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Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

Ox Dragon

Compass: NORTH Color: Purple Dragoneye: Lord Tyron Keeper of Determination

Tiger Dragon

Compass: NORTH-NORTHEAST Color: Green Dragoneye: Lord Elgon Keeper of Courage

Rabbit Dragon

Compass: EAST-NORTHEAST Color: Pink Dragoneye: Lord Silvo Keeper of Peace

Dragon Dragon (Mirror Dragon)

Compass: EAST Color: Red Dragoneye: None — the mirror Dragon has been missing for over 500 years. Keeper of Truth

Snake Dragon

Compass: EAST-SOUTHEAST Color: Copper Dragoneye: Lord Cnion Keeper of Insight

Horse Dragon

Compass: SOUTH-SOUTHEAST Color: Orange Dragoneye: Lord Dram Keeper of Passion

Goat Dragon

Compass: SOUTH Color: Silver Dragoneye: Lord Tiro Keeper of Kindness

Monkey Dragon

Compass: SOUTH-SOUTHWEST Color: Ebony Dragoncye: Lord Jcssam Keeper of Resourcefulness

Rooster Dragon

Compass: WEST-SOUTHWEST Color: Brown Dragoneye: Lord Bono Keeper of Confidence

Dog Dragon

Compass: WEST Color: Ivory Dragoneye: Lord Garon Keeper of Honesty

Pig Dragon

Compass: WEST-NORTHWEST Color: Dove Gray Dragoneye: Lord Meram Keeper of Generosity

Rat Dragon

Compass: NORTH-NORTHWEST Color: Blue Dragoneye: Lord Ido Keeper of Ambition

FROM THE PRIMER SCROLLS OF JION TZU

No one knows how the first Dragoneyes made their dangerous bargain with the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. The few scrolls and poems that have survived the centuries start the story well after the deal was struck between man and spirit beast to protect our land. It is rumoured, however, that a black book still exists that tells of the violent beginning, and predicts a catastrophic end of the ancient alliance.

The dragons are elemental beings, able to manipulate Hua — the natural energy that exists in all things. Each dragon is aligned with one of the heavenly animals in the twelve-year cycle of power that has run in the same sequence since the beginning of time: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Each dragon is also the guardian of one of the twelve celestial directions, and a keeper of one of the Greater Virtues.

Every New Year's Day the cycle turns, the next animal year begins, and its dragon becomes ascendant, his power doubling for that twelve months. On that turn of the cycle, the ascending dragon also unites with a new apprentice to be trained in the dragon magic. As this boy steps up to his new life, the old apprentice is finally promoted to Dragoneye and into his full power.

He replaces his master, the old Dragoneye, who retires exhausted and fatally debilitated by his twenty-four- year union with the dragon. It is a brutal bargain that gives a Dragoneye enormous power — enough to move monsoons, redirect rivers and stop earthshakes. In return for such control over nature, the Dragoneye slowly gives up his Hua to his dragon.

Only those boys who can see an energy dragon can hope to be a Dragoneye candidate. It is a rare gift to be able to see the dragon of your birth year, and even rarer to see any of the other energy dragons. Every New Year, twelve boys, born twelve years before, face the ascending dragon and pray that their gift is enough for the beast. One of them is chosen, and in that moment of union — and only for that moment — all men can see the dragon in all his glory Women have no place in the world of the dragon magic. It is said they bring corruption to the art, and do not have the physical strength or depth of character needed to commune with an energy dragon. It is also thought that the female eye, too practised in gazing at itself, cannot see the truth of the energy world.

CHAPTER 1

I let the tips of both my swords dig into the sandy arena floor. It was the wrong move, but the dragging pain in my gut was pulling me into a crouch. I watched Swordmaster Ranne's bare feet shuffle forwards, rebalancing his weight for a sweep cut. Training with him always made my innards cramp with fear, but this was different. This was the bleeding pain. Had I miscounted the moon days?

'What are you doing, boy?' he said.

I looked up. Ranne was standing poised, both of his swords ready for the elegant cross cut that could have taken my head. His hands tightened around the hilts. I knew he wanted to follow through and rid the school of the cripple. But he didn't dare.

'Are you spent already?' he demanded. 'That third form was even worse than usual.'

I shook my head, gritting my teeth against another clamping pain.

'It is nothing, Swordmaster.' I carefully straightened, keeping my swords down.

Ranne relaxed his stance and stepped back. 'You're not ready for the ceremony tomorrow,' he said. 'You'll never be ready. You can't even finish the approach sequence.'

He turned in a circle, glaring at the other candidates kneeling around the edge of the practice sand. 'This sequence must be flawless if you are to approach the mirrors. Do you understand?'

'Yes, Swordmaster,' eleven voices yelled.

'Please, if you allow, I'll try again,' I said. Another cramp twisted through my body but I didn't move.

'No, Eon-jah. Get back in the circle.'

I saw a riffle of unease run through the other eleven candidates. Ranne had added jah, the old ward-evil, to my name. I bowed and crossed my swords in salute, imagining the feel of driving both blades through his chest. Behind Ranne, the huge opaque form of the Tiger Dragon uncoiled and stared at me. He always seemed to rouse with my anger. I concentrated on the Rabbit Dragon, bringing him into shimmering outline, hoping the Keeper of Peace would help calm my rage.

In the candidate circle, Dillon shifted and looked around the arena. Had he sensed the dragons? He was more aware than the other boys, but even he couldn't see an energy dragon without meditating for hours. I was the only candidate who could see all of the dragons at will, not counting the Mirror Dragon, of course, who had been lost long ago. It took all my focus to see the spirit beasts and left me weary, but it was the only thing that had made the last two years of training bearable. It was also the only reason why a cripple like me was allowed to stand as a candidate: full dragon sight was rare although, as Swordmaster Ranne like to remind me, no guarantee of success.

'Get back in the circle. Now!' Ranne yelled.

I tensed and stepped back. Too fast. The sand shifted under my bad leg, wrenching it to the right. I hit the ground, hard. One heartbeat of numbed shock then the pain came. Shoulder, hip, knee. My hip! Had I done more

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