🌟 Please join me in welcoming author Nina R. Schluntz to Stories That Make You Smile. Nina is here today celebrating her wonderful fantasy stories in The Enukara Series. Pull up a chair and join us as she discusses the evolution of her series. 🌟
The Enukara Series
Author: Nina R. Schluntz Cover Artist (books 1, 2 & 3): Nakarin Sukontakorn Cover Artist (books 4 & 5): John Molinero Genre: M/M Fantasy Romance
A simple act of kindness from a human toward a dragon triggered the Enukara–giving the human the ability to heal the wounds of others. The dragon bonded to him was granted immortality. The price for this gift was simple. The dragon’s life was bound to the human.
The greed of dragons and humans was underestimated. For if an Enukara’s life was taken by another, they would inherit the immortality blessed to the dragon. Both human and dragon could steal this gift. The slaughter of all Enukaras quickly ensued, until one dragon killed his own Enukara.
The power he inherited was unfathomable. He hunted and killed every immortal who had slain an Enukara. A new Enukara emerges who challenges the mindset of the immortal dragon and the Enukara hopes to alter the fate of humanity, by showing the dragon how to love once again.
Zackariah created an Enukara back when they were being made every day, and murdered hours later. Despite the odds, he managed to keep his alive long enough to understand how compassionate humans can be. Decades later, he meets his Enukara’s son, Jonas, and finds that he is now an Enukara. Zackariah must decide if he will tell him the truth behind his mother’s death, even if it risks the relationship forming between them.
Jonas knows Zackariah murdered his mother. He can accept this, but not the swirling lies around the reason why he did it. If he makes the same error it will lead to not only his death, but the death of all the Enukaras, present and future.
The initial dragon invasion force came to collect and befriend the humans of Earth. Immortal by birthright, this first generation of dragons peacefully coexisted with humans for decades until reaching maturity. By mating with humans, a second generation was created, a solider force with one mindset, to decrease the population on Earth.
The current dragons populating the Earth have the ability to create healers known as Enukaras. The surviving first generation live in isolation. Jeremiah, an operative from a first generation colony, is sent out to investigate rumors of a woman pregnant with a dragon. His encounter with the dragon king, Zackariah, leads to an immediate infatuation.
Jeremiah’s attempts to secretly prevent the unborn child’s birth while seducing the dragon king quickly escalates tension between his people and those that follow the dragon king.
Jeremiah must work with the dragon king’s other lover, an Enukara, to prevent a second dragon war.
Meant to bring harmony to the Earth after years of turmoil from the dragon invasion, Elemental Dragons emerge and seek their human counterparts—Dragon Mages.
Deemed a threat to all current social orders and leaders, some seek to prevent the Elemental Dragons from finding their mages and attaining their true powers. Others offer a recruitment program, wanting to capitalize on their abilities.
Xander has spent most of his life loyal to the dragon king, who adopted him as a hatchling. Upon his encounter with a human who can become his Dragon Mage, he feels his first independent desires and his loyalties are tested.
Kaylee never knew her background, or that much about dragons. Finding herself with a bloodline capable of making her into a powerful mage, she must decide which Elemental Dragon she desires to bond with, and which leader she wishes to align with.
The second generation of dragons, known for being a unified force of soldiers, have never grown to adulthood. Until now. Destiny is the first to reach maturity. Nurtured by the dragon king’s closest allies, she has become more than a killer—she wants to belong. But she doesn’t fit with any of the dragons or the humans.
As her first breeding day arrives, she must choose a mate. Her choice could deter a war, or led to the end of the dragon king’s reign.
The problem is, only one person knows how much is at stake, Jeremiah, whose drug abuse has left him barely functional. As Jeremiah’s life spirals, he realizes the end of all dragons hinges on his ability to stay sober enough to save the dragon king from his untimely destiny.
Seven hundred years after the initial dragon invasion, the world is now controlled by humans. Dragons have devolved into animals. They’ve lost their ability to shift into humans and with it, their intelligence. Humans enslave them like the animals they are, using them to power factories and in some countries, even eat and skin.
Brothers, Ellis and Wyatt believe the dragons have more potential than humankind give them. When they discover an escaped dragon in their barn, they know she’ll be killed if returned to her owners. They decide to take matters into their own hands and ask a drifter they met at a bar for help. He’s rumored to be a dragon whisperer and might just be the one to help the dragons rediscover who they are.
The world seemed to explode. No, not the world, just my part of it, Gloria thought. She was sitting in her lounge chair after a hard day of work. Gloria worked in the processing plant for the wool, washing it, and cleaning all the gunk out before it was spun into spools. The blisters on her feet had just started to feel better as she soaked them in a salt bath while resting. She lowered her book slowly, not even having flinched at the disaster before her.
Something large and gray had bashed into the side of her house. Did they hit my house with one of the cannonballs?
Her church friends had told her she shouldn’t take a house near the front of the dome, but the rent had been cheaper and she was on a fixed income. She’d been hoping to get a roommate soon, but thus far no luck. Which meant, the cheap front side houses were for her.
The silver form shifted, replaced by a man. A jolt of adrenaline ran up Gloria’s spine. A dragon. A blasted dragon had busted into her home. She shoved her footbath to the side and pushed herself up. She’d admit she’d put on a few extra pounds, or fifty, over the years. She knew it contributed to her foot problems, but she enjoyed chocolate a bit too much and broccoli not enough.
She reached to put her book on the side table but found it had been knocked over. Gloria shrugged and dropped the book to the floor. She walked, refusing to admit it might have resembled a waddle, over to the groaning man on her floor.
She picked up an aluminum baseball bat, cause a girl needs to be able to protect themselves when living alone. The man had more metal in his face than the dome did scaffolding. She’d never understand why the dragons loved metal so much. Greedy little buggers.
He opened his eyes. They were a light gray, nearly white. His pupils went from looking human to lizard-like as it shrunk to small vertical slivers. She raised the bat and slammed it upside the beast-man’s head.
8 8 8
Devon couldn’t take his eyes away from the smoldering dragon in front of him. A loud whine came from his right. The furry hound appeared like an angel, a loop of rope held in his jaws. One of the guards must have given it to him and sent Bo back to help Devon.
Devon grabbed the rope and tied it around his trapped ewe’s middle. He warily glanced peeks at the red dragon glaring at him though the netting that didn’t seem to be nearly strong enough in Devon’s mind.
Then the beast changed. One moment there was an intimidating dragon staring at him with demon eyes, the next a muscular man with tan skin and dark hair gazed at him. Devon had known the dragons could morph into a human form but he’d never witnessed it. How the beast was clothed in cutoff shorts baffled Devon, but he was grateful he wasn’t now looking at a nude man.
“Hello human,” the former red dragon said. “Why don’t you do me a favor and remove this netting so I may enjoy your sheep?”
“Never.” It took a moment before Devon realized he had been the one to speak.
“Are you refusing to do me a kindness, human? Do you not want to become my Enukara?” The man’s voice was teasing and even in his human form his build was intimidating. Devon realized he was shaking and forced himself to stop. He looked away from the dragon and concentrated on tying the knot on the rope. He took two steps and pulled the ewe with him.
“Never, dragon,” Devon muttered. The dragon gave a hearty laugh. Devon reached the edge of the pit and the ewe found her footing. She pulled herself onto steady ground and Devon hurried to remove the rope. Now he could herd the flock into the chamber around the perimeter and use it to escort them to the safety of the barn.
“Stupid human,” the dragon said. He stepped away from the net and transformed back into his dragon form with the same ease as before. He threw his body against the mesh netting, despite the pain the aluminum coating had to cause.
The net held, but Devon knew it wouldn’t last. He heard some of the guards shouting and the sprinklers overhead activated. The dragon roared and swirls of steam rose from his hide as the water hit him. Devon slapped the rears of the closest sheep and Bo nipped at their heels to get them all moving. The men on the scaffolding opened a gate and the sheep entered the corridor that ran the perimeter of the dome. Devon watched as each animal went through. He waited, planning to enter last. One lamb darted through and ran in tight circles as if confused. Devon reached to tug the lamb in the proper direction and the lamb sprinted the wrong way.
The enraged dragon stopped thrashing at the netting and dashed after the lamb, who headed for an area where there were no archers. The dragon reached the lamb and slammed into the inner wall. The impact dented the beams, causing no real damage but sending the lamb into a spiral of circles as it trembled. The triangles forming the outer wall were larger and the lamb darted between them.
My lamb, well, actually it wasn’t a lamb from his flock, but still, Devon felt responsible for it. He couldn’t leave the lamb to survive on its own outside. He ran through the corridor toward the last place he’d seen the lamb. Bo ran at his side. Perhaps the dog felt a sense of loyalty too.
The dragon shook its head, sending sprays of water through the inner wall and onto Devon. The water was hot, but not hot enough to burn. The water should have been cold. He gave the dragon a wary glance. Had its flesh actually managed to heat the water? He wiped the droplets from his face and crouched at the gap. He glimpsed the white figure of his sheep sprint into the wooded area next to the dome.
The guards opened the large gate at the front of the dome so the dragons, if they chose, could leave. The red dragon gave a final roar of protest before he turned to go through the open gate. Two other dragons followed him, their forms blurred from Devon’s view by the pouring rain. Devon tried to recall if all the dragons were accounted for. Hadn’t there originally been five?
He heard the lamb bleating from outside. No one else would reach him in time to help with the search. He was racing against dragons. Bo gave a sharp bark, as if wondering why Devon hesitated.
Devon dropped to the ground and slipped through one of the larger triangles. He ran in the direction he’d seen the lamb go.
8 8 8
Mitchem’s head throbbed. His eyes opened a small sliver. His muscles tensed with panic as he looked around the human shack. He jerked upright and flinched at the pain still burning his flesh from the arrows that had cut him.
“Don’t be moving or I’ll hit you again,” a feminine voice said. Mitchem touched his forehead tentatively and gazed up at the woman. The human woman.
She was exactly what he expected a human to look like—fat. Humans were the most gluttonous and unfit species on the planet, in his opinion. Deep lines creased her face and she held the bat with an iron grip as she stared him down. He’d never been this close to a human before, but he certainly hadn’t expected the encounter to go like this. Shouldn’t she be fearing him? Wait, did she say hit him again?
“This was an accident,” Mitchem said, uncertain what to expect from her. Was the weapon laced with—no, it was made of aluminum. He would recognize the gleam from its surface anywhere. He sometimes harvested it in the mines he worked.
“Don’t you speak to me with that tone. I will not be charmed by a dragon!” She swung the bat wildly, but came no closer. “Leave my house.”
“Nothing would please me more,” Mitchem said. He moved to the large hole in her wall.
“Wait,” she said. “What of my house? You owe me for damages.”
His jaw dropped. Was there no limit to a human’s greed and sense of entitlement?
“Your people shot me. I only hit your house because of them. Seek your blood money from them.”
“The funds to repair it would barely be noticed as missing from your horde.”
“Not every dragon has a large treasure room. Does every human have the same luxuries?” Mitchem asked. She narrowed her eyes.
“You expect me to believe you’re poor? That a poor dragon hit my house? Do you think me daft?”
“You think I would claim poverty if I weren’t poor?” Dragons were proud, painfully so. Admitting his inability to pay for her house was not something he did lightly.
“If it would save you a few pennies, yes.”
“Pennies?” Mitchem’s forehead creased in confusion at her strange word.
“Oh, just go, stupid, broke, clumsy dragon.” She twirled the bat in circles.
“Gladly.” He bit back any argument at her unkind words. He just wanted to vacate her presence. He turned to the wall and gripped the damaged woodwork with his hands. He prepared to morph upon his jump when he saw the downpour. He couldn’t believe the odds. He looked up and saw the water spraying from sprinklers. So they’d used that to get the last of the dragons to leave. He searched the dome but didn’t see any of his comrades.
“Is the mighty dragon afraid to get wet?”
“We cannot fly in rain,” Mitchem said. Or breathe fire, but he wasn’t wet yet, so if she didn’t tone back the mockery—
“So you’ll be walking home. You’d better get started.” She crossed her arms and stuck her chest out. He hadn’t thought it possible, but she looked even larger now. Her folds of fat bulged from her nightgown in sync with her breathing.
“Allow me to clarify, once wet I cannot fly until I am dry. So yes, I shall indeed be walking home. A very long walk.” He stared into her green eyes. She boldly stared back. He wanted to ask her for something to shield him from the water.
“Are you trying to trick me into doing you a favor?”
“Never,” Mitchem said. He smiled all the same, hoping that human females found him as attractive as female dragons. Not that his current courtship supported that theory.
She rolled her eyes. “I’ll not stop you if you happen to steal my overcoat from that hook there.”
He nearly expressed his gratitude, but bit the comment back. He snatched the four sizes too big coat and pulled the hood over his head. He moved back to the opening in her wall.
“Don’t go out the hole. Use the ladder out front. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself.”
He moved forward anyway, ignoring her. He was too distracted by the rain to listen to her footsteps. Her fingers pulled at his arm to stop him.
Her touch sent a ripple through his body. “Don’t touch—” White light filled his vision as a new energy filled him. An energy of eternal life.
His heart stopped. His life as a dragon ended. The next beat of his heart was in line with hers. It would only beat so long as hers did. He staggered back from her. Her eyes were wide as she stared at him. She inhaled sharply and he reflexively did the same.
Mitchem gave his head a small shake in denial, but he couldn’t help noticing how his chest rose in perfect unison with hers. Her lips parted but he turned from her, refusing to hear the words. He leapt from the house and into the rain.
Enukara–pronounced Eee knock ah Ra. I’m not sure where the name came from. I just wanted something unique that wasn’t a real word. I wanted it to sound foreign because it is a word the invading aliens who came from space used. They came to earth searching for an Enukara, which is a human who can give them immortal life. The series ends with the dragons finding a way to peacefully coexist with humans as equals, no one is immortal or dominant over another.
In regards to book inspiration, I read some other novels about shape shifting dragons, regular man-woman romances. Two things struck me as missing from this genre. One, none were set in the modern day. And second, nearly all shape shifting books are eroticas, which limits the audience. My initial goal with the series was to keep it kid friendly, which is why the start of the novel focuses on a twelve-year-old boy. A few of my characters had some chemistry between them that I couldn’t ignore, so the books turned romance oriented pretty fast. Each book gets a bit “dirtier” than the one before it. Mostly because the characters are growing and discovering themselves.
Who has read a book and been annoyed by the fact the characters on the cover look nothing like who is inside it? Pretty sure everyone is raising their hands right now. I wanted my dragons to be the dragons in the book. So, I hired artists who could draw, passed them my description and was amazed at how well they brought my characters to life.
Looking back, if I could do anything different in this series, I would start with the initial dragon invasion (book 3) and tell the story chronologically. I think readers would have followed the story and related to it better if I’d done that. The first book, in my opinion, is bogged down with world building and the answers that most readers will have, aren’t addressed until book 2 or 3.
The dragon stories are done. This book tour is to celebrate that. I think I’ve told their story well enough and the final book gives the main characters closure. My readers have enjoyed my modern novels more than my fantasy or supernatural, so I’ll likely go back to writing those. But I am always open to suggestions and am very receptive to feedback.
Nina Schluntz is a native to rural Nebraska. In her youth, she often wrote short stories to entertain her friends. Those ideas evolved into the novels she creates today.
Her husband continues to ensure her stories maintain a touch of realism as she delves into the science fiction and fantasy realm. And their kitty, a rescued Abyssinian, is always willing to stay up late to provide inspiration.
You can find Nina on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.
Her blog, mizner13.wordpress.com, has updates on any current or upcoming novels, plus her thoughts on her most recent reads and movie viewings.