Thanks, Lex, for hosting me today.
I’ve always loved stories about dragons so when I was asked what traditional story I’d rewrite as M/M, St George and the Dragon immediately came to mind.
I’m not a fan of helpless heroines or dragons as the bad guys. One strong image I had for the story before I started writing was a prince being sacrificed to a dragon but things not going the way you’d expect. I also didn’t want to write a typical heroic prince. Although Aric is the crown prince of Astria, he has led a sheltered life and can be naive at times. Denys, a herbalist Aric meets while on the quest to find the missing sword of Sherwin, has much more experience of the world, but there’s still a lot he needs to learn. Aric’s twin sister, Georgia, who started off as the George of the story, isn’t a typical princess who needs rescuing either. She and her brother can both hold their own in a fight.
I had a lot of fun working out the dragon mythology, which will be explored more as the series progresses. Aric and Denys’s story has only just begun. I’m writing book two—A Mage to Forget—once I’ve finished my current WIP. I’m half expecting characters to turn up who weren’t in the outline, and then run with the story. After all, that’s what happened in A Knight to Remember. I sometimes wonder why I outline, but having a story take on a life of its own is half the fun. Right?
Dragons of Astria is also a reminder that I can’t write one-shots to save my life. In the original draft of A Knight to Remember I wrote an epilogue that tied up loose ends. Two of my beta readers read it, shook their heads, and said “you know this is the beginning of book two, don’t you? “ Then one of them took it further and said this is really a three book series, with this happening in book two, and then this in book three.
They were right.
A Knight to Remember
“The last of your line will be in the embrace of a dragon.”
Aric, Crown Prince of Astria, has been brought up to believe that all dragons are evil. But when he speaks with one, he finds himself questioning those beliefs. The dragon tells him to find a sword in Sherwin Forest to save not only his kingdom but also his sister, Georgia, who must otherwise wed the prince of a neighboring kingdom.
At the start of his quest, Aric dons a disguise and meets Denys, an archer and herbalist who lives alone at the edge of the forest. Denys agrees to guide Aric into the forest, but then Georgia appears, revealing Aric’s true identity.
However Aric learns he is not the only one keeping secrets. Denys has a few of his own that could change both of their lives forever.
“You said you had something to tell me.” Aric cleared his throat, not wishing to reminiscence about such things, at least not now. He was losing his mind, he must be. This was a dream, it had to be. Yet why did it feel so real? “And my name is not Brandric. It’s Aric. Brandric is what my father calls me.”
“Aric, then.” The dragon inclined its head again, lowering its voice. “Your sister is to marry the prince of a neighboring kingdom. This must not be allowed to happen. It will not unite your kingdoms, but is merely a ploy to gain your father’s trust.”
“I already know that.” Aric had heard two of King Malachite’s men talking. Once the marriage had taken place, King Malachite planned to invade Astria and claim it in the name of Logan, his own kingdom. “He… they talked about using magic.” Aric had told his father about what he’d overheard, but he hadn’t been believed. King Malachite, King Brandr assured his son, would not attempt to betray Astria by using the evil that was magic. Nor would he use their children’s marriage to gain control over Astria. He was an honorable man who had stood by Astria and its people many times, their armies united against a common foe. Together they had triumphed over those who might use magic against them, and worked to rid both their lands of the threat of dragons.
Aric had never trusted King Malachite. There was something about the man that made his skin crawl, but if asked to explain, he couldn’t. Only two people had ever believed him: Georgia and Aunt Hannah.
“The only way to fight magic is with magic.” The dragon looked around, then cocked its head to the side as though listening to something Aric could not hear. “You must seek the Sword of Sherwin, Aric. The quest will not only save your kingdom, but also your sister.”
“I….” Aric stared at the dragon. He’d heard of the sword, of course he had. It was an old tale told to him by both his aunt and his mother. The sword was a thing of power. “It doesn’t exist. It’s just a story. Or if it did, it was lost generations ago.” He shook his head. Surely the dragon couldn’t be serious?
“Then it is time it was found again, isn’t it?”
“You make it sound simple. It’s not.” Aric looked up at the dragon. Its eyes were the same color as its scales. They seemed to bore into his own, searching his heart, and his soul. There was something ageless about it, powerful yet lonely. He shivered, and averted his gaze.
“You see what others don’t, young Aric.” The dragon opened its wings. Aric gasped. They were the length of several men, black cobwebs of fine leather and scale. “Follow your heart, and trust your instincts.”
“But I don’t know where to look.” Aric wanted to believe the dragon, he truly did. Georgia couldn’t be allowed to marry Prince Thorold, and Aric could not stand by and let his kingdom fall. Killing dragons had only been part of the oath he’d taken. He might not intend to keep that part of it, but he certainly would keep the other.
The dragon had already begun to flap its wings. It was preparing to leave, and Aric knew once it took flight he’d never be able to stop it. “Follow your heart, Aric. Do what is right.”
Aric stumbled back, his sword falling to the ground. He couldn’t kill the dragon, but more than that, he didn’t want to. “I don’t know where to look,” he yelled after it. The dragon did not reply but instead took to the air, gliding, hovering above him, its movement graceful, majestic. Something about it called to him, touched him.
He wiped at his eyes. They were wet.
When he looked up again, the dragon was gone.
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.
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