would like to thank a number of people for their help in putting this anthology together. Sandy Fetchko, Sandie's editor, who went through Sandie's computer to collect these stories and then edit them. Some Sandie never expected to be published. Onyx she wrote as a gift to me, her husband, and that was all. Olen is my Grandfather's name and she thought it would be nice to put it into a story for me.


Steve Shumka, RMT, who taught Sandie how to slowly kill, maim and torture people as well as disect her many, many battle scenes to make sure they flowed through the action.


A huge thank you to Diana Cacy Hawkins of Marion Margaret Press, who went over eight years of almost daily conversations just to see what Sandie wanted to call an anthology if she ever did one. Without Diana Cacy Hawkins, this book would never have seen the light of day. I can't thank her enough.


And last, but definitely not least, to her many fans worldwide. Whether it was connecting at a farmers' market or from a comment on her webpage, she was always delighted to hear from those who enjoyed her books. It gave her such joy to touch others through her stories. These stories are for all of you. Enjoy.




Foreword


After Sandie left this Earth we went through her computer. Inside we found these hidden gems. Short stories she had written, some because someone wanted a short story for a publication, one as a gift for her husband, and some because her characters wanted their stories told. Most of these stories have never been published before, although a few have.


Her family wanted to share these stories. We gathered up nine of her finished stories and put them together in this anthology. Inside you see a side of Sandie you may not have seen before, there are the Dragons that you would expect, but also ghosts as Sandie spread her wings. She wrote what she knew and was a fanatic about detail and this comes through in the stories.







Afternoon sunlight filtered through the dark oak and sweet maples lining the road, glinting off the black stone Olen held in front of him. It sat in a thick band of gold flanked by two tiny diamonds, like a gaping shadow between two stars—precious in its own right, more so if one knew its secret. Olen winked at the onyx stone. It winked back.

“Not long now, my sweet.” Olen placed the ring back on his finger and tugged the dark brown leather glove over it. He kicked his horse into a canter and rode down the hill towards the city of Rankar, still an hour away. Sparrows, robins, blue birds, and thrushes trilled and twittered in accompaniment to the clip clop of hooves.

Olen’s thoughts wandered during the ride, to the games of Santet he would play tonight. Not that he needed the money, he had more than enough to buy an estate and settle down, but he couldn’t rest until he’d found a way to free Onyx.

Rankar sprawled across the central plain of the Empire of Tarnmat. A dozen villages the size of his birthplace could be lost in there, houses and inhabitants. This was a city of light, and a city of dark. The fading sun spattered orange, red, and gold across the limestone buildings, sparkled off copper spires and glassed in windows. The granite walls enclosing the city, painted white, only added to the grandeur, as did the golden gates. Not solid gold of course, not even the Emperor would be so foolish. These were of thick solid iron merely coated with a thin veneer of the precious metal—a symbol of wealth and power.

Once inside the gates, the vision increased. Colourful striped awnings shaded merchants and their wares from the heat of the day. Several called out to him, holding up brilliant silks, fragrant perfumes, and spicy smelling meat skewers. Gaily garbed men and women chatted and shopped, while their children skipped alongside them, begging for treats or a gift. Olen stood out here, in his drab brown leathers and grey cloak. Even the metal on his horse’s tack seemed dull and lifeless compared to the bright city and its vibrant inhabitants.

City of Light; that’s what everyone called Rankar, but Olen knew quite well that every coin had two sides. For every star in the sky, a larger gap of darkness threatened to engulf it.

Olen rode through the clean cobbled streets, past an array of multi-coloured shops and people, to the darker side of the city, the Old Quarter. Here, tall, rundown buildings sat too close together to allow much of the summer sun to chase the shadows away. Very few people braved the show of bright colours, for that could mean money hidden somewhere on their person. Most of the denizens of the Old Quarter wore dirty ivory linen, dark green, brown, and black trousers, tunics and dresses—the better to slip and slide through the shade and gloom of the narrow streets and narrower alleys.

No clamour of merchants and corner musicians, no tantalizing smell of the ripe sweetness of sliced fruit greeted him in the Old Quarter. The cloying odour escaping the taqa parlours wafted on the stagnant air, making Olen almost as light headed as those who indulged in the smoke of the addictive drug. It almost drowned out the smell of open sewers and trash-heaped alleyways.

It was here, amongst the thieves, whores, bully boys, and vagrants, that Olen had discovered the secret to the ring. Now he hoped this visit to Rankar would reveal the one who sought its return, and see the release of Onyx. Not far into the slums, he found the place he sought.

‘The Bugle and Flute’, the sign above the inn read, one of the better establishments in the Old Quarter. Though Olen wouldn’t find what he wanted in the newer parts of Rankar, neither did he wish to end up with livestock on his person, or mugged merely for the clothes he wore.

After stabling his horse, he ordered hot water and a meal. A small dirty mirror allowed him to shave and comb his dark brown hair. After a quick wash, he changed his clothes, then relaxed, stretched out on the bed, awaiting nightfall.

Once darkness had descended, Olen rubbed the black stone of his ring. “Full moon starts tomorrow. We will have three days, my love. Tonight, however, I have to set the bait and I need you for that. Awaken, my beloved Onyx.”

A mist, shaded the same as the stone, wisped upwards, towards the window, forming a tantalizing shape. Seconds only he had to wait while his love took her true form.

Onyx…a good name for her. Thick black hair cascaded down a body a goddess would murder for. Eyes just as dark sparkled in the candle light. A gown of the same colour draped her body. In the ancient style of the priestesses of Asharat, it slanted from right shoulder, baring her left breast and right leg; all black, except for her delicate, porcelain skin.

Olen closed the distance between them in a heartbeat, his arms held out to her. She moved into them, yet, he couldn’t feel her; he held air. Onyx put a finger to his lips. He felt no soft touch.

“Tomorrow, my love, I will be whole.”

Olen sighed. “For three days only, then you’ll be a ghost again.”

“Maybe this time, we will find him.”

“Speaking of…” Olen grabbed his worn, dusty grey cloak. “It’s time to play.” He glanced at his sword and scabbard, lying on the bed. No gaming room allowed anything other than an eating knife. His dagger rested in its sheath on his belt, but he’d have preferred the sword.

Onyx’s sweet lips made a moue of distaste as she perused his clothing. “This is not your normal attire for the game. Do you not wish to impress your opponents?”

“Not these ones.” His plain, brown, long sleeved tunic with matching breeches tucked into dusty knee high black boots would suffice for tonight. “We’re in the Old Quarter. If I appear too prosperous, none will want to play me and everyone will want to mug me.”

Onyx laughed, a sound reminiscent of a cool, mountain stream. “You look so ordinary, not the dashing man in black and silver I’m used to.” She pressed a ghostly kiss on his cheek. “If that is the way you wish to present yourself, then let us go, my sweet.”

Olen wandered downstairs, his hands in his pockets, just an average man looking to gain at the tables. Onyx walked next to him, her arm in his. Once again, he wished she was real.

Night had only just fallen, yet the gaming parlour held at least twenty-five players. He scanned the Santet tables for a likely group to join. The tables ran about half and half—Santet and dice. Olen preferred Santet, however. Onyx had no control over dice. No one spoke to Onyx as they passed, or even looked at her, for only the one wearing the ring could see her.

Olen found a group a five players who needed a sixth. Two, who appeared to be brothers, wore simple, light cotton shirts and dark trousers, a pair who appeared to be trying to improve their fortune with the game. The other three’s clothing consisted of dark greens and varying shades of brown. At first glance they also looked like ordinary men, but they couldn’t fool Olen. The material and cut of the clothes declared them nobles, either out for an evening’s slumming or men who’d been kicked out of the finer clubs.

Perfect. Olen placed five coppers on the table, the opening bid agreed upon; horse droppings compared to most of the games he played.

A barmaid in a low cut flimsy dress, one side hiked up to reveal a shapely leg, sidled close to him. He ordered an ale, then waved his left hand, the one with the ring. “Shall we begin, then?”

The man to Olen’s right, a thin, young, blonde fellow with disturbing green eyes picked up the pack of cards. “It’s my deal.” Those eyes slid to the ring more than once as he dealt.

Could I be this lucky? After four years and uncountable towns and cities, could I have found him so soon? Olen nodded his approval and took his six cards.

The barmaid returned with his order. “If you’re lookin’ for company later, handsome, I’m available.” She winked.

Only a few years past her prime, she’d kept her trim figure and her cute face didn’t show too many lines, but no one could come close to Onyx. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Onyx started with the young blonde nobleman seated to Olen’s right, revealing the cards he held in his hand. Good attacking cards, but with no defence he’d be quickly wiped out. Around the table she went, telling him what each of the players held. An older man with a greying beard to Blondie’s right began the play. He added three coppers to the five in front of him, laid a card in the discard pile, and asked for another.

Play moved around the table, each of them placing their bets, discarding what they couldn’t use, while Onyx let him know what was discarded and received. While she reported, Olen listened, and watched the players.

When it came to his turn, Olen deposited two more coins to his bet. He glanced at Onyx, who crouched on the floor beside Blondie. The young man held out the next card, face down, ready to flip to him.

Onyx stood. “A single of heavy horse.”

Damn. Worse than what he’d intended to toss. Olen shook his head and Blondie took the card instead, his green eyes flashing disappointment. While another round of discards started, Olen studied the man across from him. Slender, with only a touch of grey at his temples, he would be the one Olen would actually battle against this round.

The man had lazy eyes and his expression never changed, making him difficult to read. Not that it mattered. Olen had Onyx. Round after round passed. He bet conservatively on every round, though he knew he had Grey Temples beat.

When a full round of declined cards passed, Blondie said, “Time for battle, gents. No more bets.” He nodded to the player to his right.

The older man laid down his first line of defence, placing the cards face up in front of him. The other players followed suit until all defence cards had been played. Now the attacking started.

Ironbeard's attack almost, but not quite, overwhelmed the younger of the brothers. Grey Temples began his attack with Olen, and Olen smiled to himself. He had the man beat solid. As the round of attacking progressed, Blondie fell first, his weak defences overwhelmed by his opponent. The man across from him, the older of the brothers, grinned and scooped up his winnings. Olen beat Grey Temples and Ironbeard beat the younger brother. Seats changed so no one sat across from their previous opponents and they began again.

Olen won the second game, though not by much. Well into the third and final match, Blondie finally commented on the item that had attracted him all evening. “That’s an interesting ring you have. I don’t think I’ve seen an onyx with the shine that one has.”

“Thank you. It’s a remnant of my more…prosperous… days.” Olen hailed the barmaid for a refill, only his second of the evening. He had to maintain a clear head.

“I don’t suppose you’d be interested in selling it. You look like you could use the money.” Blondie’s green eyes drove into Olen’s.

“Nope. Sorry. I’ve grown attached to it. A reminder of a special lady.” Olen felt another pair of eyes on him. Grey Temple now sat to his left, eyeing up him and the ring.

“Too bad.” Blondie turned back to his hand. If he paid attention he might actually win this one. “She must be quite the woman.”

“She is.” Olen checked with Onyx and passed on the next card intended for him. He had trouble keeping his eyes off her. “Dark hair down to her waist and darker eyes. Long in the body and long in leg, that lady can wrap herself around a man and never let him go.”

Blondie and the two brothers chuckled.

“Surprised you let her go,” the older brother said.

“I’ll find her again.”

The younger brother took the card offered him. “Aren’t you afraid someone else will have taken her?”

Olen shook his head. “Not a chance.”

Blondie sneered, his curiosity run dry.

Olen deliberately lost the third game, then moved to another table to see who might be interested in the black stone ring. Twice more during the evening, he played at the same table as Grey Temples and Blondie. The younger man’s eyes shifted to the ring several times, though he said nothing. The three nobles left together, over three hours past midnight.

A faint light gleamed in the eastern sky when Olen finally returned to his room, several coppers ahead of when he’d begun. Two other people had commented on his ring, but he still felt Blondie was the main candidate.

Olen slept until past noon, ate a large meal, then rode to a better part of town and indulged in the public baths. He rested until the moon rose, bright and full, sharing the evening sky with the sun.

“It’s time, my love.” A grin of anticipation spread across Olen’s face as he stroked the black gem. He remained on the bed, wearing only his trousers.

Once again black mist curled seductively from the ring. In moments, Onyx stood before him, her eyes glinting. A quick flick at her shoulder, and her gown pooled at her feet. Wearing only a smile, she came to him.

“I’m surprised you’re wearing that much,” she said, stretching out beside him. Now that the moon was full, she lived, breathed, and made love as a real woman.

Olen chuckled. “I like it when you undress me.”

Her sweet lips touched his and a thrill ran down his spine. He breathed in the intoxicating scent of lavender and honeysuckle. She always smelled like that, she said they were Asharat’s favourite flowers, used in all her ceremonies. Olen didn’t really care why she smelled so good, he just drank in her scent and let her kiss and caress sweep the cares of the world away.

The next few hours were spent in passionate bliss, making up for a month of not touching one another. Covered in sweat, they lay side by side, letting the evening breeze cool their bodies, though it could never cool their ardour.

Onyx rolled onto her side and stroked Olen’s chest. “Do you really think the blonde man is the one? He is younger than Vandran has appeared in the past. He thinks older men are more distinguished and respected.”

“Since I’ve never met him, I can’t really comment on that. All I can say is, it feels right.” Olen had never set eyes on Vandran, yet hated him to the depths of his soul. “There’s something wrong about that young man, and he showed far more interest in the ring than anyone else.”

Vandran…the devil responsible for placing Onyx’s shade in the stone three thousand years ago. Born in a kingdom that no longer existed, the wizard had terrorized the entire continent for more than two hundred years before an intrepid hero and his companions did away with his body.

Onyx sighed. “I hope you are right. I can feel nothing of his soul since Tailion killed him, at least, not while I am a ghost. Perhaps I should come down with you tonight…”

“No!” Olen sat up, drawing her close. “I won’t risk you. He might decide to kill you again, permanently this time. If we draw him here, and I can destroy him forever, then you will be free.”

She hugged him tight. “I hope so. I do not wish to belong to Vandran again.” Onyx shuddered. “Of all the masters I have had, you are the only one who showed even the slightest interest in freeing me.”

Olen kissed a tear away. “I love you, Onyx. I want to be with you all the time, not just three nights a month.” He smiled. “I’m greedy.”

Onyx’s golden laugh thrilled him to his soul.

Olen kissed her, then rolled off the bed. “Do you want to go back into the ring.?”

Fear flashed across her fine features. “No! Please! I’d rather be here alone. The fresh air is good, and just to touch things is wonderful.”

“Then stay here,” he said, while dressing. “Keep the door bolted and only open it for me. You’re sure Vandran’s powers are limited?”

Onyx nodded. “He has to keep changing bodies as the one he occupies ages. Much of his power is absorbed keeping control of his host. If you injure him, even slightly, it will weaken him more than a normal person, since he will be forced to use his power to keep control.” She sat up, letting the sheet covering her fall to her waist.

Olen blew out a breath. “I certainly hope you’re right. I’m only a flesh and blood man with a sword. I’ve never fought an ancient wizard before.”

“Not many men have. Much of Vandran’s art is lost to time, thank Asharat.” Onyx called on the power of her goddess, one she’d given up her life to protect…a goddess no longer worshipped by anyone, except one beautiful ghost.

Olen kissed her again. “Wish me luck.”

Onyx’s long dark lashes swept her cheeks as she nodded. “May the blessings of Asharat protect and guide you, beloved of my heart.”

Not sure just how much use the blessing of a defunct goddess would be, Olen adjusted his tunic and left the room, waiting until he heard the click of the bolt before heading downstairs.

Olen whistled under his breath while perusing the room. Many of the players had been there the night before, but he could see no sign of Blondie. The two brothers he’d played against waved their arms and invited him over.

Seems as a good a place to start as any. Olen ordered a light meal along with his ale and the evening’s play began. Without Onyx, Olen had to think about his cards, watch the other players faces, and take the odd chance. He won some and lost some, gaining a little over the night’s start.

Two entire matches later, Blondie walked in, Grey Temples just behind him; no sign of Ironbeard. It took another three matches before Olen could squeeze himself into a game with Blondie. Grey Temples joined them.

“I see you’re wearing your ring,” the young man said, his eyes locked on Olen’s finger. “Are you sure you won’t sell?”

“Nope.” Olen dealt the cards. “Still just as attached to it.”

Blondie arranged his hand. “Where did you buy it?”

“Didn’t. I found it.” Olen took a sip of ale, keeping his eyes on the cards, not on the man.

Found it?” Disbelief deepened Blondie’s light tone of voice. “Might I ask where?”

“I took it off a dead man five years ago. Just south of here, on the old Jynban Road.” Olen kept his tone conversational. “Your play.”

Blondie almost choked. “A dead man? Did…did you kill him?”

“I killed a lot of men in the six years I spent as a sell sword, but not that one. He’d been dead quite a while.” Olen chewed on a slice of bread, spread thick with butter, while he watched the rest of the round. When the turn came to him he said, “He really didn’t look as if he’d mind if I took the ring. Not sure why no one else hadn’t, the fellow must have been there for a couple of years.”

Olen failed to mention that the body had been buried in the bushes off the road. He’d found it while looking for some privacy to take a piss. Blondie seemed satisfied with that answer, or too scared to say anymore. He motioned for a card.

Grey Temples took up the conversation, startling Olen. Other than to request a card, or complain about losing, the man hardly spoke. “You were a sell sword?” He harrumphed. “I suppose that’s appropriate for a man your size.” Sarcasm dripped from the words.

Olen expected him to say ‘and your brains’, but the man returned his gaze to the cards he held, his mouth firmly shut. Olen gave him a card.

A young man with light brown curls framing his baby face, Olen’s opponent for this round, stared at him, eyes wide. “You’re really a sell-sword? Don’t get many of them around here. Nothing to fight.”

True words. The Empire had grown so large, any contests for its borders occurred several weeks travel away and the hiring took place just a few miles behind the battle lines. Olen held up a finger. “Was a sell sword. Gave it up a few years ago for the game.”

The young man refused the card Olen offered him. “Why’d you quit? I hear there’s a lot of money to be made in war. Spoils and all that.”

Olen grunted. “Santet may not pay a consistent wage, but it’s a damn sight safer than fighting another man’s war. Don’t let the stories fool you. Spoils are few, and then only go to the commanding officers. For some reason, when it come times to share with the soldiers and mercenaries, there’s just not enough to go around.” He’d found more treasure in that onyx ring than he’d ever gained selling his sword skills.

At the end of the match, Olen feigned a yawn and said goodnight to those at his table. He felt at least one pair of eyes on him as he ascended the stairs to his room. He knocked on the door.

“Onyx, it’s me.”

She opened the door for him, waiting until he’d closed it before almost jumping into his arms. “I was so worried Vandran would not wait and just kill you on the spot.”

Olen chuckled. “If he’s here. Even in this part of town, he might have had a bit of trouble escaping justice. Gaming houses don’t like to pick up a reputation as dangerous places. Keeps the people away.”

He lifted her chin, losing himself in the night time of her eyes. Bending to touch his lips to hers, Olen kissed her, at first tender and sweet, then with more passion as he realized this could be the last time, that things might go wrong. A soft step outside his door put an end to the kiss.

“Back in the ring.”

Onyx’s eyes flashed and she opened her mouth to speak.

“I have to know you’re safe. We don’t know what’s going to happen and I can’t keep an eye on you and fight at the same time.”

She nodded, kissed him one last time, and disappeared into the ring. Olen pulled on his hardened leather jerkin and slid his sword from it’s sheath.

A creak and gentle rattle…someone testing the door. He reviewed all the things Onyx had told him about Vandran; how he’d woven his spells, binding her while she fought to protect her mistress’s temple; the way the spell prevented her from leaving this world once he’d killed her, trapping her forever in the ring, subject to its wearer’s whims. Her only path to freedom lay in the spell caster’s death. That, or to break the stone, which would give her freedom of another kind. Her soul would journey to the heavens, as it should have when she died. Olen didn’t want that.

Despite Vandran’s powers, bestowed upon him by an ancient evil god, he remained human. He could be killed. Tailion proved that, and if his body could be destroyed, so could his soul. At least, it could according to Onyx. Olen believed in her, every word she said. He had to, otherwise he’d die and that was not in Olen’s plans for this evening.

Scanning the room, he memorized where each item of furniture sat, the pitcher, the basin, anything that could be used as a weapon in the event he lost grip of his sword. Yurian, grant me strength. And a little luck wouldn’t hurt. Olen hoped the God of War had his ears open tonight.

He set himself in the middle of room, just out of reach of the door, and just in time, as it crashed open, revealing Blondie, a long sword held in front of him in a two fisted grip. His wide green eyes looked stranger than usual, haunted, almost vacant.

“Kill him.” The calm, deep voice didn’t belong to Blondie, but Olen couldn’t take the time to see who waited outside the door.

The young man flew at Olen, forcing him to defend against a flurry of devastating blows. Years of mercenary training kicked in and Olen deflected each of them, wondering as he did just where in hell the skinny young man found the strength to wield a sword almost as tall as himself. Olen put it down to the sorcerer’s powers.

Blondie didn’t seem to care much about defending himself. Olen parried and blocked, waiting for his moment. It came soon. Blondie swung high in a move that would have taken Olen’s head off if he hadn’t ducked. A quick thrust up and he buried his sword in Blondie’s chest. The man didn’t falter and raised his sword again in a series of attacks only an experienced fighter could have executed.

Damn! It must be his magic! Olen had expected Blondie to fall and he just managed to pull his sword out of the man in time to block the first blow. To hell with this! He waited until Blondie’s erratic swing took him off balance, and, risking a hit, Olen swept sideways, taking Blondie’s head off. It landed on the floor near the window and rolled to a stop, the green eyes still open.

Pain shot through Olen’s right arm, a glancing blow from the long sword as Blondie’s body fell. Olen’s eyes moved to the door and the shadowy figure standing there.

That was too easy. “Vandran I assume?”

The man Olen had spent two evenings referring to as ‘Grey Temples’ stepped into the room. “How unfortunate. I had hoped my lackey would finish you, but I see I must do it myself. Good help is hard to find.” He closed the door.

“Excuse me if I don’t feel sorry for you.”

The wizard chuckled as he removed his gloves. “I wouldn’t expect you to. But I do expect you to die!” A flash of light erupted from Vandran’s fingers.

Olen ducked and rolled toward the table with the basin. The light hit the wall, scorching it. He grabbed the metal bowl barely in time to deflect another spell. This one hit one of the tapestries, burning one side of it. Basin in one hand, sword in the other, right arm throbbing, he jumped to his feet and rushed the wizard.

Another flash of light seared Olen’s left arm from elbow to shoulder. Barely keeping hold of his unusual shield, he charged at Vandran, hoping to at least wound him. The wizard side stepped in a blur and slammed his fist into Olen’s back as he passed. Breath whooshed out as he hit the floor. He rolled into a crouch, the basin and sword held before him.

“Give this up, puny human. You cannot win.”

Vandran’s lazy smile dug at Olen’s pride. He would win this, or die trying. Two more flashes came at him in rapid succession, both deflected by the now seriously warped basin. Where they went, Olen didn’t know, he watched only his opponent. The wizard’s eyes, as light as Onyx’s were dark, tightened. Lines showed at the corners where there had been only a few before.

He’s weakening!

Twice more Olen charged, gaining grazing wounds in his right leg and shoulder for his effort. The third time Vandran didn’t dodge quickly enough and blood poured from his right thigh. His eye colour wavered between the silver of Vandran and the gold-flecked brown of his host.

Olen panted, gasping for air, and charged again. A flash burst in front of him, catching part of the basin. The rest slammed into his chest, hurtling him backwards onto the bed. He rolled off and lay on his side, each breath an exercise in pain. Weakened my ass! That injury only pissed him off more!


Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-16 show above.)