Dragons of the Watch, p.1Donita K. Paul
Praise for Donita K. Paul’s
DragonKeeper Chronicles and Chiril Chronicles
“The writing is crisp and the setting imaginative. This series will speak to all ages of Christian readers.”
“Donita K. Paul never fails to satisfy the imagination and delight the soul.… This is fantasy that truly illuminates reality.”
—JIM DENNEY, author of the Timebenders Series
“Donita K. Paul’s vivid imagery and startling plot twists will delight fans.”
—KACY BARNETT-GRAMCKOW, author of the Genesis Trilogy
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from Donita K. Paul, as she always gives us a delightful read: intriguing, challenging, and full of blessing.”
—KATHRYN MACKEL, author of Vanished
“Donita K. Paul possesses a unique talent for instilling deep wisdom and spiritual truth in a story that is engrossing and satisfying.… She is one of my favorite authors.”
—HANNAH ALEXANDER, author of Silent Pledge
“Donita K. Paul’s inventiveness never ceases to amaze. Fresh ideas for new races of people and unusual creatures keep flowing from her gifted pen.”
—JILL ELIZABETH NELSON, author of the To Catch a Thief Series
“Shut your eyes, hold your breath, and plunge into the unshackled imagination of Donita K. Paul.”
—LINDA WICHMAN, author of Legend of the Emerald Rose
BY DONITA K. PAUL
Dragons of Chiril
(formerly The Vanishing Sculptor)
Dragons of the Valley
Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball
BY DONITA K. PAUL
AND EVANGELINE DENMARK
The Dragon and the Turtle
The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari
DRAGONS OF THE WATCH
PUBLISHED BY WATERBROOK PRESS
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921
The characters and events in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental.
Copyright © 2011 by Donita K. Paul
Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920, www.alivecommunications.com.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Published in the United States by WaterBrook Multnomah, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., New York.
WATERBROOK and its deer colophon are registered trademarks of Random House Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Paul, Donita K.
Dragons of the watch : a novel / Donita K. Paul. — 1st ed.
1. Dragons—Fiction. I. Title.
To those readers who take the time to write encouraging words. You brighten my days and make my work worthwhile.
Other Books by This Author
3: Within a Cloud
4: A Beacon
5: No One at Home
6: Within the City
7: Rumbard City
8: Pickles and Mustard
9: In the Library
10: A Walk in the Night
11: A Good Night’s Rest
12: Meet the Dragons
13: Sing, Sing a Song
14: Daggarts and Danger
15: Home, Sweet Hovel
16: In Search of Flour and Eggs
17: A Picture Tells a Tale
18: Pickles and Calamity
19: Clean Up
20: A New Start
21: A Diary’s Account
22: The Bells Did It
23: Old One and Orli
26: First Duty
27: Sticks and Stones
28: Good? Good!
29: Snips and Snails
30: A Goal, No Two
32: Morning Revelations
34: Birth Day
35: Where Is Porky?
36: Rescuing Porky
37: Gray Phantom
38: Sighting a Wizard
39: The Gang
42: Fairy Tale
43: The Clan
44: Keys, Keys, Keys
45: Doors, Doors, Doors
46: The Bottle Wizard’s Bottles
47: A Wizard’s Way
48: Journey to the Other Side
50: The Ball
Epilogue: In and Out of the Bottle
Appendix (People, Glossary)
Shannon, Troy, and Ian McNear
John Case Tompkins
Ellie sat on her favorite boulder and looked Tak right in the eyes, telling him what was on her mind. “Gramps shouldn’t have taught me to read.”
Tak responded as he usually did when he received Ellie’s confidences. He lowered his head, placing it on her knee for a rub.
Ellie obliged her pet, stroking the white hair between his nubby horns with one hand while digging in the pocket of her homespun pinafore with the other. The mountain breeze toyed with the paper she withdrew. With difficulty, she smoothed the small poster out on her other knee. Dirty and wrinkled, it still made her heart beat a little faster.
Royal Wedding and Coronation
Prince Jayrus, Dragonkeeper and Paladin
All invited to the celebration
“All invited. But Ellicinderpart Clarenbessipawl and her goat Tak can’t come. No chaperone, no travel. Ma and Da aren’t interested. And Gramps just laughs. ‘You’ll see. You’ll see,’ is all he says. He should take me himself.”
Her younger brother’s shrill yell came from the knoll rising out of the river to the east. “Ellie! Ellie!”
He stood on the hill, grinning like a bear with a paw in the honey hive and his face red from running. His stubby tumanhofer body bounced with excitement. He held his fists above his head and whirled them around in circles. Something had set him off.
She stood and hollered back. “You best be calling me by my proper name out in the open ’n’ at the top of your lungs, Gustustharinback. Ma will tan yer hide if she’s finding out you disgrace the family with such shabby care of our dignity.”
When he saw her, he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “Yer wanted at home. Itta be good news.”
That information didn
“Can it wait?” She gestured behind her to the scattered goat herd. “I’ll have to gather Tak’s clan if I’m to come home now.”
“I’ll come help you.” Gustus charged down the hill toward the footbridge across the river.
Ellie stared at him for a moment with her mouth hanging open. The good news had nothing to do with cloth. Her brother would never voluntarily help bring in the goats for something as mundane as new clothes. He scurried down the path, slipping some on the loose rocks. But the precarious descent did not slow him a bit. Even in the narrower patches, where exposed roots of arranndon bushes tripped careless hikers, her sturdy brother skidded downward.
Folding the royal celebration notice into a small square, Ellie stuffed it back in her pocket. She turned away from watching her brother’s progress and nudged the goat. “Come on, Tak. You find the nannies, and I’ll find the billies.”
Ellie went one direction and Tak another. In a few minutes, she located the fifteen goats that formed the herd. Mostly young males, these animals preferred the rockier terrain. She suspected it had to do with their perpetual game of I’m-up-highest.
She clicked her tongue and tapped her staff on a rock. Their heads rose as if all attached to the same string, though they didn’t come right away. Each one chewed what was in his mouth and casually left his place one by one. Taking a serene amble down the hillside, they passed her, heading toward the bridge and home.
When the last one clomped by, Ellie rested her staff on her shoulder and followed. Tak already had the nannies plodding along the bank toward the footbridge. Gustustharinback trailed the nannies and carried the smallest of the baby goats in his arms.
He shouted when he caught sight of his sister. “Hurry! Aunt and Uncle Blamenyellomont are at the house. I can’t tell you the surprise, and I’m gonna burst with keeping my tongue from waggin’ and you from knowin’.”
She tapped her staff on the rock beneath her feet. The billies scampered before her, picking up her impatience and gratefully heading for home. Even after eating all day, they appreciated the handfuls of button grain they got from the farmer’s younger children.
With the goat hoofs pounding on the wooden bridge, Ellie couldn’t hear or be heard. So she waited until she’d caught up with her brother on the other side.
“What’s with all the falderal, Gustus?”
She watched as he forced a glare onto his face, erasing the impudent grin he’d been wearing. “You are to call me by my proper name if I have to call you by yours.”
“There’s a difference between shouting ‘Ellie’ and speaking ‘Gustus’ quietly.” She grabbed his arm. “Now tell me, or I’ll toss you into the river.”
He pressed his lips together and gave her his most obstinate glower. The corners of his lips twitched, and she knew he wanted to laugh. She let go. She couldn’t really dunk him while he carried the small kid.
“Why are our aunt and uncle here?”
“Can’t tell you that either. But they’s only stopping, not staying. We’d better hurry.”
Ellie lost Gustustharinback’s help as soon as they came in sight of the pens. He scuttled down the last hill and opened the gate but then ran through the goat barn, across the yard, and into the house.
The herd followed the leader through the opening and took up different places to observe their world. Ellie and Gustus had put many odd things within the goat pen for the animals to climb on. Old wooden benches, barrels, a huge thick branch they had pulled with the donkey’s help, and crates littered the ground. The goats enjoyed scrambling up, over, and around the obstacles.
Tak stayed at Ellie’s side as she put water in the trough and fastened the barn door securely open so the animals could come in if they wanted. He followed her out the door on the other side of the barn and waited patiently while she latched it shut.
Entering the back door so she could wash before meeting their visitors, Ellie noticed that the kitchen showed signs of serving tea. Her mother must have prepared refreshments to carry into the common room. Through the pantry door, she could see empty spots on the shelves, which meant the good china pot and the blue glass dishes were being used.
Warm water sat in a tub in the sink, and she used that to wash her face and hands. She pulled the scarf off her head, gathered her long, curly black locks into a ponytail and used the scarf to tie it in place. Wisps of hair immediately escaped and framed her tanned face. She washed her face again as if she could rid herself of the look of a farm girl. Hopefully Aunt Tiffenbeth wouldn’t make that tired old comment: “Your blue eyes would be more attractive if you scrubbed away some of that mud you use for face cream.”
Voices from the family’s conversation drifted through the partially open door. Aunt Tiffenbeth quarreled with Ellie’s father.
“Brother, you are wrong in this. Ellicinderpart is your eldest child and way past the age to be in the village looking for a husband.”
“If there’s a man good enough for her, he can just come courting here.” Her father’s voice rumbled in the wood-paneled room, and Ellie did not even have to strain to hear him. She stepped closer to the door in order not to miss a single word her aunt spoke.
“You are the most vexing man. That is not going to happen. It isn’t the way of things, and you know it. You’re selfish and your mind is rootbound.”
Only his older sister could get away with talking like that to Ellie’s father. She probably ought to go in before the discussion escalated to verbal warfare. She finished wiping her hands and draped the towel over one of the kitchen chairs around the square table.
“The girl is needed here.”
“The young woman is your unpaid servant.”
“She has obligations to her family. None of the other children are old enough to take over her chores.”
“And it’s not her fault five years passed before you begat another child. She should not be punished for Boscamon’s whim. Besides, Letterimdebomm is quite old enough to take over the goats and the dressmaking.”
Her father said nothing. Ellie held her breath. Would she get to go live in the village, get a job, earn her keep, and possibly attract the attention of some young man?
She heard the rustling of a skirt. “Would you like another cake, Tiffenbeth? Letterimdebomm made them just yesterday afternoon.” Her mother, trying to divert the tension between brother and sister.
Ellie knew it was pointless. Uncle Stemikenjon cleared his throat. Her father never cleared his throat before he spoke what was on his mind. He just blurted it out.
“I’ll have another piece,” said Uncle Stemikenjon.
“And—,” said Aunt Tiffenbeth.
Ellie flinched. Her aunt was going to ruin it. Her father’s silence might mean he was contemplating what she had said. But if her aunt pushed too hard, he’d turn stubborn.
“—all your children can read,” continued Aunt Tiffenbeth.
“That’s not my doing.”
Ellie could imagine her father tossing a glare in her gramps’s direction. The old man would smile that toothless grin and keep stroking the cat, whichever cat happened to be on his lap. He couldn’t sit down without attracting at least one.
“Reading will be a great asset in the village,” said Aunt Tiffenbeth. “It’s only up here in these hills where it’s not customary to teach all the children to read.”
“There’s no sense in taking the time to teach them all. One or two could be the readers and that could be their contribution to the family. Ridiculous waste of time to teach them all.”
From behind, Ellie heard the unmistakable sound of Tak’s footsteps on the wooden floor. Before she could turn, she felt the hard butt of his head on her backside.
She whirled and shook a finger at him. She spoke as forcefully as she could in a whisper. “Tak! You know you aren’t allowed in
Ellie followed Tak as he made his docile retreat, but she watched scornfully the arrogant sway of his hips and the self-satisfied bounce of his head. His white coat gleamed as he entered the sunlight. Once he’d tromped down the stairs, she shut the door and latched it. That goat was too cunning.
Ellie straightened her shoulders and passed through the kitchen once more. With fingers on the doorknob, she drew the door toward her and stopped.
“I suppose she can go.”
“Da!” She rushed into the room and flung her arms around him. “I’m going to the village?”
“Nay, not that. Yer going with your aunt to Ragar, to see the coronation and celebrate the wedding.”
Ellie tried to breathe, but her lungs had expelled all the air from within and seemed paralyzed. She pushed out of her father’s arms and looked around at the faces that stared at her. Gramps grinned. Her mother’s face wrinkled in concern. Aunt Tiffenbeth arched eyebrows above twinkling eyes. Uncle winked. Her seven smaller siblings sat around the room with hands folded primly in their laps but eyes dancing with excitement.
Ellie made a strangled attempt to speak.
Her father thumped her back. “Breathe, you silly girl. You can’t go anywhere if you expire on the spot.”
Three days later, Ellicinderpart knew for sure that the world was a beautiful place and her aunt and uncle were the most generous of tumanhofers. She sat in the second seat of their carriage with Aunt Tiffenbeth and gazed out the window. She wore a new dress her aunt had purchased in town, part of her new wardrobe. The coachman had strapped two carpetbags full of new things to the roof of their vehicle. Her uncle sat across from them with his face hidden in a book.
A warm glow spread through Ellie as she thought of the two gowns she’d carefully packed in the larger carpetbag the night before. She’d tried them on one more time and admired the dresses in her aunt’s tall mirror. She had never thought to own one gown so lovely, let alone two. One for the coronation ball and one for the wedding reception.
Dragons of the Watch by Donita K. Paul / Fantasy / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes