Thursday, February 8, 2018
Dragon Princess, Book 1 of the War Unicorn Chronicles, released today
After a period of writing niche historical fiction for kids, I rested back into my long-time love of fantasy—reading, dreaming, researching, writing, repeat all with lots more dreaming.
After writing War Unicorn: The Ring, published last October with BWL, I could not let the characters go. I had an arrogant, demanding unicorn and a simple apple farmer tossed into an underdog country where magic coexists with Ordinaries. The only way I could move on was to continue writing about them. I soon came to realize it’s not that I can’t let go of the characters, but that they won’t let go of me, not until their stories are told.
Dragon Princess, release date February 7, is the first book of the War Unicorn Chronicles. Mortal enemies Aldric and Thram must work together to find other unicorns, an impossible relationship sent on an impossible quest.
From Chapter one:
Ricky bit his lower lip as he watched Neighbor kick out with her back legs in the trained war unicorn way while the horses cowered in a far corner of the field. Aldric couldn’t peel his eyes from his friend. Yes, this Unicorn Keeper had to agree with Iggy Millerson that Neighbor was not acting like herself. But what, after all, did they know about unicorns? As far as anyone knew, she was the only unicorn in the world. It wasn’t like there was any training for this position. He only had the experience of the year before, spent with her, becoming her friend.
Maybe his mother knew a unicorn story he hadn’t heard yet. Or perhaps his father could put a calming spell on the unicorn. Crabapples! Neighbor would never stand for that. One spell on her was enough. Who knew how Neighbor would react if she realized her sudden calmness was caused by a magical spell?
Skirts rustled as a girl his own age slipped between him and Iggy. Ricky straightened up and pushed back his blonde hair from his forehead. He sucked in a breath, but kept watching the field.
“Your unicorn’s going crazy,” Gwen said.
“So I’ve been told,” he answered.
“Maybe it’s her moody time,” she suggested.
Ricky bit his lower lip and looked away. Gwen, of anyone in the kingdom, knew about moody times.
He turned to the princess. Why couldn’t he control the jump his heart did each time she came near? How could he still have feelings for her after all she’d done? Not too many moons ago, she was just the general’s daughter, a girl who liked to dress in boys’ clothes so she could work in the royal stables. She loved her horses. Back then, she was just Gwen, his friend. Now that her father became king of Farhner, she was pulled along with him to be the king’s daughter, the princess. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw her wearing trousers.
“So where’s your boyfriend?” Ricky asked coolly.
Iggy let out a low whistle and, suddenly fascinated with the passing late summer clouds, moved a post away from Gwen and Ricky.
“Thram is not my boyfriend.” Gwen put one hand on her hip. “And even if he was, what business is that of yours?”
Apparently none, he wanted to snap back.
“Your business,” she continued, “is poor, dear, old Neighbor out there, who is going crazy. What are you going to do about her?”
From Chapter seven:
“The unicorns are somewhere in this direction,” Neighbor said, although Ricky didn’t think she sounded very certain.
“We’ve got nine days and a bit before we have to turn around. I’m sure we’ll get some hints of your people by that time. We must.” Ricky realized he didn’t sound very certain, either.
After riding a few more hours, Thram complained of sore thighs. Ricky wondered if he should point out that Thram didn’t have any idea how sore his legs were going to be by the end of the three weeks. Instead, he suggested they dismount and give the horses a break. Once they got into the mountainous areas, the animals would be working hard enough. Gwen would have been proud of his horse thoughtfulness.
“You know how Thram can sometimes sense his mother’s thoughts?” Ricky asked Neighbor. “Can you do the same with your herd?”
Neighbor twitched, and there weren’t any flies on her. “I do not know. Neither do I remember much. There were mountains, big, white, protecting mountains.”
“What were they called?”
Neighbor ducked her head and blew through her lips. “Our mountains?”
“What did they look like?”
“Bbrrrrah! Mountains! The snow-on-the-peaks kind! Like those. I think.” She shook her head and stomped angrily like she had fire ants racing up her legs.
“Sorry,” Ricky said, knowing it was a weak apology.
“No. I am sorry. Pitifully sorry...for myself.” Her sides expanded as she drew in a deep breath. “I just do not know those things, Aldric. How I wish I did. I was merely a filly, not even a yearling when the Wizard Wormage captured me. And that action was hundreds of years ago. Everyone in the herd is probably all dead by now. I am certain Wormage must be.”
“Well, if your home...er...range,” Ricky said slowly, “was in a secluded mountain section, couldn’t your people have survived undetected? Or... what if you aren’t the only unicorn Wormage captured?”
“Don’t be silly. No one would be that stupid.”
Ricky raised his eyebrows. Ah—no one except for her, she’d meant.
“We are trained from the day we first stand on our wobbly legs not to have human contact. We hide. We camouflage—”
“You know how to camouflage? Me too!” Ricky said.
“I know. Remember escaping the Spikes from Martin’s Company? I was there when you covered us both with your spell. And you covered my horn, and…actually, Ricky, that act of covering us in battle drew me to you more than anything else you could have done or said. When mother unicorns smell danger, they camouflage their babies. I did not live with the herd long enough to learn how to do it for myself.”
Ricky chuckled. “So it was like I was your father?” He stood next to her. “Aw. My little baby filly.” He stroked her neck. Neighbor’s mighty muscles rippled tensely beneath his hand. He stopped stroking.
“Mothers camouflaged. Father gave the warning and covered himself.” Neighbor sounded as though she was going to cry, just as if she were a human.
Ricky patted her neck and pulled one of the remaining flowers from her mane. “It’ll be all right. If we don’t find any other unicorns this time, there are other months. We’ll keep trying, stretching out in different directions. Our adventure is in the journey, and the journey’s been uncomplicated, just as King Segan said.”
Neighbor jerked her head up, ears laid back.
Thram put his foot into the stirrup and swung onto his horse’s back. “I wish you hadn’t said that out loud.”
“You are so superstitious,” Ricky said. “Saying things like that out loud doesn’t mean it’s some kind of verbal magic spell to cause things to go wrong. I know about these things.”
“Oh, yeah? Well, tell that to them.” Thram nodded to the hills on their left. Nine black-bearded men rode upon horses, trotting straight for them, each wearing black Spikonian leather-armor.
October, 2017 Release with Books We Love Publishing:
WAR UNICORN, Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1773627201/
WAR UNICORN, Digital Stores: http://books2read.com/u/3Ro6jp
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