Kaden the Dragon: A Guest Post by Maya Starling

Please welcome my new friend Maya, here to tell us about her beautiful dragon!

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“She was the girl who longed for the freedom of the dragon, and he was the dragon who longed to be a man.”

 One of the main characters in book one of the Dragons Awaken Trilogy, Dragon’s Treasure, is, of course, a dragon. The whole idea for the book was born with him.

I feel sorry for dragons. They are mostly featured as evil creatures—monsters really—or as creatures the “chosen one” gets to ride, or even just as a bit part in a plain dragon-shifter romance. That, or I have been reading the wrong books. Mind you, there are excellent exceptions, but only a few in the whole sea of literature featuring dragons.

As a gamer and lover of all things geek and fantasy, it was a given that there would be a dragon featured in my story. Kaden’s appearance was inspired by the artwork of Ben Wotten’s Blue Dragon.

Kaden is a magnificent dragon, with dark blue, silky scales, and a golden underside. Dark charcoal horns and amber-colored eyes grace his body. He has a scar over his left eye, cutting through his brow.

I wanted to give my dragon a different kind of story. Why does the knight always have to save the maiden from the dragon? Why wouldn’t she prefer the dragon to the monster that is the knight? Why not switch roles, give a twist to that old trope and maybe sprinkle it with some Beauty and the Beast elements?

Those were the main questions that started Kaden’s story. And, don’t worry, the main question for the second book was: Why wouldn’t the maiden save herself?

I like playing with tropes and stereotypes, trying to write the “what if” and “why not” stories.

That is how Kaden was thought-born. Since I’m a pantser when it comes to writing, I let Kaden tell me his history throughout both books.

Once a human, Kaden was cursed to be a dragon with a penchant to permanently borrow and hoard other’s possessions. In his cave, you can find anything from gold and jewelry to crates filled with pants, half torn wagons, and even a chimney.

He once “borrowed” a horse, but it didn’t turn out well, as much as he enjoyed finally having some company. He wasn’t cruel of heart, so he let the horse escape.

He learned not to “borrow” stuff from old women—nay, hags! They are tenacious and will beat you with a cane for your attempt, no matter how big and deadly you are.

Being a dragon wasn’t all about the drawbacks. He saved a young girl’s life once from a fire. Lucky for him, fire does him no harm.

And he would never tire of flying. It was exhilarating. He will never forget when he first spread his wings and took flight, as awkward as it was—and drunken-looking. The view, the freedom… the vastness of the sky above and the earth below… the experience entranced him.

But, as the years passed, he tired of the loneliness. He missed the human connection, affection, and even touch. The rare encounters with humans ended up with Kaden defending his life against wanderlusting adventurers and trying to save their lives, too. He had to take some, though. And their spilt blood will forever lay heavy on his soul.

Depressed and weary, he secluded himself on a mountain, in a dreary cave, away from the people, and away from life.

Until, one day, a young woman chased by wolves stumbled into his cave.

She was the one to turn his destiny around. She was the one to bring light to his darkness, and she was the one that brought him the salvation of death and rebirth.

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Follow Maya at these links, or purchase her books:

http://www.mayastarling.com * Twitter * Facebook

Dragon’s Treasure (book 1)

https://books.pronoun.com/dragons-treasure/

Dragon’s Prize (book 2)

https://books.pronoun.com/dragons-prize/

Snippet Sunday #20

If you’ve read The High King’s Will, you might remember a brief appearance from Valdyr, the Summer Wolf. Here’s a bit from The Heart of Stone (which is Eagle’s third) with Valdyr’s brother. I’ve had this sitting around on my hard drive for ages, and I can’t wait to put some more book around it.

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A huge white shape bowled him over. The books he’d bought dug into his back, and he couldn’t reach his knives. Icy wetness dribbled onto his neck; a frozen wind blew into his face.

He opened his eyes and looked into the cold yellow gaze of winter. A massive white wolf crouched over him, skinny, slavering. What are you? it said in his mind.

“You must be Valdyr’s brother,” he managed.

What are you, snacklet? Answer me quick, before I eat you up! I’m hungry!

He swallowed his fear. “Lord, they call me Eagle Eye Wormsbane.”

A fine title for half a bite. The Wolf straightened and allowed Eagle to rise. Over its head, clouds stacked in the sky, great gray clouds fat with snow, darkening in the sunset. You might’ve guessed I’m the Winter Wolf, it said, or I hope you have, for otherwise you’re a useless little bit of meat and no mistake.

“I did guess,” Eagle said. At the Wolf’s back, flurries danced and skirled, and the wind that blew over its shoulders, ruffling matted fur, was so cold it burned through his jumper and shirt. He bowed. “Welcome to Rodansk, Lord.”

The Wolf gave a doggy smile, like Valdyr its brother. Ullr’s come early, and I mean to stay a good long time.

I am typing this from my home. My family is around me.

A year ago today I was lying in a hospital bed. A year ago today I was in a CAT scanner. A year ago today I was in the emergency room hearing the resident, with concern on his young face, say quietly: “You have a mass in your brain.”

I’m getting it back. I just sent a book to my beta-readers last week, for the first time since before I heard that — since The High King’s Will was in beta.

Also I fucking lived.

It’s still in there. To me it looks like a wad of soap bubbles — I’ve seen it on MRI scans since and it looks like a wad of soap bubbles at the bottom of the sink. Except it’s inside my skull, in my brain, kissing my hemispheres with terror. They say I’m not going to have any more problems with it, but some small part of me thinks of the way it looked and cringes from it.

But I fucking lived. I lived through the surgery and through the recovery and here I am. Off I go to write.

One Last Quest, Part Three

Hope you guys are enjoying this! 🙂

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In the cab, the ride to the stationery shop Adeon had mentioned time and again was mercifully short. Lachlan could hardly wait to see the boy again, and if he could, he would have leapt from the carriage the moment it rolled to a stop. As things stood, he all but flung himself into his chair as soon as Cathal had it set safely on the ground.

His valet straightened his coat, then stepped back to take stock. “You’ll do,” Cathal said, and returned around the chair to push him into the shop. Just as they reached the walk, Devnet came out in a flurry of velvet and petticoats, trailed by her friends and her footmen, who each carried two wooden cases. Lachlan remembered her letterhead, a twining thing dotted with the clustering dev flowers of her name. Hydrangea, it was, in the Traders’ tongue. He had received more than one love note on that pretty stationery, before he’d lost his nose.

She checked when she saw him, the tiniest hesitation in her step, the slightest flicker of expression before she put her perfect little chin in the air and pretended she hadn’t seen him. For his part, he pretended not to watch her pass—but he could not feign that he didn’t see her go flying face-first into the street, and couldn’t hide his grin either. She was a tangle of pretty legs and petticoat froth, and she let out the most gratifying shriek, which did absolutely nothing to stop her landing in a road apple there by the hitching post.

Lachlan choked on his laughter. Cathal pushed him past as if nothing had happened, but as he reached forward to open the glass-paned door, the valet muttered, “Serves her right,” and Lachlan smiled ghoulishly.

Inside was a small space scented with paper, expensive glue, and the chemical prickle of ink. Cubbies filled with writing accessories lined the walls, and there were a few tables along either side, displaying pens, desk sets, and sticks of fancy wax. Sunlight streamed in through the bank of slim, many-paned windows behind the counter, where a harried young woman with a plain apron over her brown dress sorted through stacks of bills. Suddenly, Lachlan had no idea how to proceed, and his tongue stuck to the roof of his dry mouth. He shouldn’t be afraid. Hadn’t he faced hydras and gryphons and the White Worm? And here he was, so close to his ultimate destination, with nothing like words and a tremble in his remaining fingers.

He cleared his throat. “Excuse me.”

The counter girl looked up, and he saw her throat work, but a moment later she pasted on a smile. Too bright, too broad. “How may I serve you, Lord?” she said, and Lachlan straightened.

“There’s a boy,” he said stupidly, but after a moment he recovered himself and went on. “He works here in the summers. Adeon.”

“Oh.” Her face fell. “He never came this year, Lord. We could use him, what with the master’s accident and all. If his mother’s written, she must have written to the master at his home, and got lost in the shuffle after he died.”

Lachlan could only stare. His chest hurt, and he envisioned, couldn’t help envisioning, all sorts of dreadful fates for the boy, from the mundane to the fantastic. Hit by a runaway cart. Rent asunder by a manticore. A sudden illness. A horde of the shambling dead.

He sat in horrified silence, frozen solid, as if he were yet in the cave of the White Worm, trapped from feet to thighs and stretching fruitlessly for his sword. Seven fingers vised over the arms of his chair, sharp knuckles threatening to break the skin. He felt the bitter cold.

“Is there any way to find him?” Cathal asked, after God knew how long a silence. Lachlan squeezed his eyes shut and fought to push the cavern away from his thoughts. “He’s important, you see,” Cathal went on. Did he see Lachlan’s jaw working the teeth together? He could feel the hard, slippery casing of ice around his legs, and how it chipped under his dagger blade, chipped but wouldn’t crack. From burning cold to numbness to pain…

He clenched his hands tighter. He wasn’t in the cave. He was in a sunny shop that carried stationery and pens, and something was happening, something he needed to see and hear. He made his hands relax. He made himself breathe.

When he opened his eyes he saw the cave. He began to sweat. It wasn’t real. He shut his lids again. The shop, by God, he was in a shop. Wasn’t the light pressing warm and red against his lids? There had been no sun beneath the earth, only a pinprick where they’d gone down among the bones of adventurers and the icicle spikes.

He began to hear again, besides his own ragged breath and the slow pounding of blood in his ears. Cathal had the counter girl charmed; he could tell it from the tone of her voice, regretful, and of Cathal’s, light and teasing. But she didn’t know where the boy could be found, she told Cathal sadly.

“His direction,” Lachlan broke in. His voice shook under the wash of relief he felt to see the shop around him.

“Lord, I’m sorry, we haven’t got it here,” the girl said. “The master—”

“I’ve got it.” Lachlan glanced up at Cathal. “I have his direction. He tells me everything.” Adeon had begged him to write, but Lachlan would not. Any correspondence he sent or received was sure to be opened; he didn’t trust even the paper-bird letters that zipped from place to place, which were difficult for any but the intended recipients to catch. Difficult, but not impossible. “Let’s go outside. Thank you for your help,” he added to the girl, for courtesy’s sake. He hadn’t flexed that social muscle in years.

Cathal pushed him out of the shop and down the sidewalk. He sat silent, thinking, until Cathal broke in: “Are you going to write him, then?”

“I can’t,” Lachlan said. “I swore to him I never would, and made him swear not to write back… I don’t trust them!” His fingers went tight again over the arms of his chair, tighter than before. The polished wood creaked.

“You’re not the only one.”

For a while they didn’t speak. Lachlan’s wheels rattled on the sidewalk.

“When do we leave?” Cathal asked.

“I can’t ask that of you.” He wished he could. “Only help me get to the train station tomorrow, and I’ll release you from my service. You can find another master, and stay with your family.”

Another speechless age between them, filled with street noise and rattling wheels. “Lord,” Cathal said, “why do you think they gave me to you? I don’t have anybody to speak for me. I only have you. I don’t mind it,” he added hastily. “You need me. When do we leave?”

Lachlan’s eyes swam. He had no words for this.

“We could go tonight,” Cathal said, when he didn’t speak. The valet’s voice bore an avid edge. “I can run up to the Palace and fetch our things, and you can wait at the station. Let’s do it!”

“How old are you?” Lachlan blurted.

“Coming up on my second century. Any year now.”

He blinked. He himself had nearly four centuries, and he felt every minute. “I didn’t know you were so young.” Cathal had already entered the long, practically ageless prime of a tulon’s life, when it was difficult to tell just how old anyone was. He might have been six centuries, but here he had only two.

“It is what it is,” said Cathal, and quite suddenly leapt on the back of Lachlan’s chair. He pushed off with his foot; they went streaking and rattling downhill, with Cathal whooping all the way. Lachlan was nearly thrown from the seat, but his arms were strong, and he managed to stay on. He left his stomach at the top of the slope, but he didn’t fall, and when the initial shock had passed, he felt only thrill. The wind whipped his hair, and his skull-like features stretched into a broad grin, all the way down. People leapt out of their path, shouting and cursing, but what did Lachlan care?

At last they slowed, on the way up the next hill. Before they fell back too far, Cathal hopped off the chair and pushed, all the way to the top. “Oh, glory, that was fun!” he crowed. “I’ve always wanted to try that.”

“Rude child,” said Lachlan amiably. He couldn’t wipe the smile from his face.

“What about it, Lord? Do we fare to Dreamport on a quest? Or do we forever leave the fate of a silver-haired lad in doubt?”

“Very rude. We’ll go.”

“Hey-la-hey!” Cathal shouted, and sent them careering down toward the train.

Ode to a Side Character: A Guest Post by Hannah Steenbock

Hello again, and welcome to a new series here on menyoral.com, about everybody’s favorite thing — characters! My first guest is the lovely and kind Hannah Steenbock, here to talk about a side character from The Cloud Lands Saga, Debesh.

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When I first met Debesh, he was just one of five Wing Commanders in a tactical meeting. All I knew about him then was that my villain was attracted to him and he wasn’t averse to her attention, which was exactly what I needed.

He was just someone to use for a subplot, to explore dragon culture in my world, and to provide a nice distraction from killing kraken and decimating dragons in fights. Back then, I didn’t even bother to come up with his hair color or much of a description.

But when the trap sprang and Debesh and his dragon Vandranen were abducted in a vile plot… I discovered how much courage and determination this man really had. You see, in the story, the evil dragon controls both her rider and Vandranen, and through him, Debesh. He can just hang on to the ride.

And yet, the brave Wing Commander fights back as much as he can, by leaving secret messages and by resisting the evil dragon at every turn. I do put him through hell, I hurt him a lot, and I even get him raped. And in the end, it’s only through his determination, endless courage, and some good luck that the evil plot fails.

I won’t say more about the story itself, because I’ve re-launched the book with Debesh’s tale. Kraken War is book #2 in The Cloud Lands Saga.

Debesh totally earned my admiration while writing the stories of The Cloud Lands Saga, because he held up strong through everything I threw at him, which was a lot. And even after all this, he is still true to himself, a good man at heart, a gentle man and a caring man.

He recently gained his hair color and a bit more of a body image – in answer to the new cover. When my friend suggested a person as focus, we had been searching for Prince Orlen, the male MC of my stories about The Cloud Lands. But when I saw her draft, I immediately knew she had found Debesh. And he spoke to my heart again.

It makes me happy to say that Debesh will return in the fourth book of my series (release planned for end of March), where he will spend much time with one of the main characters of the series. And once again, he’ll prove to be a man of integrity, honesty and courage. He has become pivotal for the future of the Cloud Lands, even, and he has absolutely earned his position there.

This is not the first time I experience such a scenario. Sometimes, side characters can move in and become much, much more than just a throw-away name or a plot point. And I love it when that happens. I love it when they show up and cling to the story by sheer grit. When they demand attention from me, and give a story more depth and show me more of their world.

I’d like to encourage you to pay attention to your side characters. I’m sure they have a story to tell, if you but ask them.

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Hannah Steenbock is a German writer of Speculative Fiction. She uses both her native German and English as languages for her tales, as she loves English and tends to think in that language when plotting Fantasy.

After finishing university with a degree in English and Spanish, she lives and works in Kiel, the northernmost state capital of Germany. Her other pastimes include working as a therapist, riding horses, strolling along beaches, talking with trees, and devouring as many stories as time allows.

Read more on her website: www.hannah-steenbock.de

Find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HannahSteenbock

She occasionally even tweets: www.twitter.com/FirleF

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And take a look at this gorgeous cover, featuring Debesh!

steenbock