Dragon's Oath (House of Night Novella Series #1)by P. C. Cast, Kristin Cast
The first in an enthralling new mini-series of novellas from the #1 bestselling authors of the House of Night, Dragon's Oath tells the story behind the House of Night's formidable fencing instructor – the love that will transform him, and the promise that will haunt him
In early 19th century England, long before he's a professor at the Tulsa/p>/i>
The first in an enthralling new mini-series of novellas from the #1 bestselling authors of the House of Night, Dragon's Oath tells the story behind the House of Night's formidable fencing instructor – the love that will transform him, and the promise that will haunt him
In early 19th century England, long before he's a professor at the Tulsa House of Night, Bryan Lankford is a troublesome yet talented human teen who thinks he can get away with anything… until his father, a wealthy nobleman, has finally had enough, and banishes him to America. When Bryan is Marked on the docks and given the choice between the London House of Night and the dragon-prowed ship to America, he chooses the Dragon – and a brand new fate.
Becoming a Fledgling may be exciting, but it opens a door to a dangerous world.... In 1830's St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, Dragon Lankford becomes a Sword Master, and soon realizes there are both frightening challenges and beautiful perks. Like Anastasia, the captivating young Professor of Spells and Rituals at the Tower Grove House of Night, who really should have nothing to do with a fledgling…
But when a dark power threatens, Dragon is caught in its focus. Though his uncanny fighting skills make him a powerful fledgling, is he strong enough to ward off evil, while protecting Anastasia as well? Will his choices save her—or destroy them all?
Read an Excerpt
By P. C. Cast, Kristin Cast, Kim Doner
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
All rights reserved.
Anger and confusion stirred within Dragon Lankford. Was Neferet truly taking her leave of them so soon after the death of the boy and their goddess's cataclysmic visit?
"Neferet, what of the fledgling's body? Should we not continue to hold vigil?" With an effort, Dragon Lankford kept his voice calm and his tone even as he addressed his High Priestess.
Neferet turned her beautiful emerald eyes to him. She smiled smoothly. "You are right to remind me, Sword Master. Those of you who honored Jack with purple spirit candles, throw them on the pyre as you leave. The Sons of Erebus Warriors will hold vigil over the poor fledgling's body for the remainder of the night."
"As you wish, Priestess." Dragon bowed deeply to her, wondering why his skin felt so itchy—almost as if he was covered in dirt and grime. He had a sudden inexplicable desire to bathe in very, very hot water. It is Neferet, his conscience spoke softly to him. She has not been right since Kalona broke free of the earth. You used to feel that ...
Dragon shook his head and set his jaw. Peripheral events did not matter. Feelings were no longer important. Duty was all encompassing—vengeance was utmost. Focus! I must keep my mind on the job at hand! he commanded himself, and then nodded quickly to specific Warriors. "Disperse the crowd!"
Neferet paused to speak to Lenobia before she departed from the center of the campus and headed in the direction of the professors' living quarters. Dragon barely spared her a look. Instead, his attention was pulled back to the fiery pyre and the boy's flaming body.
"The crowd is being dispersed, Sword Master. How many of us shall remain to watch by the pyre with you?" asked Christophe, one of his senior officers.
Dragon hesitated before he answered, taking a moment to center himself as well as to absorb the fact that the fledglings and professors who were milling uncertainly around the brightly burning pyre were obviously agitated and thoroughly upset. Duty. When all else fails, turn to duty!
"Have two of the guards escort the professors back to their quarters. The rest of you are to go with the fledglings. Be quite certain they all return to their rooms. Then stay close to the dormitories for the remainder of this terrible night." Dragon's voice was rough with emotion. "The students need to feel the protective presence of their Sons of Erebus Warriors so that they can, at least, be certain of their safety, even if it seems they can be certain of little else."
"But the child's pyre–"
"I will stay with Jack." Dragon spoke in a tone that allowed no interference. "I shall not leave the boy's side until the red glow of his embers turns to rust. Do your duty, Christophe; the House of Night needs you. I will see to the sadness that remains here."
Christophe bowed and then began calling out commands, following the Sword Master's orders with cold efficiency.
It seemed only seconds had passed when Dragon realized he was alone. There was the sound of the burning pyre—the deceptively soothing pop and crackle of the fire. Except for that, there was only the night and the vast emptiness in Dragon's heart.
The Sword Master stared into the flames as if he could discover the balm that would soothe his pain within them. The fire flickered amber and gold, rust and red, reminding Dragon of a delicate piece of jewelry—unique, exquisite, tied to a strand of velvet ribbon the color of fresh blood ...
As if moving of its own accord, his hand went into his pocket. His fingers closed around the oval disk he found there. It was slim and smooth. He could feel only the faintest hint of the bluebird that once had been etched so clearly and beautifully on its face. The golden piece rested snugly in his hand. He cupped it, protected it, held it, before he slowly drew out his hand, the locket nestled within it. Dragon twined the velvet ribbon through his fingers, rubbing it with his thumb in a familiar, absentminded motion that spoke more of habit than thought. Expelling a deep breath that sounded more sob than sigh, he opened his palm and looked down.
The light from Jack's pyre flitted across the locket's golden surface. It caught the bluebird design.
"Missouri's state bird." Dragon spoke aloud. His voice was devoid of emotion, though the hand that held the locket shook. "I wonder if you can still be found wild, perching in the sunflowers that overlook the river. Or did your beauty and those of the flowers die out, too, along with everything else lovely and magickal in this world?" His hand closed on the locket, gripping it so tightly his knuckles turned white.
And then, as quickly as his fist had closed, Dragon released his hold on the locket, opening his hand and turning the gold oval over and over reverently. "Fool!" His voice was ragged. "You could have broken it!" Trembling fingers fumbled with the clasp, but when he finally unlatched it the golden piece opened easily, unharmed, to display the tiny etching that, although faded by time, still showed the smiling face of the petite vampyre whose gaze seemed to catch and hold his.
"How can you be gone?" Dragon murmured. One finger traced the old portrait on the right side of the locket, and then moved to the left half of the piece of jewelry to stroke the single blond curl that nestled there over the empty space where his youthful picture had once been. His gaze turned from the locket up to the night sky and he repeated the question louder, from his soul, crying out for an answer. "How can you be gone?"
As if in response Dragon heard echoing in the night air the distinctive croaking caw of a raven.
Anger rushed through Dragon, so hard and hot that his hands once again trembled—only this time he did not shake with pain and loss; he shook with the barely controlled need to strike out, to maim, to avenge.
"I will avenge her." Dragon's voice was like death. He looked down at the locket again and spoke to the shimmering blond curl it held. "Your dragon will avenge you. I will set to right what I allowed to go wrong. I will not make the same mistake again, my love, my own. The creature will not go unpunished. On that I pledge to you my oath."
A gust of wind, hot from the pyre, blew suddenly strong. It lifted the lock of hair and, while Dragon fumbled unsuccessfully to stop it, the curl floated out of his reach up, up, up on the heated draft, almost feather-like. It hovered there and then, with a sound much like a woman's gasp of surprise, the hot wind changed, inhaling, drawing the lock of hair down into the fiery pyre where it was turned to smoke and memory.
"No!" Dragon cried, falling to his knees with a sob. "And now I've lost the last of you. My fault ...," he said brokenly. "My fault, just as your death was my fault."
Through the tears that filled his eyes Dragon watched the smoke from his beloved mate's lock of hair whirl and dance before him—and then begin to shimmer magickally, changing from smoke to a dusting of green and yellow and brown sparkles that continued to curl around and around until they began to separate and form distinct parts of an image: the green sparkles became a long, thick stem—the yellow delicate petals of a flower with the brown circling within them to become its center.
Dragon wiped his eyes clear of tears, hardly able to believe what he was seeing. "A sunflower?" His lips felt as numb with shock as his brain. It is her flower! his mind shouted. It must be a sign from her! "Anastasia!" Dragon cried as numbness gave way to a terrible, wonderful wave of hope. "Are you here, my own?"
The image of the shimmering sunflower began to waver and change. The yellow flowed down in a cascade that became golden blond. The brown lightened to the color of sun-kissed skin, and the green melted down within the skin, swirling and morphing into shining orbs that became eyes that were turquoise and familiar and dear.
"Oh, goddess, Anastasia! It is you!" Dragon's voice broke as he reached out for her. But the image lifted–a glowing tease just beyond his fingertips. He cried out in frustration and then stifled the sound of his misery as his mate's voice began to spill around him like a musical stream over water-worn pebbles. Dragon held his breath and listed to the ghostly message.
I've bespelled this locket, for you: my own, my mate.
The day has come when death forced us to part.
You must know that for you, forever, I shall wait.
So until we meet again I hold your love safely within my heart.
Remember, your oath was to temper strength with mercy.
No matter how long apart we shall be, I hold you to that oath
eternally ... eternally ...
The image smiled once at him before it lost its form and returned to smoke and then nothingness.
"My oath!" Dragon shouted, surging to his feet. "First Nyx and now you reminding me of it. Do you not understand that it is because of that cursed oath that you are dead? Had I chosen differently those many years ago, perhaps I could have kept all of this from happening. Strength tempered by mercy was a mistake. Do you not remember, my own? Do you not remember? I do. I will never forget ..."
As Dragon Lankford, Sword Master of the House of Night, held vigil over the body of a fallen fledgling, he stared into the burning pyre and let the flames take him back so that he could relive the pain and the pleasure—the tragedy and the triumph—of a past that had shaped such a heartbreaking future.CHAPTER 2
"Father, you cannot disown me and banish me to the Americas. I am your son!" Bryan Lankford, third son to the Earl of Lankford, shook his head and stared disbelievingly at his father.
"You are my third son. I have four others, two older and two younger. None of them are as troublesome as are you. Their existence and your behavior make it quite simple for me to do this to you."
Bryan ignored the shock and panic his father's words threatened to break loose within him. He forced himself to relax–to slouch nonchalantly against the wooden door to the stall closest to him as he beamed the Bryan Lankford smile at the Earl, that disarmingly handsome grin that women found irresistible and made them want to seduce him, and men found charming and made them want to be like him.
The Earl's dark, unchanging expression said that he was well aware of the Bryan Lankford smile—and utterly unaffected by it.
"My decision is final, boy. Do not disgrace yourself further by unsuitable begging."
"Begging!" Bryan felt familiar anger stir. Why must his father always belittle him? He'd never begged for anything in his life—he certainly was not going to start now, no matter the consequences. "I do not beg you, Father. I simply am trying to reason with you."
"Reason? Again you cause an embarrassment for me because of your temper and your sword, and you ask me to reason with you?"
"Father, it was only a small altercation, and with a Scotsman! I did not even kill him. In actuality I wounded his vanity more than his body." Bryan attempted a chuckle, but the sound was cut off by the return of the cough that had been plaguing him all that day, only this time it was followed by a wave of weakness. He was so distracted by the betrayal of his body that he put up no resistance at all when his father suddenly closed the distance between them and with one hand fisted the cravat at Bryan's throat, ramming him against the wall of the stable with such force that the little breath left in his body whooshed from him. With his other hand the Earl knocked the still-bloody sword from Bryan's failing grip.
"You blustering little braggart! That Scotsman is a border Laird. His lands adjoin mine, which you know, as you are aware that his daughter and her bed are within a short day's ride of our estate!" The Earl's face, flushed with anger, was so close to his son that his spittle rained over Bryan. "And now your impetuous actions have given this Laird all the proof he needs to go to our prattling fool of a new king and demand reparations for the loss of his daughter's maidenhead."
"Maidenhead!" Bryan managed to choke out. "Aileene's maidenhead was lost long before I found her."
"That is of no consequence!" The Earl tightened the strangle grip with which he held his son. "What is of consequence is that you were the dolt caught between her knees, and now that weakling king has all the excuse he needs to look the other way when thieving clansmen from the north sweep south looking for fat cattle to steal. Whose cattle do you think they will be after, son of mine?"
Bryan could only gasp for breath and shake his head.
With a look of utter contempt, the Earl of Lankford let loose his son, allowing him to fall, coughing violently, to the dirt floor of the stable. Then the nobleman motioned to the red-coated members of his personal guard who had been blandly watching his son's disgrace, singling out the pockmarked senior member of the squad. "Jeremy, as I already ordered, bind him like the miscreant he is. Choose two other men to accompany you. Take him to the port. Put him on the next ship to the Americas. I want never to see him again. He is no longer my son." Then he motioned at the stableman. "Bring my horse. I have wasted enough of my precious time on this foolishness."
"Father! Wait, I—," Bryan began, but another coughing fit cut off his words.
The Earl paused only long to look down his long nose at his son. "As I already explained, you are expendable and now you are no longer my concern. Take him away!"
"You cannot send me away like his!" he cried. "How will I live?"
His father jerked his chin at Bryan's sword, which lay in the dirt not far from him. It had been a gift from the Earl when his precocious son had turned thirteen, and even in the dim, dusty light of the stable the jewels that encrusted the hilt glistened. "Perhaps that will be of more use to you in your new life than it was to me in your old one. Allow him to take the sword," he addressed the guards, "and nothing else, with him! Bring me back the ship's name and its captain's mark as proof that he has left England—have him gone before sunrise tomorrow and there will be a purse of silver waiting to split between you," the older man said, and then strode to his waiting horse.
Bryan Lankford tried to shout at his father—to tell him how sorry he would be later, when he remembered that though his third son was, indeed, his most troublesome, he was also his most talented, intelligent, and interesting—but another coughing fit gripped the seventeen-year-old so thoroughly that he could only gasp helplessly and watch his father's horse gallop off. He couldn't even fight as he wished he could when the Earl's guard bound him, then dragged him through the dirt of the stables.
"It's about time a little crowing cock like you was brought low. Let's see how you like being common." Laughing sarcastically, Jeremy, the oldest and most pompous of Bryan's father's guards, tossed him into the back of a poultry cart, before bending to pick up Bryan's sword and, with a calculating look at its glittering hilt, shove it through his own waistcloth.
By the time Bryan reached the port it was dark, both in the world around him and within his heart. Not only had his father disowned him and cast him from his family and out of England, but it was becoming more and more clear that he was in the grip of some horrible plague. How soon would it kill him? Before he was free of this stinking dock, or would he die after being dragged onto one of the merchant ships that bobbed in the black water of the bay?
"I'll no be taking a coughing chit like this aboard." The ship's captain held his torch higher, examining the bound and coughing boy. "No." He scowled and shook his head. "He'll no be crossin' the waters wit' me."
"This is the Earl of Lankford's son. You'll take him or answer to His Lordship about why not," growled the Earl's senior guard.
"I don't see no earl here. I see a shit-spattered boy who's got the ague." The seaman spit in the sand. "And I won't be answering to anyone, 'specially no nonexistent earl, if I be dead from this brat's sickness."
Bryan tried to stifle his coughing—not to reassure the captain, but to rest the burning within his chest. He was holding his breath when the man stepped from the shadows, tall, lean, and dressed all in black, his pale skin in stark contrast to the darkness that seemed to surround him. Bryan blinked, wondering if his feverish gaze was deceiving him—was that truly a crescent moon tattooed in the middle of his forehead surrounded by more tattooing? His vision was blurry, but Bryan was almost certain the tattoos looked like crossed rapiers. Then reason caught up with vision and Bryan felt a jolt of recognition. A crescent moon and the surrounding tattoo could mean only one thing: the man was no man at all—he was a vampyre!
Excerpted from Dragon's Oath by P. C. Cast, Kristin Cast, Kim Doner. Copyright © 2011 P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
P.C. Cast is an award-winning fantasy and paranormal romance author, as well as an experienced speaker and teacher. With her daughter Kristin Cast, she is the author of the House of Night novels, including Awakened, Burned and Hunted. Cast was born in the Midwest, and as a girl fell in love with mythology. After high school, she joined the U.S. Air Force, then taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. Cast's novels are New York Times bestsellers and have been awarded the Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers' Best, and the Laurel Wreath. Ms. Cast lives in Oklahoma, where she is a member of the Oklahoma Writers' Hall of Fame. She splits her time between her ranch and midtown Tulsa where she has a home just down the street from the House of Night...
Kristin Cast is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who teams with her mother to write the House of Night series. She has stand-alone stories in several anthologies, as well as editorial credits. Currently Kristin attends college in Oklahoma where she is focusing on attaining her dream of opening a no kill dog rescue shelter in midtown Tulsa.
P.C. Cast is an award-winning fantasy and paranormal romance author, as well as an experienced speaker and teacher. With her daughter Kristin Cast, she is the author of the House of Night novels, including Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, and Untamed. Cast was born in the Midwest, and as a girl fell in love with mythology. After high school, she joined the U.S. Air Force, then taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. Cast’s novels are New York Times bestsellers and have been awarded the Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and the Laurel Wreath. Ms. Cast lives in Oklahoma, where she is a member of the Oklahoma Writers' Hall of Fame. She splits her time between her ranch and midtown Tulsa where she has a home just down the street from the House of Night...
KRISTIN CAST is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who teams with her mother to write the House of Night series. She has stories in several anthologies, as well as editorial credits.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I can't believe that B&N is charging MORE for the Nook version than the paper version! That's insane. Add to that the fact the price for this novella is the same as a full length book and I won't be buying this one.
How about the authors finish the house of nights books first before they go adding to them, really, they have been dragging out for so long it is ridiculous. At first I loved the house of night books but the last few have been quick reads and leave you hanging, only to wait a year for another small part of the story.
I felt that this was way over priced. The story was okay, but if i had realized what it was before i bought it i would have never spent that much on it. Definitely not worth the money.
This is a short story, priced as a novel. An obsene grab for money, whether by Barnes and Noble or the author, it's inexcusable.
I love the series. Can't wait to read this one.
This was a really good book and gave much needed info into who Dragon is and was but it would have been better if it was longer to give us more. I also liked tgat it told us more about Anastasia. The sad thing is that it is only 84 Pages and the same cost of the other >200 page books in the series.
My only complaint is that this is too short, i could read about the house of night characters forever. It des help explain someof wht is in Dragons head. It isnt a must read as part of the story line but it is a good bit of extra interesting background info on Dragon :)
Very short i liked but would have been better named a short story not a novl
It's amazing to finally see these side characters develope into an actual being rather than just a name and face. The book was very refreshing, and completing for Lankford's character.
This book was really good. It really helps the reader to understand the dynamics of Dragon's character. However, I wish that it would have maybe been a little longer so it could explain how Dragon and Anastasia ended up in Tulsa or went into maybe just a little more detail about their life together. All in all it's almost a must to fully comprehend what is going on in Dragon's head in Destined.
I liked it but I would of rather seen an ending to the original series first, before they explain everyone else's stories. I do wish it was longer for the price it was.
Dragon Lankford is the Sword Master of the Oklahoma House of Night in St. Louis. He is also a vampire wrapped up in enigmas and aloofness, but he was not always that way. In 1830 England, he was called Bryan, the third son of the Earl of Lankford. Tired of his misbehaving and bailing Bryan out of trouble, his father exiled his teenage son to America. Before he went on the shop a vampire Marked him. He has to go to school for four years and if the fledgling survives the Change he will be a full fledged vampire. Dragon attends the school at the Tower Grove House of Night where several of his student peers have crushes on him. In 1833 twenty-two years old Professor of Spells and Rituals Anastasia casts a spell to enable those fledglings who are attracted to the nobleman to see him as he really is. He is interested in her and surprises her when he helps her with the spell focused on him. They fall in love, but the human Sheriff Biddle and a dark magical creature want to destroy him and they believe killing Anastasia will do that. He comes at his enemies with vengeance though he promised an oath of mercy to his perfect love Anastasia the former Quaker who was and still is his soul mate. The fencing master in the young adult House of Night series, Dragon has always been a riddle to readers and fledglings. This is the beginning of his "biography" mostly in St. Louis during the Jacksonian Era. The paranormal historical story line is exciting as the unlikely pair of Dragon the sword master (even as a student) and Anastasia the pacifist Quaker of spells fall in love, but are Destined for trouble. This is as enthralling and as spellbinding as the main series. Harriet Klausner
This book is kinda short but really good. I liked it a lot. GOOD BOOK
In this novella, P.C. and Kristin Cast have revealled the early life of Dragon. This story was so lovely and well written. Dragon's change is incredible, and Anastasia was a wonderful character.
This book goes hand in hand with the House of Night Series. This is the beginning of Dragon Lankford and how he met his wife. I recommend it for everyone who likes the House of Night Series!
Its fun to see a side of some of the characters we dont hear to much from. It was a really good book and I was to read more!!
I learned backgroung knowledge about a character in the series House of Night. This helps in knowing the why a character is acting the way they are in the other books. This was very enjoyable and I am looking forward to the next one.
This book is just as great as all the rest,, looking forward to the up coming books..
Right up there with all their other books. Enjoyed reading this book very much and could not put it down once i started. Finished it in one night. Very good read.
Wonderfully wtitten story of a House of Night instructor. Sad and sweet, it helps to fill out the series.
the preview of langford is great addition to the series. You have a better insite to his "darkside". Just like the rest of the series of house of night fast paced reading, great for those who may not like to read.
I was glad to get the prelude to the other novels of who Dragon, sword maste, to the Acadamy was. Good reading like it.
Great read. Amazing how two people can go from point A to B. I love P.C Cast and Kristen's perspective on san alternate life.
The story is too forward and short. It would be great if there was more detail and it was a bit longer.
This books takes you back & you understand why Dragon the way he is. I can't wait till the next novella comes out!