Dreams and Dragons
YA Epic Fantasy
USA Today bestselling author, Karpov Kinrade, Of
Dreams and Dragons begins
an incredible tale of magic and wonder and love. For fans of Throne
of Glass, Harry
and Game of
experience a story of epic proportions.
day darkness descends into my life begins like any other.
care of the kids I call my own. Fighting fires in my small Northern
California town. How could I have known evil walked my streets and
would soon rip apart my world?
death comes for us all, and when a stranger with mysterious abilities
shows up demanding payment for a promise I never made, I refuse. When
he kidnaps my baby sister, I fight back.
I discover the power of the dragons within me.
I must leave everything behind and travel to a world of magic and
wonder in order to train with a charismatic dragon lord, in the hopes
that one day…
can save my sister.
make her killer pay with blood.
nothing in this world is what it appears. And my closest friends are
keeping secrets from me.
that could tear the worlds apart.
amazing!” – Kayla
book I would read again and again” –
out and grab a copy” –
Mindy S ★★★★★
Kinrade’s words are magic, painting a picture in your mind that stays
Courtney Cole, New York Times bestselling author
sea of stars. A night sky never ending. I float through the darkness, as if
there is nothing but space around me. No air. No water. Only cold. Only
night. And the stars and planets and moons shimmering in the
There is the sound of water breaking. I look up and see Kaden appear
from nothingness. His scarf and coat and hair drift up slowly, as if he were
sinking, and he moves through the space as if swimming, until his arm is
I want to speak, but I dare not let the air out from my lungs. I do not
know if I can breathe in this strange place. Kaden gestures for me to
follow him, then swims forward, toward a ring of golden light. A nebula, I
think I’ve heard it called. I follow Kaden, paddling through the sky, and
find that moving here is much like moving through water, but easier and
faster, as if there is no friction of any kind. It’s like my dreams, where I
would fly as if swimming. I wonder if I am really in space, but I cannot be.
I would freeze to death.
The nebula grows larger before us, until it covers all my vision with
gold. Up close now, I realize it’s not a multitude of stars as much as a wall
of light. Or perhaps it changed as I grew closer. Kaden swims past me,
disappearing behind the golden hue. For a moment, I hesitate to follow,
but there is no turning back now. I reach out with my hand, touching the
light. It feels soft and smooth and warm. With one final push, I plunge
forward, letting the sea of stars engulf me in its warm embrace.
My head breaks through the surface, and I emerge as if from a deep
dive, gasping for air. I stand in a shallow pool of crystal clear water, my
feet touching sand that was not there before. The air is thinner here. The
wind weaker. And the heat stronger.
It is bright. Night has turned to day, the sky a clear blue. Lush green
bushes that look like the tops of palm trees circle the pond we just stepped
out of, and thick vines fall from taller trees. Dense emerald grass covers
the ground, and small purple flowers that sprout in clusters dot the
landscape. Far above, I hear a shrill bird call, then a chorus of responses
from the nearby trees, a beautiful song reverberating through the air.
Past the trees and the grass, past this little oasis we have landed in, is
an endless horizon of silver sand shining too brightly in the sun. An
endless stretch of desert with no signs of life, at least above the surface.
“Something is wrong,” says Kaden, walking out of the water, his
clothes dripping onto the grass. “We were supposed to arrive closer to the
Cliff. This place…” His words trail off, and he stands silent, looking at the
I walk onto dry land, my wet clothes rubbing against my skin. At least
it’s warm. I’d be freezing in the wind. “What happened? Your fountain
portal broke or something?”
“They’re not portals,” he says, “not really. It’s more about the stars.
When the stars align over certain bodies of water, that water can be used
to travel between worlds. All one needs is a travel talisman and the
knowledge of which stars align where and when. It changes from month
to month, year to year. It’s not a simple science, but I was certain we
should have arrived miles north of here.” He pauses, frowning. “I heard
whispers… talk of the stars fading, the light dying…”
I raise an eyebrow. “Care to explain what you’re mumbling about?”
He turns to me. “Some say this world is ending. That soon our magic
will fade away and the light will vanish. That darkness will come. Of
course, there are always those who speak of the apocalypse and there
always will be. I gave no credence to it, but the stars…” He shakes his
head. “I must have made a mistake is all. Simple as that.”
He glances around. “Now where was… ah. Here.” He runs up to a
tree with emerald vines and large, multi-faceted crystals that grow in place
of fruit. He brushes away a pile of sand and stone, revealing a symbol
underneath: two black swords crossed over each other in an X. “One of
our hidden caches,” he explains, grabbing a handle obscured in the ground
and pulling. The symbol opens like a hatch, revealing a small space stuffed
full of objects: clothing, a pair of daggers, something that might be food.
Kaden passes me a blue cloak and robes and a towel. “Dry off, then
put these on. They will keep you warm in the night. And they’ll help you
fit in with the locals.”
He grabs a pair of black robes for himself, then pulls off his shirt. He
starts unbuckling his pants and—
“What are you doing?” I ask.
He pauses. “Apologies. I forget myself. Modesty is much less
important on Nirandel than in your world. I’ll find a more private
location.” He walks away, disappearing behind a tree.
I take the moment to undress and dry off, then put on the new robes.
They are thin and light and seem made of silk, and it isn’t long until I start
to feel cooler in the heat. I throw a hood over my head to shade my face,
and adjust the blue cloak on my back, then check my reflection in the lake.
I look as if I’ve stepped out of a fairytale, one about knights and princesses
Kaden emerges from the trees, dressed all in black once again, except
for his red scarf. He grabs a bag from the cache and packs our old
clothing. “This look suits you,” he says.
“Is this how everyone dresses here?”
“More or less. This world is much like your medieval age in some
ways, and yet quite different in others.” He pulls a scroll of leather from
the cache and unrolls it on the sand, revealing pictures of mountains and
trees and cities and borders. A map. Kaden points to the bottom left of the
scroll. “We are here, in the Silver Desert. We need to get here.” He points
to a picture of a fortress to the north.
I read the script next to the drawing. “Dragoncliff.”
Kaden nods. “The place where you will train. We call it the Cliff for
short.” He points to a line on the map near our location. “We will follow
this river until we reach a village. Then we can hire a carriage. I’d say we
should be at Dragoncliff in three weeks.”
That’s much longer than I expected, and I feel anger burning inside
me for the delay. Every moment I’m not training is a moment I waste. The
faster I master my abilities, the faster I can stop Pike. But this rage is
foolish. I was stupid to think this journey would be a quick one. I will
need to train, but I will also need to eat and sleep and rest. I will need to
learn about this new world: the laws, the manners, the customs, just so I
can survive long enough to defeat my enemy. This journey may take
months, I realize, even years. I will need to steel myself for what is to
A small creature flutters down from the trees and hovers before me,
pulling me from my stupor. I almost think it a bird, but it’s unlike any bird
I have ever seen. Its skin is smooth, featherless, and glows a pale blue.
Though it has wings, they are more like fins, and the creature appears to
swim through air rather than fly. I raise a hand, and it twirls around my
finger, gently touching it with its wispy long tale. The creature hums, a
sort of ethereal purr, and rubs against my palm. It has no beak, more a
toothless mouth, and it seems to smile.
“Starcatchers,” says Kaden, as he grabs two water skins from the
cache and fills them in the oasis. “This one seems to like you.”
I pet the little Starcatcher in my hand, half wondering if this is all a
dream. “Where did the name come from?” I ask.
“They are born as little Pods.” He holds his index finger above his
thumb. “Little bitty things, that can’t fly or glow. But when they’re old
enough, the old tales say Pods go on a quest, a voyage amongst the stars.
And when they find a star of their own, they eat it up, and let it engulf
their bodies in warmth. The star becomes a part of them, and so they glow
from within and forever get the power of flight. And thus a Pod becomes a
The little bird squeals in delight, then zips up, disappearing amongst
the trees. I chuckle, and realize my sadness has been swept away by the
little creature, at least for a while. There is so much to see here, so much to
learn. Perhaps I can lose myself in this new knowledge, and make
learning, and not despair, my guide.
“Tell me more about your world,” I say, gesturing to the map. “Show
me your capitols and borders. Your cities and towns.”
Kaden begins. “As I said, we are in the Silver Desert. Just north of us
is the city of Al’Kalash, and deep within, lies the Palace of Storms. It is
where the Emperor, Titus, rules.”
“How much land does he control?” I ask.
Kaden gestures at the map. “He is Titus, the Unbroken, the Slayer of
Dragons, the Emperor of Nirandel.”
“Of Nirandel… so you mean… all of it? The whole world?”
Kaden nods. “Yes. The whole world. Though of course, there are
places where his laws are… difficult… to enforce. The Ashlands, for one.
The Frozen Mountains, for another.” He points to the locations. The
Ashlands at the center of the map. The Frozen Mountains to the north.
Then he points to the east. “Here are the Sunstar Isles, where people ride
giant beasts amongst the waves and study the ancient arts of Kargara, a
form of martial arts.” He points to the west. “And here is La’Moko, a giant
island with a proud and wise people, who believe in peace above all.”
Kaden leans back, sighing. “Once, long ago, these lands were ruled by the
“The ones in the story? Half man? Half dragon?”
Kaden stares into the distance, at the silver sand, his eyes dark. “They
were real. Magnificent beings with a connection to Spirits unlike any
other. They could do things with Beckoning, Transmuting and Imbuing
that I can only dream of. Their Spirits were like giants, titans, forces of
nature capable of shaping the very earth.” There is awe in his eyes now,
wonder in his words. “I dreamed of being one of them, wished for it with
all my being. But…” the thrill leaves him. “But it was not meant to be.
And the High Dragons were not meant to live on.”
There is a sorrow in him now, and I touch his hand with mine, seeking
to ease the pain. “What happened to them?”
“First, they turned on each other,” he says. “They divided the lands
amongst themselves, but like Alandel’s children, they were not content
with a small piece of the world. They had to have it all, and so civil war
after civil war ravaged the land. There were times of peace, of course, but
they were always short lived. And then the High Dragons made a terrible
mistake. They burned the wife of Titus Al’Beckus.” He pauses. “Titus was
a man of the middle class, a group of people who had grown in wealth and
power yet still had to heed every High Dragon’s order no matter how
mad. They were tired of wars they cared nothing for, tired of rules that
did nothing but rob them, and so, under Titus Al’Beckus, they rose up.
Like a tidal wave, the rebellion swept through the land, killing every High
Dragon in its path, until none remained.”
He takes a swig from his water skin, and says no more.
“But if the High Dragons were so powerful,” I ask, “how were they
defeated in battle?”
“The Emperor’s Shadows,” Kaden says, his brow furrowed. “Little is
known of them, other than they were Titus’s most loyal servants, and
underwent rituals best forgotten. They are… more beast than man.
Unnatural things. I pray you will never come across one.”
He turns back to the map, his mood shifting, turning lighter, as if to
brush away the darkness of the past. He points to a large circle at the
center of the map. “And here is the Wall of Light.”
I trace my hand over the lines on the map. “The Wall of Light? Like
the one in the story?”
He nods. “It is the one in the story. The one Nir created to keep the
dragons at bay. It is an Ashlord’s sacred duty to defend the Wall, for if it
were to fall, the Nine Worlds would be covered in death and ash.”
I point at the picture of Dragoncliff. “But if this drawing represents a
fortress, then the Wall of Light is huge. Longer than all your rivers, and
larger than any city. This map can’t be to scale… can it?”
Kaden sighs. “The Wall of Light is vast. It can be seen from nearly all
of Nirandel. Especially in the night, when the skies are dark.”
“So it’s enormous.”
“Thousands of dragons live within. Maybe hundreds of thousands.
The Ashlands past the wall stretch on for hundreds of miles. We do not
even possess an accurate map of them. Every couple hundred years, an
Ashlord with great ambitions will set out to make one, but none have ever
returned from the center alive.”
Kaden glances at the sun. “It’s past midday now. We should travel
while we can. Before it gets dark. Then we’ll make camp.” He rolls up the
map, stuffs it in a bag, and throws the pack over his shoulder. “Once I get
a better look at our surrounding area, I should be able to pinpoint our
exact location,” Kaden says. “Then it should be easy to find the river.”
“You seem to know these lands quite well,” I say.
He smiles. “There is a library at Dragoncliff full of books and scrolls.
As a child, I would pour over all the maps, dreaming of adventure. I
wanted to uncover new lands and discover new creatures, but as my
teacher once said, such things are not for those of Ash.” He looks down.
“It saddens me, sometimes.”
This world may be old to him, but it will all be new to me, and for the
first time since jumping into the fountain I’m filled with something akin to
excitement. Then a thought occurs to me. “You were at Dragoncliff as a
Kaden doesn’t look at me. “We do not choose when we become
Broken Ones, nor when we become a Twin Spirit, and my training began
when I was very young.” He walks away before I can say more.
I follow him through the brush and emerge onto a desert of silver
sand, a vastness of rolling dunes as far as the eye can see. Kaden stares at
something in the distance, his smile fading. I follow his gaze to a ruin
amongst the sands. Structures and pillars half buried in the earth,
withered by time and wind and weather.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“That place…” Kaden clenches his fist. “That place is where my best
friend was murdered.”
Kinrade is the pen name for the husband and wife entertainment duo
Lux and Dmytry Karpov-Kinrade, aka The KK Duo.
they write award-winning, internationally and USAT bestselling books,
make music, create art, write screenplays and direct — all the
for more from Karpov Kinrade in the Vampire Girl series, The
Nightfall Chronicles and The Forbidden Trilogy. If you’re looking
for their suspense and romance titles, you’ll find those under Alex
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live in wine country California with their three offspring who have
crazy creative genius oozing out of them in the form of music, art,
performance, and all the things, and too many cats who all think they
rule the world (spoiler alert: they do).
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