A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.
Mastekh works with his hands.
And in other news, I should hopefully have the complete ebook up and ready for free download by this weekend – whoo! So if you’re fed up of these measly weekly updates, soon you’ll be able to read the whole thing. It’s not like I finished it months ago or anything…
Uh. Anyway, back to the story.
IT WAS ALL thanks to Lieutenant Nera that Mastekh finally figured out what he would do for Estenarven’s handmade gift. After running, literally, into him in the hallway, she’d asked him how everything was going while they helped each other up and dusted themselves down.
That had been two days ago and, after quickly ascertaining that he had neither the skills nor the time to learn to knit, quilt or crochet, Nera had led him through the winding passages of Highstrike to where the rest of the Riders were staying. There, she’d left him in the capable hands of her sergeant, Zantho, and that was where Mastekh still was, staring down at his carving knife and lump of wood, trying to decide if he’d made the right decision.
“Coming along well,” the quiet sergeant said, looking up from his own exquisitely whittled doelyn and calf, small enough to sit on his hand yet detailed down to every feather.
“Mm,” Mastekh replied doubtfully, running his fingertips over his lump. He had made progress, of a sort, since he’d started with a rectangular block of wood the length of his index finger. Now he had an elongated sand timer shape, which he had spent most of yesterday whittling and smoothing down. Which was something, but not nearly what he wanted.
Zantho sighed and put aside his own work, shifting forward to take Mastekh’s lump from his hands. “Show me again,” he invited, holding out his other hand.
Reaching into his pocket, Mastekh reluctantly brought out his fourth gift from Estenarven.
“Curious little thing,” Zantho murmured, his voice almost as deep as a Thunderwing’s, but lacking the rumble of distant thunder. “So old. I wonder who made it, who it was supposed to be, if it was an ancestor or a deity, and what it was meant for.”
Mastekh had wondered the same things himself at first. However, after listening to Estenarven’s tales of how he’d found it and all the ways it had been with him throughout his life, Mastekh no longer cared what its first life had been. All that mattered to him was that it was precious to Estenarven. So even though this one wouldn’t be as old or as precious as the other ones he’d lost, Mastekh hoped that by making a new figure for his Boulderforce, he could lessen the loss of having give the last one away.
“Well, it’s simple enough,” Zantho said briskly, jolting Mastekh from his thoughts. The sergeant handed the old figure back and held the lump up between them. “You’ve smoothed this down well, now you need to carve the final shape.”
“C-c-carve?” Mastekh looked at the knife he was holding and swallowed hard. It wasn’t that he was afraid of the blade, but after spending two days working on his lump, he really didn’t want to ruin it. Who knew how long it would take him to reach this point again?
“Like this.” Zantho fetched a fresh piece of wood from the satchel where he kept all his carving tools. It would have been so simple to let the sergeant do all the work, but they had both agreed from the beginning that the only person to work on this piece would be Mastekh. So the sergeant had created his own lump while showing Mastekh how to whittle and smooth, and now he would show him how to carve.
“Hold it firm.” He passed Mastekh’s lump back to him, picked up his own piece of wood and readied his knife. “Just like peeling an apple. Soft, light strokes. Gently does it. Now dip in a fraction, just a touch. Don’t force it.”
For a man who didn’t seem to talk much, Zantho had a wonderfully soothing voice – and he never expected Mastekh to talk back. With that pressure removed, Mastekh was free to concentrate on Zantho’s words, watching his hands and trying to mimic the movements as best he could. Press and carve, press and carve, turn a little, press and carve. The process was repetitive and easy, almost meditative, allowing Mastekh’s mind to drift away to a quiet place of nothing.
No worries, no anxieties, just the knife and the wood and the soft, gentle movements.
“There now. Take a look. How’s it seem to you?”
Mastekh blinked out of his trance and looked down at the lump, surprised to see that his elongated shape had become more defined, with a longer, more slender blob atop a sturdier, rounder base. “Oh. I d-d-did it.”
“So you did,” Zantho agreed, putting his neater version aside and handing Mastekh a piece of leather covered with fine sand. “Now you have to smooth it. After that, it’ll be time for details.”
Sighing, Mastekh accepted the leather and settled back into the monotonous task of rubbing the wood smooth again. “Details,” he grumbled gloomily. “Another ch-chance to r-r-ruin it.”
Zantho clicked his tongue disapprovingly as he picked up his doelyns again. “You haven’t ruined it yet, have you?”
“And you won’t. I’ll see to that.”
Buoyed up by the quiet confidence in the man’s tone, Mastekh put his doubts aside and got to work. The sooner he smoothed this down, the sooner he could carve and the sooner he could finish. Then he could give it to Estenarven and be one step closer to the end of their courtship.
Bending over his double-blob, Mastekh bit his tongue to help him concentrate and rubbed all the rough edges of his carving away.
More next week!
(Or the whole thing in a few days. Hopefully.)
Take care, my lovelies.