My Book

New Year…..New Resolutions. Starting With…..A Book Promotion

After a poor 2016 with a significant family loss, and what at times felt like being plagued by illness, it was at least notable for two things. Firstly, moving house, after 17 years in the old place, something that although we’ve only been in our new place a matter of weeks, I feel will significantly benefit us all as a family, in oh so many ways. And then for me, the rewriting of all four of my books over the course of the year. A Twisted Prophecy is still in the editing process, but the others have all been rewritten, not just edited. And that means that I’ve written over half a million words during 2016, in the tiny gaps where life hasn’t been kicking our collective ass. On a personal note, that’s what I will take out of what I consider quite a poor year, for me and pretty much everyone else. So just to brighten things up a little, here is one of my favourite pictures that I snapped, of Salisbury Cathedral, early one September morning.

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Salisbury Cathedral

So…..New Year’s Resolutions. All the normal ones of course: eat better, do more exercise, try and live a better life. On that front, my fourteen year old daughter has already taken me for a run. When we got home, it was hard to tell which of our bodies was in the greater shock. Oh well…..more of that to come I suppose. I will say at least it’s nice to have someone to run with. It certainly helps from a motivational point of view.

More writing this year would certainly be another goal. After all the rewriting last year, Book 4 has been on hold for quite some time, and only stands at 33,000 words, although it has been mapped out in quite a detailed way…..something I’ve never really done before. So I will be pounding the keys to see if I can get it finished by the end of the year. That’s probably slightly optimistic given that I would suggest it will be the longest book yet, and my guess is that it will exceed 300,000 words in total.

So to kick things off going into the New Year, I’m starting with a book promotion, offering up Book 1 in my series, Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past, on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents on Amazon.com and 99 pence on Amazon.co.uk starting on Monday January 2nd, heading right on through to Sunday January 15th. If you love fantasy, dragons, hockey, lacrosse, rugby or any other team sport, please take a chance and download my book. What have you got to lose? I’m convinced that you’ll love it…..plot, characters, twists and turns and of course my warped sense of humour. An honest review would also be much appreciated. While you’re at it, why not check out my interview on The Dragons’ Geas, your stop for all things fantastical and fun!

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Wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year.

Paul Cude

FREE Christmas Gift

All three of my books in all formats free on Smashwords with the coupon codes below in the hope of some honest reviews in return. Offer up to and including 26th December.

A Threat From The Past      FREE

A Chilling Revelation     KT75T

A Twisted Prophecy     YB86F

Happy Christmas!

Paul Cude

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Goodreads Competition

Check out the competition on my Goodreads page to win signed paperback copies of all three of my books. Enter now. What have you got to lose?

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Newsletter

All Bentwhistle the Dragon fans can now subscribe to my monthly newsletter. In return for signing up for this, I’ve written a very specific, 34,000 word story about the lives of the dragon friends from way back in the nursery ring, nearly fifty years before their current time above ground. You will be able to choose which format you download this story in. Here’s a little more.

Barely hatched from their eggs, young dragons learning how to fly amongst other things, find themselves thrust into the limelight, with the annual History Fest Face-Off beckoning. Ebook Cover 4 small for blogShowcasing a fierce rivalry going back centuries between two famed nursery rings, the grand competition is renowned throughout the land, and the importance of winning can’t be underestimated.

Richie eager to represent the nursery ring, Peter eager to help his friend, both are lost for words when the class bully, Cowl, outwits everyone in the race to represent Purbeck. Suspected of using unknown magic to get ahead, the friends are determined to get to the truth and expose him for the cheat they think him to be. But can things ever be that easy?

An unflappable newcomer proves to be a worthy ally as aerial acrobatic antics abound in an illicit laminium ball match, the outcome of which may well determine the fate of one of the young dragons.

With so much at stake, can the dragon friends hunt out the truth? Will their combined might be enough to save not only their nursery ring, but the reputation of the competition itself?

Crazy new spells and magical elixirs combined with much skulking around give a valuable insight into the young dragons’ education and personalities. Not only that, but one of the students will end up with much more than they bargained for. You’d be absolutely BATTY to miss it!

Cover Reveal

Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy (Book 3)

Finally here after what seems like a lifetime to me: Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy, book 3. To be released on Wednesday 7th October, the action continues on from book 2 in the series, Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Chilling Revelation.

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Amid turmoil surrounding devastating attacks across the world, the dragon domain faces the planet’s greatest fear: global terrorism by an unknown force of magic users.

Against this backdrop of fear, the friends’ relief at having Richie back from the jaws of death is quickly tempered when they discover the price she has paid and exactly what she will have to forfeit.

With Manson’s deadly scheme in full swing, events quickly turn from bad to worse. An army of nagas controlled by the threat to their king, help the evil dragon storm the kingdom, capturing Peter, Tank and Flash in the process.

With no help on the horizon and the dragons below ground neutralised, how will the threat be stopped? Will the white dragon turn out to be their saviour, or will a fierce lacrosse match prove to be the turning point for a rescue so unconventional, nobody could ever see it coming?

With a hoard of treasure and more magical artefacts than a witch’s kitchen, you’ll have to read on to find out if everything will turn out all white!

PRE-ORDER NOW!

Amazon Kindle

All Formats On Smashwords

 

To Celebrate The Release Of Book 3, You Can Now Download Bentwhistle The Dragon In A Threat From The Past (Book 1) For Free From Smashwords In All Formats For A Limited Time only Here

 

Kids, Books, And Where’s That Sunshine Gone?

Summer Holidays

Still being dragged through the summer holidays kicking and screaming by my kids. SAMSUNG CSCAnother trip to Snowtrax this time to zip down the slopes at speed on the ringos, and not the ski-bobs. Fun was had by all, and I was dizzy just watching and taking pictures. On top of that, Swanage beckoned once again, with a very long day on the beach. I swear my youngest is part (well, nearly all) mermaid, staying in the water from 9am, through to nearly 3pm. Mad doesn’t begin to cover it. SAMSUNG CSCAnd this time, instead of a round of putting, we went and hit the ‘Pitch and Putt’. This was a new experience for the kids, with my youngest being thrilled. “This is just like on the telly dad,” she told me on seeing the first hole. “Do you want any help?” I asked, figuring she would. Nope, not a chance. Oh well.

The last couple of weeks has seen them both learn to skateboard, unlike their mother who has had a few almost You’ve Been Framed moments when trying to board their board, so to speak. SAMSUNG CSCBut they’re very pleased with their accomplishments, with both announcing that they might turn professional. I’m not sure they truly grasp the concept somehow.

Not sure what the weather’s like where you are, but the sunshine must have witnessed something very bad around here, and be tucked away in a safe house somewhere. Haven’t seen it properly for what seems like an age. Just a few hours’ worth would be much appreciated.

Book News

The final proof of ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’ should be with me any time now. As soon as I’m happy with it I’ll post a release date here. Not long to wait, I’m sure.

I did mention that I was working on a short story (SHORT…..that’s a laugh. Turned out to be just shy of 35,000 words. Much longer than even I anticipated) a few weeks ago. Good news. It’s finished and with a little editing, should be ready shortly. It’s called ‘A Right Royal RumpASS’ and dates back to when the dragons were in their second year at the Purbeck nursery ring. Ebook Cover 4_edited-3A competition with another nursery ring leads to Richie and Peter making friends with a new student, whilst discovering an unerring secret about another, all set against the backdrop of student life. But most importantly of all, you learn how Richie gets her dragon name. The illustration for the cover was produced by youngest daughter Poppy. To find out why it had to be that, you’ll have to read on. My wife and children tell me that they laughed until they cried when they read it. JOB DONE!

Life and Writing

I haven’t posted anything for some time… sorry, but LIFE seems to have somehow gotten in the way. Having just finished a ten day bout of flu, I have just been prescribed a course of antibiotics because I have sinusitis. GREAT! Before that, it was desperately needed work on the house, a family funeral, as well as all the normal things: looking after one sick child; taking her to school, infrequently; getting the other child to school; swimming lessons; choir, as well as trying to keep the house tidy and keep up with my social media duties.

A Great Day Out on Halloween! Twenty Degrees At 9am

A Great Day Out on Halloween! Twenty Degrees At 9am

On top of all that, the publisher of my books ceased to trade, owing money to not only me, but to thousands of other authors. The time spent trying to sort out the books, get them republished etc, has been a nightmare, taking up a massive amount of time for me and my wife, who has been nothing short of fantastic in dealing with everything. All in all, hectic doesn’t begin to describe things.
There has been one positive note. Currently I’m just reading through the first draft of my third book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’. Although I’m still some way off publishing it (the editing always seems to take ages), just to have the first draft feels like such an achievement, given everything that’s gone on in our lives over the last year. We’ve spent so much time in hospital and looking after my sick daughter, it’s taken all my spare time to get as far as I have, and although it means more work still, I can’t wait until it’s ready to be released.
In some ways, this third book is already very different from the first two. Of course, I still have dreams about the story, (how it progresses, little pieces to add in, tiny details that seem important, etc.) but the way in which I’ve written it is very different. My first book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past’ was written totally in the order that it appears. For whatever reason, I could only write it chapter by chapter, in the exact same order that it is published. At times I would get writer’s block, and be stuck until I could move past it. But before I’d even started to write that first book, I always knew the ending, in the most exact detail. At no point, however, did I think of writing that ending, even when I’d got stuck and couldn’t push through the to the next part of the book. I don’t know what other writers do but, for me, this was how the book had to be written.

Sea Shell Hunting During Half-Term

Sea Shell Hunting During Half-Term

For the second book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’, things were a little different. Again, I knew the storyline in quite a lot of detail, but when I got stuck, which I did on occasion, I found it very easy to just skip ahead and write another chapter, saving it until I reached the point that it was required. This seemed to work well for me and I would say I wasted very little time, if any at all, fitting in all the separate chapters and then allowing myself to focus on whatever it was that was phasing me.
Finishing the second book, and moving onto the third, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’, I felt a new approach was needed, purely because there was so much going on in the series, all of which I needed to fit in. So before I’d even written a word, I sat down and spent some time planning out exactly what would happen. I’ve never done that before, because I’ve always known the story in my head, well… the really important parts, with the smaller details coming out of my writing and filling in the gaps as I moved along. But having planned out each and every chapter, I started to write it in a different way. I didn’t start at the start, if that makes sense. I picked the chapters that I’d already seen in my mind, and started writing them, storing them all up to be put together later. And this was the way it progressed, lots and lots of individual chapters, all having to be put together at the end. Is it a more successful process than the other ways? I have no idea. It seemed as taxing as the others, but maybe a little quicker. I suppose I’ll have some idea after I’ve read through the first draft. I’d love to know how other writers put their books together. Perhaps there’s a more efficient way, or perhaps each to their own. I do wonder if they have a writing break after they’ve finished a book. Although I know what happens in the follow up, it seems I could do with rest from writing for a while. I’ve always aimed for a thousand words a day, most of the time achieving more, and on some days, considerably more, but those days are rare and far between. I also know that I should still be trying to write a thousand words a day on the fourth book, but with the editing, LIFE, and everything else getting in the way, I’m finding the writing really tough. Perhaps a break for a few weeks will revitalise me, in the end, doing me loads of good. Who knows? Any advice welcome.

Tag………I’m It!

My friend and thriller writer extraordinaire Eric Gates has tagged me in a little game called

Meet My Main Character
Blog Tour

The Rules are simple…
…the taggee must write a post answering the same seven questions about their Main Character… then the taggee becomes the tagger and chooses five other authors… sort of like a chain letter with all the potential to become a global virus.

1. Tell us a bit about your main character? Is he fictional or a historic person?
Events in my book revolve around the fictional main character called Peter Bentwhistle. In part, his personality and many of his traits are based on me, and although he spends a fair amount of his time posing as a human, he is in fact a dragon, something, I can assure you, I’m not. (Although at times, I deeply wish I was.)
The name Bentwhistle comes from the fact that when in his dragon form, he has the markings of a ‘bent whistle’ splashed across his scales. He cares deeply for his friends and always tries to do the right thing in any circumstance but often fails because he’s afraid to stand up for himself. He is more than a little naive, maybe because of his dragon nature and the fact that only a few years have passed since he completed his education in the nursery ring, (fifty years in a dragon school) and was then, like most dragons, thrust out into the human world above ground to help guide the course of humanity.
His gentle nature and love for his friends are traits that I find endearing in him, but which have a tendency to endanger those around him. Recently introduced to the team sport of hockey (field hockey), by one of his best friends, he’s fascinated to the point of addiction by the intricacies of the game, the feeling of being part of a team, and the love, freedom and excitement that flow through him when he plays, provoking feelings similar to that of flying and using mantras when in his dragon form. The typical reluctant hero, with a heart of gold, willing to die for his friends, seemingly enjoying the human world more than the dragon one (something that would be more than frowned upon by the dragon hierarchy), with a love of hockey, who would like nothing better than an easy life. Unfortunately for him…….NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

2. When and where are the stories set?
They are set in the present, where dragons and humans live smack bang alongside one another, without of course the human population knowing. The dragons are committed to fulfilling an ancient prophecy from ages past which sees them protecting, nurturing and guiding the human race because the futures of both races are so inextricably intertwined. The first book introduces the secretive underground dragon domain, visiting the stunning Purbeck Peninsula enclave, situated directly below a beautiful part of southern England. Dragon London features, deep beneath the real thing, as well as the intricate and slightly outdated enclave of Salisbridge. Above ground, Salisbridge once again features, the beautiful seaside town of Swanage, as well as a brief visit to a very chilly, and very deadly Antarctica.
The second book covers much more of the world, both above and below ground. Opening in Egypt, the focus once again remains on events in Salisbridge, but with action covering as far and wide as Antarctica, Perth, Australia, London, New York, Montreal, Chicago and New Zealand, and many other places in between.
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3. What should we know about him?
A dragon in a human shaped body, Peter works at Cropptech’s head office in the fictional city of Salisbridge. Peter’s introduction sees him as part of the security team, but at different points in the story, he ends up as head of security, as well at some point, as losing his job entirely. The importance of him working at Cropptech is that they extract and procure rare minerals, in particular a rare metal the dragon community below ground value because of its unusual properties (something the humans aren’t aware of) ….laminium. His position there is more for the good of the dragon community, than that of the humans, but ultimately combines both roles to good effect.
Peter and I share a love of team sports, in particular hockey, appreciating its ability to help people bond with others, the sheer thrill of helping and/or being helped by a team mate and the fast paced action that you find yourself caught up in. When the moment catches up with Peter, he certainly has the potential to step up and be the dragon other dragons are. But with a lack of self confidence, and an all encompassing fear……….can he?

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?
Suspicious changes above his position at Cropptech start to make his life, and the lives of those around him, intolerable. This leads to a deadly chase for the truth, with the valuable laminium at stake. A mysterious stranger, that only he can see as something other than he appears, cause rifts between friends, and set off a catastrophic chain of events that could not only affect him, but in fact the entire planet. As he struggles to put the pieces of the puzzle together, with and without his friends, he finds new allies in the strangest of places. A master mantra maker long forgotten, and more eccentric than the maddest of professors, provides invaluable help along the way, and more than a few laughs, along with an unknown dragon **SPOILERS** if I tell you anymore about him. From a desperate race to save the laminium in the first book, to a growing global threat from something long in the past, in the second.
Blackmail, intrigue, forbidden love interests, a near fatal mantra gone wrong, a highly charged rugby match in which Tank (one of Peter’s best friends) takes a beating, combined with enough laminium ball action to please dragons the world over, stretch the bonds of the dragons’ friendship like never before. New friends and ancient enemies clash as the planet braces itself for one of the most outrageous attacks it has ever seen. Lost secrets and untold lore come to light, while sinister forces attempt to steal much coveted magic.
Explosive exploits, interspersed with a chilly backdrop and unexpected danger at every turn, make for an action-packed, electrifying adventure.

5. What is his personal goal?
Peter’s personal goals are about being happy, fitting in, doing his job to the best of his abilities, and really just having an easy life. His recent introduction to hockey (field hockey) is almost an addiction to him…..that’s how happy it makes him to play and stand alongside his teammates and fight as one, not just on the pitch, but off it as well. From a social point of view the hockey has been a revelation to him, particularly given that both his best friends play different sports (lacrosse and rugby) at the same sports club, enabling him to hook up with them more often, and learn more about their sports and the effect it has on them, as well as making new human friends within the hockey team.
He’s known Richie, (one of his best friends, the other being Tank) ever since his first year in the nursery ring (dragon school) and deep down has harboured strong feelings for her ever since. But Richie’s wild, never one to play by the rules, and has had many dalliances with humans (something strictly forbidden) and something Peter just can’t understand her obsession with. Will he get together with her? Does she even want to? What about dragon and human relationships? Everything changes as the story progresses, with the three friends almost becoming addicted to everything it means to be human, despite their dragon DNA.

6. What are the titles of your novels, and can we read more about them?
Currently ‘Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat From The Past’ can be found at Smashwords, in all formats, or can be purchased in either paperback or kindle version from Amazon.
A Threat From The Past New Cover (Reduced)
The second book in the series can also be found on Smashwords or on Amazon.
A Chilling Revelation Cover (Twitter)
My books can be found at Barnes and Noble here
The Goodreads page for my books can be found here
My facebook page can be found here
I can be found on Google+ here
I can be found on Pinterest here
I can be found on twitter @paul_cude

I have my own website to support the book www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk as wells as this blog www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk that provides an insight into me and also offers author the chance to be interviewed.

7. When can we expect the next book to be published?
Hopefully ‘Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’ will be available early next year.

And now, for the next victims…

1.Independent writer, and one of the hardest working people on the planet I know:
Christoph Fischer http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

2.Talented Young Adult and New Adult writer:
Amalie Jahn http://www.theclaylion.com/

3. Award winning:
Dianne Harman http://www.dianneharman.com/

4. Blogger and awesome author:
Ian Hutson http://runningduck.com/

5. Vampire and horror expert and author:
Shane KP O’Neill http://www.draculachronicles.co.uk/category/blog/

…….and thanks to chief ‘stitcher upper’….OOPs! I mean all round wonderful human being and author Eric Gates for getting me on board with all of this. Check out his wonderful blog http://my-thrillers.blogspot.co.uk/

Cover Reveal ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’

Following his harrowing and near death experience at the talons of the evil dragon Manson in ‘A Threat From The Past’, Peter Bentwhistle, the human shaped dragon and reluctant hero, finds himself on the slow path to recovery.

Helped by his dragon friends, Tank and Richie (both in their human forms), he finds solace in his new found friendship with the dragon king. But the three friends are soon unwittingly drawn into a deadly plot, when a straight forward meeting with the monarch sees them helping an injured dragon agent, straight back from his mission in Antarctica with news of a devastating encounter with another ancient race.

Blackmail, intrigue, forbidden love interests, a near fatal mantra gone wrong, a highly charged rugby match in which Tank takes a beating, combined with enough laminium ball action to please dragons the world over, stretch the bonds of the dragons’ friendship like never before. New friends and ancient enemies clash as the planet braces itself for one of the most outrageous attacks it has ever seen. Lost secrets and untold lore come to light, while sinister forces attempt to steal much coveted magic.

Explosive exploits, interspersed with a chilly backdrop and unexpected danger at every turn, make for an action-packed, electrifying adventure.

‘Snow way you’ll wanna miss this!

A Chilling Revelation Cover ReducedExcerpt

With that the king looked away. Flash knew his time was up. It was now or never. With one last look at the semi-naked human dragon, Flash turned and flung himself head first into the icy flowing water.
The mantra that had been cast on him still held, was his first thought, as he tried not to pass out from the pain and shock of the water. His second thought was that it hurt more now, entering the water a second time around.
The light from the cavern subsided as the stream became fully enclosed underground, quickly leaving Flash encased by fast flowing water and bubbles of air. He couldn’t see further than about two feet in front of him. How on Earth was he supposed to see when the stream separated into two parts? Kicking with his feet and flailing about with his arms, he tried as best he could to stay over to the left side of the channel, scraping himself along the side of the icy underground tunnel as he did so.
A sharp right hand bend, followed by a steep drop, sent Flash tumbling head over heels as the freezing water numbed his exhausted body. As he came out of the roll, his face smacked violently into a sharp, vertical piece of rock, right in the middle of the stream.
‘Oh my God,’ thought Flash. ‘This is it! This is the point where the stream separates.’ Scrabbling with his hands, he managed to get a handhold on part of the rock that he’d just banged his face on, realising belatedly that the tumble had moved him to the wrong side of the stream and now he was perilously close to plunging down the right side of the stream, and almost certainly to his… DEATH! He held on for all he was worth, despite the fact that he could barely feel his fingers or hands. The fast flowing torrent of water continued to pulverise his body. He knew that the longer he remained here, the more likely it was that he would be carried to his doom down this side of the stream.
Digging his fingernails into the rock, he used every muscle in his entire body, willing them all to work, despite the pain he felt in each and every one of them. It was working. His head was nearly level with the top of the rock. All he had to do was pull himself up just a little higher and then he could get one arm over the other side and pull himself into the left hand stream’s current. He was concentrating so hard on pulling himself up that he hadn’t noticed the tiny slivers of water that had started to seep through the mantra that held the pocket of air around his head. The surprise of feeling the ice cold water running across his face nearly caused him to lose his grip. Opening his eyes, for they’d been closed as he had willed his muscles on to greater things, he saw that water had started to leak in all around his face.
‘The mantra must be wearing off,’ he thought, totally terrified. ‘I’m gonna drown in only a matter of moments.’ It was this thought, and this alone, that gave him all the energy he required. Scrabbling up the rock and throwing himself into the current on the other side, Flash zoomed headlong into the fast flowing water, concentrating on what was in front of him and the watery pocket encasing his head.
More water had started to flow around his face now, so much so that he’d swallowed a couple of mouthfuls accidentally, and had taken to spitting some of the water back out and away from his face. The stream started to slow as the tunnel widened. The icy white sides of the tunnel became smoother, a bit like an underwater bobsleigh run. Flash hoped that the changes were indicative of reaching somewhere outside the mountain, somewhere he could exit the stream. Still the water leaked in even more around his freezing, throbbing, bleeding head, if he was not mistaken.
‘Must have been where I hit that rock,’ he thought, spitting out the blood along with a mouthful of icy cold water. Flash’s hope that the river would be leaving the mountain and coming out above ground seemed to have been dashed. The much slower flowing water was still firmly encased in a dark, icy tunnel, punctuated only by a few random eruptions of bubbles from the stream bed. Flash knew his time had nearly run out. Only a small amount of air remained around his face, air that he knew could disappear at any time. Desperation forced him into action and he started to swim as fast as he could, all the time taking deep breaths of the remaining air, knowing that one of them may be his last. Rounding a huge corner in what seemed to be the widest part of the stream he’d come across so far, he pushed on, forcing his legs to move for fear of drowning.
Seconds after taking another deep breath, the remaining air surrounding his head bobbed away, leaving him terrified and exhausted. If he could have done, he would have cried. The irony of being surrounded by this much water and wanting to cry nearly made him laugh. The current carried him along as he held his breath and looked back on what had been quite an adventurous life. The first dozen or so thoughts and images that whizzed past jolted him into action. He wasn’t the sort of being that calmly laid down and waited for the end to come. Alright, given the choice, he probably would have gone for an all-out fight to the death, with amazingly bad odds and just a hint of glory.
‘Well,’ he thought, ‘I haven’t been given the choice, but that doesn’t mean I’m just gonna give up and drown.’ He urged his legs on, kicking as fast as he could, the muscles burning with pain as he did so. He knew at best he’d have maybe another minute or so before his breath gave out, but he was determined to fight to the very end, albeit in a very different way from what he would have preferred. Swimming for all he was worth, he seemed to be moving faster and faster.
‘The current is increasing again,’ he thought, ploughing on. Soon, wave after wave of bubbles blocked his vision, as he moved through them at unerring speed. His cheeks, with the remainder of his air, were battered and bruised by the rushing water and the bubbles, and wanted nothing more than to expel their last breath. Moving his arms and legs was getting harder, as he was concentrating so hard on not opening his mouth. As he pitched through another curtain of bubbles, a torrent of white water engulfed him, dragging him round a bend and into an almost vertical drop. Fighting not to open his mouth while wanting to scream, he hit the bottom of the river bed, hard, jarring his right knee and elbow, both at the same time.
He was only a few seconds away from drowning now. He could feel his mouth about to open, and knew there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop it. Unexpectedly, a haze of light appeared through the bubbles up ahead. Clamping his mouth shut with all his might he surged forward. Black spots started to cloud his vision, but he pushed himself on. Rising upwards towards the light, Flash had no option but to open his mouth. His body continued its journey to potential salvation as the freezing water poured into his throat. Amazingly he broke the surface of the stream, out into the bright Antarctic daylight. The spots before his eyes were getting worse; only tiny openings in his vision remained. With both his arms outstretched, he pulled himself for all he was worth out of the freezing cold stream and onto the snow covered bank. Turning onto his side, he immediately began throwing up all the water he’d swallowed. The cold nibbled at his wet body, piercing him like a poker. After the excess water had left his body, Flash passed out on the snowy river bank, only inches away from the bitter stream that had nearly cost him his life.
Barely five minutes later, Flash’s survival instinct kicked in, and in a staggering display of stubbornness he awoke, wishing with every part of his body that he hadn’t. Feeling worse than an alcoholic’s hangover, and shivering on a national level, he knew that he had to get back to the dragon domain. Nothing else existed, only that one thought. Getting to his feet, he staggered slightly and then fell back down to his knees. His head was so muzzy that he just couldn’t concentrate. Two deep breaths later, he was back on his feet. He had to get a grip, get his bearings and find a way to get away from this hellhole and back to the dragon world. Looking back round at the body of water he’d come out of, he found that the stream only broke the surface for perhaps twenty feet or so before disappearing back underground. The bank and the surface of the stream were shielded from the normally roaring wind by a wicked looking rocky overhang that hovered menacingly over him at the moment. As Flash took all this in, a little voice in the back of his head said,
“They’ll come after you. As soon as they’ve recovered, they’ll come.”
He knew what he had to do. Still shivering violently, he took off his precious watch, noting the time and GPS location of where he was before he did so, and then set it down in the snow. Rubbing his hands together, he tried to get some feeling back into them and his fingers before he went any further. Not seemingly making any difference to his fingers, he set about turning the watch into an explosive device. He knew how to do it of course, and under normal conditions it would only take a few seconds, but his cold fingers made it hard to press all the small buttons in the right order. At the rate he was going, he’d be lucky not to blow himself to smithereens.
Eventually, after lots of fiddling and amazing amounts of concentration, Flash managed to set the proximity detection function. Setting the countdown to sixty seconds, so that he had enough time to get out of range, he depressed the button to start the countdown, leaving the watch on the icy bank, just pressed into the snow. After the timer had counted down, any movement at all in a radius of thirty metres would set off the explosive device in the watch. Flash turned away from the watch and started to jog slightly, buoyed by the knowledge that he had once again escaped certain death by the very skin of his teeth.
A few paces into his jog, a loud splashing noise from the stream caused him to turn round. A vision from hell appeared, dripping wet, on the water’s edge. The golden-coloured naga who’d captured him earlier, the one that he’d last seen flailing around on the floor of the prison barely conscious, stared at him from thirty feet away. Flash couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Another forty seconds or so and the naga wouldn’t have been a problem, because the explosive Flash had just planted would have gone off, either killing the naga, or trapping it below the surface of the stream for good. Waves of exhaustion washed over Flash, begging him just to lie down in the snow and call it a day. He couldn’t believe that he’d come so far, avoided death by a gnat’s… well, whatever it was, only for it to end like this. If it weren’t for the deadly seriousness of the situation, he could definitely see himself laughing about it all.

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Blackmail, intrigue, forbidden love interests, a near fatal mantra gone wrong, a highly charged rugby match in which Tank takes a beating, combined with enough laminium ball action to please dragons the world over, stretch the bonds of the dragons’ friendship like never before. New friends and ancient enemies clash as the planet braces itself for one of the most outrageous attacks it has ever seen. Lost secrets and untold lore come to light, while sinister forces attempt to steal much coveted magic.