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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy stories’

Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my forthcoming fantasy novella, The Tower in the Mist. It introduces one of the most unique dragons I have ever written: the drakanox!

While writing this blog for almost seven years, I’ve learned about many dragons with different powers and traditions. One of the most interesting facets has been that some ancient dragons relied on poison rather than fiery breath. Fafnir, in particular, was so poisonous that he created an invisible cloud of lingering poison that killed everything within miles of his lair. In creating the drakanox, I pushed that concept even farther.

For your reference, Zathi and her squad of hunter-guards serve the evil mage, Dar-Gothull. They have captured a renegade mage, Ar-Keilos, and are marching him toward a fatal confrontation with their master. They have encountered a few obstacles…


Zathi didn’t like how the vegetation glistened with moisture all around them. This heavy mist had too much texture and it carried a faint, bitter odor. Jaxynne had asked if they should turn back. Zathi wanted that more than she cared to admit, but she held strong.

“No. We keep going.”

They needed the second ox, had to follow it no matter how far. That, or the day was wasted and everyone pushed the wagon. Between her legs, Spark was calm. He would have been acting up if he smelled something amiss. Zathi held to that for reassurance.

Still, the fog bothered her enough that a call from the back of the line was almost welcome.

“Zathi..?”

Of course, it would have to be the mage. She turned Spark to see Ar-Keilos brushing past Keerin on Ember. Thersa stormed up behind him.

“Hey!” The guardswoman grabbed for his elbow. He deftly avoided her.

“I’m not running off.” Concern tightened his features. “Zathi —”

“I’ve told you not to call me by name.”

His shoulders sagged momentarily. “What, then? I’m not under your command.” Then he waved vigorously, as if shooing a fly. “Ugh, it doesn’t matter. We have to get out of here.”

“You’ll call me sergeant, and why should I listen to you?”

“Because it isn’t fog. Watch this.”

Ar-Keilos snatched a stick from the ground and poked at a cluster of needles on a low-hanging branch. Accumulating moisture weighted the branch down. As they watched, liquid rolled loose, but it didn’t spatter. Instead, it dribbled along the stick in viscous strands, almost like mucus from a runny nose.

“What the,” Razzet muttered from the rear, and Giniver said, “That’s not normal.”

The mage tossed the stick and waited, forcing Zathi to ask the question. “What is it, then?”

“We’re inside a drakanox.” His lack of smugness was almost more alarming than a smirk would have been.

“Bullshit. That’s just a story,” Zathi snapped. Her guardswomen were listening, gauging her reaction. The mage shook his head slowly.

“It’s real. Dar-Gothull used it to bring down Seofan Holl. I know you’re heard of the battle there. You might not have heard that the drakanox got away from him afterward.”

“Nothing gets away from Dar-Gotholl,” Thersa answered stiffly.

“It can turn into mist,” he answered patiently. “How would anybody cage it?”

There was a brief silence. The mage went on, “We minstrels heard that the drakanox is so poisonous that even when it turns to mist, the mist is deadly. At Seofan Holl their arms corroded and the buildings crumbled. It killed every living thing in the Seofan Valley and when it was sated, it turned into a river of fog and went into the Hornwood. They say it wanted to sleep. Or maybe to spawn.”

“Spawn?” Giniver wrinkled her nose with disgust.

“Dar-Gothull wouldn’t let go of a weapon like that,” Keerin objected.

“It was his. He created it,” Jaxynne added.

Zathi nodded. This was part of Dar-Gothull’s legend, a measure of his power and cunning that he brought such a monster into being. Vanquishing Seofan Holl had all but cemented his conquest of Aerde.

“He didn’t actually create it,” the mage rebutted gently. “There were tales of the drakanox long before his rise to power. Dar-Gothull simply made a bargain with the drakanox to fight on his side. Also, he wasn’t at Seofan during the battle or he would have been killed, too.”

“A bargain? You know nothing of Dar-Gothull,” Thersa hissed.

“All the tales agree, Dar-Gothull was in Dakadoz when the drakanox attacked Seofan,” the mage said. “He wasn’t there to stop it leaving, or extend their bargain, or whatever you believe the relationship was.” Again he waved his hand to dismiss the unimportant. “The fact remains, we’re inside the drakanox. We shouldn’t linger.”

The cold weight of decision settled onto Zathi’s shoulders. Ar-Keilos appeared sincere in his concern. Not surprising, since he would share whatever fate they encountered. Yet she didn’t want to take advice from a mage. Despite the appearance, he could be manipulating them.

Still, it seemed she had been right to bring him along. Being right… was a curse.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

 

 

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And cymbals crash as the door flies open. Ta-da! Aunt Ursula’s Atlas is here.

So I’m super-excited, in my stoic way. After years of searching out markets for my retro fantasy short stories, I’ve taken the leap to self-publish a collection. It’s a little bit scary, but mostly fun, to bring out a book on my own initiative.

 

DFMAP10_8x8

Cover illustration by Margaret Organ-Kean.

On a high shelf, in a hidden library,
There is a book of unknown wonders.

Open its pages. Explore mysterious lands.
See for yourself what lies within
Aunt Ursula’s Atlas.

So what’s inside?

Dragons, of course! And a unicorn. Some witches. A dryad. A dwarf. Thrilling adventures and hard lessons to learn. All this for $3.99.

Eleven short stories for middle grades — that is, grades 4 to 6. Half are in the fairy tale style you might remember from my podcast, The Dragon King. The others are an assortment of fantasy styles.

Where can you get this wondrous-ness?

Right now, it’s available only as an e-book. Trade paperback is in the works. It’s in Apple, Kindle and Epub formats, through a variety of outlets. I hope you’ll follow your favorite link and give it a try.

General purchase hub (links to Apple, Nook, Kobo, 24 Symbols, Inktera). Others soon to be available include Page Foundry, Scribd and Tolino.

And, of course, Amazon.

Not exactly a purchase link, but here’s Goodreads as well.

One last thing

Reviews! If you do buy the book, I sure could use some reviews. I’ll be contacting a few friends about specific publicity, but any one of you could add it to wish lists, mark it to-be-read, and otherwise help spread the joy.

Thanks for being so awesome!

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Another common way to name dragon characters is simply to string together some interesting sounds or bits of words. Truth be told, that isn’t much different than naming any other fantasy character or place.

Because dragons often are fierce, you might incorporate some of the harsher or sharper sounds. X, S, C and K come to mind. One of my friends pointed out last time that the more intelligent dragons will be naming themselves, and dragon speech might have a hissing quality that would call for SH, TH and CH sounds. Z and J give a more guttural effect. For a very large creature, rumbling sounds like R, M and N might occur.

Of course, there are the Pern novels, where every dragon’s name ends in TH. You can immediately tell if characters are human or dragon just from that.

One of my favorite techniques is to build off a piece of a word with some particular meaning. In the movie Dragonslayer, the dragon’s name starts with “verm,” a form of wyrm, which of course means a dragon. The second half, “thrax,” includes both TH and X sounds, and is a sound-alike for thrash, in the beating-things-up sense. You end up with Vermithrax, one of the coolest and most theatrical dragon names ever.

Of my own dragon characters, Carnisha contains “carn,” which is like the Spanish word for meat. Lythiskar includes “lithe” plus a sound-alike for scar. Cazarluun is a spirit dragon with a ghostly glow, so I worked in “luna,” a common name for the Moon.

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While playing Flight Rising, I’ve encountered one of the conundrums of fantasy games. That is, discovering exotic critters, capturing them — and then taming them for some use, such as being a steed or fighting in an arena. Flight Rising has arena combat, which is what brings this topic to mind.

Having dragons or other magical creatures as some form of steed or pet has been present from the earliest days of gaming that was specifically Fantasy oriented. In the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, rules had to be written about when and how players could tame such beasts. Mostly, I think it has to do with the “Oh cool!” factor of imagining your hero flying on a griffin or dragon. Yet, these are allegedly sentient beings in many cases.

As fantasy games have grown apace, there’s now a lot of collecting around such creatures. I mean, isn’t the goal of any Pokemon game to “catch them all?” To its credit, the Pokemon franchise does put a lot of emphasis on building friendship and trust between trainers and pokemon. Those who aren’t such Poke-fans point out the irony of capturing animals and making them fight each other. After all, in the real world, most of us frown on “sports” such as dog-fighting.

What are your thoughts on the intersect between heroes and critters in fantasy games?

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Here’s another reblog from July of 2012, when the London Summer Olympics were in full swing.

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Fantasy Olympics

Swept up in Olympic Fever, I here offer what the Olympics might be like if fantasy creatures were real.

Marksmanship would have two categories. Dragons and other fire-breathers would compete in the Heavy Weapons category, while magi with magic wands would make up the Light Weapons category.

Wizards and witches also would compete in transforming objects or themselves. Transforming other beings is not allowed.

Aerobatic events would include precision flying by dragon formations. Giant eagles would dominate aerial speed racing. Magic carpets and flying brooms would have their own category.

Gymnastics: Gnomes and fairies are heavy favorites, although flyers must somehow contain their wings to avoid having an unfair advantage.

Aquatics: Sea serpents would compete in swimming races and also have their own water polo team. Naiads and water hags would be heavily favored in swimming and diving events.

Equestrian events would be dominated by centaurs and would include physical combat.

Archery: Although humans try hard, elves own the field. It’s only a question whether dark, light or woodland elves take the medals.

Weight lifting is the pride of dwarves. However, they refuse to take part in boxing because nobody bleeds.

So tell me, friends, what fantasy Olympic events would you like to see?

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You. Yes, you! I challenge you… to write a poem!

This is based on a school framework that helps kids who think they aren’t poetic, to write poetry. It has lots of blanks to fill in. The empty framework looks something like this:

The Animal In Me, by (Name)

There is a (animal) in me with (animal part) like (simile) and (animal part) like (simile).

It (sound) like (simile). It (movement) like (simile).

It lives in my (human body part) and makes me (feeling or reaction).

(Choose one)

I wish (__________________________) OR

It makes me want to (_____________________) OR

It makes me feel like (_____________________).

So based on this, here’s what I did along with the students.

THE DRAGON IN ME, by Ms. F.

There is a dragon in me with wings like banners and scales like mosaic armor.

It roars like a geyser. It soars like a queen of the sky.

It lives in my heart and makes me fearless.

It makes me feel like I can do anything. 

So, friends — I challenge you! Put your animal-inside poem in the comments.

Ready? Go!

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In my other life, I’m a support staffer in public schools, and I often work with children who are somewhere in the Autism/Asperger’s Spectrum. I was thinking about creating a board game that would help the kids learn social skills, but decided to search first and see if such a think already existed. Am I glad that I did!

Ryuu is a card game that combines collectible cards with features of role-playing games to teach social skills. Players choose a dragon that they identify with based on their own situations. Through role-playing, they recognize Dark Forces that illustrate problematic behaviors, and try to rally Light Forces that embody coping strategies. They begin as eggs and can “evolve” their dragon by practicing social skills. Feel free to check it out here.

A few of the dragon characters include Remota, who feels like a stranger among her fellow dragons, and Oratar, who talks a lot but has a hard time listening. The Dark Forces include Rigidity and Indifference. These are countered by Light Forces of Flexibility and Empathy. Like all card games, there are many details and abilities for players to track, but they still can mix up the deck with different cards and try new things even if they usually play with a small group such as in a school Resource Room.

There are four versions of the Ryuu game, starting with Concentration-style matching of Light and Dark Forces and progressing to full-fledged role playing that demands a lot of preparation by Game Masters and cooperation from players. Thus the game is accessible for all ages, and players don’t have to be diagnosed with Autism/Asperger’s. For instance, an Oppositional/Defiant kid might identify with Xplotar, whose temper runs amok. Play is based on the kid’s behaviors rather than their diagnosis.

Price-wise, the cost is fairly reasonable. The starter set of two decks, rules, and a support CD comes in at $55.00, right in line with a starter Magic set. Booster packs are $20.00, with the actual quantity of cards not specified. However, because this is such a specialty product, you’re not likely to have the issues with price spikes on rare cards that you get with Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh, or Pokemon.

So if you have a young family member with social-skill issues, or you work with such kids, Ryuu sounds like it could be a big winner.

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