Touched By Venom: Book One of the Dragon Temple Saga
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Like her half-breed mother, young Zarq Darquel can't always hold her tongue. A peasant on a large dragon estate, she goes unnoticed by the Dragon Temple-until she captures the attention of a dragonmaster. Her clan is plunged into destitution, her sister Waivia sold into slavery, and her mother lost to madness. Desperate to find Waivia, Zarq and her delirious mother flee. Zarq then develops a taste for the highly addictive venom of the dragons she has been taught to revere-and with it, she imbibes their memories and a glimpse of a plot for social revolution. But to achieve it, she must defy not just sexual taboos and patriarchal society, but the Emperor who rules her nation.
me. “Not her,” Car Manopu’s Wasaltooltic whispered, clapping a hand over my mouth to stifle my cry of relief. “Leave her sleep. Now come.” So I did. Outside, stars like flecks of fine glazed porcelain glittered upon the dark table of night. I couldn’t say the sky looked black, for it was so bright with luminescence it looked as if white slip had been gently swirled through it. Twisted Foot Ryn’s Tak, Big Grum Grum’s Li and her goiter-necked old mother, and Korshan’s Limia awaited us in the
and that which they did not eat began to rot on branch and ground. The seven thousand brooder dragons shackled in the egg stables of Clutch Re lowed in hunger from the sudden lack of fodder. Egg production dropped. The few eggs the brooders produced bore pale, watery yolks. Shells cracked easily. Roshu-Lupini Re, the esteemed warrior-lord of our Clutch, proclaimed that any clan that worked the sesal fields would be fed, housed, granted gleaning rights, and paid handsomely. Of the hundreds of
twilight. The humid air was thick with the musky smells of jungle: rotting humus, moist foliage, sweet night blooms. The scent of damp greenery was so different from the dry smells of the exposed, sunbaked Lashing Lane. We were near the eastern edge of Clutch Re, not far from our pottery clan compound. Each guild within a Clutch forms its own clan; each clan lives within the walls of its own compound. We potters of danku Re—the pottery guild clan of Clutch Re—were no different. I came to slowly,
kadoobs from the submerged garden, or to empty chamber pots into the lake of filth floating about us. To Kiz-dan, we gave the most food. She ate without hesitation or guilt, determined to keep up her milk supply for her babe. But he drank a great deal and bawled constantly for more. Too many mosquito bites peppered his body. Some of them leaked pus. We all feared for his life. It was a Wet like we’d never experienced before, a season that gave us not a day of respite, not an hour without rain.
upset through my ever more potent mixtures of venom; drinking venom full-strength now caused little discomfort. But within weeks, I became habituated to the potency of full-strength venom, craved something stronger, thought of a dragon’s tongue between my thighs and how such an invasion, upon the delicate tissues of my womb, might fulfill my need, take me to that peak that consumption of an old bull’s venom could no longer take me. And, too, I wondered what the venom of a bull in its prime might