Authors: D. Maria Trimble
Copyright © 2012 D. María Trimble
All rights reserved.
ISBN: ISBN-10: 0985575301
To my dad, who met with his ancestors before I could finish the series. I’ll meet you on the other side when it’s my time and let you know how it ends
I raised my sword to block and deflect yet another blow. The dark armored lord set upon me throwing strike after strike. My breath became short and raspy as I struggled for air. With no time to thrust or lunge, I could only parry his attacks. I couldn’t hold him much longer. His bulk towered over me as he pushed me back. Back toward the precipice that would finish the battle.
Why hadn’t help arrived?
Sweat stung my eyes, my head throbbed where the flat side of his sword had made contact. My muscles no longer burned, but had reached the stage where they would no longer obey. The end was close. The void from the edge of the cliff echoed behind me as I lost ground.
With a gleam of death in his eye, my enemy lunged for his final blow. I stepped back but my boot couldn’t find footing. The ground broke away and I tumbled backwards. I felt the swish of his sword as it just missed taking off my head. Helpless, I grabbed at nothing — both arms beat the air. My stomach leaped to my throat as I plummeted into the chasm.
From out of nowhere a large fiery dragon swooped in. Its talons wrapped around my waist as it snatched me from the air. At that same instant, I jolted upright in my bed. My nightclothes stuck to the sweat that drenched my body. My breathing matched that of my dream. The throbbing in my head was real.
Lately, my dreams always ended the same — rescued by a dragon. But there haven’t been any dragons in our skies for a long time. In truth, I’d never seen one in my nearly fifteen years. That fact did not lessen my hope of the future for which I longed — one filled with weaponry, swordplay and a distinct journey all my own — which included dragons. Ever since I can remember, I’d aspired to be brave and strong; to have a mission in life; to be worthy of a quest. But one problem plagued me — I was born a girl.
“Amáne,” my mother called. “It’s a market day. Get up. I need you to help me load up the cart and hook up Ezel.” Ezel was our donkey.
My mother, Catriona, made fine ceramic utensils, bowls and plates that she sold in the marketplace. Her wares were not unknown throughout the kingdom. Her family’s guild had made the tableware for the House of Drekinn, the royal family that had ruled Teravinea for the last several hundred years — before Galtero seized the throne by treachery.
We rode into town together and she dropped me off at the Dragon’s Fang Tavern. It was a classroom by day and a pub by night. People were frugal in our township of Dorsal. They saw no purpose in a building where the sole use was for academics. A pub was a perfect location — students occupied the place from early morning until early afternoon, at which time the pub patrons would start trickling in. They caroused until the wee hours of the morning — vacating just in time for the students the next day. It worked.
Like other girls of Teravinea, I was educated. In addition to reading and writing, we were expected to learn our history songs
and ballads, although most of them had been altered and had lost their beauty and power. They had deviated from the beautiful works our ancestors had written. My mother took it upon herself to teach me the original songs. I was thankful for her efforts because it is in ignorance that we lose our direction.
Entering the tavern, I took my place on a bench at one of the long tables. The stench was enough to aggravate my progressing headache. The straw on the floor had probably been there when the last dragon lived — which was a few years before I was born — and had only been added to instead of changed. The spilled ale, wine, urine and whatever scraps had fallen on the ground, along with the heat and the rare humidity, made the odor nearly unbearable. It certainly didn’t improve my mood.
A new teacher arrived in town only a few weeks before. My mother contended he had been sent to Dorsal from the City of Teravinea to try to bend or break us. Evidently our previous teacher lacked in forceful persuasion. We were unwilling to move too quickly into accepting the usurping King Galtero, never mind he had been on the throne for over seventeen years. If this teacher could indoctrinate the younger generation, in a matter of a short time we would forget our ancestors and our history, and yield completely to Galtero’s corrupt rule.
My headache refused to relinquish its hold — I struggled with it for most of the day through writing and calculating figures. I just wanted to close my eyes and make it go away, but found myself, instead, staring at the confusion of carvings in the table. Decades and decades of “art,” some quite rude, scarred the long tables of the Dragon’s Fang Tavern. Lost in thought, I contemplated the unsung stories of the people who had sat here.
The sudden silence in the room brought me out of my musing. To my horror, I realized the teacher had called upon me.
His angry glare confirmed he had tried more than once to get my attention.
“I beg your pardon, Teacher,” I said, standing up too quickly, which caused my head to feel like it would explode. “I didn’t hear you.”
“I asked you to sing the ballad of
The Battle of Sregor’s Field,”
he said, “which I hope you have been studying, as I gave you two weeks in which to learn it.”
I felt the heat rise in my face. Being called to sing in front of the class always made my stomach churn. I became paralyzed whenever attention was drawn to me. But I had to comply with Teacher’s request. To my consolation, the
The Battle of Sregor’s Field
was one of my favorites — I knew all of the verses.
“Yes, Master Teacher.” My hand clutched the table to steady myself. I closed my eyes so I could imagine I was alone, and began to sing in a shaky voice.
The ballad described a battle that took place in a field owned by Hon Sregor, near the City of Teravinea. It told of how Nara, the last dragon rider, and her famous dragon, Torin, had swooped into the battle at the last moment when things looked bad for King Emeric. Flaming the forward line of the enemy army, Torin and Nara gave King Emeric’s soldiers the inspiration they needed to rally in one last heroic effort. With Nara and Torin’s help, they turned the tide of the battle and allowed victory for King Emeric.