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Archive for February 25th, 2012

Saturday Snippet: Author’s Choice
Saturday, February 25th, 2012

I thought I’d post an excerpt from an upcoming book. This is a scene that takes place in the distant past although the rest of the book is firmly planted in the here and now. Enjoy a glimpse into Dragon’s Desire!

An ancient dragon sends a loyal knight on a quest to find a virgin to ease his curse. Who knew a virgin would be so hard to find?

Ragged wisps of clouds crawled across the face of the full moon, lightening then darkening the barren precipice. The villagers called it The Dragon’s Atoll. The bürgermeister had given him directions, told him when to begin the climb, warning him that the atoll existed only for an hour at midnight before it disappeared.

The knight had climbed the rocky precipice and now hid behind a stone pillar, sword drawn. He listened to the soft sobs of the girl the villagers had chained to the pillar according to rules handed down for a millennium, or so the elders had said. She was their sacrifice, their gift to the winged demon to pacify its hunger and spare them its wrath.

The knight had scoffed silently at their fear. He didn’t believe in dragons or demons. At least not mythical beasts. He’d seen enough in his travels to Palestine and back to know evil existed, but true evil resided in the hearts of greedy, bloodthirsty men.

Still, the purse filled with gold that the villagers offered him to slay the dragon and rid them of their curse convinced him to remain where he was.

“I shall die,” the girl whispered, “savaged by the beast.”

“You won’t die,” he whispered. “’Tis only a story.”

“You weren’t raised on tales of the horror. Do you think they are only stories told to frighten children?” she said, her voice rising toward the end.

She was comely thing with golden hair and gentle curves. He’d fought shock and disgust when the old men had cut her clothing from her body to leave her nude. The night was chilly and the sound of her teeth clacking as her body shivered had him reaching for his cape. If they were bound to wait together, she needn’t freeze.

Come morning, he’d lead her from the mountain and deliver her to her father, the bürgermeister who’d hired him, safe and sound.

He stepped around the pillar and began to slip the cloak around her, but she shook her head. “You mustn’t.”

“You are cold.”

“I’ll not be the reason my village suffers.”

He sighed and dropped the cloak, trying not to let his gaze slide down her naked frame but failing. Her nipples were ruched, the tips drawn into tight buds on her round, firm mounds.

“How were you so unlucky to be chosen?” he asked quietly, leaning his back against the gray granite rock so that he looked out across the atoll rather than at her.

“There is a lottery of maidens. All our names are entered.”

His lips twitched and he shot her glance. “And how do the villagers know you are truly virgin?”

A frown drew her pretty brows together. “The midwife examines all the women.”

“If you knew you risked this fate, why did you not lie with a man to render yourself unfit?”

“Because as awful as this fate is, ‘tis worse to cheat the dragon. Every family guards the virtue of their daughters to spare the village a terrible fate.” Her eyes closed for a moment. When she opened them again, tears filled them. “You shouldn’t be here. My father was wrong to try to end the curse.”

“You would sacrifice yourself willingly?”

“I have a younger brother, cousins, friends. I wouldn’t want to see them harmed.”

“What exactly happens when this beast appears?”

She swallowed hard. “He devours the virgin.”

The knight grunted. “It’s likely only feral pigs or wolves you should fear.”

“No wolf or pig would devour a woman whole.”

“How do you know this?”

Her breath shook. “There is never bone or blood, hair or flesh remaining. The creature opens his mouth and swallows his offering in a single gulp.”

He grasped her cold hand. “I will protect you, whether from dragon or pig. No harm shall come to you.”

Her eyelids drifted closed. “I wish I could believe you.”

A sound came from above them. At first, he thought it must be the wings of a large owl, but the closer the flapping came, his heartbeat slowed and grew louder, a steady thumping to match the beat of the large wings stirring the air.

“Hide!” she whispered.

He ducked behind the pillar, tightened his grip on his sword, and searched the air above them, but the clouds masked the moon again, sending everything into pitch darkness.

A deep, resonant thud shook the ground as a large shadow settled onto the atoll.

The girl whimpered. “No, no.”

The knight sprang from around the rock to stand in front of her, sword raised.

A loud, angry roar pierced the silence, hot breath gusting in the knight’s face. The clouds cleared, moonlight shone on a large elongated head, silvered the scales covering the creature he faced—a dragon indeed—with a wingspan that eclipsed the width of the atoll. Those wings flapped, producing gusts of wind so strong he was pushed back against the girl whose body leaned into his as she sobbed.

Another roar rent the air, and the knight recovered from his shock and struck out with his sword arm, stabbing toward the creature’s chest. However, a tree-trunk thick arm batted it way, and then another, fisted, slammed against his chest, toppling him to the side.

He landed on his back, but before he could regain his breath and think to roll away, a heavy foot pressed against his belly, holding him to the ground.

With the knight helplessly restrained, the dragon turned his head to the girl. He sniffed the air around her. Its tongue flickered out and licked her breast, her belly, then flickered out again to stroke between her legs before retracting between jaws filled with ragged, gnashing teeth.

The girl screamed and flattened herself against the pillar, but to no avail. The creature moved closer and lowered its head.

* * * * *

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