From Pulling The Rug III by Jane Jago, one of 13 books in the Great Spring Giveaway of science fiction and fantasy books. You can pick them all up FREE for the next five days....
“All hail Emperor Sulieman and his Empress Leonore.”
People ran from their homes and businesses to line the streets and stare at their dark emperor in his dented armour and drink in the beauty of the velvet-clad empress.
At the palace, they rode through the wide open gates, and if the empress saw the heads that decorated the walls above the gatehouse she gave no sign. The first sign of any interest came as they progressed through the dragon’s garden.
“Husband,” she said in a wooden little voice, “why is that Drake so chained?”
“He always has been.”
“For a hundred and half a hundred years.”
She frowned. “Then it is past time to strike off his chains.”
“And let him fly away?”
“Whether he flies or does not fly is immaterial. He should not be thus imprisoned.”
Sulieman shrugged. “Very well. I will give the order.”
“And I will stay to see it done.”
She slipped from her horse and went to stand at the dragon’s head. Those who gathered in the garden were later to swear that it was as if the Ivory Empress and the green/gold dragon were communicating on some subliminal level too deep for mere humans to comprehend. But that was much later. Truth to tell nobody saw anything to remark save the straight tall figure of the Empress with one hand on the dragon’s neck as the smiths struck off the chains that held him captive. Once he was free the firedrake inclined his head to the Emperor, almost as equal to equal, before curling himself into the soft grass and closing his eyes.
Sulieman was curious. “Why does he not fly away?”
“On wings unused for more than a hundred years? It will take time before he can fly. If indeed he ever can.”
A shadow passed over Sulieman’s face and he tugged his intricately plaited beard. “I shall be sorry if that is true. Bad enough to be tricked and held prisoner, without being maimed.” He turned his handsome head towards the dragon. “Good firedrake,” he said with extreme formality, “if it should so be that the actions of my father’s father’s father have maimed thee. I would apologise and make such reparation as I can.”
For the first time since his capture the dragon spoke. His voice was like the crackle of flames around the Yuletide fire and it made one think of woodsmoke and autumn. “I think myself unhurt, Magister, it is just to think of whether I wish to go or stay a while and observe.”
Then he shut his mouth and closed his eyes.
Sulieman looked at his Empress. “He can speak, habiiba, why has he never spoken before?”
The Empress sighed. “For the same reason you did not beg your captors for water.”
Sulieman bowed his head. “That is hard hearing, and I feel shame that I had not thought that a firedrake may have his pride too. I should have freed him long since.”
For the first time in their too brief acquaintance, Leonore reached out a hand to her husband. It was a massive step forward and Sulieman smiled.
Between 30 May and the 5 June, you can snag these other books for FREE as well...
First-Contact Science Fiction
Aliens Crashed in My Backyard by Mike van Horn
Singer Selena M rescues a very non-human alien from a crashed spaceship and nurses it back to health. She is surprised to discover that it communicates through song, and they help each other rekindle their passion for singing. But the government wants that spaceship and comes to take it from Selena.
How did this young alien escape her home world and make a taboo trip to Earth? What was she running from? How long before the Elders come after her?
Near-Future Science Fiction
Dragon Moon by Scott E, Tarbet
A new space race explodes into violence when China quietly sets its sights on the Moon. Now, an unlikely team of US Navy SEALs, Russian Spetsnaz, and a Chinese-American agent have one chance to stop the activation of China’s powerful new weapon before all hope is lost. The cost of failure: worldwide Chinese empire.
Hunting Darkness by Ian Bristow
Driven by the death of his sergeant, Detective Inspector Hunter Davis sets out to solve a case they had closed the previous year. Soon he will discover that not all realities are explained on our terms, and sometimes the path we are so desperate to travel can lead to realms beyond our comprehension. Full of secrets from an ancient past, mystery and magic will collide in this captivating Urban Fantasy.
Hyde’s Lament by L.N. Denison
A revelation has been made, and it will change things forever. Forced into submission, Hyde’s life hangs in the balance. Can she overcome? Or will her captors succeed? It all ends here!
I Killed the Man That Wasn’t There by Darrell B. Nelson
Four tales of Futuristic Horror.
Tales of revenge, retaliation and surprise set in the not so distant future.
The Journey of Malchus by Chandra Truelove Fry
It’s the end of the world, and evil zombies have taken over!
Try convincing Malchus of that when he can understand and communicate with them…
Light’s Dawn by Yvette Bostic
Mikel, a young merchant with the East India Trading Company, always considered fortune to be his mistress…until the Amboyan Massacre. The Dutch spare his life, but he’s forced into the deep jungles of South America to act as bait for a hidden menace picking off their scouts one by one. It works all too well: a demonic horde, drawn into the open, annihilates the entire Dutch battalion, leaving Mikel running for his life.
Shifter Science Fantasy
Lost Dogs 1 by Nils Odlund
Sixteen years ago, Roy van Waldenberger made a promise to the woman he loved, and it’s ruled his life ever since: No cheating. No lies.
To save the few people he still cares about, Roy must turn his back on everything he believes in, break the promise he made, and defeat his own inner beast.
He’s not sure he can.
A Science Fiction and A Science Fantasy Anthology from Inklings Press
Tales from the Universe
Science fiction stories that deal with love, and fear, hope and despair, the ugliness of mankind and its beauty. Tales that reach to the farthest edge of the galaxy, and that face startling futures right here on Earth. These ten stories deal with artificial intelligences, cloning, aliens, war, peace and humanity’s place in it all.
Tales of Wonder
Science Fantasy is the collision of science fiction and fantasy – where the impossible and the improbable come together. This is a universe of spaceships and sorcery, of mechanics and magic, where zeppelins soar through the ether and conjurers stalk dark tunnels with a ball of light in their fist. So cut loose, let slip the mooring ropes on your imagination, and join these nine authors as they set course for the horizon – and beyond.
Dark Space Opera
Trust a Few by E.M. Swift-Hook
“You’ve been gone a long time Jaz, and word is you’ve come back – changed.”
After five years of brutal convict military service, Jaz just wants to rebuild his shattered life. But the past is hard to escape. As Jaz tries to find an old friend who needs him, a new ally offers to help. But in the ‘City, who you decide to trust is a matter of life and death.
Zombie Turkeys by Andy Zach
Sam Melvin, an underachieving e-reporter from a small town, changes forever when he meets turkeys that won’t stay dead. You can shoot ’em, chop ’em, burn ’em—they come back stronger. The undead plague of poultry spreads uncontrollably, rocking the whole country. As Sam tracks down the zombie turkeys and how to eradicate them, his editor, Lisa Kambacher, nags him to turn his stories and expenses in on time.