Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shatterscale, The Tale of my Blue Protodrake

Well! This has gone through a lot of revisions, and I'm going to be changing it to first person and scrapping some of the WoW-specific stuff, so I'll be publishing this bit. Those of you that have slain Skadi the Ruthless will be very familiar with parts of this.

Without further ado, I present:


He did not have a name; his kind did not need them. They distinguished one another by sight and sound and smell, and they did not need to be bound to a single, meaningless word. When he lived in the mountains and hunted the herds of wooly rhino, he liked the freedom of being nameless. The humans that came called him a dragon, but he merely thought of himself as one of the people.

A year before they came, he built his nest on the peaks that ringed the mountains, close to the highlands where his prey roamed and sheltered from blizzards. The flat claws on his feet let him easily hold to the stone, and he used his wings like arms to climb the wind-ravaged spires. He climbed as often as he flew; in the harsh winds it was often easier.

Like the others of his kind, the primal energy of the mountains was contained within him. It was not magic as humans thought of it, an art reserved to men with long grey beards. To his people it was as natural as breathing. The mist that wafted from his maw made the ones that came to the mountains think he was like his cousins in the south, the flame-snorters. His people breathed ice on their prey to freeze their blood and chill their hearts, and the one who became his master knew this.

His master came from the south, from the fjords near the coast. The land there was greener, but the ones that lived there were savage. They are humanoids, similar in form but twice the height of humans, much stronger but not as intelligent. They took the dragon after his first year in his nest. They bound his jaws and wings with ropes that burned and carried him away from his nest. They took his mate, as well, and his eggs, but his kin did not survive the journey back to the fjords. They brought him to what he perceived as their nest, put ropes in his mouth and tied a thing much like a saddle to his back. His master used his axe to show the dragon what he wished; to spit his cold fire down onto the ones that invaded the stone nest and to carry his master in battle. He did not want to do these things, he still grieved for his mate and children, but his master did not understand.
He learned to do what his master required of him in the moment that his master asked it. It was easier than resisting. The ropes in his mouth told him which way his master wanted him to fly. They hurt the tender flesh in his mouth, but he endured. The intruders to the stone nest killed his master’s kin, for they wanted the hard, bright things that his master kept safe. He hoped that the intruders would come deep enough into the stone nest to kill his master and set him free.

There came a time when he heard the sounds of new intruders. His master seemed worried; he paced back and forth down the place he was supposed to guard. It was a long corridor, open to the sky, that the nearest chamber opened into with a small passage, and the ones of his master’s kin here defended the stone nest from those that would fly in to assault it. There was a large platform on the end of the corridor, past a doorway on the left, where the things that the dragon’s captors called spear-launchers were. They were snarling metal creatures that spat at the air, operated by a few of the ones that kept him there. They were at them now, fidgeting as they heard what he heard.

It only took a few minutes for them to reach the adjacent room. He heard a bear’s furious roar as his master’s kin swarmed down on the intruders, then their death-cries. He flexed his wings, and his master climbed quickly to his back as the intruders came fearlessly through the door.

There were three elves, and a short thing with fur on its face. They all stood behind a fourth elf, a violet-haired woman that acted as if she intended to protect her fellows. He laughed at her bravery, and took to the air, rising up over the roofless corridor. He wheeled about and letting out a single growl of surprise as the woman leaped forward and changed into a bear. She charged into the flood of his master’s people that ran down the corridor, snarling with rage and laying all about her with claws that were nearly as impressive as his own. His own attempts to top them were pitiful in comparison as he dived down to breathe a long trail of blood-freezing mist along the corridor’s side. Almost as one, the intruders ran left and avoided it completely, fighting their way up to the spear-launchers, cutting down the guards as they came. The short thing took up the spears that the operators dropped, then stood there, waiting for some signal as his master’s kin came at them in waves.

He felt his master take up the ropes in his mouth, and he flew down to where the spear-launchers were. The short thing saw him coming and bellowed something before shoving one of the spears he had taken into one of the metal creature. There was a roar, and the dragon screeched in outrage. The spear-launcher had bitten his side, and he looked down to see a metal thorn embedded in his flank. He clamped his jaws around it and tore it away, shuddering at the taste of his own blood.

He fought to stay flying as the spear-launcher bit at him again and again. His master screamed and beat at him with an axe, not letting him flee from the short thing. It loaded one more, and this time the spear tore through his wing. He gave up, and his master leapt off his back as the dragon collapsed on the end of the platform, smashing one of the spear launchers under him and forcing the short thing to run for its life. He watched as his master struck at the bear (which turned to face him eagerly) and as his master finally crumpled under the intruders’ blows, his axe broken on the beast’s iron hide. The violet-haired woman reappeared, a savage grin on her heavily-tattooed face. He blinked at her and she seemed shocked, rising to her feet and exclaiming something in a tongue he did not understand before darting to his side.

He shied away from her as she patted his nose, a strange, tingling, itching feeling passing over him as her hands started to glow, the places where the spear-launcher had bitten him suddenly feeling much better. The woman took the ropes out of his mouth and ripped off his saddle. He stared at her as she nimbly vaulted onto his back and murmured in his ear.

“Fly, Shatterscale.” She said, in his own tongue. And so he flew, perhaps not to freedom, but with the strange, savage female that seemed so like his own people.

1 comment:

  1. Really, really good. I like the take on this encounter. I think that anyone that's played the game can easily interpret the whole story and pick out all the little unspoken details, but it's still written in a way that a non-WoW player can follow along and enjoy.

    The only part that seemed awkward was the paragraph that started with "He felt his master take up the ropes in his mouth, and he flew down to where the spear-launchers were." For some reason, it suddenly felt like you shifted perspectives. Up to that point you were writing in a very limited third-person perspective, so much so that it felt like first-person. But that paragraph felt more omnipotent third-person. I think (maybe, hard to say) that it's because of the this one sentence: "There was a roar, and the dragon screeched in outrage."

    But yeah. Overall, excellent job telling that whole story in 1200 words. Kudos.