It’s release day for Catching Dragons by speculative fiction author Stephanie Ayers. Check out this fun excerpt provided below. Hope you love it and purchase this book today. It is book two in the series so hurry and grab book 1 here for 99¢.
“You look hungry. Care for an apple?”
Wallas eyed the apple carefully as his stomach grumbled in complaint. Was this trickery or kindness? Forest dwellers were not known for their generosity. The woman still held the apple out, and he took it from her.
“I am not hungry now.” He turned the apple over and examined it. Its blood red skin teased of sweetness. “I daresay this will come in handy later in my return home.” He put the apple in his pocket and offered a small bow. “I am Wallas Eleasar, Counselor to King Teodric Wynne of Northend.”
The woman rose from the ground and offered a small curtsy back, spreading her patchwork skirt between her fingers. “I am Ulia MacDougal, daughter of Lord Alfrey.” She pointed to the trees on the east side of the city. “We live just beyond the treeline. My father is a farmer, we have many flowering and fruit-bearing trees under our care.” She sat back down and spread out a small blanket in front of her and pulled more fruit from the basket.
Wallas’ stomach gurgled in appreciation. He had not packed much food, nor expected to be refused entry into the Holy City. She had not invited him to join her, so he remained where he was. His instincts still screamed warnings, but he ignored them. It could be a product of his own fear that kept him from befriending someone who had been nothing but kind since they met.
She patted the center of the blanket in invitation. “Might as well eat while you’re waiting. Come on, I have plenty.” As if to prove her point, she held the basket up. Despite the array of fruit spread on the blanket—more apples, and oranges, pears, peaches—the basket overflowed.
Impossible, he thought, but his stomach interrupted. He cast his eyes to the trees on the east, hoping to catch sight of her father’s farm. Something, anything to assure him and put his sixth sense at ease, but he saw nothing. Don’t be impolite, his mind said. He sat on the ground across from Ulia but did not touch the fruit.
She shrugged her shoulders and picked up a peach. She bit into it and closed her eyes as juices ran from the corners of her mouth. “Mmm. I swear we grow the sweetest peaches on Savania!” He watched hungrily as she finished the meat and tucked the pit into her basket. She reached for another peach and held it out to him. “Peaches are my favorite. Are you sure you don’t want one?”
Wallas hesitantly accepted the peach. He looked it over carefully, not sure what he was looking for, but still suspicious. Ulia picked up an orange this time and began peeling it, observing him all the while. Laughter filled her eyes, and he relaxed a bit.
He took a bite from the peach, surprised to discover she was right. It was the sweetest peach he had ever tasted. “I’m sorry. Your hospitality is not unappreciated. It’s just hard to know who to trust these days. There are many in the forest who appear kind but would be just as quick to stab you in the back while you sleep.”
Ulia nodded. “Yes, and some might even poison the very same fruit they eat.”
Wallas’ face turned ashen. He looked at the peach again, almost completely gone, and set it down. His eyes rounded as his stomach complained again, this time not out of hunger. He retched once, twice, five times before his bowels quieted long enough for him to breathe. His face crinkled in distaste at the sickly sweetness that had filled his mouth. His stomach rumbled with the beginnings of another round.
Ulia wasted no time rushing to his side, a small knife drawn. As he fell backwards, she pulled her arm back, ready to strike.
A reluctant hero, an enchanted kingdom, a crazed prince…
Out of the ashes of doubt, courage is born.
As Derik whisks Edgar away from Willowglen where he’d been championing the dwarves, he can’t help but wonder what has really happened to his kingdom since his departure. Tales of an attack from the sky and an army of black knights precede him, and nothing is as Edgar expects when he arrives back home in Northend. His city lies under an enchantment, and they need him to break it. Tasked with regaining his lost magick and armed with a pouch of fairy dust, Edgar is determined to do the right thing.
Will he find the courage to confront the man responsible for his father’s death or will he run away like the coward Derik believes him to be?
Stephanie Ayers is an international bestselling author who writes speculative fiction, where horror and fantasy collide. A self-proclaimed word whisperer, she is a unicorn disguised as a human living in southwestern Ohio and a member of the Ohio Writers Association. She mothers her children and avoids all things housework and zombies. When she isn’t doing any of these things, she can be found browsing thrift stores and flea markets with her husband, attending football games with her son, or binging on TV shows.
Her debut novella, Til Death Do Us Part, was published in 2013, and her work appears in several anthologies and collections, notably Absolution, Flash Fiction Addiction, and the upcoming Bending Time. She currently has two serials to her name, the stand-alone horror volumes of The 13 series and her new high fantasy, the Destiny Defined series, which debuted March 7, 2019.
Her favorite quote is: “The blank page is a canvas on which the writer paints a story.”-Stephanie Ayer
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