The first in an enthralling new mini-series of novellas from the #1 bestselling authors of the House of Night, Dragon’s Oath tells the story behind the House of Night’s formidable fencing instructor – the love that will transform him, and the promise that will haunt him
In early 19th century England, long before he’s a professor at the Tulsa House of Night, Bryan Lankford is a troublesome yet talented human teen who thinks he can get away with anything… until his father, a wealthy nobleman, has finally had enough, and banishes him to America. When Bryan is Marked on the docks and given the choice between the London House of Night and the dragon-prowed ship to America, he chooses the Dragon – and a brand new fate.
Becoming a Fledgling may be exciting, but it opens a door to a dangerous world.... In 1830’s St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, Dragon Lankford becomes a Sword Master, and soon realizes there are both frightening challenges and beautiful perks. Like Anastasia, the captivating young Professor of Spells and Rituals at the Tower Grove House of Night, who really should have nothing to do with a fledgling…
But when a dark power threatens, Dragon is caught in its focus. Though his uncanny fighting skills make him a powerful fledgling, is he strong enough to ward off evil, while protecting Anastasia as well? Will his choices save her—or destroy them all?
When I read Dragon's Oath for the first time, I read it purely for the pleasure of enjoying the story itself; as an ardent HON fan, I already knew of Dragon's loss from the series, so this novella added dimension and richness to his tale. The second time I read the story, I allowed myself to picture each scene in my mind--and I took notes about it. These characters may be nearly immortal, but they are at the beginning of such immortality and, therefore, they are like any other young couple.
PC and I discussed how she saw them physically--vibrant, playful, Anastasia with thick blonde hair down to her waist, Dragon with "attitude" and lithe physique. In her story, their courtship is charming, and their first kiss full of the magic (or, as PC Cast says, "magick") anyone would want to experience. I wanted to capture all of this.
I toyed with using hands. I wanted the characters "touching-but-not-touching", intimate, an unspoken promise. Above all, I wanted it to show defenses lowered in a subtle way.
These are a few of the sketches I made: him approaching from behind her, sword down; her handing him a sunflower; her beginning to lift the face of a sunflower up towards him. But these weren't quite where I wanted to go.
I wanted more of their symbols integrated into the piece: his sword, her flower. With PC's approval, I then "cast" the scene.
I had my husband stand by a friend, and at the last second, decided to photograph it near sunset. My thought was that these characters could be walking, side by side, as the sun either rose or set before them - an added romantic touch, instead of having them with the nighttime backdrop.
With a few alterations - matching Dragon's sword with the one on the cover, cropping and changing clothing some, and making Anastasia's hand that of a girl rather than a more mature woman - I completed the illustration now in the book. It's my favorite, too - his sword is lowered, but in front of them to defend her in an instant. Her flower is held back, slightly behind her skirt, waiting to be brought forth.
This is how they live for me.