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I watched my brother dismount and start tying the reigns to a stunted tree.

"Sword," I said tersely, "What the hell is your plan?"

He looked up at me.

"I should have thought that was obvious. We go in and we find the dragon and the stairs. I distract the dragon while you climb every staircase you get to until you reach the tower with the princess. You get her out of here and you keep her safe."

Then he was walking away before I could think of a reply or put together my own thoughts on this "plan." I dismounted quickly so I could follow.

I followed him through the first gate into a courtyard that was very nearly destroyed. The paving stones were covered in moss and grass pushed up where they were broken. I could see now that the high walls around the courtyard were falling down in places. I was hit with the realization that this castle must have been abandoned far longer than I had thought to have this level of destruction on it. This was more than just the damage a dragon would do when forcing entry, this was the damage of time. How long had the princess been here?

But I had no time for this. I had no time to overthink what I was looking at. Sword was going through the main door and I had to move quickly so I could keep pace.

Inside, the castle looked as bad as the courtyard. The tapestries on the walls were faded and torn, some collapsed heavily on the ground like massive, exhausted beasts. The floor beneath us was uneven, the stones ripped open like the damage of a cat's claws against fabric.

There was no sign of anyone. I was relieved, I had half expected there to be the bodies of those who failed to defeat the dragon. Then I realized the dragon must have eaten them, armor and all, and I felt worse than before.

At the end of the hall, I could see a set of stairs. I knew I would have to get there, I had to get as high up as I could to find the Princess. But before that, the hallway was strewn with blackened rubble. On our right was an enormous hole in the wall, I had to assume it was once the entrance to the great hall. From inside the hole, I could hear scratching and heavy breathing. The dragon.

Sword was still ahead of me. He was creeping towards the hole, trying to get close enough to see in. I stopped staring at the castle's dissrepair and tried to follow.

As I did, something caught my foot, tightened, and sent me sprawling forwards. I twisted as I tried to stop myself from falling, but instead of helping all I did was allow the shield strapped to my back to clang loudly against the stone floor.

A horrible screech filled the air. It drove into my ears so painfully I screamed, a scream that was utterly lost in the sound from the dragon.

In the silence that came after, every inch of me felt impossibly heavy. I had doomed us, we were going to die.

Then my brother was hauling me to my feet. Kneeling down, he ripped away the tapestry that had twisted around my leg and caused my fall.

"Sword, Sword we're going to die--"

"Shut up and run!"

He shoved me towards the stairs. I stumbled forward a few steps and looked back. Sword unsheathed his weapon. Holding it carefully, he took a deep breath. Then he ran through the hole in the wall, shouting a challenge to the dragon. His words were drowned out in another horrific screech.

I should have run after him. I should have stopped him, dragged him out of here. I should have helped in any way I could. Forget the princess, how could I stand to watch my brother face an impossible task alone?

But instead, I covered my ears against the dragon's screech and ran for the stairs.

That dragon had defeated countless enemies. Knights from who knew how many kingdoms, brave men from far and wide, and even powerful wizards. What could we do against such a monster?

My brother was one of the best swordsmen in The South Kingdom of the Light, but did that mean he could take on a dragon alone?

I should have gone with him. I should have, but I knew what Sword would have done if I had. He would have sent me away, sent me after the princess. Because that was what his plan said.

So I tried to ignore my growing panic and took the stairs three at a time.

As I skidded around a short landing in the stairs to keep climbing, I heard the dragon screeching again and the floor beneath me shook. I hoped it was dead. I hoped Sword had managed to kill it. The longer Sword had to spend fighting it the more exhausted he would become, and the more likely it was he would be killed.

It all came down to one thing. I had to get the princess, and I had to be damn quick about it. The faster I did my part of the plan, the sooner I could help Sword.

I climbed as high as I could, until the only thing left was the staircase of the tower itself. I pushed on, slower than before only because I was having trouble breathing.

The ceiling kept lowering. The higher I climbed, the lower the celing. I had to duck my head by the time I reached the only door. There was a wooden brace locking the door from the outside. I pulled it aside and reached for the door.

Instead of opening it, I knocked.

"Princess! My brother is Sword Calcule, first son and crown prince of the South Kingdom of the Light. I am Shield Calcule, second son of the South Kingdom of the Light. As allies to the Windfall Kingdom we have come to aid your escape from the dragon that keeps you captive."

There was silence beyond the door. I waited a moment but there was so little time to waste. I knocked again, one hand ready to open the door.

"I am entering your room now princess."

The door opened into a tiny, though lavishly decorated, room. There was only one room, not even a separate area for the princess to sleep in. A canopied bed was pushed into one corner, rugs and pillows covered the stone floor. Everything was in much better condition than what I had seen so far in the castle.

But that meant nothing, especially if there was no princess here. And so far, I could see no one in the room.

I stepped into the room and heard a sound. Looking around, I still saw no one.

"Princess?"

The curtain in front of the only window shivered. Looking down, I saw small, slippered feet poking out from the curtain.

"Princess please, I am Shield Calcule from the South Kingdom of the Light. I want to help you."

A thin hand appeared on the edge of the curtain. Bit by bit, the princess emereged from behind the curtain. She was thinnner than any princess I had ever seen, in a sickly way that looked painful. Her dress barely fit her, and her hair was knotted. I supposed she must have been beautiful once, but the starvation in her eyes had stolen that from her.

"Come, Princess. My brother, Sword Calcule, is fighting the dragon for your sake. If it's alright, follow me quickly. I'm going to lead us out of here."

She nodded but stayed standing where she was.

"Do you want anything from this room?"

She shook her head. Did she ever speak? I supposed I could hardly blame her. Anyone would be nervous after being held captive by a dragon for, how long? Weeks? Months? That probably explained why she would want nothing from the room, surely she wanted to avoid being reminded of her time here.

Turning, I left the room. While climbing down the stairs, I look back so often to check on her that I hit my head on the low ceiling.

Every move she made was slow. I knew I should feel pity for her plight, or proud that she was brave enough to follow me. But all I felt was anxious. We had to hurry, yet I was left waiting at the end of each staircase for her to catch up.

When we finally made it to the main hall, I was torn between feeling relief and terror. On our entire way down, I had heard nothing from the dragon. I wanted to be relieved, to decide this meant Sword had killed it. But for all I knew, the dragon was simply sleeping off the meal he had made from my brother.

I walked faster.

Then I heard it, the same scraping sound of the dragon's claws on stone that I had heard before. It was alive. Did that mean Sword was dead?

I looked back at the princess, who because of how slow she had been walking was somewhat behind me. Sword had told me to get her out of here. But we were so close to the door. She could get outside by herself. My brother was facing off a dragon, he had been for the last twenty minutes. No swordsman could last that long in any battle, let alone against a dragon. Unless Sword had gotten away from the dragon long enough to rest, he would be far past exhaustion. I had to get him out of there.

While I deliberated, she finally caught up with me.

"Princess, I need you to run. Run straight through this hall and to the outside. There are horses there, wait by them for my brother and I. Can you do this?"

She was smoothing down her dress, avoiding looking at me.

"I'm sorry, I know this is hard. Please do this. I promise to make sure you are safe. Can you run?"

Slowly, like everything else she did, she nodded.

I crept up to the hole in the wall. The closer I got, the worse the air smelled. It smelled like something was burning. Looking in, I saw the dragon at last.

Its scales were a bright, poisonous purple. With black spikes and ridges down its spine. Long, black claws clicked and scratched against the floor as it moved. It was smaller than I expected, but it looked no less deadly.

It was in the far corner of the room, poking at pile of gold and treasure. I wondered where it had gotten it all. But I dissregarded that as panic began to rise in me again.

It was a long half a minute before I saw my brother. I felt bile in the back of my throat. He was sitting, not moving an inch, hunched underneath a colomn. I was too far away to see if he was breathing.

I refused to believe he was dead. I had to go in there and get him.

The dragon was busy with its hoard. Keeping an eye on it, I waved for the princess to go.

"Run, run now!"

Without waiting to make sure she did, I snuck into the Great Hall. Ducking behind the first column, I looked from Sword the the dragon and back. I just had to make it to my brother. I just had to get him out of here.

Peeking around the corner, I saw as the dragon jerked its head to face me. I heard it drawing deep, rattleing breaths. Then that horrible screech tore through the air again.

The sharp pain in my ears sent me reeling. Leaning against the column behind me I screamed for it to stop.

Forcing my eyes open, I looked to my brother. Where I always looked in pain and fear.

He was moving. He was pulling himself up so he was standing. He was alive.

He was alive.

And the dragon was looking right at him. When the dragon began to move, shaking the ground as it stomped towards my brother, I stopped waiting. I ran. I ran straight for the dragon, not even taking the time to draw my sword or put my shield on my arm.

I was screaming at it, anything to get it to look my way. Its head turned towards me. Its jaw unhinged and fire belched from its throat.

The full force of the dragon fire hit me, flinging me helplessly backwards. My back slammed into the wall and I crumpled to the ground.

Shallow breaths were all I could take. Laying facedown on the ground, I stared at the dusty floor.

I was dead. I had to be. It was impossible to survive dragon fire.

Then the dragon screeched, even louder and higher pitched this time. The whole castle shook as something incredibly heavy fell.

Hands were pulling at me. I tried to focus my attention, it was Sword. He was alive. He was pulling me to my feet. I stared at him. He was covered in purple dragon's blood, which steamed and hissed angrily. His sword was covered in it too. Behind him, I saw the dragon was dead.

He was talking to me but I had trouble focusing that closely. I looked at my hands. My unburned, normal looking hands. But that was impossible. I should have been charred by the dragon fire. I should have died. Was I even injured at all?

Sword was still holding on to me as he began to drag me outside. I was stumbling, too busy looking at my hands to watch where I was putting my feet.

I was supposed to be dead. That was what it meant to be attack head on by a dragon. Even if I had used my shield, I would have died. So how was I unharmed?

Outside, Sword let me go so he could talk with the princess. I wondered why she was waiting alone instead of by the horses like I had told her to. Though I had bigger problems to worry about. The world seemed to be tilting to one side and the numb, heavy feeling in my body was getting worse.

"Sword…" I tried to speak but since my hearing was suddenly failing I had no idea if I actually spoke.

Then the ground rushed at me and I passed out.
Writing Challenge 2014 September
So I finished the September writing challenge at last! I'll be brief here, with only a month before November I'm going to be hard core trying to work on finishing Hindsight Draft 4 (which has a ways to go). That way come November I can let people Beta Read while I do NaNoWriMo (for which I'll be writing Greg's story at last!!) However, that means October and November may be lacking good versions of the writing challenge...

Anyway, here's September!
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So, I'm mostly writing this because I just want to change up the journal...but anyway.

I'm working on Hindsight Draft 4! I'm rewriting from scratch and so far I think it's going to be a much better version as long as I stay focused on working on it. I've set a deadline for myself that I would prefer if I could finish all of draft 4 by the start of November (so I can do NaNoWriMo stress-free from Hindsight). I'm also planning on letting some people be beta readers of Draft 4 and giving them from November to January to do the reading of it. I think I can do it (finish Draft 4) but it will take some effort haha, there's a lot of book to rewrite and like usual I'm having trouble with the beginning. I'm starting the book much later than any previous version and I think that's going to work in my favor, but I'm still unsure about a lot of things for the beginning. I guess I just need to power through and go back and fix it later after I get some critiques on it...
  • Mood: Zeal
I stared at the gate. Even sitting on my horse, the gate was far taller than I was. If it had been fully closed, I would have doubted even Sword and I together could have pulled it open.
As it was, the gate was raised half way. This immediately made me question the intelligence of just walking in, which was the bulk of Sword's plan. I trusted my brother with my life, but that hardly meant I was prepared to agree to all of his plans without even questioning them.
Not that it really mattered what I thought, Sword had already dismounted and was walking up to the gate. I hesitated, tightening my hands on the reigns, then swung my leg over and dropped to the ground. I followed quickly.
"Sword, I'm not sure--"
He shushed me, concentrating on what he could see passed the gate.
My brother ducked under the gate and into the main courtyard. Knowing I had no other choice, I did the same.
The couryard looked in more disrepair than I expected. Grass had sprung up between cracked stones while the flowerbeds that should have been elegantly in full bloom were dying. This was a couryard that had suffered years of neglect, not a few weeks.
I was starting to feel more uneasy than ever and I was sure it was more than just the dragon waiting for us inside. I wanted to shake off the feeling but I couldn't decide if that would be a good idea or not.
Sword clearly felt fine about the situation. He was opening the main door and only loosened his weapon from his sheath instead of holding it in his hand.
The door opened onto a room. The tall walls hung with tapestries that had faded and torn. Some had fallen and lay crumpled on the ground. There were large gashes in the floor, claw marks from when the dragon had entered the castle.
There were the remains of a suit of armor on one side. I looked away queasily and hurried to catch up with Sword. I grabbed his sleeve and he looked back at me rather hopelessly. I opened my mouth, however, and he motioned for me to shut up before I spoke. He pointed down the hall he was walking towards. I saw a set of stairs at the end of it, but I was unsure if he meant those were the stairs I was looking for or if that was where we would find the dragon. Most likely it was both.
He pulled my hand off his sleeve and walked a little faster into the hall. I saw more tapestries in the same state of disrepair. And right before the hall ended, right before the hall opened up to allow a grand staircase begin, the wall to our right had a gaping hole. Rubble spewed out of the opening and the stones before us in the hall were blackened.
That was when my feet became stuck. I pitched forward to the ground. I flung my arms out to stop myself but while I was unharmed, my shield crashed against the stone floor.
A horrible screeching ripped through the air. I pushed my hands to my ears, my eyes forced closed by the pain the sound wrought through my entire body. I could have screamed and had no idea. Even if I did scream, the unending screech would have drowned out the sound of fifty men shouting.
I was huddled on the floor still when the screech died away. Before it was gone completely, my brother grabbed me by the tunic and hauled me to my feet. I was shaking so much I could abrely stay standing when he yanked the tapestry that had tripped me from around my feet. He swung me around to face him.
"Just get her and get out. Run!"
"Sword--!"
I was made to turn to the stairs and Sword shoved me as hard as he could towards them. I stumbled forward. Looking back, I watched my brother run through the hole in the wall shouting challanges to the dragon.
His voice was drowned out immediately by another screech that almost sent me back to the floor.
He’s going to die.
I thought, horrified.
I'm going to die. We’re both going to die here.
This was impossible. That dragon had defeated countless knights, seasoned adventurers, and even wizards. There was no way my brother could fight that thing alone. Even if he was the best swordsman in The South Kingdom of the Light, what could that really do against a dragon?
But as I thought of these things, I was running for the stairs.
This was Sword's plan. I had to trust him, no matter how uneasy I was with the situation or how sure I was that we would die.
I just had to run faster. The sooner I got the princess out of the castle the sooner I could go back in and get Sword out as well.
I ran up the stairs three at a time. The stairs turned at a small landing, I pushed off the wall to save momentum and kept running. I heard screeching below me and felt the floor shaking just a little. I was breathign hard after the third staircase and I hated that I was so weak. Sword was fighting the dragon to give me this time, I had to do better than this.
The stairs ended and I was in another hallway. I found the door to the tower easily enough and started climbing the tight steps. I circled around and around, keeping my head ducked because the ceiling was so low.
I came to a door at the end of the stairs. Here, I hesitated. I needed to do something to warn the princess I was here to save her before I simply opened the door. In the end, I knocked.
"Princess! My brother, Sword Calcule, crown prince of the South Kingdom of the Light, and I, Shield Calcule, second son of the South Kingdom of the Light, have come to honor our alliance with the Windfall Kingdom by rescuing you from the dragon below. I am entering the room now!"
I pressed the handle and opened the door just a little.
"Princess?"
I opened the door the rest of the way. The room was much smaller than I expected, though it was furnished for a princess so I was sure this was where she would be. But there was no one that I could see immediately.
What princess would hide from a rescuer?
I swallowed against my uneasiness, rationalizing her actions. Surely since she had been stuck here for so long she would be nervous. Anyone would be nervous of strange men walking into their room. I was just afraid for Sword, I had to calm down. I took a deep breath and noticed the slippered feet from under the window curtain.
"Princess," I said kindly, "I'm here to help. I regret that I am in such a rush, but we really must leave immediately. Please come with my brother and I."
Slowly, she pulled the curtain away from her.
My first impression of her was that she should have been beautiful. That she could have been gorgeous. But there was a sickly pallor to her, and her thin arms looked barely strong enough to push aside the curtain. Instead of beautiful, she looked terrible.
I wondered if the uneasiness I had been feeling was simply pity for what this princess must have gone through. I hoped that was all it was.
"Will you come with me?" I prompted, waiting for some kind of acknowledgment that she would follow.
She nodded slowly.
Relieved, I quickly turned and started down the stairs. I checked over my shoulder so often I forgot to keep my head low and bruised my head against the low ceiling. She was following, if slowly. Already she was clinging to the railing of the stairs for support.
I itched to run but held myself back. If the princess was as sick as she looked, rushing her and worsening whatever illness she had would not help our escape. It certainly would do nothing to help Sword.
Writing Challenge 2014 August

Another month…another unfinished scene.

In my defense, my brother was home for a while. And since it’s his job to spend years at a time in other countries, it seemed a bit more important to see him in my limited free time instead of doing the writing challenge. Next year. When I do this challenge next year I swear I’ll be better at actually finishing the scenes.

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"Shield, just remember to stay away from me. As long as the dragon's focused on me you should be fine to get to the princess."
"So you keep saying." I mumbled. But my brother was already opening the castle gates, and was either ignoring me or too far ahead to hear me.
This was absurd. Charging into this castle with barely any plan, only my brother's sword and my shield against a dragon. No, not even. My brother's sword against a dragon, while I ran through the castle finding the princess who may or may not be in the highest tower and getting her outside before Sword was killed by the dragon.
This was dangerous, even for my brother's planning. While we had always gotten out alive thanks to him and his plans, that was hardly going to stop me from worrying today. And this was different. The only way I could get out with the princess was if Sword kept the dragon busy until we were out or if he killed it. Which meant Sword's life was in my hands. This dragon had avoided death from who knew how many knights and even a few wizards.
My brother was strong, but was he strong enough to kill the dragon alone? Was he strong enough to keep it distracted?
I followed Sword through the gates of the castle. He was already across the delapitated courtyard at the front door. He waited impatiently for me to catch up.
Sword's life hung in the balance of how fast I could find the princess and get her out. The sooner I did, the less time Sword was fighting alone.
I reached out a hand to touch Sword's arm, how the hell did he expect this to work out? But before I could reach him he had started walking again. I followed, unsure if I should force this suicide mission to a halt or trust my brother to get us through.
The hall we were in was dusty and tapestries hung in rags on either side. Halfway down the hall, there was a gaping hole in the wall to the right. The stones all across the hall floor, up the wall, and even on the ceiling were scorched and blackened. The rubble from the wall was stone that had been charred entirely black.
This quest was impossible. I ran forward to grab Sword and my foot tangled in something on the floor. I was thrown to the floor, the shield strapped to my back clanging loudly on the stone.
"What the hell, Shield-" My brother never finished his whispered berating. His voice was interrupted by the loudest, most peircing roar I had ever heard.
I felt all the blood drain from my face. The sound went on and on. It sent my skin prickling and I broke out into a sweat, I screwed up my eyes and plugged my ears but the sound pressed in on me.
The roar died away and I slowly looked up at my brother. His face was pale but he gritted his teeth and stormed towards me. He grabbed me under my arms and pulled me to my feet. I tried to help but found I could barely move. In my head, I could still hear the dragon roaring.
"We're gonna die." I whispered, my brother struggling to keep me standing. I laughed somewhat hysterically. "We're gonna die!"
"Just shut up." He snapped. He let go of me abruptly and reached down, pulling the ragged curtain from around my foot--what I had tripped on in the first place. I almost fell over again as he yanked the curtain free but managed not to.
I rubbed my face hard, trying to get control of myself. I felt like a child. Was I such a coward after all? What next, I would start crying like some newborn?
"Pull yourself together." Sword whispered angrily. "The stairs are down this hall, get to the tower first that's where she's most likely to be."
The dragon was moving in the next room, I could hear its heavy body scraping over stones and its claws scratching the floor. I could hear it breathing, and I could feel the ground shaking as it moved.
"Shield, focus."
My eyes slid from the hole in the wall back to my brother.
"We have to do this. Just stay clear of the dragon and get the princess out. That’s all that matters."
I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. I wanted to refuse. I wanted to drag Sword from this castle and get us out of here. But my brother's eyes were burning and I knew he would do this with or wthout me.
So I had to help him. I had to do this.
Sword clapped me on the shoulder. He stared hard at my face for another second before he turned and crept up to the opening.
I stood frozen. He was going to die. He was going in that room to face a dragon. He was going to die.
He looked through the opening. I watched him take a breath. He held up a hand, he hesitated, and waved it frantically towards the other end of the hall.
I willed my legs to move. I willed my body to cooperate. Sword needed me to do this and do this fast. Was this the last time I would see my brother alive? I shook my head and pulled my hands into fists. I took off running.
At the same time, I watched Sword duck through the hole. I heard him shouting a challenge before the dragon roared loud enough to overpower his voice.
I covered my ears and kept running.
The stairs were easy to find. I ran up them three at a time. On every floor I just kept turning up the next set of stairs until there were no more stairs in sight. The top floor. Now I just needed to find the stairs to the tower. Several floors below me, I heard the dragon roaring. This time it was more like a scream. I begged silently that it was dead.
I was out of beath from the stairs, but I moved as quickly as I could opening doors trying to find the entrance to the tower. I breathed a sigh of relief, it was one of the first doors I tried.
I hurried up the twisting stairs. The ceiling was lower than I expected and I had to keep my head down. I could hear nothing from downstairs, but that told me just as much.
The door at the top of the stairs was barred from the outside. I lifted the wood plank from the fastens and dropped it to the side. I reached for the door handle but stopped. Instead, I knocked hard.
"Princess! My brother and I have come from the South Kingdom of the Light. My brother is Sword Calcule, crown prince of the kingdom and I am Shield Calcule, second son of the kingdom. We have come to bring you safely back to the Windfall Kingdom."
I heard scufflings behind the door but no words. I wondered if honor said I should knock again and wait for a response. Thinking of my brother fighting below, however, I slowly pressed the door open instead.
"I'm coming in." I said before opening the door all the way.
I left the door open behind me as I entered the room. It was small, smaller than a princess's quarters should have been. But it was lavishly furnished with rich fabrics and tapestries, all in good condition contrary to the rest of the castle.
This was clearly where the princess should have been, and I knew I had heard the sounds of someone moving before I opened the door, but the princess was nowhere to be seen on a cursory look of the place.
There was no time for hide and seek. If I had to guess, Sword had already been fighing for about seven minutes. Unless he had killed the dragon, he would be getting exhausted by now.
And I knew if he had killed the dragon he would head towards the tower to meet up with me. Since I could hear no one coming up the stairs, I had to assume he was still fighting.
"Princess, please. I am here to help you. I will not hurt you and I will not let harm come to you. You must follow me, it is dangerous to stay here any longer."
Slowly, a thin hand pushed aside the edge of the window curtain. The princess was revealed in increments. Her brown hair hanging in limp curls. Her pale, peaked face. Skinny arms and torso hidden by a dress that hung from bony shoulders. She looked as if she might have been beautiful if she were less malnourished.
I resisted the itch to urge her to hurry. If she was afraid while I was standing still I could only imagine what would happen if I even moved.
"Will you please follow me?" I said as gently as I could in the situation.
She nodded, barely moving her head.
"Stay close to me, we will need to move quickly." I glanced around the room. "Is there anything here you wish to bring with you?"
She shook her head. I suppose it was only natural not to want anything to remind you of when you were held captive by a dragon.
"Alright, let's hurry."
I turned and led the way down the stairs. I glanced behind me so much I hit my head on the ceiling because I forgot how low it was. She was following, if slowly.
I asked once about her health, but I was given no response. She was looking away from me, as if she had not heard me although I knew I had spoken loud enough. After that, I kept my words to myself.
After the next stair case, I looked back to see her only a quarter of the way down. I felt the floor rumble under my feet and I wiped my sweaty hands on my pants. If the floor was moving, even a little, I realized that meant the Sword had not killed it yet.
I was forced to wait at the bottom of each staircase, waiting for her to catch up. I wanted to run. If I could have done so, I would have picked her up and ran out the castle doors. Then I could leave her outside long enough to go help Sword escape.
If he was still alive.
At the bottom of the last set of stairs, I motioned for her to follow and quickly led the way down the hall. I waited for her, again, when I reached the hole in the wall. When she was closer to me, I motioned for her to wait. Then I carefully peeked around the edge.
For the first time, I saw the dragon. It was smaller than I expected, but it looked no less deadly. Its scales were a poisonous purple, with long black claws. Black horns and knobs jutted out from its head, and spikes curved from its back all the way down to the end of its thick tail. It walked on four legs, although it was currently favoring the back right. There was a slash in that leg, and it dripped purple blood. The blood steamed and hissed where it touched the stone floor. A horrible stench flowed out of the hole. The smell was like metal, blood, smoke, and something I was unable to describe.
I turned back into the hall before the dragon could notice me. I had seen no sign of my brother, and that terrified me even more than the dragon itself.
The princess was shaking next to me. She hugged her arms close to herself. I had to get her out of here.
I leaned close to her. "When I give the signal, run across this opening towards the doors. Go straight down this hall and through the doors. You'll be in a courtyard. Cross that and you'll reach the gates. Leave through those. I'll be behind you, can you do that?"
She looked at me with wide eyes. I knew she would never be able to do this alone. She looked barely able to take her own weight, let alone be able to push open any doors.
But there was no choice. And we had to be fast so I could return for Sword.
I held up my hand the way Sword had for me. I turned back to look through the opening. The dragon was growling deep in its throat, I could feel the sound rumbling in my chest. It was picking through an enormous pile of riches in the far corner. I felt sick to my stomach. Would it be doing this if it felt at all threatened by Sword? I closed my eyes tightly and then opened them again.
The dragon busy, I waved for the princess to run.
She walked as slowly as ever across the opening.
The dragon would hardly stay facing away from the opening for too much longer. My heart was beating fast and I realized I was starting to panic. From the looks of the dragon, it seemed like Sword was dead.
I turned towards the princess fast. Grabbing the princess's wrist with one hand and putting the other on her back, I hurried her along more forcefully and pushed her into a reluctant jog. She made protesting sounds and I hissed for her to be quiet.
I opened the door for her and very nearly threw her out. I could see the gate was open.
"Run." I said ugently. "Run now! My brother and I will come for you, wait by the horses!"
She shook her head but I had no time to wait anymore. Turning fast on my heel, I sprinted for the hole in the wall.
He had to be alive. He had to be.
Kneeling at the opening, I looked in. I wondered if I was going to throw up. From this angle, I could see my brother. He was huddled behind a column that had not yet been turned to rubble.
His face was hidden from me, and I was too far away to see if he was breathing.
The noxious smell I had noticed before, I realized now it was the smell of burned flesh.
I pressed a hand to my mouth, sure I was about to be sick. I realized that while it was impossible to tell if he was alive, I needed to get to him no matter what. I was determined to convince myself he was alive. Even worse than my own doubt, however, was knowing I needed to take his body back to the South Kingdom of the Light if he…was not alive.
I could hear the clink of metal as the dragon continued to drag a claw through its hoard.
I breathed deeply and dropped my hand away from my mouth. I stood but stayed crouched low. I hurried quietly into the room, hoping the sounds the dragon was making would mask my own. I ducked behind the pile of rubble that used to be the nearest column. The dragon was still busy.
I ran as quietly as I could passed another broken column and stopped behind the next that was still standing. I was closer to Sword now, but he was so hunched over himself it was impossible to see if he was even moving to breathe.
My heart was beating so fast I felt like my own blood would strangle me. Sword was only two columns away from me. The next one was half standing, I could hide behind it. Looking around the column I saw the dragon stop rifeling through its hoard. It raised its head and sniffed the air.
I took my chances. I ran as fast as I could to my brother. The dragon roared, nearly deafening me. As I ran, I faltered in my steps when I saw my brother move just a little to look towards the dragon.
Diving to join him behind the column, he almost attacked me. He stopped himself but he stayed tense.
"Get the hell out of here!" he broke off in a coughing fit.
"I'm not letting you die here."
His face was streaked with soot. The second tunic he had been wearing to guard against the cold was crumpled next to him, covered in purple blood and steaming. He looked far past exhausted but I could see no immediate injuries.
My brother was a prodegy. Taking on a dragon for over ten minutes with hardly a mark on him.
The ground shook as the dragon stomped around. I looked and it was coming right towards us. It roared again, and I shouted with the pain in my ears that the sound wrought.
Sword sat up but he could barely do that. His sword clanged to the ground as he struggled.
I watched him and I realized that there was no time. No time for words, no time to help him stand. No time to even unbuckle my shield and slide it onto my arm.
I acted without thinking. It was the most stupid thing I could do, but if it bought Sword enough time to leave that was all that mattered.
Standing up straight, I sprinted. Away from my brother, away from the door. And right in front of the dragon. Its long neck turned and it looked sharply at me. It roared and charged. I was shouting, straining to be heard over it as I screamed for it to focus on me.
The seconds seemed endless. The dragon stopped roaring but mine was not the only voice still shouting. I stumbled to a stop, turning to look back. Back at my brother who had found the strength I had always envied him of. At my brother, who was running towards the dragon with his sword in hand.
Then the dragon swung its head to the level of the floor. Its jaw stretched wide. An eternity passed before the fire came crawling from its mouth. I watched the flames fight through the air, I felt their heat long before they reached me.
In a blistering crash, the flames pummeled into me and threw me across the room.
My back crashed into the wall behind me. I dropped to my knees. The flames were gone. I was shaking so much my eyes found it impossible to focus. I stared at my hands: they were whole, untouched, and unburnt. My clothes showed no sign of even a singed hem. The only pain I felt was from hitting the wall.
The dragon was screeching, worse than ever before. Trembling, I managed to look up. My brother stood next to it, his sword buried deep in its neck. I watched him jerk his weapon free and stagger back as purple blood sprayed.
I looked back at my hands. My undamaged hands. My hands that should have been burned, even blackened by the heat of dragon flame. There was a horrible crawling in the back of my throat. I pitched forward, bracing my hands against the floor as my stomach heaved.
A hand gripped my arm.
"Shield…Shield you fucking idiot!"
I gasped for air and wiped my mouth. My vision was blurry and I realized I had actually let loose tears.
"The princess, Shield. Did you find her?"
"Out-outside."
"Look at me brother." My head turned jerkily and I looked at his haggard expresion. "You're fine. And no one is going to die. Are you trying to say the princess is outside?"
I managed to nod.
No one was going to die? But I should be dead. I should have died in that attack. Nothing could have saved me. I took on the full power of dragon fire without even a shield in front of me. I had to be dead. I had never realized being dead meant I still felt pain.
Sword was pulling me to my feet, although I had no idea where his strength was coming from. It was impossible that I was alive. Yet, as I took quaking steps out of the castle, it seemed I had to be alive. With barely scratch on me. After facing a dragon with neither weapon nor shield.
I found we had passed through the courtyard. By the horses, the princess stood waiting. My brother left my side and immediatly set to talking to the princess. I tried to listen but my mind focused on staring at my hands again.
Black spots started to fill the corners of my eyes.
"Sword…"
My voice was too quiet he was too busy talking with the princess to hear me.
"Sword, I…"
My vision fell completely blind. The ground rushed to meet me.
Writing Challenge 2014 July

What? What is this? I’m actually posting the writing challenge before the next month starts? Yeah man! I actually finished it on time!

Anyway, there's nothing else to really say so...yeah.

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"Sword…"
I looked between the staircase on my left and the great hall to my right. The dragon roared, so loudly I covered my ears. I wanted us to get out of this place, and now.
Sword was facing off the dragon alone. And I had to hurry and get the princess out of this castle. But first I had to find her, and hope those townspeople were right when they said she'd be in the highest tower.
He'll be fine. He'll be fine. I repeated the words to myself over and over while I pounded up the first staircase. The faster I got the princess out, the faster we all got out of here.
I hesitated at the top of the last set of stairs, unsure if I should go left or right. On a whim, I ran left. I tested doors at random but none were locked, and none opened to a set of stairs. I reached the end of the hall with no luck. There was a window at the end of the hall. I looked out and down. As I looked, I heard a crash and watched the window on the ground floor explode out from the building. There was fire, too. Cursing myself, I ran back towards the stairs and down the other hall.
I found the door to the stairs and almost ran passed it because I was expecting it to be another wrong door. Running up the stairs, I was out of breath. If I was running out of breath, how was Sword getting along?
There was only one door at the top of the stairs, and it was barred shut from the outside.
Here, I hesitated for the first time. I couldn't just barge into a princess's room. And I didn't want to terrify her by unbarring the door without warning her.
I knocked, hard.
"I am Shield Calcule, second son of the royal family of the South Kingdom of the Light. My elder brother Sword and I are here to rescue you from the dragon. I am unbarring your door now."
There was no response that I could hear. Either she couldn't or she didn't want to speak, or the door was too thick for sound to pass through and she had heard nothing to start with. Or, I supposed there was a third option. She wasn't in this tower to begin with and this was just a clever way to waste time for the rescuer until the dragon could take care of him.
It didn't matter. What mattered was that I get the princess and get out so Sword could follow behind us.
I forced my way through the door. The room was small, smaller than I expected, although furnished lavishly. At first, I thought there was no one in the room. I almost ran out the door before I saw the curtain move. I waited, but she didn’t come out.
“Excuse me, Princess, I hate to say it this way but I am Shield Calcule of the South Kingdom of the Light and I need to get you out of this castle as soon as possible. Please, grab anything you need from this room and come with me.”
A small hand pulled aside the curtain, revealing a very pretty young woman.
Writing Challenge 2014 June

Well, between working like crazy and trying to move house with my family, it looks like I didn’t finish the writing challenge this month again. In fact, this is the least finished version so far and the shortest I believe. Geez, next year I’ll really need to be better at doing this…

Anyway, here’s June’s (very short) version of the story.

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So, I'm mostly writing this because I just want to change up the journal...but anyway.

I'm working on Hindsight Draft 4! I'm rewriting from scratch and so far I think it's going to be a much better version as long as I stay focused on working on it. I've set a deadline for myself that I would prefer if I could finish all of draft 4 by the start of November (so I can do NaNoWriMo stress-free from Hindsight). I'm also planning on letting some people be beta readers of Draft 4 and giving them from November to January to do the reading of it. I think I can do it (finish Draft 4) but it will take some effort haha, there's a lot of book to rewrite and like usual I'm having trouble with the beginning. I'm starting the book much later than any previous version and I think that's going to work in my favor, but I'm still unsure about a lot of things for the beginning. I guess I just need to power through and go back and fix it later after I get some critiques on it...
  • Mood: Zeal

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JesseZafiro
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:iconyume-chan05:
yume-chan05 Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
thank you very much for the watch and the favorites!
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:iconecho-mlb:
echo-mlb Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013   General Artist
Thanks for the fav ^^
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:iconjessezafiro:
JesseZafiro Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome! I really liked the set up of it!
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:iconfred73fr:
Fred73fr Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the fave ;)
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:iconjessezafiro:
JesseZafiro Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Of course! I loved the detail in it!
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:iconkevrekidis:
Kevrekidis Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks for the fav!
See also my new image: Trabajo
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:iconjessezafiro:
JesseZafiro Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Of course!
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:iconpanddore:
Panddore Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2013  Professional General Artist
Ey thank you very much for the fav!! :D
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:iconjessezafiro:
JesseZafiro Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Of course! It was very good!
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:icontroedel:
Troedel Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013
Thank you for the fav!
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