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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Monday, October 20, 2008

This Week's Dragon Story

Or...The Dragon introduces M.B. Weston's young adult fantasy to you

The Elysian Chronicles: Kinole of the King's Guard
By M. B. Weston

There once was a dragon of the king’s guard…

Kinole’s serpentine body soared through the air, and he ignored the raindrops pelting his eyes and sizzling the moment they touched his searing, blue-green scales before evaporating. His heart pounded. Would the other dragons attack him? They were only Tatsu—the smallest of the dragon races, but Kinole was the slightest even of them. He glanced over his shoulder and saw a dragon with deep plum scales gaining on him.

Kinole crashed into a tree trunk and plummeted to the ground. The purple dragon landed on top of him and climbed on his back, digging his claws into Kinole’s shoulder. “Don’t tell a soul what we’re planning, Kinole,” he growled. He leapt off and flew away.

Kinole hung his head, and his normally pointy ears drooped. Only twenty minutes earlier, he had been guzzling water from his favorite lake and listening to the morning rain patter across the meadow—until the fresh, wet-grass-and-moss smell changed into something unfamiliar. He glanced up and noticed a herd of unicorns with soft, white fur and iridescent horns drinking across the lake. They look so regal, Kinole thought, and he wondered why dragons and unicorns disliked each other.

The same purple dragon, Piper, and twenty of his fellow dragons landed behind Kinole. “Don’t the unicorns know the northern lands belong to us?” Piper muttered.

“Where else can they go, now that Elysia’s new king has banished them?” said Kinole, referring to the country south of dragon territory.

“I don’t care, as long as it’s not here.” Piper smirked. “We’ve got a little plan to make them move.” He pointed to the clouds. “The rain will leave in an hour. Once the sun hits the center of the sky, we’ll attack.”

“But King Rhys gave orders not to attack unicorns.”

“It’s just a joke. We’ll blow fire near them—not at them. To scare them away,” Piper had said. “Are you in?”

Now, Kinole rubbed the scratches from Piper’s claws, wishing he said yes. He wondered what he should do. A dragon attack on the unicorns, even as a prank, could start a war.

“I should warn the king,” thought Kinole. But King Rhys and the other colossal Imperial dragons rarely tolerated a tiny Tatsu like Kinole. The scratches on Kinole’ shoulder still stung, and he wondered how much deeper an Imperial’s claws might cut.

“But if they start a war, and the king finds out I knew…?” Kinole bounded into the air and flew through the rain toward the king’s throne in the foothills of the Rimy Mountains.

Kinole crept through the ravine that led to the hilltop where King Rhys held court. The rain had disappeared, but wind still whistled through the cliffs. Imperial dragons over twice Kinole’s size—some red, some green and some muted yellow—perched on rock overhangs and snarled at him. Ahead, twelve stone pillars stood in a semi-circle on the peak of a hill. A rust-colored dragon more than twenty feet tall with seven horns jutting out of his head sat between the middle pillars. His red tail—and the long, ginger spikes growing out of it—swished back and forth, and his gaze followed Kinole until the tiny dragon stood under the pillars, staring up at the giant king.

Kinole’s ears drooped, and the ridges on his back lay flat.

King Rhys lowered his neck, bringing his face eye-level with Kinole. “What brings you here? Most Tatsu don’t trouble themselves with dragon affairs of state.”

Kinole explained Piper’s plans to attack the unicorns, including his fear that the attacks might start a war. “They plan to attack when the sun hits the middle of the sky,” he added.

The king snarled. “They have no idea what they’re starting. Can you show me where they are?

Kinole’s ears perked up, and he nodded.

King Rhys whistled to his top guards. “We have a battle to stop,” he growled. He glanced at the sun. “And we don’t have much time.”

Kinole struggled to keep up with the king and his guards, who flew low over the hills to conceal their approach from the Tatsu. The sun hit the center of the sky the moment they landed near the lake, where Piper and the others were creeping up on the unicorns.

Piper jumped into the air, but before he signaled for attack, King Rhys landed in front of him, and the king’s guard surrounded the rest of the Tatsu.

Piper and the dragons backed away from the king in silent submission—until Piper noticed Kinole huddling behind a boulder. He lunged and snapped at Kinole.

The king roared and slapped Piper aside with his mammoth claw, and Piper scampered away.

A week later, Kinole hopped along the tops of the river rocks, trying to keep his balance without using his wings. He glanced at the meadow where other Tatsu played. Since he warned King Rhys about their attack on the unicorns, even his friends refused to look at him.

Wings flapped overhead, causing Kinole to lose his balance and fall into the river. He sat up in the river, looking through dripping water and steam at King Rhys and ten of his guards standing near the bank.

Rhys chuckled. “I’m told the Tatsu won’t talk to you anymore.”

Kinole climbed on a rock and let the water evaporate off his skin. He sighed. “They say they can’t trust me.”

“You have a brave heart, Kinole,” said the king. “I want you to join my guard. Normally, I reserve such positions for Imperials, but…” The king smiled. “Something tells me you’ve got Imperial blood in you.”

“Really?” said Kinole.

“They’ll teach you the works,” said the king, nodding toward the dragons who kept him company.

Kinole beamed. He pranced to the other dragons and tried his best to keep up as they flew away.

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