Some of you may know about my current work in progress, it’s a fantasy trilogy inspired by the likes of Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Skyrim called ‘Dark Age‘ although I may change the title later on (it’s been called Dark Age for so long I can’t imagine changing it just yet!)
Well, as with all my projects, I like to share the early edits with my readers – things will change between this version and the book that ends up being published but I can’t wait to hear what people think, get feedback on the story, and of course get all you eagle eyed readers out there to tell me about the pesky continuity errors and problems!
Plus it means you get to read the story free online before anyone else!
So, on here over the next ten weeks I’m going to be publishing the prequel to the trilogy, a short story called Dragon Essence which, I think, sets the stage for the epic story to come:
Death is the greatest foe.
Captain Anya Tallerith of the Dragon Guard has just watched her lover murdered in a mage duel. She wants vengeance but perhaps there is another way…
All she has to do is steal a dragon’s egg, betray everything she has ever been loyal to, break into the inner sanctum of Dragon Hold itself and bring her lover back to life.
She has until dawn.
If you like the sound of that, then here is Chapter One for you:
Chapter One: Wild One
“No, Ellawes,” Anya grabbed the Mage’s arm, turning her back, “I will not let you do this!”
But Ellawes shook her grip loose. “There is nothing you can do to prevent me,” she spat.
Ellawes turned and ran down the uneven path through the dimly lit forest. The waning moon was high but little light emanated from the shining crescent and the forest was dark, silent but for the wind rustling the late summer leaves, and the harsh voices of the two women.
Anya paced at the edge of the wood. Watching the mage disappear. Ellawes was right, there was little Anya could do to stop her but she had to try. She reached for the hilt of her sword, a nervous habit, but she was shocked to realise that she was considering using it. She would do anything to prevent a battle but would she go so far as to use a blade…
Anya took a deep breath.
Her decision was made. She drew her sword and took off at a run after Ellawes. The mage was fast but she was faster.
As a huntress she had tracked through and traversed this forest many a night, she knew every crevice, every path, every tree root. Even in the dark, the memory of each twist and turn was enough to guide her and she was quick to gain on the mage.
There was a flash of red through the trees. Anya turned down a side path and leapt over a fallen tree, her movements swift and quiet.
Another flash of the red dress, gone in an instant but Anya hurried after it her breath heavy in her chest.
Ellawes was just ahead. She was unsure of her path, using her magic to light her way she was bright as a beacon in the woods. An easy target.
Anya took a side path, darting up a steep track she overtook the woman running on the path below, and leapt down landing square in front of her, blocking her way.
Ellawes let out a cry of surprise and stumbled to a halt, But she recovered instantly.
“I warned you, Anya!” She raised her hand and the magic swirled from a bright blue guiding light into a raging ball of swirling green.
“I won’t let you.”
Ellawes eyes widened in surprise as Anya raised her sword, but then she smirked at the warrior, “And what are you do you intend to do with that?”
“Whatever I have to.” Anya stood firmly in the mage’s path, a knot of fear twisted her stomach. She wanted to start the night again. Everything had been so different just a few hours ago.
Ellawes laughed, “You know I can snap you in two with a mere thought if I wish, how do you expect to stop me with a blade?”
Anya shook her head and lowered the sword, “Please,” she said, holding out her hand, “I just cannot bear the thought of losing you,” she took the Ellawes’ free hand in her own and Ellawes dropped her magic. The light went out and they held one another in the dark, “I love you,” Anya whispered.
The forest was quiet all around them, Anya could feel her lover’s heartbeat against her own, and her warm breath against the skin of her neck. She gripped her tighter, “I am begging you, please don’t do this.”
“I have told you, I must.” Ellawes pulled away and looked up at her in the dark, her bright blue eyes barely visible in the night.
“Can you not wait, just wait one month—”
“I have waited long enough,” she replied, shaking her head, “and one month will be too late you know this. I don’t know when we might have this chance again.”
“Why can Medea not go in your stead? She is strong.”
Ellawes laughed, “I am far stronger. She is barely a mage.”
Anya sighed and pulled away. They had talked in circles all night repeating the same arguments over and over yet she was compelled to make them again, she had to try, she had to force Ellawes to see things the way she did, “Is it really worth risking your life for?”
Ellawes took Anya’s hand and moved close, “you know it is. You know I have to try.”
“You are strong,” Ellawes smiled at this, “but you are not strong enough… if that crone is there—”
“You underestimate me.” Ellawes threw Anya’s hand down and stepped away angrily.
“And you underestimate her! She is more powerful than any of us.”
“She’s a mad old hag,” Ellawes spun around, staring hard at Anya. She opened her fist and the magic tickled the hairs on Anya’s neck as it glowed making eerie shadows dance on the trees. “She will not stand in my way, Anya,” Ellawes raised her hand, the light was blinding, forcing Anya to raise her arm to cover her eyes. “And neither will you!”
“No,” Anya cried, raising her sword useless against the light, “don’t!”
“You know I must!”
“I won’t let you!” Anya swung the sword madly, blindly.
“I won’t let you stop me!”
The light flashed, swallowing everything and leaving only a bright whiteness. Anya screamed as the white filled her senses her muscles stiffened, she couldn’t move, couldn’t see, the forest was gone and all she could hear, feel, smell, and taste was the brightness of the light.
As quickly as it had come, it was gone.
Her body collapsed to the ground, she barely had time to register the woman she loved running off into the woods before the darkness swallowed her and she knew nothing at all.
I’d love to hear what you think, let me know in the comments and feel free to share this chapter with anyone you think might be interested!