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The Girl of Ash and Snow
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Writer Chloe Quinn
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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The Girl of Ash and Snow
A - A - A
Part 1 Chapter 1
Chloe Quinn
Jun 13, 2018
12 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!queHlob68LTk9zh51lhUposted on PENANA

PART 1 – Dragon Oathcopyright protection9PENANA2aHwW6amkC

Chapter 1copyright protection9PENANA1L7ftsEEyN

They soared the clouds, a mass of black that obscured the sky itself, yet they brought no fear. When the people looked up they rejoiced for their salvation had come.copyright protection9PENANAqs7A1pG2KX

Excerpt from The Dragonair Chronicles. copyright protection9PENANAXN8Fk4Mur6

Wren gritted her teeth as she held onto the face of the cliff for dear life, dragging herself up quickly – swift, nimble movements. Defiantly reaching up, curling her hand around the tiniest of grabs, she powered on, ignoring the calls of the other climbers beneath her. The voices were lost to the wind as it howled through the mountains, a song as old as time. The God’s song, her mother said. She banished all other thought, kept distractions out – voices, doubts, aches – and climbed on, scrambling up faster as she caught side of a ledge.copyright protection9PENANA6sRdHkGmZf

Reaching up again she went to grasp the feint indent in the rock – only, it was slick, worn smooth by rain. Her hand slipped free, sending her off balance. Her heart froze in her chest as she half hung there, holding on by one hand.copyright protection9PENANA9qHh0IGGLr

Freeze, you die, her teacher had snarled relentlessly.copyright protection9PENANAEIeMoyRa2i

Blinking, she shoved away the stab of fear and thrust herself back onto the rock, digging her hand into another hold. Then, using the rush of adrenalin, powered up faster than she’d ever moved – faster than anyone else, it seemed, because when she finally dragged herself over the edge, sprawling out on the flat ground, the thin air biting her skin, it seemed like an eternity before anyone else appeared. By then, her heart had dropped to a normal pace. She sat up as Vaughn, the second fastest climber in the squad, came over and stood, eyeing her like she was crazy.copyright protection9PENANAh9K9msu3Pt

“You truly have no fear,” he remarked as if there was something unsettling by that.copyright protection9PENANAiYUZgVHWBs

She did have fear – it was healthy, required. It didn’t stop her from climbing her. It was the reason she climbed, the fuel in her heart. Hell, it was the only thing that made her feel alive anymore.copyright protection9PENANAngbC2zaUKd

“Fear should be the companion of a climber, it’s guide, the steadying hand,” recanted Wren with a sly smile.copyright protection9PENANAc1mXaJqENf

He shook his head, went to reply but the huffing breaths indicated the rest of the team had arrived; first, Flynn, a red-haired, long-limbed climber with a sharp, rigid face. Only his smile and jewel-green eyes softened his face. He was ruddy-faced when he came up, shook his head in amusement, then stepped aside as the last climber came. Mira, the smallest, newest and most unlikely climber of the group, appeared. She shook off her uniform, dusted herself off and straightened up, peering about with doll-like face and pale blue eyes.copyright protection9PENANA85e24uXLrz

“This is it?” She asked, frowning.copyright protection9PENANAeOQprSZCNJ

Wren snorted, then flicked a hand to the path that cut into the mountain. “We’re only at the bottom. The garden isn’t far from here, though.”copyright protection9PENANAPZKcXVWozJ

She took Vaughn’s outstretched hand and got her to feet, smiling as Mira looked even more confused. Even Flynn chuckled a little, then leaned in, the hero.copyright protection9PENANADIORKSmIEN

“We’re at the bottom of the old country – we be in dragon territory now,” he teased.copyright protection9PENANAiTC8i31hFO

The poor girl’s frown fell and she jutted out her chin, a little stubbornly. “Dragons are just stories.”copyright protection9PENANA1vOLILGE9g

Wren laughed as she set off, the others falling in behind her. “Whatever helps you sleep at night. Now, let’s hurry. I don’t want to be anywhere near here after dark, so let’s get the plants and get out.”copyright protection9PENANAoNYdFJ61rK

They headed along a narrow path, faintly dusted with snow. The sheer cliff on either side, worn smooth from years of rain and wind, rose up so high that light turned gloomy. Still, Wren could see enough and pushed up, straight up to steps cut into the rock, her fur-lined boots muted thumps echoing softly. At the top the cliff fell away, revealing a clearing, cut like a bowl into the mountain itself, with several other paths cut into the rock, veering off to other clearings, to the remnants of the ancient city far above.copyright protection9PENANAPKDrSWvTeb

The clearing before her was divided up by the fields of dark earth, one of which still held a struggling crop of red flowers. At the far end of it, a stone well. Flynn was already striding over, water skins in hand, and started to fill them, one by one.copyright protection9PENANAHfGv1phI4r

Wren went to the plants and, with the other two, started to pluck the flowers, carefully wrapping and packing them away into their bags. Vaughn hovered by Mira, instructing her on the best way to harvest, so not to damage the plants completely. When they finished they sprinkled some dried seaweed, imported from the coast, plus some crumbled chicken manure over the plants. After that, the plants were given a brief watering from the filled pouches, a carefully measured amount per plant.copyright protection9PENANAZsfXFUHLW9

As she stood up Wren yawned and glanced skywards, holding a hand to her face as the sun slanted down, glinting sharply off the ice that clung to the cliff high above. The cloud obscured the kingdom up there that Wren knew existed, just out of reach, beyond the ability of any climbers. Even hers. How that burned in her gut.copyright protection9PENANAwLTadL7JFl

“You’ve got that look in your eye,” said Vaughn reproachfully.copyright protection9PENANAUmBBSD0am4

She lowered her gaze to his, smiled slyly. “What look?”copyright protection9PENANAClxRjdL0ZI

“There’s nothing up there anymore. I don’t even know why you look. As Mira said the dragons are gone,” said Vaughn.copyright protection9PENANA9vu2GHONqt

She felt a flash of anger. “Our people ruled an empire. We soared the skies on the backs of dragons!”copyright protection9PENANA9lQLWJpXTL

“And now we’re humble farmers, living far from war and suffering. We may not have riches but we have all we need. Why isn’t that enough for you?” He asked just as sharply, his words challenging another topic.copyright protection9PENANA2v6zmqM8qL

Why did you say no to marrying me? He was asking.copyright protection9PENANARAhlDY3rMt

“I wouldn’t you to expect that some of us have hearts in the sky, not rooted in the earth,” she retorted sharply. “You’d try to ground every bird if you could.”copyright protection9PENANAVWPLHMu6Jo

He winced, lowering his gaze, hurt. She felt guilty, just for a moment. If he wouldn’t bring up her damn refusal, trying to remind her that he was right, then they wouldn’t be at each other’s throats. Hell, they’d never been suited to marry – sure, there had been a physical attraction but they clashed in every other way. He wanted a quiet, biddable wife, and would likely expect her to surrender her duty as a Climber. Ground her, literally. She couldn’t have them, couldn’t let him ground her literally. It’d kill her, smother her soul. If she couldn’t fly then climbing was the next thing, which she’d fiercely guard.copyright protection9PENANASLTYlgo8pP

“Why can’t you pick someone else?” She asked tiredly. “My answer won’t change.”copyright protection9PENANAUgpbB29EuW

He stilled. “I did.”copyright protection9PENANA8pSXbAKFHt

Shock pulsed through. “Oh. Who?”copyright protection9PENANA4zfXyBeXJD

“Do you even care?” He asked sharply.copyright protection9PENANAMDTcPvfZ9K

“As your fellow Climber I’m showing an interest,” she reminded him calmly.copyright protection9PENANAVi9Ogko005

“Lilly Farthing.”copyright protection9PENANAu5FK2dlha5

In Wren’s mind she saw Lilly, the quiet, pretty girl with dark locks and dark eyes. She was the blacksmith’s daughter, shy by nature, as far from Wren as anyone could be. She thought she’d feel a little sting of jealousy – Vaughn was certainly searching for some. Only, there was none. She nodded, approvingly. Lilly was the girl good for him, everything he wanted in a wife. That, and Wren had seen the longing looks Lilly had thrown at Vaughn. copyright protection9PENANAUXJOazjpyt

“She’d be happy about that. Girl’s been in love with you for years,” murmured Wren.copyright protection9PENANA9uLji1EG2F

“What?”copyright protection9PENANAMwKrhNFC4P

“You didn’t know?”copyright protection9PENANAIZNrNX06nz

Vaughn blushed. “The marriage was…arranged. I mean, I asked, as was proper but-“copyright protection9PENANAAx4lQmnv3p

“You don’t love her?” Wren finished, suddenly aware at the way he looked at her. “You’re still in love with me?copyright protection9PENANAaQWVhdIWQN

His silence said everything. She turned away, restless, angry even. Not once had she’d made him believe she felt the same. They’d scarcely been friends before she became a Climber; in the time before she could count on one hand how many times they even spoke. Still, somehow, with that, she’d caught his eye.copyright protection9PENANAMzMz1Ax2HV

“Wren! Vaughn! You both ready?” Flynn called from the path, Mira standing impatiently behind him, arms folded.copyright protection9PENANABhsGCj20P6

She was shaking. The girl hadn’t gotten used to the cold, even beneath her thick fur-lined uniform and boots. Still, the cold had never really bothered Wren.copyright protection9PENANAqZWmVdADar

Vaughn moved first. Wren went to follow but a sharp screech ripped through the air, a shadow flashed over them, stone crushed with a muted thump. Wren and Vaughn froze, whilst the other two shrank into the shadows. It was Vaughn looked up first behind Wren, slowly, paled. Horror flashed in his eyes. Then he looked down and it was as though he standing at Wren’s funeral pyre, saying goodbye. Heart racing, she looked behind him, saw the fear in the other’s eyes.copyright protection9PENANArW1dw2O45v

Slowly, she turned and looked up. Crouched on a rocky outcrop, perched forward, was a Wyvern. She’d only seen them in stories, their pictures roughly drawn but she was sure. They resembled dragons, differing in the fact that their wings served as front legs when grounded, that they also didn’t breathe fire was a bonus. This one, it seemed, had its focus on her. She dropped her hand, flicked a signal for Vaughn to run.copyright protection9PENANAZGMsmoLppA

“I’m not leaving you,” he hissed softly.copyright protection9PENANAvPArcvFM9Q

“Be the hero, Vaughn, save them,” she snarled. “Besides, only one of us is armed.”copyright protection9PENANAeAMfOjiCnn

Before he could react, she bolted – straight to one of the nearby pathways leading upwards, and the wyvern leapt off the outcrop, straight after her. She didn’t see if Vaughn ran after her. Her eyes were on the path. She felt the shadow rush over her and she dropped – too late. Claws sunk into flesh, grabbing her. She screamed, felt the ground slip from beneath her feet and her bag fall to the ground. Instinctively, she struggled, trying to free herself but the claws sunk deeper – then she realised how quickly the ground was shrinking away from her. She saw Vaughn and the others staring up, screaming. Flynn was dragging Vaughn away who stubbornly fought, as if he could save her.copyright protection9PENANA7n4UPriBRI

Tearing her gaze away she looked ahead as they rose higher, piercing the thin veil of cloud, the air growing brutally icy, biting through her thick furs. Jagged rock gave way to ancient walkways carved into the mountain way, bridges that seemed to emerge from the cloud, and connect to other cliffs and pathways – a labyrinth in the clouds. Most lead upwards which, as the Wyvern drew her up with the beat of it’s enormous wings, she saw the first hints of the old empire. She held her breath, glimpsing the first houses carved into the mountains themselves, empty shelves, lifeless. Some jutted out of the mountains themselves, impossibly perched there with large outcrops, polished smooth.copyright protection9PENANAbmxMOJiuwr

Were she not being carried to her impending death she might’ve marvelled at it.copyright protection9PENANAkK270RqjuO

The wyvern banked sharply, cutting through a narrow pass and into a large clearing – a small lake dominated it, pale blue water glittering against the frost-touched ground.copyright protection9PENANAGCcLw1cPC4

There, it dropped her and she hit the ground, hard. Something crunched beneath her. Dazed, she rolled to her feet and realised what it was. Bones. With a scream she scrambled away and barely had time to react before the wyvern landed, snarling at her. It’d brought her to its nest to feed.copyright protection9PENANAxOq4AfNSJk

She lifted her gaze, stared it down. Where fear had knotted in her gut something else started to kindle; slowly, little more than a smouldering spark, flickering up. She refused to die in such a place, another Climber claimed by a wyvern. She hadn’t given much thought how she’d like to die but dying in a field of bones wasn’t the way.copyright protection9PENANAk35na6eBpJ

With a deep breath she dropped her hands, gingerly fished out her climbing daggers. They weren’t extremely sharp but they were better than nothing. She just had to not pay attention to how sharp the wyvern’s talons were and how it slowly crept towards her. It was toying with her, enjoying her fighting stance. Swallowing hard she stepped back, trying to keep distance. The more the better. In the corner of her she glanced at her options. The pass they’d flown through was her only option but it was too far away. The wyvern would catch her before that. She had to do something, buy herself some time but what?copyright protection9PENANAq6lCRRD4Hg

The wyvern lunged, banishing the thought. She rolled to the side, barely missing the flash of claw and scale. She was fast, though and she was strong from climbing. In a blur she rushed at the wyvern as it spun and she launched onto it’s back, sinking the blades into the scale – to her surprise they sunk in, deep. Warm blood gushed down her hands, soaking through her gloves.copyright protection9PENANA8e4zjFP7yy

The wyvern howled furiously, thrashing her but she held on – just barely. She yanked out one blade, then sunk it again, higher. As it thrashed she scrambled up. Then she was at the neck and raised the dagger to sink in when it rolled sharply, throwing her off. She flew through the air, hit the ground with a sharp burst of pain through her body. Blood filled her mouth, pain burning through her. She got to her feet, shaky, and spat blood, staring down the wyvern as it spun to her, blood bleeding down it’s side. The beast’s silvery scales were streaked with dark red. It looked at her with feral eyes.copyright protection9PENANArSCwfNCuo2

She screamed back. “Come at me!” copyright protection9PENANAdO8yr0q457

Then it launched at her – and she hurled both daggers, then spun away. Scale flashed in front of her face, inches in front of her. Her life, short as it was, flashed before her.copyright protection9PENANAlemqNG5DND

Then it was crashing into the ground. She didn’t wait to see if it was dead or not. She sprinted towards the pass, right pass the piles of bones. Other climbers in their tattered furs. A glint of silver caught her eye. She hesitated – then, a feral cry split the air. She spun around. The wyvern staggered to its feet and she saw the damage she’d done. One dagger was imbedded in its eye, the other in the shoulder. A wing hung limp at the side. She’d grounded it.copyright protection9PENANAbfwOLLBog0

Whatever gods were looking down at her she was grateful and thanked them.copyright protection9PENANAqtPz2gztlE

The silver flash beside her glinted, catching the sunlight. She glanced down, briefly, and saw it was a sword.copyright protection9PENANABGTX6GDcjr

The wyvern screamed again and launched. Without thinking she grabbed the sword, warmth bursting through her limbs instantly, and brought it up – a wall of grey fell over her and slammed into her. Darkness swamped her as she was thrown to the ground as she thought, this is it, I’m dead. copyright protection9PENANAQvGmks7VQo

Comments ( 1 )

Isabelle Quilty - not gonna lie the concept and description you have is awesome, really tingled my brain-things. definitely keep going, I can totally see this when it's refined, edited, sleek.  keep it up
1 day agoreply