Read Dragon War: The Draconic Prophecies - Book Three Online
Authors: James Wyatt
“Innovative twists, like the cyborg-like warforged and the tattoos that determined the character’s house and how powerful they were with magic, gave the book an upbeat edge. Storm Dragon … is recommended for lovers of fantasy fiction.”
—Bret Jordan, Monster Librarian
“James Wyatt’s writing is good and quick with a lot of action throughout the story. I will wait with bated breath to find out what happens next.”
“Wyatt (In the Claws of the Tiger) effectively mixes political intrigue with action. This high-stakes adventure, full of violence, magic and suspense, should entertain gamers and epic fantasy fans.”
“When the story starts rolling Wyatt antes up his narrative game (especially with the mysterious shapeshifter Darraun) and churns out an exciting tale of power and self-destiny.”
“Every James Wyatt novel I read is a delight—may there be many, many more!
—Ed Greenwood, author of
The Swords of Eveningstar
The Queen of Stone
Son of Khyber
The Fading Dream
The Doom of Kings
Word of Traitors
The Tyranny of Ghosts
This one’s for Mom.
Thanks for reading my crazy books
and displaying them on your shelf
Thunder is his harbinger and lightning his spear.
Wind is his steed and rain his cloak.
The words of creation are in his ears and on his tongue.
The secrets of the first of sixteen are his
In the darkest night of the Dragon Below,
storm and dragon are reunited,
and they break together upon the legions of the Blasphemer.
The maelstrom swirls around him.
He is the storm and the eye of the storm
His is the new dawn.
In him the storm cannot die.
His are the words the Blasphemer unspeaks,
his the song the Blasphemer unsings
t began as an itch, a minor annoyance that grew until it woke him in the night. Gaven sat by the door of his cell, scratching at his neck, his shoulder, his arm, until his skin was raw. By morning it was a raging fire on his flesh, and he began to feel the lines.
He hadn’t understood them then, the twisting lines of his dragon-mark. Or had he? His mind was so lost in the Prophecy while he was in Dreadhold. Had he unknowingly mumbled the verses that wrote themselves on his skin?
They first appeared as white marks against his red skin, raised like welts. A guard noticed them while Gaven was out in the yard. He yanked Gaven’s hair to pull him down for a closer look, ready to summon a healer. His eyes grew wide when he realized what he was seeing, patterns similar to the one on the warden’s hand. He ran to tell his superiors, and Gaven stood in the yard, looking up at the clouds that churned the sky.
When the first fork of lightning struck the prison tower, Gaven laughed. He spread his arms and tasted the rain on his lips. The guards began to clear the yard, herding the prisoners back indoors. They sent four guards for Gaven. When they laid hands on him, the rain turned to searing acid, and cries of pain and surprise filled the yard. Another blast of lightning hit the high tower, and for a moment it seemed that the prisoners might revolt, as though the storm raged in their own hearts. Ducking their heads against the rain, the guards dragged Gaven to the nearest door. Gaven laughed at the acidic shower that seared his skin, laughed at the fist-sized hailstones that pummeled the last stragglers, laughed as lightning speared a guard on the outer wall.
He didn’t resist as they dragged him through the corridors, carried him up the stairs, and threw him in his cell. He could hear the hailstones clattering on the stone roof above him, and he marveled at the elegant
blue loops and swirls that stood out clearly on his skin, still burning, but also cool, refreshing.
He was marked after all. Wouldn’t his father be proud?
* * * * *
The thunder of the storm had been so loud that Aunn could no longer hear his own voice. He stepped closer and saw the dragonshard clutched to Gaven’s chest. Gaven rocked the shard like a baby, gently, back and forth, his glassy eyes fixed on the stone in his hands, the brilliant red lines of his dragonmark coiled within it. The wrecked husk of the Dragon Forge loomed around them, the roof wrenched open by Gaven’s storm, steam rising in great billowing clouds from the infernal furnaces.
“Gaven, look at me.” Aunn still couldn’t hear himself speak. Perhaps Gaven had been deafened, too. He reached out a hand but stopped just short of Gaven’s shoulder. Last time—
They had been in the jungle of Aerenal, the cool of the evening beginning to clear the humid air. Gaven clutched the Eye of Siberys to his chest, rocking it forward and back. Aunn shook Gaven’s shoulder, trying to jolt him out of his trance or stupor. When it didn’t work, he threw a punch at Gaven’s chin. But he never connected. A clap of thunder sent Aunn sprawling on his back
Aunn wished they were back in Aerenal, holding the Eye of Siberys as Haldren puffed toward them. Aunn would do everything differently. He’d show Gaven his true face, and they’d work together to find Rienne, put a stop to Haldren’s scheme before it cost hundred of lives at Starcrag Plain, stop Kelas too. There would be no clash of dragons, no Dragon Forge. And they wouldn’t end up in the wreckage of the Dragon Forge, with Gaven lost in the depths of his dragonshard.
We wouldn’t be here now, he thought.
“Come on, Gaven,” he said, shaking Gaven’s shoulder. His ears had begun to ring as they rebounded from the thunder’s assault. Gaven gave no sign that he could hear any better than Aunn could.
There was so much he wanted to say, so much he had to explain, so many questions he needed answered. He shook Gaven’s whole body, pushed him from side to side, but he couldn’t break Gaven’s glassy stare.
“Please come back,” he said, taking Gaven’s head in his hands and staring into his eyes, trying to will Gaven to meet his gaze.
He felt Cart’s hand on his shoulder, glanced back, and saw Ashara there,
her hands folded around Cart’s arm, fear etched on her face. In Aerenal, Cart had knelt beside him after Gaven’s thunder knocked him back, making sure he wasn’t badly hurt, while Senya stood beside them both.
He dropped to his knees beside Gaven and rested his head on Gaven’s unmoving shoulder. At last he heard his own voice, howling his grief.
* * * * *
Arnoth stood over Gaven, holding out his hand and smiling. Gaven looked up, weak from his ordeal. Why was his father smiling? He had failed the Test of Siberys.
“A Siberys mark,” Arnoth said. “Gaven, I’m so proud.”
Gaven looked down at his skin. No, he wasn’t the young man on the brink of death, scorched by the sun and parched by the ocean wind. He was strong, and the Mark of Storm flowed over the rippling muscles of his chest and arm.
“Thank you, father.” Gaven took his father’s hand and stood, then stepped into Arnoth’s embrace.
“I love you, son.”
Searing pain choked the words from his throat. Something wrenched Arnoth out of his arms. His dragonmark burned, scorching his skin.
His father was pulling away, eyes wide with terror. “Help me, Gaven!”
Smoke rose from his shoulder and arm—his mark was burning away to nothing. He stretched a feeble hand toward his father, but then Arnoth was gone.
Gaven slumped to the ground, his dragonmark stripped from his skin.
* * * * *
Without Starcrag Plain, there would have been no clash of dragons, no Soul Reaver, no Crystal Spire. Gaven would not have been the Storm Dragon. The Prophecy would unfold in a different way, a different time and place, far beyond Aunn’s own tiny life.
He could have stopped Kelas before it all got out of hand, before Aunn outlived his usefulness. He would never have gone to the Demon Wastes, never have led Sevren and Zandar to their deaths or witnessed Vor’s sacrifice. He would never have fought alongside the Maruk Dar, and the proud orcs of that city might still be alive, safe from the advancing hordes of Kathrik Mel.
And yet … Aunn wiped his eyes. Without Vor and the Maruk Ghaash’kala, without the utter desolation of the Labyrinth, who would he be? Would the Traveler’s question still haunt him? Where would he have found the will and the conscience to stand against Haldren and Kelas, if not for all the events they set in motion?
“What’s wrong with him?” Ashara’s voice jolted him back to the present.
“I don’t know,” Aunn said. “He seems … gone.”
Ashara walked around Aunn, kicked aside a shard of twisted iron from the forge’s destruction, and knelt in front of Gaven. “Interesting,” she said. Her voice held no trace of emotion, as if she thought Gaven were an unusual magical artifact. Indeed, her attention was focused on the shard, not on Gaven. “I might expect that of a Khyber shard, holding his mind or spirit inside it. But not an Eberron shard.”
“It has his dragonmark,” Aunn said.
“And it has for some time.” Ashara put a hand out to the shard. “Why should it take his mind now?”
Aunn almost stopped her, afraid of Gaven’s reaction. He was too slow. Ashara’s fingertips touched the pink surface of the bloodstone and she closed her eyes in concentration.
Cart shifted, and Aunn looked back over his shoulder. The warforged looked distinctly uncomfortable, flexing his hands into fists and stretching them wide in turn.
Seeing Aunn’s glance, Cart said, “What if it captivates her as well?”
Aunn looked back at Ashara. She smiled without opening her eyes. “She’s fine,” he said. “She knows what she’s doing.”
* * * * *
Gaven was a storm, looking down upon the water churning in his wake. He was a hurricane, riding a blasting wind as long rolls of thunder announced his coming. He was a god, as blindly destructive as the Devourer.
Thunder is his harbinger and lightning his spear.
Wind is his steed and rain his cloak
He shot toward his prey, a city perched on the water’s edge. His winds tore at its banners and stripped the leaves from trees within and outside its walls. Waves broke upon the wharves, washed over the decks of ships and dragged them under, crashed against the city walls. He hurled lightning
like spears at towers and parapets, and his rain sizzled on streets and roofs. People screamed and ran for cover, but there was no shelter from his storm. He blew away shingles and thatch, knocked over walls, stripped away every shred of protection. He stopped his advance and hovered over the city, pouring out destruction.