Congratulations to Laura L Purvis Shoemaker and Gaye Pilgrim for winning bookmarks.
Here are five more excerpts from 'Laurence of Dragon Fame' to give you a little more on what the book is about:
“Punish him again,” said Arturo, standing with Jules in the doorway.
“I was pretending, father.”
“You made a deal. A deal is a promise and you broke it.” Arturo ripped up the contract and glared at his son. “You’ll learn your lesson. Jules, make sure he feels each strike. I’ll be listening. From morning until midnight this week he’ll work my ledgers and I won’t tolerate one mistake. He’ll get two short meal breaks a day. You and your wife will not sneak him more food or I’ll replace you both. I’ll still expect his services this Saturday.”
“As you wish.” Jules waited for Arturo to return to his study. He tugged the boy closer to the house where his father couldn’t see them and removed his belt.
Crack! The sound echoed through the yard into the open study window. With each blow Laurence cried out and tears ran down his face, but not because of any pain. He cried for Jules, who smacked his own booted leg. With each strike he nodded at the boy and Laurence faked his yelps.
When Jules finished, Laurence hugged him. “I’m sorry.”
“Will you behave like this again?”
“No. I don’t like you hurting yourself.”
“Then maybe I haven’t taught you correctly. True knights never give in to tyranny.”
“I hate him, Jules, I honestly hate him.”
Laurence approached the captured creature. Unconsciously, he patted its and the young dragon rubbed its head against Laurence. Somehow Laurence knew to stab it through the neck or the heart, and he prepared to do so. He placed his hand on the beast’s head and was overwhelmed with fear and an unbearable loneliness. Guilt riddled him. Is this what God wanted him to do? Slay the young? Doubt crept in, but he realized the Church, not his God, demanded this.
He stood off to the side. The young dragon turned its head towards him and yelped. It nudged Laurence, its eyes begging him to understand. He recognized the yelps from the previous night. His instincts told him that it pled for comfort, food, and its mother, and he had a strong desire to fulfill its needs, but he raised his sword in preparation. He had made his decision. Pierce its neck.
“You won’t harm it.” The voice resounded angrily in Laurence’s head. He drew back, shocked, and whirled around, his sword at the ready, and he turned his attention to the sky. The knights followed his gaze.
The large black dragon swooped down from the air. With one talon it cracked the chain. With the other, it snatched the infant and flew into the woods.
Zavat smirked then replied,
“Questions you may ask, of four.
These I’ll answer and no more.”
“I don’t care about your rhyme. We’re offering you two full mugs,” countered Pietro.
“You drank from yours. Besides, two mugs but four questions. That’s double the work for barely a swallow. Water doesn’t quench my needs.” Zavat licked his lips.
“You’re clever, aren’t―”
“Stop,” said Laurence. “Remember he’s much older than us and sneaky.”
Pietro scratched his head. “I forgot he’s a trickster.”
“Just wiser.” Zavat stared longingly at the tankards.
“Whom can’t we see?” asked Pietro.
“Elves,” said Zavat nonchalantly.
Pietro made the sign of the cross. “Don’t speak of such creatures. Someone might overhear. Laurence?”
“It’s true, Pietro. Elves are here this night,” replied Laurence.
“Your religion believes they’re demons, but they’re not. You asked. I explained,” said Zavat. “Next question.”
“Why do you call my cousin your son and he calls you his father?”
Finley leered at Laurence. “It appears I found more targets than I expected. I’ll get paid handsomely for her death. I’ll kill you just out of spite.” Finley spat on the ground. “Guess you forgot I’m smarter than you. I figured you’d entered the haunted woods and where you’d come out. What I didn’t expect was that you hung around with these demons.” Finley scanned the group. “What a haul; two portly dragons and some pointy eared devils. I’ll be rich.” Finley edged towards the group, but his fear of the dragons and elves was obvious and the dragons chuckled.
Szah turned to Zavat. “Who’s he calling fat?”
“He means us,” replied Zavat. They chuckled again.
In the wee hours, he walked outside and along the shore. He remembered he’d been a dragon hunter, but much of his adventures were filled with holes. He rubbed his face and stared out at the ocean, lost in thought when Jules called him to breakfast.
Miriam was already eating when he sat down and she placed her hand on top of his. “Did you say hi to Eilwen? She left a bit ago,” said Mariam.
“Who’s Eilwen?” asked Laurence. “I didn’t see anyone. Jules, did we have a visitor?”
Jules shook his head no.
“I remember that egg in crystals,” she said.
“What egg?” asked Laurence.
“The baby dragon.”
“What baby dragon?” asked Laurence.
“Are you feeling alright?” she asked, worried.
“Are you?” he asked, equally anxious.
“Have you heard from Lord Zavat?” she asked.
“Who’s Lord Zavat?” asked Laurence.
Jules listened to the strange conversation, worried for both of them. Later, he wrote a letter to Pietro about his concerns.
Laurence of Dragon Fame, soon to be published.
Love, Honor, and Respect