Book I of The DragonSpawn Cycle (published by Flux)
© 2006 Terie Garrison
Available in hardcopy and on Kindle
In a number of YA novels, the acquisition of magic is mistaken for genuine character growth. In AutumnQuest, Terie Garrison gives us a believable teenage protagonist who discovers that not even magic and powerful friends can substitute for using her own intelligence and courage. AutumnQuest promises the reader an unfolding fantasy world that is both wondrous and relevant to young readers.
-- Robin Hobb
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When my brother told me it was a dragon egg, I naturally didn't believe him. I might be three years younger than he, but at fifteen, I was long past the age when I'd fall for every practical joke he wanted to play on his little sister. Besides, having a dragon egg was high treason, and while Breyard might be a prankster, he was definitely not a criminal.
Still, I decided to play along with his joke. If nothing else, it might be fun to see how far he'd take it.
"Really?" I asked, widening my eyes.
"’Tis," he said with a satisfied nod.
"Can I touch?"
He considered, then shrugged. "Guess so. Don't see what harm you could do."
I reached out a finger and gingerly caressed the foot-long blue egg mottled with tiny pink dots.
A strong vibration pulsed through me for an instant, and, surprised, I snatched my hand away.
"What?" Breyard asked, watching me through narrowed eyes.
"Um, nothing," I said, pulling my hand into the sleeve of my novice's robe so I could rub the tip of my finger secretly. "Just don’t want to hurt it or anything."
"Sure." Breyard was suspicious, so I looked him straight in the eye, hoping I wouldn't give myself away. Fortunately, he looked away first so that he could admire the egg-shaped thing, whatever it was.
As I headed back to my cell to prepare for mid-afternoon meditation, I pondered just that: what was it?
. . .
(That night) I changed into a flannel night-shirt of nondescript grey, put out all the candles, and climbed into bed. The goose-down comforter was perfect for snuggling into on a brisk Autumn night, and I curled up under it.
A quiet rap on my door interrupted my drowsing off. I pulled the comforter away from my head and listened, hoping it had been my imagination. Then I heard Breyard whisper my name.
I threw back the covers and took the three steps to the door. Unlatching it, I started to formulate a scathing reply, but then I saw his face.
"C'mon," he said, reaching out with a trembling hand and taking my arm, pulling me gently.
"What?" I poked my head out the door and looked up and down the corridor. "You're not supposed to be here. And it’s past curfew, too."
"I need your help. Hurry."
I was tempted to shut the door on him. But then, much like the scent of summer flowers on a breeze, a sense of his distress wafted over me. The hair on my arms felt as if it were standing up. I tried to shake the feeling off.
"Wait a second," I said. He made an impatient noise but waited while I pulled a robe over my night-shirt and slipped on a pair of sandals.
He held my hand as we sped through the dimly lit corridors. No one was around, not even teachers, so it must be even later than I'd thought. But we could still run into night staff, and then we’d be in big trouble. Breyard knew that, so this must really be an emergency.
My heart leapt to my throat as the thought occurred to me that it must be something about our parents. That was the only thing that would explain--
But then we were past the corridor that led to the headmaster's office, and if it were our parents, we would surely have been going there.
I pulled back and tried to stop.
"Will you tell..." I started.
"Shh. Just come. Please." Breyard looked back at me, a pleading look in his eyes. I kept moving.
We headed down a corridor I’d never been in before: the boys' block. He finally stopped in front of a door. It better be his cell door, I thought. He opened it a crack and peeked inside, then, apparently satisfied, pushed it open. He reached for my hand again and pulled me into the cell behind him. I closed the door, careful not to make a sound. Breyard let out a noisy sigh.
"Now will you tell me what’s going on?" I demanded. I didn't shout at him the way I wanted to. Raised voices could be heard beyond the thick, stone walls.
"I don’t know, but look." He pointed to his bed. The egg lay upon it, twitching. I stepped nearer. "What do you think is happening?" he asked.
"How should I know?" I scowled up at him in disbelief that he'd got me out of bed for this. "It's your stupid joke. What are you asking me for?"
"This isn't a joke, Donavah," he hissed.
I looked at him through narrowed eyes. "All right. You got me. Satisfied? I've broken all kinds of rules to follow you here. I can't believe...." I turned around to leave, but Breyard grabbed my arm and pulled me back into the centre of the room.
"I'm serious. This really isn't a joke." Even in my annoyance, I could hear a note of desperation in his voice. And as if to prove he was telling the truth, a loud CRACK! echoed off the walls.We both looked at the egg, only to find that it wasn’t an egg anymore. A small red dragon tentatively stretched out its wings and creeled softly in hunger.
© 2006 Terie Garrison
Want more? Read an excerpt from WinterMaejic.
(courtesy Mr. Pan d'Monium, age 35, used with permission)