(from Shelly Laurenston's newsletter)
Back Cover Copy:
HOW TO DRIVE A DRAGON CRAZY
Some things never go away, like vile enemies, bad ale, and annoying kin. Honestly, though, I thought I was finished with the one dragon I’d have done anything for: Éibhear the Blue, a big, gorgeous, blue-haired beast who thinks the world belongs to him. The world and, apparently, me.
If Éibhear wants to play the caring hero and travel into the most forsaken of Gods forsaken lands to protect the one woman who doesn’t need it -- namely me -- I’ll let him. Because while I’m trying to fulfill a ridiculous quest for a pushy god, I’m going to draw this overconfident warlord much too close, rekindle his fires, and enjoy every minute of his delicious defeat...
HOW TO DRIVE A DRAGON CRAZY
Available September 2012!
As human, in their Ice Land fur capes that hid their faces and chainmail leggings and shirts, the four Mì-runach stood on the ridge overlooking the valley caught between a half-ring of mountains and a vast forest where a battle raged on.
“I didn’t know we’d have to fight our way in,” Aidan complained. “I was hoping we’d swoop in and swoop out.”
“That won’t be happening today.”
A battle cry sounded from beside them and Uther turned, gutting the male running at them with his blade and tossing the body back several feet.
Éibhear sighed. “That was one of Annwyl’s men.”
“Oh.” Uther shrugged. “Sorry.”
“Annwyl’s troops are in red and silver. The enemies are ogres, which means their skin is in varying shades of green and they’re not human. So it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.”
“Why are they fighting ogres?” Caswyn asked.
“Annwyl had to fight ogres once in a pit fight. Now she hates ogres.”
“Interesting woman your human queen.”
Éibhear walked a bit until he found a path leading down the ridge and right into the battle. As they walked, not really engaging in the battle unless threatened, Aidan asked, “So which one is the infamous Izzy?”
“Can’t you tell?”
“I can tell.” Caswyn stopped, pointed at a warrior woman riding on a black steed, her sword flashing as she gave orders to the men surrounding her.
Aidan laughed. “Not even close.”
“Why not? She looks like a proper soldier, leading a queen’s army into battle.”
“That’s the problem. Éibhear’s never been interested in anyone doing the ‘proper’ thing.”
Aidan looked over the battle, finally smiling and pointing. “Her.”
They all looked where he pointed but all Éibhear could see were a group of ogres beating on something with their clubs. Then there was a scream and a shield came up from the center of those ogres, pushing them back. And from the midst of all that green flesh, she stood. Tall and proud. No longer the young girl he’d met so many years ago, nor the young soldier he’d walked away from.
Now she was something different. Scarred, bruised, and covered in blood, she shoved her long shield forward, knocking a few more ogres out of her way. From her left, another ogre swung at her. Izzy raised her arm, caught the club in her hand. Snarling, she yanked the weapon from the ogre and turned on him, kicking him in the gut. The shield was yanked from her, but that just freed her to grip the club in both hands. She swung it, knocking an ogre to the ground, then she brought the club up and over, bringing the spiked head of the weapon down onto the ogre’s face.
Screaming, she ripped the club off the skull and took out another. That’s when Caswyn looked at Éibhear. “Yeah. Aidan’s right. That’s gotta be her.”
Iseabail, Daughter of Talaith and Briec, human princess by mating of the House of Gwalchmai fab Gwyar, and General of the Eighth, Fourteenth, and Twenty-sixth legions of Annwyl the Bloody, Queen of Garbhán Isle and Dark Plains, ducked the flint axe swinging for her head and brought the club she held up between the legs of the ogre trying to kill her.
He squealed and dropped to his knees. Izzy tore the spiked club up and out of the ogre’s body, then brought it back down on his head, now that he was closer to her height.
It had been a bloody, ugly war for the last two months, but Izzy believed an end was near because she hoped to finally get her chance at the ogre leader. Once he was dead, the rest of his army would fall.
So she took down another ogre, ducked a flint axe aimed at her head, and crushed a knee cap with a well-placed kick, all in the hopes of finding that damn ogre leader.
Izzy heard her dragon cousin’s screamed warning and was able to move her body out of the way in time to avoid the ogre attacking from behind, but the blade of his flint axe cut across her arm. The wound began to bleed almost immediately and she knew she’d have to get it sewn up. But she refused to worry about that now. Not with the ogre leader in her sights at last. She could see him about thirty feet away. So very close.
Izzy spun, swung the club, and slammed it into the neck of the bastard behind her as he tried to run away. He went down face first and Izzy pulled out her sword and rammed it into the back of the beast’s head.
She heard her name called again, this time by a much different voice than her cousin Branwen, but she had to ignore it as she was being attacked again. Gods, the ogres just keep coming.
She blocked the flint mace aimed for her face by using the club she still held in her left hand and cut the thick arteries inside the ogre’s thighs with her sword. She spun and slashed her sword again, cutting a throat, spun again and swung, but her blade was stopped by an obscenely large battle axe. She knew the weapon was not an ogre’s. They only used flint weapons and although deadly were often crudely made. This was a well-made weapon forged by a true blacksmith.
So Izzy struck at the knees with the club she still held. The heavy flint made contact and there was an angry snarl from beneath the heavy fur cape that covered the face and body of the axe wielder.
She ignored the command and swung the blade again. A big gloved hand reached out and shoved her back.
“Gods-dammit, Izzy! It’s me!” He yanked the hood of his cape back, revealing his handsome face and dark blue hair. Some of it in braids with leather strips, feathers, and small animal bones tied throughout. “It’s Éibhear.”
“Yeah,” Izzy answered honestly. “I know.”
Then she pulled back her arm and threw the sword she held directly at his head.
Éibhear knew that because of his size, it was believed he was quite slow. Lumbering was a word he’d often heard used from those seeing him doing nothing more than standing. Yet at that moment when he saw the short sword coming right at him, thrown by a woman who clearly knew what she was doing, Éibhear would say he’d never been so grateful that everyone was wrong. He was fast. Very fast. And it was that speed, being able to drop to the ground in seconds, that really saved his life.
Once he hit the ground, he looked up and saw that Izzy was running right at him. He wasn’t sure if she was coming to finish him off or just kick the shit from him, but the thought of batting her away or blasting her with his flame -- stupidly -- never entered his head.
He would never know why.
When Izzy reached him, she snatched his short sword from his belt and leaped up, one foot landing on his shoulder. She used that foot to launch herself, lifting her body, and spinning in the air. Éibhear turned over and watched as Izzy raised the sword that most human males couldn’t lift and shove it into the nine-foot ogre that had stood behind Éibhear. He’d been so focused on Izzy, he hadn’t even been aware of the big bastard wearing a human skull on a chain around his neck.
But even with the sword buried in the top of his head, the ogre wasn’t dead yet. He was snarling and snapping at Izzy as she hung there, and that’s when she spoke to the green bastard. Éibhear had no idea what she said, but he was positive the ogre did. And the words were so guttural, so vile-sounding that he knew she was speaking the ancient language of the ogres.
When Izzy finished, she released her hold on the sword and dropped to the ground. With one good kick to the ogre’s stomach, she knocked him on his back and walked around until she was able to look him in the eye. Gripping in both hands the club she still held, she raised it above her head and brought it down once, smashing the ogre’s face in.
It was then that Éibhear realized this must be the ogre leader because all the surviving ogres stopped fighting and began to turn and run back toward the mountains in the distance, probably to choose another leader and regroup. Izzy seemed to know that as she yanked Éibhear’s blade from the dead leader’s head.
“All of you!” Izzy called out while walking back toward Éibhear. “Don’t let them reach the caves. Kill them all! Now move!”
Izzy stopped by Éibhear’s side, looked him over. “Why are you here?” she asked.
“To bring you home.”
“Can’t.” She dropped the blade on his stomach, Éibhear barely catching it before the blade possibly cut something vital. “Not done.”
She turned away from him, dismissing him without a backward glance. “Lieutenant Alistair.” A full-human male rode up to her.
“Rally the men. Pull several to get the wounded to healers. We’ll deal with the dead later. I want those ogres meeting their green-skinned ancestors before the moon’s high in the sky. Do you understand?”
He rode off and another female rode to Izzy’s side.
“Fionn. How are we looking?”
“Good, Iz. But there’s still some fight left in the South Valley.”
“Take a contingent and strike them down.”
“Your arm, General,” the woman Fionn pushed.
“Yeah, yeah. I know, Colonel. I’ll deal with it.” She laughed, waved the woman away.
Then, without even looking at him again, Izzy walked off, leaving him lying there.
“I don’t know why you look so shocked,” a voice said from beside him and he looked up into the face of his cousin Branwen. “What did you expect from her? To drop to her knees and suck your cock right here?”
Well… it had crossed his mind.
Copyright © Shelly Laurenston 2012