Grasping the rock Balear had thrown at him, Iren whipped around and launched it, not bothering to aim or even care what he hit.
In truth, he could damage little. His chamber had little adornment: a hard bed with three discarded blankets and a dresser with the few outfits he’d fished from the trash. The only object of merit was a large painting hung on the wall beside the dresser. As if guided by fate, the rock struck its frame, and the artwork clattered to the floor.
The harsh sound yanked Iren from his temper. He knelt and retrieved both the stone and the fallen painting. They were his finest treasures. The stone, little more than a black pebble, had come from the ocean. The surf had tossed it until it had worn perfectly smooth. Years ago, one of the castle children had brought it home, but his mother had commanded him to get rid of it. Iren swiped it that night, his only possession that had ever touched the sea.
As for the painting, while he couldn’t truly claim to own it, he still considered it his. It had hung in this tower since long before he arrived, yet it apparently held such low value that no one bothered to remove it when he took up residence. Still, he couldn’t help feeling a deep attachment to it, the only thing in his room he hadn’t stolen or pulled from the garbage.
Iren surveyed it closely. “No harm done,” he whispered with relief.
Returning the painting to the wall, Iren stepped back and took in its splendid image: a serpentine dragon. Though unsigned, the painting’s remarkable realism made the great beast almost come alive. Blue streaks and hairs off its spine accentuated its gleaming white body. Its wings stretched beyond the painting’s borders, so that they appeared to extend forever to the heavens. Though its mouth opened wide in a silent roar, its expression invoked not terror but majesty.
The painting’s frame held a small plaque that read, “Divinion, the Holy Dragon.” Iren smiled, proud of his unshared knowledge. It gave him a small satisfaction, knowing something the vast majority of the populace did not. Though everyone called Haldessa’s tallest spire the Tower of Divinion, few understood the name’s origin. Growing up, Iren overheard mothers tell their children that long ago, the tower served as a temple to worship dragons, sacred creatures that brought balance to the world.
Of course, no one used it for that purpose now. Nobody believed in the dragons anymore. Most had forgotten that they even had names, let alone what those names were.
As Iren looked at the dragon’s face in the artwork, though, for a moment he saw more than a painting. The creature stared out at the room with sky blue eyes, eyes that eerily matched Iren’s. Their gaze bored through his body, and a sudden hopelessness washed over him. Barely conscious of his actions, Iren backed away from the painting and collapsed on his bed, burying his head in his hands.
From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.
Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom's only known Left, that's meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It's harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia's charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It's a suicide mission, and Iren's chances aren't helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon's spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.
Adding to his problems, someone on Iren's team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who - and how - to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.
"A fast-paced adventure...led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going." - ForeWord Reviews
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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