In today’s snippet from The Reign of Dragons, there is the first glimpse of a dragon! Tatiana is on patrol with her marewing, Lilywhite, to check on the local monster populations. But she doesn’t expect to encounter any real threats. Imagine her surprise when she encounters a dragon!
Tatiana on Patrol
Tatiana had seen enough of the spiderwolves, so she nudged Lilywhite to move along. The pair glided away from the den and caught an updraft that carried them up the side of a hill, out of the valley.
The next area to check was a field of trapflowers on the slope of the mountain. Rooted in one place, trapflowers were easy to avoid when people knew where they were, but their seeds traveled on the wind. Tatiana had to check carefully for signs of seedlings cropping up in the new areas, so they could be marked on the map to warn travelers or destroyed if they got too close to major roads.
Tatiana’s stomach growled. Well, there were only a few more places to check. If all went well they’d be back at the fort in an hour or so, with a hot breakfast waiting for them both. Her thoughts drifted to the anticipation of flaky, buttered rolls and spiced sausage.
Lilywhite whirled around in midair, jostling Tatiana from her daydream. She clutched at the pommel to keep her seat. “Whoa, girl!” She tugged at the reins, trying to regain control of the frantic marewing. “What’s gotten into you?”
Lilywhite’s ears swiveled back and forth, and when her head whipped around, Tatiana could see her nostrils flaring and her eyes wide with fear. She’d sensed some enemy nearby. But what could possibly threaten them in this desolate valley? They weren’t even close enough to catch the temptingly-sweet scent of the trapflowers yet.
A piercing cry ripped through the air, and Tatiana almost let go of the saddle to clap her hands over her ears. Fortunately her reflexes were just a little slow, because Lilywhite lurched to the side, and she had to hang on even tighter to avoid falling.
She felt a hot rush of air and smelled acrid smoke, just past where her head had been moments ago. Tatiana closed her eyes and ducked.
She’d dropped her reins, but it was just as well, because Lilywhite’s instincts were doing more to keep them out of harm’s way than Tatiana could manage herself. After what seemed like forever, Lilywhite leveled out again and began flying as fast as she could.
She opened her eyes tentatively and saw that they were headed back to the fort. She looked back over her shoulder, and saw a dark figure bearing down on them, its mouth open in a hunting cry. She fumbled for her bow, but she could not turn around enough in the saddle to shoot straight.
Then her brain caught up to her, and she looked at the monster again. Broad wings, an angular head breathing fire, the scales armoring its skin—it was a creature out of paintings and old ballads. A dragon. No one had seen a dragon anywhere on the Seirenian peninsula in over two centuries. It was smaller than she expected, barely larger than a marewing, but what else could it be?