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Rated: 13+ · Preface · Fantasy · #1251173
The introduction to my novel in progress: Empty Skies.
The day drew closer to an end as the sky turned crimson in color. Clouds obscured everything but the sun setting behind the mountainous horizon. The cool breeze of the waking night felt refreshing after the scorching heat of the day’s sun. The tall grass of the meadow waved like the great seas when the wind combed over it. A glade of sorts, the meadow had a great wall of trees to east and a sea of grass and rocks too the west. The trees had a high and thick canopy, covering the foliage below it with darkness, but as the sun set, beams of light bore holes into the darkness.

The huge black flowing banners of an army flew high along the massive plains. Hundreds of armored soldiers marched towards the trees from the east, their armor reflecting the light from the setting sun into what seemed like a moving crimson mass. Spears stood tall among their ranks, casting an ominous shadow along the ground towards the forest. Their march shook the ground and pebbles danced upon the surface of the beaten path leading into the trees.

A beautiful woman in white stood silhouetted by the setting sunlight only feet from the forest’s edge. Her white birch bark staff, although rested on the ground, rose above her head, its bright sapphire crystal giving off an almost blinding deep blue light. Her white dress sparkled as the setting sun reflected off of it, giving off a shower of light. Her soft blonde hair shone with the life of a beautiful young woman. Her skin soft, unscarred, and unblemished, she was the spitting image of beauty.

If her beauty wasn’t enough to catch the attention of one’s eye, her steed, an enormous young Silver Dragon, sat majestically at her side. Its wings folded at its side and its head stretched up towards the sky, it was a spectacle for any man to behold. Her head, armored with polished plate mail, struck fear into every man’s heart. Yet somehow, through her harmless expression and elegance, it was calming to see something so enormous and beautiful.

The beauty and her beast stood defiantly as the army drew closer. The rumble of marching footsteps began to unease the dragon. It shifted its weight forward and sank its neck towards the ground, letting a slight rumble emerge. The woman cast a sorrowful glance at her dragon, reaching her hand out and placing it softly on its neck. She spoke some calming and then took a step towards it. As if pleading, her shoulders sank and her words became suddenly strained. The dragon reared back and roared, its scales glistening as bright as the sapphire from the birch staff. As the dragon’s front feet lifted off the ground and its roar became piercing, birds from nearby trees rose and flew away into the darkening sky, fleeing from the shattering bellow. The dragon came down with forceful smash and the ground trembled from impact.

The soldiers’ march suddenly came to a halt and their ranks parted slowly. From the gap came a hooded rider, galloping swiftly towards the dragon and its master. A small trail of dust was kicked up behind the ride and as the rider approached, the woman stepped forward to meet him. As the rider drew closer, he quickly dismounted and took a short bow before rising to a full foot’s height above her.

“Lady Gabrielle, I’m sure you’ve been expecting this.” The rider said clearly.

“Don’t think me ignorant, messenger.” Gabrielle responded, her voice as beautiful as her body, “I’ve been expecting this for a long time. I’m surprised it took your lord this long to muster his Dragonslayers. Does he not have the gall to come and slay me himself? What manner of idiot would send an army of mere men to slay a Dragonmaster? He is no sorcerer, only a weak minded fool who knows many parlor tricks.”

Lady Gabrielle’s dragon snarled slightly at this and the messenger started, looking at the silver dragon as it bared its teeth. Regaining his composure, he turned his gaze back to Lady Gabrielle. “Do not speak foolishly my Lady,” began the messenger. “The Lord Sigrum doesn’t take kindly to blasphemy.”

“Your ‘lord’ is not your God. Be gone from my sight. Tell your lord my dragon awaits her dinner.”

The messenger bowed shortly then began to mount his horse, turning his head back and saying, “Lady Gabrielle, perhaps you can win this battle and meet the Lord himself.”

Lady Gabrielle didn’t smile, but looked at the messenger with her cold blue eyes. “I plan to.” The rider settled into his horses harness and giving his horse a swift kick, began his short gallop back to the ranks of men.

Night was capturing the sky star by star. And the light was fading. Lady Gabrielle looked to the sinking sun and followed its last streaming rays with her eyes as they disappeared into the dimming sky. She stared at the stars for what seemed like a lifetime before he serene silence was broken by the sounding of a battle horn. Lady Gabrielle’s dragon rose slowly from sitting into its full upright position. The dragon peered down lovingly at Lady Gabrielle, and a pain gripped Gabrielle’s heart. She loved her dragon more than anything in the world. It had been with her since birth, a mere 200 years ago. The dragon, still a baby by any man’s definition, had grown into quite the powerful being, and it was willing to fight to the death with Gabrielle, but as beautiful as she was, nothing compared to the beauty of her soul. She was good throughout and cared not for herself, but for the wellbeing of every other living creature.

Lady Gabrielle looked to her dragon, a glisten in her eye as her emotions took the best of her. She approached it and placed a hand on its neck, speaking softly to it, “I want you leave. Get as far away from this place as you can.”

The dragon seemed taken aback, and let out a soft groan of disagreement.

“Please don’t make this any harder than it needs to be. You are too young to leave this world with me. You’ll find a new master, but you must live on. You’re the last of a dying breed Kai.”

The dragon spread its wings and beat them hard to lift herself a short distance into the air. A furious roar shattered the silence and for a moment it seemed as if the dragon was going to attack the army before it, but it craned its head low and nuzzled softly against Lady Gabrielle before raising itself into the air and flying east over the trees. As the dragon began its departure, three drakes, smaller yet still quite devastating creatures, with mounted riders lifted from the army’s ranks and began chase. Lady Gabrielle cursed aloud and raised her white staff, holding its tip towards the quickly passing drakes. As if by some unseen force, the drakes quickly slowed to a stop. The intensity of Lady Gabrielle’s staff grew brighter. She took a step forward, her staff held high, and with a speed unmatched by any man, she slammed her staff into the ground. As the staff sped towards the dirt, so did the drakes and their riders, being dragged by Gabrielle’s power. When the staff came in contact with the soft dirt, the drakes followed with a sickening crunch of metal and bone. A piercing scream was heard and then all was silent.

The army’s ranks shifted slightly, but no move was made. Lady Gabrielle lifted her staff, dirt falling from its still pristine white finish. She began to walk slowly towards the ranks of soldiers. Her pace was slow but without hesitation, and her unyielding determination showed her confidence in her own power. As she walked, Gabrielle kept her head level, staring at the front ranks of soldiers before her. As she grew closer, the ranks spread apart slowly, spears lowered and facing her, forming a circle of men around her. She passed by, looking from man to man, seeing the expressions of awe and fear. As she reached the center of the ranks she lifted her staff high, and as if without a will of their own, every man lifted their spear. A blue light shot from the tip of Gabrielle’s staff through the ever darkening sky and touched the tip of every man’s spear. Without notice the spears shattered, breaking the deathly silence and sending splinters of wood flying in every direction. A few men were pierced by the splinters their screams were as audible as ever.

The battle had begun, and Gabrielle’s staff remained hovering in the air, only a few feet above her. The men closest to Lady Gabrielle drew their short swords from their sheaths and charged, uttering a battle cry to reassure themselves. Gabrielle moved with the grace only heard of in the tales of legends. She stiffened her arm towards the nearest of the men, and simply waved her hand as if sending him away. The man was flung forcefully back into other approaching soldiers, knocking them from their feet. She spun around, her arms following closely behind her, sweeping through the air. The air seemed to shift oddly, as if being manipulated, and suddenly there was an earth shattering explosion that sent forth tongues of fire. The fire wrapped itself around the nearest attacking soldiers, enveloping them in their death. As she turned again, she reached her hand towards the sky and gripped her staff at the very bottom, swinging it with her as she turned. The staff connected with one man’s neck, just above the collar bone, and with a sickening crack he fell to the ground, his body limp. Without hesitation, Gabrielle twisted the other direction, bringing the staff around again as the men closed around her. She let go of the staff and it spun wildly through ranks, hewing men apart as it would the grass of the field.

The fury of battle began to overtake Gabrielle, and her beauty was horrifying rather than entrancing. She tore into men with just a swift flick of her wrist, blood showered all around like rain, soaking her once stunning white dress with the deep red. As easily as a man lifts a stone, Gabrielle tore pieces of the earth from the ground itself and hurled them into the approaching onslaught, crushing men under the weight of the dirt. Fire and Ice alike were conjured into weapons and used to slay anyone who came near enough to harm her.

From atop the nearest mountain, it looked like a small display of red, blue, and white fireworks. Lord Sigrum sat upon his mature black dragon steed and watched as his small contingent of Dragonslayers was eradicated. A small fit of rage overcame him and with it his dragon let out a ferocious roar.

Lady Gabrielle came to a sudden halt, the noise of another dragon, and especially one of such power, sent a shiver down her spine. She knew at last, that Lord Sigrum himself came to end her life and destroy the last of her kind. But with Kai sent away, Lady Gabrielle had a shred of hope that someone would find her and keep her hidden until the time came for an uprising. Her thoughts were snapped back to reality when a blade cut deep into her thigh. With a yell of pain she gripped the man who’d stabbed her by the throat and threw him into the nearest attacker. She was weary from combat and it wouldn’t last long at this rate. Gabrielle saw a rock that rose above the plains and decided to take the higher ground. Upon the rock lay her staff, still unscathed as if nothing had ever touched it.

She made her way through the soldiers, dismembering all that were in her path. As she drew closer, she grew more tired. Her strength was failing her and she knew it was only a matter of time until one of the soldiers landed a fatal blow. She struggled to keep fluid, but as she drew upon her last strength she felt the cold metal of a blade pierce her skin at the small of her back and cut into her. She fell to one knee and in seconds the sky was blotted out by the faces of men with their swords held to her throat.

Gabrielle held her breath as she felt the blood rush from her wound onto the blade in her back. The wind suddenly blew loudly and the sound of flapping wings could be heard from afar. Gabrielle’s staff was a mater of feet from her, and she reached an aching hand towards it. The men suddenly stepped back from her and she felt as if she might be able to reach her staff. But as she shifted forward to reach it, her back seared in pain and she dropped into the dirt. She had the strength only to breathe in sharp stinging breaths. And as she lay there, the wind grew strong again and the sound of wings became clear.

The ground shook from something heavy landing behind her, and Gabrielle slowly turned herself around with her few last ounces of strength. There upon his gigantic black dragon sat Lord Sigrum himself. He was clad in black steel with golden chains draped across the chest plate that bore his empire’s emblem: a black dragon on a green backdrop. His winged helmet covered all but the red eyes that bore into Gabrielle’s heart, filling her with despair.

The dragon lowered itself to the ground, and Lord Sigrum swung his leg around the back of the harness, launching himself to the ground at Gabrielle’s feet. As he stepped over her he reach up and pulled off his helmet, speaking slowly and pleasantly, “Lady Gabrielle! At last I get to see your beauty first hand.”

Gabrielle lay bruised, cut, and beaten at his mercy, saying nothing. Blood trickled from her mouth onto her cheek and towards her ears. She gasped for breath as another searing pain made her shudder.

“Should I end your misery?” Sigrum asked in mock sorrow. “It’s a wound I’m certain will last you hours before you finally pass from it. It would do us all a great service. But first…”

Sigrum knelt down, placing his heavy knee on her shoulder. The dark steel cut into her soft skin, and blood began to ooze from the fresh wound. He brought his face just inches from hers and spoke in a harsh whisper, “Where did you send your dragon?”

Gabrielle licked her lips as if preparing to speak, but she only grinned and spat in his face. Lord Sigrum recoiled, whipping the blood and saliva from his cheekbone.

Sigrum stood up, taking his knee from her shoulder. “You think you’re droll will save your beast? Tell me where she is and I’ll end her life painlessly. Make a mockery of me, and I’ll see to it that when she dies from the tortures she’ll endure, she’s brought back, and slain again, and again, and again, until I’m satisfied that no other being has felt that pain.”

Lady Gabrielle mustered the strength to sit up slightly, “Your plot to relieve this world of its other Dragonmasters is futile. The Silver Riders shall rise again. And my dragon will see to your death.”

Sigrum chuckled to himself. “You’re the last of them and it will be a matter of days until I find your dragon in this forest. She may even be enough of a fool to still be in the skies. If you die, I’m sure the fall will kill your precious beast. Wouldn’t that be grand? Then all I’ll need to find is her delicate body, shattered on the forest floor.”

Gabrielle seized from a cough that wracked her body. She rolled onto her side and spat blood. Lord Sigrum drew his sword and placed it cautiously in the dip of the neck.

“It’s a shame we cannot keep up this conversation, but it bores me, and I can see it pains you to even breathe.”

Sigrum lifted his sword, and before bringing it down Gabrielle reached up and gripped the side of the blade in a futile attempt to stop him. He just smiled and politely said, “Allow me…”
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