Michelle at Beautiful Chaos is hosting a "share your darlings" blogfest today. You know how you've had to kill a few of your darlings along the way? Here's a chance to share them, one more time!
Like probably 95% of fantasy readers and writers, I love dragons. This is a snippet from my partial, A Handful of Scars, which I plan to re-write from a traditional high fantasy into a YA historical fantasy set in the days of Atilla the Hun (I think... I'm still brainstorming this). I don't know if I'll save the scene below and try to re-work it into the new novel. I guess, you guys let me know if you think it's worth saving. It was written about 10 years ago, so it was fun to revisit it for today's blogfest.
The main character is sixteen year old Sidain, traveling with her mother after they have been outcast from their town for meddling with forbidden charms (the mother, Meladen has a familiar, a female sprite called Shaiss). While hiding from a band of thieves traveling the same deserted stretch of road, they see the rogues attack another hapless traveler, when.... read the 680 word snippet here:
Meladen grabbed Sidain's arm, almost dragging her off her feet. "Hurry! Follow me."
A thunderous noise crashed through the forest, with a burst of yellow light in the trees that sent sparks showering all over the ground.
The men screamed, and Sidain would have too if her mother hadn't put a spell of silence on her.
"Don't be frightened," Meladen said. "It's Shaiss."
They stumbled out onto the open road, and before her mother pulled her across to the shelter of the trees on the other side, Sidain saw an enormous creature towering over the four rogues and their captive. In the gloom of dusk, the creature glowed bright as fire. Huge wings spread over its back, and a long tail, as thick as a tree trunk, swung out behind it. When its jaws opened, sparks spewed out into the air, reflecting off reptilian eyes. The roar of the beast shuddered through Sidain like a physical blow.
They were in the trees again, and the fiery light of the creature cast shadows all around them. Low tree limbs smacked Sidain in the face as her mother pulled her along after her. The roaring ceased long enough for Sidain to hear the braying of mules. Then they were in the clearing where the thieves had left their wagon. "Quick, climb up into it," her mother told her.
Sidain got into the back and Meladen jumped up to the driver's seat. Before she even picked up the reins she was muttering command spells to the mules. The wagon jolted forward as the mules bolted. Meladen hauled on the reins, turning them onto the road. "I guess we are heading south!" she cried out. The dragon blocked any other direction they might have taken at the crossroads.
Sidain saw the beast turn toward them as the wagon swung out on to the road. She wondered what had happened to the men. A large object hurtled into the wagon, nearly knocking her down. To her relief she saw that it was only a bundle of packs tied together with ropes. A man with no hair and long robes ran behind the wagon. He heaved another object up and into the wagon before the mules outpaced him. The dragon roared and leapt toward the man, claws outstretched.
"Shaiss! No!" Meladen screamed. "Not him!"
The dragon reared up, howling in protest. Somehow the bald old man managed to keep his wits about him. His mule bolted past him, and he grabbed on and hauled himself aboard, practically wrapping himself around the animal to stay on.
The dragon vaulted after the fleeing man, venting sparks and steam.
"Stop!" Meladen commanded in a hoarse voice. "Hunt down the other men! The thieves."
The beast let loose with another hideous bellow. But it stopped and turned, lashing its tail as a final protest. Its leathery wings stretched out to their full width, brushing the trees tops on either side of the road. The dragon took off down the road in the opposite direction, leaving a trail of fire behind it.
Meladen slumped, letting the reins falling slack over the mules' backs. With the open road ahead of them and the dragon behind them, the mules didn't need guidance any more. "Sidain, are you all right?" She released the spell binding Sidain's voice.
"Yes. But that man is still following us."
"I don't think we need to worry about him. He’s just glad to escape the rogues, as we are." Her voice sounded exhausted.
The mules threw themselves into their harness and labored hard as they climbed up out of the valley. Sidain hung on to the edge of the wagon and peered over the edge, back the way they had come. The entire valley forest looked like it was on fire now.
"Will Shaiss come back?" she wondered, out loud.
"Eventually. When she has completed her task."
"What is she really? A woman, or that terrible creature?"
"I don't really know," Meladen muttered, and slapped the reins across the mules' backs again to keep them running.
Okay, seriously now - I'd prefer genuine feedback rather than just kindness. Worth saving? Any suggestions?
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