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Free Sample of The One Rider

March 16, 2012

I’ve uploaded a free sample of my Kindle release, The One Rider.  This is the prologue which takes place a few years prior to the story. Enjoy and Share with your friends.

The One Rider

by D. J. Yearwood

Prologue

“With dreadful speed, through the skies they come.

Swift is vengeance on the wing.

Killing all who break the peace.

A mournful tune their riders sing.”

                                 – Epic Poem “Dragon Guard”

A mighty rush of air engulfed the moonlit clearing as the dragon landed roughly, rolling on his side and sending his rider crashing to the ground. The dragon struggled to his feet, balancing with his wing-tips and favoring his wounded leg. An arrow as thick as a man’s thumb was lodged deep in the muscle. Rivulets of blood coursed from a dozen or more holes where arrows had pierced the dragon’s wings. The broken shaft of a lance stuck out from the right side of his chest, and great drops of blood glistened in the moonlight. They clung to the edge of his scales before slipping off and falling to the ground. The dragon moaned under the pain.

Vaelor scrambled to the dragon’s head. “Quiet,” he whispered. “They will hear you. The darkness can only hide us if we keep quiet.”

Horns sounded below them in the forest as the pursuers beat their way up the mountainside, crashing of the underbrush growing steadily louder. Vaelor realized they would soon be discovered, but the dragon was too weak to carry him any farther.

“You must go,” he said. “Flee into the mountains and hide yourself.” Vaelor fingered the hilt of his sword as he stared down the hillside into the darkness. The sounds of pursuit grew louder. “I will hold them off as long as I can.”

The dragon let out another mournful wail, and the rider stroked his massive head. “I know. They will probably kill me, but not before they pay a price.” The rider removed the saddle from the dragon’s neck and began to sing in a low voice. The notes came softly to his lips as he stroked the face of his friend. Vaelor sang more strongly, and the dragon joined him in a surreal duet of vowels that accompanied the doleful, unsettling melody.

Their voices multiplied in the moonlight. The sound was like an inhuman choir echoing through the trees, the morbid yet wondrous music filling the night air. Each note from the rider was harmonized and embellished by the dragon’s deep baritone. Their song grew in strength, covering the mountainside in the most ominous chorus of dragon and rider, the Battle Song of the Dragon Guard. The final notes hung in the thick, moist air, and Vaelor wiped tears from his face.

A deathly stillness covered the forest. Even the insects were silent. The rider smiled at the thought of his enemies cowering in fear, watching the sky for signs of an attack. He looked into the dark eye of the dragon. Gold flecks shimmered against the blackness of the massive orb, and scarlet veins fanned out from the large, vertical slit of his pupil. “You must go. Fly as far as you can and hide.” He slapped the dragon on the snout. “Go!”

Vaelor stood back and watched the huge beast leap from the ground. Massive wings beat the air to gain room over the trees, and strong winds stirred up dust and leaves. Small branches snapped high in the treetops as he powered his way across the night sky. When the dragon finally melted into the darkness, Vaelor turned toward his fate. The dragon rider made his way down the slope through a tangle of trees. His face was darkened with anger.

Each step brought searing pain from the savage wound to his leg. Blood ran warm as it streamed from around the broken arrow still lodged in his thigh. Every breath was a fire in his chest, and he knew that his ribs were broken.

Vaelor saw an opening through the thinning trees. His enemy crashed through from the other side and poured into the clearing. Vaelor stumbled and fell. He struggled to his feet, drew his sword, and charged into the clearing.

The Morts were surprised by the sudden appearance of their quarry. They drew back like an ebbing tide at the sight of the enraged dragon rider. Many of their faces searched the dark skies in fear of an attack from above. Morts are large, monstrous beasts who serve as the King’s army and personal guard. A single Mort is a formidable enemy for even the most accomplished warrior. Vaelor now faced two dozen of the beasts. The enemy leader stepped into the moonlight, and the dragon rider got a good look at his adversary.

A head taller than a man, shoulders as wide as a plow horse, and arms as thick as tree trunks, the Mort smiled revealing rows of sharp teeth yellowed and cracked from age. Curved tusks rose from both sides of his mouth and turned in toward his cheeks.

“Hold your ground,” he growled at the others. Unusually long arms ended in strong hands clutching the hilt of a sword that was over six feet long. His armor consisted of a thick breastplate, leather bracers, and a hammered, brass helm. Scars crisscrossed his dark-gray, mottled skin.

“So, Vaelor, the Dragon Guard comes to an end.” Thick muscles rippled beneath the skin of his arms as the Mort tightened his two-handed grip. Light winds carried a sharp, pungent odor that reminded the dragon rider of rotting flesh.

The Mort spoke around a thick tongue. His slurred speech gave the impression that he was a slow and dull creature. That error had cost many a man his life. Morts are terrible enemies; strong, fast, and tireless.

“Where is that miserable beast of yours?”

“You have killed him,” Vaelor answered, “and he has gone off the die.” Vaelor lowered his stance. He slowly edged toward the Mort commander. “Now I will kill you.” The rider’s hand held a long curved scimitar, the weapon of the Dragon Guard.

“You will be the one dying today, Guardsman.” The Mort’s charge was fast and ferocious.

Vaelor turned to the side, ducked under the Mort’s arm, and slashed in an upward cut that left the monster in two pieces on the ground. The sudden death of their leader stunned the other Morts. Vaelor seized the opportunity and vaulted among them. He sliced and stabbed. The dragon rider cut a swath of death deep into the enemy ranks. He drew his dagger and added its sting to the deadly sweep of his curved sword.

Suddenly, as if awakening from sleep, the Morts charged. They pressed too close for the rider to wield his sword. Vaelor the Great, last of the Dragon Guard, fought for his life. The Guardsman repeatedly buried his dagger in the mountain of flesh that crushed him to the ground.

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From → Fantasy

6 Comments
  1. Terrific, I can’t wait for the book!

  2. joerector permalink

    Nice work. I look forward to more. Congratulations on your Kindle version.

  3. Great! I love it. Looking forward to more.

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