The Dragon and the Dark Knight

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The Dragon and the Dark Knight

Non-Holiday Romances

In the days of knights, ladies, and dragons...

The Bar Sinister and a Damsel in Distress

Base-born Sir Kenrick of Rathbourne has earned his living as an itinerant tournament knight. His skill supports him and his squire, but his dream of a manor and wife and family seems impossibly distant. Then he hears of a wealthy baron in Cornwall who is looking for a champion to slay the dragon that is terrorizing his lands. The reward will be a manor by the sea. Kenrick believes dragons are only a legend—but the prize makes the story worth investigating.

But there really is a dragon—and a dozen knights have failed to vanquish it. And when he finds a luminous lady in distress, the real challenge is protecting her and her dragon…

The Dragon and the Dark Knight novella was originally published in the Dragon Lovers anthology.

In Mary Jo Putney's exquisitely crafted and deliciously witty The Dragon and the Dark Knight, freelance knight Kenrick of Rathbourne is hired to slay a dragon but changes his mind after meeting the mysterious Lady Ariane.

~Booklist

What a marvelous presentation of romantical dragons, showing off for the ladies, or man of their choice, happenstance or traditional. Very, very good collection for all hungry draconaphiles, aka dragonlovers. Well written, stylish and above all inventive. Dragon Lovers is sure to please readers of all ages.

~Anne McCaffrey

Mary Jo Putney’s story starts out as a classic but develops a twist that startles and delights.

~M. D. Benoit

Excerpt: Kenrick has taken on the challenge of fighting the dragon, so he goes to scout Dragon Island, said to be the beast's lair. There he comes on bandits attempting to assault a young woman. A true knight, he immediately goes to her aid, successfully taking on four villains at once. And then…:

Gurgling blood, the bandit fell forward, then pitched sideways over the cliff. There were dull thumps as he struck rocky outcroppings on the way down. Finally, a distant splash. He would ravish no more maidens.

Dizzy and acutely aware of every blow he’d suffered, Kenrick staggered to his feet and crossed the meadow toward the unconscious girl. As he approached, her eyes opened and she pushed herself to a sitting position. Blessed be, she had survived the assault. Her plain, grass-stained gown was that of a village girl, but the wildly tangled red-gold hair that fell over her face would have won acclaim at the king’s court.

As she flinched away from him, he said, “Demoiselle, you are safe now. Were you injured?”

She looked up, and he gasped as their gazes met. The girl was stunning, her features exquisite despite the bruises on her face. Her eyes were an amazing shade that shimmered between green and blue gray, as mysterious as the sea.

And her figure! The ripping of her gown showed more than a gentleman should see. Kenrick knew he should look away, and couldn’t.

The girl’s gaze moved to the bodies of the bandits. “I…I am not seriously harmed, Sir Knight.” She touched the bruise on her cheek, wincing. “I owe you great thanks.” Her speech was surprisingly genteel, and she used proper English, not Cornish.

She was about to say more when a shadow fell across them both. That hard, menacing shape was no cloud. Kenrick jerked his head up and saw a great silvery dragon swooping down toward him, claws extended.

The girl screamed, “No!” and scrambled to her feet frantically.

Summoning the last shreds of his strength, Kenrick raised his bloody sword. He had never imagined how huge, how powerful, a dragon might be. The wings filled the sky. Despite their vastness, it was hard to imagine how they supported that massive, silver scaled body. No wonder a dozen other knights had died here! No man could defeat such a creature.

Now he would be unlucky thirteen, but maybe the girl could be saved. “Get back!” he called to her. “I shall hold him off as long as I can!”

The dragon breathed out a stream of fire. Though it wasn’t aimed directly at Kenrick, he was unable to control his instinctive jerk away from the blistering flames. With horror, he found himself teetering on the edge of the cliff. He scrambled to regain his balance, stabbing his sword into the turf to stabilize himself.

Then a blast of wind from the dragon’s wings struck and knocked him from his feet. Slowly, inexorably, he tumbled over the cliff. For an instant he was falling free, too stunned for fear. Better to die this way than burned alive!

He slammed into a stone ledge that broke bones before he ricocheted into space again. His last conscious thought was hope that the girl might survive….