Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Henrietta the Dragon Slayer Tour and Giveaway

Henrietta the Dragon Slayer
Henrietta the Dragon Slayer Book 1
by Beth Barany
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

She's a legend at 17, but only Henrietta knows the price she paid for her fame … and it was much too high.

From the Winner of the California Fiction Writer's Book Contest comes this thrilling adventure of a young warrior on one final quest … against an opponent she swore never to face again.

Henrietta, the legendary Dragon Slayer of Bleuve, can't face the thought of another kill. She's lost family, friends and home on her rocky road to fame. But when the young warrior is summoned by a King to retrieve the Dragon Stone from the last dragon in existence, she can't re fuse--her mentor lies dying, and the healing stone is all that can save him. This quest will be her most harrowing of all, for it means facing mysterious assassins, the dreaded choppy sea, and all with a misfit band--a young witch, a jester and a surly knight. And at journey's end, someone must die … the dragon, or Henrietta.

Perfect for fans of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Collins' The Hunger Games, McKinley's Hero & the Crown, and Paolini's Eragon. Get your copy of Henrietta the Dragon Slayer today!

Battle-hardened and brave
Ready for the fight
Henrietta the Dragon Slayer
Swings with all her might
From the chorus of the Song of the Dragon Slayer
Henrietta strode away from the tavern, fists clenched so hard they hurt. At two paces from the forest edge, the ground crunched in the black night behind her. Even with her ale-fogged brain, she sensed the presence of a man, smelled on him soot, leather and metal, and knew he was armed, but wore no armor.
She didn’t have time for this.
What do you want?” Henrietta whirled to face the thrill seeker, her long sword drawn, her red hair whipping across her chilled cheeks. Above her head, the bitter wind keened through the forest trees.
The man hovered five feet-lengths away from her, out of sword reach, his face shadowed by the light of the tavern behind him. “I heard your story back there.” His voice, thick with a foreign accent she couldn’t place, held no compliment. “I hear you’re looking for a new quest.”
Who gave you that idea?”
The Song of the Dragon Slayer.” The man’s tone was flat.
So he wasn’t a fan. She didn’t care. She cared that he didn’t move any closer. Empty hands at his sides, a sheathed long sword at his belt, he was broad shouldered and taller than her by half a head.
She re-sheathed her sword reluctantly. “So? What does that have to do with anything? It’s only a song.”
A song about you. That is why you must come with me now.” He stepped toward her, his face still hidden by darkness.
No, I must not go with you. Leave me be,” she said annoyed and angry. There was a thrill seeker in every town. She stepped back to have room to swing her sword if necessary, her hand waiting on her sword pommel. “There’s plenty of others in that tavern to harass.”
She didn’t want to play “who’s the best warrior” just now. The drink had touched her head more than usual, without its usual lovely numbing affect. “Who are you anyway? No, I don’t want to know. Just leave me be.”
I am a knight, doing his duty. Assessing.” He didn’t move any closer.
Like she needed to know that. Then she opened her big mouth.
If you’re a knight, where’s your armor?” As soon as she heard herself, she knew that was a dumb question.
I do not need armor for this.” He said the words as if she wasn’t worth a gnat on sheep’s berries. “You will come with me now,” he repeated.
He dared to order her?
I will do no such thing. Weren’t you listening in there?” She gestured toward the tavern where she’d just told and re-enacted her tale. A thrill seeker who ordered her? What was this nonsense? “I did my quest. Now leave me to my peace.”
He didn’t budge his bulky frame. What was he waiting for? A royal invitation to depart?
Heaviness pressed against her chest like an anvil, preventing breath from fully entering her lungs.
She’d done her dragon slaying and military campaigns. Done. Finished. Fini.
There is much coin and glory for the one who takes the Emerald Dragon’s Dracontias,” the stranger knight said, disdainfully.
How much coin? But that didn’t come out. “The what-ias?”
Thought you knew everything there was to know about dragons.”
Politeness wasn’t this man’s strength.
Yah, that’s me. A walking, talking dragon-spouting slayer, at your service.”
The man snorted. Very elegant.
Her stomach churned the ale. She knew what the Dracontias was, but didn’t want to be drawn in, though her coin purse was flat.
What was wrong with her?
Listen, uh, Can we talk in the morning? I need to—” Henrietta gestured to the woods. Her need wasn’t that urgent, yet. She just needed an excuse to make him go away.
I’ll wait.”
Great. She had to make good on her words, so she did her best to stomp through the spindly underbrush, ready to move fast if she had to. She had taken no more than two steps when the man spoke again, his deep voice booming at her back.
You can’t do it anymore, can you? Dragon Slayer.” He drew out the word “slayer” as if it were an insult.
Fear coursed through her at his words, and that made her angry. “I don’t have to listen to this!” A cold sweat broke out under her tunic and across her forehead. She shivered but kept walking, her greatcoat and hat back in the tavern.
You can’t do it,” he repeated louder. “You have grown soft, weak. That’s what I told my king. You are but a shadow of your former self, if you ever were that Dragon Slayer. I don’t think you killed the Fire Dragon of Britham’s Keep after all. Your story back there was all show. It was your so-called partner who did the deed, and you stole his glory.”
Henrietta froze. She brushed away what little truth he said and focused on his lies. Anger fired through her body and gave her strength. She turned and stomped back toward the knight. “My partner was a she. But what do you know! I don’t have to listen to your insults.”
You don’t have it in you,” he said again, holding his ground. “A fool’s errand I was sent on. But duty is duty.” He spat.
Enough. It was time to show this disrespectful knight who it was he insulted.
She didn’t have the advantage of the light, but she was fast. As she feinted toward the trees as if to walk away again, she grabbed the daggers from her belt and slammed them into the frozen ground at the man’s feet, neatly slicing boot leather, hopefully hitting a toe.
He didn’t say a word, but clapped slowly, mocking her, probably smirking. She couldn’t tell. The night shadows still covered his face.
Fine. Show’s over,” Henrietta said, leaning down for her blades. As soon as she did so, she knew she’d made a stupid mistake. For once she really had had too much ale.
He dug his huge hands into her shoulders, trying to knock her down. The fire of rage washed over her. She ignored the pain and stepped backwards, slipping out of his grasp to head-butt him in the stomach. He fell to the ground with an “oomph.” She had a dagger at his throat before he could open his eyes. She pressed hard, but not enough to draw blood. He got the point. No pun intended.
He glared from his position flat on his posterior.
She glared back. “Did I pass your test?” She let up the pressure on his neck, but didn’t remove the dagger.
At least he wasn’t sneering anymore. For the briefest of moments, the knight scrunched his face in pain. The tavern’s meager light showed her a warrior’s beat up face, full of picturesque scars, browned from sun, and the angled, dark eyes of an islander, glaring at her. Even with his scars, the knight looked younger than he sounded, perhaps only five or six suns older than her seventeen. He was from the Rocks, or the Oro islands, as the islanders called it, far across the Western sea, the second one she’d meet that evening. The first one being the jester who’d paid for her ale and dinner in the tavern.
Satisfied for the moment that he wouldn’t test her again, she stood and sheathed the dagger.
Not bad. For a woman,” he said. Then he stood and stepped back, barely hiding a limp from the knife wound to his foot.
He didn’t bother to brush off his fur cloak. “Your partner just got lucky. I still don’t think you’re capable. No woman is.” But the fight didn’t sound so strong in his voice now.
Well, you’re obviously wrong,” she said and turned to leave.
Just then the back door of the tavern opened. The light blinded her momentarily, and a familiar voice called out her name. It was Jaxter, the jester. He walked toward her like a colt unsure on its legs, but he didn’t fall over and moved quite fast. In the frigid wind his satiny purple and yellow cape flapped against his skinny body.
Henri, I was just coming to see if you were all right. When you didn’t come back right away, I was worried. You forgot your coins, and your coat and hat.” He paused for breath and handed her her beaver fur-lined coat and elegant forest hat.
Thanks.” She slipped them on casual-like. Her long thick gloves were right where she’d left them in the coat pockets.
We liked your tale! Very much!” Jaxter said. “Will you come back in and tell us another? How about the one about the Blue Cave dragon?”
She didn’t respond. She hated to disappoint Jaxter—he’d been nothing but kind to her—but she had no intention of telling more tales this night. She needed solitude and the oblivion of sleep.
He didn’t seem to notice and galloped on with his words. “You left so suddenly. I didn’t get a chance to thank you.”
Henrietta took the silver he handed over and tucked it inside her cloak without counting it.
Jaxter glanced from Henrietta to the big man. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything. I can just go back inside, where it’s warm.” He smiled at Henrietta and turned back to the knight. “Do I know you? You look familiar. But then again many people do in my line of work.” He chuckled.
You do know who I am, Jaxter Renaldo,” the knight said, softly.
Henrietta strained her ears to hear. His accent had thickened and his tone was different, more gentle. Was he the same man who had insulted her and attacked her moments ago?
I do?” Jaxter stepped closer to the bulky fighter with no fear. “How do you know my family name?” His voice trailed off as he focused on the big man’s face. “By the Phoenix’s Brightest Feathers! Frankie! I haven’t seen you in so many seasons! You were in the tavern all night and didn’t come over to say ‘Hallo’?”
I am Sir Franc de Plumare de’Oro now, old friend,” the knight said gruffly, but gently.
Oh.” After a moment of uncertainty, Jaxter grinned and held out his hand. “Congratulations, Sir Franc de Plumare de’Oro!”
Wonderful. A reunion.” Henrietta snorted in disgust and turned to leave. She had no more friends. They were either dead or lost.
Dragon Slayer,” the knight boomed. “I’m not finished with you. We have two days less than one moon.”
So?” She didn’t turn around.
So? In less than one moon, you must face the Emerald Dragon for my king. You are to come back with me. King’s orders. We leave at false dawn. I have wasted enough time tracking you down.”
She turned back to him. “And just who is your king? I don’t recognize your colors.” She’d never seen the royal colors of the Oro Islands, but she doubted brown and black goat fur was it. Too earthy. The king and lords she’d known had dressed even their soldiers in bright colors and fine fabrics, like blue velvet and brushed suede.
My king is the Royal and Mighty King Singfan de Plumare de’Oro, the First,” Sir Franc said reverently.
Wonderful,” Henrietta said again.
Jaxter turned to Franc. “Yes! Wonderful! How fares the king? You know, there’s not many of us from Plumaria here. I wonder why that is.”
It’s too cold,” the knight scowled.
Jaxter laughed. “You just need to dress for it.” With a big grin, he waved about his velvet cape, the plush purple and yellow panels looking less gaudy in the dim light.
Henrietta didn’t think all this chatting in the frigid night air was refreshing, even with her coat on. She had to find a bed—now. And the facilities, for real. “Uh, Jaxter, about the room—”
I’ll take you there.”
No need. It appears you have much to discuss with Frankie.” Henrietta turned to go.
That’s Sir Franc to you,” the knight corrected. “My king demands your services immediately. A matter of life or death.”
She heaved a sigh. Though his persistence was admirable, it was also tiresome. The knight wouldn’t give up, even in the middle of a reunion.
She turned back to him. “Are you my commanding officer? Because that would be impossible. I don’t have one anymore, by choice.” She’d messed up. They demoted her. She left soon after. Just walked away from a two-sun long military career. She didn’t miss the army. She was happy with her troubadour life.
A matter of life or death.
She gritted her teeth until her jaw ached. “And whose life?” Those last words slipped out, without her meaning them to.
The knight frowned and glared at her, but said nothing.
Fatigue suddenly pressed on her like a double quilt. “Look,” Henrietta said, “If it’s so important to you, we’ll have to discuss it in the morning. I must sleep. Jaxter?”
Jaxter peered at Henrietta and then at the knight. He pulled off one of his jeweled rings and handed it to her. “Go around the corner to the first door, down three steps to the inn’s sleeping quarters. It’s this same building. Tell the night guard that Jaxter of Duke Bettin’s court said you could have a room.”
Thanks,” she said. Jaxter was a trusting fellow.
He’ll want that back in the morning,” Sir Franc growled.
Henrietta was too tired and too drunk. The man wasn’t worth a response.
That’s my gift to you, Henri,” Jaxter said.
Henrietta bowed her head in thanks. And, despite her fatigue and her need for the facilities, swaggered toward the sleeping quarters.
She could hear them as she walked away.
You shouldn’t have helped her. She’s a thief, you know.”
What are you talking about, Franc? Didn’t you hear her tale? It’s one of my favorites. I tell it as often as I can. But I don’t do the acrobatics like she did tonight. She was fabulous, wasn’t she? Such a great storyteller! I tell her other adventures too.” Jaxter clapped. “I actually met one of my ballad heroes! She is better than I imagined. How she cut down Britham’s dragon with such ferocity, such bravery—”
That’s what I mean.”
Can’t you see?” Franc said.
Henrietta was glad when she turned the corner of the building and couldn’t hear the knight’s insults anymore.
She was not a thief.
And all her dragon treasure, the little she’d received for her acts of bravery, was gone. Troubadoring her own adventures was how she earned her coin now.

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone
Henrietta the Dragon Slayer Book 2

What if all those you loved were threatened by a force you couldn't see or fight?

Henrietta the legendary ass kicking dragon slayer wants to return to her village for a heroes’ welcome. But an unknown sorcerer rides after her and her Dragon Stone, and aims to destroy everyone she cares about. Can she claim her newfound powers sparked by the Dragon Stone and keep her loved ones safe, especially her more-than-friend, and her stalwart bodyguard, before the sorcerer destroys her and everything in his path?

A medieval-set world with magic and magical creatures.

A 86,000-word novel.

Beth Barany empowers young women to be the heroes of their own lives.

The Dracontias, dra-con-ti-as, emphasis on the second syllable, is the most powerful gem in all the Five Kingdoms, and more powerful than all the other so-called Kingdom Stones. This one and only Dragon Stone unifies the kingdoms and empowers its user. But beware its one fatal flaw.
from the Fire Wizards Compendium
Early Winter New Moon (Mitte Moon), Oro Islands, One of the Five Kingdoms
King Singfan sucked in a breath, stretched the crossbow, and held it steady, tracking the beast.
Time was of the essence. If he didn’t kill this dragon and obtain the Dragon Stone on the great dragon’s forehead, he’d have to start all over again. Unthinkable. Impossible.
He had to renew this king’s body during this night, while the stars were aligned just so, and the moon hung below the horizon.
The girl Dragon Slayer, that Henrietta, was performing exactly as he’d expected. She’d taken the proffered reward and given him the secret dragon lore, confirming what he needed to know. She crouched nearby, ready to do his bidding.
King Singfan breathed out, steadying his aim, and smiled.
Inside of him, Bjirn Eyvindir smiled, too, at Singfan’s glee. Hidden to everyone, Eyvindir had occupied the body of King Singfan for seventy-five years, a long king’s rule—longer than anyone on the Oro Islands could remember. If they did remember the length of King Singfan’s reign, Eyvindir by King Singfan’s hand had made sure they didn’t remember for long, and didn’t remember anything ever again.
King Singfan had given him free reign to run his magic through the man and control his every move. The man was his best and most perfect servant. Eyvindir wasn’t going to end the arrangement anytime soon. He’d planned this renewal too long for the moment to go awry.
The dragon hovered above the enormous cave floor about to settle, its scales flickering and iridescent in the torchlight. King Singfan held his breath, steadying his strong stance and perfect aim. He readied the powerful crossbow.
Before he could loose the arrow, Henrietta yelled “You can’t!” and shoved him to the hard-packed ground.
The dragon slayer pinned his arms against his torso with her legs, heavy on his chest. He struggled beneath her weight.
How dare you!” he snarled. “We had an agreement.”
How had she slipped past his guard?
With every second that ticked by, he felt his power draining from him like water down the drain, no doubt shifting his appearance. But his voice held strong and loud. He gathered courage in that. There was still time to kill the dragon and obtain the Dragon Stone.
I can’t let you!” she shouted, glaring down at him.
Suddenly, her friends appeared at her side.
Who’s this?” the injured bard, Jaxter, asked.
The king,” Henrietta growled.
Little did she know who she was truly up against.
How dare you!” Eyvindir protested again.
But his voice sounded strange. Gurgles, high-pitched clicks and garbled words were all that he could manage.
How did the dragon slayer’s friends arrive at the cave? He’d left them under guard at the castle.
Magics! I don’t trust my eyes. Franc?” the dragon slayer shouted, as if she were yelling right into his ear.
I have not ever seen this old man before, but I have heard whispered tales,” Franc, the knight, said. “What is he saying?” The knight he’d sent to retrieve the dragon slayer, crossed his arms, and frowned down at him. The betrayer.
I don’t know, but we have no time for tales.” Henrietta bound the king’s wrists and ankles together with a rough rope.
He wriggled, but to no avail. Something sharp stabbed his back.
Don’t move!” Henrietta barked.
Eyvindir glared at her, through King Singfan’s eyes, furious and unable to move his body, his faculty for speech gone. How dare she! He’d miscalculated the girl slayer. He’d waited too long to act. Frantic, he reached in his mind for his power, but it was too late.
The moment when the moon was just so, right below the horizon, was gone. The shine of the rising moon grew brighter.
The dragon spun to settle, flapping its wings. He’d missed his moment. Torches lay on the ground where his cowardly men had fled. The dragon slayer’s friends had had a hand in that, no doubt, yet he’d dismissed them as weak. Another mistake. How could he have so miscalculated? He brushed the thought aside. He didn’t make mistakes. He drew strength from that knowledge.
You won’t get away with this!” the king hissed and spat, his voice fully recovered. “The dragon must die, or the Five Kingdoms die. The Oro Islands Kingdom is the first kingdom and must be renewed!”
The dragon slayer frowned, confusion and panic written on her face. Good. He drew more strength from her fear and uncertainty. He may be still tied up, but that state couldn’t last long.
She turned to her friends. “Franc, Jaxter, is this true?”
Whispers only,” the knight said.
I don’t know,” the bard said. He leaned on his staff for support.
What do you mean, you don’t know?” the dragon slayer said and clenched her fists. Her heart revved up a notch.
Eyvindir chuckled.
Her panic rippled off her in delicious waves. Excellent.
I didn’t ask for this responsibility! I don’t want this responsibility!” the dragon slayer cried.
The bard coughed and struggled for breath, leaning heavily on his staff. Most excellent.
Eyvindir pulled power from the skinny young bard’s weakness and from the dragon slayer’s doubts.
The weakened bard managed to speak. “It’s been so long, the story’s been told many different ways, but one of the legends says that the dragon must pass every peak of the wave, at the emptiness of the moon, in the year of the waning ruler, by the hand of a dual heart awakened, bounded on all four points.”
But what does that mean?” the dragon slayer yelled over a loud hum, her panic at a near-fever pitch.
I don’t know!” the bard shouted.
Why didn’t you tell me all this before?” the dragon slayer said, her voice high-pitched, frantic.
You never asked,” the bard replied.
But you knew who I was facing.”
The legend doesn’t say the name of the dragon. I just realized who it meant.” The bard hung on to his staff.
But still you should have told me! You know all the tales.”
The dragon slayer sounded at wits end. She was weakening. Perfect. He sucked in more of her fear as sustenance to rebuild his strength.
You should have asked!” the bard said again. “Besides I thought you knew them as well as I did! What is wrong with you? This is what you do, save people and kingdoms from dragons!” Jaxter coughed.
Eyvindir reveled in the bard’s increasing weakness and in the argument brewing.
Stop! We don’t have the time to argue!” the fire girl, Paulette, yelled. The sneak somehow saw through his facade back at the castle. She would not last a day under his new reign.
What?” the dragon slayer said.
The dragon is changing,” the knight said.
The beast’s crystal scales shifted through the primary color spectrum. A second dragon arose from the first, consisting only of a matrix of rainbow light.
Eyvindir would regain the upper hand. He drew ever more strength from everyone’s confusion and fear. Clarity blossomed anew. The moon wouldn’t rise for another hour. He still had time. The dragon slayer’s surprise betrayal would delay him no more.
You have to kill it before it disappears for another millennia!” Eyvindir yelled, his strength growing from their pain. He could wriggle in the ropes. Soon his power would reawaken and then he would easily break his flimsy bonds. “You must! I command it!” But his last words were drowned out of his own hearing by a roar from the beast.
Shut up!” the dragon slayer managed to shout over the din.
How was she able to do that when he couldn’t even hear himself? He yanked the ropes.
He’s right, or something like it has to happen every millennia so the dragon can come back,” the bard said.
I can’t,” the dragon slayer said, her voice hoarse.
What do you mean ‘you can’t’?” the bard asked. “You are the Dragon Slayer!”
I can’t.” The dragon slayer’s cheeks were wet. Splendid! Her life force was depleting.
Any moment now he’d be renewed and free. He used all his years of experience to yank her life force from her. She had to obey him. All his plans rested on her demise, now that he’d taken what he needed from her.
The dragon nudged the dragon slayer with its large head. The dragon slayer stumbled back. She was weakening. The beast nodded slowly, its Dragon Stone glowing green then red on its forehead.
Was the beast communicating with the dragon slayer? Couldn’t be. The beast was for him only. Power flooded through him hot and molten, anger strengthening him.
Dragon slayer, you must kill it,” Eyvindir shouted. “The fate of the island is in your hands. The fate of the whole Five Kingdoms!”
Jaxter?” the dragon slayer turned to the bard as if to confirm his words.
He may be right. Do you trust me?”
What kind of question is that?” the dragon slayer asked.
A question that demands an answer,” the bard said in a voice so soft Eyvindir wasn’t sure he heard correctly.
He glared at the stupid dragon slayer. How could he have miscalculated? He’d planned for every contingency. Nowhere had he predicted that the dragon slayer would be strengthened by the new web of connections around her, her pesky friends. She was a loner. That was to be her downfall. He’d made sure of it.
What do I need to do?” the dragon slayer asked. Her friends must have answered because after a pause she said, “I need your help.”
Damn the old gods and all the lore of his people.
The dragon slayer barked an order cutting through his curse. “Paulette, get to the dragon’s tail. You’re fire. On my mark!”
What?” The fire girl shouted too close. She hovered over him. “And leave him?”
He can’t do anything. Go! Time fades, and so does he,” the dragon slayer ordered.
You must not! The Dragon Stone is mine!” But his words croaked out in sputter. He felt more than saw the new moon rising and his life-force, his prana, ebbing out of this body.
The King Singfan identity, his soul, had been quiet, letting him take command. Eyvindir rallied King Singfan’s soul to lend him strength.
The dragon’s hum deepened and filled the cavern with a low vibrato. It flapped higher and brightened, both the dragon of light and the real dragon. Its scales shot sparks, which exploded against the cavern walls. Two dragons melded into light, too bright to peer at directly. Fire and wind swirled into a funnel and exploded into a white light and blinding bang.
No!” He shouted, but he couldn’t hear his own voice.
Don’t stop!” the dragon slayer yelled above the storm.
From all directions, explosions like a fireworks hammered him. Bound as he was, he managed to bend double to guard against the pain, but his efforts were useless. His skin crawled as if ants wriggled under his skin. Pain pierced all layers of his being—both the body and the magics layers.
Stop!” Eyvindir tried to yell, but it came out like a series of croaks. No, it couldn’t be. He couldn’t move his body.
Then in a breath, he lost all sense of feeling. Impossible.
He was able to sense his life force being jettisoned out of his body and into the night sky, on its way back to where his actual body rested inert in his fortress far to the north and east. Through his cloud of shock, from his vantage point in the sky far above, he spied his body, actually the body of King Singfan who had ruled the Oro Islands for over seventy-five years, burst into flames. He felt nothing. He was frozen in shock. The male body that had been the Oro king’s was now cinders, a miniscule pile of ash.
Panic almost scattered his prana into a million trillion irretrievable bits. Only his mighty skill as the oldest living sorcerer saved him. He’d heard rumors of such things. But no, he could not die. Unacceptable. He mustered his focus. His actual ancient body existed within reach.
He focused on his prana, a faint thread of light, a line leading in a northeasterly direction, through the clouds, across the sea, to his obsidian mountain enclave. He didn’t follow the thread to nestle in his sleeping form in that cold room. Not just yet. To do that would admit defeat. He would not let an upstart dragon slayer ruin his plans.
But she had. He had wits enough to admit that.
For a moment he burned white hot with rage and felt an unbearable pain sear his energy body. His anger, intricate and quite useful, connected to his identity, his soul. But now his anger was burning his life force, his prana connection, to the only body he now had.
He brought his attention back to the island city of Plumaria and hovered over it. He quickly allowed dirty white cloud particulates to drench his rage. He had to focus. He had to retrieve the remnants of power from that flimsy old pile of dust that had been the Oro king. He had to find another body to use and fast. Before she got away with the Dracontias, the precious one and only Dragon Stone.
The search for and habitation of a suitable body only took him an entire day, but he finally accomplished his task. Withdrawing his powers from the dust pile, he spied the body he needed in the Plumaria castle’s sick room. His low simmering fury and tenacity built up over three centuries of scheming had made him strong. With his powerful focus, he propped up the dying soul, revived it, and pushed his will and identity into the young man’s heart.
In a breath, he healed the youngling’s body to temporary vibrancy. The body wouldn’t last, so he had to hurry. There was not the time to pick a more robust body. That took preparation, study, and careful calculations. He didn’t have the time for that. He had to get back what was rightfully his.
Once more in control of a vibrant body and pliable identity, he followed the rumors of the slayer’s departure all the way to the piers. That she-slayer was supposed to do his bidding. Failure hadn’t been an option. Perhaps seventy-five years in the Oro king’s body had made him sloppy and dulled his normally exceptionally high acuity and brilliance.
His complacency must have been how she had tricked him, how she’d deceived and betrayed him. He hadn’t been blindsided by a female since his sister had stolen the royal crown from him over a century ago.
Never mind the mistakes of the past. This dragon slayer, this Henrietta, had destroyed his ambition to rule over the Oro Islands for the next one hundred years and beyond. In that time he had planned to seize control of the other four kingdoms using the might of the Dragon Stone, combined with the other four kingdom’s crystals and stones he’d meticulously collected over the centuries. His life’s calling entailed ruling over all the Five Kingdoms. No one was going to come between him and his destiny again.
She would pay for ruining his plans.
He’d end this before she ever left the city of Plumaria. The child-woman, Henri Etta, was no match for him. He couldn’t be destroyed that easily.
He directed his new body through the marketplace, causing havoc. Then he rushed up the pier and delighted in the feel of youth in his limbs. A crazy thought flitted through his mind—that of the faraway and long ago carefree youth he once was who’d loved the freedom of birds and spent hours watching them in flight.
Then he saw her, waving and nodding to the peons who thought she’d liberated them. He swatted away memories of his flimsy faraway past. His pace quickened. She could not take his dream away. No one could, especially no woman. He was to have complete control of all the Five Kingdoms.
Once he had the last object of power, his plans would click into place.
She’d taken the most powerful gem in all the Five Kingdoms from him, and she would pay. With her life.

Henrietta and the Battle of the Horse Mesa
Henrietta the Dragon Slayer Book 3

Finally, the sweeping conclusion to the Henrietta The Dragon Slayer trilogy!

Parted by destiny, the four friends struggle to rejoin forces and face for a final time, the ruthless sorcerer intent on destroying them all.

In the biggest challenge of her life, Henrietta the legendary Dragon Slayer of Bleuve must lead her people into a battle that may end life as they know it. For they face no ordinary army, but the dark forces of a powerful sorcerer bent on overtaking all five kingdoms. And unless she can rescue her dauntless knight Franc, she must do it without his support.

Franc will follow Henrietta anywhere. But on a mission to find allies among the Horse People, he is kidnapped and taken by minions of the evil sorcerer Eyvindir. Will he find the strength and courage to survive, and fight again at Henrietta's side?

Paulette, the young fire witch, must stand trial for a murder committed out of desperation. In despair at her imprisonment by forces acting against her dearest friend, Jaxter, she escapes and flees to the frigid, forbidden land of Varangia to find a witch powerful enough to help her finally master fire. But what must she give up to gain the power to aid her friends?

Jaxter, now a king, must come to terms with the heavy responsibilities of ruling the Oro Islands, newly emerged from over 75 years of evil rule. This means doing right, even when it means going against ancient customs and protocols. Worse, the marauding Varangians press at his borders. He must find a way to defend his home, or none of them will survive.

Will Henrietta and her friends be able to stop the ruthless sorcerer from obliterating her, claiming the Dragon Stone, and ruling over the Five Kingdoms?

Magics in and magics out, what is all the fuss about?
Bleuvian ditty

kingdom of bleuve, river camp, three weeks before mitte moon

In the chilly night, Paulette huddled over the fire and rubbed her hands. They shook. She clamped tight her jaw. No more weakness. She had to have fighting magics. She had to be able to defend herself, like her friends could.
Henrietta had her military skills, Franc too. Jaxter had his quarterstaff. What did she have? Her puny fire magic could barely create a diversion in the middle of a fight.
She threw more fire bane herbs onto the near-dead coals. Mistress Jenny would not approve of what she was about to do. Mistress Jenny wasn’t here, on the trail beside a Kingdom of Bleuve forest, confronted with mad knights who wanted to kill them for no reason.
She glanced over her shoulder. Henrietta slept, facing the river. Jaxter slept in his bedroll not far from the fire, snoring softly. Franc stood watch over his fallen—what? Companions? No, betrayers—those knights of Oro who had charged up the riverbank toward them with murder in their eyes.
Paulette shivered and hunched over her work. The night pressed in cold all around like a wet blanket. She wished she could burn it all down and gulped back her tears. She wouldn’t become a powerful witch with tears but with action.
I call forth the ancient magic power of fire from the depths of the earth, from the five corners of the known kingdoms, from the stars above,” Paulette chanted. “Come to me. I am willing to pay the price.”
Should she prick her finger and give up a drop of blood to symbolize the price? She felt about for a twig or sharp stone, but found nothing. Her cooking knives were wrapped in her pack, out of reach.
The wind picked up. A whooshing assaulted her ears. She covered them and squeezed shut her eyes against the debris that kicked up. A glow colored her eyelids orange. She cracked open her eyes and sucked in a breath at the vision before her.
A flame jumped and wavered beside the dead coals, not rooted in anything, but floating above the ground, free. Inside the flame the face of an ancient woman appeared, gnarled like the oldest trees in the forest.
Do you really want to pay that price, my child?” a sandpapery voice hissed.
Paulette gulped and nodded at the ancient witch she’d summoned. The price was life force. At fourteen suns, she could afford it. She’d gladly shorten her life for a few suns for the ability to bravely fight with fire powers.
Speak,” the woman said, her voice at once grating and commanding. “Are you certain this is what you want?” The ancient witch’s fire threw off no heat as it flickered and danced, independent of the frigid winter wind.
I-I do.” Paulette cleared the lump in her throat, clenched her hands to stop their shaking, and said again, “I am willing to pay the price.”
You know the price,” the ancient witch insisted.
Yes, yes.” Paulette sobbed, her tears overtaking her in a flash. She hunched over the embers in the campfire, the flames suddenly hot and glowing.
Be certain, child. The price of the fire rage is very high. Few seek it.”
A lightning bolt shot up from the ground.
Paulette gasped at the brightness, and to keep from jumping in fright, clutched her arms around her bent knees. “I know. But I need it!”
She couldn’t hide the desperation and agony in her voice. There was no shame in asking for what you wanted and for being willing to pay the price, whatever it was. She needed to be able to protect herself.
The ancient witch shimmered and increased in size, taking up the entire camp. The weight of the witch’s presence surrounded Paulette and squeezed her chest and back. She could only take shallow breaths and shut her eyes against the brightness to no avail. The red of the fire burned behind her eyelids.
Fire rage for a girl, who must give up her pearl,” the great witch’s voice screeched.
What pearl?” Paulette blurted, eyes clamped shut. Was that different from the price?
It is never that simple,” the witch whispered.
Paulette opened her eyes. She wanted to protest—magics could be that simple.
The ancient fire witch grinned at her, her fiery hair whipping around, as if in a wild windstorm. Paulette gulped and threw the rosemary herb mixture on the fire to end the ritual.
The great whooshing swelled to a scathing whine and then dropped to nothing. The witch and her overpowering glow vanished.
The forest was silent, the air cold. Paulette was still a lowly witch’s apprentice. She didn’t feel any different, except she was very, very tired. Had she really paid the price for the most powerful fire magics there was?

Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy and paranormal romance.

Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

For fun, Beth walks, gardens, and watched movies and travels with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano, their cats, and over 1,000 books.

When not writing or playing, Beth runs an online school, BARANY SCHOOL OF FICTION. helping novelists to write, market, and publish their books to the delight of their readers.

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