Hatchling (Tameron and the Dragon)

BOOK: Hatchling (Tameron and the Dragon)
3.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



by Jean Lamb


Book One in the Dragon in Flight series






















If you are ever told you don’t have what it takes—don’t believe them.


You do have magic.


All you have to do is find it.






Cover by Malcolm Horton (
Map by Jay Random. This is a work of fiction, and as such, all characters, geology, and pretty much everything else is fictitious. My thanks to my beloved husband Mike, and all my dear friends who helped support me through the writing of this book. Enjoy!






Chapter 1


Stine attacked. Tameron barely blocked her sword in time and gasped for breath. Full armor was heavy, and he wasn't used to it yet. The battle-hardened old woman facing him thrust again. Tam stepped to his right, and let the sharp-edged metal scrape along his shield.

e struck back. Stine beat his assault out of line, but he recovered quickly. He raised his blade again, only to falter when she whirled and punched his sword-arm with the top of her shield. The sword left his grip and clattered to the floor. Tameron desperately flung his own shield up and crouched down to retrieve his weapon under its cover, but a blow from her boot knocked him over and left him defenseless. He twisted over to grab at her ankles, but she easily evaded him.

"Not bad, not bad," Stine said, letting the point of her blade droop towards the floor. She gave the sword to an assistant and offe
red him a hand up. "When you’re older and stronger, this won't be so easy for me."

dayn Sidian a' Piran wished he was older and stronger now, as he struggled to his feet. He'd be fifteen in two months, but glumly knew it'd be years before he could dream of besting the Protector's arms-mistress. It helped to have fine armor and a sword made at Diesa Tower, but not nearly as much as he hoped for on days like this in the high-ceilinged practice room. The only privilege he had as the Protector's son was having a turn with her at every session.

bowed in respect to Commander Stine, and stood in the back of the spacious room with the rest of the novice guards. He relaxed as Stine picked on someone else to humiliate.

Lorin, one of the other trainees, whispered in sympathy, "Just wait till your powers come in! Then you can get back at her, even if you're not as strong a mage as your father."

Tam smiled. "I know. If my Element is air, then I can read her mind and figure out what she's going to do next. If it's earth, then I'll make her armor too heavy for her." It was only fair, considering what a weight his armor was for him.

Lorin sighed. "But with you
r luck, it'll be water and you'll have to give up fighting!"

"On days like this I don't know if I'd mind!" Tameron said. Healers were sacred. Not even Stin
e would dare strike at him then. Besides, everyone knew that the gift of healing could also bring death.

Lorin shrugged. "Of course, you could get lucky and end up with fire!"

They both smiled. Several other trainees sighed, the look in their eyes giving away their own wishes. Tameron could think of quite a few pranks to play when his magic finally emerged, and knew he wasn't alone.

To be fair, C
ommander Stine was never cruel, but he knew he wasn't the only one who would like to find a way to defeat her without having to work for years to get better. Most of the other novice guards were older than he was, and already knew they had too little of any one Element to give them magical powers.

Was he going to
be like them? It was said that talents like his father’s showed themselves when the body changed from childhood. He was growing fast enough that he sometimes dreamed of what might happen during his first Festival next Midsummer, but he hadn't seen any trace of wizardry in himself so far. Time was passing quickly. Soon everyone else would begin to wonder if he was going to have the powers that separated the rulers of Fiallyn Mor from the rest of the people.

After the practice session, he bathed and changed. Surely he'd learn which Element would rule his life
soon. Some, like his father or the Guardian of the North, had the aid of two. His own silver hair and gray eyes marked him as the child of wizards, while high cheekbones told of a trace of Outsider blood. No foreigners were able to enter this land through Wizardwall without strong magic of their own. Surely that meant he had a strong potential as well. After all, his four brothers and sisters had had magic before their deaths.

As soon as he dressed, he decided he'd waited long enough. He had to know! Tameron received permission from his tutor to skip a study session. He presented himself to Coris Mimn, the Lord Protector's dark-haired, dark-skinned friend, and requested an audience with his father as soon as it was convenient. He waited nearly an hour, but he was used to it. In fact, he was lucky the Protector was even in residence here in Kelemath, rather than on progress in some other city.

It was almost sunset when he was ushered into the small sitting-room behind the large audience chamber. Tameron was proud that he was allowed to bear a weapon into his father's presence. Only favorites like Mimn and Commander Stine had that privilege as well.

Lord Sidian dayn Riallan a' Piran, the Protector of Fiallyn Mor, was a tall, blue-eyed man with red hair turning white at the temples. His long, slim hands caressed his curlwood walking stick, which had a brilliant ruby inset at the top. His bright blue robes were t
rimmed with pale fur, though he rarely felt the cold.

Tameron bent his knee in brief homage, then asked, "Father...I will be fifteen this Midwinter. I wonder...how will I know when I get my powers? Will there be problems because I'm so late? And how will I know what element I'm going to be strong in?" He'd heard horrifying stories about the ordeals of those who developed their magic later than others, but tried hard not to show how frightened he was.

The Protector's remote face tightened in lines of worry. "You have a right to be concerned," he said. "I should have helped you find out a long time ago. I can't believe how fast you've grown!

"But the tests are simple. Turn around."

Tameron obeyed. His father placed both hands on his head from behind for a moment, and then asked, "Do you hear anything?"

"No," Tam said. He
faced the Protector again. "I don't have Air, do I?"

"No, you don't, or you would have heard me mind to mind when I spoke to you that way, or seen a vision of what I meant. Now, tell me if this hurts. The test for fire isn't always easy." Lord Sidian held Tam's hands and muttered under his breath. Small flames arose in his palms, but Tameron was disappointed when he felt nothing. In fact, the tiny flickers of light died out as soon as they touched him.

He shrugged, trying hard not to show how disappointed he was. "It's not Fire, either." Tam had always wanted to share at least
Element with his father.

"I'm afraid not. Your flame
should have risen in response to my own if it were." Sidian sat down again. "However, there are four Elements, not just two." He closed his eyes and appeared to concentrate for a moment.

Not long after, Coris Mimn walked into the room. "You summoned me, my lord?" the younger man asked politely.

Tameron liked his father's friend. The man had always been kind to him, and had been glad to help when the Protector wasn't available. Randor, Tam's chief valet and foster-father, was still only a servant and as such had his limits.

"Yes. I have decided it's time to
test my son for the Element of Water. Nothing complicated, since we're just trying to find out which one he has the most affinity for."

Mimn nodded, and fetched a full cup of water. "Lord Tameron, gaze into it and try to feel what it's like to be in this cup. If your Element is the Shape-changer, you'll know what's going on."

Tam looked down into the cup and heard his father saying something under his breath. He didn't realize what was going on till he noticed the water was suddenly giving off steam. "Nothing," he said. He should have felt hot himself if that was his Element. That left Earth. Despair began to eat at his heart.

The Protector dismissed Mimn and sent for Scholar Tayn, who was an earth-mage as well as Chief of the Archives and Tameron's tutor. The old, thin man unhappily shook his head when Lord Sidian asked him to test Tameron. "I handle his papers and books every day and I've never felt any impression from him on them. Even ordinary people leave more of themselves behind than he does. It's almost as if he isn't there. Odd, really. There's no chance that the Element of Earth is strong in him."

Tameron felt numb. He realized why Mimn and Tayn had been called in separately. What would happen when it became known that the Lord Protector's only child had no magic? After the old tutor was gone, Tam said, "Father, I'm sorry..." His voice cracked. For so many years, he'd been sure that he and his father would be so much closer once he finally had magic.
I’ve failed him

The Protector sighed. "I know. It can't be helped." His face was like stone.

Tam wondered when he was going to be sent away. Children who developed powers, but belonged to common families, were adopted by mages. The opposite was also true. Many ordinary households were paid well to adopt the offspring of mages, though their descendants were usually watched in case the powers had simply skipped a generation.

He bowed his head. "When I must leave, may I go to Randor's family?" he pleaded. Tameron had never forgotten Esa, who had been his wet-nurse and foster-mother since the death of his own when he was born. He still missed her, though it'd been over four years since she died trying to bear twin girls. Even Coris Mimn hadn't been able to save her, and he was a noted healer. Randor, Esa's husband, was the chief of Tam's servants and gave up most of the year to be with him, rather than with his own family on a farm in the hills east of Kelemath. Tam had spent several summers there, and always looked forward to those visits. Since Randor had cared for him so long already, why not become part of that family rather than go to the house of strangers?

His father sat silently, his eyes apparently lost in thought. "It's not as simple as that," the Protector said. "There may be a way you can still be my heir. Many of my own duties have nothing to do with the Elements. Since you are likely to have children with magical powers, you may well be considered a proper Regent for one of them. After all, the Council itself has the right to rule only in the absence of he who will someday sit on the Empty Throne and wear the Dragon Crown. We've made some exceptions already in families with no other heir. I doubt the Council would deny me the right to name my own successor."

"I will do wha
tever you wish, sir," Tam said. He wondered how his father knew his own children would have powers. After all, Lord Sidian had clearly been certain that
would have some, and that obviously wasn't true.

He was confused.
He was glad he wasn't going to be exiled. He cared a lot for old Randor, but the Protector was still his father. But--was this truly going to work? The ruler of Fiallyn Mor was always a mage, and he doubted the Council would allow that much of a change just for him, or for his father's sake.

"I have much to do," Lord Sidian said. "It's getting late
and you'd better rest. If only you weren't so young, or I were younger..."

Tameron bowed and left the chamber. The more he thought about the problem as he walked towards his rooms, the worse he felt. How could he rule a Council of Mages without being one himself? Wouldn't he be at the mercy of their spells? Why, he'd likely be the butt of their jokes, too, as ordinary people always were. Would he know if someone cared for him, or only for his favor? As for next Midsummer, how would he know if a girl really wanted him, or only wished to fulfill her Duty to bear children with powers?

BOOK: Hatchling (Tameron and the Dragon)
3.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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