Nothing new from any other WIP to share yet, so I wrote a bit more of last week’s story for you, since people responded so positively. If you don’t have time for a longer snippet and have to go, that’s OK. For anyone who wants to see what happened with that dragon, here you go. It’s 28 (mostly short) paragraphs for the 28th.
I’m thinking about making the protagonist a little older (because I can do that with my god-like powers), but we’ll wait and see on that. Rough draft again, sorry. I’l try to be more on the ball next time. 🙂
I fought to control the shaking in my hands as I held out my basket. “Y-you can have them back,” I stammered. “I didn’t know they were yours.”
The dragon— and there was no doubt as to what it was, impossible though it seemed— lifted its head to sniff at the breeze, then moved toward me, serpentine body emerging slowly from the underbrush, curving around the clearing until the tip of its tail appeared. It wasn’t as large as the dragons in drawings and movies I’d seen, but was more than big enough to make a meal of me if it wanted to. “How generous of you,” it said. “But what of the ones you’ve eaten? However shall I retrieve those?” It raised its emerald head until we stood face to face, and the nostril slits widened as it sniffed at my mouth.
A hissing noise ripped through the forest’s silence, and the dragon let out a long, death-scented groan. Its eyes widened and rolled to the side as claws reached to grasp the wooden shaft that had appeared in its armpit. Another hiss, and a second arrow was embedded in the creature’s golden eye. The dragon slumped in a graceful wave of scaled body, then lay twitching at my feet.
I gagged at the smell and backed into the woods as quickly as I could, not wanting to wait around to see what other fairy tales were about to come to life. But which way to run? I didn’t know where the stream was, or even how far I’d come. Calm down. Think.
I needed to get higher, but most of the trees around me were spruces with branches that weretoo dense for climbing. That strange pink tree, though, had looked sturdy, and the branches started low. I crept back toward the clearing, but paused when I saw the hunter.
A girl dressed in brown pants and a stained, cream-coloured shirt stood beside the still form of the dragon. She braced a foot against the skull and pulled at her arrow, which came out with a wet squishing sound. The other arrow broke when she tried to remove it. She snarled and tossed the shaft into the woods, then pulled out a knife and sawed into the flesh at the bottom of the dragon’s ear.
She looked up as I stepped into the clearing, taking in my clothing and the now-empty basket I still held onto so tightly that splinters dug into my fingers. She held up one finger, indicating that I should wait, and went back to the ear. I suddenly felt dizzy, and sat down before my legs had a chance to fail me.
The girl, who looked to be about sixteen years old, tucked the dragon’s ear safely at the bottom of the canvas shoulder bag she carried, then offered me a blood-stained hand to help me up. “Are you hurt?”
“No, I don’t think so. Thank you.”
She shrugged. “I should thank you. My family needs the reward money.” She pulled a cloth out of her bag and cleaned her knife. “You’re new?”
“Sorry? I mean, I’m visiting my grandmother in Brightdale, if that’s what you mean.”
The girl narrowed her eyes and looked me over from my braided hair to my steel-toed hiking boots. “Not exactly, but that will do. Where did you cross?”
“Cross what, the stream?”
Without any further explanation the girl led the way back into the berry patch, confidently retracing my path. When I followed her gaze, I saw signs of my earlier passage that I’d missed before in my panic: twisted branches, a patch of moss scraped off of a rock by my boot. Soon we were back at the stream.
“Thank you,” I said. I wanted to rush across the water and back home, but I had to ask. “About that dragon…”
She smiled. She was pretty, if somewhat rough-looking. A faint scar crossed her left cheek from nose to jaw, and her blond hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed in a month. “Don’t see those too often where you come from?”
“Not exactly. What—” I hesitated. I didn’t even know what to ask. There were too many questions.
She crouched to rinse her hands in the water. “You probably won’t get back,” she said, and looked back at me over her shoulder. “You can try. I’ll wait. You can come home with me.”
“I should be able to find my way back from here.”
I hopped across the stones, just as I had before, and turned confidently to go back down the hill to where I hoped Gran wasn’t still waiting for me.
Something wasn’t right. There was another one of those strange trees, and I was sure I hadn’t passed that on the way up. A bird trilled overhead, then flitted closer to investigate. Iridescent sapphire feathers glistened on its back, and bright red flashed as it spread its wings to fly away. I wasn’t much of a birdwatcher, but I was fairly certain that this wasn’t any species native to Newfoundland. Still, I pushed on down the hill.
I gasped as I emerged from the forest onto a stone outcropping that looked just like the one that had shaded me and Gran while we ate our lunch. The view had changed completely. Instead of low hills, a winding road and the village of Brightdale nestled in the valley, I was faced with a range of round-topped mountains that I had never seen before. I sank to my knees, shaking, finally understanding what the girl had meant when she asked where I crossed.
A hand settled on my shoulder. “I’m sorry,” the girl said as she sat beside me. “I had to let you try. You never know, right?” She pulled a clean cloth from her bag and offered it to me, then turned away as I wiped my eyes and blew my nose.
When I’d calmed down enough to speak, there was only one question on my mind.
“Where am I?”
Hmm… A couple of you might know the answer to that one.
Care to join in the fun? Read the other WIPpeteers’ entries at this link, and join in if you’d like! Post a snippet of a work in progress that relates in some way to today’s date (page number, chapter, etc) and add your link. Thanks to KL Schwengel for hosting this hootenanny every week!
All right, Wednesday also means I owe an update for ROW80.
And the big news is… Nothing has changed. I might as well say “see Sunday’s post.” Are you all impressed? I hope so.
No, seriously, that’s it. That’s all I have to say. You’re welcome. 🙂
If you’d like to see what everyone else is up to, though, try clicking here.