In C. J. Hill's action-packed sequel to Slayers, the group of teens known as Slayers have been betrayedbut they won't give up without a fight.
Tori's got a problem. She thought she'd have one more summer to train as a dragon Slayer, but time has run out. When Tori hears the horrifying sound of dragon eggs hatching, she knows the Slayers are in trouble. In less than a year, the dragons will be fully grown and completely lethal. The Slayers are well-prepared, but their group is still not complete, and Tori is determined to track down Rykerthe mysterious missing Slayer.
What Tori doesn't bargain for, however, is the surprising truth about her powers. She isn't just a Slayer, she's part Dragon Lord, too. How can Tori fight to save her friends when half of her is programmed to protect dragons? With a possible traitor in their midst, the Slayers will be divided in more ways than they ever imagined, in Slayers: Friends and Traitors.
About the Author
C. J. Hill is the pseudonym for a popular young adult author who made her fantasy debut with Slayers.
Read an Excerpt
Friends and Traitors
By C. J. Hill
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2013 C. J. Hill
All rights reserved.
June, seventeen and a half years later
At six foot four and two hundred pounds, very few things frightened Ryker Davis. Dragons were one of those things, but they hardly counted since dragons weren't real.
Or at least, they weren't supposed to be real. They weren't real yesterday. Today might rearrange that fact. Ryker had just finished building the machine that would prove one way or the other whether he inherited superpowers to fight dragons. Were dragons just myths from the Middle Ages — the work of wild fears turned into legends — or was reality about to make a 90-degree bend?
The dragon heartbeat simulator was a metal box the size of a cedar chest and about as boring looking. According to the specifications, when it was turned on, it sent out energy waves that would fool his body into thinking a dragon was around. His dormant Slayer abilities would be triggered and he'd have extra strength, the ability to see in the dark, and one of the other dragon-fighting skills. Something along the lines of flight, throwing shields up, dousing fire, sending out freezing shocks, sending out fireballs, healing burns, or seeing what the dragon saw.
So far, all the machine did was make a humming-thumping sound, like something was loose inside.
He stared at it, not sure whether to feel discouraged or relieved that nothing amazing was happening to him. It was hard to feel anything but foolish while his cousin, Willow, stood by, making little quips to show that she thought the whole idea of dragon slayers was hilariously funny. "So if you're a superhero, are you going to start wearing brightly colored tights under your clothes?"
"No, I've always thought that jeans were good superhero fashion."
Ryker hadn't known that anyone considered dragon Slayer a career option until two years ago when he did an Internet search of his name and found the website RykerDavis.com.
The site proclaimed, "All You Ever Wanted to Know about Ryker Davis." It had a password to get past the first page. The clue was, What does Ryker dream about?
How could he not try to guess the password? For all he knew, one of the jerk-wad senior guys from the football team had put up the site to harass him. It bugged a few of them that the coach made Ryker starting varsity when he was a freshman. They'd never forgiven him for it. And they'd especially never forgiven him when he quit football a year later and went out for cross-country instead. Guys who could play varsity football weren't supposed to like cross-country better.
Ryker had typed in a few things he thought the jerk-wads would say he dreamed about, but when none of them worked, he typed in the real answer. Dragons. Although strictly speaking, those weren't dreams. They were nightmares.
Ryker didn't find any jokes or stupid pictures of himself. He found something completely different. And in many ways much worse.
Ryker, although you're unaware of it, you belong to an elite group of teenagers called the Slayers. Dragon eggs are here in the country, lying dormant, and will hatch within a few years. The resulting dragons won't be humankind's friends. You've inherited powers necessary to fight them. Your subconscious already knows this — which is why you've always had an obsession with dragons.
Granted, for as long as Ryker could remember, and he was seventeen, he'd liked weapons. As a child, he constantly stole the vacuum cleaner's hose attachment to use as a sword. Ditto for his dad's golf clubs. In kindergarten he turned a coat hanger into a bow and pencils into arrows. He started fencing lessons in third grade and now had a collection of swords that barely fit in his bedroom. And, okay, maybe he had a habit of buying plastic dragon toys, throwing them up in the air, and then seeing how many times he could slice through them before they hit the ground.
But that didn't mean he had a dragon obsession.
If he was obsessed with anything, it was hang gliding.
I need to train you, the site read, but it must remain a secret. Tell no one.
As if Ryker would tell anyone about the website. He was constantly worried someone he knew would find it and think he'd created it. Ryker didn't want to go through high school known as the weird guy who believed in dragons.
The site gave a phone number, an e-mail address, and a name. Or at least part of one: Dr. B. Ryker hadn't contacted him. The guy was probably some wack job, and besides, Ryker's parents were ultra-paranoid about identity theft, strangers, and all things that went bump in the night. If it weren't for the fact that there were two other Ryker Davises who had information all over the Internet, his parents would already be freaked out that a website existed with his name.
Ryker had kept tabs on the website over the last two years. He even started believing it. Or at least believed it enough that he had to know whether it was true.
A couple weeks ago, Dr. B posted schematics on how to construct a dragon heartbeat simulator, and Ryker built it. He stared at the machine now. He didn't feel extra strong. Nothing changed in his vision. The light in the basement was as dim as it always was.
Ryker picked up a screwdriver, walked over to the simulator, and twisted a screw tighter. It didn't need tightening. He had picked up the screwdriver to test his strength without being obvious about it. As he stepped away from the simulator, he took the screwdriver in one hand and tried to bend it. It remained straight.
Willow swished her long blonde hair off her shoulders dramatically. She was tall, thin, and graceful — willowy — which was a good thing since it would be hard to live down a name like Willow if you were short and dumpy. "Can I be your sidekick?"
It had been a mistake to let his cousin see the simulator. She had promptly e-mailed Dr. B and asked if a Batmobile came with the Slayer job description.
Immediately after she sent her e-mail, Dr. B contacted her, giving his phone number and asking that Ryker call him.
Yeah. Ryker wasn't going to do that. He fingered the screwdriver again. It still didn't bend. He tossed it onto the floor near his dad's toolbox and decided it served Willow right that she'd e-mailed Dr. B. The guy would probably send her daily spam trying to sell her tinfoil hats and elf repellent.
Willow looked upward, thinking. "For my sidekick costume, I want a cute headband like the one Wonder Woman wears but not the star-spangled bathing suit. I mean, fighting crime shouldn't require a girl to shave her legs. That's asking too much."
"I don't think you have to worry. I'm not experiencing any superpowers — at least not ones I didn't already have. I think my innate genius probably qualifies." Ryker kept his voice light, but there was a sort of numb disappointment filling him. He was normal. Like everybody else. Which meant he had an entire mundane, unimportant life to look forward to.
"Maybe you're not trying hard enough," Willow said. "See if you can shoot spiderwebs from your palm."
"Sorry," he said. "As much as I'd like to encase you in a web and leave you dangling somewhere, I can't." On the other hand, Ryker didn't have to worry about dragons attacking cities, or about his genetic responsibility to fight them. When he looked at it that way, a mundane, unimportant life wasn't such a bad thing.
Dragons. Sheesh. When had he become so gullible?
Willow let out a dramatic sigh. "I guess we'd better inform Dr. Alphabet Letters that you're not as cool as he thought." She picked up her Kindle. Dr. B's e-mail to them still sat on the screen.
"Don't," Ryker said. With one swift motion he grabbed the Kindle out of Willow's hands. "Don't encourage whoever ..." He stopped talking when Willow let out a gasp. She stared, openmouthed at his hand.
Ryker looked down. The Kindle had cracked. The screen was nothing but a starburst of lines and colors.
Willow took a step toward him, her hands lifted in frustration. "What did you do that for?"
Ryker peered at the broken Kindle, dumbfounded. "I didn't grab it that hard. It just shattered."
Willow yanked what was left of the Kindle from his hand. Pieces of plastic fell onto the floor. "These don't just shatter. You must have ..." Her voice trailed off, her anger fading away.
They looked at each other. Then they looked at the simulator. It was still making the same soft thudding sound. They looked back at each other. Neither said anything for a moment.
"Do you feel extra strong?" Willow asked tentatively.
"No," he said. "I still feel the same."
Willow scanned the room, saw the screwdriver, and picked it up. "See if you can bend this." She handed it to him, then took a step back from him as though the screwdriver might not only shatter, but explode, too.
Ryker laughed at the change in her expression. He already knew he couldn't. "I bet anyone can break an e-reader if they grab it wrong." He put one hand on the tip of the screwdriver and slowly applied pressure to show Willow it was pointless. "I'll buy you a new —"
He didn't finish. His mind couldn't form words. The metal spike of the screwdriver was bending into a horseshoe shape. He did have extra strength. It had just taken a few minutes to kick in.
Willow let out a high-pitched squeal. "You did it!" She bounced on the balls of her feet, a bundle of excitement. "This is so awesome!"
Ryker turned the ruined screwdriver over in his hand. "No, it isn't." His heart beat against his chest in a fast rhythm, a drumbeat pounding out a new and insistent call. He wasn't normal. He wasn't like everybody else. "This is really bad. Do you know what this means?"
The excitement drained from Willow as quickly as it had come. Her mouth opened into an O of understanding. "It means," she said in a voice that had gone still, "that the other stuff is true, too. Dragons are real. They're going to attack."
* * *
Ryker paced around his living room waiting for his parents to come home. He and Willow had just had a long talk about secrecy and caution, about what they should say and who they should tell. Slayer or not, signing up to fight dragons was going to take some thought. Especially since Dr. B had written about Overdrake, the dragon lord, who was lurking around somewhere, waiting to pick Slayers off.
Dr. B also reported on his site that he had met with Ryker's parents when his mom was pregnant with him. Dr. B didn't give many details about what led to the meeting. He just said that, instead of agreeing to let him train their son, Ryker's parents had moved without a trace. It was the reason Dr. B now kept Slayers from revealing any information about their training to their parents. It was the reason why Ryker wasn't supposed to tell his parents anything now.
But then, maybe his parents had good reasons for keeping him away from Dr. B. Maybe the man was dangerous. Or crazy. Or had an agenda of his own.
Ryker looked out the living room window to the street in front of their house. No cars were heading in his direction. It wasn't a surprise. They lived on a cul-de-sac. Ryker turned and paced back the other way.
No matter what Ryker's parents thought of Dr. B, they still should have told Ryker he was a Slayer. That part really ticked him off.
Willow and he had spent the last couple of hours trying to find other powers. He jumped off his trampoline about fifty times. He could leap huge distances, but he hadn't flown anywhere. He dragged every candle his parents owned onto the back patio and tried to extinguish their flames. That hadn't worked either. He wasn't sure what throwing a shield up entailed, so he waved his hands around, attempting to create some sort of force field over the basketball hoop while Willow shot baskets. That experiment was probably doomed from the start. Willow kept trying to make wild, impossible shots. He might have had a working shield up there half of the time and wouldn't have known it.
Next, Ryker went into the guest bathroom to test his night vision. The bathroom didn't have any windows, so it was the best place for that sort of test. Even in the dark, he could make out the gray shapes of Willow's shampoo bottle and conditioner in the shower. He could see the tangled silhouette of her blow dryer and iPod dock sitting on the counter, and see her makeup junk that was scattered everywhere. Seriously, why did girls need all of that stuff?
After that experiment — while Willow informed him that, yes, she really did need all that makeup junk, and guys should appreciate what girls did to look nice — they took cups of water out on the patio. Ryker dipped his fingers into his, then tried to send out freezing shocks to the hydrangeas. No frost formed, and if the hydrangeas felt chilly, they didn't let on. Before long, that experiment deteriorated into Willow and him throwing water at each other.
Besides the strength and night vision that all the Slayers had, he and Willow didn't discover any extra powers. But then the website didn't say how to access them. Maybe there was a trick to it that Dr. B hadn't mentioned. It could be his way of making Ryker contact him.
Or maybe it just took more practice.
Ryker heard the garage door open. His parents were home from work. They both worked at the same doctors' office: his dad as the office manager, his mother as a nurse. They were later than usual because they had to pick up Ryker's twelve-year-old sister, Jillian, from basketball camp.
Willow probably heard the garage door open, too. She was down in the basement hiding the simulator behind boxes of Christmas decorations. The website said his powers would last for half an hour after the simulator was turned off. He'd started a countdown in his mind, already dreading the time his extra powers would leave him. He'd just found them. He didn't want to give them up yet.
Ryker sat on the couch and picked up his laptop from the coffee table. It was already open to RykerDavis.com. A few moments later his sister Jillian and his parents strolled inside. His father was still fit for a man in his forties. His receding black hair and the wrinkles that creased the corners of his eyes were the only things that gave away his age. He prided himself on being able to occasionally beat Ryker at a game of one-on-one. Ryker had never told him, but beating his father at any sport had stopped being a challenge around seventh grade. Ryker lost on purpose sometimes because it didn't seem right to make his father lose all the time.
Ryker's mother was blonde, thin, and efficient in everything she did. She was the type of woman who could talk on the phone, stir three different things on the stove, and use hand motions to instruct her children to clean up their stuff, all without breaking stride.
As she came through the door, she was sorting through mail, already making a stack of things to shred. "The dog needs to be fed," she told Ryker, without looking up. "His bowl is empty again."
Griffin's bowl was frequently empty because the dog was a glutton. "Mom," Ryker said calmly, "I need to talk to you and Dad alone."
His tone of voice made her look up from the mail. "What's wrong?"
Ryker's gaze slid to his sister. Jillian let out an offended huff. "Nobody ever lets me hear anything."
His mother fluttered her hand toward Jillian's bedroom. "Go find something to do for a few minutes."
Jillian clomped down the hallway, still huffing, and shut her door with a loud bang.
"What's up?" his father asked, coming to stand in front of the couch.
Ryker flipped the laptop around so that RykerDavis.com was showing. "Have you ever heard of Slayers?"
Ryker's father squinted at the screen, then took the laptop from Ryker's hands. His mother stood rooted to the spot, an envelope still clutched in her hand. "What are you talking about?"
"According to the website," Ryker said, "I've inherited powers to fight dragons. A guy named Dr. B wants to train me."
His parents stiffened. His mother strode over to read what was on the laptop. Two spots of angry color formed in her cheeks. "I don't know what sort of scam this man is running, but you're not going to have anything to do with him. Just forget you ever saw it." She was speaking too fast, worry overshadowing her anger. "This Dr. B person is obviously making things up. Con men will tell you anything to get your trust."
Excerpted from Slayers by C. J. Hill. Copyright © 2013 C. J. Hill. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
After the dragon summer camp is over, everyone has to return to their normal lives. Tori wants Jesse to break the rules and see her over the school year. As captain, he won’t do it and tells Tori to see other people. She’s crushed and cries on Dirk’s shoulder. As a spy, Dirk doesn't mind breaking the rules and sends Tori letters. Her dad’s a senator so it’s easy to track her down. They secretly start corresponding. Tori fears the eggs have hatched— her special skill is hearing what the dragons do. Dirk’s special power is dragon-sight and he claims to see nothing. Dr. B believes Dirk. Tori makes a surprise visit to Dirk’s football game to confirm that he hasn’t seen anything. Dirk’s a major player and Tori knows it, but he seems to really like her. Unlike Jesse, Dirk wants to be with her. When Jesse gets attacked, all the Slayers meet up to figure out how the Dragon Lord knows where they live. Everyone together is just what the Dragon Lord wants. This is a great sequel. I’m so Team Jesse, but I’m a little Team Dirk too. He’s a bad boy you can’t help feel sorry for. I’m a believer now in dragons and love the way the story makes mystical creatures come to life. I can’t wait until book 3. C.J. Hill writes thrilling action scenes and romance that will steal your heart.
It's a fun read.
Calling all dragon lovers thus is a great book you must read !?
Awesome book! Cant wait till the third installment is out. Dirk, Jesse. Dragon Lord, Slayer. Choices, choices. I love Tori and i hope she gets her abilities under control and becomes a kick butt leading gal. Just saying, I would love for her to take control of the dragons and keep everyone safe, including the dragons. Poor dragons, they just need to be loved and cuddled.
I loved this series! Cant wait for the next! I love Jesse, but I really want Dirk and Tori to be together. This book made me see Dirk in a different light.
I loved everything about this book! C. J. Hill did an amazing job keeping my attention and channeling the first book into the second. I'm so excited for the next one!