Abruptly, a scream split the darkness. A man's scream. The soldiers started yelling. I heard armor clank and men curse as they stumbled about the woods, trying to grab their swords.
I turned to Skyler, but she was gone from my side. My mouth gaped. She had vanished like smoke. The night was pitch black and I was alone.
I stood up shakily, listening to the cries of the men thrashing in the woods. My heart pounded. Was it The White? I looked up to the sky, but the trees were far too dense to see anything. I sniffed the air, waiting for a plume of smoke or a burst of flame. I tried to control the urge to flee. Running into the woods at a time like this would be madness. But what could I do? Hide? How did one hide from an unseen foe?
The soldiers’ screams continued to echo, and then a fierce battle cry smothered them. I saw strange blue light between the trees. It came in the direction of the soldiers’ camp. I stumbled toward it, then paused, torn. I couldn’t help the soldiers. I had no weapon, no training.
Slowly, I sank to the base of the tree behind me. I pressed myself flat against the bark and clutched my hands in a silent prayer. By Phaidros, I was a coward. A skulking, defenseless coward. I should at least go and see if I could help.
I had no weapon. I would be walking to my own death.
Then out of the darkness, two gleaming orbs of orange light appeared. At first I thought they were campfires, but that was impossible—they were perfectly round. Those glowing orange orbs hovered directly in front of me.
Something large and heavy uncoiled from the trees. At first, it looked to be made of wood. Then the brown bark of its skin rippled. I saw a shimmer of scales. The body of some great beast stretched above me.
I opened my mouth soundlessly.
The dragon stared down at me. All I could see were its glowing, orange eyes, its pupils slitted like a cat’s. It blinked at me from the canopy, barely discernible from the leaves. Then it stretched down its long neck like an elegant snake, until we were face to face.
I couldn't look away. Somehow, inexplicably, a strange warmth seeped through my body. It began at my cheeks, blazing like a sunburn, then slowly worked down my neck to my chest and limbs. I felt certain, somehow, that the beast recognized me. It didn’t make any sense, but the impression was strong in my mind. I tried to cry out again, to gather enough breath to scream, but I could only gaze in fascination.
Its long snout drifted closer. It sniffed the air vigorously around my head, like a dog after a bone. I could clearly see its brown and green mottled skin. A unique pattern of spiny scales ran up the center of its snout to the crest of its head, not unlike a rooster. Damp breath carrying the scent of old, putrid blood struck my face. The spines upon its head quivered and stood upright, then pressed back smoothly against its skull. Was it...greeting me?
Then, abruptly, the beast pulled back into the branches and closed its eyes. Shadows veiled its body. It disappeared.
Title: The White (The Dragon Pearl, Book 1)
Author: T.L. Shreffler
Release Date: May 25, 2015
Genre: Fantasy Adventure, some romance
Ever since The White appeared in our valley of Windridge, my people have lived in fear. But today that fear ends. Finally, the King has sent his most elite dragon hunters to kill The White, the last of the imperial dragons.
Since the death of her father, Sienna Foxburn hasn’t felt safe. The White, a fire-breathing imperial dragon, terrorizes the Valley of Windridge with no end in sight. But Sienna isn’t satisfied hiding behind the walls of her keep. She is tired of fearing the dragon, but she can’t fight it alone.
Then a mysterious sorceress and two elite dragon hunters arrive, claiming to be sent by the King. Thus begins the great hunt for The White. Sienna embarks on a dragon-hunting adventure through the exotic Valley of Windridge, all while uncovering secrets and conspiracies that could endanger the entire Kingdom….
T. L. Shreffler is a dragon hunter living in the sunny acres of San Fernando Valley, California. She enjoys frolicking through meadows, sipping iced tea, exploring the unknown reaches of her homeland and unearthing rare artifacts in thrift stores. She holds a Bachelors in Eloquence (English) and writes Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and poetry. She is author of The Cat’s Eye Chronicles (#9 Amazon Top 100, #1 Kindle Fantasy) and has previously been published in Eclipse: A Literary Anthology and The Northridge Review.