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Sands and Tombs (Dragon Thief Book 4)

Millie Lucas and her handsome dragon protector Benjamin Castle are about to find themselves in a very sandy situation.

Sands and Tombs (Dragon Thief Book 4)

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FEATURED FREE BOOK: Greylock Manor

Visions of feral eyes haunt the waking hours of Alexandra Shaw. They both scare and intrigue her, and after one particularly strong dream she heads out to find where these visions are leading her.

FEATURED FREE BOOK: Greylock Manor

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The Dragon’s Maiden

Kate and her dragon protector Ros have escaped the domain of the King of Shadows, but their troubles are far from over.

Kate’s role as the person to lift the world out of darkness is still in doubt, so Ros suggests they look into the prophecy. Their journey takes them along the Paths of the Forgotten, an labyrinth of abandoned trails that lead to their destination, the ancient library of Mathisi. The records within those walls were saved by the ravages of time by the Logos, an old family who were once part of the civilization that built the majestic ruins adjacent to their library.

However, all is not well on the Paths. A strange sickness afflicts the villagers near the library, one which leaves them as nothing more than zombies eager to consume a particular herb found only in their forest. As the situation worsens the pair find that there’s more than just shadows that haunt the ruins and the village. Something far darker lurks in the heart of the ancient city, something only Kate can discover, but only together can they destroy the evil before they become its next victims.

Excerpt:

People can sense the things that lurk in the dark. Maybe that’s why a whole city was abandoned almost overnight. Maybe that’s why we should have been more cautious when we traveled to that lonely, forgotten mountain.

Maybe I needed to stop thinking about the road ahead and start thinking about the path under my feet. My sore, tired feet.

“One sec,” I pleaded as I collapsed with a soft whoosh onto a boulder. I crossed one leg over the other and removed my leather shoes to massage my foot. “I think my foot’s about to fall off.”

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Ros and I found ourselves along a dusty dirt road now wider than a cart. The path had once been at ground level, but countless centuries of foot and vehicle travel had dug a large ditch into the ground so that earthen walls surrounded us like a tunnel. Trees of strange leaves like maples and birches grew atop those walls and their branches hung over the road, giving us shade against the hot bright sun that loomed overhead.

It had been ten days since our adventure ended at the river, and every one of those days had taken its toll one me. My perma-wrinkled clothes were covered in mud stains and I could only imagine what my face looked like. Callouses covered the bottom of my feet and I could barely feel my hand as I massaged the sole.

Ros took a seat on the wide boulder and stretched his arms above his head. “Stopping isn’t such a bad idea, but only if we don’t stop for too long.”

I wrinkled my nose. “Do you really think Corvinus has sicced a bunch of. . .what do you call them?”

“Lurkers, and it wouldn’t be the first time he did so,” Ros warned me as he looked up and down the deserted road. “But even taking these side roads, we should reach the foothills this evening.”

I looked up the road which lay to our right and beheld the same snow-capped mountains I had seen at the river. Now, though, after ten days of walking they were much closer. Their grassy foothills started only a few miles off and stretched for miles into deep valleys and even a few plateaus filled with white-barked trees.

I squinted at the rocky outcroppings that looked like towering fortifications. “So there’s supposed to be a city in there?”

He lifted his eyes to the mountains and nodded. “An ancient one. Brother Collins used to tell me tales about it when I was young, and I went looking for it after my. . .well, after I left home. Took me five years of searching, but I found it.”

I scooted closer to him and lifted both my eyebrows. “And?”

He shrugged. “It’s a ruined city. Whatever majesty it used to have was washed away by time and rain.”

My face drooped. “Is that it? And we’re going to a place like that to find out more about my prophecy?”

A smile slipped onto his lips as he nodded. “Yep. Though most of the city is just a jumbled mess of stone, the library was kept up by a branch of the ruling family. None of the looters really wanted books, so they’ve been able to keep the library nearly intact for all these years.”

I tilted my head to one side. “Nearly intact?”

Some of his good humor faltered. “Corvinus and others like him have stolen some of the more valuable tomes, those that deal with the darker spells of the world. He discarded the ones that proved worthless to the libraries of Mavros-”

“And why you were hoping Collins could find something in them to help you guys figure out about those ships,” I finished for him.

He nodded. “Exactly.”

“What I wouldn’t do for one of those ships right now. . .” I murmured to myself as I eased my massaged foot onto the ground. I froze and winced when a sharp pain shot up my leg.

Ros looked me over with a concerned expression. “Are you alright?”

I smiled at him. “You wouldn’t happen to be hiding a pair of wings underneath your clothes, do you?”

He grinned and shook his head. “I wish, but we haven’t had wings in a long time.”

I blinked at him. “What do you mean?”

A pensive expression slipped onto his lips as he looked down at his hands that hung between his parted legs. “When my ancestors were first endowed with the Pactus we looked quite different, at least according to the descriptions and pictures from centuries past. We were taller than most men, at least according to the descriptions, and all of those that were granted the gift to be a dragon had large leathery wings that could somehow be hidden when not being used. Apparently it was a sight to behold when a whole family went out to war leading the charge from the sky.”

I couldn’t help but glance at his empty back. “So what happened?”

He straightened and shrugged. “Somehow down the long years the wings grew smaller with each successive generation until they disappeared entirely.” He folded his arms over his chest and furrowed his brow. “Even Corvinus’ lineage had wings, but they’ve lost them, too.”

“So there’s no flying dragons?” I guessed.

He shook his head. “Not a one, though admittedly there’s few dragons left, period. Of the five kingdoms of the dragons, only three remain, but-” He eased himself onto his feet and turned to face me with a bittersweet smile, “-that’s time for you. It moves on and the rest of us just have to keep up.”

I sighed and stood, disregarding the complain from my feet. “A not so subtle hint that I need to get my butt moving?”

He flashed me a grin. “It’s an admirable ass. I’d hate to not see it again.”

I snorted. “That’s a lame pickup line.”

Ros blinked at me. “A what?”

My face fell a little and I shook my head. “Forget it. Just an old saying from my world. Anyway, we’re in yours and that means-” I scooted around him and pressed my hands against the back of his shirt, pushing him down the road, “-you need to lead the way.”

He twisted his head around and grinned, but didn’t try to get out of my pushy clutches. “No need. This road leads straight to where we need to go.” He cast his eyes further down to my hands and his good humor faded a little. “We might find some gloves for you there, too, if you want.”

I released his back and sidled up to him where I looked at my bare hand. “I should. . .”

Ros studied me for a long moment before he looked ahead and smiled. “You’d look good in work gloves.”

I lifted an eyebrow. “Come again?”

He shrugged. “Or evening gloves, or the fashionable ones women wear that don’t have the fingertips. I think you’d look good in all of them.”

I blushed and stared down at the ground. “I don’t know about that. . .”

“I do.” I whipped my head up in time to watch him stretch his arms above his head before he crossed them behind his back. “You even looked good in those frumpy clothes the good father gave to you, and that’s hard to do for even the handsomest among us.”

I snorted. “Even for you?”

A grin stretched across his face. “Even for me.”

I couldn’t help but smile as I shook my head. “Anyway, how many miles do we have? I want to warn my feet about their impending doom-hey!”

Ros had swept me off my feet and into his arms. Instinct told me to grab him around the neck, but I jerked back before my Familiar magic kicked in. Instead, I crossed my arms over my chest and glared at him. “I can walk!”

“You were just saying you couldn’t,” he pointed out as he strolled ahead. “And my ancestors may have lost my wings, but we haven’t lost any of our strength, now enjoy the carry.”

I settled into his arms and did as he commanded. The day was warm, the breeze a gentle kiss on my cheeks, and the trees swayed lazily against the wind as we passed through the tunnel-like road.

I noticed the ground had slowly been rising, and the more miles we left behind the steeper the climb became. The short hills on either side of us fell away and revealed a rocky plateau that shared a jagged border with the foothills of the majestic mountains. Though their tops were craggy, their sides were gently sloped, and small, tree-covered highlands were everywhere to be seen.

Our road wound its way via switchbacks and long slopes up the mountainside, though Ros stopped us at the start of the steeper climb. A cabin sat beside the road, and a plume of white smoke rose out of the chimney. At our coming the wooden door opened and a wizened old man shuffled out.

He wore a simple vest made from the rough wool of some sheep-like animal, and his short trousers were of smoothed leather. A pair of heavy boots covered his feet, and he walked with a slight hunch in his shoulders with his hands clasped behind his back. He had combed back his full head of white hair and a pair of spectacles pinched the end of his long nose. One of his hands clasped a thick wooden cane.

The man stopped beside the road and squinted at us through the glasses. “Were you wanting some supplies before you climbed up?”

Ros set me down on my feet and opened his arms wide. “Old man!”

The old man’s eyes widened before his bushy eyebrows crashed down. He jabbed the flat bottom of the cane at Ros and his face was a picture of fury. “You! You owe me a goat!”

COLLAPSE

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Mac Flynn