So, the little one’s 5 months now (!) and loves the white boards. Since she’s a little too small for drawing (she just wants to eat markers, not draw with them), I’ve been doodling for her with my non-dominant hand (I’m holding her with my left). They’re super goofy. 🙂 First up, a triceratops with …
Got another short story for ya. This week, the Terribleminds challenge was to get a randomized D&D type character and make a story out of it. I got a “grave dragonborn wizard from the sea of sand who hates silence.” Wow that was a lot to unpack, but it sounded like a cool character. The story’s a bit rough, as I’m running out of time before a certain tiny someone is finally born. Hope you enjoy anyway!
The Beast of the Sea of Sand
A warm wind howled above the rim of the amphitheater. Sorrel looked up from her scrolls and furrowed her brow at the sky. Something didn’t sit right with her. This wind, it reminded her too much of her homeland. The other wizards-in-training also noticed the wind, and murmured amongst themselves. Headwizard Ekthar raised his voice to attempt to regain everyone’s attention.
Sorrel closed her eyes. She focused on the sounds of the city around them. The Magus Campus around her. The bustling market outside the campus gate. The noise of people and animals and a million other things soothed her. It was a reminder that she was far from the land of her youth. She would never have to return to the Sea of Sand. She would never have to endure the eerie silence that embodied that land of death and ruin.
The Sea of Sand had been a thriving farmland dotted with shining cities not two decades ago. Then, a terrible beast came. It brought scorching winds in its wake, and all life turned to sand where its claws touched the earth. Sorrel’s family were among the last survivors. They wandered for years among the cursed dunes, hoping to find a place untouched by the beast. Finally, they settled in the city of Daakport, far to the south.
Daakport, though half as great as their original home, was lush and green and oh so alive. Sorrel soaked in every sight and experience. She vowed from that first day that she would never allow herself or her family to suffer again. She started her schooling at the Magus Campus as soon as she was of age. What she lacked in innate talent, she made up for with grave determination.
A shrieking roar pierced Sorrel’s thoughts. Her eyes shot open. No! The beast. It had come for her new home!
The class panicked. Headwizard Ekthar barked orders for everyone to return to the student house. Most bolted for the door. Sorrel and a handful of others stayed put.
The headwizard gathered his staff and a handful of talismans from his leather satchel.
“I assume this means you are volunteering to fight whatever creature made that noise?”
The small group nodded together.
Sorrel raised her training staff.
“It was the beast. The one who made the Sea of Sand.”
The other students shuffled nervously at her words.
Ekthar knotted his bushy eyebrows together.
“You’re certain of this?”
“I know that cry. It’s the roar that comes before the silence.”
“Well then.” He swallowed nervously. “Any willing to test themselves, follow me. We must collect as many wizards as we can for this fight.”
None of the others fled. Sorrel exhaled with relief; perhaps with so many willing fighters, this new home would not suffer the same fate as her last.
The group rushed out of the amphitheater and towards the fight. Along the way, they were joined by more wizards. Masters of plants, necromancy, storms, potions, crystals, and all other manner of magecraft were added to the group. Headmaster Ekthar filled them in on the danger. Daakport and all of its people were in danger. Those whose field of magic could only aid the beast instead of harming it were sent to assist in the evacuation of the city.
Pillars of smoke rose from the streets. The roaring came from the center of the city. It seemed the beast was attracted by the noise of humanity. People screamed, ran, and were incinerated.
Sorrel hadn’t been more than three when the beast destroyed her homeland. She’d never seen the monster itself, only heard the horrid cries and walked through the sandy ruins. It had been a faceless thing of her nightmares for years since then.
It was faceless no longer. It was a massive dragon, bigger than Sorrel could ever have imagined.
Its scaled and muscular neck rose above the destruction. It dwarfed the domed senate hall it was coiled around. Every wizard and soldier of the city now surrounded the dragon. Its golden scales reflected the sun, blindingly bright at certain angles. A hot wind from its wingbeats whipped at Sorrel’s robes. It lifted its head to roar again, flashing a hundred sword-sharp fangs.
A poisonous mixture of hatred and determination filled Sorrel. No matter the size, any dragon could be killed the same way. There were no protective scales on the eyes. One straight shot would penetrate those fiery orbs and the brain tucked behind them.
She waved her staff and chanted the words to allow her to fly for a limited time. A creature so big, there would be no other way to reach its head. Looking around, she saw a dozen other wizards had the same plan.
Headmaster Ekthar was among those now in the air. He gestured approvingly to Sorrel.
“It seems you’ve been studying well.” He then raised his voice to be heard by all the airborne wizards. “Spread out and aim true! It can’t eat us all!”
It was a suicide mission. Sorrel knew that. It didn’t matter. Her family was down in the city. The friends she met through her training. Innocent people she’d never met, but nonetheless wanted and deserved to live.
She pointed her staff behind her for an extra boost of speed. Each wizard might only have one or two chances at the eye. The trick now was finding this particular dragon’s weakness. Lightning? Ice? Metal? She’d studied a bit of all three forms, not needing to choose a specialty for her advancement yet.
Another wizard beat her to the dragon’s head. His beard a long and white. Jagged thorns sprung from his hands toward the beast. The right eye took scratches and bled, but the thorns could not penetrate deep enough. The dragon snapped its great jaws, and that first brave wizard disappeared.
More and more of the master wizards tried their specialties against the beast of the Sea of Sand. All the while, Sorrel dodged the dragon’s attacks. She needed time to form a metal shard sharp and large enough to do damage. Then a thought occurred to her. Why choose one discipline? It clearly wasn’t working for the others. The dragon swatted away all of their attacks. Even those who worked in tandem had no success.
Sweat dripped down her brow as she formed a slender cone of iron. Ice and electricity might counteract one another, but blue flame – much hotter than the dragon’s desert-causing abilities, might work. She forced as much of the magical fire into the metal as she could.
She felt herself losing altitude as she did so. She didn’t have much time left. She took a deep breath, aimed, and sent the metal cone spiraling through the air toward the dragon. Lastly, she shouted a lightning spell. A white-hot arc of electricity sprang from her mouth and surrounded the metal cone.
As she fell, she watched and hoped. She thought she saw blood spurt from the beast’s eye. Imagined the fiery payload spraying from the wound. But had it really happened? Was it enough?
Sorrel suddenly felt her descent slowing. Those wizards attacking from the ground had seen her. They had created a funneling wind to guide her to the ground. The force of the impact still knocked the wind out of her. Wizards and soldiers gathered around, blocking her view of the dragon. She looked instead to their faces. Were their expressions those of concern or relief?
Then Headwizard Ekthar was standing over her. His grin was wide. He pulled her to her feet just in time to see the dragon tumble to the ground. The earth shook so violently, she fell back down again and took the headwizard with her.
As the dust settled, it sounded as if the whole city were cheering as one. Sorrel couldn’t imagine a sweeter sound in all the world. It was what she would cherish, more than the victory ceremony celebrating all the fighters. The sound of humanity triumphing over sandy silence was even more precious to her than the magic-enhancing, dragonsblood tattoo she and the other wizards received that marked them as dragonborn for all time.
Got a slightly different review this month. First, it’s not from the Nebulas, just one I’ve been looking forward to. Second, it’s an audiobook. Lately I wouldn’t have time to get any books in without audio as an option.
In the Labyrinth of Drakes is the fourth in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan, and I’d say it’s a great continuation of the story. I thought book three was probably the weakest of them, but book four built on what was good about book three, and completely mended the series in my mind.
I picked up the first book in the series because it’s about dragons. Or, rather, an 1800’s-equivalent naturalist woman who studies dragons. The tagline I heard was “if Darwin studied dragons instead of finches.” Which is pretty spot on. These are magical creatures, but animals of the “big, dangerous, and mysterious” variety. The illustrations on the covers of these books are gorgeous; they really set the mood for both scientific discovery and adventure.
Now, if you ever plan on checking this series out, I highly recommend the audio version. And this is regardless of whether or not you have the time to sit and read. It’s all about the narrator. She’s freaking perfect for reading as Lady Trent.
This fourth book finds Isabella in a desert region, researching how to breed of dragons. Tensions are high between countries, and dragons are seen as the key to winning any future conflict. She braves this task with the help of old friends, family, and new allies, but a brutal desert environment and dragonfire aren’t the only dangers she’s up against.
Something else I enjoyed about this book was the romantic angle. “What?! Really?” you ask, with a heavy (and fully justified) dose of skepticism. Look, most of the time I groan and flip to the next scene whenever the lovey-dovey stuff comes up. But this was such a slow build. It’s like the Commander Shepherd and Garrus romance in Mass Effect: a relationship of great friendship and respect that grows stronger until you realize it is love.
There’s only one book left in the Lady Trent series, where I’m guessing all the unresolved tension from this book comes to a head. I’m excited, if a little sad it’s all going to end.
My rating: Devoured! – Like adventure? Dragons? Pick this one up!
Since the alphabet thing turned out to be a good source of inspiration, I thought maybe I would do the same going through colors.
Here’s a page of brainstorming sketches.
a little dragon dude, going on a quest.
I figured I haven’t written fore the blog in a while (been writing a lot, just trying to get them published which means I can’t share them yet). This one works both for the Terribleminds Flash Fic challenge, and for A to Z. Had to use a dragon in the story, and title it something beginning with F.
Fang and Fire
Felix held the vial of orange powder between his thumb and forefinger. Almost looked like taco seasoning, or maybe the contents of a sugar straw like he snuck from the corner store. But this, this was Dragon. Made you strong, powerful like you had a fire inside, and your breath sent up billows of smoke.
He’d been selling the stuff for almost a year now. Even when he lost a few clients to the side effects, he was still raking it in. He even broke his ‘don’t sample the product’ rule. It was too new and different not to. The boost it gave him, he never went into a dangerous situation without it anymore.
Special stuff like this, there was so much potential being wasted. His supplier, the only source of Dragon he knew of to exist, only sold tiny amounts at a time. Felix was going to change that. He was ready to move up in the world.