Alison Goodman: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

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Alison Goodman Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
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    Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
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Eon: Dragoneye Reborn: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he'll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragon-eye, the human link to an energy dragon's power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. After a dazzling sword ceremony, Eon's affinity with the twelve dragons catapults him into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where he makes a powerful enemy, Lord Ido. As tension builds and Eon's desperate lie comes to light, readers won't be able to stop turning the pages…

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'It's all right,' he said, holding his hands up. 'I just wanted to return the favour. You saved me from a sword across my back.'

He smelled of fish oil and old sweat and seaweed. I felt a memory move through my body: of holding up a heavy string of black pearl kelp, and my mother, nodding and smiling and coiling it into the basket strapped across her slight body. Then the image was gone. Too quick to hold, like all the others I had of my family

'I'm sorry, sir, you took me by surprise,' I said, tightening my arms around my chest. 'Thank you for the assistance.' Bowing politely, I stepped away from him. The shock of his grip was still on my skin.

The alley opposite was no longer empty; a group of dock boys had congregated near the far end, squatting around a game of dice. I'd have to take the long way round. As if in protest, the pain in my hip sharpened.

The seafarer stopped beside me again. 'Perhaps you will help me once more,' he said. 'Can you tell me the way to the Gate of Officials?'

There was no suspicion or puzzlement on his face, just polite enquiry I looked at the dock boys again, then back at the seafarer. He was not overly tall, but his chest and shoulders were powerful and his face was tanned into stern lines. I glanced to see if he was armed: a knife slung through his belt. It would do.

'I'm going that way myself, sir,' I said, beckoning him across the road towards the alley. It was not strictly in the direction he wanted to go, but it would still be quicker than the main streets.

He smiled and followed me.

'I am Tozay, Master Fisher of Kan Po,' he said, pausing at the mouth of the alley. He clasped his hands together and nodded — adult to child.

From my ley-line studies, I knew that Kan Po was on the coast. It had one of the most fortunate harbours in the realm, shaped like a money pouch and ringed by seven hills that trapped good luck. It was also the port access to the islands. And beyond.

'I am Eon, Dragoneye candidate.' I bowed again.

He stared down at me. 'Eon? The lame candidate?'

'Yes,' I said, keeping my face impassive.

'Well now, isn't that something.' He dipped into an 'honoured acquaintance' bow.

I nodded stupidly, unprepared for the sudden change in status.

'We've heard all about you from the news-walker,' Master Tozay said. 'He came through our town a few months back. Told us the Council had decided to let you approach the mirrors.

Did my son a lot of good to hear that. He's a year younger than you, just turned eleven. By rights, he should be fishing with me, learning his craft, but he lost an arm in a net accident last winter.' Master Tozay's broad face tightened into hollows of grief.

'That must be hard for him,' I said.

I looked down at my twisted leg — at least it was still intact. I didn't remember much about the accident that had crushed my left hip, but I did remember the physician holding a rusted saw over me, deciding where to cut. He was going to take my whole leg off, but my master stopped him and called for the bonesetter. Sometimes I could still smell the old blood and decaying flesh on the jagged teeth of the saw blade.

We started walking again. I sneaked another look at the end of the alley — the dock boys had already shifted into a watchful line. Beside me, Master Tozay stiffened as he noted the lounging gang.

'It is hard on him. On the family too,' he said, brushing his fingers across the hilt of his knife.

'Wait, I have a stone in my shoe,' he said loudly and stopped.

I turned and watched as he bent and dug a finger down the side of his worn boot.

'You're a shrewd one, aren't you,' he said, his voice low 'Well then, if you want a bodyguard, you'd better move to my other side.' The look in his eyes made the soft words a command, but he didn't seem angry I nodded and shifted to his left.

'I just hope you're not taking me too far out of my way,' he said as he straightened, keeping his eyes on the boys.

'It is a shortcut,' I said:

He glanced at me. 'More for you than for me, hey?'

'For both of us. But perhaps a little more for me.'

He grunted in amusement and placed his hand on my shoulder. 'Keep close.'

We walked towards the group, Master Tozay shortening his stride to match my slower pace.

The largest boy, thickset with the darker skin and bull-necked strength of the island people, casually kicked a cobblestone into our path. It skipped and bounced, narrowly missing my foot. His three friends laughed. They were city boys, thin and sharp, with the aimless bravado that was always in need of a leader. The island boy picked up a large stone, rubbing his thumb across its surface.

Afternoon, boys,' Master Tozay said.

The islander spat out a wad of tannin leaf, the fibrous mess landing in front of us. His movement made a pendant swing out on a thin leather cord from his clothing: a pale shell carving in the shape of bamboo branches enclosed in a circle. Master Tozay saw it too and stopped, checking me with a hand on my arm. He pushed me behind him then turned and faced the islander. The other boys nudged each other closer, keen for a show.

'You're from the south, aren't you?' Master Tozay said. 'From the far islands?'

The boy's shoulders stiffened. 'I'm from Trang Dein,' he said, lifting his chin.

I leaned to my right to get a better look at him. A year ago, the Emperor had ordered raids on the Trang Dein people as punishment for their bold independence. It was whispered in the city taverns that all the male Trang prisoners had been viciously gelded, like animals, and forced to serve on the Imperial ships. This boy was only about fifteen, but big enough to pass as a man. Was he one of the Trang cattle-men? My eyes dropped, but he wore the loose tunic and trousers of the dock labourer. I couldn't tell by just looking.

Or could I? A cattle-man's energy would be different from a whole man's energy, wouldn't it?

Maybe my new mind-sight would work on him as it had with the kitchen girl and apprentice.

The memory of watching their bright monsoon union made my skin prickle with shame, but I still narrowed my mind into the energy world. There was the same strange sensation of stepping forwards, and then light, so bright that tears came to my eyes. I couldn't separate anyone's energy: it was a roiling blurred mass of red and yellow and blue. Then, like a flickering cloud shadow, another presence. And pain, deep and low in the belly Ten times worse than the monthly pain, as though barbs were being dragged through my innards. Only a power born of evil spirits could have such agony ride with it. My mind-sight buckled. I drew in a shuddering breath as the alley twisted back into view. The pain vanished. Never again would I intrude upon such savage energies.

Beside me, I heard Master Tozay say, 'I fish the Kan Po coast. Hired a few of your people as hands on my boats. That was before the raid, of course. They were all good workers.'

The island boy nodded warily.

'The islands are quiet now,' Tozay said softly. 'Not so many soldiers in Ryoka. Some of the missing are making their way home.'

The boy let the stone drop to the ground, his hand groping for the shell carving. Holding it like a talisman, he glanced back at his friends, then faced Master Tozay and hunched his shoulders as though to separate himself from his companions.

Are you hiring now?' he asked, stumbling over the words.

'I may have a place,' Master Tozay said. 'If you're looking for honest work, then meet me at the Grey Marlin dock tomorrow. I'll wait until the noon bell.'

Master Tozay turned, herding me with his body As we walked out of the alley and into the busy Sweet-sellers Road, I looked back at the island boy. He was staring at us, oblivious to his friends, his hand clenched around the pendant.

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