House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess

House of Dragons

House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess (House of Dragons #1)
English | 2020 | YA Fantasy | ePUB | 4.4 MB

Five royal houses will hear the call to compete in the Trial for the dragon throne. A liar, a soldier, a servant, a thief, and a murderer will answer it. Who will win? Three Dark Crowns meets The Breakfast Club with DRAGONS

When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year these five outcasts will answer the call. . . .

THE LIAR: Emilia must hide her dark magic or be put to death.
THE SOLDIER: Lucian is a warrior who has sworn to never lift a sword again.
THE SERVANT: Vespir is a dragon trainer whose skills alone will keep her in the game.
THE THIEF: Ajax knows that nothing is free–he must take what he wants.
THE MURDERER: Hyperia was born to rule and will stop at nothing to take her throne.

It was some comfort. While technically any child of the five families could be called to the Emperor’s Trial, only the Houses’ eldest ever were. It was an unspoken tradition. They were all fortunate Alexander had been firstborn, not she.

His hair was deep Aurun gold, not her tangle of red. His complexion was fair as milk, as opposed to her deathly pallor. His laughter was easy, hers nonexistent. Unlike Emilia, he didn’t have to be monitored carefully whenever they hosted the lesser Hibrian nobles at winter fetes or during the summer bonfires.

Unlike her, he didn’t cradle death in his hands like a dozing serpent.

They walked the path toward the calling circle on the other side of the promontory, Emilia’s heavy satchel a reassuring thud against her hip. She shivered as the icy wind knifed through her once more. She’d never liked Stormways, the family’s oldest, draftiest, and most northern castle. Technically this was their territorial capital, though it was far from grand. A pity, then, that she hadn’t left it in nearly five years, but that could not be helped. The far north was the most sparsely populated area. She could be inconspicuous here.

The Aurun banners, stark white emblazoned with a purple Aspis—the water serpent, their personal dragon—rippled in the gusts. Overhead, Chara and Alexander’s dragon, Tarkus, dove and capered about each other. Both dragons had long, slender bodies with whipping tails, though Chara’s scales were a creamy pearlescent while Tarkus was plum-colored. Aspises’ heads were sleek, their scales silken, their noses doglike. Two horns corkscrewed on either side of their skulls. Unlike the other dragon breeds, an Aspis could spend time underwater and suffer no ill effects. Chara hunted whales in springtime and would float back home like a bloody wisp of cloud, blubber ragged between her teeth.

“Did you go flying to get a last look at the place before you become empress?” Alex teased. Emilia nudged him in the ribs.

“When I’m living in a golden palace at Dragonspire, I’ll remember freezing my backside off with real fondness,” she deadpanned. Suppressing a shudder, she added, “I, er, needed to clear my mind.”

Alexander understood her. Normally, Emilia could be found with cooling cups of coffee and ink-stained fingers before the library fire, books and papers fanned out around her in a labyrinthine formation only she understood. But then the very fissures of her brain would spark, and she would have to leave before she hurt anyone.

Emilia stopped on the path. Ahead of them lay the evidence of what she’d done.

It had been a seagull. Amid the splatter of blood and the pasted smear of organs, gray and white feathers fluttered in the breeze. Back in her room, Emilia had felt the magic welling until she brimmed with it, like a cup. She’d hurried down the castle’s winding steps, rushed out into the overcast day. She’d stalked toward the cliffs, been startled by a gull’s circling cry. Her eyes had latched on to the bird…and the poor creature had uttered its last call.

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