Read Crown of Dreams Online

Authors: Katherine Roberts

Crown of Dreams

P
RAISE FOR THE
P
ENDRAGON
L
EGACY SERIES
:

 


Sword of Light
weaves Arthurian legend, Celtic myth and imagination into a romping tale. Rhianna has you on her side long before she rides into battle brandishing Excalibur.’
The Times

 

‘There is magic at work here as strong as Merlin’s.’
Mary Hoff man, author of
David

 

‘… a treat for all lovers of adventure and fantasy.’
Carousel

 

‘It’s fantastic, so accessible… I loved it!’
The Bookette

 

‘A cracking page-turning adventure… Utterly gripping.’
Lovereading4kids

 

‘This is a wonderful, magical, mythical, historical adventure. I loved Rhianna as a feisty tomboyish heroine (think Katniss on a magic horse).’
Books, Bonnets and Full-Frontal Blogging

 

‘This series should bring the Arthurian legends alive
for a new audience.’
The Bookseller

For my father

A
LBA
– Rhianna’s mist horse, a white mare from Avalon.

A
RIANRHOD
– Rhianna’s maid, ex-maid of Morgan Le Fay. Her cheek bears a scar in the shape of a pentacle.

C
AI
– young squire at Camelot who becomes Rhianna’s champion.

C
HIEF
C
YNRIC
– leader of the Saxons.

E
LPHIN
– Prince of Avalon and only son of Lord Avallach.

E
VENSTAR
– Elphin’s mist horse, a white stallion from Avalon.

G
ARETH
– older squire, Cai’s rival.

K
ING
A
RTHUR
– king of Britain. His ghost appears to Rhianna while his body sleeps in Avalon awaiting rebirth.

L
ADY
I
SABEL
– lady in charge of the damsels at Camelot.

L
ORD
A
VALLACH
– Lord of Avalon and Elphin’s father. Leader of the Wild Hunt.

M
ERLIN
– King Arthur’s druid. Morgan Le Fay drowned his man’s body but his spirit lives in the body of a merlin falcon. He can still work magic.

M
ORDRED
– Rhianna’s cousin and rival for the throne; the son of Morgan Le Fay.

M
ORGAN
L
E
F
AY
– Mordred’s mother, and Arthur’s sister, a witch. Now dead, her spirit advises Mordred from Annwn.

N
IMUE
– the Lady of the Lake, who took King Arthur’s sword Excalibur after Arthur’s death and gave it to Rhianna.

Q
UEEN
G
UINEVERE
– Rhianna’s mother.

R
HIANNA
P
ENDRAGON
– daughter of King Arthur, raised in Avalon.

S
ANDY
– Cai’s pony, rescued from the Saxons.

S
IR
A
GRAVAINE
– grumpy older knight.

S
IR
B
EDIVERE
– a young knight, also known as ‘Soft Hands’ because of his gentle nature.

S
IR
B
ORS
– leader of King Arthur’s knights.

S
IR
L
ANCELOT
– Arthur’s champion knight, whose love for Queen Guinevere caused him to break the Lance of Truth when he fought against his king.

T
HE
S
HADRAKE
– a dragon from Annwn, breathes ice instead of fire and hunts between worlds.

U
THER
P
ENDRAGON
– father of King Arthur and Morgan Le Fay. Now dead, his spirit lives in Annwn.

 

 

Four lights stand against the dark:

The Sword Excalibur that was
forged in Avalon,

The Lance of Truth made by the
hands of men,

The Crown of Dreams, which hides
the jewel of Annwn,

And the Grail said to hold all the
stars in heaven.

M
ordred reined in his horse and eyed the cave behind the waterfall. A strange green glow came out of it, lighting up the valley. Water dripped from the trees, from his cloak and off the end of his nose. Why did dragons have to make their lairs in a land where it rained all the time?

“So what are you waiting for?” he snapped. “This must be it. Go in there and bring me King Arthur's crown.”

His bloodbeards looked at each other uneasily. Seeing Mordred clench his fist, their captain drew his sword and rode
reluctantly towards the wall of green water. His horse rolled its eyes and dug in its hooves.

“I think the horses can smell the dr-dragon, Master,” he stammered.

“Nonsense!” Mordred said. “The shadrake's forgotten we were supposed to be following it. You all saw it fly off. If it had stuck around, we might have found this godforsaken place sooner.”

“Horses sense more than men, Master,” the captain pointed out, glancing nervously at the sky.

“Go in on foot, then!” Mordred used his good leg to kick the bloodbeard off his horse. “You can still run if you need to, unlike me. We'll wait out here in case the shadrake comes back.”

The captain shuddered. But he knew
better than to argue with his master. Gripping his sword, he vanished into the hillside. Shortly afterwards they heard a muffled yell, followed by the rattle of falling debris. The water glittered eerily green, spooking the horses again. The men paled and crossed themselves.

“Oh, for Annwn's sake!” Mordred snapped. “Do I have to do everything myself? Leave your horses out here and follow me.”

His stallion snorted at the water, but stopped playing up when Mordred growled at it. He ducked over the horse's neck to avoid the spray. Its hooves echoed inside the rocky tunnel, which sloped downwards and burrowed deep into the hillside. At every turn, the eerie green glow brightened.

Sweat bathed Mordred as he remembered
his underground sickbed, where he'd almost died after his uncle, Arthur Pendragon, wounded him with Excalibur during their final battle. But that had been a whole year ago. King Arthur was dead. The Sword of Light was in the hands of Arthur's daughter, who was afraid to blood the blade in case it stopped her taking the sword back to Avalon, where it would help bring her father back to life. Mordred had no such worries. As soon as he got hold of his uncle's crown, he'd ride to Camelot and blood his blade as many times as was necessary to claim the throne.

They emerged in a vast cavern, which stank of dragon. Jewelled daggers, rusty swords and dented shields were piled around the walls, along with what looked suspiciously like human bones. One of the piles had
avalanched, and his bloodbeard captain lay groaning underneath it. His men hurried over to help.

“Leave him,” Mordred snapped, seeing that the man was still breathing. “Find the crown, you fools! Quickly, before the shadrake comes back.”

While his men searched through the dragon's hoard, Mordred rode his horse slowly around the cavern, prodding at the treasure with his spear. “Where is it, Mother?” he whispered.

“Here, my son,” whispered a woman's voice from the shadows.

Mordred froze. His mother's spirit lived in the underworld of Annwn now, and until today he'd always needed her dark mirror to speak to her. “Where?” he said warily.

“Right under your feet, you foolish boy,” the witch hissed. “What do you think is making the light in here?”

Mordred's horse stopped dead and threw up its head, banging him on the nose. He looked down and sucked in his breath.

His mother's body lay half buried under the treasure, her dress torn and stained. A crown encircled her dark hair, glittering with coloured jewels. As his horse's hooves dislodged the pile, he saw that one of these – a large green stone at her forehead – was glowing eerily. There wasn't a mark on her, and for a wild moment he thought she wasn't dead.

Then he saw her spirit rippling in the green light.
Dark magic
.

His gaze fastened greedily on the crown.
He slid clumsily out of his saddle and fell to his knees beside her. He tugged at her dress with his left hand, pushing the dragon's treasure off her body with the stump of his right wrist. “Help me, then!” he yelled at his bloodbeards.

They came running.

“Morgan Le Fay!” the captain breathed, still looking a bit dazed. “So this is where she ended up. I always wondered how she died.”

“That dragon must've killed her,” said one of the others, looking nervously at the tunnel behind them.

“Don't be stupid,” Mordred snapped. “My mother's a powerful enchantress. She controlled the shadrake. It led us here, didn't it?”

Before his bloodbeards could point
out that the creature had abandoned them halfway to Dragonland, he reached for the crown. It was stuck, so he had to brace his good leg against the rock and pull. The crown came free with a sudden jerk, leaving a line of charred blisters across his mother's forehead, and rolled across the cave.

Mordred scrambled after it, picked it up and examined it carefully. Some of the jewels were missing, but it was definitely the same crown his Uncle Arthur had worn in their final battle. Triumph filled him. He ran a finger over the dent his axe had made when he'd split the king's helmet from his head, and smiled at the memory.

“Behold the Crown of Dreams!” he announced, showing it to his men. “You see before you one of the four ancient Lights,
with more power than Excalibur, and twice as much magic as that useless Lance my cousin stupidly gave to her squire friend! This crown belonged to my Uncle Arthur and gave him the power to command men and dragons, and now it's
mine
…” He lifted the glowing circlet above his head.

“Careful, my son!” said his mother in a tone that sent a chill down his spine. “Don't put it on yet.”

Mordred scowled as his triumph evaporated. “Why not? I thought that was the whole idea. I've got Pendragon blood, so it won't harm me.”

“I've got Pendragon blood too, foolish boy, and it
killed
me.”

He lowered the crown and glanced uneasily at his mother's body, which had
begun to blacken and shrivel. “How?” he whispered. “How did it kill you?”

“I was careless. There's a jewel missing. I assumed it was a minor one, knocked out during the battle. But it's one of the magic stones, the one Arthur stored his secrets inside when he sat on the throne of Camelot. You've got to find that jewel and destroy it before the Crown of Dreams will accept you as the next Pendragon.”

Mordred looked at the piles of treasure in despair. Find a single jewel among this lot? Worse, what if the stupid dragon had lost the stone on its way here, carrying the crown from the battlefield? It could be lying at the bottom of the Summer Sea.

“We'll be searching all year!”

“No you won't,” the witch said. “Because
the stone's not lost. If my ex-maid's information is right, it's still at Camelot. Arthur must have taken it out before the battle as a precaution. He left it with Guinevere, and now your cousin has it.”


Rhianna
!” Mordred clenched his fist in rage. He might have known King Arthur's daughter would stand in his way again. “We have to get it from her,” he growled. “I need to raise another army.”

“You don't need an army to catch a fly.” His mother smiled. “Not even one that stings like your cousin. My ex-maid still has my mirror, so I can control her. This is what we'll do…”

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