We Shadows – Part 1: Chasing Dreams

September 27, 2017 Danielle 0

Sorry for the long hiatus 🙂 I’ve been working on a big project. Which is almost done. Part 1 is out with a couple’ve alpha readers now and part 2 is in the final edit stage. For those who are interested, this is the blurb for part 1:

Three cousins, each drawn to magic, discover the dangers of coming to the attention of the invisible world – and help save the world they know in the process.

Magic is like music; anyone can learn to use it. Trouble is, using magic attracts the attention of the magical powers of the world, and that isn’t always healthy. What if the reason you never hear about people who can genuinely use magic, who can change their luck by wishing or talk to the spirits of trees or mountains and sometimes get answers, is that those people are prey for the biggest magical predators there are. The ones who used to be human.

Robin has always believed in magic, but she didn’t used to believe in the fey. Now the fey have noticed her, and life has suddenly gotten complicated. When her best friend and her cousin go missing, Robin has to decide if any of the fey who are suddenly interested in her for reasons they won’t explain are trustworthy enough to ask for help.

Dreamwalkers, part 6

September 30, 2016 Danielle 0

Lirrya sighed, and sat down.

“I’ll stay. It’s my responsibility,” she said.

“Don’t be daft,” said Jerleth. “You know what happens to women the Islanders take.”

“I’m a shifter, Jerleth. They can’t rape me, I’ll grow a set of teeth down there and emasculate anyone who tries.”

“Lirr, I’ve seen some of the things they do to slaves who won’t cooperate. Please. I’ll go.”

“I’m not the innocent you seem to think, Jer. And they’ll try to wring concessions from my father by using me as a hostage before they do anything to me. I’ll be in less danger than you will, at least for a while. They’ll just clap a mage-collar on you and sell you.”

Jerleth frowned, and said, “I’m not leaving you here, Lirr.”

Lirrya sighed, and said, “Either way, Tarnia, you should head off while you can.”

Tarnia nodded, and her mouth quirked in a half smile. She said, “I’ll tell the clans you both chose to stay, to protect the Union’s interests.”

 

It took less than a minute for Tarnia to fade into insubstantiality once she started concentrating. Her body faded from the feet up and the hands in, leaving her face as the last part of her to be visible. Then that faded too, and there was barely a shimmer of mist or smoke in the air where she had been. She wafted up to the top of the tent, and floated out through the chimney-hole at the apex. Jerleth poured himself another cup of wine from the pitcher on the table, and sipped it slowly.

 

“I never get used to that Dreamwalker stuff,” he said.

Lirrya chuckled softly. “Didn’t you study on Tiana?”

“Only for a year. I spent more time with the North Islands shamans, learning the names of the different types of storms. I can Dreamspeak, but I don’t have the Sight or the inclination for symbol magic.”

“You never told me about that. What was it like, living with the shamans?”

“Cold, mostly. Interesting, though. They have shifters, too, did you know that? And their storm shamans can bond with inanimate objects, like a ship or a weapon, and make it part of themselves. They can do crazy things with them. I saw one set his spear blade on fire to kill an icebear.”

“I always wanted to be a Dreamspeaker like my mother, but it’s just not me. Maybe I should go and learn to bond with a sword instead. Sounds like a useful trick.”

“Not just swords. They had ships, too – like the islanders. Only theirs are made of bones.”

Lirr lay back and stared at the tent ceiling, her good humour gone. “You have to wonder if that’s where we’ll all end up, slaves to the islanders and their ships. It doesn’t seem to matter how many we kill, they just send more and more. And now sorcerers, too.”

“Tarnia said we could stop it, Lirr.”

“No. She said if one of us didn’t go, the Union would fall. She didn’t say it would stand if we do go with him. And she didn’t say we’d survive, either.”

 

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Equinox, part 1

September 29, 2016 Danielle 0

There was something in the air. Something in the way the light fell, or the smell of the breeze rippling in over the river, something about day itself. Calla closed her eyes and breathed in, sifting through the smells of spring pollen and herbs, the edge of old woodsmoke from the harvest festival bonfires across the valley. She still couldn’t identify what it was, but there was something. Today was just more alive than yesterday had been.

Her aunt’s voice broke her out of her contemplation, calling, “Calla! Are you done with the bees?”

“Almost,” she yelled back.

 

It wasn’t exactly a lie. Checking on the bees would only take a minute, and she was more than halfway to the hive already, more by coincidence than by intent, but still. Calla hurried the rest of the way across the yard to the beehives, keeping out of their flight path. The false wall on the first hive was stuck, but a quick smack with a rock loosened it enough to pull away, revealing the glass inner wall. Underneath, the bees crawled about, unconcerned about the sudden light coming into the hive. They looked fine. Calla carefully replaced the false wall, and turned to check on the second hive.

 

The second hive was more elaborate, with a honey tap as well as a false wall for inspections. It stood right next to the first hive, separated by the width of a narrow path, but they never had problems with one hive robbing the other. Calla pulled off the false wall to look inside the hive, then stepped back involuntarily. Inside the hive was a small dragon, curled up under the comb. As the light hit it, it opened one honey-golden eye and stared at Calla through the glass wall of the beehive.

 

Calla stared back.

 

“Took your time,” the dragon said.

Calla heard his voice as if he was whispering directly into her ear. It sounded peppery, like the sensation just before a sneeze.

Calla blinked, and said, “I’m.. sorry?”

“Good,” said the dragon. “You should be, making me wait. Are you ready?”

“Am I ready for what? What are you talking about? You shouldn’t be here,” said Calla.

 

The dragon turned his head to stare at her with both eyes, golden as starlight through a UV filter.

“You’ve forgotten.”

He stepped out of the hive, right through the glass. calla couldn’t decide if he looked scary and mysterious or ridiculous, covered in honey like sticky, golden oil. Honey dripped off his scales, and he sat down to wash himself fastidiously, like a cat.

Calla asked the dragon, “What have I forgotten?”

At the same time, Calla’s aunt yelled again, “Calla! Are you done yet?”

Calla turned involuntarily to respond, then turned quickly back. The dragon was gone as if he’d never been, just a drip or two of honey on the ground where he’d been. His voice whispered in her ears, “Everything.”

 

by-nc-saThis content is released under the Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC-SA license. You are free to use the content for any non-commercial purpose, and to modify it and make derivative works provided those works are shared under the same license.

Zodiac Dragons – Council Rock (contd.)

September 1, 2016 Danielle 0

“Dworkin,” she said, “you asked us to meet you. What’s going on?”

“I have something to show you, hatchlings. But you have to be quiet, silent as a breeze past a rabid wyvern. Can you do that?”

He was answered by a series of solemn nods, and a stifled sneeze from Raziel. Dworkin stared at them for a long second, then nodded.

“Come,” he said. “You’re all my grandchildren, you should be able to keep quiet for a few minutes.”

Kayelinth blinked at him, and said “We’re your -?”

Dworkin glared at her, and she closed her mouth with a snap.

“Come quietly,” Dworkin said.

 

The cave mouth was close, barely a wingspan above the ledge where they had landed, but it was hidden behind a screen of thorny brush and several large boulders. Dworkin slipped easily past, leaving the younger dragons to shove their way through the brambles. Keirax hung back, and let Shinya and Quiendrix go first. Amethyst and Gold clan dragons tended to be get their growth spurt earlier than most f the other clans, so the two of them were the largest.

 

They walked for almost an hour through the mountain, the tunnel twisting and turning until Keirax was completely disoriented. Eventually, Dworkin stopped them. He motioned at the walls, and after a second or so of utter confusion, Keirax saw that there were pinholes of light coming through the stone wall. Raziel and Phosphorentz had already moved forward to look through the spy-holes. Typical, thought Keirax. I should be that sneaky. She carefully edged forward and looked through one of the holes.

 

Below them, the main discussion hall of the Dragon Council spread out. Tables loaded with roasted meat, pies, and fruit stood along every wall, and a small group of dragons were gathered in the centre of the room. The great, golden double doors on the far side of the room were shut and barred. The Elders of the Dragon Council were in session. Keirax drew a sharp breath, and glanced at her companions; all were staring through the spyholes, silent as ghosts. She looked back at the room.

 

The Amethyst Clan elder said, “Alright, Meyaneth, we’re locked down. Now, what did the sea-folk envoy have for us? Is it true?”

The Bronze Clan elder, Meyaneth, said, “They confirmed the rumours. The Ghost Elves have found a clue to the location of the Left Eye.”

The rest of the elders mantled their wings in excitement or agitation, then the Amethyst elder spoke again. “And? Are they going to go after it?”

The Copper Clan elder raised her crest, and said excitedly, “Could we form a joint expedition if they are?”

“Always the adventurer, Tramantin,” said Meyaneth. “You know we couldn’t go personally even if they were going, and they’re not. The sea-folk have no interest in the Eye, except to tell us about it as per the treaty. But the surface elves and the Ghost Elves will both be sending parties after it.”

“I know my fellow councillors are eager to get to the meat of the news,” said the Sapphire Clan elder, “but I, for one, would like to hear the story from the beginning.”

“Seconded,” said the Gold Clan elder, and the Silver Clan elder raised a claw in support.

Meyaneth said, “There isn’t much to tell. You know that the Ghost Elves have been sending archaeology teams to the drowned cities? One of the submarine crews found a hidden library while they were digging around. The crew brought back images of carvings on the walls which indicate the gem’s location. One of the goblin slaves in the crew gossiped about it, and the story got out to the sea-folk and the surface elves that way. The details are in Tashki’s report.”

“Alright, good,” said the Amethyst elder. “I move that we table this for further discussion. We’ll need to consider the composition of any team we send, and I’m sure we could all do with a day or two to confer with our clans.”

The Gold Clan elder nodded, and said, “As long as we come back to it within three days, or the elves will get there first.”

The Sapphire Clan elder said, “Done. Now, can we talk about the old Ruby fishing grounds?”

 

Keirax started as Dworkin tapped her on the shoulder. He pointed back the way they had come, and she nodded. She started back out of the caves, with the rest of the group trailing after her. She didn’t speak untilt hey were back outside in the afternoon sunlight.

 

“Why did you want us to hear that,” Keirax asked.

Quiendrix added, “And how did you know when they would be talking about it?”

Dworkin just tapped one claw on the side of his snout, and said, “Do any of you know what the Left Eye of the Serpent is?”

Phosphorentz said, “Is it a gem?”

Shinya and Quiendrix laughed at him, but Dworkin nodded.

“It is. A magical gem. It’s one of the seven lost treasures of the Zodiac Dragons. I’d heard rumours in the aether that it had turned up again.”

Phosphorentz squealed in delight, “It is a gem. I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!”

Raziel asked, “What are the other six? And what kind of magic does it do?”

“It’s the kind of magic that should be wielded by young dragons with a bit of imagination, not old stuffy-headed fools like the council,” said Dworkin. “The power to change the world. or at least, to move to one where it has been changed. Or to create one where the change was always that way. Something like that. I forget. And immortality.”

‘What are the other six items,” said Shinya.

“The Right Eye of the Serpent, the Day Blade and the Night Blade, the Chalice, the Mask, and the Flute,” said Dworkin.

“So, two gems, two swords, a cup, a mask, and a flute,” said Quiendrix, making notes.

Dworkin nodded.

“Each item can find the others,” he said, “so you should hurry.”

 

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Zodiac Dragons – Council Rock

August 4, 2016 Danielle 0

The gem in her pocket started to vibrate around the same time that Keirax arrived near Shinya and Kayelinth. She gave up being casual and cautious and yanked the thing out of her pocket before it could explode, or whatever it was going to do. It didn’t explode. Instead it vibrated once more, and then shimmered with a soap-bubble aura of colours. The stone started to glow, and then a small illusion of a dragon formed in the air above it.

 

The illusory dragon looked a lot like Dworkin, one of the teachers who periodically gave lessons to the hatchlings. Like Dworkin – and like no other dragon that Keirax had ever seen or heard of – the illusion had no particular colour. It was a sort of drab, beige-brown colour, without the metallic  iridescence of the Bronze or Brass clans, but with an odd, shifting shimmer instead, and a scattering of scales and feathers in a  variety of other colours too. From one angle, the brown scales and beige feathers looked like they were on the verge of moulting to reveal a pure red, or maybe Golden or Copper dragon; from another angle, there was a distinct undertone of Obsidian or Emerald, or perhaps a deep Sapphire; from a third, Keirax would have sworn he looked like a dirty Crystal clan dragon. The hatchlings had an ongoing bet on what Dworkin’s original colour had been, but he wouldn’t say. Or rather, when they asked, he said that he’d lost his colour in the hedge, and he couldn’t remember any more what it had been. Which was very much like refusing to say, but more polite. More Dworkinish, too – he was never unkind, or deliberately confusing, but he was distinctly odd. Even the Topaz elders thought he was unusual.

 

The illusory dragon said, in Dworkin’s voice, “Good, you’re paying attention. Come to Council Rock this evening, an hour before sunset; I have something to show you.”

 

It was a long flight to Council Rock. Keirax flapped wings sore form a whole day of flying and kept her eyes set on the smudge of greenery which marked the ledge on the island’s east coast where Dworkin normally taught the hatchlings about the Council. It seemed as good a place to head for as any, and the message hadn’t been all that exact.

 

Quiendrix and Kayelinth landed first, with Keirax close behind. Phos dipped to the waterline at the last moment, probably in search of something shiny, and Shinya hung back to keep an eye on him. Raziel flew in last, muttering under his breath about wingstrain. He was at least as good a flyer as any of the rest of them, he just complained about it more, so people thought he had trouble. Keirax had watched him practising aerobatics, though, when he thought no one could see. She figured it was just an Obsidian clan thing, keeping one’s hoard close and one’s lair secret sort of thing.

 

Dworkin wasn’t there when they arrived, but he arrived within minutes in his usual mysterious way. His appearance was marked by  a muffled shriek from Raziel, followed by a splash as he fell off the cliff and into the ocean. Shinya immediately rushed to look over the edge after him.

Kayelinth looked at Shinya, and said “He didn’t just fall off the ledge, did he? Is he okay?”

Shinya nodded and said, “he’s ok. He’s just wet. Anyone can lose their balance.”

“Not me,” said Quiendrix. “I would have thought you would all have more care for the dignity of your clans. Even Obsidians have a standard to uphold.”

Raziel pulled himself back up onto the ledge, dripping and muttering, glaring darkly at anyone who looked his way. Keiraz stifled a chuckle, and turned it into a small cough.

“Dworkin,” she said, “you asked us to meet you. What’s going on?”

 

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