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The Dragonsilk Sea - First Pages Excercise

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Opening scenes – Introduces one of the co-protagonists, world/setting, voice. Experiments with new plot elements developed during the conference.

      The frigid wind choked Astra. Her body burned with intense cold. Despite growing up in the Giant's Fingers, the frozen islands that stretched out like fingers from the Great Southern Glacier at the edge of the world, Astra had never been as cold as she was on the three months journey from her fishing village in Myrt to the harsh Skyrlish tunda. Luckily, she'd had Taryl to keep her warm. The chief's daughter turned to her fire haired companion, who hid behind an obelisk of smooth obsidian-colored stone. He was using the spyglass he'd made to make objects look closer to spy on the enemy Stronghold, but it didn't seem like he was having much luck.
       "Can you see the spire?" Astra asked. While she'd never seen it herself, she'd heard Svengaard, the man who led the raid that burned her family's farm and took half her village as thralls, had built himself a great palace out of the mysterious black stones that grew from the frozen tundra like black rocky vines
       "No, the Dragonsilk wall is so high, I can't see past it. In fact, I can barely tell there's a wall there at all." Taryl's eyes, the light lilac of a lupus flower, look worried. He passed Astra the spy glass. She took her turn looking through it. Taryl was right as always. One would hardly know the Stronghold was there if it weren't for the conspicuous absence of stars.  "Do you have the claw?"Taryl asked.
       Astra patted the doeskin bag she attached to her waist, "I've got it." Much to her father's dismay, Astra had used the money that was put aside for her dowry to buy a pubescent dragon's silk claw from a traveling Zhangorese merchant. He was the only merchant she'd ever seen from that part of the world, and she couldn't pass up the opportunity to get the one thing that could penetrate dragonsilk. As much as she wanted to marry Taryl, their bonding could wait until after the Skryl were defeated. Astra owed as much to her mother and brother who'd died in their latest raid, and her sister who'd been taken.
      "Good," Taryl looked relieved. "So we'll go in the dead of night when they're all asleep, cut a hole in the wall, and infiltrate the wyrmling stables. Simple as that." Taryl repeated the plan they'd both told each other a thousand times. 
      The Skryl used dragon wyrms to conduct raids up and down the coast of the Giant's Fingers and southern Andria. Without them, the infamous marauders would be reliant on boats and the wind to travel, just like everyone else. If they could steal the pre-pubescent dragons for Myrt, the tides of war would turn in their favor. During the day, the wyrms ruled the ocean, and were impossible to catch. But at night, the aquatic beasts slept on land and could be safely approached. Taryl had been studying the hand signals used by the Skryl to control the wyrmlings. He believed he could coax one to let him ride it and the others to follow him. 
     "Should we go tonight?" Astra asked, dreading the answer.
     "No," Taryl focused his spyglass on the horizon. "It's already the first light." Taryl pointed across the waves to the small bit of violet peeking out between two sheets of midnight blue. "We'll have to wait until tomorrow."
     "I can't say I'm disappointed," Astra nuzzled herself into her fiance's furs. She was shaking and this time not because of the cold.
     "I know you're scared, but we can do this." Taryl kissed Astra's forehead lovingly. 
     "How can you be so sure? No one else has ever entered a Skyrlish Stronghold and lived to tell about it."
     "No one who's tried has been me." Astra swore Taryl's smile could melt the great Southern Glacier. She let Taryl kiss her. His lips felt like a bath in a summer hot spring. Taryl brought his gloved hand to hers, mimicking the behavior of a soul bound. "You know one of these days I'm going to get you out of those gloves…"
     Astra blushed as bright as langoustine flesh. When two people wed, they took off their gloves and intertwined their hands to combine their Light, the material component of the soul. During the bond, they would share thoughts, feelings, and even ways of thinking. It was all Astra could do not to peel Taryl's glove off with her teeth right now. She loved him so much, and she wanted to be one with him. She wanted to know how his brain worked. Think through problems like he did. She wanted to know how it felt to have his heart. To feel his love for her as acutely as she felt her love for him. But they had to wait…if they bonded too early and the Fathers found out, they would be put to death in the town's square. 
     "But for now, why don't I just get you out of those clothes?" Taryl read Astra's mind. It was as if they were already bonded. He picked her up and took her to the bed furs. Skin to skin contact was the best cure for frostbite after all. 



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