The Dragon’s Eye
An Epic Progression Fantasy Series
Series: Yokai Calling #2
Published by: Dragon's Hoard
Release Date: July 16th, 2019
Contributors: Erynn Lehtonen
Lacotl’s sinister game is in full swing.
The White Warlock wants his Dragon Eye back.
Both lead to the library where long-forgotten demons dwell... but no knowledge comes for free.
Warlocks and their draconic bloodlines once controlled the sun and stars. Beneath the banner of the Dragon Goddess, they conquered Yumihari with the help of the Dragon Eyes.
Dragon Eyes have been missing since the fall of the Warlock Empire. Until Hidekazu and Masanori found one in the hands of Lacotl, the dark sorcerer responsible for kidnapping noblewomen from Tsukiko and plunging Seiryuu into his dark game.
Princess Aihi and the twins refuse to abide by his plots. But when Lacotl plays his hand and tragedy strikes the palace, the trio has no choice but to pursue the secrets of the Dragon Eyes.
In their quest to unlock the artifact’s power, the demons they face will test their friendship.
Push their abilities to the limit.
The White Warlock pursues them, hunting after his stolen Eye. They aren’t the thieves who took it.
But they are the ones who will be punished.
Jump into the world of Yumihari, a land filled with spirits, dragons, monsters, and stunning characters wielding elemental magic to save their homeland. If you love epic fight scenes, mystery and political intrigue, mythology, monsters, mayhem, and progression fantasy, you will love The Dragon’s Eye and the Yokai Calling series.
Pick up your copy of the book and experience the first part of the adventure today!
Blood painted the audience chamber’s delicate rice paper walls.
Four corpses lay in a heap near the entrance, their silken robes speckled with scarlet. The scent of burnt hair mingled with the pollution of copper and fresh death.
Blue fabric spilled around a crawling woman on the other side of the room. She inched toward the door, reaching for her escape route with trembling hands. She pressed against a maple panel and tried to stand. Her fingers left crimson smears over the watercolour dragons beneath, and the creatures snapped at her with ferocious maws, unable to break through the paper. She collapsed beneath the weight of her clothes.
“I’m sorry. P-please—” Empress Aihi started, a half-gurgled sob escaping her throat.
Masanori’s hand wrapped around her ankle and yanked.
Aihi lurched forward, her thin shoulder tearing the fragile wall. Her foot lashed blindly at her attacker, torn silk flapping around her legs. She slammed into the tatami with a hard thump, landing in a pool of red. Blood from her victims splashed into her face. Masanori pulled her across the ground and away from the former Genshu clan members. She would pay for her crimes, and the Goddess mocked them both by giving him no choice but to be the one to enact punishment.
But if he didn’t, who else would stand up to her tyranny?
“Please, Masanori. Don’t—you don’t have to do this…” Aihi’s voice shook as though she were a frightened child, but when he flipped her onto her back, her eyes betrayed her wickedness and deceit. Fake tears drenched her cheeks, mixing with her blotchy kohl, gold flakes, and speckles of blood.
“You regret nothing.” Masanori straddled her legs, locking them in place with his thighs. He gripped her wrists to keep her from pushing him off. Her crown of peacock feathers was crushed and smothered with gore, but the purple mist hovering around her face was more concerning. Tendrils wove through the bells and ribbons threaded through her long braids, veiling her in a halo of corruption. Fog spread upward to obscure the rest of the room. The rest of the blood.
Her mouth revealed a sadistic smile. “Why would I?”
“Do you have any idea how many people you hurt? How many you will hurt in the years to come, with all your plans? How many lives did you sacrifice for this game of yours? Seiryuu isn’t a Go board. The world isn’t a field for you to push game pieces around on. We’re… I’m not one of your pieces anymore.”
“You think so small, dear Masa. You always have.”
The Dragon Goddess, Shirashi, had planned Aihi’s future, the role she would play in the renewal of Seiryuu. But she and the Goddess both had betrayed Masanori. Manipulated and used him for their own devices, and his family paid the price. Lavender energy coiled around his wrists, and he waved the tendrils off. It would be so easy to wrap his hands around Aihi’s throat and end this nightmare for good. But he… she was still his sister. Even after she’d shamelessly performed so much evil.
“I’m thinking about the future of our people.” Masanori’s head spun from the thickening smoke that invaded his lungs with each breath. His vision blurred between staring into purple nothingness and at Aihi’s bloody grin beneath him.
“You don’t sound so sure of yourself.” Her lips twitched as if trying to restrain laughter. “When did you change your mind about being by my side? You could not harm me even if you wished to. You are bound by your honour. A sacred oath. Our spirits are linked, and you know what happens to those who betray a promise to the Goddess.”
Masanori flung a hand to the side, and storm-blue energy shot from his irezumi and through his fingers. Lightning tore across the room. A shard of glass flew from the floor and into his palm. “Our oaths are only sacred in the eyes of Shirashi, and you’ve forsaken her. As have I. I wonder what that means for the two of us?”
As his shaking hands squeezed the glass, steaming blood gushed between his bone-white knuckles. The voices of spirits whispered through the fog surrounding him and Aihi, their taunts urging him to finish her, to put an end to her gross abuse of power.
Fulfill your purpose.
Fulfill your Calling.
Yet still, as Masanori stared into her wide eyes, a trickle of doubt broke through the noise. What if none of this was her fault? Corruption had bested them before. Masanori had reacted on impulse, not certainty. Rage, not calculation.
“You are thinking far too much. Come now, Masa, you are not Hide. Why torture yourself like this?”
A growl escaped Masanori, and he tightened his grip on the shard. But he hesitated to finish her. Why was she so confident when she was on the floor, a shard of glass ready to plunge into her guts?
There was still a way to uncover the truth about what had happened to her before he made another mistake. He extended his senses outward, searching for Aihi’s energy. He pulled strands closer to his spirit, wrapping hers around his. She screamed the second they made contact, but he kept on, sifting through threads of power in search of a reason to let her live. She thrashed beneath him, and he put more of his weight down on her. It was like she wanted him to kill her.
Lilac spread over his arms, strands fed to Masanori from the core of Aihi’s spirit. He recoiled from the familiar dark purple—Lacotl’s mark.
The kan’thir and his game had soured her so thoroughly that her spirit was stained with his taint. Could she ever come back from that?
The answer came before the question fully formed in his mind: No, she couldn’t. They couldn’t heal the corrupted aki, and so she couldn’t heal herself, either. No one could.
This was the Goddess’ punishment for Masanori’s failures. He hung his head. He should have seen Lacotl’s hand in Aihi’s actions. He should have been the one to protect her, to stop the kan’thir’s plans from coming to fruition.
“What are you waiting for, dear Masa? I thought you were here to kill me. Or have you seen enough death today?” Aihi said. “Killing me will not bring them back.”
Masanori glanced away from her on instinct, back to the heap of bodies. His vision blurred behind the image of his family’s lifeless bodies. His mother’s face, her cheeks burned beyond recognition through Aihi’s torture. Hidekazu…
This time, when the corrupted mist curled around Masanori’s arms, he embraced the energy. A chill cracked through his ribs as the tendrils took root. Violet coils exploded through his arms and wove around his heart, tightening with each heartbeat. The darkness gave him the strength to erase its kindred, locking his morals and mind in the depths of his body. He drifted further inside himself with every pulse, and before he realized the prison he’d let himself fall in, it was too late.
Masanori pushed back against his internal gate. Foggy tendrils strangled him, squeezing out his last bits of life with each act of resistance.
Right up until the moment he became the corruption. Worse than Aihi, who was only contaminated by a single strand.
The tendrils became denser, constricting his spirit and wreathing his head, much like Aihi’s. Masanori prayed to Shirashi, not for strength and resolve or a steady hand, but to make her watch the result of her treachery. She was the reason Aihi had fallen from grace. The reason Masanori had tumbled after her.
He plunged the bloodstained shard into Aihi’s chest.
She screamed, her now freed arms flailing to push him off. Masanori did not budge. Her hand beat at him, but her wrath was but a candle beside the eternal sun smouldering within him.
Masanori withdrew the glass. This was for Hidekazu. He stabbed. For their mother.
The sharp fragment pierced her again. Scarlet drizzled from her lips.
For their father. And again. For Hana.
And again. For every other poor spirit she slew without cause.
Blood splattered Masanori’s face, gushed over his shaking hands, slicked the tatami floors. Aihi’s scream dwindled to a gurgle. A glossy sheen formed over her eyes, their light fading. Her arms fell to her sides as her muscles failed. When she released her final breath, he squeezed his eyes shut.
His palms were cut to the bone from the glass, but he only felt the thick wetness on his fingers. Aihi was dead. At last, he could put Lacotl’s corruption to bed. He could stop a thousand wars before they began. He could reverse the damage she did to Seiryuu in her short reign.
Aihi twitched, groping for his hand. Masanori flinched and opened his eyes.
“Ma… sa…” she said as a dim light sparked in her eyes and she became reanimated. “I thought… I thought I meant something to you.”
The blood soaking her skin and kimono sunk back into the gouges in her chest and stomach, the wounds stitching flesh together and closing. She was supposed to be dead. Masanori had heard her take her last breath. But she curled her fingers around the glass in his grip and tried to wrest the fragment away.
Masanori choked on a sob. His prayers for the end had failed; the Goddess still spurned him, still mocked him after all these years. Why? Why couldn’t she see this was what they all needed? Aihi would destroy Shirashi’s legacy. She would see the Warlock Empire renewed in all its bloody glory. That couldn’t happen.
He wrapped his other hand around Aihi’s and pressed the splinter back into her heart.
She gasped, convulsing. “Oh, Great Warlock, it hurts.”—Masanori twisted the glass—“It’s not t-too late…” Her head fell back. “…to stop…”
He ignored her, plunging the shard over and over. Aihi’s lips parted, and the light once again left her eyes.
Masanori wept. He wept for a thousand failures over the years. How he could have stopped this sooner, long before her death became a necessity.
“I wish… Aihi, I’m sorry, I-I’m sorry…”
He wiped his tears, replacing them with ruby stains across his cheekbones. Aihi deserved to die, had to, for the sake of Yumihari’s future. Still, he loved the memory of the woman she’d once been. His sister, not by blood, but by choice.
She remained still, but Masanori stabbed one last time. The glass slipped from his hands, splashing in the crimson puddle beside them. He shuddered as he stared at his mutilated flesh. Blood glided back into his veins, and the muscles, tendons, and skin repaired themselves.
Aihi’s blood-slick hand grabbed his wrist. His eyes snapped to meet hers as her face twisted. Lips black as coal, teeth polished to a bloody grin. Her eyes were wild, bloodshot, irises slimmed to slits.
“You are not sorry either, Masanori… you turned into a killer long ago. Or did you forget?” She laughed, maniacal, reminiscent of her kan’thir patron. “Did you forget what we made you?”
Their toxic words rang in Masanori’s ears, but he blocked them out. He only listened to the darkness in his spirit now, the corruption leaking into the depths of him. It said this needed to end. It didn’t matter how many times he had to kill her. He was stuck here until she stayed dead.
He lunged for the glass as Aihi sat up.
“You must try harder than that if you truly want to kill me, brother.”
The shard bit into his palm as he twisted and jammed the fragment into her torso again and again until he ceased to exist.
She did not bother to struggle. She would come back, after all. It would be the two of them, here, trapped in death and madness for eternity. That was what she wanted.
“He will always win…” Aihi sucked in a deep breath. “You can’t stop him.”
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