Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Authoress // Rising Shadows // Chapter One // by Billie Catherine

   Hello readers of ours!

   Today I bring you the first chapter of a new literary work by a maybe soon-to-be authoress, Ammelia's older sister, Billie Catherine! I've been whiling away at her to put this on this blog.

   The book is called Rising Shadows and follows these dragons and their masters in eleventh century Ireland. It is awesome!

Warning // Caution is suggested if you're squeamish, or don't like reading about blood and violence, because there is a bit in this story, the authoress sort of intended it for an older-ish audience



“It is better to die by the hand of your most hated, and feared enemy, than to face the fire and fury of a dragon, whose master has been slain.”~ Sir Rueben (Dragon Master, rider of Arual)



                                           ~ Chapter One ~
                     Donegal County, Ireland 1074, 11th century

The sky was thick with boiling dark, angry clouds that made even the king himself a bit on edge. Every few minutes, huge bolts of lightning streaked across the sky. Only a small handful of soldiers now remained, the rest had been killed during the battle. The men waited anxiously, scarcely even daring to breath. They knew something horrible was about to happen. The enemy had disappeared too quickly, too easily. Where were they? Every man could sense they were being watched, that it was only a matter of time before the enemy would strike, and more of the king’s valiant men would lose their lives.

The clouds continued to worsen, getting thicker every second. Every now and then lightening would flash across the sky, illuminating the world below for a brief moment, before all went dark again. The king, his men, and their dragons, were hiding beneath a large stone wall that was once a fortress battlement, now reduced to ruins. “Why do we stand here doing nothing, my lord?” a young Warrior with sandy colored hair asked impatiently.

“Why do you hunger so for battle, young Hugh?” questioned a general. “Have you not seen enough bloodshed today?”

“Tis not the battle I long for Sir Rueben, but vengeance.” The young man replied bitterly. “My younger brother is among the fallen.” With those words, the young man fell silent.  The dragons stood still and stiff, trying to hear and smell the enemy. In a burst of lightning the king’s dragon, Azrion, thought he saw something move. A glint of dark purple. It was so small, so faint, that one might have thought it was simply a reflection of light off the stones.  He thought he had imagined it move, when his father, Arual, suddenly moving closer to him, stood a bit taller, and craned his neck to see further. “Did you see that” Arual asked in as low a voice as he could, “Beyond that hill.” Azrion looked to where his father pointed. He saw what seemed to be a strange looking heap close to what would have been the southern gate. As another bolt of lightning streaked across the sky both dragons kept their eyes fixed beyond the hill. The light, despite its short time, had confirmed their fears.

 Gleaming yellow eyes, full of murderous hate.  A huge black tail, quivering with impatience.  Not only were they being watched, they were being advanced upon. The fact that at least one of the enemy’s dragons had gotten so close was unnerving. How many more were out there in the dark, waiting? The next attack would come soon. They informed the king at once, who instructed everyone to mount up quickly, and be ready. They all silently moved closer to the edge of the wall and waited. Azrion still couldn’t get the image of what he had seen out of his mind. A flash of purple. What did it mean? He went over as many possibilities as he could think of, and still nothing. He went to his father and quietly told him what he had seen.  Arual looked startled at this news. “Why did you not tell me this before?  Was it moving?”

“I was going to, but then you pointed out the black one, and I forgot about it” Azrion said “and yes it was moving, a little. What does it mean?” His father looked out at the sky, it had begun to rain. Softly at first, then harder, and harder, till finally almost nothing could be seen beyond the veil.  Finally, his father spoke to him. “It means” he said quietly, “That one of our kin may yet be living. And by the color, it would seem to be a female.” As he heard these words, Azrion’s heart was lifted a little. A survivor among the dead? He desperately wanted to believe it possible, that one of his friends had somehow made it through. Then, as he remembered the rest of his father’s words ‘and by the color, it would seem to be a female’, his hope began to fade. He knew hardly any females, save for his mother, Indris, and sister Azuria. They had left all but five of the fiercest females behind, they had all been confirmed dead, and he hadn’t known any of them anyway, so who was this?

 He had scarcely thought those words, when suddenly someone shouted from the back “Look out!” Before anyone could do anything, an awful dragon scream split the silence, then the roar of huge wings followed by the sound of cracking bones. They heard both a dragon and its rider screaming for help, this time, from the sky.  Dragons and Warriors on both sides burst from their hiding places. Chaos filled the courtyard as the sounds of war cries, clashing swords, shredding wings, and dying men and beasts soon filled the air. The king’s men began shouting words of encouragement to their comrades, ‘For the King!’  ‘Don’t give in, drive out the Norman dogs!’ ‘Make them pay for the blood that has been spilt tonight!’ and so on. 

The enemy began to shout to their friends as well, saying things like, ‘Leave none of them alive!’, and ‘Courage men! We will defeat the pagan savages!’  ‘Raze these Celtic barbarians to the ground!’  ‘Hold fast men, victory is at hand!’ And so on and so forth. At first, the men fought while mounted on their dragons, but soon both sides began to see how very impractical this was; the dragons were fighting their own battles. So they took to jumping from their mounts to the ground, and continuing the fight there. Once free of their riders, the dragons took to the skies for their battle.   By now the sun had begun to rise, and though clouds still covered the sky, a small bit of light shone through, ever brightening as the battle wore on, and the men on both sides could now see the result of last night’s massacre.  The hearts of King Aidan’s, soldiers began to sink. Most of the dead were their own. If the battle continued like this, none would escape this place alive.

 Meanwhile, up in the sky, the dragons from both sides fought fiercely, tearing their enemies to ribbons, breathing fire, blinding and burning them with it. Arual led the fight, charging directly into the danger, followed closely by Azrion. Together, father and son fought as they had never before, twisting and turning, slashing with their claws, beating with their wings, stabbing with their horns. Mercy would never be shown to these foul Norman beasts! Arual would continue to fight until these accursed dogs were driven out fully from his homeland.

 On the ground far below the dragons, the fight between their masters was fierce. Now, the king and his friend, Sir Rueben, fought side by side, stabbing and slashing at their enemies together. They had been the best of friends since their youths, learning together, training together, and fighting together. The friendship they shared as children carried on into their adulthood. Now, here they stood, one of royal blood, a King.  The other of common blood, once a servant having saved the life of the king long ago, now a knight. Together they fought as brothers, each willing to lay down his life for the other, and their homeland. And all it took was one tiny insignificant pebble to unravel it all. Sir Rueben saw a shadow quickly pass over them, when he looked to where it had been it was gone. He pondered what it could be, a dragon maybe? Suddenly he heard the king cry “Rueben, look out!” He turned to look, but slipped on a pebble, and lost his balance. Before he had time to do anything, a great black tail that seemed to come out of nowhere hit him square in the chest, and sent him flying. The king watched in horror as his friend was thrown through the air and up the hill toward a pile of rubble. He landed just short of it thankfully, but was still hurt nonetheless, the force of impact from the dragon’s tail breaking two of his ribs and cracking another.  He had also twisted his ankle badly when he had landed. The king killed the last of the foes standing against him, then ran as fast as he could toward his friend, hoping against hope that he would reach him in time. His going was slow, the rain from the night had loosened the hillside, and what had been solid earth was now mud. By now the black dragon had turned and was facing Sir Rueben, standing over him. The king could now see who was riding the beast. Sir Brian. Once a man of integrity in King Aidan’s court, he was now a traitorous monster. The one man both the king, and Sir Rueben, had hoped to never see alive again. Seven years prior to this battle, Sir Brian had tried to take Sir Rueben’s wife, Lady Fiona, while he had been courting her. Had the Lady’s dragon, Indris, not stopped him, he most certainly would have succeeded. A nasty fight had broken out between the two men, but Sir Rueben, younger then and full of jealous rage, had the upper hand, and would have most likely killed Sir Brian had the king’s servants not intervened. And now, as Sir Brian gloated triumphant over his enemy, his dragon stood hungry and impatient, waiting for his master’s bidding. “Just a mouthful, a little morsel!” the creature silently begged. And yet, the command never came. Instead, Sir Brian dismounted, unsheathing his sword as he walked slowly with deliberate purpose toward the fallen Warrior. “So!” said Sir Brian, “It is I who have the upper hand now Sir Rueben! Tell me, how does that make you feel? You certainly are not as young as I remember you” he taunted, knowing full well Sir Rueben hadn’t slept in almost two days, and was therefore very tired and haggard looking. Plus, he was now wounded. His enemy stood over him now, sword in hand; ready to deliver the fatal wound. Sir Rueben looked for his own sword, but in vain, it had been cast aside when he had been thrown by the beast.  Sir Brian lifted his sword, ready to stab the fallen Warrior through the heart, when a small smile played on his lips. He lowered the blade for a moment as he bent down close to Sir Rueben and said softly “Don’t worry about Fiona, I’ll take good care of her in your stead.”  Sir Rueben could feel a dark hatred for this man welling up inside him as he remembered a small knife he had at his belt. Unfortunately, Sir Brian noticed it, and before anything could be done, deftly snatched the knife away. “Now, now, surely a man of your standing would dare not think of such a thing as that. What ever happened to dying with honor? What would you want your widow to think of you in your final moments?”  He stood up again, and after taking a step back, raised his sword. Sir Rueben caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye just before he closed them, and took a deep breath. He heard someone shout “No!” followed by a cry of pain.  He felt something drip onto his cheek, and opened his eyes to see his friend, King Aidan, drop to his knees in front of him, doubled over in agony. Blood poured from a wound in his back. Sir Brian held a bloody sword and had a look of shock, which quickly turned into one of delight. “Well, well, isn’t this an exciting surprise,” he said, “The two men I hate the most, are at my mercy. How wonderful! ” He looked at both men on the ground before him. “Well,” he said, “Better kill two birds with one stone, I suppose,” and with that, he raised his sword again. He was suddenly interrupted by the roar of dragon wings and the screeching of an animal in pain. He turned to see his dragon being attacked by Azrion, who, from the sky, had seen his rider stabbed. The sight had filled him with horror, and a monstrous feeling of revenge. All dragons (even the bad ones) love their masters fiercely and are so wholly devoted to them that they are willing to lay down their lives, or fight to the death for the ones they love. That is why Azrion felt the way he did. Anyways, back to the story.  The black dragon was much bigger than Azrion though, and quickly flipped him over on his back. Azrion wouldn’t give in. He kept trying to stab and slash the bigger dragon with his horns, but it was no good. He was defeated, his death certain. Sir Brian, seeing the situation was under control, turned back to the task at hand. “Now,” he said “Where was I? Oh yes, I was going to kill you” he finished with a smile. He was interrupted again, this time by a more alarming matter.

Another had dragon appeared. This one, Sir Brian could tell, was a female by her coloring, which was purple. Azrion recognized her at once. It was the dragon that he had seen earlier! She let out a loud roar as she charged full-force, head down, horns pointed out, strait into the black dragon’s side. Her aim was true; she pierced his side, broke a rib and punctured a lung. The great black beast roaring in pain and fury, jumped off of his catch, and whirled to face this new foe. Azrion took advantage of this, and leaping onto the black dragon’s back, tore off a section of the armor covering his neck, clamped his teeth over the back of the neck and bit down hard. The black dragon was furious now, and reared up on his haunches, trying to shake Azrion off.   The purple dragon, seeing her chance, darted in and, lifting one of the plates of armor that covered his chest and belly, stabbed the beast through the heart. She had to jump out from under him quickly to avoid being crushed as he fell to the ground, twitching and dead. Sir Brian was getting nervous now. His mount had been killed, meaning that there was no quick and easy escape as there had been before. During all this time, King Aidan had become very pale, his breathing labored. He was losing a lot of blood, and fading fast. Sir Rueben could see that he would not last through the night. Azrion, seeing that Sir Brian was alone and unprotected, began to charge forward with all his strength, but had to stop himself almost as soon as he had started.
Out of the sky two other dragons, one red, the other a reddish/orange color, swooped down and put themselves between the man and the enraged dragon. The red one had a rider, who called down to Sir Brian “Quickly my lord, mount up! The battle has been lost, and the enemy is approaching!”  The other dragon, which did not have a rider, looked at Azrion with contempt and hate. “Stay back scum!” the dragon hissed through bared teeth. This particular dragon, whose name was Arikas, was a warmongering fellow who loved to pick a fight, even amongst his comrades. He had chosen neither mate nor rider, but was a cunning fighter and was therefore always chosen for battle. Arikas knew that, even though Azrion was much smaller than himself, he was a formidable opponent. “What is your name, dragon?” Arikas asked. “I am Azrion, son of Arual” was the reply. By now Sir Brian had climbed aboard the other dragon, and was flying to safety. Arikas could see that it was time to leave. “Well then, Azrion, son of Arual, know this. I am Arikas, son of Arik. Do not forget my name, for I am fairly certain we shall meet again!” and with that, he unfurled his wings, and took to the sky. Azrion watched as the beast turned, along with the rest of his comrades, to the southeast.  Arikas, son of Arik.  Azrion would never forget that name as long as he lived, even if he wanted to. For now however, he turned to face the matter at hand. His master, King Aidan, was dying.  

Postscript // If you want to read more, comment! This is an experiment for Billie, so please share your thoughts! 

5 comments:

  1. This looks like it will get interesting! :)

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  2. This sounds fantastic! Please do continue! I eagarly await the next chapter:)

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  3. You did a good job! I can't wait to read more!

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  4. This is Fantastic! It gives you inspiration and excitement as you read along! It wonderful! I am fully expecting another chapter and can't wait to read it!

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  5. Wow, thanks guys! I didn't actually expect people to like it, so this is a very pleasant surprise. All of your feedback has been very encouraging, thank you so much. I hope you'll all like the next chapter as much as the first one. :) I've been working extra hard on it as of late, so hopefully, it'll live up to expectations.

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