Since it’s Wednesday, I’m supposed to be doing a NaNo progress post, but, well, since it’s this particular Wednesday, I’m not really in the mood. I had big plans for today, lots of writing, maybe a big push on the word count.
Then the boiler broke last night. Again. It broke on Saturday, was fixed on Monday, is broken again. So now I’m waiting for someone to come look at it.
I also woke up and, well, I’m pretty sure the world knows… However, since it’s not my country, I’m not talking about it.
Instead I offer something cute, and if it makes someone smile, then good, mission accomplished.
This is a snippet of a scene somewhere near the beginning of Storm Rising and contains a baby dragon and no spoilers. If the name Rhiddyl means anything to you, then yes, it is that Rhiddyl, only smaller. A lot smaller.
NERA WINCED AND glanced back at the high grasses swaying behind her.
A pair of pale blue eyes stared out from waist-height. Crouching down, Nera put herself on their level and made a chirruping sound.
Grass rustled as Rhiddyl wormed his face towards her, casting worried glances towards Feruli and the others.
“Would you care to join us?” she asked the dragonet. “We’re having honey cakes.”
Rhiddyl bounded out of the grass with a high-pitched whistle and scampered a circle around her as she stumbled back to her feet, startled by his speed. Then he stopped, sat up on his haunches and raised a silvery paw towards her.
Smiling, Nera held out her own hand. With his head coming up to her waist, and his long tail tucked over his free arm, Rhiddyl tugged eagerly at her hand, clearly wanting to get to the honey cakes before they were all gone.
“You are the strangest child I’ve ever walked with,” she informed him, but Rhiddyl didn’t seem to care. Rather ungainly, but strong enough to drag her when her pace lagged, the dragonet led her across the flattened circle of grass towards a low building that had been carved out of the mountainside.
Several weather-beaten columns stood guard along the front, and Rhiddyl soon showed why they looked so scratched and beaten as he used the nearest one to scramble up onto the balcony above and vanish within.
“He’ll be back,” Feruli called, standing in the doorway, waiting for Nera to join them. “He’s no doubt gone to find some treasure or toy to impress you with. He seems to be taken with you, Nera of the Rift Riders.” Eyes the colour of lightning assessed her thoroughly and the nursery attendant smiled. “Come in.”
It was hard to tell just how old Feruli was. Their face was round and smooth, utterly without lines of age or wear. Their golden skin glowed with health and their eyes were bright and curious. Yet there was a steadiness about them, a certainty and sureness, that said they knew their exact place in the world and was comfortable with it. Then there was their power – a distant but distinct crackle of energy that reminded Nera a little of Goryal, but more of Elder Skystorm and the older dragons that she had met.
Feruli was old, they just didn’t show it.
Since it would be rude to ask such a question about them, Nera approached shyly and said instead, “How old is Rhiddyl?”
“Oh, he’s only a babe,” Feruli said, shutting the door and leading Nera down a wide, spacious corridor with claw-scuffed floors and scratched walls. “He only turned twenty last year… Or was it the year before?”
Nera almost tripped over her own feet. Twenty one, or two? Rhiddyl was almost as old as she was, yet he was only a babe, not even able to talk. Ai, Maegla!
“Where did you say the honey cakes were?” Reglian shouted from somewhere down the passage. “Rhiddyl better not have eaten them all.”
A sharp whistle of protest answered the Thunderwing as Rhiddyl himself appeared in the passage, galloping towards Nera in a lopsided manner. This was because he could only use three legs, his fourth one busy cradling something against his chest.
“Ah, a treasure to impress you with. As I said.” Feruli chuckled, edging around the dragonet and striding into the room beyond. “What is all this fuss about, Reglian kin Thunderwing? Perhaps if you stopped emptying my cupboards out all over the side, you might actually find what you’re looking for?”
While the voices rose and chattered down the hallway, Rhiddyl stopped in front of Nera and rose up on his hind legs again. He chirruped invitingly and held up his front paw towards her. Nestled on the soft pads was a glittering stone, somewhat chipped and battered, but nonetheless beautiful for it. A quartz, if Nera wasn’t mistaken, rough and unpolished as if it had been pulled from the ground only the day before. Except that some edges were already worn smooth, likely from regular handling if the way Rhiddyl was stroking it now was any indication.
“That is very pretty,” Nera said, bending down for a closer look.
Rhiddyl chortled and held up both arms to her.
Unable to resist, she bent a little further so that he could wrap his paws around her neck. When she picked him up, he snuggled into her arms and wrapped his tail around her waist once more. Then he tucked his special rock into her jacket and rested his head along her shoulder.
“Someone’s made a friend,” Anhardyne chuckled as Nera finally joined them all in a great cavern of a room, with windows all down one side and a kitchen tucked away on the other.
Nera looked down at the dragon curled up against her and smiled. She wouldn’t mind more friends like these.
No sooner had she sat down beside Gharrik, then Rhiddyl was off, scrambling up Reglian’s back and onto the big Thunderwing’s head so that he could reach the top of the cupboards. From there he tossed several boxes and tins aside, muttering nonsense, before emerging with the much-sought honey cakes. Which he brought straight to Nera.
“I could do with a friend like that,” Vish chuckled, as Nera nodded towards Gharrik and the dragonet shyly offered the older lieutenant first pick. Then he hopped into Nera’s lap and seemed content to devour the rest himself.
Until Feruli took the lot away from him, causing a growl of protest.
“Behave,” Feruli ordered, tapping the dragonet firmly on the nose. “We have more than two guests. Share.”
Rhiddyl muttered a grumble, turned around and draped himself over Nera’s shoulder in a huff.
NaNo talk tomorrow, when hopefully I’ll be back on track once more.
Good thoughts to you all.