Authors: Dina von Lowenkraft
By Dina von Lowenkraft
Twilight Times Books
This is a work of fiction. All concepts, characters and events portrayed in this book are used fictitiously and any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 Dina von Lowenkraft
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except brief extracts for the purpose of review, without the permission of the publisher and copyright owner.
Twilight Times Books
P O Box 3340
Kingsport TN 37664
First Edition, August 2013
Cover art © 2013 Renu Sharma (
Published in the United States of America.
To all who fight against prejudice and
strive to make our world a better place.
The path to becoming a published writer is long, and I would never have gotten here without the support of many people.
First of all, thank you to my mom, for loving everything I have ever written and for discussing my characters and their problems with me as if they were real. Thank you to my husband, for understanding my need for time and space to write – and giving me the opportunity to do so. Thank you to my son, for your eagerness to read the next chapter and making my science-based fantasy more realistic. Thank you to my daughter, for being proud of me long before anything was ever in print. Thank you to my family for understanding and making dinner or cleaning the house on all those occasions when ‘I just need to finish this’ took a bit longer than I expected.
Thank you to all my friends, family and acquaintances I have ever pestered with questions as I researched different aspects of this book - your help has been invaluable.
And to everyone who ever asked ‘how’s your writing going?’ thank you! You’ll never know how much that simple question means to an aspiring author.
But even with the support of my family and friends, my writing would never have improved enough to be published without the help of my writers groups. Thank you to everyone I have met along the way and in particular to my crit partners Jeannine, Karen, Mayra, Michelle, Natalie, Olivia and Sabrina. You have all helped make this manuscript better, and I am immensely grateful to each and every one of you.
In addition to my crit partners, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today as a writer without the help and support of SCBWI. Through SCBWI I have met hundreds of other writers, illustrators and industry professionals – all inspiring people who work hard to make creative dreams come true. I am honored to be the Regional Advisor for Belgium and truly enjoy being able to give back to others some of what was given to me, even if I may never quite catch up on the debt that I owe.
But even with the help and support of my fellow writers,
wouldn’t be published today without the enthusiasm and support of Lida Quillen and Twilight Times Books. Thank you for believing in my world of Draak and Elythia and giving me the opportunity to see my book in print – a dream come true for every writer.
And last, but not least, thank you to all who read
. I fell in love with Rakan and Anna as I was writing this, and hope you will too.
In the Arctic winter, the sun never rises.
In the Arctic summer, the sun never sets.
In the Arctic, the world is at your feet.
HE CANDLE FLICKERED IN THE SUBZERO
wind but Anna made no move to protect it. She stopped on the hill in front of Tromso’s three-year high school and watched the water of the fjord shimmer below. Even though it was mid-afternoon there was no sun, just the luminous reflection of the moon. The procession of students continued on without her, leaving only the fading sound of crunching snow in their wake.
“You seem as eager to go to Fritjof’s memorial vigil as I am,” June said, startling Anna with her sudden appearance.
Anna fingered the oval piece of bright orange coral that she had carried around like a talisman since she was a child. She usually kept it in her pocket, but today she wanted to feel its soothing energy closer and had it in her glove. She had never liked Fritjof, and even though she wasn’t glad he had died, she wouldn’t miss him.
She turned to face June whose cobalt blue eyes were at odds with her otherwise Asian features. June and her boyfriend had also been out on the mountain when the avalanche claimed Fritjof. “I’m glad it’s not yours too,” Anna said. “I’d really miss you.”
“It would take more than an avalanche to kill me,” June said, trying to smile. But Anna could feel her friend’s pain lurking under the surface.
“Hey.” She wrapped an arm around June to comfort her. But as soon as her hand touched June’s shoulder, a burst of energy exploded from her stone. Anna ripped off her glove and the piece of coral went flying. “What the—”
June spun around, pushing Anna behind her as if to protect her from an attack. She scanned the area, her body tensed for a fight.
“Who are you looking for?” Anna pressed her palm to dull the pain as she glanced around the deserted hilltop. “Whatever it was, it came from my stone.”
June relaxed her stance. “Are you okay?”
“I think so.” Anna gestured towards the coral-colored sparks that crackled in the darkness of the Norwegian winter. “What do you think it’s doing?”
“Don’t know.” June crouched down to get a better look. Her hand hovered as a bright green light flashed around the stone.
“Don’t touch it,” Anna said sharply. Her stone had always had a special energy, but never coral-colored sparks. Or green flashes of light.
“It’s okay now.” June pulled her hand back. “Look for yourself.”
Anna knelt next to June. The stone was dark and lifeless and she felt a sudden pang of loss. She prodded it gingerly with her good hand, but felt nothing. She picked it up. It was just a pretty bit of coral. The gentle pulsing energy that she had liked so much was gone.
“Can I see it?” June asked.
Anna nodded, her throat constricted. The stone had always reminded her of her father. Its energy was something he would have been able to feel too. The only other person she had met so far who was open to that kind of thing was June. Everyone else got freaked out, or thought she was crazy. So she had learned not to talk about it.
June closed her fist around the stone. “Where did you get this?” Her voice wavered.
Anna’s attention flicked back to June. She never wavered. “I found it in the mountains. Years ago. Why? What is it?”
“A trigger for what?”
June returned Anna’s searching look. “I have no idea.” She handed the stone back.
“So how do you know it’s a trigger?”
“I just feel it.” June picked up the candles that lay forgotten in the snow. “If you’re okay, we should go.”
Anna picked up her discarded glove and froze. In the middle of her left palm was a star-shaped scar. She stretched her hand to get a better look. It was about the size of a dime. She touched it. Like an echo under the fading pain, she could feel the energy of her stone pulsing faintly in her palm.
“Here,” June said, offering Anna a candle. She stopped mid-motion. “What is it?”
“I don’t know. The stone…” She held out her palm. “Look.”
June dropped the candles and took Anna’s hand in hers. Gently, she ran her fingers over the slightly raised ridges of the scar. “A Firemark,” June said as if talking to herself. “But how…?”
“What’s a Firemark?” Anna examined the scar. It was almost silvery in the moonlight.
June looked up, her fingers still on Anna’s palm. “It’s like a living connection between two people. But… there was only the stone.”
“It always felt alive,” Anna said. She touched the Firemark one last time before putting her glove back on. It was warm and smooth.
June shook her head. “But even if it felt alive, it shouldn’t have left a Firemark.”
Anna shrugged. “Maybe. But I like it.” Anna closed her hand around the Firemark. It felt like she was holding her stone. She smiled. She’d never lose it now.
June re-lit the candles again and handed one to Anna. “Ready?”
Anna hooked her arm through June’s. “I think so.” They walked silently through town and across the bridge that straddled the green-black fjord.
“Do you think it’s over?” Anna eyed the Arctic Cathedral that sprawled like slabs of a fallen glacier on the other side of the fjord. It was lit up like a temple of light.
June shook her head. “It’s only just begun.”
* * *
“That’s enough.” Khotan’s voice snapped like a whip across the barren land of Ngari in western Tibet. “You’re not going to kill her. I will.”
The wind howled in agreement. Rakan bit back the urge to argue with his father whose shaved head and barrel chest marked him as an Old Dragon. But Khotan’s massive physique belied his diminishing power, and Rakan knew that his father wouldn’t survive a fight with the female dragon they had finally located. He had felt her power when she had set off his trigger just a few hours before. And she was more powerful than any other dragon he had ever met. Rakan clenched his fists. Blood for blood. It was the Dragon Code. And he would be the one to honor it.
“You need to start a new life here,” Khotan said, his hand like a claw of ice on Rakan’s bare shoulder. “I will end the old.”
His tone of voice, more than his touch, sent shivers down Rakan’s spine. But before he could question his father, a flicker of red caught his attention and his older half-sister, Dvara, materialized on the sparring field. Except she wasn’t dressed to fight. She was wearing a shimmering red gown that matched the color of her eyes and her black hair was arranged in an intricate mass of twisted strands.
“It’s too late to teach Rakan anything.” She made an unhurried motion towards the targets at the other end of the field. One by one, they exploded with her passing hand.
“We weren’t practicing,” Rakan said calmly. “Although if we had been, you’d need to start again. You used a trigger. You didn’t manipulate their structure on a molecular level.”
“Who cares?” Her Maii-a, the pear-shaped stone that every dragon wore to practice manipulating matter with, sparkled like an angry flame at her throat. “They’ve been demolished. And that’s all that counts in a fight.”
Rakan slid his long black braid over his shoulder. “How you fight is just as important as how you win.”