Peek & Critique articles are when I share a portion of a project I am currently working on, and you, my reader, get to read it, and tell me how you think it can be made better. Keep in mind that everything in a Peek & Critique article is only the first draft. It’s not the final copy that will end up in a published book.
Today I decided to share around half of Heirs chapter 1. Enjoy!
This is a story of an adventure that happened in Shalomnd and Charn and the countries surrounding during the reign of Pearaz II of Charn.
In those days, on the northern border of Charn, in a wide canyon with steep, craggy, sides, there lived a girl named Jael Draikdan. Her father’s name was Brady, and her mother’s name Abigail. They lived on a dragon ranch in the small valley at the bottom of Ablegong canyon.
On most days, Jael and the apprentices, whose names were Mandy, Acor, and Joktan, would spend the morning training dragons, and in the afternoon they would tend to their studies, chief of which was Sangadarish.
In ancient times, before the founding of Charn, everyone spoke Sangadarish, but since, it had become a tongue spoken mostly by the elite and royalty of Charn. Dragon trainers had to know Sangadarish because it was the only tongue that dragons could truly understand. They could even speak it in their own way.
Though Jael had looked beyond Ablegong’s walls on the wings of a dragon, she had rarely set foot outside of the canyon. The farthest she had been was to the seaport town of Runduka. Runduka was where Burwyn Blackburn, Jael’s uncle, who she simply called uncle BB, lived.
Ranch life was all Jael had ever known. Her parents had been training dragons years before she was born. Jael was nine years old, and was a very smart, agile, resourceful, little girl. Needless to say, she was a natural with dragons. In fact, in the spring when her parents took some of the dragons to the ports of other countries to be sold, they put her in command, second only to Jed Orvin, and Steve Genner, the hired hands. Jed had worked for the Draikdans his whole adult life, while Steve had only worked with them four years.
It is while Jael’s parents were gone, that our story begins. On a beautiful morning, perfect for training dragons. A light breeze ran through Jael’s hair, and the sky was blank of clouds. The sharp red rock ledges glowed with light, and dazzled Jael’s eyes until they grew accustomed to the glaring brightness.
Jed lead the way to the dragon’s stalls, which were dug into the wall of the canyon, a series of shady caves connected to one huge cave with a gigantic doorway out into the valley. Each cave housed about three dragons, separated by heavy gates of metal bars and metal rods barring them out of the main cave. High above the stables, dug far into the rock wall, there was an outlook that was reached by stone stairs from the side of the great cave.
For you and me, training dragons is hard to imagine, but I’ll do my best to describe it to you. The dragons that the Draikdans trained are not the type you hear about in fairy tales, they are smaller for one thing. Their bodies were little bigger than the size of a Clydesdale horse, and not much taller either. They had towering tenacious necks, broad bat like wings, and bounteously barbed tails. They could carry a fully armored man on their backs, that’s how strong they were. Although their scales were not as tough as the kind that fairy tale dragons have, the scales could protect against most weapons.
Jed passed out harnesses and Arwgen crossbows to the whole team. The Arwgen crossbow was a specially designed crossbow for dragon trainers. They were small, light, and supper tough. When they were shot, and hit a target, the pressure would trigger a mechanism that would open the tip and anchor it in the target. Attached to the Arwgen arrow was a rope. Some of the crossbows would attach the rope to the arrow when loaded, while others had to be done manually. The purpose of the rope was for occasions when a dragon trainers fell off, they would shoot the crossbow into the wall, and catch themselves.
Everyone meticulously arranged their dragon training attire and made sure each Arwgen crossbow was connected securely, easily accessible when needed. They commenced stretches, practiced falling safely, jumping, and finally, shooting the crossbows. Once that was done, Jed gave instructions to the team.
“Krins is a particularly rowdy dragon, so everyone needs to know what their job is, and be alert at all times,” explained Jed. “Steve and Jael will ride two dragons on both sides of Krins. After a few rounds without a rider, I will mount Krins, and stay on as long as I possibly can.”
“Then Joktan, you put a bridle on Krins, and ride him to the lake,” directed Jed. “Mandy, Acor, and Jed stand by to untie him from the other dragons and hold the ropes while Joktan walks him to the lake.”
“After we’re done with the training for the day, we will let out the other dragons for exercise, clean the caves, and replenish the water and food troughs,” he concluded. “Alright, let’s get to work.”
The others mumbled their understanding, and headed to Krins’ cave.
Jed and Steve closed the gate blocking the way out of the great cave with a resounding clang. Now the dragons would be trapped, until the dragons were duly equipped to handle in the open. Jed turned a wheel that looked rather like a ship’s, and creakily the bar across the gate slid into the wall behind the wheel. Steve whipped open the gate. Large shadows in the darkness of the cave rose, the massive monsters snarling at each other rushed for the door. Scratching of claws on stone made Jael’s spine crawl, as three dragons bounded out of the darkness. Their scales glistened in the light streaming through the gate from outside. They looked rather majestic in the sunshine. Two of the dragons, Bejie and Dejie had shimmery black scales, with deep green striped markings throughout the skins. While Krins had a thoroughly golden skin.
It took little time for Bejie and Dejie to be saddled. They had already been broken to the saddle and rider. But Krins, who had never had a day of training in his life before, had no intention of being tied between Bejie and Dejie.
“Close that cave gate.” yelled Steve. “We don’t want him retreating in there.”
Joktan ran to the gate, shut it with a resounding thump, and turned the wheel, sliding the bar into place across it. Jed tried to wrestle a saddle onto Krins. As soon as it was on, Steve, Joktan, and Acor nimbly secured the ropes from Dejie, onto Krins’ left, and ropes from Bejie onto his right. Krins was stuck. He let out a creaking grown, trying to tug loose this way and that.
“Climb aboard, it’s time for adventure!”cried Jed as he ran to open the gate out. He didn’t need to say it again. As soon as the door was open, Jael, and Steve yelled “Bay!” which is Sangadarish for go, and the dragons charged out into the sunshine.