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Rise of the Dragons Kings and Sorcerers Book 1 Chapter 2
Kyra entered the gloomy Wood of Thorns, just west of the fort, a forest so thick one could barely see through
it. As she walked through it slowly with Leo, snow and ice crunching beneath their feet, she looked up. She was
dwarfed by the thorn trees that seemed to stretch forever. They were ancient black trees with gnarled branches
resembling thorns, and thick, black leaves. This place, she felt, was cursed; nothing good ever came out of it.
Her father’s men returned from it injured from hunts, and more than once a troll, having broken through The
Flames, had taken refuge here and used it as a staging ground to attack a villager.
As Kyra entered, immediately she felt a chill. It was darker in here, cooler, the air wetter, the smell of the
thorn trees heavy in the air, smelling like decaying earth, and the massive trees blotting out what remained of
daylight. Kyra, on guard, was furious at her older brothers. It was dangerous to venture here without the
company of several warriors—especially at dusk. Every noise startled her. There came a distant cry of an
animal, and she flinched, turning and looking for it. But the wood was dense, and she could not find it.
Leo, though, snarled beside her and suddenly bounded off after it.
“Leo!” she called out.
But he was already gone.
She sighed, annoyed; it was always his way when an animal crossed. He would return, though, she
Kyra continued on, alone now, the wood growing darker, struggling to follow her brothers’ trail—when she
heard distant laughter. She snapped to attention, turning to the noise and weaving past thick trees until she
spotted her brothers up ahead.
Kyra lingered back, keeping a good distance, not wanting to be spotted. She knew that if Aidan saw her, he
would be embarrassed and would send her away. She would watch from the shadows, she decided, just making
sure they did not get into trouble. It was better for Aidan not to be shamed, to feel like he was a man.
A twig snapped beneath her feet and Kyra ducked, worried the sound would give her away—but her drunk
older brothers were oblivious, already a good thirty yards ahead of her, walking quickly, the noise drowned out
by their own laughter. She could see from Aidan’s body language that he was tense, almost as if he were about
to cry. He clutched his spear tightly, as if trying to prove himself a man, but it was an awkward grip on a spear
too big, and he struggled under the weight of it.
“Get up here!” Braxton called out, turning to Aidan, who trailed a few feet behind.
“What are you so afraid of?” Brandon said to him.
“I’m not afraid—” Aidan insisted.
“Quiet!” Brandon suddenly said, stopping, holding out a palm against Aidan’s chest, his expression serious
for the first time. Braxton stopped, too, all of them tense.
Kyra took shelter behind a tree as she watched her brothers. They stood at the edge of a clearing, looking
straight ahead as if they had spotted something.
She crept forward, on alert, trying to get a better look, and as she weaved between two large trees, she
stopped, stunned, as she caught a glimpse of what they were seeing. There, standing alone in the clearing,
rooting out acorns, was a boar. It was no ordinary boar; it was a monstrous, Black-Horned Boar, the largest boar
she had ever seen, with long, curled white tusks and three long, sharpened, black horns, one protruding from its
nose and two from its head. Nearly the size of a bear, it was a rare creature, famed for its viciousness and its
lightning-quick speed. It was an animal widely feared, and one that no hunter wanted to meet.
It was trouble.
Kyra, hair rising on her arms, wished Leo were here—yet was also grateful he was not, knowing he would
bound off after it and unsure if he would win the confrontation. Kyra stepped forward, slowly removing her bow
from her shoulder while instinctively reaching down to grab an arrow. She tried to calculate how far the boar was
from the boys, and how far away she was—and she knew this was not good. There were too many trees in the
way for her to get a clean shot—and with an animal this size, there was no room for error. She doubted one
arrow could even fell it.
Kyra noticed the flash of fear on her brothers’ faces, then saw Brandon and Braxton quickly cover up their
fright with a look of bravado—one she felt sure was fueled by drink. They both raised their spears and took
several steps forward. Braxton saw Aidan rooted in place, and he turned, grabbed the small boy’s shoulder, and
made him step forward, too.
“There’s a chance to make a man of you,” Braxton said. “Kill this boar and they’ll sing of you for
“Bring back its head and you’ll be famed for life,” Brandon said.
“I’m…scared,” Aidan said.
Brandon and Braxton scoffed, then laughed derisively.
“Scared?” Brandon said. “And what would Father say if he heard you say that?”
The boar, alerted, lifted its head, revealing glowing yellow eyes, and stared at them, its face bunching up in
an angry snarl. It opened its mouth, revealing fangs, and drooled, while at the same time emitting a vicious
growl that erupted from somewhere deep in its belly. Kyra, even from her distance, felt a pang of fear—and she
could only imagine the fear Aidan was feeling.
Kyra rushed forward, throwing caution to the wind, determined to catch up before it was too late. When she
was just a few feet behind her brothers, she called out:
“Leave it alone!”
Her harsh voice cut through the silence, and her brothers all wheeled, clearly startled.
“You’ve had your fun,” she added. “Let it be.”
While Aidan looked relieved, Brandon and Braxton each scowled back at her.
“And what do you know?” Brandon shot back. “Stop interfering with real men.”
The boar’s snarl deepened as it crept toward them, and Kyra, both afraid and furious, stepped forward.
“If you are foolish enough to antagonize this beast, then go ahead,” she said. “But you will send Aidan back
here to me.”
“Aidan will do just fine here,” Brandon countered. “He’s about to learn how to fight. Aren’t you, Aidan?”
Aidan stood silent, stunned with fear.
Kyra was about to take another step forward and snatch Aidan’s arm when there came a rustling in the
clearing. She saw the boar edge its way closer, one foot at a time, threateningly.
“It won’t attack if it’s not provoked,” Kyra urged her brothers. “Let it go.”
But her brothers ignored her, both turning and facing it and raising spears. They walked forward, into the
clearing, as if to prove how brave they were.
“I’ll aim for its head,” Brandon said.
“And I, its throat,” Braxton agreed.
The boar snarled louder, opened its mouth wider, drooling, and took another threatening step.
“Get back here!” Kyra yelled out, desperate.
But Brandon and Braxton stepped forward, raised their spears, and suddenly threw them.
Kyra watched in suspense as the spears flew through the air, bracing herself for the worst. She saw, to her
dismay, Brandon’s spear graze its ear, enough to draw blood—and to provoke it—while Braxton’s spear sailed
past, missing its head by several feet.
For the first time, Brandon and Braxton looked afraid. They stood there, open-mouthed, a dumb look on their
faces, the glow from their drink quickly replaced by fear.
The boar, infuriated, lowered its head, snarled a horrific sound, and suddenly charged.
Kyra watched in horror as it bore down on her brothers. It was the fastest thing she’d ever seen for its size,
bounding through the grass as if it were a deer.
As it approached, Brandon and Braxton ran for their lives, darting away in opposite directions.
That left Aidan standing there, rooted in place, all alone, frozen in fear. His mouth agape, he loosened his
grip and his spear fell from his hand, sideways to the ground. Kyra knew it wouldn’t make much difference;
Aidan could not have defended himself if he tried. A grown man could not have. And the boar, as if sensing it,
set its sights on Aidan, aiming right for him.
Kyra, heart slamming, burst into action, knowing she would only have one chance at this. Without thinking,
she bounded forward, dodging between the trees, already holding her bow before her, knowing she had one
shot and that it had to be perfect. It would be a hard shot, even if the boar weren’t moving, in her state of
panic—yet it would have to be a perfect shot if they were to survive this.
“AIDAN, GET DOWN!” she shouted.
At first, he did not move. Aidan blocked her way, preventing a clean shot, and as Kyra raised her bow and
ran forward, she realized that if Aidan did not move, her one shot would be lost. Stumbling through the wood,
her feet slipping in the snow and damp earth, for a moment she felt all would be lost.
“AIDAN!” she shouted again, desperate.
By some miracle, he listened this time, diving down to the earth at the last second and leaving the shot open
As the boar charged for Aidan, time suddenly slowed for Kyra. She felt herself entering an altered zone,
something rising up within her which she had never experienced and which she did not fully understand. The
world narrowed and came into focus. She could hear the sound of her own heart beating, of her breathing, of
the rustling of leaves, of a crow cawing high above. She felt more in tune with the universe than she ever had,
as if she had entered some realm where she and the universe were one.
Kyra felt her palms begin to tingle with a warm, prickly energy she did not understand, as if something
foreign were invading her body. It was as if, for a fleeting instant, she had become somebody bigger than
herself, somebody much more powerful.
Kyra entered into a state of non-thinking, and she allowed herself to be driven by pure instinct, and by this
new energy flowing through her. She planted her feet, raised the bow, placed an arrow, and let it fly.
She knew the second she released it that it was a special shot. She did not need to watch the arrow sail to
know it was going exactly where she wanted it to: in the beast’s right eye. She shot with such force that it lodged
itself nearly a foot before stopping.
The beast suddenly grunted as its legs buckled out from under it, and it fell face-first in the snow. It slid
across what remained of the clearing, writhing, still alive, until it reached Aidan. It finally came to a stop but a
foot away from him, so close that, when it finally stopped, they were nearly touching.
It twitched on the ground, and Kyra, already with another arrow on her bow, stepped forward, stood over the
boar, and put another arrow through the back of its skull. It finally stopped moving.
Kyra stood in the clearing, in the silence, her heart pounding, the tingling in her palms slowly receding, the
energy fading, and she wondered what had just happened. Had she really taken that shot?
She immediately remembered Aidan, and as she spun and grabbed him he looked up to her as he might
have to his mother, eyes filled with fear, but unharmed. She felt a flash of relief as she realized he was okay.
Kyra turned and saw her two older brothers, each still lying in the clearing, staring up at her with shock—and
awe. But there was something else in their looks, something which unsettled her: suspicion. As if she were
different from them. An outsider. It was a look Kyra had seen before, rarely, but enough times to make her
wonder at it herself. She turned and looked down at the dead beast, monstrous, huge, stiff at her feet, and she
wondered how she, a fifteen-year-old girl, could have done this. It went beyond skills, she knew. Beyond a lucky
There had always been something about her that was different from the others. She stood there, numb,
wanting to move but unable. Because what had shaken her today was not this beast, she knew, but rather the
way her brothers had looked at her. And she could not help wondering, for the millionth time, the question she
had been afraid to confront her entire life:
Who was she?