Tag Archives: scraps

Old writing: Dragons

This is likely from around 2000, and it’s definite cringe for me – I’m putting this out there in the name of entertainment! You can tell I was reading the Dragonriders series at the time, and I can see some of S’ian and an early incarnation of Toru in the characters, but…oh dear. I wonder if I’m going to look back on my current writing in seventeen years time and have the same reaction?

The people in the street gaped up at the sentry who shouted, then turned to gaze at the sky. Within a few seconds, the whisper spread throughout the city, the trickle turning into a stream. It spread through the households like fire, engulfing everyone in its path. The news reached the centre of the city within a minute and sent servants running.  People rushed out of their houses to stare at the two patches of shimmering colour in the sky. When the lord of the city had the news brought to him by a flustered servant, he blinked several times in surprise, then hurriedly gave several shouted orders to his functionaries and sent them scurrying. All through the city, the trickled news turned into a stream, then into a river as more and more people stopped what they were doing and hurried towards the walls.

High up on the two great beasts, the dragonriders watched as a stream of people poured out of the gates and up onto the walls. A glance passed between the riders, and the dragons began to spiral lower and lower towards the green fields outside the city walls.

The lord of the city was worried as he rode towards the gates. Sitting in his carriage, he could see the air of excitement on the peoples’ faces. It was like a celebration, he mused. But the dragons were living legends, as the riders did not visit the country very often. He had only seen them once before in his lifetime. It was a great honour to be visited by the riders. But all the same, it had only been, what, 20 orbits since they visited last? They must have some reason for coming again so soon. They couldn’t have…The Lord found that he was nervously fingering the great gold ring of office on his finger and tried to calm himself. The carriage passed through the gates and came to a stop on the edge of the crowd. The lord dismounted, and despite himself, gazed upwards with the crowd to watch as the two dragons circled closer and closer.

As the dragons came closer to the field and the waiting crowd, the riders could see the carriage drive up and the man, ridiculously small from this height, step out. The rider of the silver dragon, a young elf-girl, patted its side, as if in sympathy to something it had said. A glance passed between her and the boy riding the golden dragon, and although no sound passed between them, they seemed to speak to each other.

They are expecting us, Ben

Did you expect anything less? It is good that the sentries were alert-

 -Yes, but do they know why we are really here? – 

 -We have to have a purpose…we don’t visit for fun, Cian. – 

-Agreed, but we must be alert. They will be expecting a reason-

The gold dragon turned its head to the youth riding it.

-They are scared of us, Ben. Raider says that the people have not seen beasts like us much. Why do we scare them? –

-Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. –

– And Raider says please pay attention. We are landing soon-

-Tell her we know what we’re doing, Manooth-

They turned back to watch the city as they circled closer.

#

As the dragons came in to land, the lord could see them close up for the first time. They were truly magnificent. Their skins shone in the sunlight and their wings spread the full width of the gatehouse. The lord noted that although both dragons had other colours shimmering faintly along their wings and ridges, the gold dragon had more pronounced highlights of red on the tips of the wings, claw sheaths and all along the back ridges. The silver dragon only had a few faint green highlights, but the eyes of both dragons glittered like diamonds. They swooped in, and the lord could clearly hear the gasps of apprehension and feel the crowd pull back as the dragons flew straight towards the city walls. Then they suddenly backwinged with a blast of air and settled to the ground just in front of the exited crowd. The sigh was audible as the dragons furled their wings with a rustling sound like the wind. The crowd drew back as both riders dropped to the ground and one walked towards the Lord. The other turned towards the dragon and reached up to stroke the lowered head. The crowd cautiously drew in to get a closer look.

The boy up on the walls, hidden out of sight from the people on the ground, had watched with the crowd as the dragons flew in and landed. As he saw the riders dismount, he craned forward over the wall to see more clearly. He saw the boy walk forward to meet the Lord of the city. His gaze flicked to the Lord and back to the rider. The drab riding clothes of the riders contrasted sharply with the clothes of the richly dressed ruler, but he saw how the boy walked with an air of poise and confidence that both the riders had. It was obvious against with the slight nervousness of the Lord’s stance. Why was the Lord so nervous? But his gaze was caught as the girl by the dragons removed her helmet and goggles and reached up to stroke the great head lowered towards her. How he would love to be able to do that! It must be wonderful to ride a Dragon. Then he felt his breath catch sharply as the girl turned her head towards the walls, her gaze searching for something. He ducked back into the crowd and watched with apprehension until the girl turned back to stroke the head of the silver dragon as it towered above her. That was too close. He had to be careful! But still he stayed on the walls, watching with envy.

Cian was thinking fast as she turned back to the dragons. I felt him looking at me! He was watching us. I felt it. So where is he? I thought I saw him, then he was gone. He ducked back. Is he scared? Scared to face his future? Or maybe he doesn’t know. Then what was he doing watching us like that? He must know the legends, even if he doesn’t know that it’s him. She reached out with her mind but the mind she had felt before was gone. Shielded, she thought. Clever. I could break through, but not now. It can wait.

As he approached the Lord of the city, Ben could clearly feel the apprehension emanating from the richly dressed man. Dragonriders did not visit very often, and usually no one person had seen two visits in their lifetimes. But it had been only 20 turns since the last routine check, so the lord had a right to feel nervous.

–Ben, stop worrying- came Cian’s soft voice in his head. He caught his gaze on the slightly nervous lord, walking forward to greet him, and smiled.

“My Lord.” The lord could not quite mask his nervousness. “ It is an honour to meet such famous people. It is a great favour for Dragonriders to visit twice in one lifetime, and we are indeed honoured with your presence.  May I welcome you to our city and offer you the hospitality of the palace while you recover from your journey?” The lord bowed low.

Ben responded with a half bow. “I am B’ten, rider of gold Manooth, and that is X’cian, rider of silver Raider. I apologise for the inconvenience of this visit, but may I assure you that it was necessary.”

He glanced at the crowd surrounding them. The Lord looked even more nervous for a moment, but got control of himself.

“Of course. Is there anything we can, uh, do for your Dragons?”

Ben smiled. “We will see to the dragons later – they might need feeding, you know. But they don’t eat meat.” he added hurriedly. “They should be all right here for the meantime. I think your people like them.”

The Lord looked a trifle put out. “We do not see many of these beasts up close. It is a rare opportunity.”

Why did you say that name? You don’t often use B’ten. – Cian enquired in his head. Ben gave a mental shrug. – And the dragons are going to get nervous. The crowd won’t leave them alone. Can you do something? –

 Ben turned to look at the crowd surrounding the dragons. It was keeping its distance, but was rather big. He frowned. “If you will excuse my interfering, but I think that mabey you should try and disperse the crowd a little.” he said in a low voice to the lord. “ The dragons get irritated when there are too many people around them.”

That did the trick. The Lord went pale and nodded hurriedly. He beckoned a servant over and murmured something. The servant scurried away and a few minutes later guards started to motion the crowd to disperse.

“If you would like to follow me, I will escort you to the palace. I can assure you that the Dragons will not be bothered if your lady would like to come with us.”

Ben heard Cians’ laughter echo inside his head.

Your Lady! He has not even met me yet. All right, Raider. You stay here with Manooth. Fly over to those walls if anyone pesters you. –

Ben smiled at Manooth’s indignant rejoinder that no one would pester Raider. He was very protective of his flying companion and teamate. Ben turned to the Lord with a neutral expression.

“If you could but delay a moment, I think that Silver Treid would like to join us.” He used the formal title deliberately. Treid simply meant rider, but he knew the use of the word would reproach the Lord from automatically assuming that he and Cian were more than a flying pair. It was not a matter for this petty lordling to speculate on.

As Cian came over, Ben saw the Lord’s eyes scan up and down her figure. Cian met his curious gaze with one of steel and the lord hurriedly dropped his eyes and bowed to her. She returned his bow and after another exchange of pleasantries they were led over to the carriage and climbed in.

The Thief and the Seer

A new story, started from an old relationship…

It was a cold night; cold enough to chill the two figures walking along the lonely road to the bone. One, the smaller and thinner of the two, was huddled against the weather, soaked and cold. The other, taller and lankier, didn’t seem to feel the chill, striding along as if it was a summer’s day.

“Dad, are we nearly there?” the smaller figure asked, her words nearly lost in the wind.

“Yeah.” The man pointed. “Next bend. That’s the tree.”

It was indeed a true hangman’s tree, bent and twisted. The man turned off the road as they reached it, stepping onto a smaller track. “Just a little further.”

“You said that aaaaages ago!” the smaller one whined, but continued to follow.

“I’m telling the truth this time,” the older said, and there it was; the house, wide windows lit by a warm glow. Not much of the glade that surrounded it could be seen beyond the outlines of trees bending in the darkness, but it didn’t matter. The house was warm and waiting for them.

He raised a hand and knocked at the door.

And then they waited, the wind in their ears.

“She’d better be in,” the man grumbled, glaring at the woodwork.

“What do we do if she isn’t?”

The man grinned.

“You’d break in to the Seer’s house?” The wind whipped scraggly hair across the teenager’s face and into her wide eyes.

“What’s the problem?”

“She’d know!”

The man gave a mirthless laugh. “Well, yes, that could be a minor…problem…”

The door had opened, spilling light out across them. The woman in the doorway had frozen, and the man’s words tailed off as he took her in. Dark hair streaked with grey and white, and a face lined with years; and bright grey eyes that stared out in shock at the scarred man with bright blue eyes standing on her doorstep.

The seer and the thief faced each other across a threshold for the second time in their lives. And then the seer smiled, and stepped to one side. “Well, as you’ve come this far…you’d better come in.”

 

“I didn’t think you’d be the type to settle down,” the woman said as the man and teenager divested themselves of wet clothes.

“I’m not,” he snapped, scrubbing a hand through his own greying hair. “She got dumped on me.”

The child in question was looking around the cluttered, interesting room with bright eyes. “Mom got fed up of me. Dad’s more interesting.”

“Lying, cheating and stealing?” the woman asked.

“And magic.”

The seer nodded. “By the way, don’t steal anything from here. You won’t like the results.”

The teenager looked at the man, who nodded seriously.

“What are you calling yourself these days?” the woman added.

“Knight. And she’s Dan.”

“You may as well call me Beth.”

The man snorted.

“It’s as good a name as any,” the woman said mildly. “Can I offer you food?”

“You have to.”

That just got a smile from Beth. “You don’t change, do you? Please, come and eat with me. Can I ask where you’re going?”

The man spun from where he’d just put his coat and pointed an accusing finger at her. “Don’t you dare.”

“You could just tell me.” She was still smiling, serene in the face of his irritation.

“I want information! That’s it.”

“Well, come and eat while you think of how to phrase your questions so I won’t winkle the truth out of you with them.” She turned to the teenager. “Bathroom is through there. You must be frozen; I’ll make a hot drink for you.”

 

“So…you two know each other?” Dan asked as silence settled over the table again. They were only halfway through dinner, and she’d never seen her father so irritated. The seer just seemed to find it amusing.

The two adults exchanged a glance. “What does she know?” Beth asked.

“Very little,” Knight snapped, digging into his bowl again.

The woman rolled her eyes and turned to the teenager. “We were enemies. Long ago. I got out of the life and came into this, and your father turned his talents in other directions.”

“It’s a living,” Knight grunted. “So, are you going to give me answers, or have I just eaten something healthy for nothing?”

The woman sighed and pushed her half-full bowl away, laying both hands on the table. “What’s your question?”

“Where’s the secret entrance in the Tombs of the Fallen?” He leaned back. “And what’s your price?”

“Tell me why you want to know.”

There was a pause. And then the man said, “We’re going to the Tomb of Parrun. We’re going to steal the Knowledge.”

“Dad!” Dan protested. “You said not to tell anyone, ever! Why are you telling her?”

The scarred man gave a small smile, tender and amused. “There’s some people I can’t lie to. She’s one of them.”

The teenager turned a glare on the woman. “Why?”

“It’s an old bargain,” Beth told her mildly.

“A foolish one. So, do I get an answer?” the man demanded.

The seer sighed. “I’ll assume you know how to get to the Tombs. Once there, go into Hestion’s Tomb. The second statue has a sword in its hand; pull the hilt and that will open the passage.”

“Thanks.”

“Are you going to stay?” the seer added.

“What will I owe for it?”

“I never dealt in debts, Knight,” Beth told him, something hard coming into her voice. “You and he did. I didn’t. You can stay here tonight, and I’ll give you food in the morning.”

“And you know that I have to pay for it.” Dan had never heard that sort of pain in her father’s voice.

“An answer, then. Do you still think of it, sometimes?” Beth’s voice had dropped, and Dan felt like an intruder.

“Yes.” Her father’s eyes were on the table. “Often.”

Beth reached out a hand and gently touched the back of Knight’s. He turned his, and for a moment, they were just holding hands across the table, sharing a moment that the child wasn’t part of.

And then Knight sighed and leaned back, removing his hand. “Any other scabs you want to pick at?”

Beth smiled, as if she’d expected the sudden harshness. “Not tonight. Beds are up the ladder.”

 

She heard them go, before dawn had even broken; she’d left provisions on the table, knowing that they’d be needed. When she got up to check that the door was shut behind them, she smiled at the apples left on the table. He didn’t like apples. It looked like most of the bad habits hadn’t faded with age.

And then her mind turned to their quest as she stoked the fire and put the kettle on to boil. So someone else was after the Knowledge again? Parrun didn’t lie peacefully for long, did he…

She fingered the scar on her collarbone and sighed as the fire strengthened, warming the small house. Who was it this time who had paid the thief? He wouldn’t want it for himself; Knight wasn’t an idiot. Someone hadn’t read their histories, or thought they were better than everyone else.

She sighed again, standing in her small house and watching the fire. It had been a long time, but…

“Damn,” she said, her voice sounding thin in the silence. “I’m going to have to stop him.”

Dresden Files: Solstice Fight

After a while of focusing my energy on game planning, I’ve had a kick to get back into writing – and this was the result! An odd piece but good action practice.

I’m dressed in my leather jerkin over my shirt and jeans, pirate boots on my feet and my hair flowing around my head. I don’t look anything like a Knight from the real world, but I don’t need to. The acorn around my neck, the silver-woven bracelet on my wrist, the knife at my belt; they are all the armour I need.

The huge field around me is littered with bodies, dead and alive. There’s things from the worst realms of Fairytale here; we’re in the middle of a nightmare of blood and fighting, worse than any human battle could ever be. It’s the Solstice, and the Summer and Winter Courts are battling it out for control of the Table. Luckily, I’m not having to be a general; Nemain’s directing Summer’s forces. My job is simpler. Distract the Winter Knight.

“He comes!” The Little Folk swoop down towards me, squealing excitedly. They love battles. It’s more fun than parties because they get to use their swords.

Apparently you get in trouble if you stab pizza.

The Fae on the battlefield around me scatter, and I smile at the ice-armoured figure stalking towards me. We’re left alone for these duels, which is exactly how I want it. “Sir Knight.”

“Lady Knight.” It’s a familiar voice, laced with excitement and malice. And then without ceremony he throws out a handful of razor-sharp icicles, intended to slice my chest open, leaving me bleeding and screaming on the ground.

I’m already moving, whirling away to one side and calling my sword into existence as I move. As the flaming blade roars into life I throw out my other hand, dissolving the Knight’s next ice shower into warm droplets. “You’re looking very dashing today,” I call lightly.

He snorts and goes for his own sword. “I’d say the same about you-” A clash and fizz as our swords meet, and then I’ve ducked away. I can’t match his sheer strength, so I have to be quick. “Except I’d use the word fuckable.”

“That sounds like an invitation to get you out of that armour.” I’m dancing across the ground, the flame whirling around my head and body as I spin. The life and laughter that I bring with me is one of the best weapons against Winter’s dark and death; the Knight can’t attack this much vitality, and he’s forced to rely on his ice. That I can work with. Plus, it means we battle to lilting snatches of old folk songs and the laughter of long summer days. It really disconcerts him, and I love it.

“You could ask – instead of trying to – carve it up with a bloody piece – of fire.”

“That sounds far too easy.” I whirl the flaming blade around my back and thrust it towards him. This time it does hit in; I’ve already withdrawn and moved to avoid his return blow, but there’s a singed and melted hole in the side of his armour.

“I’ve had easier fucks,” the Winter Knight growls at me.

“It’s more fun when they fight,” I throw back, feeling the chill from his blade across my neck as it slices a chunk of my hair away, leaving white strands across the battered ground.

“You take it to extremes.” I’m forced into a roll by his next blow and I know what’s coming next; he’s so predictable sometimes…

So I’m already letting my sword fade and calling up protection when the ice blasts out, freezing the ground beneath my feet and filling the air around me with freezing fog. It takes a large chunk of energy to resist the chill and I know the Knight is already charging across the ground towards me, using the fog as cover.

But instead of rolling aside as I would usually do, I lunge forward. My arms meet something solid and then I’m out of the fog and into the clear, actually slamming the Winter Knight backwards into the frozen ground. I use my momentum to tuck and roll up over his head before he can grab me-

His hand catches my ankle and I’m jerked to an abrupt halt, my ribs thumping awkwardly onto something. Fuck, that hurt. I kick his ear and then his wrist while he twists on the ground, trying to get a purchase while also not letting me go. We devolve into street brawling too often for my liking, but you can’t have everything.

He’s materialised an ice knife in his fist and is thrusting it towards my foot. I swing my weight and clout him on the side of the head, and get my foot free as he momentarily lets go. He snarls and rolls as I come to my feet and draw my knife, and then we’re both on our feet again. I’m covered in smudges and dirt, while his ice is still pristine. But hey, I’m prettier than he is even with my face covered in mud.

I see Winter’s familiar lust filling the periwinkle-blue eyes; my shirt’s torn at the shoulder and I know he’d love to take advantage of that. I did make the lust win one Solstice, which was amusing; he had actually got as far as dissolving his armour before Mab turned up behind him.

Ok, that wasn’t as fun as I make it sound. I really did think I was going to die when he slammed me into the ground, and being pinned to a muddy battlefield and raped is only slightly preferable to actually dying. I was surprised when Mab interrupted. Figured she’d enjoy watching Summer get humiliated.

But I’ve got other games to play today.

I attack. He’s forced to block, parry, block again as I dance around him, whirling faster than he can move, leaving melted slices across his armoured body. This is the problem with my attacks; I’m simply not strong or powerful enough to get in directly. I have to wear him down and create weaknesses before I can properly do any damage. If the Winter Knight could actually pin me down, he’d overcome me easily – which is why I rely on being fast.

And it’s working. 

The Knight’s on the defensive. He’s trying to attack but he’s using too much strength healing his armour and trying to keep up with my movements to focus more than a few brief showers of icicles. And before he knows it, between one attack and the next, I’ve slammed him backwards with both feet and then I’m on his chest, knife in my fist and blade pressed into his neck.

I lean forward, and I kiss his cold lips.

The sound from his throat is somewhere between agony and ecstasy. The blade’s digging in and he can’t tell how far I’ve pushed it, but my lips are warm and the life surrounding me is intoxicating. He doesn’t dare move but he desperately wants to take me. He’s too busy fighting with himself to focus on me.

I’ve won.

Around us, the battle is ebbing; it looks like Summer has won the Table back and the world’s back on track. I leave the Winter Knight on the ground, blood blossoming slowly at his throat and his eyes despairing as the armour melts from his limbs. Mab won’t be happy with him, because I let him live.

But hey. There’s always another Solstice.

No Man’s: A new story

Selsley common
From Gloucestershire-butterflies.org

I, uh, may have ideas for a new story. Again.

I was on the train yesterday, heading to Swindon, and looked up at the commons. You can see the barrows at Selsley from Stroud, and I was musing. I don’t really know where my ideas come from. They just sort of start and then snowball and then suddenly I have a story…

So there’s another No Man’s story in progress. This one is set during the Apocalypse, when supernatural people are dying and no one has any idea why. The cities are worst hit, and so everyone flees to the countryside – including our Main Character.

And she comes to Stonehouse. She’s trying to find her feet, with a job and a life and missing London. She meets people. She walks up on the Commons, and she meets the Fae. She meets a certain Emissary of said Fae (aka. one of the main characters of No Man’s Land, before he gets himself the situation that we find him in during that book). Things  May Happen – I’m not entirely sure what yet, but I think I have an ending…

I’ve got a murder mystery, a romance, a dollop of homesickness and settling, and someone growing a spine. I’m still working out threads and just letting the ideas roam at the moment – I mean, I decided yesterday that Stonehouse may have its own weather protection (we never get the same weather as the surrounding area) and started wondering why. Is there a weather wizard living here? A protection spell? (That’d be pretty powerful). A natural protection? I’ve got some ideas there, so…it’s fun!

So keep an eye out. More stories in progress!

Snippets of writing: April 2016

It’s not Wednesdays that are the problem day any more…it’s Thursdays. I’m just waiting for it to roll round to Monday, and then I can start calling myself Garfield.

*****

“The sun is aging, and soon the life will vanish.”

“Is that certain?” he choked.

“No,” the lady said. “Nothing is. But my influence will wane. I have had a long enough time of pleasure, and now my powers are lessening. You have had your time to rise, little ones.”

*****

“I have no idea,” the Knight admits. “I’m hoping to charm her into helping…or bully her.” He winces. “Although bullying Wardens doesn’t really work.”

“That sounds like a good story.” I grin. “Tell?”

“Why do you always pick the stories that make me look like an idiot?” he grumbles.

“Oh, this must have been bad! You gotta tell it now.”

He gives me a sanitized version of a story about trying to fight four Wardens to rescue a beautiful nixie, and being overpowered after defeating three of them. I make him tell it again, pointing out where he’s slipped up and reverted to the truth, and then again. Eventually, he gives up and informs me that he was challenged by a Warden after an ill-advised snarky comment, got his ass handed to him, and hasn’t been back to Maryland since. He seems to take my hysterical laughter as a personal affront, which I suppose it is. But I am supposed to be his enemy, and it’s good for him to be taken down a notch or three.

*****

“Unless I can borrow you?”

I’m mentally kicking myself as soon as the words are out of my mouth, and I can see the blush starting on her face. But then a small smile touches her lips, even though her cheeks are going red. “I’m only an overnight loan, I’m afraid. You’d have to bring me back tomorrow.”

*****

“Would you consider partnering her with Jack? The fact he’s even willing to consider it is impressive. He’s incredibly picky about his survey teams.”

“That’s just as suspicious to me. What’s her hold on him?”

“Nothing that we can see. I’ll talk to him. But he’s the best person to keep an eye on her, if she does go rogue.”

*****

I’m stopped by a well-meaning but long-winded elderly woman, who I swear must be a witch. I’m very polite to her for as long as the huge dog next to me can bear, but eventually he stands up and stretches, nudging my hand insistently.

“Garmr!” I reproach him.

His tongue lolls out at me, and then he nudges me hard enough to knock me off-balance. As I’m recovering, he starts ambling off down the pavement.

“Strong-willed men!” the ancient witch cackles, patting my hand. “Better get after him.”

“I will take your advice, babushka!” And I hurry off.

Garmr’s tongue lolls out in a laugh again as I catch him up, and I scratch his ears. “Bad dog.”