Some of you dear people requested more snippets from my NaNo weeks ago. (Honestly, guys, you encourage me so much. It blows my mind that people actually want to read all my silly writings. You give me the motivation to keep going! <3) I promised I’d post more throughout the month, but then other blog post subjects kept distracting me. I shamefully never got around to it. So, to make up for it and in honor of finishing (still in shock over that), have a post of snippets! Just take note this is a first draft and a NaNo first draft at that and I was pretty stressed and out of it while writing nearly the whole thing. Sooo take it as it is. Heh.
Here, in the quiet morning with the sound of the Glithry River swaying by and a gentle breeze rustling the grass, Eryth could remember days when everything was at peace. A time back in their home region, in Sivral, when she and Bryth, Iraila, Prince Airen, and Iraila and Airen's cousins, Naidren and Nyria, would all take a day to the small lake just a short hike from their home in Aselvai to picnic and climb the trees and swim. In days where their only troubles were getting scolding for tracking mud back into the castle.
How quickly times could change.
Bryth's arms were crossed and she stared intently at a pillar. Eryth knew that look. A dragon couldn't pry words from Bryth's mouth when she was this irritated.
Airen glanced his way, giving his opponent an opening. With a swipe of boot, Airen went crashing to his back. Before he could rise, Darthidge's sword met his throat.
"Match," he said, smirking.
"You weren't paying attention."
"Only because you bribed Naidren to distract me. I know your tricks. Only way you can beat me."
Darthidge laughed and pulled away his sword, instead offering Airen a hand. "Is that so? Then what trick did I use yesterday?
Airen clasped his hand and rode his pull up. "You convinced me to get seconds at lunch, making me so stuffed I could hardly move."
Darthidge slapped Airen’s stomach. "Can't blame me for your bad eating habits. Or your inability to pay attention."
"I think you should clash swords with your cousin here," a small, dark haired man said, "since he did distract you after all."
Airen grinned and pointed his sword at Naidren. "What say you, Naidren? Shall we dance?"
When do we leave?" Airen asked.
"What? Did you think I wasn't going with you? That's my family in there, too. I'm just as sick of all this waiting as you are. I just haven't voiced my opinions out loud since I have to be all princely and everything."
Naidren smirked. "And you do such a good job of it."
"Don't be rude."
Erra nodded her thanks to the young knight and entered. She expected a room full of the most important people of Githrendor, so it was a bit of a shock to find only King Thevris sitting at the end of the table next to a man who had to be the king of Sivral. A tray of tea and pastries lay between them. Never once had she seen King Thevris so relaxed.
He motioned her over. "Come in, come in. King Aidred, this is Erra, a skilled swordswoman and valuable asset to our army."
King Aidred set his cup of tea down, stood, and bowed low. "A pleasure to meet you, Lady Erra."
She couldn't seem to stop her lips from curving up. No wonder King Thevris seemed in such a good mood. This man, with his soft face and bright eyes, oozed with joy. She knew she should have expected as much from Airen's father, but this was not the kind of king she was accustomed to.
A longing [Erra] worked so hard to suppress resurfaced, pulsing deep inside her, and for one moment she considered letting it loose. But memories of pain, anguish, flooded her mind and she quickly shoved it down again. How could she give in? How could she learn to hope when she knew it'd only be shredded from her yet again, leaving her even more broken and scarred? It was so much easier to not feel. Because with feelings came the heartache and she couldn't bear it anymore.
Bryth lay wide awake on the cool ground, listening. The crackling fire had long since died away, though the remains of cooked rabbit still permeated the air. Only the crickets' song rivaling the rush of the Glithry Ella filled the night's cadence. But if she closed her eyes and focused, she could catch other sounds. Soft, breathy sounds of deep slumber surrounding her.
Physical exertion put Riana and Eldoren under quickly, and Reshin and Neriin followed soon after. Irevik and Razel took longer, but after a while even they couldn't fight the exhaustion of four days of a hard flight.
Now she lay alone, with only the stars watching.
"Oh," Eldoren said.
She raised an eyebrow. "Oh? That's all you have to say?"
He glanced at the ground and rubbed the back of his neck. "I just didn't know you felt so strongly about, well, Eryth and all."
"You didn't know I could actually care you mean," she snapped.
He frowned. "That's not what I said, Riana."
"Well, I do care."
"I never said you didn't."
"I know I was distant during dragon rider training, and I didn't grow up in Sivral like half of you, but that doesn't meant I don't care."
"Riana, I didn't mean… Ugh! You're taking this all wrong."
"No, you don't understand."
He spread his palms out in frustration. "No, I don't. I don't understand. Why are you being so defensive?"
"Can't argue with that."
"Please, you can argue with anything."
Leiden sighed. "I suppose you're right. But if you spot even a hint of danger, you come running straight to us, all right, Mother?"
"I'll move so fast I'll be the first woman who could beat a dragon in a race."
Waiting just behind Darven and Leiden, the dragons shifted, and Darven sensed Barveris's silent laughter.
Darven turned to his dragon rider partner to find the elf eyeing him from atop Gaelasil with an expectant gaze. "Well what?"
"What did you think?"
"I think you're terrible at building houses."
"But did you enjoy your visit?"
"All we did was eat. How in all of Aerigethel are you so scrawny being raised by her?"
Their flight blew the elf's hair out of his face, fully revealing his cheeky grin. "I use a lot of energy."
"With your tongue."
Movement caught Nyria’s eye and the strangest and most beautiful man she had even seen walked through the door. His hair was red, but not the dark auburn-like red of Iraila's, or even the bright locks of her fellow dragon rider Riana. This was actual red. Like the poppy flowers her mother grew outside their mansion. But it wasn't even the shocking hair that really grabbed her attention. It was his eyes. Large and golden and flickering like a flame. They so entranced her she almost missed the shudder of black and red wings unfolding from his back.
[Airen] trotted ahead of the fae girl and swerved around to face her. She never once slowed, forcing him to walk backward at a quick pace, not an easy feat, but he managed. She acknowledged him for half a second and then moved her gaze over his shoulder and focused right back to the path ahead. The flames in his lantern sparked across her large green-gray eyes. My, were they striking.
He offered her his best smile. "Where are you from, Ciedra?" Perhaps she hated the darkness just as much as him and needed some light conversation to perk her up. This place could suck the joy from anyone.
"Velnoroth," came the monotone answer.
"Velnoroth? You mean you were born there?"
Her jaw tightened. "Yes."
"Oh. I'm…sorry to hear that." All right. So that was the wrong question.
Naidren shook his head behind Ciedra, and motioned to him to just come back, but if there was a damsel in distress then he was going to help her.
"I think we should bring some liveliness to this dank place, don't you? Do you like music, Ciedra? Naidren and I know all sorts of great songs from our home region in Sivral. We could serenade you." He grinned over her at his cousin whose head shaking had increased so severely it looked as if his head would fall right off. "Oh yes, Naidren loves to sing."
"No thank you." The fae stepped around him and hurried on.
He stopped and frowned at Naidren. "Did I do something?"
Naidren rolled his eyes and swept past him.
Sii fidgeted on [Cael’s] shoulder and he stroked her cool neck. "It was awfully cramped in that dank tunnel, wasn't it? Go stretch your wings. We'll probably be here for a while."
She immediately took off and he made his way to the mining village set just a few yards from where the mountains began. The village consisted of rough but sturdy stone buildings that crowded together so close some of the walls actually touched together. Smoke billowed from many a chimney and plumes of soot kicked up under his boots along the street.
Most dwarves he passed by offered single nods or grunts in greeting. Oh good. There had always been that possibility that his treachery had already spread, which certainly would have put a damper on things. As in, he probably would have been chained up on sight and sent off to face whatever torture Vithen was probably devising for him.
With hindsight, waltzing straight into the village probably hadn't been the best plan. No matter. All's well that ends well.
What kind of trouble was Cael causing himself?
Iavin tried to shake the thought away for the thousandth time, but it clung to him like a tick. Was Cael somehow responsible for the swarm of phoenixes they had seen a week ago?
He'd never forget the sight. First blue skies as they flew over Githrendor's northern border, then a sky of flames. The hundreds of firebirds zoomed right toward them from the west, not once stopping. They only barely missed getting their hair singed. Thankfully, Leiden saw them coming before anyone else and called for the dragons to dive down.
No one had the slightest guess as to what the phoenixes meant. They didn't even live so far north. It was the first for every single one of them to lay eyes on such a creature.
Iavin hoped he never had to again. Birds that burst into flames at any given moment? Not his idea of a house pet.
Nemayn rumbled under him and her laugh invaded his thoughts.
Yes, I know I have a fire breathing dragon, but that's different. He couldn't exactly figure out how it was different, but he wasn't going to argue about it. Besides, he didn't want to think too hard on his title of dragon rider. One would think after traveling to frozen wastelands and back and fighting in an entire war for his kingdom he'd be used to the whole thing, but really it had only become more uncomfortable. Now people expected things from him. Big things.
[Iavin’s] father's rumbling laughter when he had told his parents about going to Velnoroth still thrummed in his ears.
"You're finally living up to the Bruthane name," he had said. "You'll make us proud."
He'd probably get slain by a dark elf the moment he stepped over into the Velnoroth border and his parents would forever shake their heads at his grave.
"Couldn't make it five feet into the enemy territory," he could hear people say.
His mother's fussing before he left didn't exactly help his nerves.
"You're so small, dear, and Velnoroth is so large. Don't you dare leave Nemayn or the others. Stay close, hopefully they can keep you alive."
Really, that was his hope as well.
"Well, of course I left. They imprisoned me."
"Because you imprisoned our whole kingdom!" Iavin gasped at the sound of his angered shout echoing off the mountains. Cael was the only person in the world that could induce such a reaction from him.
"I was going to fix it eventually," was all Cael said.
Iavin clutched both hands into fists. He had forgotten how angry this boy could make him.
"What have you got in your pack, pretty girl?"
A hand reached from the shadows and snagged the pack from her shoulder. She swerved and slammed her elbow into flesh. The thief found himself on his back with a blade at his neck before he breathed another word.
"Obviously you value the items in my pack more than your life." She touched his throat with the tip of her sword.
"Here, here!" The young man threw the pack up at her. Her eyes never left the man as she caught it with her free hand.
"Try that again and I won't be so gently." She pulled up the blade and he scrambled to his feet and fled.
No one else bothered her.