Archaeology: DRAGANA

When I was ten, I wrote my first novel. This is not to be confused with my first story, which has already appeared in all its unicorn glory on this blog.

My first novel had a beginning, a middle, an end, magic, dragons, a revolution, and a group of children with superpowers who made a better army than the real army, and mystical beings in a valley who exist to scare people and give wars pretentious names. Do you hear the pride in my voice?

A piece of chapter 13 is reproduced here for four reasons:

  • giggles
  • names!
  • a firm guffaw at the fact that my friends used to call me the Queen of Dialogue
  • the heart-warming chance to say, “Look how far I’ve come!”

Chapter 13 – second half

“Say are you still interested in that underground fort?” Hubard asked finally.

(Authorial Commentary: This is the first time this fort is ever mentioned. And we’re one hundred pages in.)

“What underground fort?”

“The one I told you that story about when we were six.”

“Oh! You mean the story with all the ghosts in it. The one that gave me nightmares for three weeks.”

“That’s the one.”

(Authorial Commentary: Smooooooooooth, Ten-Year-Old Me. Very smooth.)

“Lately I haven’t thought much about fantasy underground forts. Just haven’t had the time.”

“Would you have the time if I told you that it wasn’t a fantasy?”

“If you’re trying to make me believe that there is really a haunted underground fort under King’s Vigil, you’re going to have to try harder than that.”

“Well, it’s not haunted and it’s not really under King’s Vigil. But it’s definitely there.”

“I’m too old for your stories, Hubard.”

“It’s not a story.”

“Alright, I’ll go along with your joke. Who lives there now? A herd of elephants?”

“No,” He glared at me. “His name is Kayber. He and his army went down there about eight months ago. I’d say there’s about fifteen thousand of ’em. And it’s really cool to watch them on the practice courts. They know a lot of martial arts stuff. And it’s the neatest thing to watch.”

(Authorial Commentary: This is clearly the best army ever. They can kick your butt because the know A Lot of Martial Arts Stuff.)

“You sound like you’ve been down there.”

“I have, but they don’t know it.”

(Authorial Commentary: Best. Army. Ever.)

“Oh, please like you could get into a underground fort filled with soldiers without them knowing it.”

“Okay, so they do know that I’ve come down.”

(Authorial Commentary: Hubard’s hobbies include water-skiing, bird-watching, and lying for no good reason.)

“What are they doing there?”

“So now you believe me?” he joked.

“I haven’t out ruled the possibility… yet. Now tell me, what are they doing?”

“Waiting for a chance to attack that guy, Darien. The only reason Kayber put the army together was to fight him. Pretty cool, huh?” I just starred at him for a moment. “What?”

“Do you think you can get me down there?”

-*-*-

“What is she doing in there?” I heard Gilbert ask from the other room.

“Getting dressed to kill, literally,” Deavion replied.

“And what’s wrong with that?” I asked. I stepped out into view, still buckling on a sword belt.

“Dragana, don’t you think you’re going a little overboard?”

(Authorial Commentary: Yes, that’s her name. Yes, she got made fun of as a child. Yes, she still broods about it.)

“No, you can never be too careful.”

“You have two swords a a knife in each boot.”

(Authorial Commentary: Clearly, I had not yet graduated to the Don’t-Need-Clothes-I’m-Covered-In-Knives characters which my teenage self will throw down left and right. THIS is overkill.)

“How did you know I have knives in my boots?”

“Lucky Guess.” Gilbert stood up and moved between the door and me.

“Where exactly are you going?” He asked. “You haven’t been too clear on that.”

“Why do you need to know?”

“Because.”

(Authorial Commentary: I was ten. This was my favorite comeback.)

“Sorry, you’ll have to do better than that. Now if you’ll let me through, I’ll be on my way.” He didn’t move. I turned around.

“Well, it’s your turn, Karendia. Are you going to try and stop me?” Up until then, she had been sitting quietly in a corner.

“Not if you let me come with you,” She replied.

“Sorry, this isn’t a place for you to go.”

“And it is for you?”

“Right now it is. I’m going and that’s that.” Gilbert sighed and sat back down again. “Thank you.” I grabbed my cloak and hurried out to meet Hubard on the streets below.

“I still don’t know why you’d want to go to the fort right now. They go to the practice courts in the morning.”

“Someday I’ll tell you,” I answered, throwing my cloak around my shoulders.

(Authorial Commentary: I fully believe that this was the only way I knew to put on a cloak.)

He led me in silence, taking me outside before bending to the south. We went through a cluster of trees and on the others side there was a large pile of rocks with a single tree planted in front of it.

“Go around the back of the tree and you’ll find a cave. It’ll lead you straight to their front door. Can’t miss it, lots of guards.”

“Thanks.” I started towards the rocks.

“You sure you don’t want me to go with you for, oh, I don’t know… protection?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.” I showed him the swords under my cloak.

(Authorial Commentary: All two of them. Both inscribed with the phrase, “I can take care of myself” in Latin. Probably.)

“Okay. I’ll see you.” I disappeared behind the tree not waiting for him to leave.

Following his directions, I went through the cave. It wasn’t long before I found the “front door”. Twelve guards manned it, but only one of them saw me. As soon as she saw me, her eyes narrowed and her hand went to the hilt of her sword.

“Sir,” she said.

“Yes, Lieutenant?” Her commanding officer lifted his head.

(Authorial Commentary: I don’t know why he was watching his toes while he was on guard duty. In other places this novel appears to be the Secret History of People Suspicious of Their Own Feet.)

“We have a visitor.”

(Authorial Commentary: This is how polite guards make reports. It’s rude to say “intruder.”)

But there was no need to tell him. He had already seen me and was on his feet. The rest of the company followed suit. Under my cloak, I placed my hand on the hilt of my sword, but did not draw it.

“State your name and intentions.”

“My name is Dragana, I’ve come to speak to Kayber, nothing more.”

“How did you get down here?”

“A friend showed me.”

“What friend?”

“His name is Hubard.”

“Oh, Big Mouth. It figures.”

(Authorial Commentary: They know him well, apparently.)

I suppressed a smile.

“You say you came here to talk?”

“That’s right.”

(Authorial Commentary: About five seconds ago, dude.)

“To Kayber?”

“Yes.”

(Authorial Commentary: Redundancy is fun in novels.)

“Well, I guess it can’t hurt to go get him, stay here.”

(Authorial Commentary: A VERY polite guard.)

“Sir,” the Lieutenant spoke again. “I know this child, she is a danger.”

“So far she has not shown herself to be hostile.”

“She was driven out of this town seven years ago. The Protector deemed her dangerous in peace. I cannot imagine how dangerous she would be in war.”

“Your advice is heard, and we will keep an eye on her, but–“

Without warning, she charged me, sword drawn.

(Authorial Commentary: Well, she’s fired. Too rude.)

I drew my own to block her stroke. But I wasn’t quick enough. Instead struck the back of my hand. Dropping my sword, I clutched it as purple dragon blood began to appear through the gash. Eyeing her carefully, I backed away.

“I don’t want a fight.”

“Sure you don’t.” She charged me again. This time I managed to block her stroke. She swung several more times and I stopped her with my blade. But while I concentrated on the Lieutenant someone shifted so he stood behind me. I felt the butt of his sword slam into my skull. Then I dropped to the ground. Everything faded to black.

(Authorial Commentary: Dun dun dun…)

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