Curse of the Dragon by Tara West

**Winner of the eFestival of Words Best Action/Adventure**

Brave heroes and powerful heroines. Vengeful goddesses and blood-thirsty dragons. Wandering spirits and spiteful sages. This completed epic saga with a diverse cast of characters will keep you turning the pages late into the night. For fans of Eragon, Dragon Riders of Pern, and Percy Jackson!

Born with mark of The Mighty Hunter, Markus brings his village back from the brink of starvation—for whenever he releases an arrow, his aim always strikes true. After a fateful hunting trip, he is forced to flee the vengeful Sky Goddess’s ice dragon. When he falls into the land of the mysterious Ice People, he has to confront his father’s abusive past before he faces his future. Then he must decide to flee the ice dragon or else battle the goddess, a choice that could end the life of his beloved brother or doom the girl he loves.

For fans of Eragon, Dragon Riders of Pern, and Percy Jackson!

READ AN EXCERPT!

He gasped as the old man's eyes shot open. Deep within his sunken orbs, Markus thought he saw red. Dafuar's incantations grew louder, until Markus could finally discern the lyrics of a poem.

“One fell shot from the bow

And many will know Madhea's curse has descended

Omens will fall to family

And all the cruel hunter has befriended

For each life he claims

His kin suffers the same death by similar strand

For she will allow no beast nor fowl

To be hunted by his hand

To the hunter who reaps his fill of kill

And nary none from need

Beware her beast who wakens to feast

On avarice and greed

Eyes that glow like burning coals

In the embers of demon’s fury

Breath so cold, Lydra freezes the souls

Of any at her mercy

Sad is the tale that is known so well

The hunter who slaughtered with pleasure

His heartless crime was recompensed

For discarding the forest's treasure”

Once again the healer closed his eyes, and when they reopened he shook his head and blinked several times, acting as if he'd woken from a dream.

Markus remained standing, his feet like granite stones planted firmly on the ground. Fear had sent ice through his limbs and weighted his body to the spot. Had Dafuar really had some kind of vision? If the man's intentions were to spook him, he'd clearly succeeded.

With clenched fists, he spoke through gritted teeth, “Your parables are not amusing.”

Dafuar's shoulders slumped, and he cast his gaze upon the logs of the fire. “I do not speak to amuse. Beware the hunter who kills for the sake of killing. The Goddess will unleash upon him a curse. For every animal he slaughters, one he cares for will die the same death.”

“Nonsense!” Markus roared.

The prophet sighed. “She shall free Lydra, her great dragon, from her icy prison. The hunter will become the hunted. And, though The Mighty Hunter possesses the skill to pierce the solid scales of the dragon, if he fells the beast, the one he loves most will breathe his last breath.”

Markus finally found the courage to move, marching up to the healer, bearing down upon him with a scowl. “It is a fool's tale you weave!”

“It is a fool who does not heed my warning,” the healer responded, rising to his feet.

His elderly body seemed more fragile than when he'd approached the fire. Dafuar resembled the twisted root of a tree, fighting the confines of his worldly prison. With his features hung low, his aged eyes belied his sadness.

Turning a weak smile upon Markus, the healer placed bony fingers on his thick shoulder and patted once, before his hand fell to his side. “I thank you for the warmth of your fire, Mighty Hunter. These old bones have rested too long.”

Without another word, Dafuar walked away slowly, rhythmically, as if marching to the drum of a funeral procession. Into the night he went, until his ancient form was shrouded in darkness.