Here are the first two chapters from Dragon Planet Book 1: Kraamlok. To read the first 7 chapters for free, go the the Kindle version of the book on Amazon and click “Look Inside” above the cover image.
Tondoor only had time to pound the drum six times before the Dragons of the Rocks swooped down to steal the eggs. They were Bloods and Fires, and they wore the same glinting stripes and unnaturally long claws he’d seen in the dream.
A true dream. This proved it.
An apprentice Fire dragon guarding Egg Hollow, the cavern below his cave, launched herself over the lake. She was only halfway across when the diving invaders shredded her wings and raked long, bloody gashes right through her scales. Cold yellow fear stung Tondoor’s eyes. He pulled his wings in tight and shrank into the shadows of his cave—his own year-old claws couldn’t even tear through a moolok’s tangled fur. Through the logs that barred his exit, he watched the Fire fall screaming into the water.
Across the lake, Bloods from his own tribe—the Dragons of the Plains—swirled into the air like autumn leaves, while the first of the striped raiders flapped back up with eggs cradled gently inside his bloody, too-long claws.
Flames flashed and smoke obscured Tondoor’s view as the Bloods from the Plains challenged the Bloods from the Rocks. His dream had been full of smoke too—first a gray haze that blurred the visible world, then thick black battle smoke that made it impossible to tell who was killing whom. The sounds—the roars and screams and snapping bones, the bellowing of the tribute beasts in the distance—were new.
Tondoor sagged against the cool stone wall. He had seen the attack before it happened. Finally, he had done what a seer should do. Next time Elder Mala came to grill him about his dreams, she wouldn’t cuff him for not having the right kind. He closed his eyes to savor the new feelings swelling in his chest: hope that he would finally be allowed to leave the cave when he wanted to, not just when the minders took him out for lessons with the other hatchlings; and excitement that he would have a story to tell Kalooka, instead of the other way around.
The battle sounds stopped but now the mourning began. Wails of grief sliced through the layer of smoke that still hovered outside, as more dragons darted across the lake toward Egg Hollow. Tondoor shuddered. What had the Dragons of the Rocks done to the apprentice Leafs tending the eggs inside? As the haze thinned, he saw the Bloods and Fires of the Plains trickle back from the mountains, dangling the wounded from their own inadequate claws. Above them soared the Skies, blue specks in the hazy white sky, watching for enemies that had already left.
Anger sparked in his mind. Why hadn’t the Skies been watching the mountains during the graduation ceremony? That was their job. Was the ceremony more important than protecting the eggs? Why should it fall to a hatchling seer to warn his tribe when just by looking, the Skies could have seen the raiders coming?
He pressed his snout between the logs that blocked the cave’s opening, and peered down at the wooden platform floating outside Egg Hollow. It was heaped with the bright green bodies of apprentice Leafs.
Horror arced thorough him. There was a Sun in the pile.
“Kalooka?” It couldn’t be her. It couldn’t.
A large Leaf thumped onto the rocky ledge just below his cave. He was one of several minders who came periodically to fetch Tondoor. “Elder Mala wants to see you,” the minder growled.
None of them ever told him more than they needed to. He didn’t know if they were following the elders’ orders or if they just couldn’t be bothered to speak. Tondoor hopped back to the cave floor while the minder lifted one of the logs away.
Hope dared to whisper inside him. Had Elder Mala heard his drum beats and guessed that he’d dreamed? He squeezed through the new space between the logs and fanned his wings in the hot sun. The smoky breeze tasted like freedom.
“I’m to fly you around the Nest,” the minder snapped, replacing the log in its brackets in the cliff wall. His eyes were an angry red. “You are in serious trouble.”
Tondoor was always in trouble with Elder Mala. From what he could tell, everyone was. But this time he had news for her.
The minder launched himself off the cliff, and Tondoor leapt after him. He loved this first moment of flight, when the air caught his wings and lifted him on its invisible back. He followed the minder across the lake and toward the river that marked the southern edge of the Nest. Young Skies flew back and forth from the river to—oh, no.
The smoke in the air wasn’t only from the battle.
Across the river, the fence around the tribute pen holding the mooloks was on fire. Terrified mooloks crowded against the riverbank, bellowing. The Skies were stamping out embers in the grass and dumping water out of dripping grass baskets. Other Skies flew out over the Plains, chasing mooloks that had escaped.
Would there be enough mooloks for everyone to eat at the graduation feast tonight? Would there still be a feast?
Not for the Bone dragons that tended the wounded. Across the river from the burning pen, Leafs and Suns dragged injured dragons into rows among the trees, where they moaned and thrashed or lay ominously still. Bones crawled among them, inspecting their mangled bodies. Other Bones yanked at patches of herbs growing along the river.
The injured were mostly Bloods, Fires, and Leafs. No Suns.
No Kalooka, but so many hurt.
Tondoor ground his teeth. Yes, it was impossible to fend off a dragon diving from a height with its claws out, but there hadn’t been that many Rock dragons. Why were there so many wounded? He gulped. Because of those horrible claws.
The minder flew further up the river toward the pile of boulders that marked the Teaching Place, where Tondoor went when he wasn’t confined to his cave. His nest mates were there now, cowering in the shelter of the nearby trees with their apprentice minders. Or maybe some were no longer apprentices, depending when the raiders had interrupted their graduation ceremony.
These minders were the lucky ones, not assigned to Egg Hollow.
Tondoor pretended not to notice Hoodon, one of his Sky nest mates, make a rude gesture with his blue tail as he flew over. Soon the first-years would be out on the Plains with their new mentors, and Tondoor wouldn’t have to put up with any of them. He would remain here in the Nest, without any mentor at all. That was another thing no one had explained. Why, among the hundreds of dragons in all the vast Plains, was he the only Snow?
The minder banked away from the river and flew over the Gathering Place, where dragons from all over the Plains had assembled for the ceremony. Most of them were still standing there. There were some Suns, but no Kalooka.
Two elders strode back and forth below them, keeping the crowds back from… Tondoor’s heart lurched. From a crowd of Bloods ripping the deadly claws off two enemy carcasses. The Rock dragons’ crisscrossing stripes still glinted through their fire-crisped scales.
“Only two of them dead,” the minder spat back at him through clenched teeth.
Grey sadness made Tondoor’s eyes droop. There were many more than two dead Plains dragons on the platform outside Egg Hollow, not even counting the ones in the Healing Place who wouldn’t survive.
The minder swooped over the Elders’ Clearing. It was empty, so Elder Mala was somewhere else. They followed the shadowy Ravine along the north edge of the Nest and back toward the lake. The Ravine’s steep cliff walls widened and fell toward into a flat, watery delta where the Changing Pools were. Tondoor twisted his neck backwards to get a better look.
The minder hissed. “Have you seen the dead and injured? All the damage and confusion?”
“Yes.” Tondoor wasn’t blind. But why did it matter what he saw?
The minder swung back across the lake. “Then it’s time to count our dead.”