This is the first in my Fantasy Fridays series…in which I share ongoing snippets of stories I’ve written. Child of the Serpent began years ago, when I was but a young Scribbler, and has been given new life within realm of Iyastera. I hope you enjoy it!
Deryn was running, her dark hair streaming behind her, green eyes wide with fear. She was running towards the ruins of a castle, scarred and crumbling, but no less forbidding as it loomed overhead, it’s central tower shrouded in smoke. A sudden roar sent tremors through the air around her as a huge shape took flight, bursting from the center of the ruins and into the darkening sky. A battalion of soldiers marched past, grim eyes locked on the aerial figure. She tried to call out, to tell them to turn back, but the sound died before it could escape her lips. She reached toward an armored shoulder, but her hand passed through, ephemeral and useless. She had the sense that the beast wasn’t the true threat. The dragon gazing balefully from above was merely a distraction…the real danger still waited within those ruins. Suddenly, the creature fell into a dive, fire issuing from its throat, its eyes shining as bright as the flames it spat at the soldiers. Arrows struck the dragon’s wings, but it did not yield, arcing back upwards to roar malice once more at the force below it. She kept running. Cold, pitying laughter filled the air, blocking every other sound until it reached a fever pitch, assaulting her mind. Clapping her hands over her ears did nothing to lessen the horrible sound. Darkness began to close in around her. She fell to her knees, still clutching the sides of her head, and screamed soundlessly. Before losing her vision, she saw the blurred image of the dragon, now crashing towards the unforgiving earth.
Jolting awake, she shot upright with a choking cry, beads of sweat rolling down her face. Her blankets lay piled in a heap on the floor, thrown off during the night. This was the second time now, that she has awoken like this, sweating and shaking. The second time she snaps back to reality with those castle ruins still lingering in her vision. She looked around her small, cluttered room, trying to clear her mind of the laughter that still seemed to echo in the recesses of her memory. Everything seemed to be as it was when she went to bed…her chair tucked under her writing desk, with a half-melted candle and a few books strewn across the worn surface, the one small window just above it. On the floor at the foot of the bed was her clothes chest. Her room used to be an attic, dusty from lack of use until she and her grandmother cleared it out. She stiffly stood up from the bed, and moved towards the window, leaning her hands on the desk as she peered outside. The light of the morning sun was obscured by dark storm clouds, rumbling with thunder vaguely evocative of a dragon’s roar. The window shook violently against the wind and rain that assailed it, threatening to shatter.
Rubbing the few beads of sweat from her brow that had yet to dry, she turned away and began to untangle the long chain of a silver locket that hung around her neck. The circular locket, simply made with delicate swirls of inlaid gold, was a gift from her sister, from one of her travels to the capital. Lissa was an aspiring metalsmith and traveled to Cashell often, to learn from the mentors at the Craftsmen’s Guild, in hopes that she could become a member herself one day. The locket was one of Lissa’s early creations. Their town had a smithy of their own, of course, but lacked the tools necessary for working with silver and gold. Within the locket was a small note from Lissa, which read, “To hold your dreams” It was always their dream to earn enough money to travel and see the world, but that future was lost in the river that stole Lissa from her ten seasons ago.