The Paper Dragon Festival (Excerpt)

Original Image: “Ancient Dragon” by Satoshi Kamiya (Japan) 1 uncut square

Around this time last year, I finished my first ever first draft of a novel, Jadeflare. I’ve been overwhelmed with the idea of editing it. So it’s been sitting. Among the numerous chapters already there, it needs some additional scenes added. This is one of the parts I want to add. My goal was to give it a definitive beginning, middle, and end, but it started to get long and rambling. So I cut it off.

A heads up, it gets a little steamy at the end.

Enjoy!

~ Effy

1000 Day MFA — Week 4

The Paper Dragon Festival

As they walked through the tall gates of Farnx, Lakeerae felt as if she walked into the prismatic rays of a rainbow. Shifting colors waved in the wind before her along both sides of the street and she squinted to better identify the objects that swung in the light breeze.

Colored paper, folded into the shapes of small, multicolored dragons.

Paper dragons.

Roidar seemed to recognize them at the same time, but his reaction was much different. He groaned, and as Lakeerae looked over to ask, she saw the deep frown on his face. She had finally started to get used to seeing him without it.

“Excuse me, ma’am druid, but we need to keep the way clear.” The guard averted his eyes as she turned around.

“Forgive me. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful,” Lakeerae said. As she smiled, the guard returned it.

“Yes, ma’am druid, the Paper Dragon Festival is very beautiful.”

Roidar snorted.

The guard’s smile faded as he studied Roidar’s flamboyant clothing and gold chains and hoops. “Watch yourself, gypsy thief,” he snarled.

“Forgive us for dallying, sir,” Lakeerae said, grabbing Roidar’s hand and pulling him along beside her. Once they were out of earshot of the guards, she dropped his hand and spun on the man. “What are you in such a huff about?” she hissed in a whisper.

He did not answer but maintained his disgruntled look.

“Can you at least guide us to someplace we can get supplies? You know your way around much better than I do.” As Lakeerae spoke she tucked her red hair behind both of her ears and tried not to get lost in the fluttering paper dragons.

No answer came, and she finally looked back to Roidar. “Yes,” he said without expanding on it.

“Okay, lead away.” Lakeerae tried to sound cheerful, gesturing widely out before her, but he was good at fouling her mood when he wanted to.

He walked in silence. Lakeerae took the opportunity to take in all of Farnx.

She marvelled at the streets and buildings made all of stone, instead of the dirt and wood nocs, or hill-homes, she had always known among the druids. Even the roofs looked like sheets of stone, instead of the thatch often used on smaller houses. They crowded the street and loomed from five or six times her height, making her feel small.

People walked everywhere. Their clothes were as colorful as the paper dragons. Some people danced in the streets. Others hung out of windows, shouting, singing, or a combination of both. Smiling faces, covered with paint like multicolored scales, greeted her and offered her foods, the scent of them travelled to her on the summer breeze, warm and fried and sugary.

“So many people,” she said, grabbing ahold of Roidar’s sleeve, so to not lose him.

“Stupid people,” he growled and pushed his way through.

Lakeerae frowned. She thought to press him but decided to wait until they were off the street.

Roidar stopped in front of a building. Lakeerae bumped into the back of him and mumbled a flustered apology.

“Damn this town and their stupid festival,” Roidar grumbled.

Lakeerae peeked around his shoulder and saw a hastily written sign: “Closed for the festival! Come see us tomorrow!”

“Well, that’s unfortunate,” she said.

“Tomorrow? Just what I want, to stay in this city.” Roidar glanced both directions down the street they stood on. “Come on. We’ll have to find an inn for the night.”

“Oh, we get to stay for the festival!”

Roidar glared at her, but his facade softened under her smile. “Yes, I suppose so.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

By the time they settled into the inn’s common room, Lakeerae was painted, full, and getting sleepy. Roidar let her rest her head on his shoulder as he sipped his ale. Hers was still half full. Her cloak’s hood slid back from her hair and she caught Roidar studying the green scales painted on her face.

“Why green?” he asked.

“It’s the color of leaves, of course,” she said.

“Of course.” He nodded and went back to his ale.

He had humored her all afternoon and joined her in the festivities, despite his continued annoyance and reserve. She had even forced a smile out of him a few times, but he had not been enjoying himself like her. She tried to experience everything around her.

“What is it about these paper dragons?” she asked. She put her hand on his arm. It looked pale against his darker skin.

“They’re just silly.”

“Like the kind of people who enjoy such things?” she continued with a smile.

Roidar frowned. “Are you referring to yourself?” She nodded. “Your enjoyment is endearing. I have tried to remind myself today that they…” he gestured to the room “…are just as unaware of the true meaning of this festival as you are.”

Lakeerae sat up. She swept the hood back the rest of the way and tucked her hair behind her ears. “What do you mean?”

“This festival. It’s not about dancing or face paint or food. It’s about protection from the terrors the dragons brought with them. The Dragon War was a real thing. Dragons are murderous and destructive. These paper dragons are wards, originally created by the priests before they fell out of favor when the gods disappeared.”

And the druids became the religion of the people, Lakeerae finished silently.

Lakeerae fingered the blue paper dragon on their table, feeling the fibrous smoothness of its wings. “Well, they must work then. No dragon has been seen in the Bracklin Reach in hundreds of years, not since the Dragon War.”

Roidar picked up the paper dragon and held it, staring into its eyeless face. “Not as well as you think,” he replied cryptically.

Lakeerae studied him but didn’t know how to reply.

She didn’t have time to think long on it. A woman holding a lute walked between them and the hearth, catching both of their attention with her dark silhouette against the orange flames.

“As we come to the end of the Paper Dragon Festival, it’s good to remember what we have to celebrate. The Dragon War was a dark time.” She paused, strummed the lute, adjusted it, and then began to sing. The lute harmonised with haunting sobriety.

The bard told how the sky grew dark with great scaled beasts and how they crashed like thunder and lit the sky like lightning. Their battle waged for several fortnights, blocking the sun, blocking the moons. The greenery burned and the animals laid down. The people hid and the people starved.

The priests prayed and created wards. One morning the sky cleared and all became quiet. The dragons were gone. The people rejoiced but that winter was a harsh one. More died. The priests begged the gods for help but they were silent. The only magic left to them was their wards–paper dragons, hung from window and door frames. They worked and the dragons never returned.

When the bard finished, the common room erupted in cheers. Lakeerae leaned over, close to Roidar’s ear, and whispered, “She knows.” She took another drink of her ale, watching him over the top of the mug.

Roidar looked at her with the ghost of a smile. Lakeerae returned it but wider.

Then she yawned unexpectedly.

“You should rest. The sooner we get our supplies the quicker we can be on our way again,” Roidar said.

Her eyelids were too heavy for her to argue.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lakeerae stumbled up the stairs, but Roidar caught her before she could go over. He had one arm under each of hers as he hauled her back to her feet, where she wobbled, her face close to his.

“Can you stand?” he asked. His mouth was close enough to hers that she could feel the warmth of his breath and smell the hint of ale still on it. His lips filled her vision.

She nodded, then tripped on the next stair. “Sorry.”

“Here.” He leaned over and lifted her into his arms. He staggered momentarily and Lakeerae’s tired eyes fluttered with concern, her arms clutching his neck. “I’ve got you,” he promised. He ascended the stairs slowly but more steady than she had been on her own. She buried her face in his chest and inhaled his scent, like pine needles.

He didn’t set her down at the top but kept going. The door swung open and shut with hardly her notice. She was too focused on the backs of her eyelids and fingering one of the gold chains that hung around his neck, smooth and warm from being against his skin.

The bed rose up to meet her, or maybe Roidar set her down. Suddenly his arms were gone. The linens felt cold against her skin and she prickled with gooseflesh.

“Will you be okay here?” Roidar asked. He sounded far away.

“I’m cold,” she mumbled.

A weight on the bed brought his smell closer again. He tucked the blanket around her, the scratchy fibers tickling her chin. His hand lingered at her cheek and she sighed and pressed against it.

Silence stretched and Lakeerae opened her eyes with a start. She wondered if she had drifted off. Roidar was still sitting there, a shadow against the darkness. Moonlight streamed unevenly into the room from his left, casting just enough light to create an outline.

“Get some sleep. I’ll come get you in the morning.”

As his weight on the bed shifted, Lakeerae reached out and found his retreating hand. She gripped it and pulled it back. She fought her tired eyes and heavy body as Roidar made a surprised noise.

He chuckled. “You can’t even keep your eyes open. What are you doing?”

Lakeerae sat up, blinking. She rubbed her eyes with her free hand, keeping Roidar’s in her other. They were face to face. “I want to say thank you.”

“For what?”

“For spending the day with me, even though I could tell you wanted to be somewhere else. I enjoyed it.”

She watched his shadowed cheek rise, the moonlight illuminating his teeth as he grinned. He was starkly contrasted in light and dark. “I enjoyed it as well. I’m sorry if I seemed an unwilling participate. I’m actually starting to like your company.”

From anyone else she would have thought it a backhanded compliment. “You’re not quite as bad as I first thought.”

Silence enveloped them until it seemed they and the room and the moons were all of existence.

Lakeerae raised the hand she still held and placed it near the center of her chest. She felt her quickened heartbeat against his similarly racing pulse.

Roidar’s eyes fell to their entwined hands and came back to her face. “You should get some sleep. Remember to shield your mind, like we’ve…”

She silenced him with her lips. There was no hesitation. He leaned into her, tilting his head and kissing her deeper. Their tongues found each other. Lakeerae reminded herself to breathe as she became lightheaded.

She brushed both of her hands back through his hair, tugging his face tighter to hers.

Their knees touching on the bed made them awkward as they tried to press closer. Roidar pivoted and guided her leg out to the side of him, the other still hanging off the bed. He laid her down.

Roidar pressed against her. He kissed from her mouth, along her cheek, and to her ear. His breath was heavy as he kissed her earlobe.

The room grew warmer. Lakeerae pulled on his handfuls of hair as her skin tingled. She felt it grow hot.

Roidar gasped and pulled away.

Lakeerae’s eyes shot open, her breath coming in small pants. He sat straight up, patting his arms and shirt. When she saw his face, she looked down at herself. She was wreathed in a light layer of green flame, an iridescent flicker along her pale skin. She raised her hand before her face and watched the flames lick along her skin for a moment.

She willed the flames to quiet.

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” she asked, her voice strained. Her eyes glistened with moisture.

“No, I appear unhurt,” Roidar said, tracing along his arms with his hands and his eyes again. “Are you alright?”

“I think so.” Her voice trembled with emotion.

Roidar stood up and smoothed his shirt and then his hair with his hands. “I should go,” he said, his words slow to form and leaving a palatable discomfort hanging in the air. He leaned forward, paused, and turned toward the door. He stopped with his hand on the knob and said, “I’ll come get you in the morning.” He left, the only sound the click of the door closing behind him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Blues (Short Story)

1000 Day MFA -- Week 1

1000 Day MFA — Week 1

As part of my keeping myself accountable in writing and expanding my reading horizons, I joined a Facebook group run by the same lady that runs my Ninja Writers group for a 1000 Day MFA. Basically, we are committing to reading and writing a lot:

  • Daily: Reading (1) poem, (1) essay, and (1) short story.
  • Weekly: Writing (1) short story. Watching (3) movies.
  • Monthly: Reading (1) novel and (1) book on writing craft.
  • Yearly: Writing (1) novel.

1000 days is a huge commitment, but I have a group to keep me accountable.

Here’s my first week’s accomplishments (above), followed by my first short story. I plan to share many more in a near future, but I suppose it will depend on how complete I feel they are at the end of the week.

~ Effy

Blues

Demithyra’s great blue bulk shifted as she roused and she made a mental count out of habit. Seven. No wait, she only counted six. She counted again. Six. Six sleeping dragonettes curled beneath her. No dragonette at her left forearm.

Lazheward was missing. Again.

Demithyra let out a quiet squawk. Edarmos did not reply. He must already be out hunting. She lifted her head and scanned the dim cave. Sometimes little Laz would sneak off and occupy himself with a stone or cavern critter or stalactite puddle, but he did not respond to her soft noises either.

Had he followed his father?

She could only hope that they both returned soon. Six other dreaming dragonettes still demanded her protection.

Demithyra resettled herself, resting her scaled head in the crook of her forearm, but she did not sleep.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lazheward splashed at the edge of the water and did not see the approach of a furred creature on four hooved legs. The creature approached from the other side of the river, leading toward the grassy plains. It got to the edge, a mere ten paces from the dragonette and gave the oblivious dragonette a cherubic grin. It looked like a human child in the face, except for the small horns and pointed ears that came from a head covered more with fur than hair.

The young dragonette heard a splashing that came from elsewhere and looked up to see the smiling child, his four legs curled beneath him like a gazelle. Surprise was quickly replaced by joy at a playmate other than his clutch-mates. Lazheward squawked, and it was a small bleeting noise. The child giggled and waved a chubby hand.

The water flowed slowly, it being the dry season at this border between the plains and the desert, and Lazheward had no problem loping on all four taloned feet through the low water to the other side.

The two younglings could not speak to one another, but it did not matter. Language was no barrier for play. They splashed and formed shapes from the sandy mud. Together they mounded it together and formed a mud hill, laughing and smiling.

As the two played, a shadow crept. Tawny fur blended into the sandy dunes and pale stripes hid it against the waving grass. It smelled the children before it saw them. Keeping low to the ground, but poised to run, the sand cat moved silently closer.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Edarmos scanned the burning desert sands. He had left again as soon as Demithyra had told him Lazheward was missing. An adult blue dragon feared little but a dragonette of less than one cycle of seasons had many possible predators in the desert.

He glided low over the sands, the heat of the climbing sun reflecting back up from each glinting grain and warming his underside. He needed to find Lazheward before the day got too late and the sun too hot. His scales could handle the heat but Lazheward’s were thinner.

Edarmos smelled the river and shortly after he caught the scent of his missing dragonette. A blue speck appeared along the sparkle of the flowing water and Edarmos bugled a call.

Lazheward made a faint happy noise in return.

Edarmos saw a centaur child sat in the mud beside the dragonette and sighed in a mixture of frustration and relief. He caught movement nearby and recognized the sinuous form of a sand cat mostly camouflaged by the sand and grass. He willed his wings to get him to his little one faster.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Vol’zan returned to the centaur camp early in the day, a gazelle with half an arrow still in its heart slung over his shoulder. He acknowledged his clan members with silent nods. His lifemate, Asa’fre, greeted him with a kiss and took the gazelle to clean it.

Settling himself in the shade of their tent flap, Vol’zan looked around the camp and settled his eyes on his youngling, Cer’ah, playing quietly with her doll just inside the family’s tent.

“Where is Mi’an?” Vol’zan asked.

“Playing with his sister,” Asa’fre replied, not looking up from the delicate cuts she made with her knife.

“Cer’ah, where is your brother?”

Cer’ah shrugged and did not look up from her doll. “Probably playing in the mud. He’s always getting dirty and trying to get my Kie’lee dirty.”

Asa’fre met Vol’zan’s concerned gaze.

They heard the bugle of a dragon and Vol’zan took off, his limbs a flurry of movement, his bow clutched tightly in his hand, and his quiver slapping against his shoulder. He saw the great gliding blue wings and ran with a stomach heavy with dread like rock.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Edarmos watched the sand cat until he saw another flash of movement coming from the plains side of the river. A full grown centaur galloped through the golden scrub, bow at the ready, heading straight toward Lazheward and his playmate. The blue hesitated, scaly lips peeling back from his teeth, and almost adjusted his descent, but the sand cat must have seen the centaur as well and broke into a sprint.

Fearing he would reach them too late, Edarmos flapped his great wings harder, though he knew each flap made him less able to stop himself. He braced for hitting the grassy sands with all four claws out before him.

He hit the ground. The sand cat screamed. Edarmos felt only sand and scrub grass in his claws, but squeezed anyway. He felt the burning pain of talons along his belly, death throes as the sand cat was crushed beneath him. Then nothing.

Edarmos slid to a stop and his chin fell to the sand with a thump. The form of the sand cat and its claws, along with a thousand tiny pieces of hot sand, all burned his underside. He expelled a great breath that shot a spray of sand into the air before him.

Lazheward was at his nose, tugging a tooth and a nostril playfully.

“Mi’an!” the centaur cried and swept up the child with one arm, the other still holding tight to the bow. He set the child on his back and drew and cocked an arrow in one motion. The centaur held it ready, trembling but his face a menacing growl.

Edarmos rose with an effort, pulling Lazheward upwards with his snout and bouncing the dragonette onto his nose. The babe squawked and grinned. The sand cat still clung to his belly, already growing rigid, and Edarmos flinched as he plucked the talons from the raw, dirty wounds.

The stiffening cat hit the ground and sent up a cloud of golden dust.

Edarmos lowered himself back to the ground, both to protect his vulnerable belly and to make himself less threatening. The sand stung and blood oozed but he fought to ignore it. He tilted his snout in a way that protected Lazheward were an arrow to fly but relaxed the snarl on his face despite the throbbing pain.

The centaur hesitated. His face and arms relaxed. He too positioned himself in a way the child remained hidden from Edarmos’s view. He lowered the bow and the readied arrow a few inches.

The two fathers faced off for several breaths, neither moving.

Then the centaur backed several steps away. When Edarmos did not move, he backed off a few more. Then he turned and galloped away, glancing backwards several times.

When the centaur was out of view, Edarmos plucked Lazheward from his nose and tucked him into his forepaw. The dragonette squirmed but stayed put.

Making a noise deep in his throat, the blue dragon spat at the sand beneath him. Blue and white lightning crackled and melted the sand into hot red balls of molten glass. In his free forepaw, taking a deep breath to steady himself, Edarmos picked up the glass while it was still malleable and spread it across the dripping wounds of his chest and belly. The liquid did not burn his hands, but it stung the wounds, raw and open as they were. He smoothed it around until the wounds stopped bleeding and the glass had formed a tight but effective covering.

Picking up the sand cat by the scruff of its rigid neck, Edarmos sprang into the air to take his dragonette home.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“My precious Mi’an,” Asa’fre wept, holding their child against her.

Mi’an fidgeted and squirmed. Finally she let him down and he rushed off to play. She watched him even as she spoke, not willing to let him out of her sight again. “The dragon just let you leave?” she asked as she wiped her wet eyes.

Vol’zan nodded.

“What was Mi’an doing?”

“Just playing with the dragon youngling in the mud.”

“I don’t understand. They’ve never thought twice about eating our kind. It’s why we follow the herds east in the wet season, to avoid them when they’re more active.” Asa’fre’s face crinkled in confusion as she looked to her mate for answers.

“I don’t know, perhaps it didn’t want to hurt Mi’an. It never made a move at us, just the sand cat. It seemed more concerned with protecting its youngling then with us.” Her mate paused. “I did not see the sand cat in time to stop it before it ran at the little ones. I wouldn’t have been able to save them.”

“Then we will thank Suriya the dragon arrived when it did.” Asa’fre hugged her mate, Mi’an still at the edge of her vision. It was the strangest prayer she ever made to the sun goddess, but watching her child pester his sister when he might have never come home made it the most heartfelt too.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Demithyra nuzzled her precious and frustrating dragonette, making noises that were almost purrs at tiny Lazheward.

“I couldn’t think to harm the child,” Edarmos confessed. “Nor will I hunt when not for food.” He absently shredded the sand cat into the pieces their dragonettes could manage. It pulled at glass protecting his tender chest, but it did not tear the wounds open again.

Lazheward squeezed out of his mother’s reach and grabbed the first piece. His clutch-mates followed after him, but he was munching away on a second piece before they even started.

“Maybe we should go farther into the desert,” Demithyra said. “Somewhere we won’t run into the centaurs. Family is all that matters now.”

Edarmos nodded. “We’ll have to go farther to hunt, but perhaps it’s for the best.”

“I want no more conflict. I just want to raise our family where no one, dragon, centaur, or otherwise, will trouble us.” Demithyra corralled her dragonettes with her tail and put a foreclaw on her mate’s. The two dragons nuzzled and looked down gratefully on their dragonettes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 12

Saurok Fight, from the War Chief's Command Board

Saurok Fight, from the War Chief’s Command Board

Welcome to Day 12!

First let me note that the image above was basically the only good saurok fan art I could find, and happens to be from one of the few WoW blogs I still read–The Warchief’s Command Board. So I am happy to give Garrosh his due credit here. 🙂

Today’s prompt was:

Day 12: Write a Romance.

Simple enough and one of the genres I enjoy dabbling in. These days my writing isn’t completely suffused with romance, but it’s still pretty common. The prompt expanded to mention using body language and facial expressions to convey the feelings going on. So I made that a goal with this piece.

When I started thinking about the prompt, my mind immediately went to a piece I started a while back but never finished or posted. So now seems as good a time as any! So fittingly, I have WoW fan art in the form of a comic above, and WoW fan fiction below. This is a follow-up piece to Broken (if you need a quick catch-up), and features my Monk, Ireenia. She is a young orphaned blue dragon whom my main, Effraeti, saved as an egg and raised. So Ireenia’s preferred humanoid form is a Draenei.

~ Effy

Redemption

WoW Draenei Monk

And sorry, you get an old model Ireenia, because my account isn’t active.

 

What started as an altercation between Ireenia and two saurok had blossomed to a dozen.

There had been no reason for Iree to be here other than her own need for an outlet to her anger. The saurok seemed a good target, being the unnatural and invasive creatures they were. Perhaps the Mantid would reward her for their hides later. However, the woman began to question the intelligence of her decision as another Saurok heard the commotion and hurried to join in.

Iree punched one in the throat as it lunged toward her from the right. Another’s face met her hoof as it tried to take advantage of the other Saurok’s attack. But their target was a Monk, and she did not get distracted. She did not lose focus.

Eventually, though, she would tire.

Despite the handful of creatures already on the ground or attempting to slither away from her, the mob continued to grow.

There were now twelve against her one.

No, make that thirteen. No, back to twelve.

They seemed to replenish their numbers–and grow even–for every one she defeated. Iree realized she had underestimated the size of this Saurok camp.

She also realized they were pushing her slowly towards the base of the great wall dividing the Dread Wastes from the rest of Pandaria.

A saurok felt her fist meet with the side of its skull as it clumsily pitched forward. She kicked the air from the lungs of another. One caught her leg with its sharp talons and she cried out and quickly spun the opposite way, driving an elbow down into its neck. As it hit the ground, Iree twisted without putting her weight on the injured leg and kicked another Saurok in the face.

Red blood ran down the blue skin of her calf, but there was no time to bandage it or speak the words of a healing spell.

Blood and teeth sprayed, and Iree kept kicking, kept punching, kept spinning out of reach.

But their numbers continued to grow. Iree began to tire, her leg throbbing in the spot the Saurok had grabbed her, and she realized the wall loomed even closer than before.

A saurok snapped a mouthful of sharp teeth very close to her face and Iree punched it away. She had let it get closer than any of the others so far. She could not let that happen again.

Iree spun, her injured leg sweeping through the mass of lizardmen bodies. Several were knocked away, but several more avoided the kick and leapt in at her from behind it. A great press of scaly bodies came in on her, a wall of hot, rank breath and sharp talons. Ireenia punched out at one Saurok, but another grabbed her arm. A third dug its nails into her opposite shoulder.

With a pained shout, Ireenia swung backwards and caught the third Saurok in the chin with her elbow, causing a crunching noise and violently snapping the creature’s head back. But another lizardman greedily grabbed her arm just as it came free of the other’s face.

Ireenia knew there was no breaking out now, but she swore she would go down swinging. Somehow, it was refreshing to think it would end this way–that she would die fighting, instead of old and alone.

As she had the thought, the shriek of a bird of prey pierced the air. The giant raptor’s claws dug into Iree’s shoulders and she screamed an epithet as the storm crow lifted her into the air among the flutter of blue-feathered wings.

The saurok cursed and clawed at her, tearing up her legs as she rose.

Ireenia rose as brilliant points of light descended into the dense clump of lizardmen. She watched as those falling stars were met by the screams of a dozen or more of the lizardmen.

The saurok finally scattered.

“Your timing is impeccable,” Ireenia said, not sure if she meant it as grateful or sarcastic.

“I do enjoy making an entrance,” Skeiron replied. Were a beak capable, Iree knew there would have been a wide smile there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Once both were back on the ground, an uncomfortable silence settled between them.

Skeiron spoke first. “Getting yourself into trouble again I see.”

Ireenia did not know how to respond to that. They were not the words she had expected to hear. Though, truth be told, she had not expected his appearance or his words at all. “We do what we’re good at, right?” She swallowed and paused. “Well… I didn’t figure on having to explain myself.” She crossed her arms before her, scowling.

“So you went into that fight not planning to walk away from it?”

“Perhaps.” Iree shifted uncomfortably from one hoof to the other, and not entirely because she hurt all over, though her clawed and bleeding legs throbbed. Not only did she not want to explain herself, she did not know–or want to know–where this conversation was going.

Nowhere good, certainly. Probably to an I told you so and a quick goodbye.

She glanced around for an easy escape, but Skeiron had chosen his landing well–the top of the Pandaren wall, between the Dread Wastes and the Valley of the Four Winds. She considered diving off, but doubted the speed with which she could transform into her dragon-self.

She did not look him in the face, especially with him back in his true form as a Night Elf. Despite her gaze being on the bricks below her hooves, Iree felt his eyes upon her.

“That would have been quite a shame,” Skeiron said softly.

“Hmm,” Iree responded. “Then, I guess it is good you came by when you did.”

“Well, that was no accident,” he admitted. “I was looking for you.”

Iree tensed, unsure how to reply. “I still had some tricks left…” she sputtered uncertainly.

She felt him come closer, but still could not look up. Then, he was standing in front of her. Before she could think of how to respond, Skeiron set his hands on her shoulders.

She flinched at his touch, but at the same time savored it.

“You don’t have to be the strong one all the time, you know,” he chided, his voice a soft whisper. He touched her cheek lightly with his fingers.

Iree’s eyes flickered to the violet skin as it brushed against hers.

“I’m not so strong,” Iree admitted. “I’m just good at hiding the hurt. Stubbornness–that’s what I’m told I’m best at.” As she spoke, moisture began to form in her eyes. It made her angry and she made a face, blinking and wishing them away.

“I know, I just needed you to finally admit it.” The elf pulled her towards him, and wrapped his arms around her trembling shoulders.

She could not hold back the wave of emotion that hit her. A sob wrenched her throat.

“Don’t cry, dragon,” Skeiron whispered as he held Ireenia tighter. As happy as she was at that moment, the comment made her cry harder. His fingers stroked her hair and both stood silent for several moments, only the sound of her sobs causing any noise between them.

Finally Ireenia pulled back slightly, so she could look into Skeiron’s eyes. “I was afraid…” she began, the rest caught in her throat. The Night Elf studied her, seemingly for the first time so intent was his gaze, as she collected herself. It intimidated her, those luminescent eyes that seemed to see inside of her, but they were gentle and reassuring. He touched her face, and with a deep breath and the presence of his fingers, Ireenia made herself continue. “I was afraid I would never be here again.”

“I was afraid you did not want to be,” Skeiron whispered.

A breeze ruffled the feathers of his headdress and cloak, and it reminded Ireenia of flying with him. She pictured him once more as the blue-feathered storm crow, wings spread and gliding along beside her in her dragon-form.

“When I heard the roar that shook the Vale, I knew it was you and I knew I had to find you,” he continued. “There was no mistaking the source of that.”

Ireenia nuzzled her face into his neck, content to be touching him, and not wanting to let go. She did not interrupt as he continued.

“Because that roar echoed the ache of my own heart.”

That tore another sob from her. “I’m so sorry,” Iree said, her voice tremulous. “I don’t know if I can ever make it right again, but I want to try.”

Skeiron hugged her tighter and nodded into her hair. “So do I.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 10

Tavern Dragon, by Bamfette

Tavern Dragon, by Bamfette

The picture above is only vaguely related to this piece. Or perhaps this tiny guy is the source of the name of The Dancing Dragon tavern. I haven’t decided yet.

Either way, welcome to my post for Day 10 of the Author Up Challenge! There’s something exciting about hitting double digits and a nice round number like 10.

Today’s prompt was:

Day 10: Write From the Perspective of a Vain Man.

Particularly, it asked to illustrate this man’s vanity through his description of and actions with another.

When I started brainstorming about vanity, of course dragons came to mind. One dragon in particular–Cernunnos, from my previous piece, Captivated. That, and I’m always fascinated with seeing the same exact scene through different eyes. My all-time favorite Ender’s Game did it with the follow-up Ender’s Shadow, and I’ve done it a few times with my own work.

Let me preface this with the fact that I’m still not entirely sure myself what Cern’s intentions are. I only know he’s not evil, only vain and curious and always causing trouble/chaos. I also haven’t decided how important Leilae’s purpose in Farnx is.

I’ve realized over the past week and a half, that it is driving me nuts to post such unpolished work. There have been a few rewrites, but most of these are first drafts–eek! Since I’m posting everyday, it’s hard to get these to a level I would normally work towards. Granted, I’m editing, but not to the depths I usually do before anyone sees anything. It’s kind of scary and exciting all at once. I hope they don’t come across as too disjointed or rough.

There’s my inner critic trying to get the best of me. Down, you.

Enjoy!

~ Effy

Captivating

Cernunnos saw the awkward, out of place young woman and knew immediately he would approach her. Her confusion proved almost painful to look upon and from the cut and design of her plain, faded dress he figured her to be an outlander who’d never stepped foot into a city like Farnx before. She was nondescript, so much so that even her distressed look would not have caught the attention of another.

Cern sought out such opportunities. Never had one so perfect presented itself like this–her plight, her discomfort, her plainness.

Cern detached from the shadows of a side street and swept his dark hair back from his face with one hand, letting that simple movement give him away and catch her attention. Then, he met her gaze with his and smoothed his goatee with his fingers.

She stared, mesmerized. Humans were so easily captivated. He grinned, more to himself than her, but she saw it and a swoon weakened her further.

“Are you lost, my dear? You look lost.”

She looked incapable of forming words, and had Cern not been putting on his full charm, he might have thought her mute.

He continued on, composed and drinking in every moment. “It would please me greatly if you would allow me to buy you dinner, lovely miss.” He made a grandiose bow and an exaggerated flourish of his hands, his cloak billowing around him. He kept her eyes locked on him with his own.

“I-I…” the young woman stammered.

“Ahh, but I have left you speechless.” Cern grinned and watched her as she focused on the movements of his mouth. ”Forgive me and my rudeness. I have not even introduced myself. I am Cern.” His name came out as more of a hiss than he intended, so deeply he played his role, but he realized it had a pleasant affect as she formed his name on her lips.

He reached his hand out to her, requesting her own.

“Leilae,” she finally said, her voice breathy like she could not intake enough air.

Cern eased his charm, just enough. He didn’t want her to faint, after all. How bothersome that would be. She took one deep breath and her eyes fluttered as she put her hand into his. Cern kissed it, a light brushing with his lips, still watching her over the top of her delicate knuckles.

Her skin was softer than he’d expected, her being from the outlands of the Bracklin Reach and probably a farmer. From this close, he could smell the subtle flowery scent that surrounded her. It was not overly strong like that of many of his previous human women, all city women.

“Beautiful,” he purred.

Her face flushed deep scarlet.

When Leilae had no words, Cern deftly filled silence. “I saw you from across the way, and knew I had to become acquainted with you. I am always surprised and delighted by the workings of… women… but never so much as I am with you. So you must forgive me for being so forward.”

He gave a coy, embarrassed look that melted her further.

“Say ‘yes’ to dining with me. You must,” Cern implored. His eyes searched hers for any remaining shreds of resistance.

“Yes.” The word tumbled out of her mouth almost before Cern had finished.

He gave her his most dazzling smile, then took her arm and tucked it within his own.

Cern would prompt more conversation from her after they reached The Dancing Dragon. He had the inclination that she might be more interesting than he’d previously given her credit for. For now, he continued to hold her in his gaze.

Her eyes never left his face and she barely breathed, but he had hold of her now and did not let her stumble.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 7

The Little Girl and Her Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend, Unknown Artist

Happy Mother’s Day!

Welcome to Day 7 of my journey through the Author Up Challenge.

Today’s writing prompt was:

Day 7: Write From the Perspective of a Child

The extended part of the prompt was to write with a “childish” view of the world, with careful word choice and with dreamlike imagery.

The only thing that came to mind for this prompt was a piece I wrote from an image (above) a while back about a girl and her imaginary friend. I decided to revise and expand upon the original, because I so enjoyed the story idea and felt I could do it better. At first, I thought of taking off the beginning scene, with the mom and daughter, but decided to leave it, because I think it is a good intro and since today is Mother’s Day, I figured I could turn this piece into a lovely tribute to my mom. 🙂 So the book at the end is a Sesame Street book about Grover she read to me as a child, The Monster at the End of This Book, and the title and the story material were just too perfect. The theme of the book is basically, not all monsters are scary and bad. And that’s pretty much what this story is about. 🙂

~ Effy

Tea Party

Mom watched with amusement as Becca carefully spread the strawberry jam on her sandwich. Eight years old and already insisting upon doing so much herself. It almost made up for this imaginary friend business–the doctor had said children usually outgrew imaginary friends by age seven at the latest.

She ruffled her daughter’s bobbed blonde locks of hair, and Becca fidgeted out of her reach. “Mom…” the girl complained. She wrapped up the sandwich and placed it gently in her backpack with the other one–the sandwich for Casey, Becca’s imaginary friend.

“Sorry,” Mom said with a soft chuckle and threw her hands up in defeat.

“Well, I’m off. Casey and I are going to play.”

“Yes, and I’m sure Casey will appreciate the sandwich,” Mom replied, trying to keep a serious face.

“She will. Strawberry is her favorite too.”

Mom just continued to nod as Becca shouldered her backpack and skipped out of the kitchen’s backdoor. She watched as Becca crossed the yard and disappeared into the dense greenery of the trees lining the yard.

“Imaginary friends…” Mom said, trying to remind herself that it was the sign of a creative mind and nothing to be concerned with.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Green leaves shook on their branches in the spring breeze and Becca smiled and waved back. The young girl skipped over crunching pine needles and dried out old leaves, taking in the smells and sounds and sights around her. The sun snuck its rays between the closely standing trees and caught falling specks that glittered like flitting fairies.

Becca hopped and tried to catch one. Maybe a fairy queen would grant her a wish!

But she didn’t let fairy-chasing delay her too long. Casey was waiting.

“Casey? Are you here?” Becca called, cautious to keep her voice from being too loud, even though she was sure she had gotten far enough away from the house. She didn’t want Mom finding Casey.

“I am always here, little friend,” a deep voice replied. The voice seemed everywhere at first, surrounding the girl like a warm blanket.

Two golden orbs, like twin suns, appeared before the girl. The eyes, each easily the size of her head, hovered in the air among the tree branches for a moment. Then the greenery of the forest around the eyes shimmered in waves like hot pavement until a long, scaly muzzle the color of sunlit summer leaves appeared inches in front of Becca.

“Welcome back,” Casey murmured, twitching her lips. The edges of the dragon’s mouth curled up in a reptilian smile, showing the mouthful of teeth lining her muzzle.

The girl giggled and threw her arms around Casey’s nose. “I missed you,” the girl told the dragon. “I wanted to come visit you everyday! But school and Mom kept me away.”

Her annoyed pout lasted only a moment. She was so happy to see her friend.

“I missed you as well, little one,” Casey admitted, and nuzzled the girl back with the rounded end of her long nose.

“Oh, Casey!” Becca exclaimed, sprinting to her backpack. “I brought my favorite doll, Miss Heather. And her friend, Mister Teddy. And my favorite book. And sandwiches and tea–so we can have a real tea party!” The girl pulled items out of the bag in a flurry of motion, setting each on an old tree stump as she introduced them. The last item out of the bag was a bottle marked Lipton filled with light brown liquid that sloshed as Becca set it with a thunk onto the stump.

“Strawberry?” Casey asked, tilting her large head and widening her eyes.

“Of course! I know it’s your favorite!”

“Mmm,” Casey purred, and sniffed at the tree stump.

“Wait, wait!” Becca said, raising her hands. “Let me set everything up first.”

“Oh, all right.” A smooth rumbling noise came from the dragon as she chuckled.

Casey watched as her friend arranged the tea party. Becca draped a blue bath towel over the stump, making a lovely tablecloth of it. Then, she set out four tiny plastic tea cups on four tiny plastic saucers. Next, were the two sandwiches, set opposite each other–one for Becca and one for Casey–causing the dragon to twitch her nostrils and stir a soft breeze that made Becca giggle. Lastly, the girl set Miss Heather and Mister Teddy to either side of the table.

“Okay,” Becca said with a look of pride at her accomplishment.

Then, she changed to tea party hostess. “Thank you, everyone, for coming to have tea with me today. Please be seated and I will serve us.”

Casey smiled and rested her head on the ground in front of the table, listening and slowly blinking her large golden eyes.

“Now, you say ‘Thank you for inviting me and being such a gracious host,’” Becca prompted.

“Thank you, Becca, for inviting me and being such a gracious host,” Casey replied, her smile widening.

“Miss Becca,” the girl whispered beside her hand.

“My apologies, Miss Becca.”

Becca smiled and kneeled before the table. Then, she began pouring the tea into the tiny cups. As she did, she asked Heather and Mr. Teddy how the children were and what was new with them, nodding politely as they answered. Becca leaned over and tipped a tea cup first to Miss Heather’s mouth, then to Mister Teddy’s.

“Isn’t this fun?” Becca asked, a huge smile lighting up her face.

“I cannot recall ever having more fun. I’ve never been to a tea party before,” Casey replied.

The dragon looked fondly upon the little girl as Becca unwrapped the sandwiches and extended Casey’s toward her. Casey stuck out her tongue, a great pink thing, longer than Becca was tall, and took the sandwich with great care. It disappeared with one flick of Casey’s tongue and a satisfied look spread across the dragon’s face as she made a purring noise.

Becca giggled and took the biggest bite she could from her own sandwich in response. Casey chuckled back.

Then, the dragon dipped the tip of her tongue into her own tiny tea cup and looked happy with the taste of the sweet drink Becca had brought.

“Oh, I also brought a book!” Becca suddenly exclaimed, clapping her hands and holding the fingers tightly laced together. “It’s a book my grandma read to my mom and my mom reads to me and now I want to read it to you.”

“That sounds lovely,” Casey said.

“It’s called The Monster at the End of This Book.” With that, Becca scooted up against the side of Casey’s nose and settled herself onto the noisy bed of pine needles and leaves, opening the book and beginning to read.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 3

A Moonlit Garden

Hello, Day 3! Welcome back to my progress through the Author Up Challenge. I thought this one might trip me up, but I pushed through.

Today’s prompt was:

Day 3: Write in Third Person Omniscient

Well, it took me forever to come up with a scene for this. I’m still not 100% happy with it, it’s only vaguely omniscient. Third person omniscient seems so awkward and lazy, and I’ve trained myself for so long to try and get into character’s head one at a time. Usually I write in third person limited and if I need a new point of view, a change scenes and switch then.

I used a writing prompt for this that allowed me to stick with the fantasy genre, once again from Pinterest:

Writing Prompt: He waited for her.

But I’m still feeling all sappy and romantic. So I apologize. 🙂

~ Effy

Rendezvous

Lazarus waited for her, knowing Rosaelyn always ran late. He expected it of the princess, with all her responsibilities to the kingdom of Zandra. They filled much different stations–he being only a captain of the royal wing command–and though his demands were great, he knew they paled beside those of the princess. He had to remind himself of this, despite the fact she had requested to meet with him.

Their evening meetings were becoming harder to arrange. The last had been over a week before.

Lazarus may have appeared nervous had anyone passed by, straightening his cuffs and adjusting their place within the chestnut-colored jacket sleeves, signifying his place of command over the bronze squadrons, but quite the opposite. Lately his human form felt more comfortable than any other. Nor did Rosaelyn’s tardiness make him nervous. With King Evrain sick, much had fallen recently to his only daughter. She may have lacked in punctuality, but she never missed an appointment.

He enjoyed the view while he waited, standing in the royal garden and surrounded by trees and flowers native only to far-off Sandrae. The climate of Zandra was much too cold for them naturally, and only the greenhouse and the care of dedicated gardeners allowed them to grow here.

No one bothered him. The night stretched on into twilight and the garden remained quiet. The two moons, Harendar and Solintar, shone brightly and lent their light to the darkened garden.

“Captain Lazarus.” The familiar feminine voice came to his ears, soft yet formal.

He turned and smiled. “Your Highness,” he replied with a deep bow.

“I appreciate your agreeing to meet with me,” princess Rosaelyn said. The pale light made stark shadows on her face, and her auburn hair cascaded in dark locks, almost black, to either side. She took him in with eyes that were bright, catching every ray of light and reflecting them back upon him.

“Anything for you, princess. If you required my life, you had but to ask.”

Rosaelyn smiled in return. Her features softened in the pale light. “I did call you here to make a request, but nothing so dire, captain.”

“Ask and it is yours,” Lazarus promised.

The princess hesitated, for the briefest moment. She looked down the path to both the left and right, checking to make sure no one else shared the garden with them. She took slow, measured steps, and it seemed the distance between them was a great chasm of imposing air.

When she stopped, Rosaelyn stood only a step away from him. Her eyes searched his, her request yet unspoken from lips that formed intriguing shadows with their amused posture.

“What do you wish of your loyal servant?” Lazarus asked, his voice barely loud enough to cross the space between them.

“Kiss me,” she commanded in a breathy whisper.

Lazarus closed the distance dividing them with one eager step and leaned his face to hers. Lips met and embraced with familiarity and longing. His hands found her shoulders and his fingers entangled themselves in her long hair, tugging her closer.

Rosaelyn alternately gripped and caressed along his back and shoulder blades, feeling the warmth of him against her and relishing the fit of their bodies.

Countless moments passed, though they seemed too fleeting compared to those that had made up the intervening absence. Lips separated and Rosaelyn nuzzled against Lazarus’ neck, still pressed to his chest and not wanting to allow any air to intrude between them.

Lazarus stroked her hair, his head leaning against hers.

“Lazarus, there’s something I must tell you,” Rosaelyn said after many more moments of touching and silence.

“What is it?” He drew back at the seriousness of her tone and looked into her eyes. Those eyes, dark and shimmering, gazed back with sadness.

“It’s my father…”

“Has he gotten worse?” Lazarus squeezed her around the shoulders.

“He’s as well as can be expected.”

“What then? What saddens you?”

“He worries for me,” Rosaelyn began, faltering. “He wants to know I will be cared for when he is gone, and he has arranged for me to be married.”

Lazarus felt he had been kicked in the gut and took a moment to catch back his breath. “Is that what you want?” he asked when he could.

“No, of course no. I want to be with you.” She buried her face in his neck. “But how can we tell anyone about us?”

Lazarus nodded, as much to himself as her. “I know, it would be as much of a problem with Hephaestus as with your father.”

A dragon and a human? It was against the laws of both races and part of the treaty signed when the alliance had formed between Zandra’s ruling family and the metallic dragons. Lazarus and Rosaelyn had known, had fought their feelings for almost a year, but it had not stopped them from falling in love.

But now, it seemed the forces that could not keep them apart would succeed in breaking them apart.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 2

D&D Black Dragon

D&D Black Dragon — Property of Wizards of the Coast

Welcome to Day 2 of the Author Up Challenge! I’m on a roll so far!

Today’s challenge was equally simple and open to a wide variety of possibilities:

Day 2: Write in the Third Person (Limited)

There was a prompt also given, but the email for this challenge mentioned internal struggles versus external struggles–so I felt this piece would be the perfect way to accomplish some of both. I already had about the first half dozen or so paragraphs written prior.

This the black dragon piece for my growing collection of dragon short stories. (See the others here: Green, Red, White.) This leaves only the blue dragon piece to be started. Progress!

The above image is a D&D black dragon. The dragon and his/her surroundings (a very creepy looking swamp) partly inspired this piece.

This is the first scene a longer short story, to be concluded later.

Enjoy!

~ Effy

The Dead Swamp

Moern knew the terrors that cried in the night were not his imagination. They were real. But he didn’t know their names, if they had any. And he didn’t know their faces, nor did he want to.

Whatever light the moons and stars shared with the denizens of Dadreon that night got swallowed up by the thick fog that hung in the swamp like a soggy curtain. It made a night that was impenetrably black. The fog muffled the sounds of the swamp, making them less distinct and seemingly faraway, but more eerie for their lack of location.

The merchant wished there were a better route from Balk to Traeg, but to bypass Dead Swamp would add several days to this trek. Time he could not afford to lose–time was money. The market would not wait. The customers would find other traders for their wares.

He’d finally broken down and hired a mercenary to guard himself and the wagon. Solvi was a northerner from her accent and her pale, cragged skin. Her temperament was colder than the tundras of that icy place, and Moern mostly left her to herself. As long as she performed as paid to when it mattered, he might get through this ungodly place without an incident like the last time, when he’d lost most of his goods to a band of roguish knolls.

Moern knew far worse things crept just outside the flickering, swaying light of the lantern lashed to the front corner of the wagon. Its dim yellow light lit the back of the horse’s head and little else in the murk. Occasionally, the lantern would tilt just so and a shaft of light would stretch out and illuminate the edge of the road. Each time, Moern swore he saw something skitter out of the light. It made his imagination stir with the dark possibilities of what lurked there, just beyond the light. Further out, Moern saw only curtains of black moss and what he swore were hundreds of eyes, watching, some blinking, some unblinking.

Wiping the chill sweat from his brow, Moern flicked the reins gently and made a clicking noise with his tongue. The horse perked up and quickened from a walk to a trot. Solvi did the same without a comment or even a glance in Moern’s direction. Her eyes scanned the darkness around them, her sword out and ready to strike, and Moern breathed easier for the knowledge.

“That sword will not protect you from the terrors of this place,” a rumbling voice purred. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, impossible to place in the damp and suffocating swamp.

Moern swallowed and became uncertain whether to continue forward or take off back in the other direction. Before he could even mutter, “To the abyss with this!” the horse had made the decision for him, stopping dead in the road, prancing and tossing its head. The whites showed in the beast’s terrified eyes. The man barely succeeded in keeping hold of the reins and the panting creature ignored his tugging.

Solvi looked on edge but collected. Her outward calm kept Moern from full panic.

“I would ask you to drop the weapon, but it will not stay me from slaying you both.” The voice seemed amused in a nonchalant way.

“I will not let you rob this wagon, villain,” Solvi said to the disembodied voice.

“Villain?” There came a rough coughing sound that Moern realized to be low chuckling. “What makes you call me a villain?”

“You mean to rob us, surely,” Moern sputtered.

“Rob you? There is nothing in that wagon that could possibly interest me.” The voice dragged out the last syllable until it strung out into a surreal note that bored into Moern’s head like a termite into soft wood. It set his teeth on edge and made his head ache.

“Then, why impede our progress and terrorize my horse?”

The horse, now frothing at the mouth, continued to quiver and stamp its hooves.

“It does not know true terror.”

Giant yellow eyes blinked, appearing suddenly from the surrounding blackness to the left of the road, their greenish pupils adjusting to the lantern’s light. A great reptilian head detached from that same murk, its face resembling a lizard skull with the ebony scales and skin beneath drawn too tautly. Pointed teeth lined a smirking mouth that could not contain them. Spines jaunted from its cheeks and up the side of its head to two giant, curling horns, making it almost look like an emaciated mountain goat, and completing the nightmarish visage.

Moern only noticed the horse was frozen in fear because the reins had stopped shaking in his hands. He too was unable to move, unable to tear his gaze from the dragon’s yellow eyes. He could only watch, jaw slack and eyes wide, as the wyrm snapped its jaws around the horse, ripping an ear-splitting shriek from the beast. A quick shake snapped the horse’s neck and tore it loose of the wagon. Moern barely noticed as the reins were ripped from his hands. Then, it two quick motions, the black dragon swallowed the horse whole.

“That is terror. Wouldn’t you agree?” The dragon grinned and it was a ghastly sight.

When Moern and Solvi remained silent, and wyrm continued on, unperturbed. “Don’t worry. I promise your fates will be far more interesting.”

With a foreclaw supporting talons the length of the tall northern woman, the dragon grabbed Solvi by the face and snapped her neck with barely a sound uttered. Only a noise like crackling underbrush and the clatter of her sword broke the silence of the stifling swamp.

Then, it came face to face with Moern and grinned again, its wicked teeth jutting in every direction. “You will make an excellent test subject.”

Moern fainted, sparing him from witnessing his own fate.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

Author Up Challenge – Day 1

A Raven

I have decided to take up this Author Up Challenge over at She’s Novel. I will attempt to make it 30 consecutive days, but we’ll see. I know my horrible track record when it comes to long periods of posting everyday. I’d rather get all the way through the challenge then to get halfway and get frustrated with myself for missing a day or two. My goal is completion. Consistency would be a great added bonus.

Each day has a fairly simple and kind of vague writing challenge. For example, the first one:

Day 1: Write in the First Person

The email had some ideas to get you started with writing deep into the character and even a starter sentence writing prompt, but I remembered one I’d seen on Pinterest yesterday, and decided to use that one:

Writing Prompt: I hold his sword and wonder if he was a good man.

I’ll admit right off, I’ve been in quite the sappy romantic mood this weekend. (I read the first three books of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and so enjoyed them that I’m now anxiously awaiting the fourth book.) So that romanticism may have seeped into the idea I had brewing for this challenge. A little.

Enjoy.

~ Effy

The Sword

I hold his sword and I wonder if he was a brave man. Did he go valiantly to his death or did he beg and bargain for his life?

From the craftsmanship of the sword, a good steel blade with no chips or pits, and the breastplate that would surely shine if not for the layer of mud tinted with blood, I imagine he was a knight. All knights are gallant and true, this knight being no exception.

I see the shining knight on his white horse. The sun, halfway up its journey to the heights of heaven, shines behind him, making him brilliant as God Himself. Pennants of red and gold flutter above him and across his chest and shield, leaving no question of his loyalty.

The knight’s eyes flare like burning emeralds from beneath the visor of his helm as he shouts encouragement to his men. He inspires bravery in them and fear in his enemies. Though he is hopelessly outnumbered, he takes down a score, no two, before his many wounds prove fatal. Even with his dying breath he tells his men to fight on and protects his fallen horse next to him.

Beside where I picked up the sword, I find a tattered, muddied cloth. It must have been the favor of a lady fair, for luck and the hope of safe return. “Take my token with you, sir knight,” I whisper, speaking her final words once more to the fallen champion. “Be protected by God and love.”

Why is fate so cruel?

My heart aches with the unjustness of it as I clutch the sword and the soiled handkerchief.

“Anya! Finish up over there! It’s getting late and I want out of this stinking field.” Ulric’s voice comes to my ears impatient as always. It’s harsh tone and loud volume turn my fantasies to scattered tendrils of memory, blown by the wind and snatched away by plump crows.

He gazes hard at me, then shakes his head, pulling the dingy handkerchief back over the lower part of his face. He goes back to his searching, tugging behind him a cart full of swords and pieces of armor and other valuables glinting in the late afternoon sun.

I try to reclaim the story of my white knight, but he is gone. Nothing but the ghosts of this place remain.

I curtsy, solemnly, to the knight. “Rest in peace, good sir.”

Then I too continue on, dragging along my own cart. It thuds and clatters along through mudholes and over the splayed limbs half-buried there. The cart grows in weight as does my wandering mind.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.

CW Final Project – The Shattering

 

Title Slide

It is the end of the semester and I’m finishing up assignments and projects for my classes. One was a final project for my Creative Writing class. For the longest time, I was at a loss of what to do. So I started working on finishing the last part of the Shattering (which I’ve posted 3 parts of so far). I wrote some and then my brain locked up.

So I decided to draw and color. 🙂

I worked on some dragon pictures and realized they might be the best way to present my piece visually. So I started a PowerPoint presentation and did some more coloring. Eventually, I realized it would be very difficult to put the drawings into the PowerPoint without a scanner. So I went and purchased one. Many of the pictures I drew, then inked, then scanned (in B&W), then printed on my laserjet, then colored, then scanned in again. I also scanned in some of my maps. (I love drawing maps!)

So here is what I presented. In the end, I just did the PowerPoint and explained the images, using up enough time without reading the excerpt. But I will include the excerpt at the end of this post.

~ Effy

Word of Dadreon Slide

Dadreon is a fantasy world I have been writing in since middle school–about 20 years. It has expanded and become more rich over the years. These past few years it has really begun to take shape because the various scattered pieces have begun to come together, fitting with one another like puzzle pieces.

Dadreon Pre-Shattering Slide

This is the world as it existed before the Shattering of the Sunstone and the resulting cataclysm. The world was one large landmass, similar to Earth’s Pangeae.

Dadreon Post-Shattering Slide

This is the separation of the continents immediately after the Shattering, before the continents started drifting apart from one another.

Sandrae Pre-Shattering Slide

Sandrae is basically the center of Dadreon, and the home to all of the Protectors. This is a map of Sandrae prior to the Shattering. The Temple of Yargonae is at the center in the elven city of Bethel. The darker portions are all forests as they existed before the humans arrived.

Sandrae Post-Shattering Slide

This is Sandrae after the Shattering, now surrounded by water.

Rhaegar Slide

This is Rhaegar, the Father of Dragons. He was created by Yargonae at the beginning. He is always dreaming, and in his dreams, he keeps an ancient evil locked away in the center of the world. The Shattering woke Rhaegar, allowing his prisoners to almost escape and changing the face of Dadreon.

The Sunstone Slide

After creating Rhaegar, Yargonae took a scale from him and created the Sunstone. Through the refracted rays of the sun, creating a rainbow of colors, Yargonae formed the Dracolords, the Gemstone Dragons. The Dracolords are the protectors of the elements–earth, fire, nature, air, and water.

Sapphire Slide

Sapphire is the male Dracolord who protects the elemental earth.

Ruby Slide

Ruby is the female Dracolord who protects the elemental fire.

Emerald Slide

Emerald is the male Dracolord who protects the elemental nature.

Quartz Slide

Quartz is the female Dracolord who protects the elemental air.

Onyx Slide

Onyx is the female Dracolord who protects the elemental water. (She turned out looking awesome, but far more mean looking than I intended!)

Sylvan Slide

The Sylvan are the Protectors of life and life essence. They are the mothers of all of the fae races–elves, fairies, halflings, and dryads.

Avar Slide

The Avar are the protectors of the mind and mental powers. They are a race of bird-people with a strict caste system and a way of life that is similar to the Asian and Buddhist lifestyles–focusing on history-keeping, knowing the self, and meditation.

Nagaesh Slide

I believe that the world is formed of opposites and these opposites both complement and contradict one another. The Desecrators are the opposite of the Protectors. For each Protector there is a Desecrator to form opposition and who feed on and destroy the forces that the Protectors guard. The Desecrators are the minions of the ancient ones imprisoned within Dadreon by Rhaegar. At the time of the Shattering, they were summoned to the surface by the envious Zaeriin, god of darkness and deceit.

The Nagaesh are the Desecrators of the elements. They feed on the elements of earth, fire, nature, air, and water. I devised this creature from a combination of various monsters and based its name off the mythical Naga, or lizard men.

Rusc Slide

The Rusc are the Desecrators of life and life essence. They feed on the life forces of other beings. I picture the Rusc similar to a ghoul from Dungeons & Dragons–vampiric and emaciated–which is why I choose to use this image.

Ilmaer Slide

The Ilmaer are the Desecrators of the mind and mental powers. They feed on the minds of other beings. I picture the Ilmaer very similar to the mind flayers, or Illithid, from Dungeons & Dragons–who also seem very similar to the imagery given of Cthulhu from H.P. Lovecraft’s writing.

The Shattering Excerpt Slide

This is an excerpt from the larger piece, The Shattering.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sunstone had begun to sing again, a melody dreadful and forlorn.

Zaeriin reached forward. A tiny tremor in the marble floor gave him pause. He hesitated for only a moment, then grabbed hold of the gem. A greater vibration shook Zaeriin, seeming to originate from the Sunstone. He took a firmer hold of it. The walls of the Temple began to shudder and cracks appeared in their flawless surfaces.

Zaeriin stood mesmerized, gazing deeply into the Sunstone. Within the gem were swirling masses resembling tiny cosmic clouds, and within them twinkled tiny stars. Now that he held it, the Sunstone seemed to trill with a higher pitch than before.

First dust, then pebbles, then large sections of the plastered walls and columns began to crumble and collapse around him. A large chunk fell to the floor, narrowly missing him and breaking him from his reverie.

“I think that is my exit cue,” Zaeriin murmured.

The Temple groaned and rumbled with discontent. As Zaeriin moved toward the doors, more chunks of plaster fell, now joined by the stone and mortar beneath it, quicker and in larger pieces than before. A jagged hole marred the ceiling, and it made the sun’s rays unpleasantly harsh and condemning to the dark god’s sensitive eyes.

Zaeriin clutched the Sunstone protectively to him. As he reached the aspen doors, the gem wailed and flashed hot pain into his chest.

Crying out, Zaeriin tried to hold on, but the burning gem tumbled from his covetous fingers.

The Sunstone hit the marble and shattered, letting loose an ear-piercing wail. It was a scream of fear, a howl of pain, a cry of anguish.

And it woke Rhaegar, the Dreamer, from his slumber.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To those living on the great landmass of Sandrae, it seemed the gods had cast judgment upon their creations, found them lacking, and sought to destroy all evidence of their existence. The once calm landscape became a roiling, punishing, living thing.

Mountains bled and groaned and collided with one another, ground together like gnashing teeth then violently ripping apart, leaving great chasms that sucked down the unprepared. The chasms channeled torrential sea waters into the crevasses forming across the continent’s formerly solid surface and the landmass shattered apart. Fractured pieces drifted away from the center of the continent.

The quakes created by the upheaval wracked Sandrae, crumbling buildings, destroying forests, and reshaping the features of the world of Dadreon. Molten rock spewed up from below and washed away great areas in burning rivers of lava.

Thunder and hail created a great cacophony, making ears ring and teeth grind. Lightning lit up the blackened sky and eerily outlined the apocalyptic landscape in stark white on black.

The cataclysmic events sent the peoples running in fear for their lives, but with nowhere to escape.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Zaeriin stood in horrified awe for several moments, staring at the topaz shards scattered around him. He grabbed the largest jagged fragment and fled down the marble stairs that spilled down the front of the violently quaking Temple.

He quickly realized the turmoil extended beyond Temple, though. The city of Bethel had fallen into chaos. Terrified elves fled homes that crumbled around them. They poured into streets that cracked apart beneath a sky that rumbled and spewed torrential rains.

He might have escaped in the confusion if not for the grief of one.

Umaesh, lord of the moons and stars, had watched his love, Onyx, enter the Temple of Yargonae and only Zaeriin emerge. He knew the malice that blackened that one’s heart, had seen much of his wicked acts from his high throne. Umaesh left his heavenly realm to confirm the fears growing within him, but was still stunned into anguished silence when he saw his love slumped into a pool of her own blood.

His tears had begun to fall as her body shimmered and shattered into two pairs of dragons–two of black and two of steely grey. The dragons cried out in their own despair before smashing through the remnants of the skylight of the Temple and escaping into the trembling beyond.

Umaesh was left with only his tears and his aching heart.

For what seemed an eternity to the immortal god, he knelt there, his face soaked with tears that would not stop falling, until finally he remembered the source of his heartbreak. Cold anger, the kind that sharpens emotion-dulled senses, filled Umaesh. He spent only a moment shaping the physical manifestation of his sorrow, the black pool of his tears, into a sharp obsidian instrument of revenge, and then crossed the Temple’s vast marble floor.

Zaeriin had only made it to the lower courtyard at the base of the stairs when Umaesh smashed through the remaining fragments of the great pair of aspen doors.

“Zaeriin! I will have your heart for the pain you’ve caused mine!”

The fleeing god cringed and hunched into himself as he met the glaring anger of Umaesh. The moon god cut an impressive figure across the darkened front of the Temple–silky black skin taut over rippling muscles that trembled with rage. Umaesh’s luminescent silver eyes burned into Zaeriin, making him flinch away from the gaze. In his passionate grip hung a sword with a black blade and Zaeriin knew what the other god intended.

“Be reasonable, Umaesh. You cannot kill me. I’m brother to your King,” Zaeriin said. He gave the moon god his most charismatic smile.

“I am beyond reason,” Umaesh replied, taking slow steps down the stairs to the lower courtyard.

“As was I. Believe me, her death hurts me as it does you.”

“I doubt that, but no worries, you will feel a similar pain.” Umaesh’s steps remained even, measured. “I plan to cut out your black heart.”

Zaeriin winced at the implications. “You are indeed without reason if you think I will submit to you.”

“It is my wish that you don’t. That will make my revenge sweeter.” His drawn out progression continued.

Zaeriin had never realized how steep the staircase was until it counted down to his end. He had no intentions of that happening. “You cannot attack what you cannot see,” the god of darkness hissed.

The entire courtyard went black. Umaesh could not even see the blade in his hand, let alone the steps ahead of him. He paused, his ears alert to any noise. “Coward!” he shouted into the dark.

The words were quickly lost in the deafening sounds of the world destroying itself, an end which meant nothing to Umaesh.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Umaesh whispered to his sword, and it responded. A dim light came forth, black on black, but cutting the immediate gloom. Umaesh stepped quicker down the stairs until he stood where Zaeriin had been a moment before. “Show yourself!”

“What fun would that be?” Zaeriin said. His confidence returned with his ability to fade into the black. This was his element.

Umaesh was aware of Zaeriin’s powers of deceit and knew better than to trust his ears. He focused on the dimly glowing sword as he cut slow swaths through the darkness.

At first, he saw nothing, but finally as Zaeriin’s voice laughed tauntingly behind him, Umaesh caught a movement at the edge of the sweeping sword’s light in front and to his left. He followed where he thought the movement’s path led and slashed.

Zaeriin cried out and the black wall around them wavered. The gloomy low-light of the continuing storm fell like streamers of dull gray, piercing random places and plunging to the ground around them.

Again, Umaesh waited, then lunged. Again, his opponent confirmed the hit through the shout of a scathing epithet.

The third time, the moon god’s sword met hard resistance and two weapons came together with a thunderous crash that echoed in the wounded sky. But Zaeriin’s strength was no match for Umaesh’s. As steel met obsidian, the moon god put all of his weight behind his Moonblade and crushed Zaeriin down toward the ground.

The tattered remnants of the darkness blew away like dead leaves in the whipping wind. Umaesh was face to face with Zaeriin and glared at his love’s murderer with vengeful silver eyes.

“Last words?” Umaesh growled.

“I think that’s enough fun for one day,” Zaeriin replied with a grin, still straining against the other’s muscular arms.

A moment later, Umaesh nearly fell to the ground, all the resistance beneath him gone–along with Zaeriin.

“Damn!”

From then forward, whenever the light of the moons became eclipsed, the people of Dadreon remembered the great battle of Umaesh and Zaeriin, and rejoiced when the moons’ faces once more shone, knowing their moon god had triumphed over evil, though not destroyed it.

Umaesh returned to his heavenly sanctuary and continued to cry for his lost love. His great dark tears fell all across Dadreon, and wherever they sizzled against the flowing lava of the ravaged land they became chunks of obsidian, the tears of the moon.

Umaesh Vs. Zaeriin Slide

This last slide is a surrealistic image I put together from the battle between Umaesh and Zaeriin. It symbolizes the lunar eclipse from the battle as well as Umaesh’s tears falling and forming obsidian.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The Ballad of Aeolus the White

White Dragon, by Ben Wootten

White Dragon, by Ben Wootten

My current goal is to complete a series of stories about the various dragons of Dadreon. So far, I have a green dragon story, a red dragon story, and now here I have a white dragon story. Expect the black and blue dragons to follow soon! (The black dragon piece is already in the works.)

This is for my Creative Writing class. Our assignment was to create an “Instruction” piece–meaning a piece that commands or explains or tells how to do something or how to accomplish something. Rather than write something tongue-in-cheek about “How To” or “How Not To” do something, I wanted to write about dragons. (I know, we’re all surprised! I never write about dragons!) So decided to write about a bossy white dragon with minions (worshipers).

I have been playing with poetry a lot lately, and for some reason the title to this piece got stuck in my head and wouldn’t go away. So I had to make it a ballad. So I had to figure out how to write a ballad. This is a very experimental piece, so please be gentle with feedback. But as always, I’d love to hear what you think. 🙂

Anyway, please enjoy!

~ Effy

The Ballad of Aeolus the White

White Dragon, by Saeto15

White Dragon, by Saeto15

I

“Bring me meat!” the great white wyrm demanded.
His yellowed fangs and crystalline blue eyes
Gleamed in the dim reflections of the faroff sun
Sneaking its rays into his ice-crusted cavern.

When Aeolus commanded, his worshippers
Fell over one another in frightened heaps to comply.
They brought him seal and orca meat, but his
Favorite was the fierce and hearty polar bear.

None of the cowardly barbarians had proved
Themselves brave or strong enough to slay one.
A few of the younger and stupider warriors tried
And never returned, surely made into bear food.

For a polar bear, Aeolus would leave his cave of
Ice and darkness to hunt. They were his delicacy.
The white dragon stalked the chilly tundra
As its apex predator–stronger than bear or wolf.

World’s End polar bears stood twice a man’s
Height on their hind legs, but Aeolus loomed
Twice that at his shoulders. Small for a dragon,
He towered over all other, mortal creatures.

White gleaming scales met white woolly fur,
And she rose to her full height of ten feet,
Roaring a dreadful challenge. Aeolus did not
Blink or waver, he rumbled back like the thunder.

“Cower before Aeolus!” the white wyrm bellowed.
No creature did he fear, none were his master.
“Cower before my might! I will chew your bones
And drink your blood as humans drink mead!”

The polar bear female dropped to all fours,
Backpedaled several feet and rumbled uncertainly.
She did not turn away, she knew it meant death.
Aeolus knew her death closed in either way.

He toyed with his food, like a cat with a mouse.
Slash and sidestep, bite and flap his wings.
Confuse her, keep her off balance, tire her out.
Only when she panted, stumbled would he strike.

Blood like rubies soaked the icy snow, and still
The bear huffed and snarled. A great claw caught
Aeolus on the forepaw and it made him laugh
A great guffaw. “Bleed! Submit!” And he sneered.

Finally, the female, her white fur shades of pink
And red, collapsed. As her legs gave out, Aeolus
Shot his head forward and snapped her thick neck,
Ending the creature’s pain in one quick shake.

Aeolus strutted his catch through the village,
The great polar bear hanging limply from his jaws.
The humans prostrated themselves before him,
Cowering at the strength and power of the dragon.

They praised him as they might a god:
Aeolus the white, Aeolus the terrible.
But they knew his temper, cold as ice:
Aeolus the frigid, Aeolus the devourer.

White Dragon

White Dragon, Unknown Artist

II

Aeolus had grown accustomed to the fear and
Obedience he inspired in his dim worshippers.
At his every command, they rushed to please him.
His every whim, they knew better than to deny.

So it came as a surprise when one day, alone
In his icy crystalline cavern, Aeolus heard a voice.
The voice seemed to originate inside his head.
It made demands of him. It gave him commands.

Fly south. Return to the land of your origin,
The voice insisted. Aeolus snarled back aloud,
“Silence! No creature do I fear! None is my master!”
Then he shook his head with great violence.

Still the voice persisted, growing louder and louder:
Fly south. Return to the land of your Father.
Aeolus gathered himself stubbornly, bellowing:
“Leave me be, voice! I will not submit to you!”

Even had the white wyrm anyone to confide in,
He would have kept his own, solitary council,
For voices in one’s head are always a bad sign.
Aeolus would never admit to such mental infirmities.

So he brooded and endured the insistent voice.
His worshippers came and went, and the dragon
made sure to never give them any idea of the
lingering, ever-present whispers in their idol’s head.

Until one day, a handful of the barbarians brought
A giant orca carcass to the feet of their icy master.
He hissed a note of pleasure to the group, when
Suddenly the intruder returned, more tenacious:

Fly south. Fly south. Fly south, it chanted rhythmically.
You must. Don’t resist. Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry…
“No! Be gone!” Aeolus roared. The very air vibrated and
The cavern walls shook until icicles fell and shattered.

The worshippers looked at one another in confusion,
Dull eyes and slack mouths forming questions.
“Leave my head!” the white wyrm commanded in
A thunderous hiss, his wings and claws smashing.

The humans fled and ensured they were far from
earshot before sharing whispers of, “Voices, eh?
The White One is hearing voices. A bad sign, surely.”
For even they knew of those who lurked below.

Deep below slept ancient creatures beyond evil.
They invaded the dreams of mortals with raving
Whispers of murderous intent. Could these monsters
Scratch away the sanity of their immortal master?

They praised him as they might a god:
Aeolus the white, Aeolus the terrible.
But they knew of his unheard whispers:
Aeolus the deranged, Aeolus the erratic.

White Dragon Statue

White Dragon Statue, Unknown Artist

III

Aeolus narrowed his eyes to mere slits, watching
The movement of his worshippers below in their
Small village. He heard the rumors. He saw the looks.
He knew what they thought of him and snarled.

The white wyrm was not crazy, nor being driven
To it. Instead, he seethed with anger cold as frostbite.
“I submit to no one–man, dragon, or even god,”
He growled to himself, to the voice, but less adamant.

The dragon had determined it was no ancient evil
Whispering maddening and repetitive commands to him,
But he had not determined the true source of the voice.
Aeolus felt it was draconic, but could not answer why.

I am the sleeper, I am the jailor, I am the Father of
Dragons, the voice finally admitted. Aeolus’ lip twitched.
“Impossible. Tell me, who are you really? Why do you
torment me? Tell me!” He bared his teeth at the shadows.

Who else could invade your thoughts so completely?
Aeolus snorted, unable to make an intelligent retort.
Why do you still resist? Fly home. Fly south. I need you.
One ice-white eyebrow arched over a glacier blue eye.

The voice’s plea echoed in his head, tugging at his
Frigid heartstrings. The unfamiliar sensation caused him
A pain almost physical that faded to a sharp tingle–
like a limb that has fallen asleep and refuses to awaken.

“Why?” the last stubborn holdout of the dragon’s being
Demanded. “Tell me why I should do as you ask?”
Time is running out. Hurry, hurry, please. Come home.
The voice, still imploring, was a sweet caress, an embrace.

The curiosity deep within Aeolus continued to grow.
It slowly began to conquer the stubbornness, so deep
And ingrained it was embedded in the white wyrm’s
Soul. What could the Father possibly want of him?

Before Aeolus could fully form the question in his mind,
His legs were moving, faster, launching him into the cold
Air that did not chill the white dragon. Wings spread and
Caught the winds. Wing and wind embraced like old lovers.

The dragon tirelessly flew, on and on. The distance to
Sandrae was great, but time seemed to pass in a place
Separate from Aeolus the White. It did not affect him.
He never tired or faltered. Soon green forests bloomed.

The ruined city of Bethel came into view below him.
Aeolus knew without knowing that was his destination.
As he made a lazy loop and picked a place to land,
He realized he was not alone, not the first to arrive.

Other dragons, dragons of every color–both chromatic
And metallic hues–filled the sky and the courtyard of
The Temple of Yargonae. Aeolus had never once run
Across a single other dragon since the death of Anemone.

Vines wound and grass grew through the cracks
In Bethel’s main road, the once straight path from
The gate, now rusted close, to the base of the crumbling
Marble steps of the Temple–dark and silent as death.

When Rhaegar, the Father of Dragons, once more spoke
To Aeolus, he knew he spoke to them all, for he saw
The curious looks and cocking of heads. Welcome home,
My wayward children. Witness soon the dawn of your rebirth.

Confusion and fleeting panic went through Aeolus’
Thoughts, but they were soon replaced with a warm
Feeling that began in his chest and spread throughout.
He felt a change and somehow sensed Anemone.

His heart burst with joy, but Aeolus could not reach
Out to her, did not even comprehend how he knew she
Was there. Before he could fret overly, he felt her draw
Closer–until they were one and he knew completion.

They praised him as they might a god:
Aeolus the white, Aeolus the terrible.
But the Father knew him better than any:
Aeolus the lonely, Aeolus the loner.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons License
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.