Let’s get ready to untangle some words and straighten out two new submissions.
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Submission #1 – Veiled Intentions by Natasha
“Let not a single dragon that roams this land live.”
The words echoed in Fennec’s head as he trudged through the deep snow, pulling his thick dragonscale coat tighter around his shoulders. Four months ago the decree was made, and four months since he was sent out to kill every dragon he came upon. By his side hung his enchanted Blacksteel blade, with which he had slain six dragons already. A scale of each dragon he killed hung around his neck as a symbol of his success. His seventh dragon had made its home on top of a snowy mountain north of the city of Jurin.
He’d lost track of how far he had gone when he almost tripped over a hidden rock beneath the snow. Through the swirling whiteness, he could just barely make out the shape of a cave mouth above him. Pushing on, he made it to the cave and stepped inside. The sound of the wind and the blinding whiteness of the outside world faded away, replaced by dull gray that faded to black. The tunnel seemed to stretch back several yards before widening into some sort of chamber, although it was impossible for him to see further.
The faint singing sounded of metal on metal echoed through the cave as Fennec drew his sword and began walking forwards. His footfalls were muffled by the soft fur on the bottom of his dragonscale boots, and he made it all the way to the chamber before he heard the first scrape of scales against stone. As he stepped into the chamber, his eyes struggled to pick out the dragon’s form in the almost non-existent light. Using his left hand, he slowly reached for the small staff strapped to his back. Pulling it free of its sheath, he clutched it tightly in his hand, his heart racing. Even though six dragons lay dead by his hand, he always felt the same fear just before confronting one of the mighty beasts. He took a deep breath.
With a whispered word, a bright ball of light shot from the staff and to the ceiling, where it hovered like a tiny star. The dragon was awake in an instant, leaping to its feet and rounding on him. The beast was truly a sight to behold. It was pale blue in color, and it’s scales shimmered like sunlight on ice. White spines ran down its back that matched its mottled whitish gray wings. With a snarl it attacked.
Its jaws opened and it let out a burst of fire. Fennec quickly raised his shield, deflecting it. The beast’s tail whipped around and sent him sprawling. A moment later, it was upon him. Its claw landed on top of him, slowly crushing him as he struggled to free himself. Its blue eyes gleamed with hatred, and its jaws opened. He brought his sword up and drove it deep into the dragon’s foreleg. It let out a screech of pain and reared backwards, smashing into the cave wall.
Letting out a roar, it swiped at him with it’s claw. Fennec jumped back just in time. Swinging his sword, he landed a blow on it’s claw. Before he could regain his balance, its head snapped forwards to crush him. Fennec fell backwards in his haste to dodge the attack, managing to slash the beasts snout. It jerked back, dark indigo blood dripping to the floor. Rearing back, it let loose more flames. This time, Fennec waited until the very last second before dodging forwards and striking a solid blow across its shoulder. It shrieked in rage, its injured leg unable to support it.
Fennec took advantage of its pain and rushed forwards. The enchantment on the blade would only slow down the beast for a few seconds. With a mighty swing, he struck the dragon full in the chest, driving the sword home. Indigo blood welled from the wound and the beast gave a single keening cry before slumping to the floor. A weak, hatred filled snarl came from it’s jaws, then it lay still.
Fennec’s chest heaved from the exertion, and for a moment he struggled to breathe the stuffy cave air. Once he was certain the beast was dead, he took a scale as a trophy, adding it to the rest. Turning his back on the dragon, he walked back towards the cave exit. Suddenly, pain spiked through his back, as if he had been stabbed. He gasped for air, falling to his knees. His sword clattered to the ground as he pressed his hands to the floor in an effort to steady himself. His mind grew cloudy, and the world seemed to shift sideways. The ground rushed up to meet him and darkness overcame him.
When Fennec awoke, his entire body felt stiff, as if he hadn’t moved in days. Letting out a soft groan, he pushed himself into a sitting position and leaned against the wall. He felt sick, although it wasn’t like other illnesses he had. This was like a churning, twisting dread that seemed to pool in his chest. Looking around, it seemed everything was just how it had been before the thing, whatever it was, attacked. Slowly, he stood, leaning against the wall for support.
“Seek the cure for your poison at the ruins of Shammah or perish within the week.”
Fennec screamed in fright. His cry echoed down the tunnel before slowly fading out and his heart pounded in his chest. He could feel himself trembling. The guttural, whispering voice came from seemingly nowhere, yet it sounded as if it were all around him and right in front of him.
“Who are you?” he demanded. “If your intent is evil and you have poisoned me, then you will suffer the wrath of my blade.”
“Your blade cannot save you. You must seek the cure at the ruins of Shammah. Seek what lies at Shammah.”
“Tell me who you are! What do you mean cure? What did you do?”
Submission #2 – True Strength by Alexis
With a roar the dragon charged. I leaped to the side as it snapped its massive jaws at me. Since we had intruded into its marshy territory, it was bound to defend it. My boot slipped in some mud and I slid a good distance before I fell back on my rear.
“Adelaide!” came the sharp cry. I turned in time to see the giant dragon bearing down on me. I scrambled to my feet and sought to find the place where I had set my sword, the dragon’s ground shuddering footsteps were right behind me. Where did I put it? The dragon bellowed, and I turned and saw a sling stone sink into the mud beneath its head. It turned its head and emitted a throaty growl as it eyed my friend, who just finished putting away his sling. It charged at him with a roar.
“Look out!” I screamed, but Erminigild was calm, cool, and collected, despite the fact that he was standing on a muddy peninsula of earth that reached out into the swampy river. His sword drawn and firmly held in both hands, he was ready to take on this beast. My eyes quickly skimmed over our wooded surroundings and I spotted my sword embedded in the mud at the base of a tree and ran to get it. I wrapped my fingers around the leather bound hilt, and, with a great heave, the mud released its hold from my blade. I turned to help my friend / Ermin, who had, so far, kept the beast at bay.
The dragon towered over him, eyeing him with its golden eyes; trying to find a weakness. When it spied one it would either snap its toothy maw at him or swing its enormous claws at him. He fought well keeping the monster from striking him, that is, until I came near. Erminigild turned his attention towards me. “Stay back!” he cried. At that moment the dragon saw its chance. It swung a claw at him that struck him in the side, sending him careening into the murky water. The dragon now had the advantage. Eagerly it plunged into the water after him, searching for its prey. His head bobbed to the surface gasping for air, his brown hair sticking to his face. The creature shot towards him, jaws wide for easy prey. I began to wade into the murky stream shouting, “I am coming!”
The monster was upon him, and it clamped its jaws on his tunic. “Stay back!” he cried again as he lashed out at the great reptile with his sword. The dragon roared in pain, releasing its hold on him. Quickly he struck out for shore, paddling his arms with all his might. With a hiss the serpent swam after him, only its eyes, nostrils and sail stuck out of the water. I reached out my hand to him as he closed in to the shore. His wet hand grabbed a hold of mine, and I pulled with all my might against the pull of the mud that tried to suck my feet deeper. We stumbled onto the shore just as the dragon snapped at the seat of his trousers. We backed away from the water quickly, and the dragon remained in its watery home hissing its defiance.
“That was way to close,” I said as we reached the surrounding forest.
“Then why did you not help me?” Erminigild asked in a hurt tone. I glared at him / put my hands on my hips. “You would not let me,” I stated. He placed his hand on his stubble covered chin thoughtfully, as if recalling his actions. “You know, I think you are right,” he said with a smirk. I shoved him teasingly. “You worrywart. You get all the fun.” He chuckled. “Oh, do not worry. I will let you take on the next one.” I shook my head and laughed. “Come; let us go find Krijsen and Eachann.”
Not that far away we spotted our mounts tied to a tree. Erminigild walked up to the brown stallion that reached out with its muzzle towards him, seeming to smell the scent of the water dragon on his drenched clothes. Erminigild stroked its face. “It is all right, Eachann. The danger is past.” I walked up to my dragon, Krijsen, who sniffed my face, her warm breath caressing my forehead and blowing wisps of my hair around. “I know. You can smell it, too.” I crooned to her as I rubbed the crest along the top of her head. “But all is well. We are safe now.” We untied our steeds, mounted them, and directed them back the way we had come.
When we reached the edge of the forest, we halted our steeds and scanned the tall waving grass. Since we were unsuccessful hunting in the marsh, maybe we would find something to bring home on the plains. The wind played with the grass causing it to dance to and fro without informing us of any prey to find within them. Krijsen, not liking to stand still for long, stomped one of her hind feet and snorted. I patted her scaly neck. “Easy, girl,” I whispered. She snorted / sighed impatiently and waited. I saw some distinct movement in the grass. I withdrew my bow and arrow, and waited to string them. Erminigild did the same. The movement came closer to us and we readied our bows, but did not aim them yet. Along with the movements the wind carried the sound of little demanding shouts. We unstrung our bows and waited for the intruder to emerge. Finally, we saw my little brother riding his new mount – a dragon. After he finished demanding its obedience, he looked up at us with a smile.
“What are you doing out here, Najden?” I asked a little flustered. With his little voice shouting orders for all on the plains to hear, it was safe to say we wouldn’t find any game here.
Categories: Critique Group