This holiday season we are featuring guest blogs from a number of authors. We want to offer you cool books to check out for yourself or gifts, and also give these great authors a chance to crow a little about their works!
Please help me welcome Dina von Lowenkraft today, who generously shares the first chapter of her award-winning book, DRAGON FIRE.
Torn between his forbidden relationship with Anna, that could cost them both their lives, and restoring his family’s honor by killing June, Rakan must decide what is right. And what is worth living – or dying – for.
Thanks for joining us today, Dina!
by Dina von Lowenkraft
Chapter 1 The Circle Tightens
The candle flickered in the subzero wind but Anna made no move to protect it. She stopped on the hill in front of Tromso’s three-year high school and watched the water of the fjord shimmer below. Even though it was mid-afternoon there was no sun, just the luminous reflection of the moon. The procession of students continued on without her, leaving only the fading sound of crunching snow in their wake.
“You seem as eager to go to Fritjof’s memorial vigil as I am,” June said, startling Anna with her sudden appearance.
Anna fingered the oval piece of bright orange coral that she had carried around like a talisman since she was a child. She usually kept it in her pocket, but today she wanted to feel its soothing energy closer and had it in her glove. She had never liked Fritjof, and even though she wasn’t glad he had died, she wouldn’t miss him.
She turned to face June whose cobalt blue eyes were at odds with her otherwise Asian features. June and her boyfriend had also been out on the mountain when the avalanche claimed Fritjof. “I’m glad it’s not yours too,” Anna said. “I’d really miss you.”
“It would take more than an avalanche to kill me,” June said, trying to smile. But Anna could feel her friend’s pain lurking under the surface.
“Hey.” She wrapped an arm around June to comfort her. But as soon as her hand touched June’s shoulder, a burst of energy exploded from her stone. Anna ripped off her glove and the piece of coral went flying. “What the—”
June spun around, pushing Anna behind her as if to protect her from an attack. She scanned the area, her body tensed for a fight.
“Who are you looking for?” Anna pressed her palm to dull the pain as she glanced around the deserted hilltop. “Whatever it was, it came from my stone.”
June relaxed her stance. “Are you okay?”
“I think so.” Anna gestured towards the coral-colored sparks that crackled in the darkness of the Norwegian winter. “What do you think it’s doing?”
“Don’t know.” June crouched down to get a better look. Her hand hovered as a bright green light flashed around the stone.
“Don’t touch it,” Anna said sharply. Her stone had always had a special energy, but never coral-colored sparks. Or green flashes of light.
“It’s okay now.” June pulled her hand back. “Look for yourself.”
Anna knelt next to June. The stone was dark and lifeless and she felt a sudden pang of loss. She prodded it gingerly with her good hand, but felt nothing. She picked it up. It was just a pretty bit of coral. The gentle pulsing energy that she had liked so much was gone.
“Can I see it?” June asked.
Anna nodded, her throat constricted. The stone had always reminded her of her father. Its energy was something he would have been able to feel too. The only other person she had met so far who was open to that kind of thing was June. Everyone else got freaked out, or thought she was crazy. So she had learned not to talk about it.
June closed her fist around the stone. “Where did you get this?” Her voice wavered.
Anna’s attention flicked back to June. She never wavered. “I found it in the mountains. Years ago. Why? What is it?”
“A trigger for what?”
June returned Anna’s searching look. “I have no idea.” She handed the stone back.
“So how do you know it’s a trigger?”
“I just feel it.” June picked up the candles that lay forgotten in the snow. “If you’re okay, we should go.”
Anna picked up her discarded glove and froze. In the middle of her left palm was a star-shaped scar. She stretched her hand to get a better look. It was about the size of a half Krone. She touched it. Like an echo under the fading pain, she could feel the energy of her stone pulsing faintly in her palm.
“Here,” June said, offering Anna a candle. She stopped mid-motion. “What is it?”
“I don’t know. The stone…” She held out her palm. “Look.”
June dropped the candles and took Anna’s hand in hers. Gently, she ran her fingers over the slightly raised ridges of the scar. “A Firemark,” June said as if talking to herself. “But how…?”
“What’s a Firemark?” Anna examined the scar. It was almost silvery in the moonlight.
June looked up, her fingers still on Anna’s palm. “It’s like a living connection between two people. But… there was only the stone.”
“It always felt alive,” Anna said. She touched the Firemark one last time before putting her glove back on. It was warm and smooth.
June shook her head. “But even if it felt alive, it shouldn’t have left a Firemark.”
Anna shrugged. “Maybe. But I like it.” Anna closed her hand around the Firemark. It felt like she was holding her stone. She smiled. She’d never lose it now.
June re-lit the candles again and handed one to Anna. “Ready?”
Anna hooked her arm through June’s. “I think so.” They walked silently through town and across the bridge that straddled the green-black fjord.
“Do you think it’s over?” Anna eyed the Arctic Cathedral that sprawled like slabs of a fallen glacier on the other side of the fjord. It was lit up like a temple of light.
June shook her head. “It’s only just begun.”Amazon: