Books, Overworld, Updates

Pre-Order Links and Round-Up

Storm Rising 5 Merry Monday, everyone!

Just a quick little update today to say that you can now pre-order Storm Rising all over the place.

Amazon: US || UK || AUS || DE || CAN
|| B&N || iBooks || Kobo ||

From now, right up to next Wednesday (13th Sept) you can also get it at the lowest discounted price. Most places that should be 0.99, but some might be a little higher (Amazon US, for some reason, likes to hover around $1.25) and Kobo might even have it a little lower.

So if you want the next in the Dragonlands series as soon as it comes out – this Wednesday! – go grab it now while it’s cheap!


 

Courtship

In other news, iTunes has finally put A Courtship of Dragons up, so if that’s your preferred ebook shop, you can go grab it for FREE right now.

I’ve also finally posted a proper Courtship Portal Page, which has all the necessary information and links that you might need for that book.


Elsewhere, things have been so busy around here all summer that I’m looking forward to having a bit of downtime. But I’ve also been planning what’s yet to come, for this year and beyond.

Right now I’m focusing on Dragonlands #4, but before the end of the year I hope to have finished the Dragongift serial and prepped that for release (ETA: beginning of December), started posting Storm Wings (Wingborn #4) and also have tackled NaNo (Wingborn #5). Then in January, Dragonlands #3 should be released. So a busy few months lie ahead.

For this week, though, I’m planning to read a lot, replace the shelf that fell off the wall this morning, find a new home for all the heavy books and get back into some sort of normal routine.

Ha! Wish me luck.

Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial

A Courtship of Dragons

This is the portal page where you will find all the links for chapters and free downloads for this book. If you’re new to the Dragonlands series and want to know how it fits in with all the Wingborn stuff, scroll down to the introduction beneath all the links. Enjoy!

Courtship Banner 1
Dragon Vectors designed by Freepik

Dragonlands #1.5

Friends and lovers have always come easily to Estenarven kin Boulderforce, until Mastekh. For the first time in over three hundred years, Estenarven has found a dragon that matters. Now all he has to do is convince him.

Mastekh kin Rainstorm doesn’t expect much from life; he mostly wants to be left alone. Until Estenarven leaves a gift on his pillow. For the first time someone is paying attention to Mastekh, but can this shy, downtrodden dragon ever learn to trust another – and himself – enough to give in to life, joy… and maybe even love?

Warning! This M/M romantic side-adventure contains a watery dragon with no confidence and a stone-stubborn Boulderforce with confidence enough for two. May also contain an interfering Starshine, a slightly perplexed Blazeborn and kissing. Enjoy!


Free to download now!

|| Smashwords || B&N || iBooks || Kobo ||

Or read along for free right here:

~ Part 1: The Daisy ~ Part 2: Rock Cakes ~ Part 3: The Dinner Bell ~
~ Part 4: Banquet I ~ Part 5: Banquet II ~ Part 6: Banquet III ~ Part 7: Humming ~ 
~ Part 8: Tea ~ Part 9: Elder Blazeborn ~ Part 10: The Morning After ~
~ Part 11: Making a Meal of Things ~ Part 12: Sigh ~ Part 13: Smooth Awakening ~
~ Part 14: Sleeper Awakes ~ Part 15: The Second Gift ~ Part 16: A Gift of Meaning ~
~ Part 17: Chores ~ Part 18: Pout ~ Part 19: Rainstorm ~ Part 20: Courage ~
~ Part 21: Thoughts ~ Part 22: Shells 1 + 2 ~ Part 23: Gossip, Part 24: Run ~
~ Part 25: The Cavern ~ Part 26: Breathe ~ Part 27: Talk ~ Part 28: Well… ~
~ Part 29: Party ~ Part 30: Two Sides… ~ Part 31: Cooking ~ Part 32: Fifth Gift ~
~ Part 33: Dinner ~ Part 34: Rose ~ Part 35: My Precious ~ Part 36: Wooden Heart ~
~ Part 37: Delay ~ Part 38: Waiting ~ Part 39: ARGH! ~ Part 40: Surrender ~
~ Part 41: Enough ~ Part 42: Scales ~ Part 43: Tease ~ Part 44: Risk ~ Part 45: Fury ~
~ Part 46: Um… ~ Part 47: Water Awakening ~ Part 48: Goryal’s Gift ~
~ Part 49: The Seventh Gift ~ Part 50: Love ~


Introduction

WELCOME TO THE Overworld, or more precisely, the Dragonlands. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the Overworld has been cursed by Gods to be covered in clouds, drowning the lowlands and oceans and leaving mountaintops as isolated islands. The reasons for this have been lost over the centuries, but tension still remains between humans and dragons over who was at fault. (The dragons blame the humans, the humans can’t remember, the Gods aren’t talking.)

Not that any of that is particularly relevant to this book, it’s just a bit of background as to why my travellers are holed up in the mountains during the Storm Season.

If you are familiar with the Overworld, and the DRAGONLANDS series in particular, then this story is set a few weeks after the events of Blazing Dawn. You don’t have to have read that book to enjoy this, although it will have introduced you to all the necessary characters.

Chief amongst them being Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight, my two young dragons, whose courtship this book is about.

If you’re familiar with the Overworld because of the WINGBORN series, then this is set about two hundred years before Mhysra and co, back when dragons still interacted with humans and women were still part of the Rift Riders. Although the focus in this book is primarily on my young dragons, a few Rift Riders do make appearances, along with a few other characters from Blazing Dawn.

So whether you’re a frequent visitor to these lands or new to the whole place… Welcome! I hope you enjoy this sweet little romance between a watery, anxious dragon and the stone stubborn Boulderforce who loves him. And hopefully I’ll see you around this world again soon.

Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

A Courtship of Dragons: Part 40

Courtship Banner 1

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

New banner!

And a very sleepy update *yawns*


40
Surrender

MASTEKH WAS SO tired. Six days of sitting around boring meetings, taking notes, fetching meals and doing nothing, followed by whole evenings of standing around, serving food, waiting for the next course and doing even more nothing, should not have been so exhausting – yet it was. This wasn’t the first time he’d been through meetings like this, but it was the first time he had somewhere else he would far rather be: anywhere else with Estenarven.

Sighing as he entered Elder Blazeborn’s suite, Mastekh rested a hand over the pocket by his hip. There they were – two wooden figures and one shell. At first he’d wanted to stage his own candlelit dinner for Estenarven before presenting him with his sixth gift, but over the last few days his ambitions had been steadily whittled down. Any spare moment in which they could be alone together, breathe for a space and exchange gifts would do. Yet even that seemed too much to ask.

Elder Blazeborn had tried to take pity on them by only taking one each day to the meetings, but Mastekh and Estenarven were stubborn and refused to be shown up before the other aides. Besides if Estenarven was busy, Mastekh had no interest in being left behind.

So he’d made a decision. Since it looked increasingly like they would never be allowed a moment alone again – at least not for the foreseeable future – Mastekh was going to give Estenarven his sixth gift anyway. Which was why he’d hurried back to the suite this evening, aiming to arrive before anyone else and before his exhaustion overtook him and landed him face down in his bed.

With the help of the dracos, he’d slipped away after the last course had been served and now here he was, alone in Elder Blazeborn’s suite, moving through the shadows until he reached Estenarven’s room.

He’d never been inside before. Estenarven had invited him, of course, but Mastekh had wanted to build up to the big moment. When he slept with Estenarven properly for the first time – their naps on the suite floor and by the waterfall didn’t count, since they’d been in different forms at the time – Mastekh wanted it to be special. He wanted candlelight and wine and romance and…

He rubbed his eyes, unable to remember what else he’d wanted and why it had to be so important. Nerves, most likely. He was too tired for nerves tonight and pushed open the door to Estenarven’s room.

It didn’t look all that different to his own, unsurprisingly. Narrow and gloomy with a stone bed. Estenarven had a big travel chest tucked underneath it and a pile of blankets disarranged on top. Sibling Water, they looked comfortable.

Yawning, Mastekh reached into his pocket and pulled out the two wooden figures. It was too dark to see them clearly so he rubbed his thumbs over them, trying to work out which one was battle-scarred and old and which was just roughly made. Tricky.

While he tried to sort it out, he climbed onto the bed, intending to leave the gift on Estenarven’s pillow, but his foot caught on the hem of his robe and he slipped, landing face down in the blankets.

Dust and musk and Estenarven.

By the Family, those blankets really were comfortable.

“No,” he told himself, struggling up onto all-fours and shaking his head. He had a task to do. Leave his gift for Estenarven.

On the pillow.

Now.

He reached out in the dark, fumbling for the pillow. Then he paused, sinking down until he was on his knees and elbows, a figure clasped in each hand. Which one was it again? He couldn’t remember. He couldn’t see. He could barely think.

His eyes kept closing, they felt so heavy. He couldn’t even remember why he was bothering to keep them open. Why was he fighting? He couldn’t remember.

So soft. The blankets. It wouldn’t matter if he just lay down for a while, surely? No one would object.

Snuggling into the folds, he yawned again and curled up, the wooden figures clasped in his hands. Then he surrendered to the undertow and let sleep sweep him away.


Courtship 7|| Next Part ||Courtship 7

If, like Mastekh, you’re tired of waiting to find out what happens next, get the ebook – it’s free!

Whatever you choose to do, take care, my lovelies.

Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

A Courtship of Dragons: Part 39

courtship-banner

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

This chapter is entitled ARGH!, which is pretty much all you need to know…


39
ARGH!

18th Storm Month

AFTER SIX NIGHTS of dull diplomatic dinners, Estenarven was on the verge of tearing his hair out – if he had any. They’d been at Highstrike for more than half a moon cycle now, with likely just as long left to go before the wretched Storm Season would abate, and Estenarven was starting to feel trapped. Elder Blazeborn had offered several times to let them off for an evening, but Estenarven and Mastekh were both stubborn. If the other aides were going to be present, waiting on their elders, then they would be there too. Not that they both got to serve Elder Blazeborn each night, instead they had been alternating between serving Khennik and waiting on Elder Goryal. Estenarven didn’t much mind which dragon he looked after, but Mastekh always seemed a bit more sullen after a long night of tending to Goryal. Luckily for all concerned, tonight it was Estenarven’s turn to serve the Starshine, so hopefully Mastekh would only be tired at the end of the meal, instead of grumpy on top.

The only good thing that had come out of the non-stop dinners, followed by days in discussion rooms, was that Mastekh no longer kept any distance between them when they had a rare chance to sit together. Few and brief as these precious moments were, Mastekh now pressed up against Estenarven as if they’d been joined at the hip, no longer wasting time creeping closer over the course of the conversation. Estenarven was secretly hopeful that he might manage to coax his Rainstorm into sharing a bed that night. Or at least a significant amount of cuddle time before sleep. Which neither of them seemed to be getting enough of anymore. If only his bed was bigger…

“How goes the courtship?”

Estenarven blinked, startled out of his pleasant thoughts by the low rumble of Reglian’s voice. The junior archivist was supposed to be taking notes on the chatter around them, but he was mostly picking out the choicest morsels from the draco platters before the elders were served. Each evening the Thunderwing settled down near a different dragon aide for company and it seemed that it was Estenarven’s turn again tonight.

Searching for Mastekh on the opposite side of the room and several seats further down the table tonight, Estenarven gave a heartfelt sigh. “Slowly.”

“Rumour has it you’d reached the sixth gift, but that was several days ago,” Reglian said. “Shouldn’t you be finished by now?”

“Give us a few evenings to ourselves and we’ll take care of it,” he growled, annoyed at the questions.

Reglian smirked. “A few evenings, eh?” He nudged his elbow into Estenarven’s ribs. “Got lots to take care of, have you?”

“Shut up, Reglian.”

The Thunderwing rumbled his deep chuckle. “Someone’s touchy. Have the elders been keeping you up too late?”

“Shut up.”

“I’ll take that as a yes then.” Licking the end of his quill, Reglian dipped it in his inkpot and scribbled something in a small notebook.

“What are you doing?” Estenarven asked, having never seen that little book before. Usually the archivist was busy with scrolls and large tomes. Notebooks like this were far more human in nature.

“Just keeping track of the facts for the betting pool.”

“Betting pool?” Estenarven blinked, then grabbed for the book. “What betting pool? Let me see that!”

“Ah, ah, ah.” Reglian held the notebook out of reach. “Nothing to concern yourself over, young Boulderforce, don’t you worry.” He shoved it back in his pocket and straightened the inkpot before Estenarven could knock it over. “A little decorum, if you please.”

Half-sprawled over the table, Estenarven growled and spat a quill out of his mouth, suddenly aware of how quiet the room had fallen. Looking up, he found all eyes upon him.

Heat washing through him, he straightened up and adjusted his dishevelled robe with an embarrassed cough. “My apologies, elders, ambassador, captain,” he murmured, since attendants were supposed to stick to the shadows and never draw attention to themselves.

More than a few amused smirks were thrown his way, though there was also a scowl or two, but thankfully everyone soon returned to their meals and conversations. Leaving Estenarven free to scowl and punch Reglian hard on the arm.

Ow!” The Thunderwing managed to keep his outrage at a sub-vocal level, rubbing at his bicep. “Blasted Boulderforce. I need that arm to write with, barbarian.”

“Give me that book,” Estenarven growled low in reply.

“No.” Reglian sniffed and picked up another quill, his arm apparently fine despite his protests.

“Do I have to punch you in the head next time and knock some sense into you?” Estenarven threatened in a hiss.

“Violence is never the answer, Pebble,” Reglian informed him in a haughty tone.

“It always works for me,” Estenarven promised.

“Fine.” Reglian dug out the notebook and handed it over just as the next course arrived. “Heathen.”

Cursing the timing, Estenarven tucked the book into his pocket and quickly dealt with switching the empty plates for full ones. Then he hurried back to the shadows and flicked through the small pages. Each one was crammed with lists of names and numbers, few of which made any sense to him. Except for the occasional line here and there.

Dates. Predictions. Two names repeated over and over.

“This is a betting book,” Estenarven whispered, flicking to the last page. “About Mastekh’s and my courtship!” Mastekh to turn him down… 10,000 – 1. He slapped the book against the archivist’s chest. “Reglian!

“Calm down,” the Thunderwing rumbled, rescuing the notebook before they drew the attention of the whole room again. “No one took that bet. Look.”

Estenarven scowled, refusing to acknowledge any relief at the lack of names. Especially as a different heading caught his eye. “What of this?” He grabbed the book and jabbed an accusing finger at The whole thing is a joke… 1,000 – 1. “That’s vicious, even for you.”

“Er, well, yes. Hm, that one wasn’t my idea. I just take the bets and calculate the odds. Look, I gave it a long one, so clearly I have faith in your intentions. Even if others don’t.” Snatching the offending book back, he shoved it into his pocket again. “If people want to throw their coins at me out of spite, I won’t refuse.”

“Don’t ever let Mastekh see this thing,” Estenarven snarled.

Reglian smiled weakly in return. “Not a chance. I promise.”

Eyes narrowed, Estenarven glared around the room, recalling all the names that had been written on the pages and how many of them corresponded with the dragons and humans gathered here right now. “Hang on.” Eyes widening with realisation, he snapped his fingers. “Let me see that again.”

“No.” Reglian covered his pocket with his hand. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Just forget you ever saw it.”

“Not with you making such a tidy profit out of it,” Estenarven argued. “You’d better be planning on sharing those proceeds, you mangy wyvern. Especially if I just saw what I thought I saw. Elder Goryal’s in there, betting that we won’t get this wrapped up until the twenty-fourth of this month. The twenty-fourth! They’ve been running us all ragged because of a bet? Sibling Stone, I could throttle the lot of you!”

“Now, now, Esten, keep your voice down,” Reglian murmured soothingly. “It’s not just because of the bet. These are serious talks. You’ve been at most of them. Not even Goryal can make up this much stuff.”

Estenarven emitted a loud and extremely sceptical snort. Elder Goryal was a Starshine with enough power to do whatever they blasted well pleased. “The profits, Reglian.”

“Oh, well, you know, after running costs and payouts – and there will be an awful lot of those since most of the Riders only betted on you getting together – there really won’t be much left. Truly.”

Folding his arms across his chest, Estenarven stared the other dragon down.

Reglian deflated beneath that disapproving glare. “I suppose you are owed a small slice. Say, twenty-five?”

“Fifty.”

“Thirty?”

“Seventy.”

“You’re supposed to go down, not up!” Reglian protested, drawing attention himself this time. After a hurried apology, it was his turn to glare at Estenarven. “All right, blast you. Fifty-fifty. You can’t get fairer than that.”

“Fifty-fifty,” Estenarven agreed, after pretending to think about it for a long moment. “But if Mastekh ever finds out, we split it evenly three ways.”

“He won’t find out,” Reglian promised. “And as a sign of good faith, I can help with your seventh gift.”

Estenarven arched an eyebrow. “Who said I was looking for help?”

Reglian raised an eyebrow of his own.

And since the quandary of the seventh gift was something that had been keeping Estenarven awake during his brief periods of rest, he tilted his head in reluctant acknowledgement that he did indeed need help. A little. Maybe.

“Remember when Mastekh tried to make sand bread for Khennik?”

The memory made Estenarven wince. Mastekh had been so excited, desperate to impress Elder Blazeborn with his cooking. Having somehow managed to get his hands on a special sort of desert honey, he’d tried making the Sunlord speciality bread for the first time. And it probably would have been fine, if Estenarven hadn’t insisted on helping and reshaping the lot before adding salt. Which had ruined the whole batch, rare, expensive honey and all.

In front of Reglian.

“I remember,” he murmured, face hot with embarrassment and a touch of shame. Mastekh had been so upset.

“Well, it’s no hyssem honey, but I know of an ingredient that some count almost as good. And rare. They say Sunlords will do almost anything for a taste of it.”

“All right.” Folding his arms across his chest, Estenarven tilted his head a little further. “I’m listening.”


Courtship 7More next week.Courtship 7

If, like Reglian, you’re betting on what happens next, get the ebook – it’s free!

Whatever you choose to do, take care, my lovelies.

Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

A Courtship of Dragons: Part 38

courtship-banner

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

(I should probably make a new banner, now that the book is out and all… I’ll add it to the list of things to do when I can breathe.)

Uff, Starshines.


38
Waiting

ALTHOUGH IT WAS disappointing that he wouldn’t be able to give his sixth gift to Estenarven that night, Mastekh found that he didn’t mind too much. Not when Elder Blazeborn needed them. Which was why he found it extra annoying on reaching the Tempestfury elder’s private dining quarters to be reassigned to wait upon Elder Goryal instead, leaving Estenarven to take care of Elder Blazeborn alone.

That wasn’t at all what he’d had in mind and he still hadn’t forgive them for allowing Estenarven to jump into the pool, knowing full well a Boulderforce could not swim.

“Good evening, Mastekh,” the Starshine greeted cheerfully, ignoring Mastekh’s scowl.

“Elder G-Goryal.”

“I’m glad to see you this evening,” they continued, oblivious as always to the resentful thoughts being sent their way. Or, rather more likely, choosing to ignore them, since they were perfectly capable of plucking the thoughts out of the heads of every person present, human and dragon alike. “Have you shared your next gifts yet?”

“No.” Mastekh turned with the other aides to the sideboard that ran around the edge of the room and picked up the first course, which had been just brought in by the dracos. Picking up a bowl of soup, he placed it in front of Goryal with a distinct lack of grace.

Not that they cared. They smiled and thanked him and, with an equally distinct lack of consideration for the protocols of private dining rooms, continued to talk with their server rather than either of the people they were seated between. To their left, Captain Wellswen was busy listening to the Tempestfury on her other side, but Ambassador Jesken on their right had every reason to feel offended – if she hadn’t been so obviously amused by the conversation between Mastekh and the Starshine.

“Which gift are you on now?” Elder Goryal enquired, sipping their soup and making a sound of enjoyment. “This is delicious. Please pass my compliments along to the dracos.”

Mastekh would gladly have done just that, but before he could step back into the shadows where all good attendants belonged, Goryal snagged the edge of his sleeve, holding him in place.

“Which gift, Mastekh?”

“Sixth,” he replied grumpily. “Hand-m-made.”

“A handmade gift,” the ambassador sighed happily. “What a delightful idea. May I ask what you’re making?”

Mastekh flushed to the tips of his ears and shot a worried glance across the table. Unlike him, Estenarven had been left free to return to the shadows after serving the first course. Instead of being asked impertinent questions, he was chatting with Reglian. The smiling young archivist was toying with a quill rather than taking the notes that were supposedly keeping him from being able to wait upon Elder Goryal. Leaving Mastekh to take his place – and answer impertinent questions.

Gritting his teeth, he muttered, “A w-wood carving.”

“Oh, how delightful.” The ambassador smiled at him. “Have you done much carving before?”

Mastekh shook his head and managed to twitch his robe free of Goryal’s grip. “Excuse m-me,” he murmured, escaping back into the shadows where the ambassador’s human servants were talking quietly with the dracos. Jesral kin Lightstorm was there also, barely bothering to conceal her yawn as she waited for Elder Cloudflight to require her attendance. On the opposite side of the room, Kalaha kin Windheart Clan Swiftwing stood at silent attention behind Elder Rainstorm’s chair, jumping forward whenever the dragon snapped his fingers for more wine.

Just looking at Elder Rainstorm’s face as he smiled at the Tempestfury dragon beside him made Mastekh’s blood run cold. Rishen might have been his kin elder, but Mastekh had never felt comfortable around him. He was too sly, too loud and frequently too uncaring to inspire trust. And far too insistent on loyalty to kin and Clan.

The elder looked up at that moment and Mastekh turned hurriedly away, pretending to fuss with the next course as the dracos brought it in. Ever since the disaster that had been Boltspike, Rishen had been ignoring Mastekh and, since he wished that to continue for the rest of his natural life, Mastekh had no intention of drawing his kin elder’s attention.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped forward with the other attendants and removed Goryal’s empty bowl before returning with the next course.

“Remember what I said,” Goryal murmured, as Mastekh leant forward to place the plate of steaming vegetables in front of them. “When you are ready for the final gift, come and see me. I know of something hard to get that will be perfect – for you and Estenarven.”

“More w-wine, elder?” Mastekh said, giving the faintest hint of a nod, aware that Rishen was still watching him.

“Thank you, Mastekh,” the Starshine agreed, smiling as he poured. Thankfully they then let him retreat back into the shadows, where he lost Rishen’s attention once more.

Something hard to get, Mastekh thought as he leant against the wall, eyes locking with Estenarven’s on the far side of the room. At the moment the best gift that fit that description would be time alone together, but in truth that wasn’t a gift either of them could give. Not when they were both assigned to Elder Blazeborn.

So he would have to find something else. Since he had no idea where to even begin in this storm-wracked place so far from his home, he would accept Elder Goryal’s offer. It would cost him nothing to listen and, possibly, might lead to Mastekh getting everything he wanted.

He just wished he didn’t have to wait.

“Patience,” Elder Goryal chuckled, when Mastekh served the next course.

He eyed the elder grumpily, which only made them laugh, and stepped back into the shadows resigned to an impatient, interminable evening at the Starshine’s expense. His only comfort was that he wasn’t the only one trapped here. Catching Estenarven’s eye again, they shared a commiserating smile and he felt instantly better.

It was only one night, after all. He could last one more night.


Courtship 7More next week.Courtship 7

If, like Mastekh, you’re fed up of waiting to find out what happens, get the ebook – it’s free!

Whatever you choose to do, take care, my lovelies.

Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Updates, Writing

Courtship is Out!

Okay, so strictly speaking it’s been out for over a week, but regardless of all that, or if you hadn’t noticed yet…

Courtship 7Dragonlands #1.5

Friends and lovers have always come easily to Estenarven kin Boulderforce, until Mastekh. For the first time in over three hundred years, Estenarven has found a dragon that matters. Now all he has to do is convince him.

Mastekh kin Rainstorm doesn’t expect much from life; he mostly wants to be left alone. Until Estenarven leaves a gift on his pillow. For the first time someone is paying attention to Mastekh, but can this shy, downtrodden dragon ever learn to trust another – and himself – enough to give in to life, joy… and maybe even love?

Warning! This M/M romantic side-adventure contains a watery dragon with no confidence and a stone-stubborn Boulderforce with confidence enough for two. May also contain an interfering Starshine, a slightly perplexed Blazeborn and kissing. Enjoy!

Free to download now!

|| Smashwords || B&N || iBooks || Kobo ||

Currently I have no plans to release it on Amazon, since I cannot make the book free there. If people really want a kindle/mobi version, Smashwords has it or you can leave me a comment or send me an email and I’ll send you a nicer mobi version.

iBooks/iTunes link to come when it actually bothers to appear. This was one of the reasons I left this a while before posting, but even still, Apple is lagging behind. I guess because it’s free. Ah well.

Anyway, you can still read the weekly updates if you prefer and I’ll be making a proper landing page so it will continue to be available free right here – and soon on Wattpad too. However, if you’re fed up of waiting for the ending or prefer to read in places other than online, now you can!

Plus, look, a real cover with a little Esten and Mastekh! Both of which were designed by and can be found on the brilliant Freepik.

Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

A Courtship of Dragons: Part 37

courtship-banner

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

At last, everything is going so well…


37
Delay

DESPITE CARRYING A substantial rock, large enough to fill both hands, Estenarven felt light and merry as he entered Elder Blazeborn’s suite later that afternoon, while yet another storm raged around the tower.

“Ah, there you are.” Khennik looked up from the desk in the main room just as lightning flashed through the narrow windows, glinting off the gold veins in the quartz Estenarven was holding. The elder eyed the object admiringly. “Sixth gift?”

Not liking the way the Blazeborn was staring at the quartz, well aware of the reputation Sunlord dragons had when it came to shiny precious things – along with delicious foods, sumptuous furnishings, grand artwork, swathes of territory and, well, everything, since Sunlords were the most acquisitive of Clans – Estenarven tucked the rock against his chest and wrapped his arms around it, hiding most of it from sight.

“Something precious,” he explained, entirely unnecessarily.

The corner of Elder Blazeborn’s mouth curled ever so slightly upwards. “Fret not, Estenarven. I won’t steal your gift. There are some Sunlords who cannot control their possessive urges. Luckily for you, I am not one of them.”

Even so, Estenarven had prepared for a moment such as this and reached into his pocket. While he’d been searching for the perfect piece of quartz, one with a vein of gold that looked like a river, he’d happened upon a several smaller chunks that might not have been what he’d sought for Mastekh but had still caught his eye. One of which was almost entirely gold with only a few glints of quartz.

He placed it carefully on the table before Khennik. “Thank you, elder.”

The Blazeborn eyed the palm-sized stone warily. “For what?”

His obvious suspicion made Estenarven smile, since he’d intended the rock as a bribe to convince the elder to let him give the bigger piece to Mastekh uncontested. Apparently he needn’t have bothered, which made him perversely all the more eager to give Khennik something.

“For allowing my courtship of Mastekh to continue. For not interfering. For being reasonable. For not trying to take this,” he nodded at the stone now tucked into the crook of his arm, “from me. For keeping Mastekh safe at Teirenlai. For not refusing Goryal when he insisted I should be assigned to you as punishment. For not getting angry when Mastekh drops things, for not getting annoyed when we bicker, for not complaining when one – or both – of us wander off for most of the day.”

Khennik blinked in astonishment at the words that kept on coming, but now that Estenarven had started, he realised he had so much thank this dragon for. More than he’d ever realised.

“Thank you for saving Mastekh’s life at Boltspike, for keeping us with you. For being you.” Taking a deep breath and stopping before he got too carried away, Estenarven picked up the gold rock and leant across the table to place it directly in front of his elder. “Thank you.”

Khennik stared at the rock as if it was about to explode and blinked. Then cautiously, carefully, he picked it up. A flicker of lightning lit up the windows, making the flecks of quartz embedded in the gold glow. Elder Blazeborn turned the rock around in his hand, stroking his fingers over the uneven, ragged edges before his fist closed possessively about it.

When he looked up at Estenarven, his golden eyes glowed with power. “Thank you,” the elder said, and Estenarven sighed with relief that his gift had been accepted. That his thanks hadn’t been rejected. A sense of achievement and approval washed over him and he grinned, hugging Mastekh’s gift against his chest.

“Do you think he’ll like it?” he couldn’t help asking.

Busy admiring his gold stone again, Elder Blazeborn looked up and tipped his head. “I see no reason why he wouldn’t. It looks like a river captured within the stone. You give very thoughtful gifts, Estenarven.”

Unused to praise from his gruff elder, Estenarven had the unfamiliar sensation of flushing with pleasure. Thank the Family his skin was dark and wouldn’t betray him like Mastekh’s paler complexion.

He cleared his throat awkwardly. “I was hoping to give it to him tonight, if you have no need of us.”

“Ah.” Khennik finally put down his rock and laid his hands flat against the table. “Tonight. Has Mastekh given you your sixth gift yet?”

Any happy, light feelings began to fade at the question. “No,” Estenarven said slowly. “Not yet.”

Khennik’s frown turned into a grimace. “Then I regret to inform you that you cannot give this to him tonight. I sadly do have need of you both.”

Disappointment threatened to pull Estenarven’s shoulders down, but his elder had asked so little of them lately – rarely asked much of them even when he had every right to – that he forced himself not to show it. “Whatever you need, elder. We are both here to serve.”

At that moment the door handle rattled and Mastekh entered the suite as if summoned by their elder’s request. Estenarven’s eyes widened as he looked down at the gift he was still holding. Elder Blazeborn stood up swiftly and walked around the desk, taking Mastekh’s attention with him and away from Estenarven.

“Ah, Mastekh, I was just explaining to Estenarven that I shall be dining with Elder Gwyllen tonight and require both of you to attend. It would appear that our host has finally decided to take advantage of our presence and do business with the humans. As a delegate to the embassy, I am told my place is to sit there and ensure all are dealt with fairly.”

“Oh.” Mastekh murmured, sounding as if he too was struggling to hide his disappointment.

Having looked around the room and found nothing big enough to hide the quartz in or behind, Estenarven grimaced and stuffed the rock inside his robe. Though he tucked it between his arm and his body, there was no way he could disguise the fact he was holding something.

“Yes,” Elder Blazeborn continued, keeping Mastekh’s attention away from Estenarven as he began shuffling towards his bedroom door. “Tiresome, I know. The other elders will have their aides attending on them, but if you and Estenarven have other plans, I will likely be able to cope alone. Perhaps Reglian will assist me.”

Estenarven and Mastekh both bristled. As disappointing as it was not to be able to share his sixth gift just yet, there was no way on this Overworld that either he or Mastekh would allow their elder to dine with the other dragons and their aides alone, leaving him as the only one not being properly cared for. Nor would they permit another dragon to take their place.

The care of Elder Blazeborn was their task – no one else’s.

“We’ll be there,” Estenarven announced, forgetting for a moment that he was supposed to be sneaking away before Mastekh noticed the ill-concealed gift inside his robe.

Thankfully he was in a shadowy portion of the room, so even though Mastekh glanced at him, nodding firmly in agreement, he didn’t seem to notice anything amiss.

The corner of Elder Blazeborn’s mouth curled up ever-so-slightly. “So be it. The bell will sound soon – I trust neither of you need too long to prepare.” He cast Estenarven a brief but knowing glance, which Mastekh again failed to notice.

“Not too l-long at all, eld-d-der,” the Rainstorm bubbled, pressing a hand against his robe pocket and rushing into his room.

“Glad to hear it,” Khennik murmured, raising an eyebrow at where Estenarven still stood in the shadows. “I trust that all my hard work providing you with a distraction won’t go to waste now while you stand around daydreaming until Mastekh returns and catches you once again in the open with a badly hidden gift.”

“Ah. Yes, right.” Having been distracted by the sway of Mastekh’s robe as he hurried away, Estenarven cleared his throat and started moving again. “I’ll be back in a tail swish.”

Over the sound of Khennik’s amused snort, Estenarven raced into his room and bundled Mastekh’s gift beneath his pillow. Sighing with relief at finally having the precious thing out of sight, he emptied his pockets of his smaller treasures and turned to his wash his face in the basin. Straightening his robe, he peered into his mirror and smoothed a hand over his bald head.

A little more harried than usual, but otherwise he looked well enough.

“One more night won’t make any difference,” he told his reflection. After all, there was no set time limit between each gift. There could be days, moons, even years between one courting gift and the next if the dragons involved so required. The only time limit applied when it came to reciprocating one gift to another in order to complete the set. Which was why Elder Blazeborn had asked if Estenarven had received his sixth gift yet. If he had, he would only have a day to respond, else the courtship would be ended. However, since neither of them had yet given their sixth gift, there was no real harm in deferring their courtship for another day.

Much though he might wish otherwise.

“Pull yourself together,” he ordered, poking a finger at his reflected nose. “You’re a Boulderforce. You won’t crumble in the meantime.”

Even so, he would miss the long, leisurely evening chats that always started with them sitting side-by-side – Mastekh usually keeping a decorous hand’s span of space between them – and ended with a Rainstorm draped across his chest, sleepily listening to whatever nonsense Estenarven could come up with to keep them together a little while longer. He had hoped that tonight, after their sixth gifts had been exchanged, he might be able to coax Mastekh into staying with him all night. Sleeping, only sleeping, but sadly it seemed as though the elders had other plans.

A heavy bell tolled somewhere overhead and Estenarven relinquished his hopes with a sigh. He had work to do. He wasn’t here for his health, but because Elder Blazeborn needed him.

With that in mind, he rejoined the others and they set off through the halls of Highstrike for another tedious evening of trade talks and diplomatic dancing.


More next Wednesday!

Courtship 7

Courtship 7
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Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

A Courtship of Dragons: Part 36

courtship-banner

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

Mastekh works with his hands.

And in other news, I should hopefully have the complete ebook up and ready for free download by this weekend – whoo! So if you’re fed up of these measly weekly updates, soon you’ll be able to read the whole thing. It’s not like I finished it months ago or anything…

Uh. Anyway, back to the story.


36
Wooden Heart

IT WAS ALL thanks to Lieutenant Nera that Mastekh finally figured out what he would do for Estenarven’s handmade gift. After running, literally, into him in the hallway, she’d asked him how everything was going while they helped each other up and dusted themselves down.

That had been two days ago and, after quickly ascertaining that he had neither the skills nor the time to learn to knit, quilt or crochet, Nera had led him through the winding passages of Highstrike to where the rest of the Riders were staying. There, she’d left him in the capable hands of her sergeant, Zantho, and that was where Mastekh still was, staring down at his carving knife and lump of wood, trying to decide if he’d made the right decision.

“Coming along well,” the quiet sergeant said, looking up from his own exquisitely whittled doelyn and calf, small enough to sit on his hand yet detailed down to every feather.

“Mm,” Mastekh replied doubtfully, running his fingertips over his lump. He had made progress, of a sort, since he’d started with a rectangular block of wood the length of his index finger. Now he had an elongated sand timer shape, which he had spent most of yesterday whittling and smoothing down. Which was something, but not nearly what he wanted.

Zantho sighed and put aside his own work, shifting forward to take Mastekh’s lump from his hands. “Show me again,” he invited, holding out his other hand.

Reaching into his pocket, Mastekh reluctantly brought out his fourth gift from Estenarven.

“Curious little thing,” Zantho murmured, his voice almost as deep as a Thunderwing’s, but lacking the rumble of distant thunder. “So old. I wonder who made it, who it was supposed to be, if it was an ancestor or a deity, and what it was meant for.”

Mastekh had wondered the same things himself at first. However, after listening to Estenarven’s tales of how he’d found it and all the ways it had been with him throughout his life, Mastekh no longer cared what its first life had been. All that mattered to him was that it was precious to Estenarven. So even though this one wouldn’t be as old or as precious as the other ones he’d lost, Mastekh hoped that by making a new figure for his Boulderforce, he could lessen the loss of having give the last one away.

“Well, it’s simple enough,” Zantho said briskly, jolting Mastekh from his thoughts. The sergeant handed the old figure back and held the lump up between them. “You’ve smoothed this down well, now you need to carve the final shape.”

“C-c-carve?” Mastekh looked at the knife he was holding and swallowed hard. It wasn’t that he was afraid of the blade, but after spending two days working on his lump, he really didn’t want to ruin it. Who knew how long it would take him to reach this point again?

“Like this.” Zantho fetched a fresh piece of wood from the satchel where he kept all his carving tools. It would have been so simple to let the sergeant do all the work, but they had both agreed from the beginning that the only person to work on this piece would be Mastekh. So the sergeant had created his own lump while showing Mastekh how to whittle and smooth, and now he would show him how to carve.

“Hold it firm.” He passed Mastekh’s lump back to him, picked up his own piece of wood and readied his knife. “Just like peeling an apple. Soft, light strokes. Gently does it. Now dip in a fraction, just a touch. Don’t force it.”

For a man who didn’t seem to talk much, Zantho had a wonderfully soothing voice – and he never expected Mastekh to talk back. With that pressure removed, Mastekh was free to concentrate on Zantho’s words, watching his hands and trying to mimic the movements as best he could. Press and carve, press and carve, turn a little, press and carve. The process was repetitive and easy, almost meditative, allowing Mastekh’s mind to drift away to a quiet place of nothing.

No worries, no anxieties, just the knife and the wood and the soft, gentle movements.

“There now. Take a look. How’s it seem to you?”

Mastekh blinked out of his trance and looked down at the lump, surprised to see that his elongated shape had become more defined, with a longer, more slender blob atop a sturdier, rounder base. “Oh. I d-d-did it.”

“So you did,” Zantho agreed, putting his neater version aside and handing Mastekh a piece of leather covered with fine sand. “Now you have to smooth it. After that, it’ll be time for details.”

Sighing, Mastekh accepted the leather and settled back into the monotonous task of rubbing the wood smooth again. “Details,” he grumbled gloomily. “Another ch-chance to r-r-ruin it.”

Zantho clicked his tongue disapprovingly as he picked up his doelyns again. “You haven’t ruined it yet, have you?”

“N-no.”

“And you won’t. I’ll see to that.”

Buoyed up by the quiet confidence in the man’s tone, Mastekh put his doubts aside and got to work. The sooner he smoothed this down, the sooner he could carve and the sooner he could finish. Then he could give it to Estenarven and be one step closer to the end of their courtship.

Bending over his double-blob, Mastekh bit his tongue to help him concentrate and rubbed all the rough edges of his carving away.


More next week!
(Or the whole thing in a few days. Hopefully.)

Take care, my lovelies.

Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

A Courtship of Dragons: Part 35

courtship-banner

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

So what now?


35
My Precious

12th Storm Month

“I DON’T SEE what all the fuss is about,” Lieutenant Vish remarked from the back of his miryhl the next morning. “You’re a stone dragon. Don’t you carry lots of shiny gems around with you all the time? They’re precious, aren’t they? Can’t you just use one of them?”

Taking advantage of a lull in the weather, Estenarven and three of the Rift Rider lieutenants had escaped from Highstrike to fly in the mountains. With the storms lying thick and heavy around the Tempestfury kinlands, all of them – humans, miryhls and dragon – were starting to go a little crazy from being inside all the time.

Although some of Estenarven’s restlessness was down to the fact that two whole days had passed since his dinner with Mastekh and he was still no closer to knowing what his sixth gift should be.

“Maybe he wants to be a little less obvious,” Anhardyne said, her miryhl flying directly over Estenarven’s head. “A diamond or an emerald from a stone dragon? How predictable is that?”

The other Riders and miryhls murmured in agreement, but Estenarven kept his thoughts to himself. He knew they were just trying to be helpful, but contrary to human beliefs, not all stone dragons (as they crudely insisted on labelling him) collected shiny gems. That was the province of kin Jewelwing, as their name suggested.

Yes, all right, Boulderforces did like shiny things every now and then, but they were just as likely to collect a piece of quartz or hematite as gather up diamonds and sapphires.

“But if we rule out precious gems as too obvious,” Nera called from her position on Estenarven’s left, “what else is there?”

And therein lay Estenarven’s problem. He had limited time and extremely finite resources, yet somehow he had to uncover something precious enough to give to his Puddle. Not because the courtship demanded it, but because he wanted to. The rock rose that now sat pride of place on his narrow windowsill was the most perfect and unlikely gift anyone had ever given him. He loved it. The feelings that had bubbled up within him when he’d first laid eyes on it – tenderness and love and a sense of being thought special enough to care for such a thing – were wondrous. He wanted Mastekh to feel every last one. So he needed a good gift, a precious gift, a thoughtful, well considered gift.

“Urgh, rain,” Anhardyne muttered as big fat droplets began splattering down. “I’d hoped we’d escape it.”

“Try down there,” Nera shouted, her miryhl already diving for a gap between the spurs of two mountains.

Estenarven allowed the miryhls to go ahead of him, his scales rippling a protest at the worsening weather. The rain was drumming on his wings now. It wouldn’t hurt him, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. As he dove after the miryhls, his magic tingled through his bones and he grinned as he realised what Nera had spotted.

A cave, low and narrow but with space enough for three miryhls, three humans and one human-sized dragon to fit in reasonable comfort.

“Good eyes, Ni,” he remarked, back-winging and shifting midair to land on bare feet. As he crouched to absorb the drop, his hand brushed the ground.

With his magical senses still open, exploring the parameters of the cave, something bright and cool flashed across his mind and he looked up.

“Very good eyes indeed,” he murmured, smiling at the veins that rippled through the stone like ancient, fossilised rivers, glinting in the pallid light of the overcast day.

When he slowly stood, head canted backwards, the three Riders and their miryhls looked up too.

“Is that…?” Nera asked softly.

“Gold,” the others agreed in a reverent whisper.

“In quartz,” Estenarven said, pressing his palms against the nearest wall and grinning with excitement. “Rivers of quartz and gold flow right through the heart of this mountain.”

Anhardyne chuckled. “Well, there’s a gift to please any Flowflight.”

Estenarven grinned. “We may need a little more light,” he suggested, keeping one hand pressed against the wall as he moved deeper into the cave, following the shining river in search of the perfect piece to take home.


More next week.

Take care, my lovelies.

Books, Free Fiction, Overworld, Serial, Writing

A Courtship of Dragons: Part 34

courtship-banner

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

I want one of these.



34

The Rose

THEY BOTH STARED at the rose that was just visible through the fog on the glass. Mastekh bit his lip, hoping against hope that he’d done the right thing.

“May I?” Estenarven asked softly, raising his hands either side of the dome.

Mastekh nodded, making a low sound of agreement. Unlike some of the roses and flowers in Elder Gwyllen’s collection this one wasn’t delicate, but the shock of going from the humid glasshouse to the cold hallways had prompted the gardener to provide the dome. Hopefully by now the air inside would have cooled enough to be less of a shock.

Estenarven lifted, revealing the rose beneath in all its understated glory. When the Boulderforce said nothing, simply stared at the grey bloom that was the size of Mastekh’s fist and appeared to be growing out of a bed of pebbles and moss, nerves struck.

“It’s a r-r-rock r-rose,” he rushed to explain. “Hardy, I’m t-told. They g-g-grow all over the n-north. But this one is sp-special. They’re mostly wh-white, sometimes p-p-pink, but this one is g-g-grey. Like you.”

The Boulderforce kept looking at the rose and Mastekh felt the first tendril of panic. Even though he’d jokingly thought that he would gladly keep the rose if Estenarven didn’t want it, the simple act of refusing a gift would bring their whole courtship crashing down.

Estenarven couldn’t refuse. He couldnt.

Mastekh wrung his hands, unable to help the fact that they were dripping. He’d thought he was being so clever. Estenarven’s first gift to him had been a flower. The fact that Estenarven had chosen food as his fifth gift seemed a beautifully positive sign, since Mastekh’s first gift to him had been food. They had mirrored each other without even knowing.

Except Estenarven was a Boulderforce. Who would be stupid enough to give such a hard, solid, sturdy dragon flowers?

Fine tremors shivered up Mastekh’s spine, turning his knees to water. After everything they’d been through, after the wonder of the last few evenings, he’d gone and ruined it with a stupid gift. A rose from Elder Gwyllen’s private collection was special, yes, but only if you cared for such fragile, frippery things.

“A rock rose,” Estenarven said at last, his voice sounding like he was gargling gravel.

“Yes,” Mastekh breathed softly.

“It’s beautiful.”

The relief was so strong that Mastekh had to hold onto the table to stop himself from melting all over the floor.

Estenarven didn’t notice, he was too busy touching the pebbles and moss that made up the rose’s bed. Despite his big, broad hands, he was exquisitely gentle as he brushed the winding stem and stroked a grey petal.

“No one has ever given me flowers before,” he said wistfully. “People don’t think Boulderforces need them. They don’t think we value pretty, fragile things.” He looked up, dark eyes shining straight into Mastekh’s heart. “But I do. Because they’re not frail, they’re survivors. They’re strong.”

That did it. Mastekh’s knees collapsed and he would have fallen, except Estenarven was there to catch him, pulling him onto his lap and cradling him tight.

“Thank you, Puddle. Thank you.”

Tucking himself beneath Estenarven’s chin, head resting on his broad chest, Mastekh closed his eyes and sighed with relief. He’d chosen right, the courtship would continue. He thought about protesting that he wasn’t strong, that Estenarven had got it wrong, but he wouldn’t allow anything to spoil this moment. No negative thoughts. Just relief – and acceptance.

Only two gifts left to go. Something handmade, something hard to get.

Listening to the steady beat of Estenarven’s heart, Mastekh smiled as his Boulderforce cooed at his rock rose and knew he would never find a more precious, hard to find gift than the love and trust of this dragon.

But he’d try his best anyway, because that was what courtship was for. He would live up to his Estenarven’s expectations and be strong. Then he would hold onto this amazing gift he’d found with all the strength in his heart.


More next week.

Take care, my lovelies.