Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Romantic Scene from Choices Meant for Gods
From the assignment mentioned above

(remember: Nigel was nearly killed the night before by a wound to the chest and Chariss healed him with "magic" (the geasa); my word limit was 800 to 1,000 words; this was to be read aloud so there are a couple signposts in here I wouldn't include if this was to be included in the novel)

Nigel hadn’t expected to find anyone in the stables this early in the morning. But here she was, grooming the grey mare that Kaylin had named Shadow. His heart stopped before his feet did in the stable doorway, and she glanced over her shoulder with one of those disarming smiles that he wasn’t sure yet how to recover from.

“Good morning,” she called out. “You’re up early. How’s your chest feeling?”

A hundred responses shot through his brain, including something about how much his chest hurt when she arrested his heart with that song in her voice. What came out of his mouth surprised him with its lucidity. “Much better, thank you. Between you and my grandfather, I think you got me healed quite well.”

He even surprised himself by walking upright.

She grinned up at him as he approached, but he could swear the horse gave him a more sanguine glance. He turned his back on the mare’s glare, more content to focus on the fair creature now before him. “Good to hear,” Chariss said. “Kora was distraught, poor thing.”

“Yes, Mother tends to fret when she sees her sons bleeding to death.”

He hadn’t intended to make her laugh, but her light giggle almost sent him to his knees. He actually reached out to grab the mare’s mane to steady himself. This was insane. As if she agreed, Shadow reared her head around and knocked him on the back side, effectively bumping him forward. Chariss put an arm out to catch him, as he put an arm out to catch himself, and he experienced that momentary shock of lightning when he got to touch her, when he got to hold her.

She still had hold of him when she furrowed her brow and bopped the horse on the rump with the brush. “Shadow! Be nice.”

Do I have to let go? he wondered. “Sorry about that,” he said. “Seems someone wants me to move.”

By the gods, she smelled like lilac and lavender and all the flowers of Mother’s garden wrapped into one. And there was that smile again.

“Someone needs her breakfast, I think,” Chariss was saying. “She’s turned fussy. What? You’re looking at me strangely.”

“You’ve got…straw…”

Now, I’ve known her for the better part of a week, he thought. I should be able to get away with this. He lifted his hand from her arm to pluck a piece of straw from the auburn locks that shone like silk before him. He would have given his inheritance in the estate behind them to run his hands through her hair, but, pretending to merely brush it as he took this offending item away was enough for now. Surely he could do that without alarming her.

She laughed again—that light, cascading sound that threatened to do him in. “I guess now I have to admit that Shadow’s been acting up since before you arrived?”

He tossed the straw away and decided this was ideal. “So I should look for more before I let you go out into public?”

“You think I’m going to embarrass myself?” she teased.

“We can’t have one of the Taimans’ guests running around with straw sticking out of her head, now can we?” he asked, and he hoped it sounded innocent and not rife with intent. “Hold still.”

He put both hands to her hair to either side of her face, literally running his fingers down the soft waves. “Okay, turn.”

“Turn?” she laughed. “Are you serious?”

“No disobedience. Turn.”

She rolled her eyes, those beautiful seductive lavender eyes, but turned around so he could put his hands to her hair again. “Now, see, it’s good that I did this,” he said, lying unabashedly. He stroked his fingers down her tresses, all the way through to the ends where the curves and waves ended in little rolls that mimicked the wavecaps rushing to Arcana’s shore. By the gods he wanted to feel those ends tickling along his chest, like last night, when she’d leaned over him to heal the wound that should have killed him. He moved one hand back up to the top of her head, fully aware that she’d just shivered at this unfamiliar touch. Oh, that’s got to be a good sign, he thought.

And then someone interrupted his reverie.

“Child, are you coming in to breakfast or standing out here all morning?”

Nigel glanced over at her guardian in the doorway and wondered briefly if he was about to get a wizard’s sword pressed up against his neck. But, to his amazement, the old man seemed to dismiss the scene. Now isn’t that odd? Nigel thought.

“Good morning, Hrazon!” Chariss said, and, just like that, she was gone. She was no longer standing before him. The auburn locks were no longer there. She rushed over to her wizard’s embrace, and Nigel had to witness a much different reception than the one he’d received—a reception he would have preferred—as she wrapped her arms around her guardian’s neck and placed a kiss on his cheek.

“Mister Taiman and I have had enough of Shadow’s naughty antics for one morning, I believe.”

“Is she acting up?” Hrazon asked as he led her away.

Nigel watched them go, realizing, with remorse, that she didn’t even cast a glance back his way. He turned to the mare and folded his arms up on the beast’s back, resting his forehead in the pillow they formed. “Oh, Shadow, what am I to do?” he groaned.

The mare merely swished her tail at him.

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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