In the far northeast corner of the kingdom of Amorrin, built into the side of the mighty Malkrin Mountains, stood the proud fortress of Polaris Keep. During the East-West Wars, this keep was the first line of defense against Markonian invaders as they attempted to march through the Prairie Way, the only open expanse of land between the mountains and the monstrous Torrestor Forest that extended nearly all the way down Amorrin’s eastern border.
But now, with peace having reigned for nearly a century between the two kingdoms, it stood as a symbol of brotherhood, for it was here that General Branson, cousin to the king, signed the peace treaty with the Markonian King and so ended the brutal war and the decades of hatred. Branson had been declared a Duke of the Amorrin Royal Court and was granted all of Polaris Keep and the surrounding areas for his domain as a special thanks from the King. At the foot of the Keep, he decided to build the city of Harthstone, and even extended the wall of Polaris to surround it.
Many people questioned the Duke’s choice for the location of his city, as it was far out of the way from Amorrin society, but nonetheless, it thrived due to an immense amount of trade from the Markonians and soon became one of the greatest cities in the known world.
On the night our story begins, all was quiet and as it should be. A cold wind swept down from the snowy peaks, carrying a frosty bite of the early autumn. The night guard was just finishing up his round of the outer wall, pulling his cloak tighter around himself and thinking only of his soft bed and warm covers. When he reached the middle of the wall, he was expecting to see his replacement waiting to relieve him of duty. Much to his annoyance, though not to his surprise, his replacement was late, however. Apparently having a bit of a lay in.
He would have walked back to the keep barracks and dragged the man’s sorry backside out to the wall, but the number one order of all the guards is “to never leave ones post unless one has been relieved of duty.” So, with a sigh of exasperation, he resigned to wait there until the replacement would finally come, looking out across the Way.
The full moon shone clear and bright from atop the mountains, lighting up the whole expanse of Prairie Way with a ghostly white brilliance, and on the horizon was a large smudge that could only be Torrestor Forest. As the night-guard took all this in, forgetting his annoyance with the replacement guard, he noticed a thin layer of fog sweeping over the prairie just in front of the Keep gates. This fog quickly grew and expanded, turning into an ocean of milk white clouds that hovered just above the ground. Strangely, it seemed to form itself into a perfect rectangle, about as long as the wall and going back about a quarter mile.
“Well, this sure is a peculiarity.” the guard thought to himself, leaning his elbows on the battlements and staring at the strange cloud, fascinated. Then, to his even greater astonishment, the fog began to bubble and churn! Lumps and shapes started to form and grow, looking like a boiling pot of melted wax. The guard stepped back, rubbing his eyes furiously, certain that all of this was a hallucination. But the “hallucination” didn’t stop with his eyes. From beyond he heard a roar, a mighty roar that grew in volume every second. Then a phantom wind swept in, carrying the fog away to reveal…an army of soldiers dressed in fearsome black armor, their banners portraying a spitting black serpent entwining a dagger! Without hesitation, he grabbed for his horn belted to his side, but before he could raise it to his lips a white bolt of lightning shot up from the ranks of the black army, striking his heart. He was dead before he hit the ground.
Meanwhile, high over the Malkrin Mountains, flew Baldor, a powerful gold dragon who’s deeds of valor were known throughout the world. He had been flying for weeks straight, returning home from far distant lands on business of his own. His home was not far away, no more than another fifteen minutes of flight, but his wings were starting to ache slightly, and the night was so clear and fresh he saw nothing wrong with a short rest. So, locating a flat summit large enough to hold his mighty size, he circled in for a graceful landing.
Stretching out his sore wings and limbs, he breathed deeply the mountain air, savoring its sweetness. Gazing up at the stars, he smiled to himself. It was good to be back in familiar lands. The mountain top was so comfortable, and the night so beautiful, that Baldor was considering sleeping there for the night. He yawned as he gave one last stretch and made to settle in. Then, a shift in the wind brought forth an odd scent, a disturbing scent. It was smoke, and lots of it to be carried this far up the mountains. Suspecting trouble, Baldor snapped open his wings and took off into the night, fallowing the direction of the wind.
The mountains thinned as he reached their southern edge, and there, built into the side of the mountain where Baldor knew a human Keep once stood, now stood burning ruins. He gazed transfixed down at the nightmare below. The Keep Walls had been breached, blown to bits by some large explosive source. Shouts of battle rose up on the wind, mixed with the screams and cries of women and children. Illuminated in the glow of the fires, Baldor could see Keep folk, innocent civilians, running through the streets in terror only to be hacked down by the black armored soldiers. The few Keep Guards that were still alive tried to help the people, tried to regroup and form some kind of defense, but they were too overwhelmed by the massive force of invaders. The black swarm was literally purging the streets of life. This was not a battle, Baldor realized, but an extermination.
Baldor could not stand the sight of this massacre a second longer. With a fearsome roar that shattered the night, he swooped down towards the battle to the aid of the Keep folk. He knew that there would be no hope for the people if they didn’t have a means of escape, and so he circled over the edge of the wall, summoning his inner fire to release an inferno upon the mass of invaders. He passed through their ranks, burning them to a crisp in wave after wave of flaming destruction. Those who fled, he let be, showing them the mercy they refused, but those who remained died. Baldor had hoped that the massive amount of losses he had caused them in so short a time would crush their moral and force the invaders to retreat, but they refused. He passed around for another sweep of their forces.
As he came back, however, he was met with a blinding white flash that flew up from the ground and struck his left wing with a burning, jarring intensity. He plummeted to the ground with a roar of pain, skidding and tearing up the earth as he landed.
Grunting in pain, he forced himself to stand again. A small contingent of the black warriors rushed to face him in his weakened state, armed with pikes and spears. Baldor tried to fly again, but his left wing refused to cooperate, hanging limp and useless at his side. He had no choice but to face them head on. The moment they came close enough, Baldor lashed out with tail and claw. Few dodged and many fell, yet they kept on coming. Meaning to end it, Baldor summoned the last of his inner fire to consume those who remained and blasted forth a fiery rage they had not yet known.
After the fire cleared, nothing around him remained except a circle of charred earth, the corpses having burned to dust. Just outside the burn radius, one lone figure still stood to oppose him. Like the others, he was garbed in pitch black, but instead of wearing armor he wore only a chest plate beneath dark robes hemmed in purple, his face hidden beneath a deep hood.
He didn’t rush in to fight Baldor, but stood their calm and still. Slowly he raised his right hand and sparks of white hot lightning jumped between his fingers, then shot up into the sky in five fanning bolts. The bolts twisted and turned to form an orb of lightning.
Baldor stood there, amazed yet tense and cautious, wondering what this apparent mage was getting to. The orb of lightning formed a glowing cage in the air, and from within the cage Baldor saw something massive, something struggling and fighting to get out. The mage closed his hand into a fist, the lightning ceasing and the cage disappearing. What was left was the now freed beast. Baldor stared in amazement, for the beast was, infact, a silver dragon, a breed of dragon who’s nobility and sense of honor was only surpassed by the gold dragons. Right away, Baldor could see that something was very wrong.
It stretched its wings and roared to the sky, relishing its freedom. Then, noticing Baldor for the first time, swooped down, its claws extended and jaws wide open, the telltale glow from the back of its throat hinting at a coming fire blast.
Baldor’s wing was still numb, so he was crippled from flight, but with a roar of his own and a mighty leap, he met the silver dragon head on in the air, and together they plummeted to the ground, fire cork-screwing around them. Struggling and rolling, tearing up the soft turf, Baldor finally managed to pin his adversary, and was met with a disturbing sight. The dragon’s eyes, which were supposed to be a shining silver, were shrouded with a sick lavender fog.
“What spell do they have you under, my brother?” Baldor roared in draconic, the language known to all dragon kin. “You must fight it, I beg of you!”
“KILL ME!!!” The other roared back. “PLEASE, KILL ME NOW!” and without warning, the silver dragon’s jaws shot up and tore into the flesh of Baldor’s shoulder. He roared in agony and was shoved away as the other got back to his feet and again took to the sky. The silver dragon circled back on his opponent the renew the attack. His jaws open wide, he shot forth a volley of exploding fireballs. Baldor, still crippled from flight and his own flames exhausted, could only jump out of the way. Once the other was close enough, he leaped off of the ground to collide with the silver dragon, clenching his wing in his own powerful jaws and tearing it with a horrible wrench. For the second time, they plummeted to the ground. Baldor immediately stood and backed off, giving his opponent a second to assist to his wounds. The silver dragon’s wing hung limply at his side, the gash dripping blood. He looked at it, then turned to Baldor, the lavender taint to his eyes glowing bright as he growled, drool dripping from his maw. They began to circle one another, sizing each other up. They were now on equal standing, neither able to fly and both grievously wounded.
“You must regain control! Fight it!” Baldor cried. “Innocent lives are at stake! The humans are being slaughtered every second we waste!”
“KILL ME!” the silver dragon roared, charging madly. Baldor crashed into him, and together they grappled, claws and teeth flailing. For the longest time it seemed that both were equally matched. No matter what one did, the other always managed to return the blow tenfold. Both became weary, and for a second a silent truce was made where they each backed off to catch their breaths, the silver dragon still growling and frothing at the mouth in his madness.
Baldor was still too weak, his breaths coming in huge ragged gasps. Suddenly, the silver dragon raised his head to the sky and opened his mouth, beams of light and fire blossoming forth. Baldor could not believe what he was seeing! He was daring to summon forth a nova blast, something no dragon would dare attempt in a weakened state. Baldor had to do something fast, or else they would both be killed. In a final act of desperation, Baldor pushed through his exhaustion and swung his tail at the silver dragon’s head. An explosion rent the night, flinging them both backwards like rag dolls. Baldor shook his head to relieve the ringing in his ears, then gingerly got to his feet. Not far away, the silver dragon lay motionless, thin tendrils of smoke snaking up from his body. Cautiously, Baldor walked towards his fallen opponent, and though it was obvious he was finally victorious, it brought him no pleasure.
The silver dragon’s head, once shining and bright, was now black with burns. He lay there gasping, unable to move, as Baldor approached him.
“P-please…”he rasped, his voice barely a whisper. “kill me…please…”
“Brother,” said Baldor “I release you from your torment. Rest in peace!” and swiftly he bit into the throat of the fallen dragon, tearing open the jugular and giving him as quick a painless death as possible, then roaring to the sky in his honor. He was a great silver dragon, Baldor thought to himself, brought to his end as a mere puppet for the fiendish desires of another. Baldor turned back to the Keep, realizing that the fight had done just what the evil mage had intended it to do, keep him from assisting the people.
Around the great wall, bodies lay carelessly strewn around. By the gates laid piles of those who tried, and failed, to escape the onslaught. All were dead. Nothing could be heard now except the crackling of the flames, the black armored invaders having disappeared as quickly as they had come. There was nothing more that Baldor could do.
Solemnly, Baldor made his way to the once grand Keep and entered through the blasted gates. He passed slowly through the streets, looking at all of the fallen people, many of whom had died valiantly protecting their homes and families any way they could. Inwardly, Baldor was tearing at himself with grief and guilt. He could have helped these people! Some could have lived! Some could have escaped! He allowed himself to be distracted, and the cost was the lives of all these brave people. Baldor sat and bowed his head, silently praying for the slain to forgive his foolishness. A large tear leaked from his eye and rolled down his nose to descend upon the bloodstained cobbled road.
Then, from among the death and carnage, Baldor heard a pained groan, a groan that could only have come from living lungs!. Someone was still alive! Snapping back from his grief, he was determined to find them. If he could save just one person, then he wouldn’t have truly failed! Frantically he searched the area, inspecting every dark corner, checking behind every obstacle, until he finally found the source of the groan. In a dark ally, crouched against the wall and barely conscious, was a man garbed in simple leather armor, his head underneath a shabby leather helm and a rusted sword held limply in his hand. This soldier was not part of the Keep’s militia, but a commoner who stood to fight rather than flee.
Without even examining him, Baldor could see that this man was grievously wounded. A gash on his shoulder showed where a sword had broken through his armor and pierced him and his right leg was covered in horrible burns. Without proper medical attention, this man would surely die, something that Baldor was not going to allow. There was only one thing to do. Stepping back for more room, Baldor stood up straight, taking a deep breath as he stretched his neck to the sky, calling upon an ancient magic gifted to only the most powerful of dragons.
All around him there came a golden glow, a glow that grew and grew until it was as bright as the sun, lighting up the night. Then slowly it diminished, and where Baldor once stood there now stood a man, tall with long black hair tied back in a pony tail and dressed in simple dark blue robes.
Once Baldor’s transformation was complete, he ran to the man and carefully moved him from the ally way, gently laying him on the street to further inspect his wounds. Without removing the armor, Baldor could see that, though the shoulder wound was deep and needed to be cared for as soon as possible, the bleeding had already stopped. The burned leg seemed like it would heal fine with some proper poultices, and most likely wouldn’t even scar. He then needed to see if there was any form of head injury, and so Baldor carefully attempted to remove the helm.
The helm fell with a dull thunk as Baldor gasped in amazement at what he saw. This man was not a man at all, but a woman! Long, flaming red hair spilled out over her shoulders, framing delicate features that were before masked. Baldor could feel his human face flush, though he had no idea why. Many times he had walked amongst the humans, and therefore had seen numerous human females, but there was something about this particular woman that at first sight had struck him to near stupification. Shaking it off as mere surprise, he examined her head and concluded that there was only a minor injury, nothing fatal.
Baldor knew that he needed to get this woman to an infirmary as soon as possible, and after remembering that there was a small village less than three days down a river that flowed from the mountains a little ways east from here, that was where he intended to take her. So, finding a small abandoned hay cart, he gently picked her up and laid her inside, packing some of the hay beneath her head as a pillow, and then hauled it to the gates. Baldor passed many bodies along the way, almost all of them innocent Keep folk. But as he neared the gates, he saw a body that belonged to one of the invaders. Wanting to see what kind of monsters these men were, he removed the man’s helm, and a man was all he was. A simple, ordinary man. Upon his tabard he wore a patch bearing the serpent and dagger insignia. Baldor reached down and tore it off, then placed it in his pocket incase future study of these dark invaders would be needed. Glancing behind for one last sorrowful look at the destroyed city, he lifted the edge of the cart and hauled it to the gates and out to the Prairie Way.
The light of the moon made travel by night easy, and Baldor was able to make several miles before stopping. Besides for a few groans, the woman didn’t stir. It wasn’t until the late afternoon of the next day that she finally awoke.
Baldor was leaning over the side of the river, washing his face in the cool water, when the pained groans from the woman in the cart alerted him to her consciousness. He got up to check on her, and indeed her eyes were open (green eyes, he noticed) and her parched, cracked lips were trying to form words.
“Easy now, m’lady. You suffered a slight blow to the head, don’t over do it.” He said placing a gentle hand on her shoulder, then returning to the river. After wetting a rag, he placed it in her mouth for her to drink a few drops. When he removed it, she seemed better, the color returning gradually to her cheeks and her eyes seeming more aware.
“W-where am I? Who are you?” she asked, her voice raspy and weak, but growing stronger with each syllable. Inwardly Baldor cringed. Who WAS he? Surely he couldn’t tell her who…or WHAT he really was. Baldor hated to lie, and always went to great lengths to avoid situations where he would have to lie, but at this moment he saw no way out.
“My name is Baldor, I’m a…uh…hermit of sorts.” He said, trying desperately to keep a straight face. Then, to steer away from himself, he asked “and may I be so bold as to ask of your own name, m’lady?”
A small smile lifted the corner of her mouth. “My name is Beyonna. My father is the blacksmith of Polaris Kee…” realization suddenly flashed in her eyes. “HOME! Please, I must…aaagghh!!!” she grasped at her shoulder, her teeth clenched in pain. Baldor gently forced her to lay back down.
“Beyonna, you are injured! You must rest!” he said.
“But my home! Tell me what happened, please!” she cried.
Baldor swallowed the lump that rose in his throat. This, he thought, was not going to be easy.
“I’m afraid…” he began, not able to face those piercing green eyes. “Polaris Keep is no more.” she stared at him, hurt and disbelief shining in her tear filled eyes.
“My father…my people…?” she whispered, almost pleaded.
“I’m so sorry, m’lady. I’m not sure of any survivors.” was all he could answer. Beyonna said nothing. Softly closing her eyes as if going back to sleep, she turned her face away from Baldor, salty droplets escaping from the corners and forming rivers down her cheeks.
“Beyonna, I’m so sorry,” Baldor said again, ashamed at the pain he had to bring her. “If there’s anything I can do…”
“You’ve already helped me more than I need.” she said, her voice crackling. Baldor couldn’t help but feel a sting at this remark, though he knew that Beyonna was justified. Silently he made his way to the front of the hay cart, took up the sides in both hands, and continued the way down the bank of the river. The rest of the day was a silent one.
Late that evening, they finally made it to Dirkmire, a small farming village out of they way of Amorrin’s highways. It consisted of mainly an inn, a small square for a farmers market, and a several shops, but other than that it was surrounded only by fields. Baldor was pleased to see that Dirkmire wasn’t so small, however, so as not to have an infirmary building, and it was to here that he immediately made his way.
The square was mostly empty except for a few men closing up their shops and several others getting a breath of fresh air on the inn porch. They all stopped to stare at the strange man pulling the hay cart, but none of them bothered to say a word about it and just let the man pass on through.
The infirmary wasn’t hard to find. It was built wide and low, and of all the buildings in the village, it was the only one painted white, giving it a clean, sterile look. As soon as Baldor drew that wagon to the front door, an elderly woman in white linen robes, her hair covered with a shawl, rushed out to assist. Without even saying a word to Baldor, she leaned over Beyonna and did a quick scan of her injuries. Her wrinkled mouth grew thin with disapproval as she took in the sword wound and leather armor. This old nun obviously didn’t approve of women in combat.
“Well, lets get her in, then.” she said, and waved a hand to signal two girls, also in nun’s dress, though without the shawls, to bring over a small stretcher. Together the two girls managed to carefully lift Beyonna from the cart and bear her into the infirmary.
“I’m sorry, I’m afraid I have no money with me to pay for her treatment…” Baldor said to he head nun.
“Don’t bother with that now, dear.” she interrupted, holding up a hand. “This hospital is a shrine to Primevra. We help anyone who needs it, regardless of payment. If your pride insists, we do accept donations, but that can be taken care of at another time. Come along!” and with that she grabbed his elbow and began pulling him to the door.
“Madame, wait, where are we going?” he resisted.
“Where do you think we’re going? Your wife is in there and we have to get her stitched up before The Rot sets in!” the nun continued to tug, but upon hearing this Baldor slid his arm from her grasp and stepped back.
“You are seriously mistaken, my good nun.” Baldor said with a slight chuckle. “She is not my WIFE.”
“Oh, well, you sister?”
“Of course not…”
“Your cousin, then?”
“No, we are not relations of any kind!” he corrected in exasperation. “I found her like this. Her home was destroyed by invaders!”
"Oh my!” cried the old nun.
“Now would you be able to tell me where I can hire a messenger? The capital must know about this!”
Once the nun had regained some of her composure from the news, she directed Baldor towards the inn, where she said there was likely someone passing through to the capital, and then left Baldor for the infirmary without so much as a farewell.
Even though it was late, the business in the inn was still at full swing when he entered. Baldor hated crowds, and hoped to get this issue dealt with as soon as possible. Fortunately for him, the landlord knew a man who was set to leave for the capitol the very next morning. When Baldor relayed the terrible news to the man, a bald man with a vary large mustache, he at first didn’t believe that Polaris Keep was destroyed. But with the serious glares from Baldor, he eventually came to believe and walked away with a face as pale as ash and a muttered promise that he would take the news to the capitol. Baldor began to think that farewell gestures weren’t a custom in this village when the landlord tapped him on his shoulder and informed him that the man had a brother in Polaris Keep, a watch guard. Baldor nodded solemnly at the man’s back, which was now bent over a mug of ale, and then took his own leave.
Standing there in the now empty square, Baldor had no idea what to do with himself. He supposed that he had done all that was necessary. Beyonna was safe in the care of the nuns and the demise of Polaris Keep would soon reach the kings ears. But then, as he walked away from the village, something inside began to take hold of him, making each step harder and harder until he was forced to stop.
Beyonna, he realized. The look of her face after she had found that everything she knew was destroyed, the face of a shattered spirit, could not leave his minds eye. He stood there, just past the boundaries of the village, staring at the ground. Her home was gone, her family dead. She had nothing because he failed, and what was he doing now?!? Leaving her alone in a strange place! Baldor shook his head with a sigh of exasperation, then sat himself on the grass. He knew that there was nothing he could have done to have changed the outcome, that he did everything he could have done, but there had to have been something! Anything! The guilt ate away at him. He fell to his back and gazed up at the inky black sky sparkling with stars. Immediately he found the north star, and there, just below it, was the constellation Draco. Baldor stared at this constellation, searching for answers.
“Master Hermit!” came a shrill cry, breaking him out of his reverie. Baldor stood up to notice one of the young nuns running towards him, waving furiously. He climbed back to his feet, wondering what she could possibly want. When she finally reached him, she doubled over, gasping for air. Baldor gave her a few moment to catch her breath.
“You…*huff*…aren’t leaving, are you?” she said
“I don’t see how I am needed here anymore.” Baldor replied.
“SHE needs you!” the little nun cried.
“Well, she needs SOMEONE!” the nun stomped her foot, regarding Baldor as if he himself was a child. “She’s all alone now! You can’t just leaver her!” Baldor had faced countless monsters and dangers, but for some reason none he could remember looked as fierce as this young child did now. She glared up at him, staring him down. Inside, Baldor was flabbergasted. It was one thing to beat yourself up for something you feel guilty for, but when someone else brings it to ones face, especially when that someone else is a child, it is a different matter entirely. Baldor glanced up to Draco once more and almost laughed. He supposed this counted as an answer.
“I’ll be back in the morning to see her.” Baldor promised. A smile lit up the young nun’s face, which he returned as he turned his back on her and made his way for the forest nearby.
“WAIT!” she cried. “Wouldn’t it be better if you stayed at the inn?”
“I’m a hermit for a reason!” he cried back. “but I’ll be back in the morning.” Satisfied with his word, the young nun ran back to the infirmary.
That night Baldor found a small clearing to sleep in. He admitted to himself that the inn would have been warmer, but you don’t live alone for centuries and just give up your love of privacy overnight, whether you’re a human or a dragon. He was also hungry, and sorely tempted to transform and hunt a deer or two, but he couldn’t risk being seen, and so went hungry that night. All he risked was to summon enough dragon power to light a small fire with his breath.
The next morning, Baldor made his was back to the village, heading straight for the infirmary. Outside the inn he saw the mustached man from the night before loading up a horse with supplies. His eyes were red and sunken in, testament to a night of grief and little sleep. Baldor’s heart took another stab of guilt.
There was no one outside, so Baldor invited himself in. On either side of the long structure were rows of cots. Several of them lined with curtains draped around them. The opposite end of the building held an old stove where Baldor saw the young nun from the night before hunched over a steaming pot, and on the bed closest to the stove, sleeping soundly and peacefully, was the still form of Beyonna.
The young nun at the stove looked up to notice him, a smile on her face at Baldor’s return, like he promised. She gestured for him to come forward and pointed to a crude wooden chair next to Beyonna. He gratefully accepted it, trying hard not to make any noise to wake her.
Her breathing was soft, and her face peaceful. Baldor found that he couldn’t help but stare, and then felt his face flush again. Before he knew it, a bowl filled with steaming gruel was being forced into his hands. He looked up to notice once again the smiling face of the young nun. It wasn’t until he smelled the food that he realized how hungry he was, and ate it with gusto.
After Baldor had eaten and handed the bowl back, the head nun entered through a back door. She seemed a bit surprised at seeing him there, but said nothing as she walked to Beyonna’s side and did a quick check of the bandages. Once she had changed the bandages on the leg (which was already seeming better) she left again, acknowledging Baldor with another of her thin mouthed glares but still not saying a word.
Beyonna hadn’t so much as stirred when her bandage was changed. Baldor wondered if she was even still sleeping or just pretending. Then her face began to shrink and tense up, and tears leaked out from her closed eyelids. She was crying in her dreams, most likely having a nightmare. Hesitantly, Baldor laid his hand on her elbow and gently shook her to wake her up.
She awoke with a small start, peering around the room, remembering where she was. She stopped on Baldor’s face, and her expression became angry, closing her eyes and turning away just like before. Baldor felt another sting at this, but didn’t blame her. All day Baldor sat by her side, and all day she refused to turn towards him. Every now and then he saw that she would drift off into sleep, which would always end with the same tell-tale tears. When the sun had faded and the long room of the infirmary became shrouded in shadows, Baldor felt that it was time to end the day. With a sigh he rose from the chair, taking one last look at Beyonna’s still form.
“Sleep well, Beyonna.” he said to her softly, then quietly made his way out of the infirmary. That was the beginning of a long routine for Baldor. Every morning at dawns first light he would leave the wood clearing for Beyonna’s bed side, where he would sit and watch over her till nightfall only to do the same thing the next day. After several days, the nuns said that Beyonna should be strong enough to walk, but she refused to move. Her shoulder was clean and well on the mend, yet she suffered from fevers and had fits in her sleep, which she also refused to take medicine for. Baldor began to worry, figuring this was no mere physical illness. When the nights came, he would leave more and more reluctantly, wishing and hoping for her well being.
One night, Baldor had stayed at the infirmary longer than perhaps he should have. The candle that the nuns had given him had since dwindled to a stub and burnt itself out, leaving him to sit in the dark. As the seconds passed he could feel his head begin to nod and his eyes become weaker. Eventually he fell into a soft slumber.
As soon as she was certain Baldor was asleep, Beyonna’s eyes shot open. Slowly she got out of bed, desperate not to make a sound. Finding some old clothes the nuns had given her days before, she went behind the curtain of one of he other beds and swiftly dressed herself. When she came back out, Baldor had not moved or even stirred. Beside her bed was an old rucksack holding her broken armor, old sword, leather helm, and even her old sword rapped in a linen cloth. She snatched this from the floor, flinching at the jingle from the metal buckles and studs, but breathing a sigh of relief when Baldor didn’t stir. From a small cupboard next to the stove she grabbed some bread, cheeses, and other vitals and dumped them also in the sack with no worry, then made her way to the door. Halfway down the hall, she turned to check one more time on Baldor. Why is he her, she found herself wondering. Surely he has his own life to live, why would he watch over me day after day like this? For a second she felt a soft pang of guilt break through the icy wall of her heart. It was almost enough to make her go back, to make her want to wake him up and thank him, but then she remembered what he did. Or rather, what he didn’t do. She was alone I this world because of him! She should have died with her family and friends at Polaris Keep! But no, she was denied that mercy. Her icy heart now reinforced, she fixed Baldor with one last glare of hatred and walked out into the night.
The forest was silent, except for the orchestra of crickets that blessed it with their nightly concert. The beauty of the night music was lost on Beyonna, however, as she trudged roughly through. It was late when she finally stopped, the village miles behind her. She had intended to journey straight through the night, but her leg and shoulder were beginning to feel the strain of travel and she needed a moment to rest. The was a large tree where she stopped, and she decided to tae her seat between its protruding roots. Almost immediately she felt a wave of unexpected exhaustion wash over her. Dawn was still a ways away, and had gone a fair distance, so she allowed herself to settle in for a sleep till dawn.
She drifted in and out of consciousness, the dull ache of her shoulder lifting her out of sleep but always gently lowering her back. In her drifting state she began to hear gurgling voices, starting in what seemed to be a sound volume, but lowering to whispers. She didn’t what they were or meant, and so passed them off as remnants of her scattered dreams, letting herself fall back asleep.
Then, without warning she was seized by clawed hands and was being dragged across the forest floor. She tried to scream, but a gag was immediately shoved into her mouth and a sack thrown over her head. Her hands were bound behind her back with tight cords that bit into her wrists, and before she could protest or fight in any way her captors had lifted her off the ground and carried her away with as much care as a rolled up rug. They did not notice the eerie yellow eyes that glared at them from the dark tree tops.
After what seemed to Beyonna as hours, but may have only been minutes, she was dropped to a hard floor and had the sack ripped from her head, facing her captors for the first time. Three gnolls surrounded her, their ugly, dog-like faces contorted into sinister grins. Beyonna looked around. They had taken her to what appeared to be a small cave. Roots growing out of the walls and ceiling told her that this hideaway was probably dug into some ditch or crevice in the forest, a common practice of gnolls so that they may ambush their victims. The whole cave was littered with the gnawed and cracked bones of a variety of animals, or at least mostly animals, for in the far corner, among a pile of tattered clothes, lay a human skull and several large bones. Beyonna let out a muffled scream through her gag. They were going to eat her!
One of the gnolls prodded her arm, then turned and made a gurgled comment to one of the others who was busy sharpening a jagged, rusty knife against a stone. The third took a spot in the corner and gnawed a discarded bone. Beyonna struggled and tugged with as much strength as her now throbbing shoulder would allow, but she was just too weak. Tears streamed down her dirt stained cheeks. There was no hope.
The gnoll with the knife, having sharpened it to his heart’s content, held the tip to Beyonna’s throat and seemed to be measuring where the best spot to make the first slice would be.
He never got the chance, however, for from outside the cave there then came a fearsome yell, and Baldor, brandishing a large staff, rushed in swinging madly. With a side swipe he cracked the gnoll with the knife over the head, sending him skidding across the floor, and the next closest gnoll received a jab in he torso that broke his ribs. While Baldor fought these first two, the third gnoll took the opportunity to sneak behind him, and with a snarl attacked from behind. Holding on tightly, the gnoll bit into Baldor’s shoulder. Baldor reached up and grabbed the gnoll’s arm from around his throat, then swung him around to smash against the cave wall.
Baldor, breathing hard after the struggle, dropped his staff and rushed to Beyonna’s side.
“Beyonna, thank the stars that you’re alright!” he cried, removing the gag and then untying the knots of her hand bonds. Once her hands were free she threw her arms around him in a sobbing embrace. Baldor was stunned.
“I’m so sorry Baldor!” she wept. “I was so foolish, I…” From over his shoulder Beyonna saw the knife gnoll, who had regained consciousness, rush towards them with the blade held high.
“LOOK OUT!” she screamed, scrambling out of the way. The gnoll’s wicked blade sliced diagonally down Baldor’s back, cutting hard and cutting deep. Baldor’s back arched with a pained cry, then, so quick that Beyonna barely knew what happened, he turned with a snarl, wrenched the blade from the gnoll’s hand, and plunged it through his chest to pin him to the ground. To the end of her days, Beyonna would never forget that sight, where Baldor seemed, in that instant, to be something other than human.
In his dragon form, Baldor would have had the strength to endure a hundred wounds of this magnitude, but as a human he was weak and had lost a lot of blood. His rage subsided, the scene in the cave began to grow dark and he could feel himself fading. The last thing he remembered was collapsing to the floor.
For the longest time all he could see was blackness. Soon that blackness lighted to a grey haze, and then the haze went away just to leave the grey light. When he came to his senses, he realized that he was back in the village infirmary. The sky outside the window was cloudy and dark. For a second Baldor believed that the events of the past evening were merely a dream, until he realized that he was the one lying in a bed, tight bandages wrapped around his torso. Next to his bed, in he same wooden chair that he used to sit in, was Beyonna, staring at him with deep concern.
“Well, this seems to be a bit of a reverse, doesn’t it?” said Baldor. “Only, I’m talking to you after you saved my life.” Beyonna gave a nervous chuckle at the remark, then averted her eyes to the floor.
“Baldor, I…” she began. “I’m ashamed of myself.” Her voice cracked slightly. “If I hadn’t been so…foolish, you never would have gotten hurt like this!” A sparkle flashed for an instant before disappearing in a tiny spot on the floor.
“You know,” she began again, her voice now smooth and controlled. “all this time I was angry because I thought every person who ever cared for me in this world was gone.” She raised her head to look at Baldor. “But I guess if you didn’t care for me you would have let me wander off and get killed, wouldn’t you?” she allowed herself a faint smile, which melted away as quick as it had come and she lowered her face back to the floor as a fresh wave of tears came on. “and I…” she choked back a sob “never thanked you…for before.”
Baldor couldn’t understand why this human woman moved his heart so. All he knew was that he saw her there, crying in loneliness and regret, and wanted nothing more than to hold her, to comfort her, to speak some words that would take away her pain. He forced himself to say something.
“Beyonna…” she looked up at him, quickly wiping her hands on her palms. “I can’t say that I understand the torment your soul is scarred with, and I’m not sure if it will ever go away, but I do know one thing, and that is that no matter what happens…” Baldor gently took her hand in his, placing his other hand over in a friendly manner. “There will always be someone there to care for you. Always.” Beyonna stared at their hands, then looked to Baldor, who responded with a small smile. She smiled back, the trails of tears making her cheeks glisten.
The head nun then decided to interrupt this moment by entering loudly through the back door.
“You seem to attract trouble, boyo!” she shouted over her own clatter as she pulled bowls, pestles, and jars from cupboards and started mashing up various herbs. She turned around with fresh bandages in one hand and a poultice in the other, catching a sight of their joined hands before they were suddenly pulled away. She said nothing of it, but expressed her thoughts in another one of her thin loathed glares.
“I’m afraid your wound has contracted a very serious infection.” Her eyes never raising from the bandages she was now spreading with the poultice, her mouth still very thin. “Nothing I can’t take care of, but serious nonetheless.”
“Thank you, lady nun. The care is much appreciated.” Baldor said.
“You may call me Mother Grace, if your visits here will continue to be this frequent!” she replied with some ice in her voice.
Beyonna, sensing that she was no longer needed, decided at this moment to take her leave. At risk of aggravating the painfully old fashioned nun, she did not say goodbye to Baldor but paid him a quick smile before exiting the infirmary.
The nuns were amazed at the rapidity of Baldor’s recovery in the following days. For how bad the infection was, they were expecting him to be bed ridden for well over a week and need of much care still for awhile after. Upon inspection, however, Mother Grace noticed that Baldor’s wound was not only clear of the previous infection but that the stitches and bindings were ready to come out! She merely shrugged it off, stating that her skills in healing must be better than she expected, but Baldor could see in her sideways glances that she suspected more to it. Gathering his clothes, he felt it prudent to be very careful around this old one.
Beyonna, upon her own healing, had resigned to stay in the village and try to make it her home. The land lady at the inn, who had heard Beyonna’s story, was very empathetic and had offered her permanent lodgings and evening meals along with a small salary if she were to help around the inn.
Despite the fact that he knew Beyonna was better and well on her way to a better life, Baldor couldn’t bring himself to leave the tiny village. He maintained his residence in the clearing, only entering civilization every once in a while when the need arose, that need not being for food or supplies but to take a glance at Beyonna and to see that she was ok.
In time, Baldor became something of a local peculiarity. They only knew that he slept in a clearing not far into the woods, but otherwise had no idea how he managed out there, especially in the matter of where he got his food.
The way of that was that Baldor would hunt for his own food, though the people couldn’t possibly have guessed that because as far as they knew he had no hunting tools. It wasn’t hard for him, however. Letting himself drift slightly to his dragon form, though never allowing himself to transform completely lest someone see him, he would journey deep into the woods to hunt for meat. Every now and again, at times when he had little to do, Baldor would sit and stare at the sky, watching the clouds sail by and envying them. He would remember the wondrous feeling of flight, the rush of the air beneath his wings, the overall glory of being a dragon. But then Beyonna’s face would invade his mind and he would realize that maybe, for the first time in his centuries of life, he cared for something more than being a dragon. It was during one of these moments that Beyonna found his clearing.
Baldor was sitting against a tree, deep in his own thoughts, when a swishing of leaves brought him to the present. There stood Beyonna, a basket hanging under one arm. For a second there was silence, Baldor stunned to see her there and Beyonna struck with nervousness.
“I guessed you might be hungry…” she said in a slight rush. “…For decent food that is, so I brought you some leftovers from the inn.” she raised the basket, almost to display it as evidence against her peculiar behavior of visiting.
“Thank you very much Beyonna.” Baldor replied. Beyonna took a seat across from him, setting the basket between them. She offered him some bread and cheese, which he accepted gratefully. It had been some time since he hunted.
Beyonna also helped herself to some food, other wise remaining silent. When the food was gone and the utensils put back into the basket, Baldor expected Beyonna to immediately leave. She did no such thing, however. She remained where she was, hardly moving and not saying a word.
“Thank you again for the food.” Baldor said, attempting to try and establish a conversation if she had no intention of leaving. “Be sure to send my complements to the land lady for her wonderful cooking.”
Beyonna nodded, but still seemed nervous. Then, finally, she spoke.
“Baldor, we haven’t known each other very long, but even in that short time you’ve done so much for me. You saved me from the attack, got me to safety, and even saved me from myself. You were there for me when I thought I was all alone and…” her voice quavered a bit with nervousness and she began wringing her hands. “…and for some reason I can’t get you out of my head.”
Baldor flushed a little. He wanted to tell her the same, to confess that he might even love her, but something inside held him back. Then, without warning, Beyonna leaned forward and pressed her lips on his. It was several seconds that lasted a glorious eternity, and just as quickly as the kiss had come it had ended abruptly. Without another word, Beyonna rose and left in haste, her own face bright red.
From then on, things were different. Baldor found himself visiting the village even more and more to see Beyonna, and whenever he didn’t visit the village Beyonna would come and see him. They would spend hours together, walking under the sun, out on picnics, or just sitting on the grass and talking about nothing. Their visits made Baldor completely forget about the feel of flying, the might of being a dragon. By being in Beyonna’s presence he felt that he was so much more.
The days passed, and the feelings Baldor felt for Beyonna only grew stronger. It was then that he realized a dark truth. He loved her, and knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, but he was also a dragon. Sooner or later he would have to tell her the truth. A cold chill ran down his spine at the realization. Would her feelings towards him change if she knew what he really was? Would she understand? These dark thoughts haunted him, but for how much he feared to face them he knew that he loved Beyonna more. He asked for her hand in marriage that very spring, and together they stood before the town preacher and proclaimed their love. As they spoke their vows to one another, Baldor silently made a vow to himself. He vowed That for as long as his love for Beyonna remained he would remain human and reject his dragon form completely.
In the days that followed Baldor embraced his new human life, starting with building a home for his wife. The Land Lord and Lady, always caring for Beyonna ever since she first came to the village, offered them a sack of gold as a wedding present. With that gold Baldor bought an ax, building tools, and a sack of seed. In no time he had built a small cottage in the very clearing where he had been staying and had even started a garden for them to grow their own food. For a small source of income he had set himself up as a woodcutter and sold firewood and building lumber. Every morning Baldor would look at Beyonna, think of his new life, and he never once missed being a dragon.
However, a year and a half later, an occurrence brought light to the fact that it is impossible to completely hide what one truly is forever. After returning from the woods one night, Beyonna met him at the door with more joy in her eyes than he had ever remembered seeing, and she told him the wonderful news. She was with child.
Baldor was ecstatic, overjoyed, but even so he could not help but notice a dark tension in the back of his mind. Late that night, when Beyonna lay sound beside him, he realized what it was that frightened him and no number of blankets could cease the chill that engulfed him. Despite what he had been pretending for so long, he was still a dragon, and their child…it could be hidden no longer. He would have to tell Beyonna what he really was.
In the day light, when Baldor observed Beyonna in her euphoria, it was hard to let the small fear of the truth over come him. He almost couldn’t believe it that in a few short months he would be a father, and he allowed himself to revel in that fact.
Those months passed sooner than Baldor could even have imagined. The snows had come, and he looked upon his wife as she sat in the chair before the warm fireplace, humming as she knitted a small blanket. Her stomach had grown with the new life it held.
“I’m a bit concerned.” Beyonna spoke up suddenly.
“About what, my dear?” Baldor replied, looking up from the wooden toy he was carving.
“I feel the baby moving, but I have yet to feel it kick. Do you think its healthy?”
“I…I really couldn’t say.” was his only answer. Another look at Beyonna’s belly told him that time was running out.
In truth, time was shorter than Baldor thought. That very next week the baby was ready to be born. Through a terrible late winter blizzard, Mother Grace had fought her way to the cottage to oversee the birth. Baldor, his own nerves stretched thin, decided to wait somewhere where he wouldn’t be in the way.
In the midst of the storm, Baldor took a seat on an old stump, too racked with fright and worry to even care about the cold. It was too late now! Why hadn’t he told her?! What were they to expect of their child? The stars had always brought him comfort, but they were too veiled by the clouds of swirling flakes to relinquish any on this night. Alone with his thoughts, Baldor sat and waited.
Inside the cottage things were going smoothly. Beyonna was making good progress and as far as the old nun could tell there were no complications to worry about. It wasn’t long before the expected wail of the baby rent the small dwelling and the nun was wrapping her (for it was indeed a girl) in a soft blanket. Checking the child over, counting the toes and fingers, she was perfectly healthy, sporting a head of shocking red hair like her mother. Then, as the baby paused in her wailing and looked up fully for the first time, the nun noticed the eyes and cried in terror. They were gold, and the pupils, instead of round, were cat-like slits!
Surely, the nun thought, this is a babe of demons! She looked to the semi-conscious Beyonna on her bed. “You poor woman.” she whispered to herself. “You know not the truth!” The nun set the child next to her mother, who even in her half state of exhaustion draped an arm over to cradle her. Finding a knife in the kitchen, the nun returned to the bedside, holding it high with tears in her wrinkled old eyes.
“May the gods grant you an eternity of blissful ignorance, my child!” and she plunged the knife deep into helpless Beyonna’s stomach. The only thing Beyonna could do was scream.
From his perch in the snow Baldor heard the scream, and with a shiver that had nothing to do with the storm, he feared the worst. Rushing to his home, he threw open the door to find his beloved Beyonna half dead with a stab wound and the nun cradling his wailing child as she held the still bloody knife over it. An instant explosion of grief and wrath welled up inside him, and for what seemed like only seconds all he could see was a haze of fiery red, the last thing he remembered was a roar erupting from him.
The haze cleared to reveal a scene of destruction. Everything was a mass of torn and shattered wood, the fact that it was once a happy home now completely indiscernible. A wall of the cottage as completely missing, the edges rimmed with fire and several trees beyond burning in a smoky flame. In the corner next to that wall was an unidentifiable bloody mass. From that mass was a charred and raked hand, possibly one that had been extended with pleads of mercy, with the remnants of what was once prayer beads wrapped around the wrist.
“No…I couldn’t have, I…” Baldor stammered, unable to believe what he was seeing. He made to bury his face in his hands, to block out this nightmare, but only cried out in terror at what he saw. His once human hands were now covered in golden scales and his fingers now bore claws smothered in gore. Terrified, he reached up to inspect his face. It too was covered in golden scales and his mouth and nose were extended into a maw. He had transformed into some monster between his two forms!
He shook his head madly, there was no time for this! Where was Beyonna!
“Beyonna!” he cried, tearing into piles of broken timbers and hauling away beams. “Beyonna, where are you?!?”
Then, from a far corner where their bed once stood, now blocked by fallen beams, came a wail, a living, powerful cry from a baby that was very much alive. Baldor rushed to the beams and tossed them aside as if they were twigs, revealing what could only be described as a miracle. There lay Beyonna, still breathing, still breathing, clutching the wailing bundle to herself like a lifeline. Beyonna’s eyes blinked open and she acknowledged Baldor with a weak smile.
“I…”she breathed, her voice weak “saved our little girl, my love.”
“A little girl?” he replied with a smile, kneeling down beside her and looking for the first time at his newborn child. For that one moment, everything was right and as it should be. They were a family.
“She…has her father’s…eyes.” said Beyonna, and in that crushing instant Baldor remembered his monstrous form. But instead of being met with fear, he was met with Beyonna’s soft hand on his cheek. “I’ve known for awhile, Baldor.”
He couldn’t help but smile at this remark. Oh the cleverness of her! Beyonna’s face then became serious. “Darling, I don’t have much time left. You must promise me that you’ll care for our daughter.”
“Of course I will care for her, but…Beyonna, I…” He reached up and took hold of her hand in his claws, which now melted away to human digits, and bowed his had, his shoulders shaking with grief. The tears flowed freely now, , but Baldor tried to keep his voice even and strong. “I’ve lived centuries on this world, and have done great things, but since I’ve met you I’ve learned that I can’t endure another minute without you!”
“You must, Baldor you must! If not for your own sake, for the sake of our daughter.” with great difficulty Beyonna managed to hand the baby to Baldor. It was obvious that her strength was failing her fast. The silent fires, having grown in the past minutes, now shed light on the dark corner to reveal how much of Beyonna’s precious life blood had been lost, what she was still losing rapidly. “Keep her safe…help her to grow as strong as you…Baldor…I…love you.” Beyonna’s last breath escaped her, and with a peace that can only come with death her eyes closed forever.
Baldor sat silently by her side, becoming numb o everything around him. He didn’t know how many minutes had passed before the baby started to cry, cutting through the veil of silence he had enshrouded himself with. For the first time he paused to take a good look at his daughter. He saw her flaming red hair, the same as her mother’s, and couldn’t help but smile.
It wasn’t until the next morning when the locals saw the remaining smoke from the burned house and trees and sent a search party to the clearing to investigate. What they found was the former woodcutters home, half burned and surrounded by charred trees. Laying beneath a tree were what appeared to be two human bodies wrapped in white sheets as makeshift shrouds. It was impossible to tell what really happened, But Beyonna and Mother Grace were each given proper burials and the legend of Woodcutter’s Clearing became a favorite fireside story for years t come.
Baldor, meanwhile, was long gone. His destination was a journey of several weeks by foot. Even so, he refused to return to his true form, keeping strong the vow he made to himself over a year ago. By means of provisions he carried none except for several drinking bags of goats milk he had bought with the last few coins of his former life for a squirming bundle he carried in his arms.
On the far northern horizon across the Prairie Way soon loomed the Malkrin Mountains. Baldor, resting on the grass, held his daughter to face them.
“Look, Bethel,” he said, pointing “That is where our home is!” Little Bethel took in those mountains with her strange gold eyes and laughed.
While in the foothills, Baldor walked a secret path that he had not used in decades. The path ended before a solid wall of the mountains. This wall, built so long ago by dwarves, was the gateway to Baldor’s domain and would only open to his commanding touch. He secured Bethel, sound asleep, in one arm, and rested the palm of the other on the flat stone surface. When he removed it, his palm had left a red glowing imprint. Slowly it faded, leaving not a scratch or sign. Then the wall began to tremble, and a straight crack formed down the middle. With many grinds and groans the halves opened inward as massive doors to reveal a narrow pass into the mountains. As soon as Baldor entered the doors swung closed of their own accord and became once more a single piece of the mountain.
The narrow pass was long, and the stars were bright in the sky when Baldor and little Bethel found the end of it. It opened up to a wide and cheerful valley dominated by a small lake. The lake was fed by a flowing river, which in turn had its own beginnings from a tall waterfall that came from the very top of the valley. Beside that waterfall, towering over the wild, beautiful landscape was castle M’ortin, Baldor’s ancient estate.
“Welcome home, Bethel.” He smiled down on her and she answered him with a fit of giggles.
|10 Mar 2009|| Glo 'the Bug' Bowden|
*first comment wipes eyes*
You cruel cruel woman! How could you kill off Beyonna like that?!? I really liked her - and, of course, soon got the idea that this was to be Bethel’s mother (not just by her looks, but by her fiery personality). I as so hoping to see mother and daughter interact. Alas, you cruel cruel author!
Baldor is officially awesome. Usually when one reads of dragons, they are aloof and think human troubles below them. So it was with a great thrill that I got to know this dragon, who values human life. I loved reading about his defense of the keep, and the battle with the silver dragon. Chivalry is always such a cool thing to see in any character, even moreso in a dragon.
I like how you captured people here. Real people who are affected by the world around them. For instance, the messenger whose brother was at the keep. I couldn’t help but wonder if his brother may have been the one to be killed first up on the wall. - And the way Baldor saw him the next morning, saddling up to ride off.
Mother Grace was a character I was starting to like, for all her callousness. I mean, come on - she battled a snow storm to help deliver the child. When she was about to stab Beyonna I kept thinking "No, don’t do it! Don’t do it! Don’t...NO!" - not just for Beyonna’s sake, but for her own. (ANd that, not just because I knew a terrible, draconic revenge awaited her) - I was kind of hoping she would be a recurring character, because you built her personality so well. Allison L. Miller
replies: "*pats back* there there, I know, i’m a meany, lol. Beyonna’s death was necessary for some deep character development in the future. In some versions I had thought to keep her, but they never seemed to work out. Alas, poor Beyonna, may she rest in peace! In regards to dragons, your right about them seeming to be "above human problems" and such. Usually they leave humans to their own devices, which is something that has always bothered me about them. Then I read about gold dragons in a Dungeons and Dragons Manual. Apparently they are a breed of dragons that are like paladins. When they come of age, they devote themselves to a "life quest" where they try to better the world. After reading this, of course, Baldor was born! I was thinking about mentioning something like that in the story. Maybe it could make a good short story, eh? Thank you so much! Character development was really what I was aiming for! I was afraid, upon reading my own work, that I didn’t do that enough, that Baldor, Beyonna and the rest seemed painfully generic. You are absolutely right about Mother Grace too, I’m regretting that I made her die, but I couldn’t see a way around it. Thank you so much for reading and for the tag! I appreciate it so much! "
|10 Mar 2009|| Glo 'the Bug' Bowden|
That moment kind of raises a question for me. Why did she kill Beyonna and not the "demon child"? One would think she wouldn’t blame the mother, but the child herself, or even the cryptic mysterious father. Of all of them, Beyonna seems the least guilty, one would think. Then again, Mother Grace has always judged her harshly, from the moment she was carried into the village dressed and wounded like a soldier.
Ah yes - speaking of, I was kind of confused for a bit as to why she was so angry at Baldor. He seemed to understand, but I sure didn’t until it was finally stated outright that she hated him for saving her when she didn’t want to be saved. Perhaps it could be stated a bit sooner...? - but then, it does eventually unfold clearly enough, so that’s totally up to your discretion.
There was a beautiful descriptive moment that I have to mention, because it was so well and originally put. "A sparkle flashed for an instant before disappearing in a tiny spot on the floor." - you said she was crying without saying she was crying. I just loved that! Well put.
I loved reading the sweet and uncomplicated romance unfold between Baldor and Beyonna. After the epic battle and injuries, it was nice to see them settle into village life. I was so happy for them, and then you had to go take it away like that. :’(
Of course, this sets it up for an interesting epic. We still need to find out who the black serpent soldiers belong to, and who that crazy mage is.
Well done, Allison! I’m eager to see how this unfolds! Allison L. Miller
replies: "She was going to kill Bethel, only Baldor came in and stopped it right when Mother Grace was holding the knife over her.
Its just the whole survivors guilt thing. You could be right about it needing to be stated a bit sooner...maybe I should change it, like give her a shouting out burst at Baldor when they are on their way to the village or something. Either way, good idea!
I’m glad you liked my attempt at a romance. You don’t think it was TOO uncomplicated, do you? I thought of adding more too it, like putting in a scene where they each talked about their own pasts or something, but I got kind of lazy, and my "editor" said that all this was really just a prologue and that it was long enough as it is. Oh well, lol. "
|25 Mar 2009|| Glo 'the Bug' Bowden|
To answer your question, I think the relationship was fine being "uncomplicated". It was sweet and kind of refreshing. And as you said, it is a prologue. No need to get too tense with the relationship, as Bethel is the real main character here.
You’re welcome for the tag. Your writing is worth it, m’dear. I am excited to see where this leads.
|4 May 2009|| Keirsten Nicola Darby|
lov the story! I see Glo’s point but I like it jest the way it is. Oh, and I persinal would like to have it abit longer. Also, prolrgues can be as long as you would like them to be. Allison L. Miller
replies: "Hey Keirsten! Srry I havn’t replied in so long. Thanks so much for reading! Its so good to hear from you! Don’t worry this is only part one of the story, there is a whole lot more to come! Can’t wait to read what you have to write about!"
|25 Aug 2012|| Jane Est Jacobs|
Consturctive criticism, ho!
The guard’s dialogue doesn’t match his thought process.
For Baldor, you say his wings are a little sore, and a paragraph later you say that they ache.
How to mountains become ’thinned’?
The battle between the dragons and the army doesn’t feel very dramtic (in other words, I didn’t feel worried about Baldor’s safety).
Why doesn’t the mage just kill Baldor with his magic? Or alternatively, why doesn’t he just kill Baldor when he pauses to kill the silver dragon?
You don’t really follow the ’show don’t tell’ method of writing; remember to describe things instead of just talking about them.
I would write more, but I feel a bit bad about what I have already... Allison L. Miller
replies: "First of all, you should never feel bad about giving an honest critique. If I didn’t want people to read it and give me an honest opinion i never would have posted it on the internet for the world to see. Thank you VERY much for taking the time to read my work. Secondly, I must inform you that this particular piece was written when i was in High school, maybe even earlier (I cant remember exactly), and now I am 22 and in college, so I very much agree that it isn’t that good. I like to think that my skill has improved since then. All of your comments make sense, and I completely agree with them, except for the first one where I’m not quite sure what you mean. I decided to completely re-vamp the whole Dragon Knight Chronicles beginning in "Dragon Knight Chronicles: Growing Pains," posted just this past year, so if you want to read the re-write it is also available. Again, thank you for reading and I hope to hear from you again "
|27 Aug 2012|| Amber Rose Hammon|
I loved your story!! I felt that you described everything very well. I was a bit lost at why Beyonna hated Baldor so much but i liked having to wait for the answer. I think you are a fantastic author and I hope that you continue to write. One thing that I noticed though was that some of you words (mainly small ones) were misspelled. Not horribly misspelled but just that a few letters were left out, however where you were going with the sentence made it clear what you meant. Overall, Great Job!! I enjoyed the read. Allison L. Miller
replies: "Thank you very much for your comment, it is greatly appreciated. Yeah, some words might have been misspelled when I cut and pasted a few things around, or maybe I was just not in my right mind that day, lol. Anyways, I’m still working on my Dragon Knight Chronicles but I re-wrote the beginning. This part that you just read is the old one, but I have the new one up on my page titled "Dragon Knight Chronicles: Growing Pains." Thanks again for reading!"