A fantasy novel set in the fictional realm of Evorene.
The Kiss From A Dragon centres around the three Proudstone sisters – Cerana, Jana and Esteri. The young women’s lives are turned upside down when Esteri, the youngest sibling, mysteriously contracts an ancient and potentially deadly disease.
Enlisting the aid of a local apothecary to diagnose Esteri’s harrowing condition, the sisters soon realise there is more to this disease than first meets the eye. The mystery of how Esteri first contracted the disease gives way to an even greater problem – how to cure it.
According to legend, the disease can only be cured using an ingredient found from the most impossible of sources – a dragon. The problem is, dragons have not been in existence for centuries.
As the family are forced apart in an attempt to find answers and source an unlikely cure, Cerana finds hope in the form of an enigmatic young woman following a chance encounter. But the little hope Cerana clings onto is fraught with danger, and she soon discovers there is an even more terrifying story to the disease – one that will have dire consequences for the entire realm should she fail.
How can you treat a disease, when the cure has not been seen for centuries?
Here’s a sample of the first few paragraphs from the first few chapters (not the entire chapters):
The man hated rats.
At the end of the wooden dockyard jetty where he crouched, the rodents squeaked and scurried around him. It was as if they were questioning his reason for being there. He was in their domain now, and they did not take kindly to strangers.
The night was chilly, and a million stars shone above him like tiny little crystals of light on a canvas of pure black. They illuminated his space, but this did not concern him. No-one would be around at this time of night – no-one who could interfere with his work, anyway. Most sensible people would be sound asleep by now, and the non-sensible ones would be far too drunk to recognise their own mothers.
There had been one occasion where he had been interrupted whilst going about his task. An old drunk, taking refuge in a large crate, had accosted him on his way to the jetty. The tramp – swigging from a half-empty bottle of whisky – had told him much, and most of it unintelligible. The few coherent sentences he had deciphered warned the man of impending doom, and he was advised to find the nearest inn and stay there until the event passed. The man never found out what the event was, as the drunk swiftly fell asleep, snoring loudly.
If only the old bum knew, he thought, smirking to himself.
He was alerted by a shuffling behind him. He crouched, turning to the source of the disturbance. Holding his breath, all he could hear was the lapping of the waves against the posts of the jetty. Not even the usual gulls sang their chorus this night.
CHAPTER 1 – Cause for Concern
The setting sun crept into view from behind the distant mountain as it continued its descent towards the western horizon. Late summer sun swept over the small cottage and its grounds, bathing the area in a sheet of golden light. Large oak trees swayed in the gentle breeze, and a quarrel of sparrows chirped away merrily from within the dense foliage. The only other sound on this delightful summer evening was the relaxing trickle of the small stream at the bottom of the garden.
But for Esteri Proudstone, not even the perfect evening weather could remove the constant feeling of dread from her mind. Although her sisters did not know about it, her illness was deeply worrying her.
The Proudstone home was situated on the outskirts of the small village of Barnesbay. It sat on the southern coast of Evorene, east of the imposing Southstorm City – the realm’s capital and largest city. One of the smaller villages in the realm, Barnesbay was home to just a hundred inhabitants with most dwellings found on the east side of the Tohenas River. Mainly fishers and farmers, the residents enjoyed a peaceful existence away from the hustle and bustle of the realm’s larger towns and cities.
Unaware of Esteri’s worries, Cerana Proudstone sat back on the warm grass and watched her youngest sibling merrily go about her work. Esteri was tending to her crops as if they were small, fragile animals instead of hardy sweetcorn, cabbages and carrots.
Esteri’s long blond locks swayed in the gentle breeze as she carefully teased another carrot from the ground. Cerana smiled to herself as the love for her sister poured over her in a wave, as it frequently did when she spent time with both her younger sisters. She only had to watch them doing what they loved to remind herself how lucky and privileged she was to have them both in her life. She liked to think that Father would have been very proud of the way she had brought them up almost single-handedly. She was quite proud of herself to look at how happy they had all become together, now nearly fifteen years to the day since that fateful evening when they tragically lost both their parents.
CHAPTER 2 – “We Need an Apothecary”
Esteri awoke from her slumber with a soft moan. When her eyes became accustomed to her surroundings, the first thing she saw was Cerana smiling down at her from the side of the bed. “Wha…what happened?” she asked her eldest sister, who had stayed with her all night.
“Do you not remember?” Cerana replied.
Esteri sat up and was suddenly aware of a terrible headache that seemed to be engulfing her thoughts. “I remember being in the garden and talking. Maybe laughing?” She grimaced as she rubbed her forehead, trying unsuccessfully to massage her headache better. “Then nothing – just darkness.”
“Do you remember the nosebleed? The, err, vomit?” Cerana did not want to make her sick again if she could help it.
“Oh! Yes, I do now.” Esteri was beginning to recall the events of the last evening. She looked around the bed she was in to see if there were any signs of blood, but there were none. “Did I make a mess?”
Cerana laughed and gently stroked the back of her sister’s head. “A little, but it’s gone now. Nothing for you to worry about.” She smiled at her and leant forward, kissing her forehead. “How are you feeling now?”
“I have a terrible headache, and my stomach churns.” Esteri realised then how hungry she was. “I must see to breakfast.” She pushed back the blankets, but when she attempted to climb out of bed, her head pounded like a drum, and she quickly stopped her movements.
“Breakfast? It’s past lunchtime!” laughed Cerana.
Esteri had been asleep all night and all morning, without so much as a stir. She had slept the sleep of the dead, she thought. She felt half-dead too – it felt as if her brain was hammering at her skull, trying to break out.
“Oh,” she said. “Then I must see to the chores.”
Cerana softly took her by the shoulders and eased her back onto the soft mattress and pillows. “You are going nowhere, young lady. Just lay here and relax, I’ll bring you some food if you feel up to it?”
“I could eat a horse.”
“Well you’re not eating mine, I need her too much. But I can get you some fish stew and bread if that suits?” Jana had seen to cooking duties last night and again at lunchtime, and they had saved Esteri some stew for when she awoke.
CHAPTER 3 – A Search for Help
Barnesbay did not have its own medicine man. The nearest apothecary resided in the market town of Otterley, which was north of the village, along the banks of the Tohenas river. Cerana was reluctant to leave Esteri, but Jana agreed to stay with her, and Cerana was the better rider.
Esteri had not moved a muscle and seemed to be in some form of paralysis, Jana had told her sister when Cerana returned from readying her horse, Winter. Jana could see the worry in Cerana’s eyes and her reluctance to leave. “C, one of us must go, and you can get there faster than me. Go with haste, but ride carefully. Come back to us in one piece. We will be waiting.”
Cerana knew her sister was right. It would take her only a few hours to travel to Otterley and back, hopefully bringing back with her something that could help their stricken sibling. “I will return as soon as I can. Winter will bring me back to you both with all speed.”
“Ride safe, sister.” They hugged, and Cerana knelt next to Esteri and took her hand in her own. It was ice-cold, and her wide-eyed, bloodshot gaze remained fixated on the ceiling. She gently kissed the girl’s freezing hand, and spoke to her quietly, as if afraid she may wake her from her trance.
“Stay with us, my love. I will be back before the sun sets.” She placed her hand back on the bed, yet Esteri remained motionless and unblinking. Cerana gently kissed her on the forehead, Esteri seemingly staring straight through her. As Cerana rose, a single teardrop emerged from the edge of Esteri’s eye and ran down the side of her face. Cerana carefully brushed it away with her finger, her own tears welling in her eyes. Could she possibly be aware? Jana had also seen the tear and was now gently sobbing herself.
Cerana kissed her cheek. “Look after her. I’ll return soon.”
Jana nodded, and Cerana took her leave.