Lioness of Kell
Release Date: January 30th 2015
Red Rune Books
Summary from Goodreads:
It was at the break of dawn, and raining. The branches of the trees around the clearing were heavy with water.
Jurgis shivered. ‘Chilly.’
‘You’re afraid,’ Maud said teasingly.
‘I’m not. When I’m burgling a house, I am afraid. Now I’m not... at least not yet. Which herbs do you need?’
‘Kornullia and everline. Won’t be difficult; they’re common enough. While I’m searching, you watch my back.’
‘Gladly,’ the boy said. ‘It’s very pretty.’
Maud’s breathing faltered for a second as sudden desire exploded in her belly. ‘Don’t say that!’ she snarled.
‘Hey! Don’t be mad, I’m not Atark! I didn’t mean anything,’ Jurgis said, stepping back. ‘It was a compliment.’
A deep sigh escaped her, and she unclenched her hands. ‘It’s all right. You have much to learn about Kells.’
‘Tell me what I said wrong.’
Maud looked at him; the boy seemed earnest enough. ‘Another time. It’s rather personal.’ She felt embarrassed by her feelings and went tight-lipped around the clearing, searching the high grass and underneath the bushes for the herbs she needed.
At last, with her hands full of stems and leaves, she stretched. ‘We’ve got quite a haul and all fresh. She’ll....’
‘What’s that?’ Jurgis’ puzzled voice interrupted her and she gazed at the sky.
‘I thought I saw a bird,’ Jurgis said.
Maud looked at him. ‘So?’
‘A giant bird. Red-spotted green. Breathing sparks.’
‘You’re trying to be funny?’
‘Only it isn’t a bird, it’s a lizard.’ Jurgis waved upward. ‘Gosh, look at those teeth!’
Now Maud saw it, too. A great winged reptile, child of a salamander and a crocodile. With a tail easily twice its body length, and four taloned limbs. It grew larger as it came near, its body undulating as if swimming in the air. The spots on its green scales were blood red and its toothy mouth smoked as if fires stoked its flight.
‘Divine Otha! That’s a wyrm!’ Dropping the herbs, Maud put her hands to her mouth and cried, ‘Hallo, the boat! Alarm! Alarm!’
The dirigible’s captain appeared in the cabin door, and Maud pointed. At that moment, the wyrm dove. The captain slammed the door closed, but whatever she planned to do, she didn’t make it. With a roar, the wyrm attacked, spitting lightning. The balloon’s outer cover wasn’t made to withstand fire; it crackled and melted, and with an indescribable sound, the gas compartment burst into flames. Then, while the wyrm climbed higher for a second dive, the clearing became bright as daytime as the floatgas in the balloon turned the whole dirigible into a ball of fire.
Maud lifted up her head and uttered a cry of bone-chilling rage.
‘Back!’ She felt Jurgis gripping her biceps, but she couldn’t move.
‘It’s goin’ to crash.’ His excited voice tugged at the rage that shook her. Deep in her mind, a small spot of sanity agreed with the thief, and she didn’t resist as he dragged her into the forest’s edge.
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