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Shadows of the Realm by Dionne Lister
Bronwyn and Blayke are two strangers being drawn into the same war. Their world is facing invasion from the Third Realm. While they move unknowingly toward each other, they are watched, hunted, and sabotaged. When the Dragon God interferes, it seems their world, Talia, will succumb to the threat. Can they learn enough of the tricks of the Realms before it’s too late, or will everything they love be destroyed?
The young Realmists’ journey pushes them away from all they’ve known, to walk in the shadows toward Vellonia, city of the dragons, where an even darker shadow awaits.
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In a lonely brick farmhouse a child named Blayke slept under cosy blankets. He dreamt of splashing in warm summer puddles. His nostrils filled with the scents of grass and earth.
He reached dirty fingers into a puddle at his feet and tried to grab a slimy frog. The touch of his fingers on the water sent the frog dashing away, chased by the black clouds racing across the surface of the water, mirroring the sky.
Thunder boomed again and again. Thick clouds marched to its beat, effortlessly smothering the sun. Blayke’s fingers sank further into the darkening puddle until his fingers touched something rough and icy — too large to close his hand around. Blayke tried to let go of the object but his hand was stuck. Adrenalin flooded his body. He tried to shake the object loose, but to no avail.
Fat pellets of water erupted from the sky, soaking him in seconds. He looked up, squinting his eyes against the pouring rain. He bit his lip against the urge to cry. Every instinct told him to run. Thunder closed around him; lightning struck meters from the quickly expanding puddle. Blayke leaned back, twisting his whole body in a vain attempt to break free. Sweat from his exertion mixed with the rain on his face.
His palm peeled away from its anchor, leaving layers of skin behind. Blayke fell back, landing with a splash on the sodden earth. He stared at his bleeding hand, what had happened?
The ground vibrated beneath him, the tremors matching the slow and powerful rhythm of the thunder. The puddle boiled, bubbles of mud bursting to the surface, contaminating the balmy air with stagnant wafts. Blayke scurried away from the deepening water on hands and knees. He scrambled to rise but the jerking earth toppled him.
He was now at the edge of the seething pool. He watched the water drain away into the ever-growing cracks forming around its edges – the unseen depths hungrily sucked the liquid, draining it as quickly as the sky could dump it there.
The earth gave a final, violent tremor. An ebony creature surged forth amid the cacophony of trembling earth and breaking sky. It towered menacingly over small boy and tall trees alike.
The giant creature’s bellowing screams assaulted Blayke. He huddled on the ground, gasping for breath. His bleeding hand throbbed, and the beating rain stung the back of his neck. Blayke scrunched his eyes tight, and prayed to every god he had ever heard of to make everything disappear; the rain, the thunder, and the monster. Fear of impending death made him cry.
Rain battered him, but the earth ceased shaking. The creature’s commanding voice replaced the primal screams that made the downpour seem a whisper. “I have come to take you. Look at me and behold your destiny.”
Blayke lifted his head against all will and instinct, compelled by immense power within the voice. A colossal black dragon stood close, too close, dwarfing the small human as an ancient oak does an ant. The creature stared at Blayke with penetrating silver orbs.
The boy’s eyes, once fixed on the nightmare, could not move. So this was it, his death was here, so soon. How could that be? Tears flowed again as he realized his short life had existed just to fill the belly of this dragon, a special dragon no doubt, but still a dragon. Blayke took comfort in the warmth of tears that mixed with the rain on his face, as the giant creature reached toward him with massive claws.
It snatched Blayke, with one swift and powerful gesture, and thrust him into a mouth full of sword-sharp teeth.
Blayke woke screaming, feeling as if he were choking on his own blood. Arcon ran to Blayke’s room, arms raised, ready to fell any intruder who would dare harm his boy. Relief at the absence of an attacker was short-lived as he tried to sooth his terrified nephew. Blayke sobbed in his arms as he described the nightmare in vivid detail. Arcon knew this was a prophetic dream, marked by the Dragon God no less.
The dangerous and terrifying times foretold by the First Circle were nearing, and his nephew’s nightmare confirmed the worst. Arcon, one of the most powerful Realmists ever to have lived, and member of The Circle, prayed they would be given more time to prepare; their lives, and all life on Talia, depended on it.
Blayke eventually fell asleep and his uncle retired quietly to his study, where a hot cup of tea and mesmerizing flames in the hearth could not dilute his fears — the evil they had banished over a thousand years ago would return; it was already on its way.