Here’s a sneak peak of Chapter 1 of Dragonseers and Evolution, the sequel to Dragonseers and Automatons and the fourth book in the Secicao Blight series.
You can pre-order the book from Amazon by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
Secicao is the destiny of the world I have inhabited. Here, there is no need for any life other than the two species Finesia has deemed worthy – secicao and black dragons like myself.
The clouds produced by it now hang off me like a shroud. Once, their eggy smell would have disgusted me. But the gas clings to my skin as water droplets might when I emerge from a crystal pool. I stand naked and tall as I admire the land that will one day become mine.
Wiggea, my former dragonelite and now my servant, stands beside me, his hand in mine. I give him a confident smile. He smiles back from beneath his slicked back hair. His expression is subservient, and he looks at me as if I’m the only person of importance in the world.
Which will soon be true. Now, all I need to do is plant my roots in the soil here. To become the Tree Immortal, the destiny that has been handed down through legacy.
“That’s it, my acolyte, embrace your destiny.” Finesia’s voice sounds as pure as the clouds feel. I stand on a rise overlooking my subjects below. The shades – the dark forms, the spirits of those we left behind, who can twist and form into anything they please. They weave their way between the secicao, the thorny plants that have consumed the world.
Here, I have claimed my dominion.
“Not yet,” says a shrill voice from behind me. Alsie Fioreletta. She’s a part of the equation too. “We have not yet fought our final battle.”
I turn to her. She has a wicked grin framed by raven hair falling over slender, yet muscular shoulders. She’s naked, just like I am. Yet she stands with confidence, as if she was wearing the richest clothes in the world.
“Then we shall fight it now,” I say, and I push Wiggea away. In this place, I can summon anything I will, as I need it.
I’m no longer naked, now wearing a coat of radiant silver armour. Yet, I feel no weight in the attire or the five-foot claymore that has suddenly appeared in a sheath on my back. I draw it and Alsie, now in full splendid golden armour, also draws hers.
“We shall fight again, but you are destined to lose,” she says. “Finesia has her own purpose for you, but you shall never claim your ultimate prize.”
I grit my teeth and point my sword at her. “She would never lie to me…”
“Oh, these aren’t lies. It’s only that you’ve failed to learn of your destiny, Dragonseer Wells. You’ve not yet come to examine your fate for what it is. You don’t have the determination, the grit to see it through.”
Every time I’ve met her in this place, and I never learn anything new. “Just shut up and fight,” I say. I raise my claymore to the sky, clutching it tightly in both hands. Such a sword would have once felt heavy to me. But I’m no longer a product of my old world, and Finesia’s gift has granted me superhuman strength.
“Gladly.” Alsie performs a mocking half-curtsey, not taking her eyes off me as I charge forwards.
I scream out, my voice gaining such power that it deepens into a bellowing roar. The brown clouds, part slightly as my sword cuts a path through them. I narrow my eyes. My feet carry me quickly down the hill.
Our swords clang; sparks fly. The impact sends me barrelling backwards. Alsie remains rooted to the ground.
She displays a sneer, comes in with three long strikes of her glistening sword, which I barely dodge. I backwards roll, and then I lift myself into a defensive stance.
“Attack, wench,” Alsie says. “Isn’t this what you want, to prove that you can kill me? Yet, not once have you done this, in this world or reality.”
“I want to claim Finesia’s prize. She has promised me an ultimate destiny. She has promised me eternal life.”
Alsie lets out a cackling laugh. “Eternal life. Oh, that you shall have, my dear. There’s so much yet that you have to learn.”
“Shut up,” I scream. “I don’t have to listen to this.”
“No, you—” Alsie’s words get cut off by my sudden lunge towards her. She pirouettes out of the way, as if she was born for this kind of swordplay. I follow my lunge with an uppercut, and then I bring my sword down in a downward sweep.
But it isn’t Alsie I hit. She’s already started to transform, a black cloud billowing around her. My sword meets hard dragon scales. Out of the growing miasma comes a deafening roar.
I stumble backwards as Alsie’s dragon head lunges out of the cloud, snapping its jaws. She tears into the soil and tosses up several secicao branches, which she throws into my path. I swipe the branches away with my sword before they land. Alsie pulls back her hind legs and launches into the air.
She roars out again, calling out for all who can hear the extent of her challenge. I squint at her, and I ram the blade of my claymore into the ground, sending a shudder up my spine.
Then I transform.
The scales tear through my skin, a pain that has become more recently a pleasure. In dragon form, I launch into the sky.
We meet in a tangle of scales and flesh, our claws tearing into each other’s wings. I try to get on top, to push Alsie down toward the ground. But she’s stronger than me. She always has been. The brown clouds part from us, as if afraid of this sacred battle.
I feel myself falling, and so I pull away just before I hit the ground. A roar comes out from the base of my stomach into the sky, and the ground shudders beneath me. I turn back to Alsie, and hover there in the air, and she stays there, watching me from a distance.
“You are getting stronger, wench,” Alsie said in my mind, her voice resounding through the collective unconscious into my head. “But you still can never win.”
“One day, I shall. That is what Finesia has promised to me.”
“Really? And why do you think you deserve Finesia? You give her nothing and expect everything in return. She’s grown disappointed with you, and that is why the ultimate prize will be my own.”
She cuts through the sky like a spear, and I try to dive out of the way. Now the sky is too heavy. The clouds, which had felt airy, now feel like treacle. I hover, helpless in the air, as if my legs and wings have been nailed to an invisible board.
A green light fills the surrounding sky, pulling the clouds back towards me like a vortex. All I can do is watch paralysed as Alsie’s snout tears right towards my throat.
Time seems to slow, and I watch in horror at the sharp teeth that will rip the life out of me. Her breath is putrescent, and mucosal fluid drips slowly from her thin, leathery lips. This now, is my time to die, failed by Finesia. Or have I failed her?
Her voice comes in my head, as resolute and sure as the first day I’d heard her. “This is how it will be, my acolyte, unless you finally learn to let me in…”
Yet Finesia’s words aren’t the last I hear, but Alsie’s, cutting through the collective unconscious like poisoned darts. “Our ultimate battle is drawing closer, Dragonseer Wells, and soon you shall learn what you are truly made of.”
Time speeds up once more. A sudden pain comes to my throat, as if just hit with a hammer.
Brightness fills my vision and I awaken into a world more brutal than the one I’ve just dreamed.