- Mistress Of Dragons
Book One of the Dragonvarld trilogy
Dragons have made a pact against dealing with the human world, organizing their own Parliament to rule themselves and their interactions with humans. A renegade dragon named Maristara has gone and taken over the valley of Seth, a human realm. She eludes dragon law and justice by keeping out other dragons with magic and by using humans who she has trained in dragon magic. She is a black dragon and therefore one of the oldest, strongest and most powerful of all dragons.
A young green dragon named Braun, a grandchild of Maristara, brings startling evidence to Parliament that his father, who had tried to coax Maristara out of her valley, has died. His death was previously thought to be an accident, though Braun has learned he was murdered by another dragon in league with Maristara. Draconas, the walker, is a dragon in human form by dint of powerful illusion magics. Upon hearing this at the Dragon Parliament he decides to complete a task: find the Mistress of Dragons, the ruler of Seth, and from her find the whereabouts of Maristara and give the dragons the opportunity to bring her to justice. With Braun and the human King Edward of Idlyswylde to help get through Maristara's barrier, he sets out to adventure. He insists on absolute secrecy with the plan's details because of information leaks he believe help Maristara and killed Braun's father, confiding only in the Minister of Parliament, Anora.
The plan begins by having Braun appear to attack Edward's kingdom, so they might invite Draconas in under the guise of a dragon hunter. He brings Edward to Seth safely, though they are required to fight off an unknown band of mad monks wielding dragon magic. They pass a band of what appears to be baby smugglers while looking for the 'back door' into Seth. While getting in to the temple sanctuary of Seth they are required to go through a maze that Draconas believes is Maristara's dragon lair. While traveling the maze he and Edward overhear a conversation that leads them to believe the Mistress of Dragons will be murdered that night. Edward reacts hastily and kidnaps the old woman who is the current Mistress of Dragons in an attempt to keep her safe. He is interrupted by High Priestess Melisande, the chosen successor of the Mistress. She is able to incapacitate him and attempts to help the old Mistress back to her chamber. The extreme weakness of the old Mistress leads her to start the process of transferring the mantle and power of the Mistress of Dragons to Melisande ... a disaster from Melisande's point of view since it turns out Maristara was hiding inside a human's body through the power of possession and blood magic and was going to do the same to her. A recovered Edward and Draconas help Melisande escape. Maristara then takes over the body of Melisande's most bitter rival, Lucretta, as the new Mistress of Dragons. Lucretta sets the temple's guard on them and lies to the Guard Captain, Melisande's lover Bellona, in order to excite her jealousy and desire to find them. A later argument sees Lucretta demoting Bellona and having her arrested.
The clues of the monks, Maristara's ability to take over human bodies, and the disappearance of the temple's baby sons lead Draconas to realize that when she took over Seth several centuries ago Maristara enlisted the help of another dragon and began breeding dragon magics into human beings with her coupling ceremonies designed to repopulate the temple. The girls were kept in the temple and trained in defensive magics while the boys were sent away, presumably given to the unknown dragon accomplice, and trained in offensive magery which he deduces is the source of the monks' madness. He is now confronted with the prospect of an unknown army of men with dragon magics to command.
As Draconas relates this to Anora they come up with a plan to do something similar: to breed Melisande and Edward to get a human child with the dragon magic to raise him or her separately in order to infiltrate the temple and allow them to bring Maristara out in the open where other dragons could get her. The plan works halfway - he is able with Anora's help to get the humans set up with the same aphrodisiac/fertility boost medication the temple uses for their monthly breeding schedule, but after he leaves Edward and Melisande alone to let nature take its course he is waylaid by the leader of the group that was taking the temple's baby boys away into secrecy. This leader is named Grald, and like Maristara he is a dragon that has taken over the body of a human. Draconas is defeated and escapes, trying to get to his human pair in time to protect them but he is too late. Grald had looked into his mind by force and taken the information about breeding a child. He gets to the couple first, beating Edward savagely and raping Melisande. Draconas is able to prevent Grald from taking Melisande away by returning to his dragon form. While he is chasing Grald away Melisande is found by her escaped lover Bellona and rescued.
Draconas returns Edward to his kingdom while Bellona and Melisande discover that Melisande is pregnant and move to a village near Idlyswylde's capital. Keeping hope that the child is Edward's son, she arranges to have the child given into the king's keeping after birth. The warriors of Seth have not been idle though and attempt to steal her child when it is born. They do succeed in killing Melisande after she gives birth. Edward's seneschal Gunderson collects a son to bring to Edward. Draconas shows Bellona that Melisande had twins and gives the second child into her keeping, as Melisande had asked her to watch over her children on her deathbed.
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