Immediately, the heat from the large cooking stoves pressed against my skin and I smelled the sharp tang of sour plum sauce and salt-baked fish: my master's evening meal. Kuno, the cook, glanced up from the white-root he was slicing. It was according to his instructions. As part of the cleansing ritual, I was allowed only one bowl of millet gruel before praying throughout the night to my ancestors for guidance and help. A few months ago, I had asked my master whether it mattered that I had no knowledge of my ancestors. He stared at me for a moment, then turned away saying, 'It matters very much.
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Immediately, the heat from the large cooking stoves pressed against my skin and I smelled the sharp tang of sour plum sauce and salt-baked fish: my master's evening meal.
Kuno, the cook, glanced up from the white-root he was slicing. It was according to his instructions. As part of the cleansing ritual, I was allowed only one bowl of millet gruel before praying throughout the night to my ancestors for guidance and help. A few months ago, I had asked my master whether it mattered that I had no knowledge of my ancestors. He stared at me for a moment, then turned away saying, 'It matters very much.
I could only hope that old Hian's precedent for the Reverse Horse Dragon Second was in the history scrolls. And that my master could find it in time. A rasping noise rose from behind the large wooden preparation table that stood in the centre of the room.
Chart, calling me from his mat beside the stoves. Too much bad luck. I skirted around the end of the table and used its worn edge for balance as I sat on the stone floor beside Chart. He tapped my knee with a clawed finger, his lolling mouth slowly forming a smile. He nodded vigorously and opened his hand to show me a piece of dirty cheese rind.
The muscles in his throat contorted as he struggled to speak. I listened for his words in the strained, elongated sounds. Chart was always giving me food he had found. Or stolen. He was convinced that if I fed the big grey rat that lived behind the storeroom where I slept, the Rat Dragon would repay the kindness by choosing me as his apprentice.
I wasn't so sure an energy dragon would take note of such a thing, but I still gave the scraps to the rat. From beneath his body, Chart pulled out a thick slice of fine bread covered in dust. The master's bread. I glanced at Kuno; he was still bent over the white-root.
I moved to my right until I hid Chart and the bread from view. Kuno will whip you,' I whispered. I ducked my head in thanks and stuffed it into my pocket with the cheese. They want us to be hungry' I said. Chart twisted his mouth into a puzzled grimace. I shrugged. He took a deep breath and steadied his head against the side of the firewood box, fixing his eyes on mine. A new apprentice was taken straight to his Dragon Hall after the ceremony.
A new home. A new life. My scalp prickled from a sudden wave of heat and sweat; tomorrow I could be a Dragoneye apprentice. I nodded, unable to talk through the squeeze of panic in my throat. He let go of my wrist, his hand suspended in the air. Rat Dragon Hall A few months ago during training, Ranne had marched us around the Dragon Circle, the avenue of halls that ringed the outer precinct of the Imperial Palace. Each hall had been carefully built at the compass position of the dragon it honoured, and was the home and workplace of the Dragoneye and apprentice.
The Rat Dragon Hall was in the north-northwest of the Circle and, although it wasn't the biggest or the grandest, it was easily three times the size of my master's house. We were not permitted inside any of the halls, but Ranne allowed us five minutes' rest in the garden that now marked the position of the Mirror Dragon Hall. Five hundred years ago it had burned down; only the stone outline of the building remained embedded in the grass.
Dillon and I had walked its perimeter and were amazed at the number of rooms. Beside me, Chart closed his eyes, preparing for my words. The one on the right holds the Dragoneye compass in its claws, the other cradles the three sacred scrolls. As you walk past them, their stone eyes follow you. I opened my eyes. She was in the doorway, briskly brushing down her skirt.
Chart and I exchanged glances. Irsa pulled her face into a mockery of Chart's and mimicked his elongated sounds, unaware of the word within it. Chart rolled his eyes at me, his body thrashing against the floor in laughter. I grinned as Irsa backed away. She turned her attention to me. On the main viewing platform. Should I obey my master's ban on the Moon Garden, or obey his command to attend on him immediately? He would not be pleased that I was home so early Let alone the other news I had for him.
There was a saying in one of the earthier Dragoneye texts: a man on the horns of a dilemma ends up with his arse pricked. My master would find fault whether I went into the garden or I waited.
Since there was no avoiding his displeasure, I would go to him. At least I would finally see the garden that had won him such fame. He gave his slow smile.
I stepped over the threshold and out into the courtyard. To my left was the grey stone fence of the Moon Garden, its low metal gate etched with the shape of a leaping tiger. I headed towards it, the promise of my master's anger dragging at my feet. There were many ways to tell the truth — I just needed to find one that would satisfy him. All that was visible over the gateway was a black pebble path leading to an impressive stacked slate wall. Along its face a waterfall cascaded down a carefully haphazard run of ledges, pooling into a white marble bowl.
My master had designed the garden to symbolise female energy and it was said that during a full moon the garden was so beautiful it could rob a man of his essence. When I heard that, I wondered what would happen to a man robbed of his essence: would he become a woman or would he become something else?
Something like the Shadow Men of the court? Or so mething like me? There was no latch on the gate. I traced the strong lines of the tiger on the metal for luck — or maybe for protection — then pushed against it until the gate swung open. The black path was made of pebbles and seemed to move in front of me like a slow ripple of water.
As I stepped onto it, I realised why: the stones had been laid in a subtle graduation of matt to polished that caught the sunlight. On either side, a flat expanse of sand had been raked into swirling patterns. I pushed the gate shut behind me and followed the path to the waterfall wall, my uneven steps sounding like the chink of coins in a pouch.
The path diverged around the wall. I paused for a moment, listening. Underneath the sound of the waterfall splashing into the bowl was the muted hiss of more flowing water. No other sounds of physical movement. But deeper, in my mind, I felt the soft thrum of carefully contained power. I chose the left path and walked around the wall into the main garden.
It was a severe landscape: clusters of rocks on flat sand, swirling paths of black and white pebbles, and an intricate weaving of waterfalls, streams and pools that was directing the thrumming energy to the wooden viewing platform. My master was kneeling in its centre, as spare and severe as his surroundings. I lowered into a bow, watching for acknowledgement. He didn't move. And there were no signs of anger in the lean lines of his body A shadow above made me flinch.
I looked up, but there was nothing. No bird. No cloud. Only a strange, hot joy that eased the cramp in my belly and the ache in my hip. My master's body stiffened. There was still no pain. Especially not now. The energies are too strong. I hurried forwards and extended my arm, bracing myself as he leaned on me and stepped off the platform. He paused, still holding my arm.
I looked up into his gaunt face, the prominent bones made even starker by his shaved skull.
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
By Alison Goodman. Upload Sign In Join. Create a List. Download to App. Length: pages 8 hours.
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It follows the story of Eon, who has potential to become a Dragoneye, being able to control wind, water and land. However, Eon is actually a female concealed as a boy, and with females forbidden, she becomes a dangerous gamble. Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he'll be selected as apprentice to a Dragoneye. Dragoneyes are the human links to the twelve dragons of good fortune, who provide energy to the earth. However, circumstance does not favour Eon; he is a cripple and despised by the trainers and other candidates for the ceremony. They believe his disability embodies bad luck and try to distance themselves, all except a boy named Dillon who is also bullied for his small size.