The Dragon’s Bride

I’m Writing for the Poisoned Well is going well! I’m getting closer and closer to the end and then the editing will begin in earnest. However, for now I thought that I would share this extract with you. I hope you like it! Remember to leave me a comment 🙂

The Poisoned Well – Extract

They made a fire on the beach beneath the stars. No clouds covered the sky or hid the stars as they stretched out, wary of the flying bugs. Lyris buried her feet in the sands as they started to cool. Timmit told them about his travels by foot from Ipito to Golden Fort. He’d trained in the capital city before venturing out to live somewhere a little quieter, and further away from his family. Kit shared a story from the caravan, how Rafa had fallen in love with Kelanin and defied his guild to follow the wagon’s, forsaking his license of medicine. Arnit had declined to share a story of his own, and instead, Timmit had started to speak again.  An ancient folk-tale about a dragon who fell in love with a girl.

The mighty Arian would watch the girl from the mountains above the castle where she lived. With all of his years of life upon the world, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes upon. He was a guardian the pass between Veglen and Ipito and he watched over the girl and her family, and visited her in her dreams. Till one day, word reached his cave that the Princess of the land was due to marry. Jealous, he made a deal with the old gods, and traded his scales and impossible hide for breakable flesh of a man. Though he retained some of his mighty power, an ability to communicate with the beasts, the birds and the serpents of the sky.

‘I heard he kept his gold too,’ Kit interrupted and Arn, who had been sat listening to every word, punched the traveller in the arm.

‘Dragons are famous for their hordes of coin,’ Timmit conceded, ‘though it is believed that Arian sacrificed his wealth for this, a chance to wed his beloved before she could marry a Prince from a distant land.’

‘He probably couldn’t carry it down the mountain,’ Kit was stretched out, with his hands looped behind his head, and this time, Lyris prodded him in the belly. He yelped, gripped his side and rolled to his knees. ‘Alright, alright,’ he laughed and gestured for Timmit to continue.

Lyris must have heard the story a thousand times, but sat watching Arn over the firepit the myth meant more to her. The young woman wrapped her arms around her knees, and with a final glare at the repenting Kit, watched Timmit as the dark-haired man continued once more.

‘Arian came down from the mountain,’ the Smith paused, waiting for Kit’s additional commentary. The traveller grinned, but remained mute, ‘and he approached the castle with an aura of splendour. The guards knelt before his power and he was granted an audience with the King. Arian made his request, to take the hand of the King’s daughter. For he was certain that she loved him as truly and as deeply as he loved her. For they had spoken in dreams about their desires. The young woman wanted to travel the world and save it, too bring light to dark places and the hearts of men. She had no desire for wealth or nobility and Arian knew that there was no heart so pure as that of his love. The King, believing that Arian was the Prince sent from the distant lands, was eager to agree the match and the next day. Arian was bound to his bride. The ceremony complete, he turned to the girl beside him and lifted the veil from her face.’

It had been difficult, to see Arn all throughout the day, without any chance to speak to him alone and ask her questions. To reach out and touch him, or pull him into a dark corner and forget that the rest of the world existed. The young woman watched him now, fascinated by his expression as he listened to the story that he too, must have heard a thousand times.

‘Arien had trusted the king,’ Timmit continued and poked the embers of the fire with a stick. Sparks shot into the air and scattered in the wind, drifting like fireflies over the beach. Everything smelt like wood-smoke. Sand covered her feet and hands and the young woman shifted. It always looked so soft, until you sat on it for too long.

‘Arien was furious to find that his bride was not the princess. His love had hair the colour of smelted gold and eyes as dark as the night. He turned his wrath on the king, and demanded to know what trickery this was. The princess, his bride and now his wife, was a woman with dark hair like yours Lyris, and eyes as pale as the jealous moon. The King grew angry and demanded to know why Arien, a prince of distant land could treat him so poorly. Arien explained that this was not his love, the woman he had come to marry. The King was confused, this was his only daughter, and a whisper rose through the court. Finally, a young woman stepped forward, with her hair the colour of the setting sun and the darkest eyes the dragon had ever known. His love, a servant, daughter of servants and granddaughter of servants. She had watched the ceremony with tears in her eyes, and her lover marry the princess and bound with blood.’

‘What happened to them?’ Lyris had heard the story, but there had been different endings. Sometimes, the King annulled the marriage and the servant and the dragon lived happily ever after.

‘Arien was bound to his wife,’ Timmit finished the story, ‘for his foolish belief that beauty could only belong to the rich and the powerful. When in truth, beauty is something that is born within, and more often found in the humblest houses.’ He prodded a lump of coal and avoided the young woman’s gaze.

Kit snorted and stood, brushing the sand from his trousers, ‘or he regained his form as a dragon, melted the King on his throne and flew away with the servant on his back.’

Arn stirred, his own hair the colour of burnt copper in the firelight. He lifted a shoulder in a shrug, ‘they say that he grew to love the Princess, though when the Prince from a distant land arrived, the servant girl was offered to him in marriage. Part to punish Arien for his secret love of the maiden, and in part to hide the fact that the King’s daughter had been married to the wrong man.’

‘What do you believe?’ Lyris joined Kit on her feet. Together they doused the last flames and scattered sand on the embers.

‘I believe that it’s a story,’ Arn smiled, and staggered to his own feet with a groan. He watched her, across the pit but kept his distance.

‘Come on,’ Kit slung an arm around her shoulders and led the way back to the boat, ‘tomorrow we’ll be docking in Toscun, and you’re still never going to beat me at dice.’

‘Because you cheat,’ Lyris and Timmit responded in chorus.

‘Everyone cheats,’ Kit laughed, ‘you just have to be the better cheat.”

‘You’re full of brass

Our Line Through History

A response to today’s daily prompt: Trace.

I love it when a Daily Prompt ties into something I want to discuss.

Last week I went to see King Arthur. Not going to lie, I’m a little bit in love – with the entire film. Now, I’ve turned into a bit of a King Arthur advocate, but I’m serious – go and watch this movie (even if only so that they can make the entire six part series!) The critics aren’t a fan, and I’m so confused. The pacing is brilliant, the dialogue is fast and witty. It’s an amazing story, well told.

This is not a fantasy film that you can approach, expecting a Lord of the Rings epic. You can’t expect a Game of Thrones straight-faced, unflinching gaze. Think more, A Knights Tale – Heath Ledger, Chaucer, Bowie and Queen.

But darker, grittier…

In the first five minutes of the film, I was sat there with Mr Lovely and I have to admit, I was thinking –oh my. What…what is this? Then it was awesome. We fist-bumped and the film continued to be awesome. So much so, that Mr Lovely and I took my parents and brother to see it over the weekend, and I’m trying to con someone into seeing it with me for a third time. Yes, yes it’s that good. You’ve got to love it for what it is.

How though, how does this have anything to do with the daily prompt? I’ve been sold a lie! I hear you  cry.

Well, I’m glad you mention it.

I was at middle school before Harry Potter. Yes, yes I am that old.

The first I heard about the boy wizard was from my younger brother (mentioned earlier). Now, he being four years younger than I, was prime Potter age when it was first released. About 7 years old? It was the first book he loved and dutifully my mother bought him the first and second books in the series (as nothing else had been released yet.)

Because my little brother thought it was cool, and I was a lofty 11 year old, I was definitely not going to read it – and it definitely wasn’t worthy of my attention. I loved the Worst Witch, Enid Blyton, Agatha Cristie. Then on a trip to my grandparents I got bored in the back of the car, and before the two hour journey came to an end – I’d finished the Philosophers Stone. I spent the rest of the visit and the trek back, devouring pages of the Chamber of Secrets.

I think this episode is important, as for a lot of people Harry Potter is a doorway into a world of magic. Game of Thrones is amazingly popular, and I wonder if its because, in part, it’s being watched by adults who had their appetite for Fantasy whet as children by Rowling?

Growing up, I was always a nerd, and very proud of it. There was the Sword and Sorcery surge of the 1980’s – popularity of Lord of the Rings and love of the Hobbit. There are the Hundred of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books, and there are the Dungeons and Dragon’s games. But admitting to enjoying that world as a teenager in the early 2000’s – well that made you a little weird. Fantasy has been a strange, almost underground adoration. Now though, now it feels ‘cool’. I can openly admit to regular playing of table-top games. I can display my collection of Dragonlance books with pride and for GOT fans, I can offer Fantasy words that my friends might enjoy.

It feels as though there has been a shift. If you admitted to playing a little DnD twenty years ago, people might look at you like you’d grown an extra arm. Warhammer was perhaps a bit more forgiving.

With the success of Harry Potter, millions of children were invited to explore a different landscape. Encouraged to find Narnia, Middle Earth and now as we’re grown up, Westeros, Essos, and Sothoryos – not to mention ever popular RPG – World of Warcraft. We’re able to explore fantasy in completely immersive ways, and I think with this, older stories and older lore are returning to the surface as well.

My favourite albums of the last few years have been Monsters and Men: My head is an animal

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMogyzvc_OR333NwjsPy6CfNVTlCoEB1m

Mumford and Sons: Babel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWza_On7ajs

These albums, it could be argued have had a dramatic impact on popular culture. They performed well in the charts and they’re far more ‘Folksy’ than what I would have previously thought as ‘Popular’.

What I’m trying to say – and doing quite badly. Is that I feel that rise of Fantasy is resulting in a rise in ‘Folk’. An encouraged, more narrative lyric in music. Something more reminiscencent of Beowulf. If you watch King Arthur – and you totally should, it marries the two beautifully. The music is excitement and reflects the grit within the film, but it also has its roots in historical sounds. The feeling of a modern folk tale.

There seems to be more of an appetite for those folk-tales though, a rise in interest in dark-ages history. I know that some people have always been fascinated, but it seems more popular, it feels more acceptable.  Fantasy in some ways, feels an extension of folk tale and music. Good fantasy, seems to carry a resonance that is traced back to something primal within us all.

Perhaps that’s why I like King Arthur so much, it seems the culmination of a decade of change. Until the recent years and surging popularity of Game of Thrones, it felt as though the world was trying to cover up the past. Too look forward at Sci-fi, Comic-book heroes and futuristic worlds – but with a determined attempt to ignore the past. It feels as though this is changing, or is has changed like the landscape of a landslide. The past will not be buried, and ancient tales will always surface.

This may warrant further blog-posts…

Now, I may have made a hash of this explanation, but I’d love to know what you think!