Read an excerpt from The Dragon Prince

The Dragon Prince was first published by Gage Educational Publishers in 1990.

The Dragon Prince

Kathleen’s eyes snapped open. She crushed the stiff sheet to her chin, muscles rigid, listening for the sound to repeat itself.

Shadow and moonlight shifted across the stone walls of her attic bedroom. Sweat chilled her neck and armpits beneath her heavy blankets. The wind slammed into the house, veered away, then slammed again.

But the sound was not repeated.

A four-footed weight thudded on her chest and her hands few up to her face, feeling fur. Grouf, the cat. He yowled, scratched, and bounded to the window sill. Poised for a moment against the bright night sky, he squeezed through the opening and was gone.

“Callum?” she called.

Kathleen threw back her covers and scurried, numb-footed, across the stubbly wooden floor. Four small panes of glass blurred the moonlit farmyard below. He forced the latch and the window banged open. Dossie, their mare, pranced up and down the paddock, nose to the top of the wall which fenced her, measuring. Two rabbits leapt into the yard, sending the pone skidding sideways. Patch, straining on the rope, barked madly at the flying clouds.

The door to the house slammed once, uselessly, against the jamb, and Kathleen saw him. Callum. He backed away from the porch, looking up to her room, sleeves grabbed by the wind. He beckoned, then ducked through the paddock gate, intent on Dossie’s halter rope. The horse shied, her eyes showing white. He lunged once and missed, then caught her rope as she plunged toward him. He swung from Dossie’s halter like a bell ringer as the pony reared and shied.

“Fie!” Kathleen scrambled to the foot of her bed to pull on her own hard boots, and plucking a sweater from its peg, shinnied down the ladder into Ginny and Miri’s room. She clattered down the stairs to the kitchen and out into the yard.

Dossie had been left to trot in harmless circles.

“Callum!” she called.

The yard was empty.

A flap of wind extinguished the moon, and the yard disappeared in darkness. Kathleen glimpsed, like a low roof over her, the long, shadowed belly of a winged lizard. A hurricane wake full of tumbling debris struck her back and sucked the air from her lungs a she stared into the cloud-scudding sky.

“Did you see that?” Kathleen whispered in fascination. “He came in so low, I could see the scales on his belly.”

She searched the torn bits of gray against the sparking blackness. Dry leaves and dust swirled about in the bare October air, and naked tree arms waved goodbye. The cries of the animals could no longer be heard about the lessening howl of the wind.

“He’ll go home, now.”

Kathleen turned.

He straddled the paddock wall. His cheeks were flushed and he panted, as though from running.

“Callum!” she cried. “You called me out here–”

“Aye.” His breathing slowed and his radiance faded.

“–and then you left.”

He grinned and tossed a pebble at her. “You said you wanted to see him.”

She sprinted to the paddock gate. “You shouldn’t be here.” She climbed to the to top of the gate, hooking her legs through the bars. “How did you know he was coming? The dragon hasn’t flown over us in months.”

“Never mind how I know.” He tossed another pebble. “I just know.”

She pushed him. “You do. You talk to the fairies. Or Mother Fair does.”

“Hey!”

She straddled the wall opposite him, fending the stones. “How else could you know the dragon would fly so low tonight? You couldn’t!”

Grinning, he held her forearms so she couldn’t push him again, but she half-twisted away.

“Tell!” she pushed him again and he lost his balance and fell off the wall, pulling her with him.

“Ow!”

“I’ll not let go until you tell,” she threatened.

“You think so?” His eyes glinted mischief. He looked behind her. “Your father is coming.”

Kathleen turned. A candle shone through the tiny window in her parents’ room. The door to the house slammed.

Callum’s eyes darted to the back porch. “The dragon will pass in front of the moon as he goes. Watch.” Then he ducked into the shadows behind the paddock.

“Kathleen!” Father stood in front of the door, clutching his swirling coat. Then his eyes flicked to he sky behind her.

The back of Kathleen’s neck tingled and she turned to look.

The dragon’s immense form lifted into the air beyond the trees and almost as quickly, was lost in the blackness above. Then, briefly, the dragon became visible, his classic shape carved in miniature into the hard whiteness of the moon, and the beast vanished into the clouds.

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The Dragon Prince is available on Amazon.ca, here.

2 Responses to “Read an excerpt from The Dragon Prince”
  1. Steve Goldsworthy says:

    Susan,
    I was at the SCBWI meeting on Monday. Thank you for the presentation.

    And thank you for this lovely piece of inspiration. The language is mesmerizing. The action flows effortlessly. I so want to spend more time with the characters. I look forward to reading the rest to my two boys. Writing anymore children’s books then? I am a new fan.

    Steve

  2. Steve, thank you so much for the lovely comments! I am overwhelmed! I was absolutely thrilled when The Dragon Prince came out in 1990, though I have to say, I hope my writing has improved since then. I am writing like mad (I’m on book 3 of my current fantasy trilogy), though no further young adult pieces. Well…I may just have a sale to Analog (the editor wrote me: send the edits in x format, I don’t need the whole manuscript resent when I buy it), and I would call that piece young adult. I’ll be blaring all over Facebook when the sale is final, and will post it here after it comes out in Analog (I think the rights revert back to me after about a month or so). It’s a humourous SF piece about teenagers.

    Thanks, again, so much for your beautiful words! You’ve made my day–my month–my year!

    Susan

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