The Dragon’s Gold

A knight in rusty armor!DragonFrontCover

A dragon with a bad cough!

A damsel in distress who does not want to be rescued!

A novel for big kids at least eight years old.

NOW IN PAPERBACK AT AMAZON.COM! AVAILABLE FOR YOUR E-READER EVERYWHERE!

Sir Gilford wants to be worthy of his knighthood. Even more, he wants to be fully accepted by his foster family, the Sitwells. So when they need gold, Gilford volunteers to win treasure from a ferocious dragon.

The creature agrees to help Gilford, but he must first perform some tasks. These tasks are made harder by his cowardly horse, kidnap attempts by another clan, and even by the Sitwells trying to help.

On his last, biggest and most difficult challenge, to win the dragon’s gold Gilford must make a difficult choice. Should he do what others want him to do? Or do what he believes is right and risk never achieving his greatest dream?

DragonCover-400DragonMap-400

THE DRAGON’S GOLD

Chapter One

Long ago, in the time of dragons…

Bright sunlight glistened on the spires and battlements of Wellburn Castle, home of the Sitwells, one of the three great clans of the Kingdom of Keldah. Light blue and silver flags rose to flutter in the breeze. The drawbridge creaked open, slowly dropping across the moat. A fine horse, carrying Lady Brianna Sitwell, clattered over the planks. The young woman set her jaw and urged the animal into a leap through the open air between bridge and roadway. Landing surely, it galloped off.

As the bridge thumped onto the dirt road, a knight astride a gray horse appeared in the gateway.

“Wait! Lady Brianna! I’m your escort today!” Sir Gilford’s plea was muffled by the light blue tunic he was pulling over his head. “Wait for me!”

The lady did not wait. She raced on, her long golden hair and silver-trimmed blue gown streaming behind. Sir Gilford urged his horse, Adalard, into a jarring trot over the bridge and then into a gallop on the open road. Lady and knight raced along the narrow dirt track, the sound of her laughter the only thing Sir Gilford could catch.

Adalard skittered sideways, bucked, and Sir Gilford went flying over his warhorse’s ears. Gilford landed hard and gasped for breath. His legs trembled as he stood. He pushed black hair out of his eyes, straightened his blue tunic, and re-fastened his worn leather belt on the outside. Adalard calmly chomped grass by the side of the road. Gilford gathered the reins and pulled Adalard’s head up.

“What was it this time, old boy? A butterfly? A rock?”

The horse snorted lightly in Gilford’s ear, then nibbled at his shoulder. Gilford sighed and remounted.

“Didn’t I tell you once or twice that your name means ‘nobly brave’? Weren’t you supposed to grow into your name?”

Adalard snorted and tossed his head. Gilford nudged him into a trot.

“And now where do you suppose the Lady Brianna has gotten to?”

– – –

Gilford searched the roadways and forests, all the way to the north edge of Sitwell territory without finding a sign of Lady Brianna. At mid-morning, he finally started back home.

He patted Adalard’s neck. “Well, it’s not as if she doesn’t do this to me all the time.”

A short while later Lady Brianna’s horse almost passed him as it raced toward the castle, but there was no Lady Brianna. There was only a scroll tied to the saddle with crimson and gold ribbons. Gilford caught his breath. Crimson and gold. The clan colors of the terrible Neales. His fingers shook as he untied the scroll to read it. Then the rest of him shook. Lady Brianna, beloved niece of Lord Garth, Chieftain of the Sitwell clan, had been kidnapped by the terrible Neales.

Gilford stuffed the scroll under his belt. Leaving the lady’s horse to find its own way home, he galloped hard all the way back to the castle.

 

– – –

At Wellburn Castle Lord Garth unrolled the ransom note, paled as he read it, then turned bright red. His angry bellow filled the courtyard and everyone halted their morning chores. He sputtered, shook the scroll.

“What? How did this happen? What did happen?”

He stomped toward the Great Hall. “Privy Council to the library! Immediately! I want a council meeting NOW!”

Everyone in the castle had blond hair and wore clothes of a pale shade of blue. Those few

with silver trimmed garments came running from the gardens, the keep, the parapets and even from outside the castle walls. Gilford’s shoulders drooped. Pushing his own black hair out of his dark eyes, he led Adalard off to the stables.

“I’ve done it now, old boy. I’ve lost her and I’ll never be a real part of this family.”

– – –

Inside the stable, Gilford fed Adalard and rubbed him down. Then he walked through the herb garden to the kitchen house.

Janna, the cook, glanced up from her pot over the fire. “So, you missed your breakfast again, did you?”

She was a firmly plump woman with fluffy gray hair. Her voice was gruff, but there was a soft glow in her blue Sitwell eyes as she waved Gilford toward a bench at her long work table.

Gilford sat, his head hanging. “It’s worse than that.”

He barely looked up when Janna placed bread and cheese in front of him.

“Worse than missing a meal?” She chuckled. “You haven’t missed more than a dozen meals since you first came to us more’n fifteen years ago.”

He pushed the plate aside. “I lost Lady Brianna. She escaped me on the ride this morning.”

“She escapes everybody. I don’t know why they even bother sending an escort with her.”

“But this time the Neales captured her.”

Janna sat heavily on the bench beside Gilford.

“Oh, laddie. And while you were set to guard her, too? Oh, no. What did his lordship say?”

“Nothing to me. He called for a family conference and they’re all in the library deciding what to do.”

She patted his shoulder.”Maybe they won’t be too hard on you.”

“They probably will. The Neales are asking for thirty bags of gold in ransom.”

Janna grew round-eyed and swayed in shock. “Th…thir…thir-ty bags? That will bankrupt our treasury!” She groaned. “Oh, laddie, such a trouble you’re into this time.”

“I’m not so worried about what they’ll do to me.” He looked up. “It’s the Lady Brianna I’m concerned about. How will she fare at the Neales? If they mistreat her…” He pounded a fist on the table. “I shall ride north and fight them all myself.”

“Oh, laddie…”