So things are a touch stressful, and when they are, my dragons start talking. So I start playing. It’s very therapeutic. Since I love my dragons, and I hope that you people will too, here is an offering. It IS a bit of a chunk. This might be a first chapter, so I guess it could be called a teaser, I’m not sure. My first chapters tend to get rearranged a lot. hmm. Anyways, enjoy?
E9 Possible First Chapter
(c) 2013 Necia Phoenix
The growls and snarls echoed off the mountain peaks. The creature was covered in pale white fur and had several sets of legs on either side. Its forward graspers snatched out at the black dragon that let loose a barrage of small, hot fireballs, hitting it in the ‘face’, driving it back towards the narrow gorge it had climbed up a short while before. It roared, covering its face with one set of hands, flailing the other, trying to grab the lone dragon.
Miranda was having none of it, she back-winged out of reach, turned and flapped her wings, gaining altitude, hoping her fire reserves weren’t completely empty. She wheeled around locking her wings catching an updraft and watched the creature fumbling on the slick mossy rocks. It lowered its second set of hands, revealing a flattened ‘face’ and now singed fur. It bellowed, weaker this time and Miranda inhaled, building up the blaze. It would have to do, it would take a few weeks to build up the blaze again. She let loose the fireball with a roar, waiting till it smashed into the creature’s face again before folding her wings tight to her body and diving, front claws and rear extended.
It was almost anticlimactic. Her claws shredded it, but she was certain the heat of her flame had killed it before her claws had a chance too. She gingerly moved from the creature that was over twice her size, shaking her legs and flicking her tail. The smell of burning fur and skin filled the air, though from the looks of the clouds above, it wouldn’t linger long. She moved away from the twitching body, staring at the beast, her tail twitching.
She shifted, morphing from her dragon form to her human form as rain began to fall. It wouldn’t take long for the downpour to begin, and she saw something that required the delicate human hand, not the dragon claws. She darted forward, toward what she guessed was the middle of the beast. As wide as she was tall, it was what appeared to be a blue leather utility belt. She frowned staring at the odd, pale blue leather and swallowed.
“Oh gods.” She pulled her short sword and carefully cut the leather and tucked her sword away.
She shifted back to dragon-form, grasped the utility belt in her larger dragon-hand and scooted backward, trying to pull it out from under the beast’s stinky corpse. It got stuck as the downpour began and Miranda yanked at it, wishing she could swear when it tore near where it was stuck beneath the body. She growled, glancing around and launched into the air. She had to get back to the Keep.
“Greyson take a look at this.” Miranda set the wound up leather on the table. Her brother, the Dragonmaster, strode over, his movements stiff. Miranda swallowed. It was a pain day for him. He frowned, gingerly lifting the leather in his hands, staring at it for a long time before his eyes widened, face blanched and he dropped it as though it were a burning coal. He looked at her, eyes wide. “Where in the hell did you get that?”
“Is it what I think it is?” Miranda whispered.
“Dragonhide.” He looked down at it, looking ill.
“Pale blue dragonhide.” She said softly.
They looked at each other. Only one clan came with blue hides. Ice Dragons.
“There was a beast on Upper Ridge, near the Blue River. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life.” Miranda said, looking down at the hide. “It was wearing that,”
“There were pockets and things sewn, yes Grey, sewn onto the other side, the side that ripped.” She looked at him.
He was staring down at the hide, blank-faced. “How big was this thing?”
“Twice as big as me, bigger than you, maybe. It was moving fast. It’s dead, up on the ridge,” Miranda paced back and forth, her eyes drifting towards the blue hide on the table. “I’ve never heard of any kind of creature like that before.
Grey looked at her for a long time and she heard the low rumble, the summons. He was calling for one of the outcast Ice Dragons they’d sheltered some time ago.
One of the young women, Inez, came in. She inclined her head, looking back and forth curiously between Greyson and Miranda.
“You called, my lord?”
“Inez, Miranda encountered something in the northern range this morning that we were hoping you might be able to give us information about.” Greyson said. Miranda watched Inez’s face.
“I’ll do my best, my lord.” She said slowly.
“It was a large, white furred beast,”
“Oh.” Inez paled, her eyes widened and she swallowed, looking past them at the blue hide. She blinked rapidly and met Miranda’s eyes. “They didn’t used to come south of the lower mountains.” She whispered.
“What was it?”
She rattled off a few words that Miranda didn’t understand.
“It was just a bit larger than me.” Greyson said. Still calm. Miranda looked at him, startled. Had he understood her?
“It was young then.” She whispered, shaking her head.
“Young?” Miranda stared. It had been a long battle, a tiring battle. The only thing keeping her up was the need to know if there might be any more barreling their way.
“I’m not supposed to say.” She whispered.
“Inez, the men who made you vow silence are dead. You owe them nothing. And that creature, a young one you say, came into the fringes of our territory. If there was one,”
“Lothos stopped hunting them.” She blurted. “Years ago. Mother said it was one of the first decisions, one of the first mistakes he made.”
Miranda bit her lip, letting her continue. Lothos the fool, Lothos the crazy. Lothos the murderer.
“He thought it would keep strangers out better, reduce the need to run patrols I guess. Let our enemies be our allies. He let the great mothers take over some of the valleys in the north, and set up nests.”
“Great mothers?” Greyson asked.
“The,” Inez made an odd motion with her hands. “The ones who birth the beasts, the hunters. They took over the valleys, used up all the food, and then instead of going back to the far northern fields they started hunting us. The Outlanders.” She looked back towards the hide. “Lothos started hunting them again, it was impacting the whole clan.”
“Hunt you?” Miranda whispered.
Inex nodded and took a shuddering breath. “Between them and Lothos own inner hunt, the Outlanders fled, or were run out.” She looked at Greyson, a tear running down her cheek. “They wear our hides as trophies, hang them on walls. Tossed on the floor like rugs.”
“That’s why the Ice clans started splintering.”
Inez nodded. “Lothos started losing control. His own sons started trying to regain some order, and he killed most of them off or ran them off. Dmitri came back, the rest,” she shrugged. “I don’t know.” She glanced towards the blue hide and shuddered.
“Why would those beasts be coming down south?” Miranda asked.
Inez went over to the hide, staring down at it. Miranda wondered in a horrid way, if the she recognized the hide pattern. When she turned around she didn’t meet their eyes.
“Resources are running low. Without a Nushun,” she glanced at them, “uhm, leader, until one has been established, we are in limbo. The beasts will move south, looking for food,”
“Or move towards the settlements where your people are.” Miranda said. Inez nodded.
“Perhaps you should go back, give them some warning.” Greyson suggested.
“I can’t. We were driven out by Lothos. Disavowed. Unless the next Nushun agrees to let our family go home, we can’t enter that territory or we could be killed.”
Miranda met Greyson’s eyes. He shook his head.
“I killed it.” She said.
“Miranda,” there was a warning growl in his voice.
“I’ve run messenger to the Ice Dragons before, Grey.” She said, hooking her thumbs in her belt. Without Lothos or Otto around it was a hell of a lot safer. It would be a nice change from running patrols along the northern boarder of their lands.
“You always had Jerril or Habcore with you. Jerril’s in Tyrsleth, Habcore’s in the southern isles,”
“So? You think I can’t handle a few Ice Dragons?” Miranda asked. She glanced at Inez.
“With all due respect, Dragonmaster, she took that thing down by herself. She should have no trouble with my people. Miranda, take that,” she jerked her head towards the hide, “and go to Ice Keep. Ask for Dmitri. Show his people that, and tell them how you got it. His people will listen. They’ll pay attention.”
“He can be trusted?” Miranda asked.
Inez frowned. “If he thinks he can gain an advantage somehow, yes.”
“That’s not very comforting.” Greyson said.
“It wasn’t meant to be.”
I hope you enjoyed reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.
You can go here for other snips and scenes in the same world.