Read The Dragons' Chosen Online

Authors: Gwen Dandridge

The Dragons' Chosen

The Dragons Chosen
 
Gwen Dandridge
 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Gwen Dandridge
Hickory Tree Publishing Hickory
TreeBooks.blogspot.com

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing by the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Cover art by Carol Heyer
Siri Weber Feeney, 2015
Inside layout and illustration by Carin Coulon

 

www.gwendandridge.com

 

 

Also by

 

Gwen Dandridge

 

The Stone Lions

 

Coming soon

 

The Jinn’s Jest

 

And

 

The Lady of the Tower

 

 

This book is dedicated to Phyllis Schimel

 

For all her many kindnesses

 

 

Contents
 

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49
Chapter 50
Chapter 51
Chapter 52

 

Acknowledgements
About the Author

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

The sky was songbird blue, the sun golden; a light breeze brushed my cheek, cooling me down following the uphill gallop. Beneath me, my mare, Flight, shifted her weight as she pawed the ground. Nothing could be better than this.

I turned in my saddle as Crown Prince Theo from Gowen, my third suitor this month, thundered up behind me. My reverie ended as he hauled his mount to a stop. Oh yes, there was one thing that could perhaps be improved.

“You bested me.” He nodded to my victory. His eyes lowered, though not before I saw the sullen glint in them.

Once again, I’d let my pride rule when I should have stroked my suitor’s self-worth. I used my smile to soften his loss. Mother had sent us off, properly chaperoned by my ladies and guards, but they fell behind once our challenge began. As good a horse as the prince rode, I had no doubt I would win. These were my lands. Flight and I had traversed them together since my father gifted her to me in honor of my fourteenth year. We knew every hillock, fence and ditch.

But, I shouldn’t have beaten him. I knew Mother hoped he would confirm his offer for me today. And that I would stop finding excuses to reject courters and accept.

“It was but chance; you are much the better rider.” I slid my gaze to my reins so he could not read the lie in my face. Mayhap he would see my behavior as a young maiden’s modesty.

He brightened then, throwing off his bad humor. He was pleasant and attractive, though somewhat too sure of my answer to be flattering.

I didn’t understand my parents’ sudden push to get me engaged. I wasn’t likely to die an old maid, not at the age of sixteen and crown princess of Verdeux. Nor were we on the verge of war and my troth needed as the price for peace.

Flight still pranced in place beneath my hands, as if pleased with herself for besting Theo’s large bay hunter, Lion Heart.

Theo dismounted, walked over to me and placed his hand on Flight’s bridle. “Genevieve.” His other hand wrapped around mine as if in ownership.

Here it comes, I thought. I knew I would say “yes.” There were no more reasons to refuse. He was nice enough, wealthy enough, royal enough, and his lands abutted ours. I couldn’t protest that he was ill-favored or unsuitable.

Father had approved this union and my mother was eager to see me affianced.

Most of all, it was my duty. How I had been trained all my life.

Still I wished for something more … romance, even love, perhaps. A small sigh escaped from my lips. What a foolish thought. A princess shouldn’t wish for these.

I looked out to the fields beyond. Across the field came one of my father’s riders on a mission, a cloud of dust blossoming in his wake.

Noting my distraction as the rider joined my guard, Theo squeezed my fingers. I wouldn’t let my family down by refusing. I curled my fingers in his, smiling, showing him nothing but a girl delighting in his presence.

“Genevieve,” he repeated. “I would…”

“Your Highness.” A voice called as three guards charged up the hill. My ladies remained milling around near the tree line below, too timid to brave this route.

A frothed horse and rider broached the hillside. “Princess, you must return immediately. Your father wishes you to attend him.”

“What is this about?” Theo demanded.

The rider brushed the sweat from his face. “I wasn’t told, My Lord. Only that the Princess must return.”

Theo’s hand slid from mine. As he mounted his horse, I blew him a kiss. A little wait would do him good. He was too sure of me and I was not so sure of him.

Whatever Father wanted, I was grateful for the reprieve.

--

 

I sailed into court followed by the kittenish antics of my ladies-in-waiting. I no longer remember what they were saying that made me laugh out loud as I came before my father’s gaze, but I stopped suddenly at the quiet—and the look on his face.

I scanned the room, hoping for some clue to the disaster that must have hit my kingdom. Our priestess, Mother Morigan, perched like a bird of prey in the shadows, which was ominous in itself, as she only appeared in court when tithes were gathered or someone died.

I wondered then if someone
had
died. It certainly felt so. The three traveling musicians played a melancholy tune in the corner. The handsomest one with a neat beard cut to a point stared at his feet as I walked past, no shy smile as usual.

My sister, Danielle, was leaning into my mother’s shoulder, sobbing. My two little brothers, Harold and Bartholomew, stood with their tutor by the sidelines, alarmingly still. I searched my mother's face and grew more afraid. She was rigid, her face splotched, the queen who never wore her emotions in public.

My ladies held back. I walked forward to kneel at my father’s feet. Mother Morigan moved to stand by my side. As my head rose, I felt her place a delicate chain about my neck. I lifted it up to see a dragon etched in a round gold coin. My question was answered.

It was I who had died.

 

Chapter 2

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