Chapter 1

The castle walls of Tharden trembled with the force of Dragon Horns, seldom heard but long remembered. Under the steepled roof of South Tower, Ethwin flung from silken sheets to cold stone beneath his feet. The startled king stumbled to the balcony window and stared into the eye of dawn. Slashing rays of daybreak, satin yellow and prismatic white, lanced above Fenmuir Forest, straight into his searching eyes. Ethwin shook his head in disbelief. The call of horns brought him to dragon burnings, to tragic memory, to Lone Knoll.

A second wail shook the tower, sending him to his knees. Ethwin fixed his gaze on the room’s spired ceiling. The walls of Eldoren’s Keep stood tall, still, free from attack. Nothing moved but shattered memories.

“The firedrake is dead!” Ethwin cried behind another blare of trumpets. He jumped to the shrill of a fourth blast and the fear of a dragon reborn. He moved

within the high walls of his ancestral chamber, to a wood cabinet and an axenamed Gleanfire.

The tower door flew open to cries of warning.

“Father!” came the voice of Foren, his oldest son. “Come quickly!”

Ethwin stood reserved and distant, affixed to a nightmare. “Two decades. The dragon cycle turns full circle. The Son of Ker seeks vengeance.”

Foren stepped into the bedroom chamber, gasping. “Spared we are of carnal creation… sentries return from Ester Bend. We must hasten to the gate.”

“No dragon?” Ethwin questioned skeptically. “Who summoned those blasted horns?”

Twelve archers dressed in tunics, leather tights and long forest cloaks, shuffled nervously under the doorway.

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