The scream of a dragon woke me. Wide-eyed, I scrambled to my knees, searching for a place to hide. Then it dawned on me--within the clutches of the enemy, I was perfectly safe from the dragons.--Chase Harper.
The Keeper's Defiance on:
Kelly Nelson was raised in Utah and now resides in the heart of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She enjoys life on a ten-acre horse property with her husband, four children, and of course lots of horses. Kelly has a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and worked as a CPA for several years before opting to stay home and raise a family. As a young girl she was an avid reader and had a passion for creative writing. Her travels to England, France, Egypt, Israel, West Indies, Mexico and across the United States sparked a love of history, adventure and exotic places. This led to the inspiration behind her debut novel, The Keeper's Calling, Book 1 in The Keeper's Saga.
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Check out the other blog tour stops:Monday - Britney Gulbrandsen's Blog and Bonnie Harris' Blog
Tuesday - Laura Johnston's Blog
Wednesday - Kylee Shield's Blog
Thursday - Rebecca Lamoreaux's Blog and Cami Checketts' Blog
Friday - Donna K. Weaver's Blog
Excerpt #2 from The Keeper’s Defiance
From Chapter Two:
When the moon sat directly overhead, it happened. Wickliff pulled his horse to a stop and lifted his eyes to the sky. “Dragons,” he yelled.
Azalit slid off, followed by the old elf. A crack of his staff across the horse’s rump sent the animal galloping into the night.
I kicked my feet free of the stirrups as Ellie hooked her arm through my elbow and jumped down. “Go, Ellie,” I whispered. Once my feet touched the ground, I grabbed my pack and turned to follow.
As I ran, I stuffed the blanket into the pack and slung it over my shoulders. The cloak Ellie wore rendered her nearly invisible, except when the hood bounced down and revealed her golden curls. I caught her within a few strides and grabbed her hand, then looked for Wickliff. He would know when we had to hide. Once I saw him drop into the grass, I stopped. “Lie down, quick,” I told Ellie.
Across the plain everyone disappeared, leaving only the horses visible above the sea of grass. The last thing I saw as I dropped next to Ellie was our horse, doggedly following us.
“Dang it,” I muttered, settling myself next to her.
“What?” she whispered.
“Our stupid horse is following us.” I repositioned her hood, covering her hair, and realized it probably would have been better for her to be by herself. She would have been perfectly hidden in the chameleon cloak. I pulled my arm off her back and tucked them both under my body, then turned my face to the ground. I couldn’t afford to have my pale skin reflect the moonlight and attract the dragons’ attention.
“Whatever happens, Ellie, don’t move, okay? Even if something happens to me. Promise me,” I said as firmly as I could in a whisper.
“Ellie, promise me.”
“All right,” she finally said. “But don’t let anything happen to you.”
I risked a glance. Her head was angled slightly and we made eye contact before I turned away.
The two dragons roared toward us across the plain. Every horse leapt into a gallop as a burst of orange flame lit the night sky. The thundering of hooves vibrated the ground beneath my cheek. I figured we were directly in the path of our horse, so I moved on top of Ellie, covering both of our heads with my arms. If it stepped on one of us I didn’t want it to be her.
The horse must have seen us at the last minute because he jumped, grazing my pack with his hind feet as he fled. One dragon swooped toward the horse. A burst of fire exploded overhead, sending flaming spittle raining down. Drops of the burning liquid pelted my arms. It hit my skin like acid, leaving bleeding holes in my flesh. To keep quiet, I bit my lip so hard I tasted blood.
The squeal of our dying horse compelled me to look up. The dragon looked like something out of Jurassic Park as it shredded the animal’s flesh with its razor-sharp teeth. But it wasn’t eating. It hunted for sport—Lord Arbon’s sport. A deafening roar erupted, fanning me with hot air as the beast scorched a swath of grass in front of him. With a scream the dragon took flight, its scales reflecting the orange glow of the burning grass below.
The cries of other dying horses surrounded us as the roar of the dragons faded into the night. The wall of burning grass spread, but the wind was in our favor, driving the bulk of the flames away from us.
“Ellie, follow me. But stay low,” I whispered.
Slowly, I crawled in the direction I’d last seen Wickliff. With caution, I rose to my knees and looked. Large patches of grass burned across the Susack Plain. The expanding rings of fire left black holes in their wake. The dragons flew in the distance, chasing down our scattered horses. I lowered my head and kept crawling.
A moment later, the call of a night bird pierced the air. I had heard that sound the night before we attacked the Shuylians. I jerked my head up and scanned the horizon. Wickliff stood waving his staff for us to follow. All twelve of us jumped to our feet and ran.
Soon the burning in my lungs matched the throbbing pain of my seared skin. “Chase,” Ellie called from behind me. I stopped. She was bent over, struggling to catch her breath. “I can’t . . . run all night. I’m sorry.”
I turned back. “Don’t give up. You can do it. One step at a time.” I wrapped my arm around her and pulled her alongside me. Gradually our group spread out. Ellie and I walked a track farther to the north than anyone else and a little behind. I had become so numb to my surroundings, I didn’t notice a horse lying in the grass in front of me until I nearly stepped on him.
I let go of Ellie and inspected the animal. Lathered sweat caked his entire body. He lifted his head when I touched his neck. I saw no sign of injury and tugged on the reins. He moaned once before reluctantly scrambling to his feet. Nothing seemed to be broken. I smiled at Ellie. “Looks like you won’t have to run all night after all.”