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The first chapter of A Vow of Dragons and Storms






Page One.

To my reader—

I was a dragon rider, and if you’re reading this, I must be dead.



When a female seeks revenge, society often labels her a monster. I’m the monster in the vampyre society, but they won’t cage me ever again.

The wind and rain whips through my red and black locks of hair as I run, strands lashing my bruised cheek and cut lip every so often. They are nothing compared to the burning of my broken ribs from the rock I just fell over, but I use the pain to fuel myself. The damp moss on the surrounding trees is all I can smell as I run, my legs aching with every slam of my bare feet on the forest floor.

Keep running.

Don’t let them catch you.

You are never going to be a slave to them again, Story Dehana.

Tears fill my eyes as it feels like he is right at my side, whispering encouragement in my ear. My best friend who always believed in me…but he is gone now, and if they catch me, he died for nothing. Narrowly missing a tree, I turn to the left and stumble onto an old stone path, parts of which look like they have been well hidden under years’ worth of plants and dead leaves. In uncovered parts, the soggy mud between the massive stones threatens to pull me in, but I can’t stop. I won’t.

An unnatural silence fills the air, and my heart races.

The vampyres have found me.

I stop, spinning around, breathing heavily as sweat drips down my neck. I have to hide until they pass. I pray to the deities for a safe haven, even if they have shunned me for as long as I can remember. My eyes frantically search for somewhere to hide, somewhere they wouldn’t sense me. My heart leaps with hope when the moonlight shines down through the thick green trees, illuminating the spiralling towers of some kind of house.

If the house has thick enough walls, they might not be able to hear my heartbeat. If I could find a basement… I smile for the first time since entering this forest. Running here was never the plan, but it all went wrong. I might be able to hide from them in there, at least long enough for the vampyres to pass through this part of the Hydra Forest. I blow out one shaky breath before leaving the stone path and running straight towards the spiralling towers that climb higher than the trees themselves. That’s saying something, as the trees around here are gigantic, taller than any building I’ve ever seen, taller than the vampyres’ mighty castles.

Nearly tripping over several logs, I focus on the ground as I run until the forest floor changes to a marked stone pathway. The path leads up to massive metal gates, which are swung open, held in place by thick ivy that has grown over the gates and broken them in parts. At the bottom of the path is a mansion, sitting in the forest, like the deities themselves dropped it here for me. It’s old, mostly derelict, and I bet it’s close to falling down. Four towers mark the corners, with a triangular pointed roof in the middle. A colossal round stained glass window is in the middle of the building, but it’s too dusty and covered in dirt for me to see what is pictured. There are hundreds of triangle windows around the dark stone building, and its massive front doors look slightly ajar. There’s no light coming from inside, just pitch darkness from what I can see. It’s creepy, but I don’t have a choice.

I don’t know what this mansion is doing out here; I wasn’t even aware there were buildings inside the Hydra Forest, and I would know, as I’ve looked over the maps in the weapons room a hundred times. It’s meant to be empty, abandoned to the world. But right now, that mansion is going to be my salvation.

The unnerving silence fills the cold air, like a mist crawling through the forest floor that promises death. A silence that’s only brought by the vampyres when they’re hunting their prey. I need to move. If the birds, rabbits, foxes, and all creatures go silent, then death is not too far away. Death would be a mercy for what I will get if they manage to capture me. I sprint as fast as I possibly can down the path, which is remarkably solid considering that this place must be hundreds of years old. It doesn’t look like a single soul has walked here in a long time.

Daring to glance behind me, I’m surprised to see the gates have slammed shut, locking me into this gigantic garden of the mansion. I frown at that for a second, but I don’t have time to dwell on it, to think about how the gates even shut themselves, when I hear branches cracking in the forest. They are getting close. It’s seconds before I’m standing in front of the massive oak doors that lead into the mansion. They’re slightly open, a small enough gap for me to slide through, and I don’t wait. With my heart racing, I grab the wood door and slowly inch myself through the gap, pushing with all my strength to get through. With a final tug, I fall out of the gap, inside the mansion, right onto hard, cold stone floors and my ribs scream in pain. The doors slam shut behind me, the bang echoing loudly.

My eyes shoot up as lights burn to life on the ceiling, magic held within crystals that form a chandelier that is bigger than me. The square room has beautiful mosaic walls, grey stone floors, and there are two other doors, both the same oak as the front.

This mansion is not derelict inside…and I don’t think I’m alone. A statue of some kind sits between the doors on the other side, and it’s a creature on all fours. It has massive wings spread out and a fierce mouth, baring rows of teeth. It’s familiar…I just can’t remember the name of the creature for a moment until it hits me. Dragon. An extinct creature from the old times. I saw a painting of one in the forbidden books my tutor gave me, only briefly, and it stuck with me how terrifying they look. The dragons and their dragon fae riders are nothing but a whispered fairy tale that the lessborn fae tell their children so they don’t run away into the forests.

How is that statue possible? Not only are dragons extinct, any mention of them is a death sentence. I crawl backwards until my back hits the door. I need to get out of here. I reach up, looking for a handle, finding none. I’m patting the door for some kind of way to get out when I hear a footstep behind me. I turn back to see a man standing in front of the statue, like he appeared out of thin air. The doors never made a sound. The stone wings of the statue spread out behind the stranger, making them almost look like they’re his wings, like this beautiful man could take off into the skies. He looks surprised, absolutely shocked. That makes two of us.

He watches me with pure astonishment for a long time until it’s just uncomfortable. Am I safer in here with this stranger or in the forest with the vampyres hunting me?

“Who are you?” His voice is thick, deeper and stranger than any accent I’ve ever heard before.

“I could say the same thing.” My voice is breathless as I ascend to my feet, plastering my back to the door. “I think I’ve walked into the wrong place. I should get going now, but I can’t find a handle. How do you open the door?”

The male’s eyes widen a fraction. “You’re not going anywhere. No one just walks into here. The dynasty royals will decide what to do with you.”

“Royals?” I dare to ask, my skin paling. There can’t be vampyre royals here. There can’t. I’ve just escaped them. What if I ran into one of their traps? Why would they be out here in the forest in the middle of nowhere without guards? I can’t breathe, I can’t move, as the male walks to me. He doesn’t move like any vampyre I’ve seen or look like them either. His skin is too warm, his hair too blond, too perfect. I do the best thing that I possibly can think of, I dart around him and run, heading straight towards the other doors. I barely get two steps before he’s roughly grabbed me from behind. Something hard slams into the back of my head just as my fingers graze the wing of the dragon.


L

Page One.

To my reader—

I was a dragon rider, and if you’re reading this, I must be dead.

When a female seeks revenge, society often labels her a monster. I’m the monster in the vampyre society, but they won’t cage me ever again.

The wind and rain whips through my red and black locks of hair as I run, strands lashing my bruised cheek and cut lip every so often. They are nothing compared to the burning of my broken ribs from the rock I just fell over, but I use the pain to fuel myself. The damp moss on the surrounding trees is all I can smell as I run, my legs aching with every slam of my bare feet on the forest floor.

Keep running.

Don’t let them catch you.

You are never going to be a slave to them again, Story Dehana.

Tears fill my eyes as it feels like he is right at my side, whispering encouragement in my ear. My best friend who always believed in me…but he is gone now, and if they catch me, he died for nothing. Narrowly missing a tree, I turn to the left and stumble onto an old stone path, parts of which look like they have been well hidden under years’ worth of plants and dead leaves. In uncovered parts, the soggy mud between the massive stones threatens to pull me in, but I can’t stop. I won’t.

An unnatural silence fills the air, and my heart races.

The vampyres have found me.

I stop, spinning around, breathing heavily as sweat drips down my neck. I have to hide until they pass. I pray to the deities for a safe haven, even if they have shunned me for as long as I can remember. My eyes frantically search for somewhere to hide, somewhere they wouldn’t sense me. My heart leaps with hope when the moonlight shines down through the thick green trees, illuminating the spiralling towers of some kind of house.

If the house has thick enough walls, they might not be able to hear my heartbeat. If I could find a basement… I smile for the first time since entering this forest. Running here was never the plan, but it all went wrong. I might be able to hide from them in there, at least long enough for the vampyres to pass through this part of the Hydra Forest. I blow out one shaky breath before leaving the stone path and running straight towards the spiralling towers that climb higher than the trees themselves. That’s saying something, as the trees around here are gigantic, taller than any building I’ve ever seen, taller than the vampyres’ mighty castles.

Nearly tripping over several logs, I focus on the ground as I run until the forest floor changes to a marked stone pathway. The path leads up to massive metal gates, which are swung open, held in place by thick ivy that has grown over the gates and broken them in parts. At the bottom of the path is a mansion, sitting in the forest, like the deities themselves dropped it here for me. It’s old, mostly derelict, and I bet it’s close to falling down. Four towers mark the corners, with a triangular pointed roof in the middle. A colossal round stained glass window is in the middle of the building, but it’s too dusty and covered in dirt for me to see what is pictured. There are hundreds of triangle windows around the dark stone building, and its massive front doors look slightly ajar. There’s no light coming from inside, just pitch darkness from what I can see. It’s creepy, but I don’t have a choice.

I don’t know what this mansion is doing out here; I wasn’t even aware there were buildings inside the Hydra Forest, and I would know, as I’ve looked over the maps in the weapons room a hundred times. It’s meant to be empty, abandoned to the world. But right now, that mansion is going to be my salvation.

The unnerving silence fills the cold air, like a mist crawling through the forest floor that promises death. A silence that’s only brought by the vampyres when they’re hunting their prey. I need to move. If the birds, rabbits, foxes, and all creatures go silent, then death is not too far away. Death would be a mercy for what I will get if they manage to capture me. I sprint as fast as I possibly can down the path, which is remarkably solid considering that this place must be hundreds of years old. It doesn’t look like a single soul has walked here in a long time.

Daring to glance behind me, I’m surprised to see the gates have slammed shut, locking me into this gigantic garden of the mansion. I frown at that for a second, but I don’t have time to dwell on it, to think about how the gates even shut themselves, when I hear branches cracking in the forest. They are getting close. It’s seconds before I’m standing in front of the massive oak doors that lead into the mansion. They’re slightly open, a small enough gap for me to slide through, and I don’t wait. With my heart racing, I grab the wood door and slowly inch myself through the gap, pushing with all my strength to get through. With a final tug, I fall out of the gap, inside the mansion, right onto hard, cold stone floors and my ribs scream in pain. The doors slam shut behind me, the bang echoing loudly.

My eyes shoot up as lights burn to life on the ceiling, magic held within crystals that form a chandelier that is bigger than me. The square room has beautiful mosaic walls, grey stone floors, and there are two other doors, both the same oak as the front.

This mansion is not derelict inside…and I don’t think I’m alone. A statue of some kind sits between the doors on the other side, and it’s a creature on all fours. It has massive wings spread out and a fierce mouth, baring rows of teeth. It’s familiar…I just can’t remember the name of the creature for a moment until it hits me. Dragon. An extinct creature from the old times. I saw a painting of one in the forbidden books my tutor gave me, only briefly, and it stuck with me how terrifying they look. The dragons and their dragon fae riders are nothing but a whispered fairy tale that the lessborn fae tell their children so they don’t run away into the forests.

How is that statue possible? Not only are dragons extinct, any mention of them is a death sentence. I crawl backwards until my back hits the door. I need to get out of here. I reach up, looking for a handle, finding none. I’m patting the door for some kind of way to get out when I hear a footstep behind me. I turn back to see a man standing in front of the statue, like he appeared out of thin air. The doors never made a sound. The stone wings of the statue spread out behind the stranger, making them almost look like they’re his wings, like this beautiful man could take off into the skies. He looks surprised, absolutely shocked. That makes two of us.

He watches me with pure astonishment for a long time until it’s just uncomfortable. Am I safer in here with this stranger or in the forest with the vampyres hunting me?

“Who are you?” His voice is thick, deeper and stranger than any accent I’ve ever heard before.

“I could say the same thing.” My voice is breathless as I ascend to my feet, plastering my back to the door. “I think I’ve walked into the wrong place. I should get going now, but I can’t find a handle. How do you open the door?”

The male’s eyes widen a fraction. “You’re not going anywhere. No one just walks into here. The dynasty royals will decide what to do with you.”

“Royals?” I dare to ask, my skin paling. There can’t be vampyre royals here. There can’t. I’ve just escaped them. What if I ran into one of their traps? Why would they be out here in the forest in the middle of nowhere without guards? I can’t breathe, I can’t move, as the male walks to me. He doesn’t move like any vampyre I’ve seen or look like them either. His skin is too warm, his hair too blond, too perfect. I do the best thing that I possibly can think of, I dart around him and run, heading straight towards the other doors. I barely get two steps before he’s roughly grabbed me from behind. Something hard slams into the back of my head just as my fingers graze the wing of the dragon.


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