Cover Reveal and Sneak Peek from "Curse of the Dragon Heir"

Updated: Aug 6


brandon sanderson young adult books

Please enjoy this excerpt from "Curse of the Dragon Heir" 🐉👑 by S.R. Breaker. The first book in a new and exciting NA fantasy series. Part of the Realm of Darkness 🔥 fantasy romance/PNR anthology.


Note: This is an unedited early sneak peek.


Here's the description:


"A fae mage with no magic, Soleia only wants to escape her life. But will accidentally binding an evil demon to her end it?"


Second-born of the High mage family of the Priori clan of Arcadia, Soleia was only expected to do certain things. Mind her dull familial duties. Undergo training to master portal summoning, the rarest form of casting among her people. Free a dangerous demon from a fifty-year-old curse and release him into their village--oops, that was an accident! 🤦‍♀️


If only the Priori elders' solution wasn't to bind the evil demon to her to ensure everyone's safety. If only Soleia hadn't been lying about actually having any powers all these years. If only the gorgeous demon's intense gold-red gaze didn't send delicious shivers up her spine. 🤭


Soleia can no longer escape her fate. She has to harness her magic, keep the cursed demon at bay, and somehow keep her secret. 🤫


But the demon has secrets too. And while Soleia discovers that he is much more than he seems, a decades-long conflict for the fate of Arcadia comes to light. It could also be the key to unlocking her powers. 🤯


Saving the world often comes at too high a price. Will she sacrifice her heart, her fate, her life? Or all of it? 😱


A thrilling, slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers, closed-door, fae+dragon shifter fantasy romance.


***

Chapter One - Best Laid


Trees shook when the slithery beast, half as tall as the forest ceiling, let out a fierce growl—cut short as two shimmery silver blades sheared the creature’s spiky head clean off, the rest of its scaly body splattering in a shower of guts upon the verdant rainforest.

Soleia landed on the ground into a three-point stance with a heavy thud, her swords gripped white in her knuckles.

She blew the wisps of hair that worked free of her long braid out of her eyes with a short puff, tossing a sideways triumphant look at the black thoroughbred waiting behind an overgrown myrtle tree. “That was even bigger than the last one, wasn’t it, Boots?”

The horse snorted, giving his bridle a rattle as he jerked his head to beckon his master back.

“Cursed wraith forest indeed.” Soleia shook her head as she straightened up with a grimace. She flicked the scarlet drippings from her blades before sheathing them in the double scabbard across her back with a swish.

“At this rate, we won’t make it out of Ipera until sundown,” she lamented as she waded her way through the tall grass to retrieve the horse’s reins off a high branch. “At least we know nobody else would be crazy enough to track us through here.”

“And don’t give me that look,” she went on as she easily pulled herself back up on the saddle. “You know I had to get away from there. It’s bad enough what today is.” She curled her lips in distaste while adjusting her hold on the reins and kicked to trot off.

The first-born mages of the Priori Fae clan were special.

Aside from inheriting all the mystical powers of the Fae before them, they had great responsibilities. They were known and therefore always expected to do their duty. In particular with the firstborns of the highest-ranking Fae family, her birth right was to eventually lead their people.

So when the previous leaders of the Priori clan, wise and honorable as they were, had met their untimely death, the responsibility of leading fell to the first-born of the highest-ranking Fae mage family.

Caelina.

As the second-born of the family, Soleia couldn’t have been more relieved.

And it had been good for the last twenty-one years.

That was, until today.

Soleia clicked her tongue to instruct the horse to avoid a tangle of vines on the ground. “It’s not like Caelina’s ever needed me. She’ll deal with it,” she assured nobody in particular, or maybe herself. “She always sorts everything out. I mean what more does the village need? Everyone already looks up to her because she’s so perfect. She’s never flunked out of tutelage or allegedly set fire to the supply shed.” She paused with a mischievous grin. “Or ridden someone else’s horse into a swamp.”

The horse neighed as if in response.

Soleia chuckled and patted his mane. “I know, right? You made that jump right easy. Tobias’ horse needs more gumption.”

There was a reason Soleia felt more akin to her horse than to the other Priori.

She shared a lot of qualities with the thoroughbred. She liked to think she was serviceable, useful, if not impulsive at times. Fearless, bordering on reckless—or perhaps smack dab right swimming in recklessness, it often served her well enough to face everything head-on and be adaptable under any circumstances.

On days like today though, she could have been better served with a semblance of a plan. Sneaking out of the village with Boots had been easy enough. But where was she even going to go?

Weighing her options, she sighed in deep thought.

There was talk of some towns across the impassable marshes, though nobody she knew had ever gone there and back again. She didn’t even have a clue what lay beyond the mountain ranges of the east. But surely she should find a nice, little village north of the Semi River. In hushed whispers, she had heard her sister talk to the elders of “human” settlements over that way, in protected realms where no magic thrived. And perhaps if she didn’t frighten these humans first off, she might offer her services as a hunter. She was a pretty good tracker.

She drew one sword again to cut through the low-hanging vines, clearing a path in the thick forest. “Don’t worry, boy. I bet nobody will even miss us anyway.” A wave of despondence washed over her and she blew out another breath. “Especially once they find out that—”

Her eyes lit up at a rustling sound up ahead and she immediately bent low on her ride, squinting to investigate the forward brush. Her heartbeat quickened in anticipation, in alert.

Was it more wraiths?

The tall grass shifted and waved before it finally parted to reveal an elderly woman emerging from the brush. She wore a worn woven cloak in the Priori colors and looked even more surprised to find Soleia a few feet away upon her horse.

The woman seemed to collect herself quickly and moved the hand that wasn’t holding onto her wooden staff to prop at her waist as though in impatience, just behind her back.

“Oma!”

Oermilla’s wrinkled gray eyes narrowed even as her mouth had dropped open. “And what do you think you are doing here, child?”

Soleia’s face paled at her grandmother’s stern tone. “Nothing, Oma.”

Oermilla tilted her head in suspicion. “Don’t you Oma me right now,” she chided, not really looking cross. “Everyone, as you well know, has been warned to keep away from this forest because of the dangerous wraith infestation.”

Soleia sheathed her sword and dismounted to approach but as she came closer, she noted Oermilla’s hand just by her side. “What are those?”

About a foot each in length, a half dozen eel-like creatures wriggled in Oermilla’s grasp where she had poised her arm, almost out of view.

The old woman held the squirming things out to show her. “Oh, these,” she replied, offhand. “Baby wraiths. I caught them when I was taking a walk.”

Soleia’s eyebrows shot up. “You were taking a walk this close to the wraith forest?”

Oermilla gave her an even look. “Weren’t you doing the same thing?”

She blinked, nearly in alarm. “Yes. I…I was just—I needed to think about some things.”

Oermilla studied Soleia’s expression as she set the baby wraiths on the ground, and waved her hand over them briefly, making them stop wriggling. “Is something wrong, my child?”

Soleia pursed her lips. “No… I just…” She shifted on her feet. “I don’t like our traditions,” she blurted out. “What kind of nonsense is it anyway that when mages in our family come of age, she should demonstrate her powers to the whole village?” She couldn’t hide her grimace.

Oermilla gave her a meaningful, pointed look—one Soleia was familiar with which meant she should have already known the answer to her question.

“It is a celebration of your skill. Not to mention an affirmation, a proof,” Oermilla relayed. “It’s to assure the people that our family, who have been entrusted with the leadership of the clan, will be capable of keeping the peace as we have for decades. It demonstrates to our people that they will be kept safe, that they will be protected, and increase confidence in our family.”

Soleia kept making faces in insolence.

Oermilla gave her a stern look. “This is why I kept telling you, you should have been concentrating more on your casting training, instead of horsing around with Boots, and playing swords, and getting into fights with the village’s warrior children.”

Soleia rolled her eyes. “It’s called sparring, Oma. I just…wanted to be able to protect myself with more than just silly magic.”

“Silly?” Oermilla’s eyes lit up. “My child, the magic of the Priori is a gift, and the magic you’ve inherited from my late sister is the rarest form of casting. Even your mother, bless her soul, didn’t wield it.”

Soleia had been told that Great-aunt Helene had once torn a hole through thin air, stepped through, and come back with an entire net’s worth of fish fresh from the Semi Sea—a body of water clear across the Arcadian continent.

And apparently, one time when she was six, Soleia had, for several seconds, inexplicably popped out from and back into the schoolhouse, convincing her entire family that she had inherited this great, legendary skill.

“And there has not been a portal summoner in the clan for over fifty years,” Oermilla raved on. “You understand how rare and special that is?”

As she was made to hear the tired, old platitudes all over again, Soleia wanted to kick herself. This was all her fault. She should have come clean years ago.

To be fair, Oermilla was right.

Soleia was indeed rare.

In fact, she was the first of their kind with virtually no casting magic whatsoever.

That being said, she would certainly fit into a “human” realm—if such a realm did exist.

That show of “power” when she was six had been a complete fluke. Since then, Soleia could do little more than the warrior fae, cast little spells—make things glow, barely anything to be useful.

For years, Soleia had done her best to make sure everyone’s impression of her was wholly preserved.

In the meantime, what else could she do? She needed to learn to take care of herself another way. As often as she could, she undertook to train with the village’s warrior families’ children instead. Taking to avoid magical chores at the village in favor of joining the hunting parties where she at least could be useful.

Except for tonight, she was finally expected to perform at the ceremony in front of everyone to demonstrate just exactly how magical she really was, just like every member of her family had before her when they had come of age.

Soleia would rather face the cursed wraith forest.

“You should be getting back. The sun is past its peak in the sky and you’ll need time to prepare.” Oermilla moved to take her elbow.

Soleia jerked her arm back from Oermilla’s grasp but it was too late.

Oermilla gasped as if she’d been struck. “You were running away.”

Soleia stepped back, starting to heave. Dammit. She should have been more careful around her grandmother’s heightened senses of perception, and with Soleia’s already frazzled mind, she wasn’t strong enough to keep her surface emotions buried sufficiently.

Her tone reprimanding, Oermilla went on. “And have you been killing the wraiths? Has your grandmother taught you nothing? You know you can put the small ones to sleep if you just…”

Soleia looked away and bit her lip. Yes, yes, of course, she knew all that. She knew exactly what to do but…

Her wary gaze flicked back over to meet Oermilla’s, worried she had already gleaned what Soleia had been trying to hide for nearly fifteen years.

“Soleia… You don’t…” Oermilla was already shaking her head in astonishment.

A wave of nausea hit Soleia and she whirled around to run away, momentarily forgetting about her horse. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She knows! She knows! Her throat tightened in panic and dismay but she willed her feet to keep moving, her grandmother’s calls sounding farther and farther away.

“Soleia, no! You’re headed too far into the—”

Her foot squelched in a mud puddle as she tried to avoid deeper ones.

The Priori had all also been told that the bigger wraiths thrived deeper in the forest. Soleia had roughly mapped her earlier escape route to skirt around the forest’s edges, but right then, she just needed to get away.

Get away from her grandmother.

Get away from her life.

Get away from the truth.

She glanced back to check the moment she remembered she had left Boots behind and didn’t see another clump of vines on the ground near a clearing beneath a large cedar tree.

Soleia tripped, “Oh shit—” and fell face first in the mud.

After a moment and a groan, she pushed up on her elbows, looking up, but she stopped short, spotting strange yellow symbols carved into the dirt just before her.

It seemed to exist apart from the wet ground even as it imbued the same with an odd golden glow.

Soleia tilted her head to one side in curiosity as she stood back up only to gasp in shock at the sight of a man pinned high up against the tree trunk, the cedar’s gnarled roots having grown and wrapped around his limbs and across his torso.

He wore a textured armor suit that seemed like it should be gleaming if not for the layer of dirt and soot caked on, his face hidden beneath his mud-coated long hair as his head hung.

She would have thought he was merely unconscious if not for the fact that what fastened him up against the tree was a long silver sword with a jeweled hilt shoved right through his chest.

Though for a dead person in such a remote location, he seemed rather well-preserved as there was no evidence of rot or decay.

There was obviously some form of strong magic at work in this place.

She blinked, stepping back, mumbling, “What the actual f—?”

Oermilla’s rushed arrival swirled the leaves on the ground. “My child—,” she began, breathless.

Soleia met her gaze with an incredulous glare. “What is this, Oma? Who is that?” She pointed to the body against the tree.

“It’s nothing,” Oermilla dismissed. “You must forget you ever saw this and never ask any questions. Now let’s run along before—” She tried to veer her away with another grasp on her elbow but Soleia shrugged her off again.

She studied the telling look on her grandmother’s face. Oermilla was definitely hiding something. Giving her a pointed look, she challenged, “Oh my god, Oma, what were you really doing here in this forest?”

Oermilla pursed her lips. She would have been well-versed with Soleia’s stubbornness and knew she had to tell her something. Taking a deep breath, she resigned. “The wraiths serve to protect this sacred place, to keep our people away from this cursed demon.”

“Right…” Soleia nodded. “But there’s always been wraiths in this forest—” Her eyes lit up as something clicked in her mind.

The baby wraiths.

She gave Oermilla an incredulous glare. “Oma, did you—have you been planting the wraiths in the forest all these years to keep our people away from this…whoever this is?” She waved in disbelief toward the cedar tree.

Oermilla turned her gaze away but her silence was answer enough.

Soleia’s jaw dropped but before she could voice the overflowing turbulence of questions in her mind, the ground beneath her began to shake. What the—? Her eyes widened.

The dirt before them stirred and before Soleia could make out what was going on, a long, black creature slithered out from under the ground.

“Soleia!” Oermilla warned as she stood and put both hands up to attempt to cast the wraith away but when its tail emerged from the dirt, it whipped at her, tossing her frail figure into the thick brush, rendered unconscious.

“Oma!” Soleia cried out.

She intended to run toward the brush to see if her grandmother was all right but the next thing she heard was the hissing of the giant wraith as it darted toward her and made to wrap around her neck.

“Aagh!” Soleia yelped as the grimy beast wound around her body. She tried to grasp at the creature’s girth to yank it off but it was constricting tight. She couldn’t even wail in pain as she began to choke, her arms flailing around in desperation.

She cast Oermilla’s knocked-out form amongst the brush a wide-eyed, panicked look.

Help me!

Soleia squeezed her eyes shut, trying to breathe.

Somebody help me!



***


"Curse of the Dragon Heir" releases EXCLUSIVE to the "Realm of Darkness" fantasy romance anthology out on October 4th. Pre-order it now at your favorite online bookstore.



 

This article was written by S. R. Breaker.


S. R. Breaker writes offbeat, easy reading science fiction and fantasy books. Suburban mum by day and author by night, she loves to live vicariously through her characters. They don’t have to vacuum all day long and are almost always guaranteed to survive any fantastical or thrilling incidents, no matter how treacherous she writes them. Visit her epic worlds in books.




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