Table of Contents
DAW Books Presents
The Annals of Drakis:
SONG OF THE DRAGON (Book One)
CITADELS OF THE LOST (Book Two)
Copyright Â© 2011 by Tracy and Laura Hickman.
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Book Collectors No. 1552.
DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
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ISBN : 978-1-101-54838-7
First Printing, July 2011
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
HECHO EN U.S.A.
I would like to thank Sheila Gilbert, without whose help this book would not shine so brightly.
HE THROATS OF A THOUSAND DRAGONS answered the call.
Drakis took several steps back from the towering statue, awestruck by the shapes rising from the craggy peaks beyond. He glanced back at the statue, the craning neck with the ridge of scales curving down to the horn-spiked head with bladelike long teeth onto the ancient marble base, the enormous stone wings rising straight up over a hundred feet, and the gigantic claws gripping the glowing crystal globes. His gaze jumped back to the mountaintops and the shadows pulling their way closer to him through the evening sky. Dragons . . . real dragons! Even from this distance of several leagues he could make out some details of the enormous monsters, their great wings sweeping forward and scooping the air down and back with every stroke. The sound of their shrieking calls rolled down the mountainside and shook the wide pedestal on which he stood, carrying away with it every other sensation. It encompassed him, shot through him, and drowned out everything else. Somewhere nearby the muffled voice of Urulani shouted through the noise, calling her men to gather closer around the statue and ready their weapons.
What were their names?
he vaguely wondered. The dwarf, he knew, was also shouting nearby but his voice sounded more distant than the dragon calls and his movements seemed slow. Ethis was pulling at the dwarf, dragging him back onto the pedestal and closer to the foldâthe magical portal sphere of radiant blue light that had opened at the base of the statue. Beyond the portal fold and through its shining blue haze he could see a land of dense foliage and distant towers but it seemed so very far away. Mala lay sobbing hysterically at his feet . . .
Mala, his Mala . . . the Mala who had betrayed them all because Drakis had heard the song of these dragons and brought them here.
Drakis grabbed her arm, yanking her to her feet. The muffled, confused sounds filling his ears suddenly cleared, and he was at once keenly aware of his surroundings. He had been a warrior not so many months ago, even if that lifetime now seemed like the distant past; his training acted for him. He reached for his sword, pulling it from its scabbard and finding comfort in the sound of the steel blade as it cleared the leather.
“Urulani! Get everyone back to the ship!” Drakis shouted.
“We can't outrun that!” Kendai yelled.
“It's coming here,” Drakis snapped. “It's coming for me. I'll stay hereâcut back and forth through the foldâand keep them at bay until you can get to the ship and think of some way to get me out of this.”
“I'm staying,” Ethis said.
“We'll take them together,” growled the dwarf.
Urulani opened her mouth, but Drakis spoke first.
“You have to get the rest out of here,” Drakis said in the firm voice of command that he had heard so often before from his commanders and which he, in turn, learned to use on those under his leadership. It was a voice that carried its own authority. “You're the captain. You're the only one who can. Take Mala, the Lyric, and your crew, and get help!”
Urulani gritted her teeth and then turned to her men. “Yithri, you and Kwarae bring the Lyric! I've got the princess. We're going back to the
Kendai, Djono, Gantau, and Lukrasae did not require another word. All four bolted from the platform, following their footprints back across the sands.
“So, are you glad you came along, princess?” Urulani said, grabbing the arm of the auburn-haired woman, pulling her away from Drakis. The harder she pulled, however, the more firmly Mala gripped Drakis as though he were her only jetsam in a sea of fear. Urulani, after considerable effort, managed to pull her free. “Let's go!”
“NO!” Mala screamed, her hands shaking as her head and eyes began darting about. “The monsters are out there! They've come from my dreams! They've come for my soul!”
“We don't have time for this!” Drakis barked, his eyes fixed on the dark shapes wheeling above them in the sky.
“You heard the man, princess . . .”
Mala shoved Urulani backward with a mindless, animal roar.
The captain quickly recovered her footing.
“Fair warning,” Urulani said as she pulled back her arm and smacked a quick fist across Mala's cheek.
Mala, however, did not drop. She staggered backward several steps before her eyes went wideâand then Mala erupted into a fury. With a ferocity and speed that shocked Drakis, she clawed suddenly at Urulani's face.
Just as suddenly, the Lyric pulled her arms free of Kwarae and Yithri, leaping on Urulani's back.
“By the gods!” Drakis shouted, reaching over to try and pull the Lyric from the captain's back. “Get them out of here!”
“Gantau!” Bloody red streaks opened up along Urulani's midnight skin. “Get back here! Lend a hand!”
Gantau slid to a stop in the sand, turned, and rushed back to the platform. By the look on his face, Drakis knew the man was afraid but obeyed.
Drakis managed to pull the Lyric off of Urulani's back. He pushed Mala behind him but she was still sobbing and as afraid of the portal as of the approaching dragons. She pushed back against him from behind. Drakis struggled to keep his footing on the slippery marble.
“Good luck, princess!” Urulani said. “Men of Sondau! Let's get out of here!”
“It's too late, they're already here,” Drakis bellowed. “Ethis! You and Jugar watch the sides and each other's backs! Urulani, get what's left of your men to form up with our backs to the fold. The plan's still good . . . we'll drop back through the fold if we need to and hold on the other side until your men bring help.”
“What kind of help do you think they can bring against that?” Urulani asked, pointing to the sky.
Three of the great shadows in the deepening evening sky were ahead of the rest, their shrieking cries seeming to cut directly through Drakis' ears.
“When do we fire?” Kwarae asked, but there was a strange quiver in his voice.
The song returned to Drakis' head like a thundering chorus of a thousand voices.