Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mark of the Dragon by M.R. Polish and Bill Morgan

Mark of the Dragon
Bill Morgan and M.R. Polish

Bill and I are so excited to be here on this stop on the Mark of the Dragon Tour, so excited that we couldn't help but want to give you a look into the story itself! This is something that unless you've read the book, has not been seen on any other blog so you are in luck!

Chapter Twelve

A Plot Discovered

Three days into her journey and she
finally felt as if she made progress.
Crossing the second river was much easier than even Terrax
mentioned.  The water where she chose to
cross was barely knee deep, though it had a swifter current.  She now needed to leave the safety of the
mountains and the trees and head out into the grassy plains.
She held onto the hilt of
her sword at all times and scanned the horizon.
She couldn’t shake the unnerving feeling that someone watched her.  As far as she could see there were no other
people around, but the grass was tall, hitting her waist.  Anyone could hide easily without her seeing
As far as she was
concerned, she couldn’t get out of the plains fast enough, though she knew it
was a vast expanse.  The sky darkened
with clouds that gave promise of rain.
She felt worn out, but knew she’d never make the hills before nightfall,
so she pushed forward, unwilling to let herself slow down.
Droplets of rain
fell.  Andra stopped.  She wiped her face and looked around.  The uneasy feeling still hadn’t left
her.  If anything, it had gotten
worse.  She needed to relax.  It was probably nothing but her imagination.  She tried to envision Tyroth, and thought
about how much she wanted to go to the Vetaunex, hoping to calm her mind.  It was no longer just a feeling she had, it
was more of a strong magnetic pull.  She
knew that it was her destiny to be a dragon rider. 
A quick movement to her
right pulled her from her thoughts.  She
spun, and drew her sword at the same time.
Her heart thumped wildly in her chest.
The dark clouds made it difficult to see anything more than shadows in
the tall grass that played with her mind.
She was grateful that it wasn’t raining more than a light drizzle.  It would make it even harder to see if it
decided to pour.
Another shadow moved in
her side vision.  She scanned the tall
grass as she slowly turned in a circle to look all around.  She saw a body crouched over, his head just
above the grass with his eyes peering at her.
Her breath hitched as she noticed three more encircling her.
Her eyes widened.  She looked for a way out, a place to run, but
they were closing in too fast.  There was
no way to get through them.  She squared
her shoulders.  Her nervousness turned
into anger as they crept closer.  She hadn’t
trained every day with her father growing up to go down without a fight to a
couple lousy bandits.
She yelled at them, “You
bunch of yellow bellied cowards!  Come
out of the grass and fight me.”  She
hoped it was only the four and no more hid behind them.
One of the men stood up
and spit at the ground.  His disheveled
clothes were well worn and his face hadn’t seen a razor in a while.  “We’re not cowards, just doin’ what we’re paid
She felt her stomach
twist.  “And what is that?”  She kept her eyes on all of them, afraid to
let them out of her sight.
“Not let you reach the
Orb, o’ course.”  The man sneered and
lunged for her.
Andra was quicker and
moved out of the way, but found herself face to face with a short portly man
with a burn scar that covered half of his face.
He raised his upper lip in an attempt to smile, but the sight made her
stomach churn.  She swung her sword and
barely missed him as he lunged out of the way.
Arms wrapped around her
middle.  She flicked her hand with her
sword and nicked her attacker's leg.  His
grip on her loosened enough for her to get free of his arms.  She spun around, swinging her sword, clipping
the left arm of the short man and he stumbled back a step. 
The man who spoke earlier
now stood tall with his own sword drawn.
He swiped at her but she easily dodged his blade, then in return swung
hers only to hear it clang against his.
She pivoted her body as
she learned while training and tried to keep herself from being caught in the
wrong spot.  Andra felt the tip of her
blade slice across his chest but it wasn’t deep enough.  All she accomplished was to upset him.  She decided to wait for him to come at her
before using all her energy throwing herself at him.  There were four of them; if she used all her
strength on him, then she could lose to the other three.
Finally he lunged at
her.  His blade sliced into her upper
left arm.  She cried out as the blade
left her skin with a fiery burn.  Before
he moved back away from her, she used his momentum to shove her own sword deep
in his side under his rib cage.  She held
her sword firmly as he fell back and her blade exited his body.  He looked up at her with wide eyes.
She didn’t waste any time
lingering on him, but turned to face the others.  The portly man lunged at her screaming.  She swung hard and accurate.  All the wooden pells she used for practice
gave her a keen sense for where to hit her attackers.  He fell to the ground face down with blood
flowing from his neck.
There were only two
left.  She could feel her body slowing
due to the blood loss, but she refused to give into the weakness.  A loud yell echoed around them, causing both
her attackers to hesitate and look around.
She used the distraction to lunge for them.  In one swift swing, the one on the right
fell, her return swing cutting the other man’s leg severely, and he fell.  A quick thrust to his chest finished him off
quickly, before she could think about it.
She bent over, grimacing
as she grasped her arm as the adrenaline began to wear off.  Her hand came back covered in blood.  She tipped her head up and looked for the man
who yelled.  She seriously hoped she
wouldn’t have to fight off any more of Regina’s paid spies before reaching the
Orb.  She doubted her body would be up to
the task.  She couldn’t see anyone in the
immediate area and that puzzled her.  Who
yelled a moment ago?
She picked up her pack
that had fallen from its spot around her neck in the attack and sheathed her
sword.  She was a little hesitant about
not having it in her hand, but she needed her hand to put pressure on her wound
until she could get far enough away to tend to it properly.  Quickly, she picked up her pace, wanting to
get to cover and out of the open grasslands.

The next day Liam was met with clear
skies.  Once in the morning, he spotted
some people riding horseback far off in the distance, but he fell flat on the
ground and they moved away, obviously not seeing him.  He was surprised to find that there was
actually abundant wildlife out in the plains.
He saw several small herds of some type of deer that had brown
spots.  At one point in the day, he came
across a large herd of huge black beasts that were larger than most cattle he
had seen.  I don’t know what they call
you mighty beasts, but I will ask someone as soon as I get the chance.
  They were too large for him to consider
trying to kill with his small bow, and besides, he couldn’t carry a fraction of
the meat.  He also saw countless small
tailless squirrels that lived underground in holes.  He killed one the second day and though it
wasn’t as good as rabbit, he could live off them if he needed.  He was feeling much better about his chances
On the morning of the
third day, he decided he had traveled far enough north and turned due
west.  Keeping the sun on his back he
made good time.  He also noticed happily
that his legs and feet were not stiff at all.
About the noon hour, he noticed some dust ahead in the distance.  Not sure if it was caused by a herd of black
beasts or people, he stooped low, close to the tall grass as he walked
carefully forward.
It was slow work and his
back began to ache from the unnatural position, but after an hour he could make
out what caused the dust.  There was some
sort of road and a caravan of about fifteen wagons being pulled by oxen.  They were moving from his right to his left
so he assumed it must be the trade route to Westfalia.  He would have to wait for them to pass, even
though they moved slowly. 
After about ten minutes
watching them move, he decided they had not seen him, so he laid back in the
grass, using his pack for a pillow.  He
was tired, but nervous about being so close to people so he watched the clouds
moving across the sky.  Oxen were slow so
he didn’t even check on their progress.
As he lay there, his muscles relaxed and eventually so did his
mind.  Consequently, he fell asleep.
He stood in the tall
grass.  It seemed to eerily sway and
there was little sound.  It was raining
lightly and he could see a woman walking carefully through the grass.  Between himself and the woman, he saw four
men crouching and waiting for her.  He
tried to move forward and warn her, but he couldn’t move.  Frustrated, he watched as the woman stopped
and pulled her sword.  She had seen at
least one of the men.  She yelled
something, but he couldn’t hear any sound.
He struggled to move or pull his sword, but he was frozen.
Helplessly he watched
as the men attacked her.  She darted out
of the way of the first attack and nicked one of the men’s arms.  She turned to face them and the largest man
lunged for her.  His heart raced as he
watched the clumsy swing draw blood from her arm while she expertly drove her
sword into his body and he fell.
Turning, she parried a shorter man’s thrust and cleanly cut through most
of his neck.
She turned now to face
the other two men who were smiling at her.
He was so desperate to move that he yelled as loud as he could in
He sat upright, the sound
of his yell still echoing in his mind.
He was confused for a moment, looking around for the woman.  Where was she?  Where were her attackers?  He could move now but she wasn’t there to
need his help.  Did she kill the other
two men or did she die fighting them?
Looking around he saw
only grass and his pack.  The grass where
he laid was flat.  “It was only a
dream.”  He wiped the perspiration from
his forehead.  “But what a dream.”  It had seemed so real to him.  The woman seemed so real.
Then he remembered the
caravan.  He jumped up, but the sky had
grown pale with the setting sun so he could not see as far as the road.  He checked his compass to make sure he looked
the right way.  He did see a small light
way off to the south that appeared to be a campfire, so he assumed the caravan
stopped for the night.  Breathing a
little easier, he decided to try and cross the road at night, so he shouldered
his pack, checked his compass one more time to be sure and then headed west.
As he walked, he couldn’t
help but remember how real his dream felt.
He couldn’t recall when he dreamed so vividly in a long time.  “Must have been that squirrel meat,” he said to
himself as he walked along.  He pushed
the dream out of his mind and focused on his walking, trying to avoid the
squirrel holes in the gathering darkness. 
As he neared where he
thought the road would be, he became cautious.
Traditionally any who took the journey to the Orb were allowed safe
passage, but there were always bandits and there might be some that took the
war personally.  He immediately thought
of Regina, and felt it was better to be safe than sorry.
He knew Regina often sent
spies out from Aquaistra and paid some Santerrians to do her dirty work as
well.  He just wasn’t certain that her
spies would be able to recognize him as Aquaistrian, so no one he met would be
safe to approach until he was marked.
It was a good thing he
made extra effort to use caution, because he heard horses walking along the
road moments before he stepped onto it.
Quickly, he stepped back into the taller grass off the road and fell
flat, hoping he had made no noise in doing so.
His heart beat loudly in
his ears, but he knew no one else could hear it.  At least he hoped so.  As the horses got closer, he could hear male
voices as well.  The closer they got the
more he could make out.
“I know it’s a lot of
trouble over a woman, but that’s the way the boss wants it.”  This voice was deep and gravely.
The answer came from a
higher pitched nasally voice.  “I was
there when ‘e told us ‘e wanted it this way, but I’m still sayin’ it’s a waste
o’ our time.  We should be in Sendar tryin’
t’ find some friends fer the cause instead o’ wanderin’ these plains lookin’
fer some gurl.”
“Orders is orders, so
just do what you’re told.  You get paid
the same either way, don’tcha?’  Gravel
voice said.
“I guess yur right,” the
other man replied.  “Do you think these
here horses ‘ave ‘ad ‘nuff rest?  I want
t’ make it t’ the next rest station an’ not sleep on t’ ground t’night.”
“I think so.’”  Liam heard them kick their horses into a run
and listened to them move off into the distance, leaving the road quiet once
That was interesting,
Liam thought.  I wonder who they are
looking for and what they want her for.

His dream woman came to mind for some reason but he had no idea
why.  He found himself trying to recall
if any of the attackers in his dream spoke and if the gravely or nasal voices
fit any of them.  “Now you’re just being
ridiculous,” he said.  He stood up and
started moving; looking both directions into the dark and listening intently to
make sure no one else was on the road before he crossed. 

Andra leaned against a tree and slumped
to the ground.  Her arm still ached from
the previous day’s attack.  She tore her
spare shirt, because it was the only clean material she had, and wrapped her
wound tightly to stop the bleeding.  Now
it was just stained with the crimson fluid and stung every time she moved.
A rabbit jumped out in
front of her and she slumped some more.
She was sorely disappointed that she lost her bolas out of her pack
during her attack and unknowingly left it behind.  “I guess it’s cold jerked meat again
The rabbit picked his
ears up and looked her way before bounding off into the underbrush.  She stood back up.  The Orb was just over the small mountain from
where she was.  If she hurried it would
only take her another two or three days.
She needed to get further into the cover of trees before she made camp.
The sun began to set on
the other side of the mountain and Andra could feel her body slowing down.  She found a deep crevice in the side of some
rocks that would help give her some form of protection.
She gathered enough
firewood to start a small fire to ward off the chilly mountain night air.  Soon the crackling sound soothed her weary
nerves and she relaxed against the rock wall.
Her eyes closed, and her scenery changed.
He was in the tall
grass.  A long sword moved with the
rhythm of his gait as he walked toward her.
He looked at her, yet through her.
It was as if he knew she was there, but at the same time not at all.  He was tall, at least a whole head higher
than her, and had tanned skin.  His long
black hair was pulled back with a tie and hung down his back.  His open vest left his chest bare.  He came within five feet of her before he
grinned.  His eyes lit up and she found
herself smiling back at him.  She opened
her mouth to say something to him, but no sound came out.  Everything around them shifted and she felt
her body being pulled back into the darkness.
Andra’s eyes flew wide
open and she gasped for air.  The dream
had felt so real that it unnerved her to be taken away so abruptly.  “Get a grip!
I need to focus,” she whispered.
Dreaming about some man was the last thing she needed to do.  She needed to keep her mind on the Orb… on
the Vetaunex.  She stuck another log on
the fire and closed her eyes, all the while hoping she would have a dreamless

Mark of the Dragon Blurb:

In a land of warriors and dragons, everything is about to

Countries are divided and war is raging, but none of that matters to Andra. She
is destined to be a dragon rider. There has never been a woman rider, but that
doesn't matter to her. After her father's death, she trains harder than any man
to be a worthy candidate. Even when the Aquastrian leader wants her dead, she
fights back. Can she over come traveling hundreds of miles on foot, surviving
hunger, bandits, assassins and wild carnivores? 

Liam is just another warrior who hopes he is worthy of the Mark of the Dragon.
He must endure the long trek from Aquastra to Santerrian, avoiding all people,
especially those who may be hired to kill him. Meeting Andra along the way changes
everything. He admires her willful spirit and is inspired to do even more as a
warrior and stop the war. He fights to help her, kills to protect her, but will
it be enough to get them both to their dragons before it's too late?

Buy Links:

About the Authors

M.R. Polish was born in Idaho, a long, long, long, well, maybe not that
long time ago.... Writing has always been there for her. Growing up, her mind
was filled with stories, some she shared and others she filed away to write
down later in life. It wasn't until 2011 that she decided to publish her
stories for everyone to enjoy. Her first award, and when writing became more
than just an idea, was in the 5th grade. She won the scary story contest for
the school newspaper. It is one story she still has tucked away for memories.
Her teacher told her she could be anything she wanted and that she had a talent
for writing, being creative and drawing people into her stories. M.R. took that
to heart and continued to write, although mostly in secret until recent years.
Now you can find her enjoying life with her family -
wrangling her four kids, setting traps in the house with toys for unsuspecting
victims (aka, her husband) and writing down all her crazy and fun stories.

"Life is too
short to stand by and watch everyone else live your dreams. The bigger the
dream, the bigger the adventure!
" ~ M.R. Polish

Bill Morgan is M.R.’s dad, and if she was born that long ago, You all
should shudder at how long ago he was born. 
He has always been creative.  As
an amateur artist and an avid woodworker, he always could see the hidden beauty
in a blank piece of paper or a piece of wood.
He joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1986 and spent twenty years saving
lives and serving his country.  He always
had stories running around in his head, but he never tried to put them onto
paper until M.R. convinced him to do this book with her.  Now he is actively writing two additional
sci-fi/fantasy novels.   Hopefully she
hasn’t created a monster.  Bill’s
favorite thing is his family.  He has a
wonderful wife, two adult daughters, four sisters, and more wonderful nieces
and nephews than you can believe.  His
last count was over one hundred and he loves them all.   One of his favorite quotes comes from a
movie, but it applies to writing a fictional novel as well:
 “Don’t know where we’re going, but there’s no sense in being late.”  ~Mathew Quigley


  1. Thank you so much for having us on your blog today, it was so much fun to share this chapter with you.

  2. Thanks so much for taking part in this mini blog tour and posting this excerpt from Mark of the Dragon. M.R. and I are so excited about this book and we are so happy you are helping us spread the word. U. R. Awesome!!