Monday, March 24, 2014

Legacy of Traydus: Prologue

I read this excerpt from my novel, Legacy of Traydus, at Cellar Door Books over the weekend. This work in progress is currently 100,000 words. I recently workshopped it at Potlatch, and with two writers groups. (Thanks to all the writers who gave critiques!) Readings at Cellar Door may be a regular thing, so I'll post notices prior to the next one.
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Hiding in the steamy shadows of a bush with wan, yellow, hand-like leaves larger than his head, Traydus tries his best to breathe quietly. A dewdrop tickles his neck, and he has to hold his breath to keep from making a sound. The dragon is coming!
"Here comes the dragon. Where is the baby?" says Mama in that beautiful sing-song voice, the pride of the clan.
Hide-From-The-Dragon is Traydus's favorite game. Sometimes, in the canopy gardens where young elves spend their days with the shes of the clan, Traydus could get older youths to play with him. But Mama plays the best dragon.
Giggles make little grunt-like noises in the back of his throat. A giggle escapes.
"There he is!" Her green hand thrusts through the leaves, closing on empty air like jaws.
Traydus laughs out loud as he dodges her hand.
Finally, Mama grabs him, and lifts him up, tickling him as she hugs him, saying "Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!"
"Come on, Tray," says Mama, "We've got to get to the canopy. See how quiet you can be now. You know I don't like to play on the way."
Tray thinks about playing with his friends, Nikrehl and Milzae, as he walks with his mommy in the misty air and warm glow of the green leaves far above. They'd be there soon.
Just then Mama says in a soft, urgent voice, "Tray," and Traydus freezes in his tracks.
The birds and monkeys are quiet.
Tray looks at Mama, sees her turn her head until her eyes lock onto something.
There it is. He's never seen one before. A sour taste burns the back of his throat.
It's bigger than the biggest fruit tree he's ever seen. Its scales are brown like bark. It has no leaves, but feathers on its back that are the colors of leaves. Green, yellow. It stands on its rear legs, the front legs too small and the long tail behind it.
And it has small eyes in a huge head. It sees them. He knows it. The mouth opens soundlessly, and he sees the slimy, sharp teeth.
Mama slowly walks forward and picks Traydus up, carrying him so that he can't see the dragon.
Then there's a sound. It's like a strong wind blowing through the trees, stirring up leaves and breaking small branches. The dragon is running.
And Mama's running, too.
She runs behind a bab-bab tree, with its giant knotted roots, like the gnarled hand of the clan's elder, greedily digging her fingers into the soil to yank out a tuber. The roots are taller than mama's head, making dark hollows at the base.
"Hide here, Traydus!"
Mama's footsteps flurry around the tree as Traydus digs himself into a depression between the roots, covering himself in cool wet leaves and moss. Tears streak down his face, but he is quiet this time.
The giant wind comes, but it is on the other side of the tree. How could something without wings make such a windy sound? With his head against the earth he can hear the thumps of the agile, padded feet of the monster.
Then he hears his mother's voice. She doesn't scream for long.
A terrible hunger devours his will and gnaws at his fear when he finally stumbles out of his hole.
He is lucky. Even though he cannot find his way, he hears the bleating of baroma. He follows it to find a friend of his father, returning to burrow late from grazing his herd in a clearing. The family cares for him that night, and takes him to his already grieving father in the morning when it is safe. That night his father holds him in his hammock. It is the first night he sleeps.
No elf had ever killed a great dragon. When Traydus awakens the next morning, he swears to himself, "I will find a way."

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