Authors: Heather Graham
Published 2009 by Medallion Press, Inc.
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is a registered trademark of Medallion Press, Inc.
Copyright © 2009 by Heather Graham
Artwork by Cherif Fortin and Lynn Sanders
Cover design by Adam Mock and James Tampa
Book design by James Tampa
Bonus CD produced by Reuven Amiel
Costumes by Connie Perry
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Printed in the United States of America
Typeset in Adobe Garamond Pro
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
There be dragons / Heather Graham.
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To all those who made this such a fun and wonderful project, Bryee-Annon, Chynna, Jason, Shayne, and Derek Pozzessere, Yevgeniya Yeretskaya-Pozzessere, Helen and James Rosburg, Ali DeGray, Patric Falcon, Abdiel Vivancos, D.J. and Graham Davant, Franci Naulin, Teresa Davant, Al Perry, Alicia Ibarra, Bobby and Victoria Sophia Rosello, and very especially Lynn Sanders, Cherif Fortin, Reuven Amiel, and Connie Perry.
nce upon a time, before the world of man was as old as it is today—but after it was as young as it might have been—there was a beautiful land called Calasia, caught between the new age of logic and the ancient days of magic. It was ruled by the great Duke Fiorelli, and beneath him, in power in their feudal lands, were two renowned warrior counts, the lords of Lendo and Baristo. Calasia, governed by the great Duke Fiorelli, prospered, laws were just, and art and music were loved and enjoyed.
But to the south lived the fierce People of the Distant Land, and when they threatened the borders of Calasia, three great warriors, the leaders of the land, went out to meet them. It had been some time since such an enemy had been met, and those who went rode to fight hard indeed, for it was said their enemies had among their ranks a group of great, tall, dreaded wargnomes, beings said to have armored skin, reptilian scales that gave them the ability to defy the swords and arrows of mortal warriors.
Hectobar, one of the horrid battle lords who led the enemy forces, was known to have stolen a princess from a nearby realm. Being gallant knights, the noblemen of Calasia would not only protect their borders, but they would not stop until they had freed the beautiful damsel in distress. So they rode, and a great battle ensued.
In the midst of the fighting, Alphonso, Count of Lendo, was caught in a tight arena of terrible combat. He could not be reached by his old and dear friend, Fiorelli, and later, the Count of Baristo would claim he was too far from the fighting to go to Alphonso’s aid. And so it was that Nico d’Or, falcon master to the Count, came into the picture. Brave and courageous, he rode forward, fought relentlessly, and smote the enemy to free the Count of Lendo from the evil hordes surrounding him. But alas, the Count of Lendo
had received a mortal blow, and in the arms of his falcon master, he found his last strength and comfort. He commended the keeping of Lendo to Nico d’Or, the falcon master, who had proven his strength and loyalty.
As the Count of Lendo placed all he held dear in d’Or’s keeping and sighed his last breath, Nico d’Or rose with a great heartache and a roar of fury, swearing the fine old count would not die in vain.
The knights of Calasia joined in his rage, rallied, and rode on with great speed. They came upon the horrid creature Hectobar, who still held the feisty princess. So great was d’Or’s fury, he hopped atop the creature Hectobar, and, with his bare hands, strangled the beast.
The princess, Elisia, impressed by the mighty knight who had saved her, had no desire to be returned to her home. The great Duke Fiorelli thought it was only natural that the princess be granted to the brave falcon master, Nico d’Or, and that the brave fellow indeed be given the lands and title of Lendo. This was an easy ruling for the great Duke Fiorelli, for he was a married man himself, with a lovely duchess who had given him a fine and hearty son for an heir, as well as a lovely daughter.
Now, it should have been quite acceptable to Marco, Count of Baristo, as well, for he, too, had a countess, Geovana, and a son. However, it was rumored his wife was a witch. She had come from the dark lands to the northeast of the lovely peninsula on which they all lived. Many believed that if his wife
indeed a witch, it was entirely his own fault. The Count of Baristo was an ambitious man, fond of fine living and improving his own holdings, and he was disgruntled. The falcon master was given a beautiful, sweet, wealthy bride, and he was returning home to …