The Story Behind Riders Of Fire by Eileen Mueller

15 Jun 2021

Hi I’m Eileen, a dragon tamer, and adventurer from New Zealand. Today I’d like to introduce you to the riders of fire, a team of talented dragon riders who protect the people of Dragons’ Realm from bands of roaming tharuks (cloned monsters). These riders are as different as their dragons—each has their own talents, strengths, and, sometimes fatal, weaknesses.

Lush Valley

Our adventure starts off in Lush Valley, a sleepy backwater hemmed in by chains of alps on three sides. Years ago, Lush Valley’s beloved settlement arbitrator, a dragon rider, was killed in battle. His death was blamed on a young mage riding a dragon, so from then on, the entire settlement shunned dragons and attacked them on sight.
No dragons have been seen in Lush Valley for over a generation. And, now, in Lush Valley it’s a crime to even talk about dragons…

Ezaara

When Ezaara, the local healer’s daughter is accosted in the marketplace and shown contraband cloth patterned with dragons, she’s terrified—and fascinated.

Old Bill leaned over the stand, his gnarled hand plucking at Ezaara’s sleeve like a roach clinging to a table cloth. “You’ll like this.” He opened his jerkin and pulled out a scrap of black cloth covered in vivid patterns. “Look.”
It was beautiful. She didn’t want anything to do with Old Bill, but she couldn’t resist. Ezaara leaned in, staring. Dragons—the swirls of color were dragons. “That’s forbidden,” she whispered.
“Go on,” he murmured, eyes glinting. “Touch it. I know you want to.” He held the cloth out.
Someone would see. Ezaara snatched it. Holding it close, she opened her palm and stroked the wing of a golden dragon, then the tail of a bronze. Set against a dark sky dotted with silver pinpoints, the beasts were beautiful. Were dragons really gold, red and bronze? Or was it only the weaver’s imagination?
“How much for this fabric with the wheat pattern?” A woman’s voice startled Ezaara.
She crumpled the cloth and thrust it into Bill’s waiting hand.
Bill tucked the scrap inside his pocket and elbowed his poor daughter, Lovina. She didn’t respond, just kept staring at her feet. “Twenty-five coppers a measure, my lady,” Bill crooned.
“Twenty-five,” the woman exclaimed. “Why, that’s preposterous! I’d only pay—”
Ezaara fled past the cobbler’s stand, pushing her way through the crowded marketplace, toward Ana’s stall. Old Bill was dangerous. If Klaus had caught her staring at dragons …. She strode past hawkers, bleating goats and littlings playing tag, swinging her basket to distract herself from her thumping heart.

Ezaara never knew dragons existed. But then she meets Zaarusha, the dragon queen…

The owl-wort vines grew among the knobby piaua roots. She parted the undergrowth and plucked a handful of leaves. Rising from a crouch, she opened her pouch.
A strange tingle ran through Ezaara, then a shadow fell over her. Something swished, a sudden breeze stirring her hair. She jerked her head up.
A dragon was circling the treetops. Ezaara recoiled in fear. With a snap of fangs or a swipe of talons, it could kill her. The owl-wort fell from her shaking hands. She tensed to flee.
But hesitated.
Sunlight played across the dragon’s iridescent scales, making them shimmer. Its graceful wings swished ever closer, rippling with color. This beast was beautiful—beautiful, but deadly. She had to escape. But the tingling grew stronger. The amazing creature circled down toward her. Foliage rustled in the downdraught from the dragon’s wingbeats.
A voice hummed in her mind. “Ezaara,” it crooned.
This creature could talk to her?
She held her breath, drawn to the dragon. Rich colors cascaded through her mind. Sunshine poured into her soul. Ezaara wanted to soar. She glimpsed a vision—her riding the dragon, flying above the forest, over the Grande Alps and into the blue.
“This is your destiny, to ride with me.”
Warning cries reached her—villagers. If only they knew this dragon, they wouldn’t be afraid.
The dragon’s hum built to a roar inside her. It dived.
Familiar faces shot into her mind. Her family! She couldn’t leave them.
Ezaara’s love for her family was swept aside as energy rushed through her. She was enveloped in a prism of rainbow-colored light, like reflections in a dewdrop. Music from the purest flute filled her heart. For the first time in her life, she felt whole. The energy coiled inside her and she sprang, lifted by the wind, hair streaming out behind her. In a flash of color, the dragon’s scales were beneath her. Ezaara landed on a saddle in a hollow between its wings. She wrapped her arms around the dragon’s spinal ridge, hugging it tight.
It felt so right.
The dragon regarded her with yellow eyes. Ezaara could’ve sworn it was smiling. “I am Zaarusha. You were born to be my rider,” it thrummed. The beast turned. Its belly rumbled and flames shot from its maw.
They flew off, leaving her home and loved ones behind.

Tomaaz

Unfortunately, her departure throws her family into strife. Tomaaz never wanted to be a hero… Now his twin sister’s disappeared, his Pa’s imprisoned and his village is under attack, so he has no choice. Except who to save first.

“What’s going on?” Tomaaz’s voice cracked.
“We’ll explain later, Tomaaz.” Pa’s green eyes were intense. “Don’t mention Ezaara.”
Tomaaz’s throat felt raw, his chest tight. A dragon had stolen his sister, and he was supposed to do nothing? He clutched his sword hilt.
Klaus burst into the clearing, a pitchfork in his hand. “Hans, did you see the dragon? Where is it now?”
“There.” Pa pointed at a smudge flying toward the Western Grande Alps.
“It’s gone,” said Klaus, shading his eyes to see the disappearing beast. “What was the damage? What did it take? Are our children safe?”
“No damage,” Pa replied quietly.
How could he be so calm?
“Tomaaz and I were bathing when we saw the dragon fly over the valley …” Pa’s voice trailed off.
He was acting a part—acting, when Ezaara was gone. Tomaaz clenched and unclenched his fist.
“I saw it swoop,” cried one man, waving a pike.
“Perhaps it took a deer from the forest,” Pa said.
“It was pretty,” murmured a littling.
Voices babbled. No one had seen it take Ezaara.
Eventually, folk turned back toward their homes, walking together, discussing stories of dragons. Pa and Ma chatted as if they hadn’t a care. Tight-lipped, Klaus walked with them.
Tomaaz’s world had turned upside down. His twin sister was gone. Gone. And his parents were hiding something.

Dragons’ Hold

Zaarusha, the dragon queen, whisks Ezaara off to Dragons’ Hold, a secret stronghold among Dragon’s Teeth, the alps that ring the verdant basin where dragon riders train. There, she meets Master Roberto, her trainer. Rumors say she’d be better off with the enemy.

Dragon Master Roberto

Roberto must train the new ignorant Queen’s Rider — without revealing the dark secrets he learned at the hands of the enemy, Commander Zens, whose army of cloned tharuks are marching through Dragons’ Realm, enslaving and killing innocents.

Roberto strode down the tunnel that connected the council chambers to his cavern, the thud of his boots echoing off the stone walls. As he rounded a corner, a familiar figure detached itself from the shadows.
Adelina’s smiling face made the torchlight brighter—a welcome face after the council’s bickering. “Are you all right?” She hugged him.
There were days, like today, when his sister was the only thing that kept him sane. “I’m fine. Just the usual—more arguing.” They walked along the tunnel toward her cavern.
“I’m surprised you didn’t enjoy it.” She mock-punched his arm, grinning. “I thought you liked arguing. Well, you do with me.”
Despite his mood, Roberto managed a weak chuckle.
She arched her eyebrows. “What was it this time?”
“Apparently, Handel has had word from Zaarusha that she’s imprinted with the new Queen’s Rider.”
Her sharp intake of breath betrayed her. “Oh? Has she? I—”
Oh, shards! “Adelina.” His voice softened. “We already knew it wasn’t you.”
She swallowed. “I know. But I still held hope.” She gave him a too-bright smile. “It’s great news. It’s been eighteen years since Zaarusha had a rider. So, why were the council arguing?”
“Because her rider was found in Lush Valley, of all places.”
Adelina rolled her eyes. “Really?”
Roberto rubbed the back of his neck, trying to dislodge the tension that had been building all night. “It’ll be some ignorant, backward clod, terrified of dragons.”
“From a superstitious backwater, dealing with the likes of Lars and Tonio.” She shook her head. “And leading the council without knowing the politics here.”
Exactly what he’d been thinking. “Tharuks haven’t even made it to Lush Valley. How could someone with no fighting or combat experience lead us in war? What was Zaarusha thinking?”
“Maybe she was desperate for a rider after so many years alone.” Again, hurt flashed on Adelina’s face before she forced another smile. “It’s not our problem. Everything will work out.”
Typical. She was already looking on the good side again. No wonder she kept him balanced. Stopping outside Adelina’s cavern, Roberto faced her. “It is my problem. I’ve been given the honor of training the new Queen’s Rider.” More of a burden than an honor.
Her eyebrows shot up. “Why?”
“Handel decided, for some unknown reason, and Lars and the council have ratified it, so the decision is binding. Zaarusha will be here tonight.”
She grimaced.
The unspoken words hung between them. He’d have to use his talents. “I’ll be fine.” He had to be. Roberto squeezed her shoulder, then strode down the tunnel toward his quarters.
Huh! An ignorant settler from Lush Valley could be a traitor or a spy—someone Zens had turned without the queen or her rider knowing it. His job was to test this new rider, despite the memories that haunted him each time he had to perform his duty. He’d need to be thorough—for the realm, for Zaarusha. If there was the faintest hint that the Queen’s Rider wasn’t fit, Zaarusha would be seeking another.

I hope you enjoyed this taste of Riders of Fire. If you take flight on your dragon and join us in the skies, you’re in for a treat, as my readers can testify. With an endearing cast bigger than you can count on your fingers and toes, and details that leap off the page to transport you to Dragons’ Realm, you’ll stay up way past your bedtime enjoying these adrenaline-fueled adventures.

Eileen Mueller is the author of the new book Riders Of Fire Complete Box Set

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