Monday, February 23, 2015

Dark Awakening - Chapter 1

Hello, everyone! This is Emilie. Today (or tonight, rather--sorry about the late post!) I will be featuring the first chapter of my book, Dark Awakening. Enjoy!

~ ~ ~

In the deep forests of Thralia, two figures raced through the woods on two brown horses, cloaked in dark green and both clutching brown sacks with objects within that clinked together as their steeds thundered through the trees.
They finally stopped at the mouth of a dusty cave, overshadowed in thick leaves. One of the figures laughed and pulled back her hood, revealing that she had dark hair and knowing brown eyes. A small scar on her lip made her look intimidating, even when she laughed. 
“They never saw that one coming,” she said, looking over at the second cloaked figure, who also took off his hood.
He had the same type of hair and eyes she had, clearly indicating they were related. His hair stood up wildly and he had dried blood all down the side of his face. He grinned at her and threw his sack to his sister. “Look at that. I snagged one of those lamp thingies.”
She pulled out an Aladdin-type lamp, rubbing it jokingly. “First wish?”
“A million dollars,” he said, eyes crinkling up with laughter.
She put on a serious face and dumped out the sack, spilling gold coins, jewels, and even a silver goblet onto the ground. She swung off her horse and made a dramatic gesture. “Granted! Second wish?” She rubbed the lamp exaggeratedly, making her brother force down the corners of his mouth to suppress a laugh.
“Uh… a nice house,” he said, shrugging.
She strolled toward the cave, pulling her horse with her, and showed off the dirty interior with a hand gesture. “Done! Nice house!”
“You call that a nice house?” he asked, tying his horse’s reins to a branch. He suddenly became serious. “Gretel, we can’t stay here. This is one of Maleficent’s storehouses. If they find us…”
“Hansel, have some fun. We can do anything we want now. The queen thinks she can just send a bunch of stupid soldiers after us. But after four years, she hasn’t caught us. I think you can have at least one day off.” 
“Gretel, you know we can’t ever relax,” he reminded her. “We can’t relax until we overthrow Maleficent. Then we can take a day off.”
She shrugged, knowing he was right. “I know...”
“You nearly got killed back there with those guards,” he said. “I don’t want to put you in danger by staying here.”
Gretel thought about never having to hide from Maleficent again. No chases, no narrow escapes. It sounded almost too good to be true.
She put the lamp back in the sack and scooped up the rest of the gold. “Come on, let’s take a look around this storehouse.”
Hansel sighed and followed her as she walked into the cave.
She picked up a nearby lantern at her feet and lit it, holding it up to the darkness. Gold glittered all around her, piling up and reaching to the wall. She grinned. “Jackpot.”
“This place is empty,” she said as she inspected one of the pieces of treasure. “It’s not like we’re going to be eaten by a monster or a dragon or something.” She waved her hand dismissively as she picked up a diamond necklace and turned it in her hands.
Hansel put his hands on his hips. “She wouldn’t leave this much treasure lying out in the open. Somethings wrong. Get out of there, right now!”
“Okay, fine, I’m coming,” she said distractedly, picking up a gold chain. The small vial dangling off the end was full of dark, wicked looking liquid. She shrugged and put it on anyway. 
“Gretel, stop!” Hansel said, drawing his sword from his sheath. He sensed something was wrong.
She turned and looked at him, looking slightly concerned. “What is it?”
Suddenly there was a low hissing sound from deep within the cave. Gretel jumped and slowly backed up toward the entrance. She edged to her horse where she retrieved her bow and arrow, putting an arrow to the string.
Hansel mimicked Gretel’s voice under his breath. “It’s not like we’re going to get eaten by a dragon!”
She shot him a look and raised her bow as she saw two red eyes blink into existence. “What exactly does Queen Maleficent have guarded her cave?” 
“I think it’s a dragon, but because of the red eyes and the reptile-like noises, I can’t be sure,” he said sarcastically. “Why can’t you just listen to me?”
They both jumped as a spout of fire reached out of the cave. It made the horses rear wildly and broke free, running away.
“What do we do?” Gretel asked her brother, panic rising.
“Shh!” Hansel said. “Be still. Maybe if we inch away it won’t see us.”
There was a deafening roar that made both of them cover their heads protectively with their hands.
“You were saying?!” Gretel yelled above the noise as they both backed up. She saw two sickly green claws emerge into the light, then a giant snaking neck came out and reared to the sky, shooting fire again. 
Gretel thought that dragons were actually quite beautiful. She had only seen a couple in her life and they had been in pictures and paintings. She had always wanted to see one in real life, but this wasn’t exactly what she had been picturing.
They had elegant heads and beautiful ruby eyes. Their brilliant scales glittered like millions of tiny emeralds.
I am an idiot.
She shot an arrow at its head, but she missed its eye and it glanced off its hard scales. She growled in frustration and looked over at Hansel, who was brandishing his sword. 
“This isn’t working!” she yelled. 
Hansel ran forward and slashed with his blade, slicing through the scales with difficulty. The dragon roared again, spurting more flames and snapping at him with its long needle-like teeth. Hansel jumped aside to dodge a swing from the dragon and slid under its belly. He slashed at the exposed, softer scales, and the dragon arched its neck in pain. 
Gretel put another arrow on the string and released it, planting it between its front legs. 
She pulled out one of the last arrows from her quiver and ran forward, shooting at its heart while sliding between its legs, up next to her brother. The dragon shifted over them, roaring in pain and shooting fire wildly.
Then suddenly Hansel grabbed Gretel’s collar and pulled her out of the way as the dragon thrust its body downward to the side, trying to crush them. They stumbled into the sunlight as Gretel fumbled to fit another arrow to the string, still shaking from the narrow escape.
Hansel swung his sword defensively as the dragon lunged toward with his teeth. Its eyes glittered with an evil blood red light. 
Suddenly it swung one powerful claw at Gretel, eyes flashing, and the impact sent her flying into a tree before she could do anything. Her quiver cracked, and colors swam before her eyes as she crumpled to the ground.
“Gretel!” Hansel yelled. 
She blearily saw him swing to deflect snaps from the dragon, trying to stay conscious. 
Suddenly something else caught her eye; a movement from the bushes, and then pain exploded in her arm and she cried out.
She was faintly aware of Hansel calling her name, and then everything went black.

~ ~ ~ 

She groaned immediately as she regained enough consciousness to feel the broken bones in her body, and cried out. Immediately she felt her brother’s cool hand on her forehead, stroking her gently. “Are you okay, Gretel?”
She had a million questions running through her head, but she managed to sit herself up against the tree he had leaned her against. She tried to open her eyes, but her head hurt too much.
“I figured I’d wait till you were awake to lecture you about the dangers of greediness,” he said jokingly. 
“Oh, please, spare me,” she moaned, hand fluttering up to her head. “What happened?”
“I think the dragon was just going for the potion,” he said. “It fell off of you when you hit the tree. Then it just grabbed it and flew away.” He shrugged. “Anyway, I found one of our horses,” he said. 
“How long was I out?”
“Only about twenty minutes,” he said. She finally managed to open her eyes, and saw that Hansel’s hair was even more wild than usual and singed all across the top. She was going to ask if he was hurt, but she figured he’d only say “no,” regardless what the truth was.
He continued, rummaging through what must’ve been one of the saddlebags. “Thankfully, our gold is still in here, including that magic lamp.” He laughed and waved it in her face. “It really works!”
“Please, not right now,” Gretel said in a pained voice, closing her eyes again. 
Hansel laughed again and patted her gently on the shoulder, before pulling out the water-skin from the bag and opening it up. “Do you want something to drink?”
“Agh, I would, but I don’t think I could stomach it. Agh!” She suddenly cried out, grabbing her arm. “Ow…” 
Hansel jumped forward and pulled up her sleeve carefully, making Gretel wince again. When the cloth was pushed away, Gretel gave a little gasp of shock.
There were four deep gouges in her arm, looking like claw marks. But they couldn’t have been from the dragon, Gretel thought. The dragon’s claws were too big. 
“You must’ve hit some rocks,” Hansel murmured, touching it gingerly with his leather gloved fingers. 
“That doesn’t look like a bunch of rocks could’ve done that,” Gretel said weakly. “I think I’m going to throw up…”
Hansel poured some water on the wound, making her bite her lip to suppress another cry of pain. Then he slipped off his thin shirt and used it as a bandage, wrapping it around her arm. She gave him a look of gratitude and shifted her body. “Do you think I broke anything?”
“Just your leg, I think,” he said.
She looked at him blankly. “What? Just my leg?” It felt to her like all her bones in her body had been ground up to tiny pieces. 
He chuckled, shaking his head. “Yup. But it’ll take a while to heal, unfortunately.”
“What about Maleficent?” she asked. “I don’t know how to use a sword, and all my arrows are broken.”
“We’ll make more,” Hansel said. “And I’m here just in case anyone comes back. Trust me, you’re safe. Now try to rest, or else your leg’ll take longer to heal. I put a splint on it, so all you have to do is just not move around. I’ll be back in five minutes. I’m just going to go scout.” He stood up, strapping his sheath to his waist. She watched him go, wondering when he’d notice that his hair was sticking straight up.

Looking around again, she located her quiver laying a couple feet away from her. Picking it up, she took out an arrow from it, which immediately broke in three different pieces. She groaned and began to finger the sharp end. She couldn’t shake the feeling that the scrapes on her arm were more than just scrapes. She could feel deep inside that something was wrong.

~ ~ ~

My inspiration for this chapter was really actually quite complicated. I'm not sure you would call it inspiration rather than an idea that I had no idea what I would do with. I had been thinking a lot about combining fairytales into one world for a long time--I had always liked the concept. I suppose that's how Dark Awakening was born. I started writing and gathering ideas and it really just fell together.
     I think the hardest part, though, was actually starting the book. Isn't that always the hardest part? It is really rather challenging to round up all your thoughts and put them into coherent sentences that actually create something you like. (Got all poetic there.) I had so many different ideas. Inspiration, if you like. But it was only when I was a few chapters in when I actually started to go somewhere. Have a direction. A solid plot. I guess that's the moral of this story: taking your time. You don't need everything figured out at the beginning, right? I mean, sure, you need SOME structure, but in the long  run, you're still figuring out the full story at chapter 30. You will always keep adding on, but the important part is never to get discouraged. :)

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the beginning of my story!
Keep writing,
- Emilie

1 comment:

  1. This is gorgeous! I really like how you're already combining different stories, and I love how you've developed the characters. :) Great job, and I can't wait to read more!