Excerpt and Giveaway: TAKEN BY TUESDAY by CATHERINE BYBEE

Traditional white dress with a bouquet of flowers

TAKEN BY TUESDAY

The Weekday Bride Series, Book Five

Montlake Romance, Contemporary

August 12, 2014, First Edition

Paperback & Kindle

JUDY GARDNER:

College graduate Judy stands ready to conquer the world…if she can find a job. Hoping to transition from aspiring architect to famous architect as quickly as possible, the dark-haired beauty moves to LA, staying in the home of her celebrity brother, Michael Wolfe. But it’s hard for Judy to focus on work when the sexy bodyguard she fell for last summer keeps showing up in her life and leaving her breathless.

RICK EVANS:

With his hard body, green eyes, and easy smile, Rick could have any woman he wants. But the Marine-turned-bodyguard only has eyes for Judy and her spitfire attitude. When a faceless villain attacks Judy, Rick will stop at nothing to protect the woman who opened his heart from the monster hunting her.

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PRAISE FOR TAKEN BY TUESDAY

“Readers will fall in love with Rick, who is the ultimate book boyfriend with his good looks and bad-ass attitude.” –RT BOOK REVIEWS, TOP PICK!, 4 ½ STARS

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Taken-Tuesday-Weekday-Brides-Catherine-ebook/dp/B00HST8JT0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1404345773

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/taken-by-tuesday-catherine-bybee/1118717410?ean=9781477823774

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Taken-Tuesday/Catherine-Bybee/9781477823774?id=6026033015017

BOOK DEPOSITORY: http://www.bookdepository.com/Taken-by-Tuesday-Catherine-Bybee/9781477823774

EXCERPT

A throaty laugh made him pause.

He knew that laugh.

The smile on his face suddenly felt more genuine. His gaze slid across the room when she laughed again. Her back was to him, but it was her…Utah. She held her cue stick and pointed at a corner pocket. “Watch ‘em and weep.”

She sunk the eight ball like it was her bitch and the guys around the table groaned. A short-haired blonde lifted her hand and made a grabby motion with her fingers. “Pay up!”

Utah laughed, laid her cue on the table, and grabbed the bottle of beer at her side. All the while Rick just watched the interplay. She wore tight jeans, a tucked in tank that hugged her waist in a mouth-watering way …over the ensemble was a jean jacket that he could easily picture draped over the handlebars of his motorcycle.

“I think we just got hustled,” one of the young college kids said as he shoved his hands in his wallet to pay his debt.

“I tried to warn you.”

Judy’s friend shoved the bills into her pocket faster than the waitress had. “Anyone else? Twenty buck minimum with a round of drinks.”

This might be fun.

Rick took a step forward and lifted his voice above the crowd. “A hundred bucks.”

Utah froze, but didn’t turn around. He wondered if she recognized his voice. Had she thought about him in the last year? With the exception of her brother’s divorce party, he hadn’t seen her…not outside of a wet dream or two.

The blonde swiveled her head like a snake to prey and her eyes did that sweeping thing that happened to him once in a while. Rick knew he wasn’t hard on the eyes, knew he filled out his shirt like a Marine should. His thick shoulders and neck screamed military or linebacker. He did play a little football in high school.

“Who the hell are you?” the blonde mumbled.

Rick chuckled.

Judy slowly turned and had to tilt her head back to look at him. “Green Eyes.”

“Hey, Utah.”

“You know this guy?” The blonde shoved next to Judy and nudged her arm.

God, she was even more adorable than he remembered. He didn’t let her eyes go, just matched her stare. A blush rose to her cheeks and a few freckles peeked through. Her snarky remark about his presence was a heartbeat away. He’d lay another hundred bucks on the table as a bet that the next words out of her mouth would shock everyone within earshot.

“Did the steroid train stop in town when I wasn’t looking?”

The blonde started to laugh.

Rick stepped even closer so barely an inch separated them. The smile never left his face. “I hear steroids shrink dicks.”

As if she couldn’t help herself, Judy glanced down and it was Rick’s turn to laugh. He brushed the edge of her body with his and removed the cue from the table. “What do ya say, Utah? I’ll even let you break. Ladies first and all that.”

Rick knew they were drawing a crowd, but the interplay between them matched the sparks that hovered over them like a damn rainbow, and he was powerless to care what anyone thought.

“A hundred bucks is steep, Judy.”

“S’okay, Meg…Rick’s a big talker. Besides, he doesn’t know what I’m capable of.”

Rick shook his head and clicked his tongue. “Now, now…don’t want to show all your cards.”

“She’s really good, dude,” the guy she’d relieved of twenty bucks said from across the table.

Rick lowered his voice. “Will you go easy on me, Babe?”

Judy regained some of her lost composure and pushed away from his personal space. “Not on your life. And I’m not your babe!”

We’ll see about that. He couldn’t stop smiling.

 

 

BIO:

Bybee Author Photo

CATHERINE BYBEE

New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Weekday Brides Series and the Not Quite Series. Bybee lives with her husband and two teenage sons in Southern California. 

CONTACT LINKS:

www.catherinebybe.com

catherinebybee@yahoo.com

catherinebybee.blogspot.com

twitter.com/catherinebybee

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Review: Love Letters by Debbie Macomber

Love Letters (Rose Harbor, #3)

Love Letters (Rose Harbor #3) by Debbie Macomber

Published: August 12th 2014

Purchase: Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis:

Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Despite some folks’ good-natured claims to the contrary, Jo Marie insists that Mark is only a friend. However, she seems to be thinking about this particular friend a great deal lately. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.

Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months, and with whom she might even be falling in love. Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings.

Maggie and Roy Porter are next to arrive at the inn. They are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust. But Maggie must make one last confession that could forever tear them apart.

For each of these characters, it will ultimately be a moment when someone wore their heart on their sleeve—and took pen to paper—that makes all the difference. Debbie Macomber’s moving novel reveals the courage it takes to be vulnerable, accepting, and open to love.

Review:

This series keeps getting better and better! I started reading this 300+ page book and in less than 3 hours I was done. I just fell right into the story and I didn’t want to leave!

Jo Marie Rose has been thinking a lot about Mark Taylor. While she thinks of him as a friend, she realizes that she doesn’t know a whole lot about him. In fact no one seems to know a lot about who his past. While she is trying to get to know him more she is also dealing with some interesting guest who have come to her inn. Each of these visitors are dealing with their own issues, some of them are quite painful.

It was nice to see some of the characters from the Cedar Cove series. It just put a smile on my face when she Jo Marie ran into Peggy and Grace. Things like this add to its lovely atmosphere and really give the story a bit more dimension to it. Love Letters is the third book in the Rose Harbor series and I think it is the best one yet! I am so looking forward to the next book in this series because I cannot wait to learn more about the mysterious Mark Taylor!

(This book was received as an ARC from the author/publisher in exchanged for an honest review.)

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Giveaway: Unrequited by Emma Grey

 
Unrequited
Release Date: 05/26/14
 
Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Kat Hartland loathes Unrequited, the world’s biggest boy band. Is she the only girl in Sydney who can’t be bothered with perfect-looking Angus Marsden?

Give her 5 Seconds of Summer. Now.

Or maybe the seriously-hot med student who rescued her on a train—and who could be Douglas Booth’s twin! Perfect formal partner, much?

But when Kat comes face to face with Angus Marsden himself, things start to get complicated. Very. Throw in a deranged female popstar, final exams, a part in the musical and a mum who just doesn’t get it—and where is her best friend?

When did life get so crazy? Kat’s just an ordinary schoolgirl.

Isn’t she?

About the Author
Emma Grey has two teenage girls, a three-year-old boy, a couple of businesses and another teen novel in the pipeline. Her first book, ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ was published in 2005.
 
Author Links:
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Excerpt: Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation by Pail Cude

A Chilling Revelation Cover (Twitter)

Book 2 Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation

Following his harrowing and near death experience at the talons of the evil dragon Manson in ‘A Threat From The Past’, Peter Bentwhistle, the human shaped dragon and reluctant hero, finds himself on the slow path to recovery.

Helped by his dragon friends, Tank and Richie (both in their human forms), he finds solace in his new found friendship with the dragon king. But the three friends are soon unwittingly drawn into a deadly plot, when a straight forward meeting with the monarch sees them helping an injured dragon agent, straight back from his mission in Antarctica with news of a devastating encounter with another ancient race.

Blackmail, intrigue, forbidden love interests, a near fatal mantra gone wrong, a highly charged rugby match in which Tank takes a beating, combined with enough laminium ball action to please dragons the world over, stretch the bonds of the dragons’ friendship like never before. New friends and ancient enemies clash as the planet braces itself for one of the most outrageous attacks it has ever seen. Lost secrets and untold lore come to light, while sinister forces attempt to steal much coveted magic.

Explosive exploits, interspersed with a chilly backdrop and unexpected danger at every turn, make for an action-packed, electrifying adventure.

‘Snow way you’ll wanna miss this!

Excerpt:

“You must get help here, to free us all. Only then will my kind desist what they are

doing. You must get help, for the good of both our kinds.”

With that the king looked away. Flash knew his time was up. It was now or never. With

one last look at the semi-naked human dragon, Flash turned and flung himself head first into

the icy flowing water.

The mantra that had been cast on him still held, was his first thought, as he tried not to

pass out from the pain and shock of the water. His second thought was that it hurt more now,

entering the water a second time around.

The light from the cavern subsided as the stream became fully enclosed underground,

quickly leaving Flash encased by fast flowing water and bubbles of air. He couldn’t see

further than about two feet in front of him. How on Earth was he supposed to see when the

stream separated into two parts? Kicking with his feet and flailing about with his arms, he

tried as best he could to stay over to the left side of the channel, scraping himself along the

side of the icy underground tunnel as he did so.

A sharp right hand bend, followed by a steep drop, sent Flash tumbling head over heels

as the freezing water numbed his exhausted body. As he came out of the roll, his face

smacked violently into a sharp, vertical piece of rock, right in the middle of the stream.

‘Oh my God,’ thought Flash. ‘This is it! This is the point where the stream separates.’

Scrabbling with his hands, he managed to get a handhold on part of the rock that he’d just

banged his face on, realising belatedly that the tumble had moved him to the wrong side of

the stream and now he was perilously close to plunging down the right side of the stream, and

almost certainly to his… DEATH! He held on for all he was worth, despite the fact that he

could barely feel his fingers or hands. The fast flowing torrent of water continued to pulverise

his body. He knew that the longer he remained here, the more likely it was that he would be

carried to his doom down this side of the stream.

Digging his fingernails into the rock, he used every muscle in his entire body, willing

them all to work, despite the pain he felt in each and every one of them. It was working. His

head was nearly level with the top of the rock. All he had to do was pull himself up just a

little higher and then he could get one arm over the other side and pull himself into the left

hand stream’s current. He was concentrating so hard on pulling himself up that he hadn’t

noticed the tiny slivers of water that had started to seep through the mantra that held the

pocket of air around his head. The surprise of feeling the ice cold water running across his

face nearly caused him to lose his grip. Opening his eyes, for they’d been closed as he had

willed his muscles on to greater things, he saw that water had started to leak in all around his

face.

‘The mantra must be wearing off,’ he thought, totally terrified. ‘I’m gonna drown in only

a matter of moments.’ It was this thought, and this alone, that gave him all the energy he

required. Scrabbling up the rock and throwing himself into the current on the other side,

Flash zoomed headlong into the fast flowing water, concentrating on what was in front of him

and the watery pocket encasing his head.

More water had started to flow around his face now, so much so that he’d swallowed a

couple of mouthfuls accidentally, and had taken to spitting some of the water back out and

away from his face. The stream started to slow as the tunnel widened. The icy white sides of

the tunnel became smoother, a bit like an underwater bobsleigh run. Flash hoped that the

changes were indicative of reaching somewhere outside the mountain, somewhere he could

exit the stream. Still the water leaked in even more around his freezing, throbbing, bleeding

head, if he was not mistaken.

‘Must have been where I hit that rock,’ he thought, spitting out the blood along with a

mouthful of icy cold water. Flash’s hope that the river would be leaving the mountain and

coming out above ground seemed to have been dashed. The much slower flowing water was

still firmly encased in a dark, icy tunnel, punctuated only by a few random eruptions of

bubbles from the stream bed. Flash knew his time had nearly run out. Only a small amount of

air remained around his face, air that he knew could disappear at any time. Desperation

forced him into action and he started to swim as fast as he could, all the time taking deep

breaths of the remaining air, knowing that one of them may be his last. Rounding a huge

corner in what seemed to be the widest part of the stream he’d come across so far, he pushed

on, forcing his legs to move for fear of drowning.

Seconds after taking another deep breath, the remaining air surrounding his head bobbed

away, leaving him terrified and exhausted. If he could have done, he would have cried. The

irony of being surrounded by this much water and wanting to cry nearly made him laugh. The

current carried him along as he held his breath and looked back on what had been quite an

adventurous life. The first dozen or so thoughts and images that whizzed past jolted him into

action. He wasn’t the sort of being that calmly laid down and waited for the end to come.

Alright, given the choice, he probably would have gone for an all-out fight to the death, with

amazingly bad odds and just a hint of glory.

‘Well,’ he thought, ‘I haven’t been given the choice, but that doesn’t mean I’m just

gonna give up and drown.’ He urged his legs on, kicking as fast as he could, the muscles

burning with pain as he did so. He knew at best he’d have maybe another minute or so before

his breath gave out, but he was determined to fight to the very end, albeit in a very different

way from what he would have preferred. Swimming for all he was worth, he seemed to be

moving faster and faster.

‘The current is increasing again,’ he thought, ploughing on. Soon, wave after wave of

bubbles blocked his vision, as he moved through them at unerring speed. His cheeks, with the

remainder of his air, were battered and bruised by the rushing water and the bubbles, and

wanted nothing more than to expel their last breath. Moving his arms and legs was getting

harder, as he was concentrating so hard on not opening his mouth. As he pitched through

another curtain of bubbles, a torrent of white water engulfed him, dragging him round a bend

and into an almost vertical drop. Fighting not to open his mouth while wanting to scream, he

hit the bottom of the river bed, hard, jarring his right knee and elbow, both at the same time.

He was only a few seconds away from drowning now. He could feel his mouth about to

open, and knew there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop it. Unexpectedly, a haze of

light appeared through the bubbles up ahead. Clamping his mouth shut with all his might he

surged forward. Black spots started to cloud his vision, but he pushed himself on. Rising

upwards towards the light, Flash had no option but to open his mouth. His body continued its

journey to potential salvation as the freezing water poured into his throat. Amazingly he

broke the surface of the stream, out into the bright Antarctic daylight. The spots before his

eyes were getting worse; only tiny openings in his vision remained. With both his arms

outstretched, he pulled himself for all he was worth out of the freezing cold stream and onto

the snow covered bank. Turning onto his side, he immediately began throwing up all the

water he’d swallowed. The cold nibbled at his wet body, piercing him like a poker. After the

excess water had left his body, Flash passed out on the snowy river bank, only inches away

from the bitter stream that had nearly cost him his life.

Barely five minutes later, Flash’s survival instinct kicked in, and in a staggering display

of stubbornness he awoke, wishing with every part of his body that he hadn’t. Feeling worse

than an alcoholic’s hangover, and shivering on a national level, he knew that he had to get

back to the dragon domain. Nothing else existed, only that one thought. Getting to his feet, he

staggered slightly and then fell back down to his knees. His head was so muzzy that he just

couldn’t concentrate. Two deep breaths later, he was back on his feet. He had to get a grip,

get his bearings and find a way to get away from this hellhole and back to the dragon world.

Looking back round at the body of water he’d come out of, he found that the stream only

broke the surface for perhaps twenty feet or so before disappearing back underground. The

bank and the surface of the stream were shielded from the normally roaring wind by a wicked

looking rocky overhang that hovered menacingly over him at the moment. As Flash took all

this in, a little voice in the back of his head said,

“They’ll come after you. As soon as they’ve recovered, they’ll come.”

He knew what he had to do. Still shivering violently, he took off his precious watch,

noting the time and GPS location of where he was before he did so, and then set it down in

the snow. Rubbing his hands together, he tried to get some feeling back into them and his

fingers before he went any further. Not seemingly making any difference to his fingers, he set

about turning the watch into an explosive device. He knew how to do it of course, and under

normal conditions it would only take a few seconds, but his cold fingers made it hard to press

all the small buttons in the right order. At the rate he was going, he’d be lucky not to blow

himself to smithereens.

Eventually, after lots of fiddling and amazing amounts of concentration, Flash managed

to set the proximity detection function. Setting the countdown to sixty seconds, so that he had

enough time to get out of range, he depressed the button to start the countdown, leaving the

watch on the icy bank, just pressed into the snow. After the timer had counted down, any

movement at all in a radius of thirty metres would set off the explosive device in the watch.

Flash turned away from the watch and started to jog slightly, buoyed by the knowledge that

he had once again escaped certain death by the very skin of his teeth.

A few paces into his jog, a loud splashing noise from the stream caused him to turn

round. A vision from hell appeared, dripping wet, on the water’s edge. The golden-coloured

naga who’d captured him earlier, the one that he’d last seen flailing around on the floor of the

prison barely conscious, stared at him from thirty feet away. Flash couldn’t believe what he

was seeing. Another forty seconds or so and the naga wouldn’t have been a problem, because

the explosive Flash had just planted would have gone off, either killing the naga, or trapping

it below the surface of the stream for good. Waves of exhaustion washed over Flash, begging

him just to lie down in the snow and call it a day. He couldn’t believe that he’d come so far,

avoided death by a gnat’s… well, whatever it was, only for it to end like this. If it weren’t for

the deadly seriousness of the situation, he could definitely see himself laughing about it all.

The naga cocked its head to one side, its gills expanding and contracting at an unnatural

rate. Yellow fluid ran down both sides of its head, from two tiny little ears.

‘Of course,’ thought Flash, ‘I bet it can’t hear a thing, after being hit by that sound wave

from the king. If I could string this out a little, I may still be able to get out of here yet.’

Flash and the naga were both still standing well within the blast radius of the explosive

that was about to go off. The only difference between the two was the fact that Flash was

fully aware of this, and the very deaf naga was most certainly not.

Flash knew that with two seconds to go, the alarm on the watch would beep constantly,

priming the proximity sensor. After that, anything that moved within the radius would set off

the explosive charge, which in turn would bring down the rocky overhang above. And Flash

was still very much within that radius.

The look on the naga’s face was one of pure evil. If ever the phrase ‘murder in his eyes’

was apt, it was here and now. Flash knew he had to play for time, keep the naga in the blast

radius, and avoid being killed. At least the adrenaline pumping through his near perfect

replica human body had made him forget about how cold he was. Putting a panicked

expression on his face, Flash waved his arms about in the air, pointing in every different

direction. At the same time he mouthed absolute gibberish towards the naga. The naga eyed

Flash suspiciously. Flash fell to his knees in the snow, trying to look injured and appear

absolutely no threat whatsoever. He continued to mouth more gibberish towards the naga. It

seemed to be working, for the time being, anyway. The naga hadn’t moved from the spot by

the bank of the stream. Turning its head, trying to get some of the blood from its ears, the

serpent-like monster tried hard to make out what it was that Flash was trying to say. Flash

knew he was going to run out of time soon. His best guess told him that there was still about

twenty seconds left on the watch before the proximity sensor kicked in and it looked like the

naga was about to run out of patience.

‘The only thing that might buy me some time is to surrender,’ thought Flash. Ever so

slowly he unzipped his jacket and tossed it into the snow. Carefully, all the time watching the

gold-coloured naga, he put his hands into the air, to signal that he’d surrendered. Once again

he mouthed gibberish at the naga as he held his hands firmly above his head, hoping to buy

himself just a few more seconds. The naga afforded a strange smile as Flash raised his arms

and surrendered, a smile that turned to confusion when the naga couldn’t understand what it

was Flash was mouthing towards him.

‘Whatever it is,’ thought the naga, ‘it seems to be important.’

Shaking its whole body, and flicking a mound of snow from its tail, the naga started to

move towards Flash, its gills still moving furiously. A calm sense of acceptance washed over

Flash as he stood motionless, his hands still above his head. Abruptly the naga stopped,

looking down at the snow towards where the watch lay, only six feet away from him. The

watch started to beep constantly and lights on its dial flared into existence. A look of horror

crossed the naga’s ancient face as it realised it had been tricked. Flash’s eyes locked onto the

nagas’ for a split second and he just managed to mouth the word, “Sushi,” before he turned

round and threw himself for all he was worth in the opposite direction to the watch and the

naga. All of this happened in roughly two seconds. The naga tried to flee.

BOOM!!!!!! The watch exploded, shattering the peaceful expanse of the desolate, icy

area. Flash was thrown about twenty feet in the air, from his prone position in the snow. Huge

slabs of rock came raining down onto the top of stream itself, sounding like lots of little

explosions. Dust, snow, rock and ice littered the air around the whole area. After a thirty

second period of wishing he were dead, Flash managed to stagger to his feet. Choking on the

debris in the air around him, he covered his mouth with one hand and walked back towards

the blast’s epicentre. With one hand over his mouth and the other waving about in front of

him, trying to clear the dust, snow and ice so that he could see exactly what had happened, he

suddenly trod on something… squidgy, and most definitely not snow. Looking down towards

the ground, Flash saw that he had stepped on a thick section of golden naga tail.

Immediately he became ready to fight, that is until he looked along its length. Some

seven feet or so from the tip of the tail, the part that Flash had inadvertently trodden upon

came to an end, cut brutally in half by the explosion. As the debris cloud started to settle,

Flash could just make out the rest of the naga’s golden-coloured body, twenty or so feet away

from its severed tail, embedded into the snowy plateau. Kicking the tail as he moved past,

Flash made his way over to the main part of the naga’s body. Even from where he was, he

knew the naga was no longer a threat to him. As he reached the body, the naga’s eyes

fluttered furiously as it attempted to draw breath. Flash had seen beings die before, and he

was pretty sure that this one was very close to death itself.

Slumping down in the snow beside it, the events of the last hour or so started to catch up

with him. He noticed only now that he was shivering from the cold. The jacket that he’d

taken off when falsely surrendering to the naga had been destroyed in the blast, and he

couldn’t see how he was going to survive for even a small period of time in this harsh

environment. The naga started to cough and gag, in the last throws of death. A dejected Flash

thought that he might as well curl up beside the naga and wait for death to come and claim

him as well.

Bio:

Author Photo

As for me………I look after my two girls, and when they’re at school I’m a teaching assistant. When they’re not, I help them with their homework and school projects, and can often be found up to my neck in one of their lego kits, helping them out of course. I love playing hockey, and help coach kids, mine included. Other interests include reading, building computers, squash, cycling, great days out with my wonderful wife and kids, as well of course as WRITING!

Currently I’m working on the third installment in the ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon’ series, entitled ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’.

‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past’ can be found at Smashwords, in all formats, or can be purchased in either paperback or kindle version from Amazon The second book in the series can also be found on Smashwords or on Amazon.

My books can be found at Barnes and Noble here

The Goodreads page for my book can be found here

My Facebook page can be found here

I can be found on Google+ here

I can be found on Pinterest here

I can be found on twitter @paul_cude

Website: http://www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk/

Blog: http://www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk/

Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paul-Cude/e/B007339206/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bentwhistle-Dragon-Threat-Past-Paul-ebook/dp/B006CQUIQC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1393767637

Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bentwhistle-Dragon-Chilling-Revelation-Paul-ebook/dp/B00ILPLFNW/ref=la_B007339206_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393767705&sr=1-2

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20 Fun Facts: Summer’s Temptation by Ashley Lynn Willis

Title: Summer’s Temptation
Author: Ashley Lynn Willis
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Series: Vandeveer University #1

If there are only three truths in life, they are these. Women will always try to change a man. Men will always say anything to get a girl in bed. Tyler Mason will always have a long line of girls trying to domesticate him, and none will succeed. If one of these ceases to be true, the world will cease to exist.

These are the rules as college student Cassie Faye knows them, so when she gives up on dating in favor of a man who can satisfy her without tempting her heart, her next-door neighbor Tyler tops the list. Tyler isn’t the type of boy Cassie would fall for, but he’s the perfect guy to teach her how to claim her sexual independence without losing her heart in the process. Too late, Cassie finds out that under his womanizing exterior is an attentive, considerate lover who brings out passions in her that she’d barely glimpsed before.

What if she’s wrong about the third truth? What if the world as she knows it is about to cease to exist?

 

 
 
 
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20 Fun Facts

1. I wear socks everywhere, even to bed. Yes, my feet are as soft as a baby’s bottom.

2. My three kids weren’t planned. They were all happy accidents.

3. I’m allergic to all animals. The only pets we have are three goldfish, Gulpy, Wiggle and Lazy.

4. Water and coffee are the only things I drink, unless I’m eating cake. That comes with a mandatory glass of milk.

5. I’m an urban fantasy junkie. My favorite UF ever is the Fever Series by Karen Moning.

6. My favorite color is periwinkle mainly because I can’t choose between blue and purple.

7. The beach is my favorite place to be, and yet the closest beach to my hometown is six-hundred-and-fifty miles away.

8. My family had to cancel our trip to the beach because our whole house came down with Mono. Boo Hoo. I haven’t stuck my toes in the sand in seven years.

9. My favorite movie as a teenager was City Slickers. Why a teenage girl related to three middle-aged men is still beyond me.

10. If it weren’t for my kids, I’d be a shut-in who writes all day.

11. I love all seafood—crabs, clams, scallops, fish—except lobster. Blah. The texture of Lobster grosses me out.

12. I want to learn to surf. Sadly, see fun fact number seven.

13. I hate spiders, but like snakes.

14. I’m obsessed with Glee.

15. I had a crush on Will Wheaton when I was thirteen. He was a young hottie on Star Trek the Next Generation back then.

16. I love watching kids’ movies more than adult ones. The Croods, How to Train Your Dragon, and Tangled are a few of my favorites.

17. I never read non-fiction unless I’m researching for a book I’m writing.

18. I prefer eBooks to paperbacks or hardbacks.

19. I hate loud noises. I have to wear earplugs on July 4th, or I can’t enjoy fireworks.

20. I drive a minivan, and out of all my former cars, it’s my favorite. With three kids, automatic sliding doors are the ultimate convenience. J

Thanks for hosting me today?

Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LJJX40E

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/summers-temptation-joey-ringer/1119912730?ean=2940149817368&itm=1&usri=2940149817368

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/summers-temptation/id897131518?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22375839-summer-s-temptation

Author website: http://authorashleylynnwillis.blogspot.com/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ashley-Lynn-Willis/341794622639016?ref_type=bookmark

Facebook Summer’s Temptation Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Summers-Temptation/768873526487646?ref_type=bookmark

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AshleyLWillis

 
 
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Ashley lives in the Midwest with her husband of twelve years. For eight years, she worked as an engineer in general aviation but quit her job to be a stay at home mom to three precious children. She began writing in September of 2009 and has been penning her imagination ever since.

 
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Giveaway: Pieces of Me by Kira Adams

 
Pieces of Me
Release Date: 08/11/14
 
Summary from Goodreads:
For sixteen year old Peyton Lane, life has never been easy. She’s not popular, overweight, and oh yeah, her sister is embarrassed of her. But over the course of a tumultuous year, everything changes for Peyton.

Suddenly all eyes are on her and it’s not because she’s fat. From a pair of handsome twins to a couple of dangerously sexy rockers, Peyton will have to find out who she can trust with her heart. From the ups and downs to the twists and turns—this is Peyton’s story of finding one’s voice and growing into your own.

This is a coming of age romance that involves realistic situations and raw emotions. This is Pieces of Me.

 
About the Author
Krista Pakseresht has always been a dreamer. From the first time she opened her eyes. Creating worlds through words is one thing she is truly talented at. She specializes in Young adult/New adult romance, horror, action, fantasy, and non-fiction under the pen name Kira Adams.

She is the author of the Infinite Love series, the Foundation series, the Darkness Falls series, and the Looking Glass series.
 
Author Links:
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Excerpt: Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past by Paul Cude

A Threat From The Past New Cover (Reduced)

Book 1 Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them. Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past?

Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes?

In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon team sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile! You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.

Excerpt:

Plumes of dark smoke billowed into the air across the city. The sickly smell of smoke

and death wafted on a gentle breeze across the market square, tugging at the canvas of the

overturned market stalls scattered haphazardly amongst the raging fires.

Off to one side stood the giant archway, which for hundreds of years had been regarded

as the main entrance to the city. Normally a giant monster of an oak gate and portcullis hung,

attached to the weathered archway, providing a reassuring air of safety to all the residents of

the city. That had all changed about fifteen minutes ago. Now all that remained was the

splintered outline of the huge beast, where it had casually walked through both oak gate and

metal portcullis, as easily as a knife would slice through butter.

Steam rose from the dark cobbles of the market square; some glowed yellow and orange

with the heat. A trickle of water could be heard coming from the debris which not more than

ten minutes ago had been the ornate fountain, the grand centrepiece of this magnificent

square. The remaining buildings were on fire; the smell of burning flesh and bones was

everywhere, but despite this the people still alive were mesmerised by the sight before them.

At the entrance to the square, with wreckage on either side of it, hovering a few metres in

the air, was a giant dragon. The dragon was matt black all over with a wingspan in excess of

fifty metres, and flame was dribbling down both sides of its colossal jaws.

In spite of its size the dragon was clearly agitated, roaring occasionally, scraping the

large claws on its feet along the top of the rubble on either side of it, and banging its tail into

the ground intermittently. The object of its agitation stood directly opposite, on the other side

of the square: out of breath, clad from head to toe in chainmail armour, and clutching a rusty

shield in one hand and a shining sword in the other. The knight was sweating profusely and

parts of his armour were blackened from fleeting encounters with the dragon’s flame over the

past few minutes.

The knight seemed to have spent the last few seconds deciding on a course of action and,

in one swift motion, dropped his rusty shield and threw his helm to the ground. He then

proceeded to remove his gauntlets and the armour around his feet. You could almost hear a

collective gasp from the city folk left alive, as the armour came off and the knight appeared to

mouth a silent challenge to the giant beast on the other side of the square. Impossible as it

may seem, the dragon appeared to understand the knight’s whispered challenge from over

three hundred metres away, and with one huge flap of its wings propelled itself forward,

creating such down force that stone, wood and dead bodies were hurled across the square. At

exactly the same time, the knight started sprinting towards the dragon, with most of his

armour now removed and just his shining sword for company.

Time seemed to stand still as the speeding dragon travelled towards the knight, just

above the ground, emitting a thunderous cone of fire in front of it. As the city folk watched in

awe, it seemed there could only be one possible outcome: that the knight would be obliterated

by the mighty beast.

As the apparently inevitable drew closer, the sprinting knight managed to find a little

more speed and at the split second before hitting the tip of the flame, dived headlong towards

the cobbles. The extra speed had caused the dragon to miscalculate and as the knight rolled

underneath the dragon, he managed to turn over and thrust the heavy two handed sword into

its dark underbelly with just one hand.

The flames died away instantly as the dragon thudded awkwardly to the ground, its

massive body narrowly missing the exhausted knight. The dragon let out a low pitched holler

that could be heard citywide, as its jaw cracked against the stone of the square. The knight

hauled himself up from the ground, visibly panting as he did so. He slowly walked along the

side of the downed dragon, as if inspecting it, only stopping when he reached its head.

Kneeling down he started to recite some words only he and the beast could hear. Seconds

turned to minutes as the knight continued to whisper to the fallen dragon.

Meanwhile, the city folk appeared to be recovering from the shock of previous events by

helping the wounded, putting out fires, and comforting those people mourning the loss of a

loved one.

From one side of the square a group of people, headed by the mayor, made their way

cautiously towards the knight through the burning rubble, thick black smoke, and numerous

bodies. As they approached, the knight finished his whispered conversation and a soft purple

glow slowly spread from the dragon’s head to the tip of its tail, finally encompassing its

whole body.

The knight walked back along the dragon until he got to its belly. Crouching over, he put

two hands on the hilt of his sword and swiftly pulled it free from the dragon’s body. As he

did so, about a dozen tiny scales clattered onto the stone cobbles. These scales had dropped

from the immediate area around the sword’s entry wound and were each about the size of a

man’s fingernail. Quick as a flash, the knight scooped them up and poured them into a silk

bag which he had produced from beneath his armour. He then sheathed his sword and turned

to face the newcomers.

“Is it dead?” asked the mayor, nervously.

“For all intents and purposes, yes,” said the knight.

“How can we ever repay you for what you have done here today, brave knight? That vile

beast would surely have destroyed everything had you not stepped up, valiant Sir,” whispered

the mayor.

“I require no reward. I’m sorry for the loss of life and damage to your city,” the knight

replied in a heartfelt manner. “I have companions who as we speak are making their way here

with great haste to assist with what has happened this day, among them healers and

engineers. I ask that they are allowed to help out as best they can, and also that you not

address me as Sir, as I have not yet earned that title, but by my name: George.”

The group of dignitaries nodded their agreement in unison and told George that lookouts

would be posted to greet his companions, before hastily rushing off, clearly still frightened by

the body of the giant dragon.

Over the next two days things progressed quickly. All the major fires were put out using

water from the city’s surrounding rivers, as the people formed giant human chains to pass the

buckets along. Those not involved in controlling the fires helped the wounded, either in the

hospital, by escorting them there, or by collecting herbs and roots outside the city to

manufacture new medicines. The bodies of the dead were collected and taken to giant pyres

that had been erected outside the walls of the city. The spire of the city’s magnificent

cathedral, fortunately undamaged, cast its long shadow over the city square, as if joining in

the people’s collective sorrow.

During this time George’s companions started to arrive on their own and in pairs. They

were easily identifiable because they all wore the same tunics as George. These tunics were

white with a bright blue trident running diagonally across them. Upon arrival they were taken

through the bloodstained boulevards to the overcrowded hospital, where George was helping

to tend to the seriously wounded in a dark, dank, death-smelling ward.

George, seemingly in charge, dished out assignments to the new arrivals straight away.

The healers stayed in the ward to assist the injured, most doing so immediately even though

they had travelled for many days and were hungry, tired and weary.

Other arrivals included planners, politicians, and engineers. The planners and politicians

worked closely with the mayor and his advisors to try and co- ordinate the rebuilding effort

and temporarily re-house those folk who had lost their homes.

The engineers, meanwhile, seemed to be working miracles. Working around the clock,

they designed and built two massive conveyor belts, spanning the entire circumference of the

square, powered by an array of shire horses. They had also taken the one decaying crane that

belonged to the city, reinforced it so that it could lift ten times the weight it had been able to

bear previously, and made it mobile.

People watching the efforts of these men whispered in hushed tones that they were doing

the impossible and that they must be using some sort of… magic.

During all of this, the giant body of the broken dragon lay in one corner of the square,

eagerly avoided by everyone. Its magnificent black wings were lying at an excruciating angle

with its delicate, flimsy arms tucked in under its bulging belly. If anyone had bothered to look

closely at the corpse, which of course they didn’t, they would have noticed that its scales had

taken on a shimmering purple hue.

As the days passed, the progress in repairing the devastation was phenomenal. The crane

moved around the square lifting debris onto the conveyor belt. Usable building material was

taken off at different points of the belt, while anything with no value was left on until the end

and then taken away by horse and cart. In the meantime the planners had drawn up a

blueprint of where the new buildings would go, agreed it with the mayor and his advisors and

passed it on to the engineers who would implement it.

In the hospital all the minor injuries (broken bones, burns, concussions etc) had been

taken care of and the patients discharged. Seven patients remained in the ward; all had been

critically ill when they came in. The doctors and nurses performing triage had given them

absolutely no chance of survival at the time, and moved their blood soaked bodies into a

mouldy, shadow-ridden corner of the ward. The patients all remained alive now because of

George. He had found them, waiting to die in that corner, and tended to them personally. The

good doctors and nurses had gone about their work, dismissing George’s actions as a waste of

time because the patients seemed too far gone. But remarkably, one by one the patients’

conditions seemed to stabilise, much to the delight and surprise of everybody on the ward.

With less work to do in the hospital, George spent more time checking on the rebuilding

work and conversing with his companions. As he moved through the streets of the city,

people would approach him, men shaking his hand, women kissing him on the cheek, all

offering thanks for the seemingly amazing feats he and his companions had achieved. They

were all grateful that George had managed to halt the mighty dragon before it destroyed their

beautiful cathedral. Everybody in the city remarked what a true and inspiring leader of men

he was. If only they knew the truth…

It was in the early hours of the morning on the seventh day after the battle with the

dragon, that in the shadows of one of the partly rebuilt houses on the edge of the square,

George held a meeting with his companions.

“How long until everything here is complete?” he asked.

Hannah the chief politician replied,

“Two full days from now the whole thing will be finished; the city will be as good as

new, if not better.”

“What about the chamber? Will it be ready on time?” enquired George.

“As far as we know preparations are in an advanced stage and it will be ready when we

get there,” answered Hannah.

“Have we procured any transport for Troydenn?” was the next question George asked,

directing it towards the engineers. From the back of the building out stepped a short, fat,

balding man with a great big, thick, grey beard. Although nothing special to look at, this man

clearly commanded great respect, as well he should, for he was renowned as one of the best

engineers that had ever lived. His name was Axus.

He moved through the crowd to the front so that he could address George.

“We’ve asked the mayor if we can have two of the massive freight sleighs that they use

in winter to transport goods up the main road and through the pass. I don’t think there will be

a problem as they will still have six left and as it’s only spring, they will have plenty of time

to build replacements. We know how to convert the runners on the bottom of the sleighs to

work effectively on road, grass and mud. The biggest problem we have now is that because of

Troydenn’s massive frame the sleighs will have to be attached so they run side by side and

must be reinforced dramatically. At the moment we have no way of doing this. I’ve sent word

back home and they are going to send someone out to us with a couple of new mantras to try.

All seven miles of the route to the cave have been checked for any obstacles that may impede

the sleighs, and the two miles inside the cave have been reinforced and lit up. Guards have

been posted discreetly along the entire length of the journey.”

On hearing all of this George gave a huge sigh of relief.

“You’ve all done a fantastic job over the past days, but as you know the hardest part is

almost certainly still to come. I ask that you all continue the effort you’ve been making for

two more days so that we can finish our tasks for these good people. Also, I’m sure we all

know to be extremely vigilant. Anything out of the ordinary, no matter how small, should not

be overlooked, because if they get him back, this will all have been for nothing. Let me know

if there’s anything else I can do.”

As everybody started to sneak back to their accommodation, George pulled Axus to one

side for a quiet word.

“Is there any word on how or why he’s changed colour?”

“Not so far,” replied Axus. “The council are working hard to find out though. Nothing

like this has ever happened before as far as anyone knows, so they are sifting through the

royal library, the dragonkin database and asking the relevant people if they know anything,

but nothing as yet.”

“Okay, let me know if you hear anything,” whispered George, as they slid out of the

building and into the night-time shadows.

The next day, the building work continued at a frantic pace. All of the buildings were

nearly finished and the last intricate pieces were being added to the almost totally rebuilt

fountain, the square’s centrepiece. The mayor told the engineers that they were welcome to

take the sleighs that they needed. He added that because that night was due to be their last in

the city, a massive feast would be laid on to thank them all, and in remembrance of all those

who had lost their lives.

Late in the afternoon a visitor arrived on a horse, asking to see Axus. Once guided to

him, through the hectic preparations for the feast, the visitor dismounted, pulled three large

cylindrical objects from his saddle bags, and handed them over. All the engineers gathered

round as Axus opened the first cylinder and pulled a large sheet of parchment from it. From

this point onwards the group of engineers looked more like a party of naughty school girls, all

huddled together, whispering, sighing, even giggling at one point. They stayed like this for

the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening, pausing only to obtain food and drink

from the feast.

The feast itself was a great success. The food and drink were wonderful; the fires

crackled and the scent of roasted meat swept across the city. The sound of music and dancing

filled the air on this warm spring night. Towards the end of the evening, the mayor gave an

emotionally charged speech, naming all those who had lost their lives in the attack, praising

George’s courage in confronting the dragon, and thanking him and his companions for their

help in restoring the city to its former state. He also announced to everyone that George’s

entourage would be taking the dragon’s corpse with them when they left the next day.

As the sun rose early the next morning the city seemed to be a hive of activity. The smell

of freshly baked bread wafted down the streets as people cleaned up from the night before,

dismantling stalls and marquees, collecting all the litter, washing shop fronts and streets.

George made his way towards the nearly finished square, eager to talk to the engineers about

their progress. On arrival he was confronted by a group beaming with pride but looking much

the worse for wear after the previous night’s merrymaking. Axus appeared to one side of the

group.

“Blimey, that wine was potent last night. My mouth feels like a badger’s bottom,” he

said, looking completely bedraggled, with chunks of meat and bread littering his unkempt

beard. “Still, could have been worse I suppose. Poor old Hopkins spent most of last night

whispering sweet nothings to those two sacks of flour over there. He even came over at one

point to tell us that he thought one of them might be marriage material. Haaaa haaaaa, I don’t

think he’s going to live that down for quite some time!” muttered Axus hoarsely.

“Anyway, onto important matters. It’s done! One of the mantras sent out did the trick

nicely. The two sleighs are as one and look as though they have always been that way. We’ve

been up all night testing it to make sure it’s okay. Only a matter of getting him on there

now!” exclaimed Axus.

As George listened to what Axus was saying he noticed out of the corner of one eye a

small boy appear from between two buildings and cautiously make his way towards the

dragon’s body. George stood riveted to the spot. None of the city folk would go anywhere

near the dragon; most refused to even look at it.

As the boy got closer he seemed to be pulling something from his belt. Quick as a flash

George had moved to put himself between the boy and the dragon.

“What exactly would you be up to, young sir?” asked George politely. The boy stood

looking rather sheepish, suddenly realising that not only had he attracted the attention of

George, but everyone else in the square as well.

“Well… um, I, er… my name is Sam, Sam Smithers. My dad is Elron Smithers, the city’s

best known butcher. I um…. thought it would be such a waste, you know, what with some of

the not so well off people in the city not having enough food and all. I thought it would save

you the trouble of having to take it away as well.”

“Let me get this straight,” exclaimed George dubiously, “you were going to skin it!”

“To make sausages,” added Sam.

The group of engineers burst into laughter as one. Everyone else looked on in

astonishment as Sam’s face turned a deep shade of scarlet. George ushered the crowd to

quieten down.

“Young Sam, you seem full of noble sentiment which I admire greatly. But unfortunately

there is a bigger picture which, because of your age, you fail to grasp. Perhaps you would

take your knife and try and skin the dragon for me? If you succeed you can keep all the meat

you like,” declared George.

With the eyes of all those around on him, Sam pulled his knife from his belt and headed

determinedly for the beast. With the knife in his right hand, Sam put his left hand on the

dragon’s right thigh to brace himself and, drawing his arm back, he thrust the knife at the

flesh.

At the first point of contact the knife buckled in on itself, and the shock from the impact

forced Sam to drop the now useless blade onto the cobbles. Sam stood with a look of absolute

amazement on his face.

George wandered over to where the bewildered Sam stood and put his arm round his

shoulders.

“Sorry Sam, that was a bit mean, but I thought a demonstration would be more effective

than anything I could say to you. The reason we need to take the carcass away is that it

requires very special measures to dispose of a dead dragon. And since you’ve ruined your

best knife you can have this as a replacement,” George said, slipping a gleaming dagger made

from white gold, encrusted with tiny jewels, from his tunic and into Sam’s shaking hands.

Sam managed to squeak a “Thank you” before heading gingerly back through the crowd

towards his father’s shop.

With the excitement over, everybody went about their work with a quiet dignity,

knowing that they had all contributed to a job well done.

By early afternoon all of the building work was complete and the city’s giant crane

perched over the body of the outstretched dragon, like a huge heron waiting to rip into the

water to catch a fish. Leather harnesses crisscrossed the dragon and met in the centre above

him to form a gigantic net. The horses that George’s companions had arrived on had been

tethered together and attached to the front of the double freight sleighs that now occupied one

corner of the square. Axus was busy co-ordinating the efforts of all the engineers. Time

ticked by slowly as the crane took up the slack in the gigantic net. The creaking and groaning

of the crane’s timbers could be heard all across the square as the dragon was raised a few

metres into the air.

It seemed the whole city had come out to see this happen. People were crowded onto the

city walls overlooking the square, hanging out of windows, and packed onto balconies. With

the dragon suspended in mid-air, the sleighs were guided very slowly into position

underneath. The dragon was gently lowered onto the transport after about forty minutes, and

the watching crowd let out a resounding round of applause.

Axus and the engineers checked the sleighs to make sure everything was secure and then

formed up behind them. The politicians and planners had lined up in front of the sleighs to

form a convoy headed towards the rebuilt east gate of the city. George shook hands with the

mayor and took his place at the head of the convoy, leading them towards the exit, to the

sound of a fanfare from the trumpeters, high up on the city’s walls.

It took an agonisingly long time to reach the gate, at the slow pace they were going. But

as George crossed beneath it, he reflected on all that had happened in such a short space of

time. The good folk of the city waved him off believing that he had conjured up some sort of

miracle to defeat the dragon. If only they had known the truth: that he too was a dragon,

along with all his companions, just in their mutatioform at the moment.

Being a dragon in human form (mutatio) gave George enormous advantages over normal

humans, such as superior strength, stamina, intelligence and agility. Also his metabolism

could heal him faster, he had a higher tolerance for pain and he was tougher, making it harder

to wound or injure him.

That’s not to say it was a fair fight by any means. The dragon in its natural (solitus) form

is virtually impossible to kill. A normal human would have no chance of killing a dragon as

there is only one spot to strike on its entire body where it would be vulnerable, and it would

take a perfect strike to actually slay it. Even a blow to injure it is remote, as generally the area

of vulnerability is very small.

George was able to discern the exact point where Troydenn, the dragon, could be hurt or

killed when they fought, because he was a dragon himself and whether a dragon is solitusor

mutatio, another dragon can always see that special weak point. When George thrust his

sword into Troydenn, he knew it wasn’t a killing blow because of the angle the sword went

in, purposefully inflicting a massive amount of pain and incapacitating the dragon for a short

period of time.

As George pondered all of this, the giant sleighs with the matt black dragon attached

made their way out of the city and into the countryside at a slow pace, escorted by George

and his companions.

The troop travelled for the next five hours before finding a suitable place to stop for the

night, just before sunset. The place they had found was a clearing near a small brook, off the

main road, if you could call it a main road that is. As the horses were released from the

burden of pulling the sleigh and led to the brook for water, George told everyone what they

needed to do.

“We need lots of torches lit. Plant them into the ground to form concentric circles all the

way to the edge of the road, with Troydenn right at the centre. I don’t want anyone sneaking

up on us tonight. If they are going to come for him I want to see what’s going on. We will

fight them here and we WILL win. Also we all need to get used to this, because at our present

rate of speed we are going to spend at least two more nights in the countryside with only

ourselves to depend upon before we reach the cave.”

With guards posted all around the clearing and the horses tied up by the brook, a small

fire was set up in the middle for cooking and warmth. As the food was cooked and eaten,

people not on sentry duty tried to get some rest as best they could in the centre of the camp.

As George sat to one side quietly eating, Axus trudged across from the fire to sit beside

him, bread in one hand, a mug of water in the other.

“No bloody wine again, huh! I know, I know. Need to be sharp and all that. Still what’s

an old… man supposed to do?”

As they sat eating, Axus gave a nod towards the dragon at the centre of the camp.

“Slightly ironic that you were sent to bring him back I suppose. I mean what with you

growing up in the same nursery ring and then being in the council’s royal guard together and

all that.”

There followed a great silence between the men. All that could be heard was the

crackling of the fire, the meat sizzling on the spit and a few whispered conversations from

around the camp. Axus, not normally one to worry about what he had said, started to have

serious misgivings about the situation because the silence had lapsed into minutes and

George still sat there with a faraway look on his face. A few more moments passed by and

George let out a deep breath, a look of relief on his face.

“It was no coincidence that I was sent to confront him and bring him back. The council

knew after what happened at Panama that it had to be me. Not only that, but apparently there

are prophecy mantras that predicted that all of this would one day happen, depending on who

you believe.”

Axus, visibly stunned, sat on the ground shaking his head as George continued. “What I

don’t understand Axus, is how anyone is capable of doing what he has done. As you said, we

practically grew up together; I’ve fought alongside him on a battlefield, letting him watch my

back. I would have laid down my life for him at that point. Believing that he was capable of

that level of deception and those atrocities was never really an option for me, until I saw what

happened firsthand at Panama. It had to be me that confronted him and returned him to the

others. I never really believed it before but I know it now.”

The noise in the camp had died down. Only the sound of the burning torches and the

cooking fire could be heard as the two men contemplated what had been said.

After finishing their food and drink George piped up with a question, keen to move away

from thoughts of the past.

“Can I ask about the area in Antarctica?”

Axus, clearly happier at talking about an engineering subject, replied,

“What do you want to know?”

“Well I know that it’s a containment area, only to be used as a last resort, but that’s about

all I do know. Perhaps you could tell me a bit more, as it seems increasingly likely that it will

come down to that.”

Axus stroked his beard thoughtfully as he answered.

“About fifty years ago, some of our best geologists were in southern Chile looking for

new laminium deposits. They were looking at two volcanoes in particular, Monte Burney and

the more southerly Fueguino. Now although no new deposits were found, the cutting edge

technology that they had with them kept giving off very strange readings. Instead of putting

the readings down to a fault with the equipment as most would have, the geologists decided

to investigate and made a startling discovery. Running from Southern Chile, out towards the

Falkland Islands, was a large underground channel. The channel was about half a mile wide,

running approximately two miles under the ocean’s surface. Just before it reached the

Falkland Islands the channel branched, with one branch leading to a surface entrance on the

Falkland Islands and one twisting sharply and heading directly south towards Antarctica. The

geologists were amazed and had never seen anything like it. Most bewildering of all was that

these highly skilled individuals could not tell if the phenomenon was naturally occurring or

not. The group kept following the channel south but eventually came up against a problem

they were not equipped or prepared for.”

“Of course,” said George quick-wittedly, “the temperature.”

Axus grinned wildly.

“That’s right. And with low temperatures having such an adverse effect on us dragons,

sapping our strength, energy and stamina as well as clouding our minds, wisely the group

stopped before the temperature plummeted too low. At that point they decided to set up a

camp there, while two of them returned to fetch specialist protective mantras. After

discussions with all the leading experts (and more than one visit to Gee Tee’s Mantra

Emporium), appropriate mantras were found, although because of the difference in volume

between mutatioand solitus, the mantras were deemed most effective in human form. Once

everything they needed was procured, and the council informed of what was happening, the

geologists set off into the channel heading towards Antarctica. They continued for many days

and nights, only able to survive because they were in human form, protected from the cold

that would almost certainly have cost them their lives, solely by the protective aura of the

specialist mantras they had returned to get.

As the group trudged on, the temperatures plummeted even further and the channel

became more treacherous. Two of the team succumbed to frostbite in their feet and had to

turn back, accompanied by one of the healthy geologists to make sure they returned to the

camp safely. By now things were looking really bleak for the team but they were desperate to

find out more about this phenomenon. As they sat round the make-shift camp fire eating

nearly the last of their provisions, they concluded that they could travel for another twenty

four hours before they had to turn back. The group set off early in what their body clocks told

them was morning. As they set off into the darkness, the floor of the channel started to

descend quite steeply. Weaving their way through giant stalagmites growing up out of the

floor and ducking down at times to avoid even bigger stalactites hanging from the ceiling, to

the group it looked just like giant jaws about to swallow them whole. At the point when it

looked as if they would have to turn back defeated, the path ahead of them opened out into a

gigantic cavern, like nothing any of them had ever seen before. This was as far as that group

got, due to the cold and the fact that they had run out of food.”

George let out a long breath that crystallised in the cold night air as he contemplated

what he had heard.

“Any tales that have something to do with cold always send shivers down my tail no

matter what form I’m in.”

“Aye,” chuckled Axus, “but that’s not the end of it. After that startling discovery, more

expeditions were sent to see what else they could find out about the place. Six expeditions

over a fifteen year period finally revealed all. The cavern that the geologists came to the

entrance of, below Antarctica, is believed to be the biggest on the planet. It’s in excess of five

hundred square miles and has a depth in places of over two miles. Unusually it has

underground fresh water streams running through it, the source of which has yet to be

determined. Another odd fact is that there is no geothermal activity whatsoever, with not a

single trace of any known mineral deposit anywhere in or around the entire cavern system.

The channel seems to be the only entrance into the cavern and the temperature never gets

above -10o C, which is ideal for the purpose the council has in mind, I think you’ll agree

George.”

George ran both hands through his long black hair as he considered everything Axus had

told him.

“It just feels so permanent, Axus. I really hope it doesn’t come to that, and that the

council can find another solution.”

“Aye, I know what you mean son, but these are undoubtedly the darkest times we’ve

ever faced as a race. Even all the trouble that went on in South America pre-Balfor, pales into

comparison with all of this. None of this sits that comfortably with me George, but I trust in

the wisdom of the council and so should you. Once they’ve made their decision, whatever

that should be, we can be confident that the hard work of so many has left us all well

prepared. The cavern is well stocked with everything needed to survive well into the future.

Individual shaped charges have been laid, starting at the exit of the cavern, going ten miles

back into the channel at five hundred metre intervals. They have been carefully tested so that

they only bring the roof of the channel down and do not disturb the ocean above. If it’s

decided that Troydenn and his followers should be incarcerated then they will be, well and

truly, in that cavern.”

“Well, I appreciate you telling me some of the details Axus. Let’s trust in the council’s

judgement and wait to see what they decide,” George said firmly. With that the two parted

company for the night, George to go on guard duty and Axus to get some sleep.

As the sun rose over the camp, those sleeping were woken, bread and cheese passed out,

and the horses watered, before the day’s journey started. The convoy continued as it had

started the previous day.

The journey over the next two days proved uneventful. The convoy passed many people,

including travellers, salesmen, and farmers, during that time, most of whom didn’t seem

surprised to see a giant matt black dragon being pulled through the countryside on a massive

sleigh. When these people were passed, sometimes sly hand signals were exchanged,

sometimes a look was enough, or maybe even a whistle. All the cloak and dagger business

with the passers-by, showed that the way ahead had been checked for any danger and that

none had been found.

In the middle of the afternoon on the third day, the convoy left the muddy main road at

the point where a blue trident had been inconspicuously painted on a large boulder, and

headed across an open field in the exact direction the trident pointed. After crossing the field,

the group came to a coppice and noted the same trident carved into a tree, pointing in another

direction, and duly followed it. This went on for about two more hours, until they came over

a rise and into a meadow. In the distance, beyond the long swaying grass dotted with flowers,

was a large rocky outcrop.

Just as the convoy entered the meadow, hundreds of warriors and archers appeared

silently from within the grass and on top of the outcrop. Bows and swords appeared from

nowhere in the hands of all members of the convoy as they formed a defensive position

around Troydenn, even though they were massively outnumbered. A tense silence enveloped

the meadow and the outcrop; the only movement was that of the long grass rippling in the

wind. George stood up from his kneeling position in front of the massive dragon with his

shining sword in his hand. As he did so, a loud horn could be heard all across the meadow.

One of the foremost warriors stepped forward from the long grass, sheathed his sword,

walked towards George and clasped his free hand. George and the warrior exchanged

whispered greetings while all around them bows and swords were stowed. The soldiers in the

field parted swiftly, forming a huge path straight to the rocky outcrop. The convoy followed

the path to the outcrop where the entrance to a massive cave was revealed; as they did so the

soldiers in the meadow behind them closed in to form a great ring around them.

As everybody gathered at the cave entrance, the exhausted horses were untethered and

led off into the meadow to graze. Meanwhile ropes appeared from the well-illuminated cave

and were threaded through the sleigh on either side via a series of pulleys. More ropes were

attached to the back of the sleigh and then led out into the meadow.

Once everything seemed satisfactory to Axus, most of the warriors in the meadow picked

up the slack on the ropes in two lines and a large horn was sounded deep inside the cave. The

rope in and around the pulleys on the sleigh began to go taut, and the sleigh with its giant

burden moved slowly forward through the cave’s entrance. Moving at a funereal pace, the

convoy began its descent into the cave’s massive interior. Daylight from the entrance

gradually faded the further the group moved, being replaced by small circles of yellow light

on either side of them, coming up from the stony surface they all walked on. Every twenty or

so paces, jewels the size of a man’s fist throbbed with bright yellow light from their place on

the floor by the cave wall. These jewels lined the path all the way to the party’s destination,

just over two miles away. The rate of movement was incredibly slow and very occasionally a

tight hairpin bend would have to be negotiated, which meant that distance was measured

more in inches, rather than miles, per hour.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually just over eighteen hours, the weary

travellers reached their destination. The winding path opened out into a gigantic underground

cavern, which seemed to be filled with a lot of people. The same jewels that lit up the path

were placed all over the floor of the chamber and up the walls at intervals as far as the eye

could see; nevertheless, it was still impossible to discern the ceiling. Far from being damp

and cold, the chamber was warm and a subtle breeze flowed through the whole area. The

reason for this may have been the sporadic sections of molten lava around the edges of the

chamber and oozing down parts of the shiny stone walls.

Shuffling feet could be heard in the dimly lit arena, as men and women moved to the

edges to let the sleigh through to the middle. Once there, those who had travelled with the

convoy from the city gradually moved away from the massive sleigh towards the edges of the

cavern, merging with those already there, with the exception of George. Little men came

scurrying out of the shadows, surrounded the sleigh and started to inspect it purposefully.

After much whispering, one of the men asked George to step back from the dragon,

which he duly did, while the other men circled the sleigh and began chanting. It started as a

quiet whisper but soon reached a crescendo of raised voices, all in unison. All of a sudden

there was a huge BANG!!!!!

In the subsequent near silence, it would appear that instead of a scene of utter

devastation, the only thing that had happened was that the double sleigh on which the captive

dragon had been resting had completely disappeared, leaving the dragon lying on the cold

stone floor.

Unexpectedly, huge stone doors swung in on themselves right in front of George and the

dragon. Through them walked a tall man leading twenty four other men. As the crowd in the

chamber saw this, they as one all started to kneel down and bow their heads, realising it was

the dragon king and his councillors.

The king in his mutatioform looked nothing short of amazing. He was nearly seven feet

tall with long golden hair flowing down past his shoulders, colossal muscles protruding from

under his tunic, which was bright purple in colour and had a bright blue shimmering trident

on the front of it. Most stunning of all though, was the real trident the king was carrying in

his right hand. It was as tall as he was and appeared to be made of a bright blue metal that

quite literally seemed to have a mind of its own, visibly flowing in different directions all the

time, while also somehow remaining solid. An eye catching ring pulsed with different colours

on the king’s left hand.

The king thumped the trident onto the stone floor and spoke.

“Be upstanding everyone,” he said. “You should all know why we are here. Let the

proceedings begin,” he bellowed.

One of the councillors approached Troydenn, pulled some parchment out from under his

robes, and started reading the mantra on it. Everyone in the cavern could see the purple glow

throughout the giant dragon’s body recede more and more as the mantra continued. After

finishing the mantra and slipping the parchment back into his robes, the councillor addressed

Troydenn for everyone to hear.

“Will you voluntarily turn back into human form?” The dragon’s mighty skull moved

slightly, dragging its massive chin along the black stone floor, while two dribbles of flame

came out of its nostrils.

“I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then shall I?” replied the councillor, stepping aside to let the king

through. A little quiver seemed to run through the defiant dragon as the king raised the trident

and pointed it at his head.

“Since you won’t change of your own free will, I will force you to change which will be

most unpleasant… something I had hoped not to do.”

With that, shimmering beams of blue energy lanced out from the tips of the trident

towards Troydenn. When the beams hit his body they formed straight lines all along it, from

head to tail. All the while Troydenn remained motionless, except for his eyes; they flicked

from side to side, betraying the fear he felt.

Once all the horizontal lines were in place, the energy seemed to ‘flip over’ and form

vertical ones that crisscrossed the horizontal ones, giving the impression that a giant net

encased the dragon. Troydenn mustered all his strength in a panicked attempt to get to his

feet as though sensing what was yet to come. The shimmering net of blue energy crackled

ferociously as it began to shrink, causing Troydenn to let out a blood-curdling wail.

With Troydenn’s pain echoing around the cavern and the contracting lines of energy

crackling, sparking and smoking, it became very hard to see what was happening inside the

energy net. Certainly a change was taking place because the area the net covered had

diminished to about a third of the size it had been originally, and the wails and screams

coming from within it were now much less those of an animal and much closer to those of a

human.

The transformation only took a few more seconds to complete. Lying slumped on the

cold stone floor, gasping for breath, was a stocky bald-headed man with a goatee beard and

strange black tattoos on his cheeks and neck.

A low murmur of disbelief rippled through the crowd after what they had just seen. Most

people realised that it was history in the making, as the last time a dragon had been put

through this was nearly three hundred years ago.

Unsteadily the man got to his feet, all the time taking in his surroundings as if he had just

woken from a long sleep. As he gazed over the king’s left shoulder, Troydenn looked into the

pale blue eyes of George, standing only a few feet away.

“Traitor!” he shouted, as he lunged towards George with a crazed look on his face, only

to be stopped inches away by hulking guards that appeared from the shadows. Troydenn spat

in George’s face and wriggled and kicked in an attempt to break free from the guards’ vicelike grip.

George wiped his face, desperately trying to maintain a façade of calmness and serenity,

even though every muscle in his body screamed to fight. With his feet dragging along the

ground, the guards hauled Troydenn back to the spot in front of king that he had previously

occupied. A red beam of energy shot out from the trident, hitting Troydenn in the foot, and

curled upwards towards his head, forcing him to stand bolt upright.

“Enough!” roared the king. “You will stand and listen to the charges brought against you

and your supporters.”

Out of the darkness, above the giant stone doors, a balcony suddenly appeared,

illuminated by an eerie green light. Dressed in scarlet robes lined with purple, and a matching

hood over her head, the magistrate appeared, gavel in hand. She smacked the gavel onto the

stone balustrade in front of her, causing a THUD to echo around the giant cavern.

“Troydenn, formerly of the high council’s royal guard, you are charged with the gravest

of crimes. Your followers have already admitted that they murdered, maimed, kidnapped,

stole, threatened and embezzled, all on your orders, for your own sordid purposes. The one

thing that is sacred to us as a race, taught to us throughout our formative years in the nursery

rings, is that we as a society are here to protect and guide humans at all times because of their

potential. Throughout dragonkin history, nearly all dragons have strived to obey this founding

principle laid down in our law.

I declare that you, Troydenn, are not only guilty of the crimes previously mentioned, but

of the worst crime possible in our civilization………… manipulation of humans for your

own selfish purposes. Since nothing on this scale has happened in over fifteen hundred years,

the punishment will be decided by the king and his council,” said the magistrate, clutching

her gavel tightly.

As the magistrate stood on the balcony overlooking everyone, the eerie green light that

had illuminated her started to fade away, after a few seconds making her indistinguishable

from the stone walls behind her. Simultaneously the same light appeared around the king and

Troydenn.

With his long golden locks, backlit by the soft green light, the noble features of the

king’s face turned from quiet contemplation to steely determination as he prepared to speak.

“The council and I have spent the last two days discussing the sentence that should be

imposed on you, Troydenn. I can honestly say that this has been the hardest thing that the

council members and I have been required to do during our tenure. I believe the outcome was

reached in a fair and unbiased manner, considering all the relevant options and

circumstances, although it should be pointed out that the decision was not unanimous, but

reached by a majority of twenty four to one. The council hereby decrees that, YOU,

Troydenn, and all of your conspirators currently in custody, will be transferred forthwith to

our secure, remote detention facility, where you will remain for the rest of your natural lives.”

A huge ‘GASP’ echoed around the cavern from all the shocked dragons in their human

forms. In the shadows, a few feet behind the king, George stood rooted to the spot, absolutely

shell-shocked. Not for a moment did he believe the sentence would be so harsh or absolute,

despite his earlier conversation with Axus.

Throughout all this, Troydenn had remained totally impassive, with his jaw jutting out

and piercing eyes not moving from the figure of the king.

The king continued speaking.

“Because of the natural constrictions of the facility, you will all be extremely limited in

using your powers or any ‘ediscere’.” (Ediscereare mantras that are memorised, as opposed

to those that are written down.)

“ Provisions and equipment will be on hand to prevent any unwanted fatalities; however

you will have to work hard and manage the limited resources available to you constantly, to

ensure your continued existence. If you have anything meaningful to say, Troydenn, any

words of regret or apologies, you will now have your chance to do so.” The red beam of

energy holding the evil dragon in place faded away.

Troydenn held up his arms and turned around as if addressing everyone in the chamber.

The green light cast an ominous shadow over his malevolent face as he snarled,

“We will break free from whatever prison you confine us in and when we do, we will

destroy your precious dragon society and visit terror on all your little human pets. Whether it

takes ten years or five hundred, we WILL find a way.”

“Enough!” commanded the king. “The sentence has been passed. Secure him for his

flight with the rest of them.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” said the leader of the guards, as Troydenn was surrounded and

then bundled away by the rest of the soldiers.

A booming THUD resounded around the cavern as the magistrate smashed her gavel

against the stone balustrade in the darkness of the balcony high above and declared,

“This tribunal has ended.”

As the people left the cavern via variously concealed exits, George stood with a heavy

heart, on his own in the darkness. Tears started to stream down his face and he didn’t really

understand why. He realised that the crimes committed by his former comrade in arms were

amongst the most serious his kind had ever seen, and on an intellectual level he understood

that the sentence was probably the best thing for dragons, humans and the whole planet in

general. But somehow he couldn’t help thinking that this was a sad day in dragon history and

that this might have serious repercussions in the future.

Suddenly a well muscled arm appeared around George’s shoulder. Immediately alert and

ready to fight George pulled away, turned, and squared up to…………………. the king.

“I’m, I’m, I’m sorry Your Majesty,” George muttered, dropping his fighting stance.

“George my boy, less of the majesty, please,” said the king.

“Sorry,” replied George, wiping his tear-stained face on his sweat covered tunic.

“Listen, son. I know you have reservations about what’s happened here today and that’s

understandable. I also know you did a wonderful job bringing him in and repairing the

damage to that city. It’s no surprise that it’s affecting you badly considering how close the

two of you were. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. But try and think about the bigger picture.

The pain will ease over time and gradually fade altogether, but it might take a while.

You’re a good dragon, George, one of the best in fact. One day you will make it onto the

council and I think you’ll go on to become a great king, mark my words. But tell anyone I

said that and I’ll have to have your tongue cut out, as I’m supposed to be entirely neutral in

these matters,” said the king, winking and smirking at the same time.

George finally broke into a smile, for the first time in days.

“Thank you, Majesty,” he emphasised with a grin.

The king smiled and said,

“That’s much better,” and broke into a great big belly laugh.

The light-hearted moment was over as quickly as it had begun, the bond between the two

concealed, as one of the councillors approached.

“The flight has gathered with the prisoners, Majesty, and is ready to take off on your

command. A tracking station has been set up in the magistrate’s main office so that we can all

monitor their progress to the detention facility,” said the councillor sombrely.

“George and I will be there shortly Osvaldo. Thank you for letting us know,” replied the

king.

The councillor nodded and walked back the way he came, giving George a disapproving

look as he did so.

“Hmmmm…,” whispered the king. “There’s something about that dragon which bothers

me, always has done, but I just can’t seem to put my finger on it. He’s always done his work

well, acted responsibly, helped others, and been a model councillor in fact. But just recently

the way he’s acted and some of the things he’s said have been really out of character.”

Osvaldo Rosebloom had been the one councillor who opposed Troydenn’s sentence.

“Anyway, no time to think of that now. Let’s get to the magistrate’s office and get this

over and done with.”

George followed the king through the concealed exit that Osvaldo had left by, and along

a maze of corridors, in almost total darkness. After a few minutes, the king stopped suddenly

and started to run his hands along the wall high above his head. Just as George was

wondering what was going on, there was a sharp ‘CLICK’ from overhead and amazingly part

of the wall silently slid away to reveal a brightly lit room bustling with activity.

Against each wall of the square office was a big desk, with a dragon in human form

sitting wearing a shiny metal helmet connected by coloured wires to a machine at that desk.

On the desk in front was a great big map of the world with different locations lit up and

marked on it. A couple of dozen or so leather-clad stools had been arranged in the middle of

the room. The main door to the room was exactly opposite where George and the king had

entered. A tall wooden bookcase stood next to the door, piled high with old books, looking

strangely out of place.

The king entered the room and, avoiding the stools in the middle, immediately headed

for the far corner where the other councillors were gathered. As George stepped into the room

and tried to make out what was going on, a little part of him recognised that the door through

which he and the king had arrived had closed completely, without making any sound, or

showing any sign now that it even existed at all. George was baffled and had never seen

anything quite like it. He made a mental note to himself about this and promised himself he

would try to find out more when he got the chance.

George regained his focus, and through all the noise of people talking and moving about

the busy room, he heard the familiar gruff tones of Axus. His no-nonsense approach was

always totally refreshing.

“We have four dragons flying separately from the rest of the flight, Majesty. Their job is

to transmit the images that they are seeing directly to their opposite number in this room.

Once the images are received, they will be passed on through the wires in the receiver’s

helmet to the tiny screen in the projection device. Light-emitting crystals will then shine

through the tiny screen, thus projecting the nearly real-time images onto one of the four walls

of this room.”

George looked around the room and seemed to get the gist of what Axus had been telling

the king. The flying dragons would travel with the guards carrying the prisoners to the

detention facility, but their job would be to transmit telepathically the images that they were

seeing so that everyone here could make sure the prisoners were successfully incarcerated.

George knew that all dragons had telepathic abilities, but he figured that these four were

probably stronger than most in that department due to the importance of this assignment.

Perhaps they even worked for The Daily Telepath itself, or were in some other way

enhanced.

The Daily Telepath was known to every dragon outside of the nursery rings, (as those

still in the rings are deemed too young to receive it) as a daily news bulletin that is

transmitted telepathically throughout most of the world, although dragons would find it

increasingly hard to receive in either remote or very cold places. Reporters gathered and

collated the news from all over the world, and it was then edited into a kind of telepathic

newspaper to be distributed to those that wanted it. Those who worked at the Telepath were

generally exceptional in their field of study, particularly if that field of study was telepathy.

The ironic thing about the Daily Telepath was that its offices were situated directly beneath

the Daily Telegraph offices in Fleet Street, London, England. Dragons in their various guises

worked for the Daily Telegraph, making sure that all the news collected about the human

world there was available to the editor of the telepathic news bulletin, as well as everything

dragon-related.

Once edited, the bulletin was broadcast, at precisely five fifty eight am GMT daily, via

giant thought-amplifying transmitters located in the basement of its offices. Having left the

basement, the information travelled throughout the underground world of the dragons, using

massive crystal boosters, powered by geothermal power, located strategically throughout the

world. The day’s issue was stored in small crystals throughout the land, then over written the

next day. The crystal storage system allowed dragons to access their local paper and pick up a

copy. A typical Daily Telepath bulletin consisted of the main news story, (sometimes dragon,

sometimes human, sometimes one and the same) usually with a bold headline. Weather

warnings played an important part: not local warnings, but global warnings, about weather

systems such as typhoons, blizzards, and tidal waves. Sport was also on the agenda, as just

about all dragons were keen on sport, particularly laminium ball. There was also a letters

section where dragons commented on just about everything, and an obituaries column where

dragon death notices were placed. These, in particular, were very important as dragons very

rarely die; when they do, dragons can travel from far and wide to attend the normally

extravagant funeral proceedings. Any news to do with the king or the council would also

feature heavily in an edition of the Daily Telepath, and a selection of human news from

around the globe was also included.

The system seemed to work quite well for the most part, and dragons can often be heard

in human and dragon form discussing subjects from that day’s Daily Telepath. Just recently

the Telepath had been experimenting with images and had tried incorporating them in the

news bulletin. Even though dragons can successfully pass telepathic images in colour to one

another, the images tried by the Telepath in their experiments were in black and white and

had turned out to be quite poor in comparison. Most dragons complained that the images

were blurred and barely visible when the bulletin was looked at. This had apparently been put

down to the fact that the boosters that transmit the bulletin around the globe could not handle

the extra information entailed in the images. It now looked like most dragons were not going

to get to see pictures of their favourite laminium ball stars in the bulletin on a regular basis.

George’s mind, having wandered off, was brought back to the room by hearing Axus

finish off telling the king about the projection system.

“So you see Majesty, this was the only way to use the boosters in that area and keep the

transmission secure. We certainly don’t want every dragon in the world viewing the captives

on their way to being incarcerated, do we?” asked Axus seriously.

“Not with some of Troydenn’s followers still unaccounted for, no we don’t,” replied the

king, gravely.

Axus clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention.

“Could everybody please move to the centre of the room, as that’s where you will get the

best view of all four projections. Dim the lights and start the projectors please!” ordered

Axus, loudly.

All the people gathered in the room moved to the stools in the centre, except the

projectionists, Axus, the king, and strangely Osvaldo, who remained where he was, casually

leaning on the bookcase next to the room’s main entrance. As the room plunged into

darkness, the walls became alive with moving images. It took George a little while to process

exactly what he was seeing on the walls of the room.

On the ‘main wall’ in front of those gathered, was an image from a dragon that was right

in the middle of the convoy. The image showed dragons flying to the left, to the right, above

and below, all flapping their gigantic wings to propel them along. The flying dragons all had

tightly fitting harnesses strapped to them, with anything from one to three sedated dragons in

human form unwillingly attached to them.

On the ‘left wall’ the view was from a dragon clearly flying at the back of the pack, high

on the right hand side. It showed all of the dragons and their cargo from above, flying at

break-neck speeds through a large open cavern.

On the ‘right wall’ the view was from a dragon skimming along the surface of the

cavern, underneath the left side of the dragon flight. As the dragon looked up, he could see

the giant underbellies with the prisoners strapped to them and the bones and muscles in the

dragons’ wings working furiously to keep them aloft and propel them along at about five

hundred miles an hour.

On the wall behind the gathering of people, the scene showed the dragon convoy from

quite a distance away. The dragon projecting this image seemed to be trailing the large group

by about one and a half miles, with the dragons only really showing up as small dots, but dots

which appeared in corresponding shades to those dragons in the convoy. The captives

attached to the dragons could not be seen from this view because of the distance involved.

Those gathered in the centre of the room all seemed to have a different idea about what

was the best projection to view the proceedings from. George found himself gazing at the

‘behind’ view most of the time, while the others kept swivelling on their leather clad stools.

The limited light in the caverns that the convoy was flying through made the spectacle of the

dragons look like stars in a dusky night sky.

Progress was seemingly slow, but dragons were renowned for their patience and

understanding. Everyone in the room knew that this was only the start of a long journey. The

underground route for the convoy involved flying south west from Europe, towards Africa’s

eastern coast. Once there, the dragons would head south under the coast until they reached

the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown. Turning south west again they would then fly under the

south Atlantic for about three thousand miles, before arriving under the outskirts of Rio de

Janeiro. Following the coast of Uruguay they would head towards Buenos Aires in Argentina

before heading directly south towards the Falkland Islands and joining the massive trench

there that would take them all the way to the detention facility in Antarctica. The entire

journey was over eleven thousand miles long and would take about twenty two hours in total.

Most of the dragons in the room had let their concentration slip and their minds wander

more than a little. It had after all been an extremely intense and historic day, and the most

important part of the journey and the incarceration would be at the very end, from the

Falkland Islands onwards, so trying to relax now was by no means a bad thing. After all,

dragons had the ability to become instantly alert at a split second’s notice anyway.

George was no different from the others, and found his concentration waning in a room

where the only noise was that of Axus, who was constantly circling the room, whispering

instructions to each projectionist, adjusting the tiny light crystals or fiddling with the wires

that joined onto the dragons’ helmets. Occasionally Axus would inform everyone where the

dragon convoy was in the world and how far they still had to go.

“So far the convoy has flown under the Mediterranean and along the coast of Morocco.

They have just passed beneath Casablanca and shortly you will see from the projections

increased magma activity as the group skirt around our Canary Island geothermal power

plant,” said Axus with authority.

George could see from his preferred view, the long distance one, that the bottom of the

cavern systems now being traversed by the party was growing increasingly bright. Giant

slithers of molten lava weaved along the floor and lower walls, making it look like an

enormous spider had spun a mammoth fluorescent web.

George, like all other dragons, knew all about geothermal power; he had after all spent

months studying it in the nursery rings like every other dragon. The subterranean dragon

cities were all powered and heated using geothermal power and had been for many centuries.

Huge underground areas had also been specifically heated to exacting temperatures, so that

they could grow a diverse range of crops all over the world, just like giant underground

greenhouses. Although these achievements were amazingly clever and interesting, most

dragons’ favourite part of the geothermal process was the HOT SPRINGS……..

Ahhhhhhhhh.

Just thinking about hot springs made George’s tail wave around in delight, even though

he was in human form. Whatever form he was in, George remained convinced that a dragon’s

tail was like its soul, and that you just could not be parted from its essence. So much so that

sometimes he even had to look behind him to check that he wasn’t dragging it along the

ground when he was disguised as a human. This thought, it must be said, was totally private

and not something he would ever want other dragons knowing, for fear of ridicule.

“Hot springs,” he thought, “are just pleasure personified to a dragon – that, and chewing

your way through a mound of charcoal… totally the best draggony things to do on the whole

planet.”

If there’s one other thing that most dragons like, it’s gossip. Dragons are always sharing

the latest rumours about anything and everything. There was undoubtedly always talk about

the next big project to use geothermal power. George had overheard some of Axus’ engineers

gossiping back at the city after the fight with Troydenn. They were speculating on rumours of

a planet-wide transport system being built underground, which harnessed the geothermal

power. Pure fantasy of course, thought George. Just like the idea of different flavoured

charcoal and that absurd rumour about each city getting its own automated dragon wash.

Madness indeed!!!!!!!!!

With regard to geothermal power, it is widely hoped and believed within the dragon

community, that with the right guidance and a gentle nudge or two, humans in the coming

decades and centuries, as they develop and become more advanced technologically, will take

up the mantle of geothermal power because of its abundance and pollution-free properties.

Most dragons hark back to Roman times and point out that the Romans themselves were

subtly nudged in the direction of geothermal power and achieved it quite successfully,

especially at Pompeii, that is until the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

George’s wandering mind was once again interrupted by one of Axus’ updates on the

dragon convoy’s progress.

“The convoy has nearly reached Freetown and will soon be changing to a south westerly

heading,” muttered Axus, with distinctly less enthusiasm than an hour ago.

Over the course of the rest of the day, the dragon convoy followed the planned route and

made good time, with no extraordinary occurrences. Axus continued with the regular updates,

while some dragons in the room paid more attention than others; some closed their eyes and

meditated, while others, chiefly Osvaldo, left for short periods and then returned.

Once the convoy entered the trench at the Falkland Islands, the tension in the room

became apparent. Dragons shifted on stools, paced the room and held whispered

conversations with one another, betraying the nervousness everybody felt. Even Axus was

more agitated than George had ever seen him before, not being able to stand in one place for

more than two seconds and constantly berating the technicians flitting in and out of the room.

Only one person seemed unaffected by the tension and the pressure: the king. He sat on one

of the stools in the centre of the room looking like he didn’t have a care in the world: the

calm centre of a hurricane raging all around him.

“Majesty, the convoy are about five hundred miles out from the entrance to the cavern

and should be there in approximately one hour,” announced Axus. “The detention facility is

fully stocked with provisions and equipment for the criminals. It should just be a matter of

the guards releasing them from the harnesses and using the mantras to bring them round.

Once the mantras have been activated, it will take about five minutes for the fugitives to

recover completely. The first thing the captives in their human form will have to do is to set

up all the cold weather gear we left there, as they will not have the benefit of the protection

mantras, unlike the guards dropping them off. By that time the guards will be long gone and

the shaped charges will have been set off, trapping those remaining behind a permanent wall

of rock and ice.”

George knew the whole sorry episode was nearly at an end now, but as he looked around

the room at the different projections of the convoy on the different walls he couldn’t help but

pity those dragons being carried to their internment, to live the remainder of their lives in that

horrifying environment, so totally alien to all and any dragons. Even worse, to know that you

would end up dying there as well, with absolutely no chance of ever mating or reproducing at

all. A wave of sorrow washed over him and once again he thought of Troydenn and

wondered how it had all gone so horribly wrong.

Everybody in the room continued to watch the convoy moving towards their final

destination. As the minutes progressed, the images on the walls seemed to deteriorate,

sometimes becoming blurred, sometimes cutting out altogether for a few seconds at a time.

Axus was working even more frantically than he had been before, something that had to be

seen to be believed.

“What seems to be the problem, Axus?” asked the king, calmly.

“It’s the telepathic boosters, majesty. We’ve increased the power output on them all to as

much as they can handle, but the range is just too great. The cold may be having an effect as

well. The pictures will continue to break down I’m afraid, and there’s nothing more we can

do from here.”

“How long before the convoy reaches the cavern, Axus?” asked the king. Axus strode

over to the great map on the desk at the front of the room and began to study it carefully. As

he did so the projections on the walls around them began to cut out and flicker more

frequently. After a short period of time, Axus turned from the map to face the king, grinning

wildly.

“They’re only a few minutes from the entrance, Majesty,” he said, sounding relieved.

The king nodded his head and everybody went back to focusing their attention on the

projections.

Although George could see the left and the right side projections out of the corner of his

eyes, he remained concentrated on the back wall and the view from the dragon flying far

behind the main convoy. It seemed that there was less interference with this projection,

maybe because it was further behind than the other images, making it easier to take in what

was happening.

All of a sudden Axus pointed at the front projection and roared,

“There it is, the entrance to the cavern!”

Everyone in the room, even George, turned to look at the projection on the front wall.

Through the distortion and interference they could just make out the gaping entrance to the

detention facility, back-lit by the artificial light put in there for the captives’ benefit by Axus

and his team of engineers.

At that exact moment………….ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!!!!!!!!

It was difficult to tell quite how it started because of the poor quality of the images that

were being projected onto the walls, but the captives were all turning from their human form

(mutatio) to their dragon form (solitus). Everybody in the room looked slack-jawed and

stunned at this shocking turn of events: that is, everybody but the king and Osvaldo

Rosebloom.

Some of the prisoners had broken free of their harnesses and had turned back into their

dragon form while dropping towards the ground at great speeds. They could be seen heading

towards the ground as a human, dropping like a stone, only to transform on the way down

and swoop back up as a dragon, ready to join the fight. Others, however, were turning back

into their dragon form while still attached to the guards in their harnesses, bursting free and

taking their guards completely by surprise.

In every projection it was the same, dragon fighting dragon. Streams of flame spewed

from the mouths of the different dragons, looking like tiny candles high up in the cavern

entrance from the dragon projecting the images from furthest away. Dragons were headbutting, biting, and crashing each other into walls and stalactites, or using their talons to rip

through each other’s wings, sending their opponent spiralling to the icy cavern floor way

below. Some were also using their tails to deadly effect. In the middle of it all was the terrorinducing sight of the huge matt black dragon that was Troydenn going on an absolute

rampage.

“Where are the closest reinforcements, Axus?” asked the king calmly, never taking his

eyes from the scene of carnage and mayhem before him.

“Not close enough I’m afraid, Majesty. The prisoners would easily be able to get back to

the Falkland Islands and escape in plenty of time before we could get any kind of force even

vaguely close,” Axus replied, shaking his head gloomily.

George noticed Osvaldo out of the corner of his left eye. Unlike everyone else in the

room who looked shocked or horrified at the turn of events, Osvaldo just

looked……………..SMUG.

All of a sudden the projection on the left wall cut out totally. The operator at the desk on

that wall fell off his chair to the floor and in a panic-stricken way scrambled to remove his

headset, before letting out a blood-curdling scream and losing consciousness. Some of the

technicians watching the carnage rushed over to aid their colleague. A medic arrived within a

minute or so.

Everybody in the room could see what had happened from the images on the back wall.

There, through a crowd of dragons, flying, fighting and roaring fire at one another, in the

middle of the cavern entrance was a pale dragon with bright flecks up its back and tail. Its

long slender neck was being gradually crushed by the giant vice like jaws of Troydenn. The

two dragons hovered in mid air with the chaos ensuing all around them, long after the life had

left the pale dragon, which had been projecting images back for all to see. Drawing a gasp of

horror from all in the room, Troydenn’s gigantic jaws finally clasped together, totally

severing the poor dragon’s neck, and letting the two pieces of the body swirl to the darkness

at the bottom of the cavern. The dragon sending the images back that was furthest away from

the action, focused in on Troydenn. Flapping his massive matt black wings in mid air, he had

a crazed look in his eyes and a huge grin on his face.

In the monitoring room you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. In the stony silence

that followed, everybody looked towards the king. He stood and with his left forearm

smashed a vacant stool halfway across the room.

“ENOUGH!” bellowed the king. “Blow the explosive charges now!” he shouted across

the room.

Axus turned timidly towards the king.

“But Majesty, what about the guards? They’ll be trapped along with the prisoners,” he

stuttered.

With a look of absolute fury on his face, the king roared,

“DO YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW THAT THEY’LL BE TRAPPED AND LOST

FOREVER? THINK HOW MANY HUMANS AND DRAGONS ALIKE WILL BE

KILLED IF TROYDENN AND HIS FOLLOWERS ARE ALLOWED TO LEAVE

THAT PLACE. I COMMAND YOU TO BLOW ALL THE CHARGES AT ONCE.

NOWWW!!!!!!!!!!”

    

Bio:

Author Photo

As for me………I look after my two girls, and when they’re at school I’m a teaching assistant. When they’re not, I help them with their homework and school projects, and can often be found up to my neck in one of their lego kits, helping them out of course. I love playing hockey, and help coach kids, mine included. Other interests include reading, building computers, squash, cycling, great days out with my wonderful wife and kids, as well of course as WRITING!

Currently I’m working on the third instalment in the ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon’ series, entitled ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’.

‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past’ can be found at Smashwords, in all formats, or can be purchased in either paperback or kindle version from Amazon The second book in the series can also be found on Smashwords or on Amazon.

My books can be found at Barnes and Noble here

The Goodreads page for my book can be found here

My facebook page can be found here

I can be found on Google+ here

I can be found on Pinterest here

I can be found on twitter @paul_cude

Website: http://www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk/

Blog: http://www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk/

Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paul-Cude/e/B007339206/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bentwhistle-Dragon-Threat-Past-Paul-ebook/dp/B006CQUIQC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1393767637

Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bentwhistle-Dragon-Chilling-Revelation-Paul-ebook/dp/B00ILPLFNW/ref=la_B007339206_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393767705&sr=1-2

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