Scrapplings is free from December 3-5 in the Kindle Store!
She sets off for the city, just another scrappling trying to find a place in Anamat's guilds. There are temples, too, but Darna doesn't want anything to do with the corrupt priestesses and their sweaty lovers. On her journey, she meets an older scrappling girl with an eerie sense of hearing. They join up with another pair, a charming boy and a girl who actually wants to be a priestess.
Apart from these four, the city seems to be nearly as dragon-blind as the provinces. Darna scavenges valuable scraps from the city dump, but trade is slow. When she's offered a sack full of gold beads for a small bit of thieving, she takes her chances... and ends up angering the dragon herself.
Scrapplings is the first book in a five part series. Book Two, Priestess, is due out in April 2015.
Iola took the bread and put it under her cloak. The sky was clearing. Up the hill, beyond the spring, a blessing shimmered through the leaves: Tegana’s wing. It glistened, half a shade off the green of the surrounding leaves, just different enough to be seen by one who knew where to look.
Tegana’s head swung around to watch her approach. The dragon’s eyes rolled toward her, their molten gold shifting as she gazed at Iola.
So you’re coming to us at last. The dragon seemed to smile.
“I-I-I don’t know,” Iola stammered. “Coming to where?”
Ah, you’re going to Anara’s place, Tegana said. You all go there. Tegana’s head drooped a little. Spend the night at my temple, that way. Tegana pointed her wing up the hill, toward a little gap in the ridgeline, a pass.
Tegana took a step toward Iola, and Iola reached out her hand to stroke the dragon’s neck. She’d seen Tegana before, but never this close, never speaking to her or touching her, at least not since she was very small.
“Is it far?” Iola asked.
Ah, you’re a real one. Tegana leaned her head over Iola and reached one clawed leg around her. Hold on.
Iola was enveloped by the dragon. It happened so quickly that she didn’t have time to panic. In the distance, she heard the stroke of an axe on a tree trunk. Tegana’s flesh cooled at the sound, and Iola shivered. With a whoosh, the dragon bolted up through the trees and into the sky.
The earth spread away below as the dragon rose above the trees. The village was behind them and out of sight already. They arced over the ridgeline. Down in the distance, Iola saw a bulky stone building jutting up from a rocky hill in the middle of a low, cultivated valley. A gleam of sun on metal caught her eye: Teganum keep. Tegana skirted the valley, flying low next to the hills. Iola felt her snarl and hiss in the direction of the keep.
That prince grows greedy. Tegana’s nostrils flared, exhaling an acrid smoke. There will be another soon. Iola coughed and blinked as the dragon’s smoke swept past her. The dragon held her, not with her visible limbs, but with a net of energy slung around her, cradling Iola like a baby. She hadn’t felt so safe and warm in as long as she could remember, even though she was careening through the sky like a bird. She could not feel fear, but only wonder and delight in this sudden flight. They flew over the trees into another, smaller valley, and Tegana plummeted into a clearing.
The feel of stony ground beneath her feet woke Iola back to her everyday senses. Tegana released her and backed away, sidling toward a small cave, a gateway in the hill behind her. Iola held out the loaf of bread she’d found by the spring. She had to give the dragon something, and it was the only thing she had. Tegana’s head looped down and she took the bread with her teeth, sharp pointed teeth translucent and glowing. The bread disappeared in a puff of smoke, like incense.
The dragon nodded once to Iola, then folded back her wings and slipped into the earth. Iola caught a glimpse of the tunnel beyond, a narrow way into the dragons’ realm. It lingered bright as the dragon faded down, sending back hints and scents of that other place. The dragonfire quieted as the gate closed, leaving it looking almost like an ordinary cave mouth except for the faded traces of offerings hanging from the branches around it.