Please welcome A.R. Roelke to the I Love Books event! She is sharing a great excerpt from her tween book, A Girl and a Dragon. The book cover by C.K. Volnek is one of my favorites.
Alice and I are swapping blogs, so please hop on over to her Writing Life blog where she grills me questions about my middle grade book for girls, Girls Succeed.
|"A slave girl and a dragon on the run for their lives seek the cure|
for a plague, and redemption."
The Girl and the Dragon, by Alice M. Roelke
My YA Christian fantasy story "The Girl and the Dragon" is available
from my publisher, MuseItUp: http://bit.ly/RgGihy and various other
places online such as Amazon:
###Adella, a slave, can hear the thoughts of animals.
Her life is only worth living when she gets to spend time with her
dearest friend, a dragon—very large and frightening to most people but
not to Adella.
When Dragon does the unthinkable to protect her, the two must flee for
their lives. Adella struggles with the guilt she harbors and her
frightened feelings about God and punishment.
Disguising herself as a boy, she seeks work—and the pair get caught up
in a battle. They survive and become heroes. Then, horrible news: the
nation’s beloved king, to whom Adella feels strangely drawn, has been
infected by the Green Death. If he dies, anarchy will spread through
the kingdom and create war.
Adella and Dragon set off on a quest to find the plague’s forgotten
cure. Danger and adventure await—along with trolls, shape shifters and
secrets beyond her wildest dreams. But time is growing short. If they
don’t find the cure, the king will die…
"Sir John is coming!"
Adella looked up from feeding the chickens. A messenger pounded into
the courtyard on horseback, scattering indignant hens. His horse
heaved for breath, and the man glanced around, wild-eyed. "Sir John is
Servants shrieked. Stable boys raced to their charges and housemaids
ran to the kitchen. Smells of a hasty feast wafted forth. Even Shahn,
the steward, twisted one of the rings on his fingers as he paced the
Nearly six months had come and gone since Sir John's last visit.
Adella knew everyone in Slekt Manor had breathed more freely without
him around. They feared him all the more since learning he’d lost
property in a political dispute. He’d probably be in an even fouler
temper than usual—and demand greater payments from Slekt.
Along with his legendary rage, there was his legendary dragon. A lot
of nobles rode dragons. They traveled faster than horses and acted as
status symbols, striking fear into the hearts of commoners. Sir John’s
dragon was especially large.
Surrounded by turmoil and haste, Adella was the only one who didn't
hurry. She was one small, easily overlooked girl. She could have been
anywhere from thirteen to nineteen. No one knew, least of all she.
"Adella. What a name for a slave!" How often had she heard that? She
couldn't help her name.
She kept feeding the chickens at her usual pace. The heavy bucket
thumped against her leg, and she knew it would leave bruises. But she
didn't mind. Sir John was coming!
She finished spreading the chicken meal and headed back to the stable
to hang up the bucket. Someone slammed into her shoulder. Ow! Flashes
of light and pain went off in her head. She sprawled on the ground,
gasping and opened her eyes to see stable boy Brast sneering down. He
didn't apologize or offer to help her up. "Better prepare for the
He's just jealous. She watched as he walked away. She knew people
resented her way with animals and her position in the stables. She
should’ve been just another frail kitchen girl to ignore or harass.
But she wasn't. For all her quiet ways and slight size, she could
always get animals to cooperate better than anyone else. She’d spent
long days at the plow, working whipless and quiet next to grown men
who beat their mules and still plowed slower than she did. The
competitive stable boys seemed to especially dislike her. Brast was
the worst, perhaps because he used to have a higher position in the
stables before the manor bought her. It made her shiver when she
caught him sneering at her while he polished his long knife.
She picked herself up, eyes smarting with tears of pain. She let out a
groan, since no one stood close enough to hear. How often had she
looked forward to this day? But now she stumbled toward the stable,
feeling as though she might throw up her breakfast. The fear and toil
and cruelty she'd been able to endure, thinking of this day. How long
the months had seemed!
“Hurry, Dragon!” she thought impulsively, though she knew he already
flew as fast as he could, flapping his immense leathery wings. The
knowledge bolstered her, and she managed to walk upright into the
stables to check the dragon's stall.
The stall, one huge room, stood separate from the horses' and mules'
stalls. She'd cleaned it every week since Sir John's last visit. Even
the stake near the wall for the dragon's chain shone. She checked the
supply of dragon food. They'd recently made a batch, but she didn't
think it was good enough. Sir John hated to waste fresh meat; he made
his manors use old, bad, or poor-quality animal parts mixed with meal
and grease for feed. It showed in his dragon's dull scales.
Screams of horses and people sounded from the courtyard. Adella heard
the dragon's mind approaching, happy and excited.
“I'm here. Be calm.” She hurried into the courtyard.
Dust rose from the courtyard as the huge, green dragon wings stroked
closer. People and animals ran for cover. Adella watched from the
stable door, her breath caught in her throat, lost in the majesty of
the graceful landing. Her skirts whipped around her legs from the wind
of his wings. She ran to him. The dragon lowered his head to let Sir
John off. Adella stopped before the heavy, compact man. He towered
over her in his rich, red and blue robes. He wore his usual imposing
Adella kept her eyes lowered and curtsied to Sir John, but her
thoughts focused on the dragon and his joy at seeing her.
“Don't prance!” she told him. It would anger Sir John. But Adella
could see Dragon's trembling muscles; how badly he wanted to greet
"Here." Sir John thrust the dragon's chain at her and stalked toward
the steward, raising his voice. Adella almost didn't hear him for the
exploding joy of Dragon in her head.
“Act normal,” she instructed both herself and Dragon. She trembled,
too, as she led him into the stable, hooked the chain around the
stake, and went back to the double doors. She leaned hard into them,
shaking with the effort. They shut with a bang.