When the dragon Jaax receives word that a human infant has been found in the province of Oescienne, he doesn't dare believe it. Humans have been extinct for centuries, trapped by a terrible curse and left to live out their existence in the form of dragons. Despite his doubts, however, Jaax assumes responsibility for the baby girl only to discover that what he has been seeking for so many years has finally been found.
Jahrra knows all about the legends and sagas of Oescienne, but never in her wildest dreams would she believe that she played a part in one of them. She is far too busy dodging the bullies at school and seeking out new adventures with her friends to worry about what secrets her dragon mentor might be keeping from her, or that her every move is being watched by something living in the forest surrounding her home.
But the secrets run deep, and as Jahrra fights to earn her place in this extraordinary world, she will begin to unravel the truth of it all: that she isn't as safe as she thought she was, that danger lurks around every corner, and that her role in this unfurling tale is far more significant than she could possibly imagine.
"Written from a more adult perspective than your run of the mill Y.A. Paranormal story (romance not being the main excuse of a twisted plot concocted by their authors), Book 1 of The Legend of Oescienne rings so true, so perfect, building anticipation for the rest of the story…The last time I was that enthralled by legends were through the books of Mary Stewart, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Tolkien and R. J. Stewart…"– Born To Read, Amazon Reviewer
A remarkable dragon story for YA and teens. If you enjoy the Eragon book series by Christopher Paolini, you'll love this series!!– Nilas, Amazon Reviewer
Nicest read since Harry Potter...imaginative and enchanting.– FSM, Amazon Reviewer
Morning's first light poured into a cramped, dank cave casting strange shadows against its distorted walls. It was a very ordinary cave as caves go, and up until a few days ago it seemed things would remain that way. The cave had sat empty in a cliff above the western sea, left alone to inhale the ocean's salty air and capture the sound of the waves crashing below. Hidden and unseen in a cove only a few knew about, the cave had remained empty for so many years. But that was all about to change.
A piercing beam of light fought its way through a narrow hole in the ceiling of the cavern, breaking into the empty chamber and making the sunlight flooding through its mouth seem dimmer. The ray came to rest upon the pale face of a figure bunched upon the cold, dirty floor like a pile of discarded rags. His eyes were closed in sleep, but the silent expression on his face was far from restful. His dark hair was unkempt and his face appeared almost bloodless. He was as still as death, but his tense features and the grim cut of his mouth confirmed the struggle that only the living possessed.
The man stirred awake and rolled onto his side, sending a scraping and soft groaning sound playing against the curved walls. Wincing and gasping in pain, he clutched his shoulder and dragged himself up into a sitting position. The bright beam of light was now slanted across his profile, illuminating the distinct characteristics of his race. His fine features and narrow, sharply tapered ears proved that he was of elfin descent, but it was his dark hair, pale skin and uncommonly tall stature that revealed him as one of the Aellheian elves of the east.
He blinked his eyes as the waves of pain ebbed and passed, looking blankly around the natural room that he'd been sleeping in. The cave was littered with jagged stalactites and stalagmites, making it resemble the mouth of a yawning dragon. Several conical tunnels were scattered throughout, giving the impression that a giant had pressed its fingers into the small space while it was still a soft cavity of clay, leaving their indentations behind.
The injured elf breathed deeply as he recalled climbing up here only a few days before. He was grateful despite the exhausting effort; at least now he could rest easy. This place was a great secret not known to his pursuers. He closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind. A sharp, metallic taste in his mouth forced him to recall the skirmish he'd had not long ago, the one that had landed him in his current situation. He sighed and rested his head against the wall, listening to the low rumble of the waves outside as he tried to distract himself from the endless sound of dripping water echoing throughout the cave. The smell of saltwater and pine resin, dust and distant fog hung in the air like a delicate feather, reminding him of the thick forest perched on the edge of the cliffs just above his head.
Despite his hot skin and the relatively relaxing rhythm of the crashing waves, the elf felt a cold chill clenching his heart. He ran his fingers through his tangled hair as if this action might comb away the grogginess and pounding headache that seemed to swallow him. He'd been in this place for three days now, or so he thought, and he feared the wound in his shoulder might be infected. He'd cleaned it and treated it with an herbal balm, but it was swollen and throbbing.
For several months he'd managed to evade the Tyrant's men but now it seemed they'd finally caught their prey. He'd gone so far as to enter the land west of the feared Thorbet and Elornn mountains, a place the Crimson King would never go, but it was clear the Tyrant's soldiers thought differently. They'd finally moved in close enough to place an arrow deep in his shoulder just to the left of his heart. Desperate, injured and out of options, he headed farther west towards a land he'd once considered home only to find a familiar place of sanctuary. This particular cave would hide him well, but he also knew that if he died here so would the secrets he carried.
The elf trembled again, blinking against the harsh light hitting his face. Whether the shivering was a result of an encroaching fever or from the thought of his world crashing down around him, he couldn't tell. He drew a long, deep breath and carefully pulled a leather-bound journal, a pen and an inkwell out of the saddle bags he'd had the sense to grab before fleeing on foot. He propped himself up against the wall, quietly thanking Ethoes it was smooth, and leaned forward so that one of the empty pages of the journal lit up to a blinding white from the sunbeam pouring through the roof. He thought for a while as he continued to fight off the sickening heat emanating from his shoulder. After several moments of reverie, he dipped his quill into the inkwell and began to write:
It has been three centuries and more since the world changed, but not much has happened since. Whether that fact bodes good or ill towards the people loyal to the Goddess, I cannot tell. The pages before this tell the story of the world and how Ethoes created all the living and nonliving things that exist upon its surface, of the rise of the god Ciarrohn and Traagien's defeat of him, of the folly of the elves and the creation of the humans and their eventual end. All of the pages before this one hold that story and the secrets of the royal family of Oescienne.
Therefore I, the last Magehn of the Tanaan king, will not waste time with the tales of old. What I can tell you, however, is that three hundred years ago the Crimson King cast a terrible curse upon the last race of humans, transforming them into dragons and severing their link to the province of Oescienne. From that point on, the tie between the western province and its rightful sovereigns, the race of humans, was destroyed, setting in motion the Tyrant's first steps in clearing the way for the complete domination of all seven provinces of Ethoes.
A muffled shout followed by a torrent of angry words brought the Magehn's pen to a stop. His heart quickened its pace and the throbbing in his head and shoulder fell into rhythm with it. The noise came from above, and through the tiny skylight in his cave the elfin man could barely make out the foreign tongue of several of the Tyrant's men. He hoped they wouldn't find his horse, but then he remembered he'd removed its bridle and saddle, encouraging the animal to flee just before he made his way down the narrow trail leading to his hiding place.
Although he couldn't decipher what it was the men said, the Magehn knew that they'd tracked him this far. How they found the courage to cross the mountains is beyond me, he thought bitterly. Then he realized it hadn't been courage but fear. Those loyal to the Crimson King may have feared the far western mountains, but they feared their king more.
The elf listened silently as the voices trailed off. When he was certain they had moved on to search for him in some other location, he got back to his work, focusing on finishing while he still could:
Though the humans are now dragons, and those dragons are now scattered, there is reason yet to hope. The Tyrant still suffers from the wounds inflicted upon him in that final battle with the last Tanaan prince and his people; he still struggles to regain his strength from the effort it took to transform them. Yet no one knows when the Crimson King will regain his former might and attack the remaining provinces. Most believe it is only a matter of time, and time is running short.
The last Tanaan prince is now lost. Many claim he is long dead, for wouldn't he have returned to his people and rallied them by now, even in their reptilian forms? Yet I saw his transformation and witnessed his escape within the confusion of the aftermath of the great battle. I believe with all of my heart, though I may not live out my immortal existence as I had once hoped, that a day will come when the Tyrant's curse is lifted and the Tanaan humans will return to rule in Oescienne once again.
The elf halted his hand, staring down at the stark black marks he'd sketched upon the paper. He was writing in his native language, the language of the Dhonoaran elves, descendents of the Aellheians. He should have felt pride for their development of such a beautiful language, but instead he felt a bitter taste of disgust rise in his throat. So much sorrow, so much pain, destruction and avaricious betrayal had come from his people that it brought him some shame, even though he knew it wasn't his fault.
The Magehn drew a sharp breath as a sudden stab of pain ripped down his arm. He had been about to continue his notation but instead he paused, his jaw clenched, willing the ache to pass. As he waited in agony, he returned his thoughts to the ugly circumstances of his world. Instead of thinking of his ancient elfin ancestors, however, he recalled his own loved ones harmed or corrupted by the Tyrant King. He thought especially of the one whose trust he'd lost, someone who was still dear to him. Soon he felt another pain, a pain that would never heal. The ache in his shoulder and the ache in his heart mingled, combining to form one great pang of anguish.
The elf took a deep breath, suppressing the distracting memories that were now surfacing in his mind. I don't have time to tell my own story. I have time only for this . . . He forced his screaming thoughts to the back of his mind and continued on with what he had started. Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead, but he wrote on:
I have spent long years mourning my king and my people, but I could not hide from the terrors of this world forever. I came out of my hiding no more than six months ago, and it took the blessed words of hope to make me finally face my fears. I knew the Tyrant searched for me, that he seeks vengeance, even now. He is aware that I hold the secrets of the Tanaan and believes that I know the location of their prince. But I braved his wrath and went forth into the world despite the great danger, for I had received word of something amazing, something extraordinary.
Before I was tracked down and wounded by the Tyrant's minions, I had been riding throughout all of Ethoes, spreading this great news, news of an answer to our plight. The Oracles, those that still remain with us, spoke of a miracle promised by Ethoes herself, one that could mean the salvation of our world.
Pain beyond description flared through the elf's fevered body. He cried out in anguish as his pen dragged across the bottom of the white paper leaving a long, jagged black line. This ache was worse than the ones before, and it struck fear into the Magehn's heart. His eyes watered and his vision became fuzzy as he wondered about the origin of the arrow that had caused this wound. Perhaps it had been poisoned. He felt lightheaded and sensed his mind being pulled in and out of consciousness. Furiously, and with fresh determination, the last Magehn of the Tanaan king began writing as fast as he could, able to produce one more sentence before he knew no more:
I have done what I can to spread this new prophecy throughout the land, a prophecy about the return of a lasting peace, a prophecy about a lost prince, and a prophecy about a young, pure-blooded human girl born to save us all.