Land of Dragon

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Land of Dragon

By: Danny Walker CompletedFantasy

Language: English
16

Chapters: 95 views: 148

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Treylen never envisioned himself tracking down his own kin, especially within the confines of family. In the dark recesses of Wetherdin's mines, a sinister scheme unfurls. Dragon eggs are vanishing for the Jaul, and Treylen, along with Aaron and their dragons, must penetrate the covert operation to expose the traitor. Armed with refined spycraft, an enhanced connection with Rime, and the guidance of his mentor, they adopt the guise of visiting nobility to comfortably navigate the mountain lodge while leisurely unraveling the mystery. Yet, as Marziel vanishes on a night marked by murder, and Treylen's family becomes entangled in the intrigue, an imminent deadline emerges. Faced with a decision unprepared for by the abbey, Treylen is compelled to delve deeper into the caverns of the Dragon Lands than he ever imagined.

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95 chapters
1
The BlackslipTreylen ran his hand along the stonework of the old Harvest Keepuntil he discovered a crack wide enough to wedge his fingertips into. Hauling himself up, he found a toehold, then squinted at the narrow balcony overhead and plotted out the path he would take by the glow of the young moon.The blackslip for the Viscount of Silbray had come down from Tillage on a mule that morning. The young monks of Coops Abbey shrieked when it fell from a peck of berries in the courtyard and wouldn’t touch it lest the queen’s shadow fall upon them. But Sister Ono had snatched it up, jammed it into her pocket and beat them back to their work in the kitchen.She gave them all a start again by tossing it down in front of Marziel at dinner. The old assassin barely glanced at it before passing it off to Treylen.Treylen had never received one before, but he knew what it meant and summoned a flicker of dragon sight. The silver script of a name had shimmered over the blackened paper—Gilwin Sule
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2
“He’s a good man.” She shuddered, a tear welling in one eye, she blinked it away. “And dear to us all.” Finally, she looked away, hanging her head.“It’s not my decision,” Treylen said. “Stay quiet.”“Yes, assassin,” she said, and sank down to slump on the stone, unmoving.Treylen sighed and turned away as Rime raced down the walkway checking for any more hidden watch. Treylen wiped his dagger on the cape of the dead man, frowning at the body.Marziel said the guards would welcome us. He sent the thought to Rime. He’d been party to a number of killings, but few by his own hands. Up until now the majority had at least deserved it. This poor fool was a different story. They were supposed to stand down when he showed his dagger. Every Iveran soldier knew the shape of the Queen’s Fingers. Treylen followed the dragon to the end of the walkway and peered down to the balcony below. Rime waited beside him.Maybe they love their viscount. Rime scurried down and sniffed around the outside of th
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3
The Oxcart The oxcart rumbled north along the white gravel of the Queen’sRoad. Treylen and Aaron sat opposite Marziel on makeshift benches that the cartwright of Signet Lake Village had installed for their trip. Rime and Felicity chased each other through the fields, keeping pace alongside and terrifying the local farmers, who’d rarely seen a single assassin traveling openly, let alone a trio in an oxcart.The bard they’d brought back from Lome was named Atrop. He sat in the driver’s seat, whistling the songs he’d sung in Marziel’s tavern. Half of them were Jaul tunes—thus forbidden in Iverna—but ever since they’d brought him back over the mountains, Marziel had given him free rein to do and say what he pleased, and he was popular around the abbey.A bard with a wealth of stories, from past and present, near and far, who would sing anything at any time upon request, but said nary a word about himself. Treylen questioned the wisdom of keeping such a man in the abbey, let alone brin
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4
The OfferingTreylen watched a trickle of blood as it flowed through a narrowchannel carved into the floor of the antechamber. There’d been no screams when the blood started, only the soft murmur of conversation from the top of the stairs in front of them.All he could do was watch it run beneath his feet and wonder what was happening up above.There was nothing else to look at. The staircase blocked the view of the audience hall, and the passage behind them curved out and away toward the palace ground. Six guards bracketed them, dressed in matching blue tabards over delicate silver mail that shone like the scales of a river fish. Each carried a polearm with a blade affixed to the top, its point angled inward toward the visitors.Treylen tried to remain stock-still like the guards. Rime sat on his shoulder as he’d been instructed, sniffing the air. Felicity rested on the floor between him and Aaron, doing her best to appear disinterested in the blood. Whatever Marziel had told the dr
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5
“The throne was made for you, my queen.”“It doesn't always feel that way,” the girl blushed. She looked from side to side at her advisers.Treylen lifted his head and glanced between them. They were dressed in the same pale finery as the rest of the circle, but no assassins loomed next to them. A man and a woman. Both were taller than the stout girl on the throne and easily thirty years her senior, although their wrinkled cheeks and downturned lips had enough fullness to bear a familial resemblance. An aunt and an uncle, maybe. Whoever they were, they were privileged enough to slouch against the sides of the tall back throne.“My grief at the former queen’s leaving was tempered only by my joy at your ascension.” There was humor in his voice as he said it. He knew that he had crossed some line. The assassin standing nearest to them drew his blade, but a glance from the woman to the Queen's right and the blade returned to its scabbard.“No little O-lee from you?” The queen laughed. “Yo
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6
The Corpse “I’ve always known you were idiots, but I never expected Aaron tobe the greater of the two.”Treylen didn’t hear Marziel. He was too focused on making sure his friend’s head was tilted so he didn't choke on the blood running from his mouth. The five of them, assassins and their dragons, waited in a rough stone chamber deep beneath the palace.When the guards had first brought them, dragging Aaron, who’d been in and out of consciousness, Treylen had worried that they were heading into the dungeons. But then he had smelled the unmistakable odor of dragons just before the caves appeared. They were wide chambers on either side of the hallway, with small alcoves carved into the walls where the assassins slept. Bone and coins piled the ground under the dragons’ nests. The dragons snoozed at the center of these rooms while their bondmates served the court in the Palace above.Another hallway passed more alcoves, and they headed down a spiraling staircase which led them to a pl
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7
The Gorge The last remnants of winter clung to the mountaintops over thenarrow river gorge, but down below, on either side of the path, daffodils and large buds sprouted that would soon open into irises and lilies. It was a narrow road that ran along the side of the river. Rime and Felicity were in good spirits again now that Aaron was awake and recovering. They dove and splashed in the shallow waters as the cart wound north between the mountains.Aaron lay in the footwell of the cart between Treylen and Marziel. He elbowed Treylen then handed him a slate with marks on it. Treylen’s tongue was still swollen from the ritual, but he read the words as best he could. “Lucky, the job ith in Iverna.”“Is that so?” Marziel glared at Aaron. “You think you're lucky?”“Easy, Marziel.” The bard, still driving the cart, reached a hand back and clapped him on the shoulder. How he’d rolled into the queen’s stables without an inquisition was anyone's guess, but the stable hands were all si
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8
Just above the work yards was the clan house. One of the oldest structures in the city, these were the communal living quarters of Wetherdin’s original inhabitants. Marziel had said that they’d existed long before the city came under the rule of the queen. There was no love lost between the clan and the Iveran nobility who lived above them. These would be the hardest communities to infiltrate, especially once they learned that Treylen was lodging with the countess. The clan was the group who had the most reason to betray their queen. By dumping Aaron in the lower section, Marziel’s hope was that he might catch the eye of the clan leaders and be invited to lodge with them.The community above the clan house was a patchwork of smaller dwellings belonging to those who had moved here from the rest of Iverna. They were craftspeople, merchants, and overseers. Most were citizens, but a few serfs worked in the mines as well. They weren't as insular as the clan and Marziel had assured him that
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9
The WelcomeSomething about the town felt like home for Treylen. It had thesame hum of business as the city he had grown up in. At the same time, no matter where he walked in Wetherdin, he was near the cliff’s edge. In that way it was more like the Abbey, which was more his real home anyway. This, together with his grandfather’s tower, lent the distinct feeling that he fit here.The locals might have disagreed.More people emerged as they ascended the staircase between shacks of the scrap yard. Heads peeked out of windows; men and women in simple clothing stood in the narrow alleys between the stacked houses, staring openly.As they ascended to the level of the clan hall the buildings were no longer crowded. Instead, the staircase cut through a wide open courtyard that resembled the training yard at Coops Abbey. The rock face had been carved away to create an alcove and give more room for the clan hall entrance whose plain façade of unblemished stonework seemed to meld into the cliff
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10
The ViewAs they reached the balcony of the western lodge, they crested thetop of the cliff and were afforded their first views of the mountain range that lay beyond. Boulder-strewn slopes dotted with scrub brush and tumbled rocks lent a desolate quality to the landscape and cut a stark contrast to the verdant gorge they’d just ascended from. Jagged peaks of the Dragon Lands stretched into the distance, like a black, roiling sea.The Count Tsoro awaited them at the top of the stairs. A short man with too many medals on his chest, he wasn't half as charming as his brightly- dressed aide and right away began to interrogate Mauridin’s qualifications as a mine director.Marziel deflected enough, reminding their hosts of his mandate from the queen. There was little point—he said—in divulging expertise until he could be sure the recipients were competent enough to put it to proper use. An insult blunt enough to bludgeon them into silence.As soon as the formal greeting ended, Marziel was i
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