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Authors: Lucinda Hare

Flight to Dragon Isle

BOOK: Flight to Dragon Isle
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Contents

Cover

About the Book

Title Page

Dedication

Chapter One: Dive, Dive, Dive …

Chapter Two: Dragon Isle

Chapter Three: May You Ride the Stars For Ever

Chapter Four: The Razorback Brood

Chapter Five: Becoming Better Acquainted with Dragons

Chapter Six: Oh, Madam!

Chapter Seven: Hobgoblin Burial Cairn

Chapter Eight: Dragonsdome

Chapter Nine: The Nursery Roosts

Chapter Ten: Spring Forward

Chapter Eleven: Confession

Chapter Twelve: Duchess-in-Waiting

Chapter Thirteen: The SDS Have Been Scrambled

Chapter Fourteen: The Dragonsdome Ring

Chapter Fifteen: The Battle of the Westering Isles

Chapter Sixteen: Treason!

Chapter Seventeen: Nightmare

Chapter Eighteen: The Maelstrom is Rising

Chapter Nineteen: The Thaw

Chapter Twenty: The SDS Have Fallen

Chapter Twenty-One: Holding the Line

Chapter Twenty-Two: The Black Cortège

Chapter Twenty-Three: Whip and Spur

Chapter Twenty-Four: Thunder Rolling Over the Mountains

Chapter Twenty-Five: I Go to Dance with the Dragons

Chapter Twenty-Six: Dance of Dragons

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Hibernation

Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Queen’s Apothecary

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Flight to Dragon Isle

Chapter Thirty: The Heartrock

Chapter Thirty-One: Coming Home

Chapter Thirty-Two: Under a Dark Cloud

Chapter Thirty-Three: Broken and Burned

Chapter Thirty-Four: Nightmare

Chapter Thirty-Five: Two Gulps Too Many

Chapter Thirty-Six: The Call of the North

Chapter Thirty-Seven: Beyond the Sorcerers Glen

Chapter Thirty-Eight: Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Chapter Thirty-Nine: Lonely, So Lonely …

Chapter Forty: Rising from the Ashes

Chapter Forty-One: Dragoncombs

Chapter Forty-Two: Dragon Down

Chapter Forty-Three: When the Wind Blows the Cradle Will Rock

Chapter Forty-Four: An Unexpected Visitor

Chapter Forty-Five: Dragon Lord Down

Chapter Forty-Six: Dragon Quest

Chapter Forty-Seven: Broken Hearts

Chapter Forty-Eight: Rising from the Ashes

About the Author

Also by Lucinda Hare

Praise for
The Dragon Whisperer

Copyright

About the Book

The war against the united hobgoblin tribes rages, and Quenelda longs to follow her her Dragon Lord father into the fray.

But when the Stealth Dragon Service is betrayed and destroyed, the Seven Sea Kingdoms are thrown into turmoil.

Treacherous plots swirl – with even Quenelda's own beloved dragon in mortal danger – but Quenelda finds a secret solace at the heart of the fabled fortress, Dragon Isle. Can she harness her new powers to stop the onset of evil and strike back against the hobgoblins.

Dedicated to the SAS
and the British Armed Forces
C
HAPTER
O
NE
Dive, Dive, Dive …

‘T minus two and counting …’

‘Ground crew, clear the pads … clear the pads …’

Red landing lights turned green as the flight of Imperials and Vipers retracted their claws and spread their wings in readiness.

‘Stormcracker, Stormcracker, you are cleared for immediate takeoff.’

‘Acknowledged, Dragonsdome. Lift off … lift off …’

‘Strapped in?’ Quenelda turned to Root who was fiddling with his flying harness. ‘It’ll be fun!’

Root mumbled unconvincingly as Two Gulps and You’re Gone launched into the air, but by then it was too late.

It was a day of yellow haar, the suffocating fog that crept in from the sea. Its smoky coils lay thickly over the loch so that only the jagged snow-capped teeth of the mountains to the north and south of the Sorcerers Glen were visible from the air. In the freezing brilliance of the sapphire sky, a military flight of twenty Imperial Black battledragons of the III First Born, accompanied by three wings of smaller, swifter Vipers, took off from Dragonsdome.

At their apex flew the Earl Rufus DeWinter, Commander of the Stealth Dragon Services, the SDS, on Stormcracker Thundercloud III, his magnificent battle-dragon. At his starboard wing-tip flew a much smaller flame-coloured Sabretooth with stubby wings and a crooked tail, ridden by a young girl and a gnome boy. The Earl’s daughter, Quenelda, and her companion, Root, were on their way to Dragon Isle; an unusual achievement since only the SDS and those of royal blood were normally allowed to set foot on that fortress island. But while every other young lady in the Seven Sea Kingdoms dreamed of going to court, ever since she could remember, Quenelda had wanted to follow in her famous father’s footsteps and enrol at the SDS Battle Academy on Dragon Isle. It was not only this very peculiar ambition, nor even the fact that Quenelda wore boy’s clothes and had flown battledragons with her father since the age of three, that made her a very special young lady. There was another reason – a secret that only her friend, Root, her father, the Earl Rufus, and his dragonmaster, Tangnost Bearhugger, shared. They all believed that Quenelda was a Dragon Whisperer, which meant that she alone could talk to dragons.

It was because of this secret magical heritage that Quenelda, flying her battledragon, Two Gulps and You’re Gone, and her esquire, Root, on gentle Chasing the Stars, had recently defeated a rogue dragon belonging to the Grand Master of the Sorcerers Guild. The crazed dragon had tried to kill the Earl Rufus at the winter Royal Joust.

Everyone save Quenelda thought that the injured dragon had simply been driven to madness by its wounds. But she knew differently. Hearing its inner thoughts, she had revealed to her father and the Queen’s Constable, Sir Gharad Mowbray, that the dragon had been trained to kill, was a predator at heart despite its harmless appearance. The question, if she was correct, was how and why. The answer was chilling: the Earl and Sir Gharad had agreed that the only explanation was Maelstrom Magic, an ancient and dangerous dark power long forbidden by the Sorcerers Guild. But why the Grand Master would breed such a dangerous and treacherous creature was not so certain.

Quenelda believed that the dragon’s hidden purpose was to kill her father, but the Earl would not accept that the Grand Master, Lord Hugo Mandrake – his mentor and friend from childhood – had knowingly dabbled in Dark Magic, let alone wished to kill him. He believed that the Lord Hugo had simply strayed in his pursuit of knowledge, had allowed his passion for breeding dragons to cloud his judgement. Maelstrom Magic was notoriously unstable and difficult to control, and that alone could explain the rogue dragon’s dark thoughts and behaviour … True or false, it could not be proved until the Grand Master returned from his estates in the north; until the Earl was able to determine his friend’s true purpose without revealing his daughter’s unique abilities.

In the meantime, Root and Quenelda had been sworn to silence. If it became known that the most powerful man at the heart of the ruling Sorcerers Guild was a Warlock, panic would ensue, and law and order break down. The Third Hobgoblin War was going badly, very badly indeed, and now more than ever the Earl needed to maintain the sense of calm and security among the people.

Recently, the SDS Commander believed, there were signs that the thirteen hobgoblin tribes had united, posing the greatest threat to the Seven Sea Kingdoms since the Mage Wars two thousand years before. An attack on the Howling Glen fortress led by the first hobgoblin War Lord Galtekerion, had confirmed his belief; and it had only just been thwarted by Bark Oakley, the Earl’s chief scout and Root’s father, who had lost his life raising the alarm. As a hard year’s campaigning drew to a close and winter blizzards set in early, the Earl had decided to launch a daring pre-emptive strike against the hobgoblins at their breeding grounds on the Westering Isles, hoping to catch the creatures just as they were emerging from hibernation in late spring, weak and disoriented. Strike – before they could breed and swarm. Strike – using the ice shelf which had crept so far south that the long-range Imperials and battlegalleons of the SDS could now reach the remote Westering Isles.

Ignoring his physician’s protestations that his wounds suffered during the Battle of the Howling Glen and at the Royal Joust needed time to heal before he got back in the saddle, the Earl was travelling to Dragon Isle to inspect preparations for the coming spring campaign. And, by special permission of the Queen as a reward for their great bravery, he was taking his daughter, Quenelda, and her esquire, Root, with him. Root had had to leave his own dragon, Chasing the Stars, stabled at Dragonsdome. The fortress at Dragon Isle was no place for the placid herbivore. An unruly battledragon might fancy such a succulent morsel!

‘Wind three knots and rising. Vector heading north-northwest by twenty …’ The Earl Rufus DeWinter’s voice crackled over Quenelda’s helmet. ‘Five leagues and closing. ETA ten bells.’

‘Dragon Isle!’ Quenelda whispered, her breath frosting the inside of her visor.

Dragon Isle
… Two Gulps and You’re Gone echoed, the battledragon’s rising excitement matching her own. He had not returned to his home roost on Dragon Isle since he had been badly injured in the war.

Normally such severely injured battledragons were put down, but Quenelda, using her extraordinary skill of dragon whispering, had helped the Earl’s dragonmaster, the dwarf Tangnost Bearhugger, nurse Two Gulps back to health – an unheard-of achievement. Quenelda had explained to the wounded Sabretooth how Tangnost was going to mend his broken bones and stop infection from making his tail drop off. If she hadn’t been able to calm the unpredictable and bad-tempered battledragon as the dwarf set the fractured bones, they and Tangnost’s apprentice, Root Oakley, would have all been reduced to three pyramids of ash on the floor. Their success had led the Earl to give Quenelda Two Gulps as her own.

We are close … I can hear my brothers and sisters …

Quenelda too could faintly hear the whisper of dragons on patrol above and around them as they flew in and out of range. ‘We’re nearly there,’ she said, turning to Root.

The gnome grinned back at her, not even asking how she knew when, in the freezing fog, they could barely see beyond the tail of the dragon in front. He had long since known that Quenelda had a far keener sense of smell, sight and hearing than any other person in the Kingdoms.

Then came the call that Root had been dreading.

‘On my mark,’ the Earl’s deep voice commanded.

‘Ready?’ Turning in her saddle, Quenelda touched her esquire’s arm reassuringly. ‘You’ll manage. You’ve done really well. Honestly, there’s nothing to worry about. We’re only at three thousand strides. You won’t have to bail out.’

BOOK: Flight to Dragon Isle
7.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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