A Lunchbox Romance Prequel
The Kingdom of Chalvaren Romances
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Date of Publication: May 12, 2013
Number of pages: 39
Word Count: 15,630
Elf prince Kort Elias journeys to a new world in search of a stolen royal dragon egg and discovers a lost elven princess, a prophecy, and danger; and only true love–and an erotic magic he’s never experienced–will set them free.
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“Great. First royal dragon egg stolen from Chalvaren in ten thousand years and the damn thing’s already hatched.” Kort Elias grimaced and stared at the remnants of the Aurora eggshell. When he crouched down and touched the enormous object—he could have easily crawled inside—it crumbled to dust in his hands. “Worse, it’s been at least a day, maybe two.”
A thieving mercenary had brought the egg here to this planet of humans, one dimension hop away from Chalvaren, and Kort had required a wizard’s help to teleport in pursuit. The queen his mother forbade him to give chase, but when Kort discovered the double-crosser took the egg from the royal hatchery, Queen Elissabet’s edict paled before the need to recover the dragonlet. Also, ignoring his mother’s wishes was a lifelong sport at which Kort particularly excelled.
He picked up three black dragon scales, smelled them, manipulated them in his fingers then held the fragile scales up to the sunlight. They were translucent, iridescent…baby dragon scales. His grimace became a frown. Poor thing. All alone in a strange world with no other dragons to coach him, to show him what to eat, how to fly, how to roar, how to be what he was. Kort’s heart hitched. He’d tracked the thief for well over a week, but he was clearly too late. He was seeing the fallout of his mother’s bad decision-making.
“Damn you, Elissabet!” He shook his fist at the sky. “Look at what you’ve conjured up with your ridiculous legend, mother.” No treasure, just a lost little dragon.
“At least he’s eaten.” Kort’s eyes ranged to the remains of the mercenary. Without proper handling, without a first feast available right outside his eggshell, the hatchling had devoured his abductor. Served the bastard right. Before stealing the egg, the larcenous mercenary had filled the queen’s head with stories and romantic notions, claimed he had intelligence on the whereabouts of Chalvaren’s mythological treasure, the Dragonstone. The fist-sized amethyst was valuable beyond means, and a prophecy of peace accompanied it. Kort doubted the thing existed, but even if it did, the mercenary wasn’t man enough to return it. Clearly.
Kort stood up and surveyed the scene, fingering the dragon scales, noticing their smooth texture. “Where’d you go little one?”
The wooded forest around him held similarities to his home world in the types of trees, brush and rocks. Kort heard water running somewhere off in the distance. Good. The dragon would find it and drink. Small winged fowl fluttered about the sky, in the bushes, searching for food, calling to their kind. Insects hummed and a breeze blew. The sun shone brightly in the midmorning sky. The major difference here? No dragons.
When his mother paid the mercenary to locate the Dragonstone of Chalvaren she’d surely had no idea he would double-cross her, but really, how better to find a treasure than with a dragon? Dragons had affinity for all things valuable. Unfortunately for the mercenary, the only treasure here was the one he’d brought with him…and that treasure had turned on him.
Kort shook his head and laughed wryly. Dragon-wrangling took a special touch. Most men failed because they had no idea what the hell they were doing. He knew dragons, and dragons responded to his gentle, firm hand. It was women who were dangerous, women like his mother, what with their manipulations and imaginations. He did his best to stay away from them, though that drove Queen Elissabet insane. He preferred the company of dragons. No deception, no worries. Just straightforward danger.
Ruling Chalvaren meant danger, too, or at the very least the hard life of a soldier, a warrior, a dragon wrangler. Though the palace was his for the taking, Kort had focused on building up his kingdom’s defenses. He left the gold brocade suits and comforts to his younger brothers, and while his father King Elias insisted Kort attend his mother’s parties on major holidays—something he tried his best to get out of—Kort had no heart for softness. He had yet even to choose a future queen. Perhaps he never would. His heart belonged to dragons, and he only felt at home with his bow strapped to his back, a quiver full of arrows, and a mighty beast flying beneath him.
Magnus. That was this dragon’s name, or it would be when the beast was found. Recovering the Aurora was imperative. Prophecy foretold of a dragon named Magnus leading the winged guard on Chalvaren, and if the beast remained missing the other dragons would surely revolt. Lucan Brix the wizard had told Kort as much.
Kort’s aura flared blue around him, and he began tracking the Aurora through the forest. As he walked he recalled more of what the wizard said. After a half-mile, he smirked down at the tracks. “Magnus. Sworn protector of Chalvaren, an Aurora-class dragon gifted with the ability to breathe both fire and acid at maturity—and with flight from birth. So, why is he walking?”
He laughed, but then sadness gripped Kort. The dragon was only a few days old. The little guy was lost, wandering all alone, and he hadn’t figured things out yet. Kort would not rest until he had the dragonlet safe beside him.
He knelt down and placed his hand beside the dragon tracks. Three times the spread of his large hand, the youngling’s print indicated he’d already grown. A new worry flooded Kort’s heart. He had to find Magnus, but he also had to figure out a way to get them both back home. The wizard’s teleportation amulet had disintegrated along with half his clothes. But, surely magic existed on this plane; the wizard had alluded to it. If not, Kort would be stranded.
In time, he supposed, Magnus could help him find that magic, as dragons were attuned to the arcane. But Kort didn’t want to spend years waiting for the creature to develop that ability, and this was all predicated on the possibility he could find the beast, keep him safe, hidden and fed. A tall task.
The ring on his third finger glinted in the sunlight, casting his family’s royal crest back at him, and Kort glowered at it. Getting back to Chalvaren and his adoring mother would prove an interesting task. But as he rose and strode forward in pursuit of his charge, Kort remembered one last point that lifted his heart.
“Speech. This dragon will be gifted with the power of speech.”
Ha. That would be the day. A talking dragon would be rare indeed. Almost as rare as one who demonstrated loyalty without being broken. Or a woman who demonstrated as much. When he found that, perhaps he’d let his mother marry him off.