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Fern - Chapter 1: First flight

by Messenger

Fern pranced back and forth excitedly, eyes wide with curiosity and happiness, hands and knees jittery. In front of her stood the most majestic beast she could ever imagine. A dragon! Green-scaled, emerald wings, razor sharp talons and claws, foot-long horns adorning its head. It had large jaws which would only grow bigger as the rest of it did.

Next to Fern stood her father, straight-shouldered. He was dressed in a plain brown jerkin and leather pants, with a large sword by his hip, encased in an exquisite scabbard laced with gold and silver. His shoulder-length brown hair was tied up to avoid cascading over his eyes.

Fern watched as the dragon trainer petted the beast’s large snout. It huffed loudly in contentment. The wiry trainer –dressed similarly to Fern’s father- motioned with his hand for Fern to come closer. She stepped forward, wiping a wisp of her golden-honey hair, excited and yet awed by the powerful animal before her.

Dragons were fierce and dangerous animals in the wild, but if captured and bred, they proved faster than horses and incredible fighters as well. This dragon had the ability to breathe fire. The trainer smiled, nodding his head towards the beast. It sat still on its haunches. It had the shape of a monstrous dog, but the head was more like that of a tiger. Except for the ivory horns.

Fern slowly approached it, looking at the saddle tied around the beast’s belly. It was made of leather with silver lining. Fern’s father the king, as a rule, didn’t like to waste precious metals on everyday items, but with the saddle and dragon being a birthday gift, as was the custom for centuries past, he had dropped the rule. He knew how much it meant to every princess or prince. Especially Fern.

She placed her foot in the leather stirrup and pulled herself up on the beast. It smelled of hay. She felt its powerful muscles beneath the saddle stir as she mounted it. It felt so strong that Fern was unsure that she would be able to control it. But she knew that it was tamed and that it would obey her commands as it had been trained.

She inhaled deeply looking at her father. He had a wide grin on his face. The trainer smiled and handed Fern the leather reins up to her. She grasped them. Then realized that she was now the only one who had control over the beast. Or it had complete control over her!

She grasped the reins more firmly. Then she pulled up on them. The dragon lifted itself to its full height. Fern pulled tightly on the reins, trying not to fall off. The dragon, assuming that the jerk was a command, pushed itself forward, slowly getting into a trot. Fern screamed, clutching to the reins tightly.

Her father’s eyes grew wide and he yelled: “Hang on Fern!” The trainer was about to say something as well, but just as he opened his mouth, the dragon leapt from the ground, extending its broad wings. Fern screamed louder than ever. They were going to crash back down to the ground!

But before the dragon’s bird-like feet hit the ground, it gave a broad stroke with its wings, and with a powerful surge they were flying! Fern watched as the beast pushed higher and higher and she pulled the reins harder. All the commands she had been caught were becoming muddled. She watched as they sailed over the city limits, going higher and higher. She was leaning back almost parallel to the ground as she began to slide back out of the saddle.

The wind whipped past her face like a whirlwind.She couldn’t breathe! The dragon pushed higher and higher. Fern finally relaxed on the reins as she began to remember what she had been trained. She tried to talk to herself as they soared higher and higher.

“Pulling up means fly. Loosening on the reins means fly straight.”

She was sure she was going to fall off the dragon if she let go, but she knew she was going to fall off if they kept the straight-up course as well. With what little effort she could muster, she eased on the reins and tried to push her knees downward. To her surprise and joy the dragon slowly began to level out.

She took a gulp of breath and sighed inwardly. She pushed down on her knees harder. The dragon obeyed and slowly began to calm as they leveled out. Just to make sure they were going to be fine, Fern gave a very hard nudge. Before she knew what was happening, the dragon was spiraling down towards the ground. Everything from so high up looked so strange. The town was a mixture of browns and grays, and the surrounding fields, forests, and plains were just big patches of color with no detail.

Fern screamed as they plunged downward. Now they were going to crash! She pulled up on the reins, trying to get her nerves calmed. The dragon instantly obeyed and spread out its wings, gliding until they came abreast.

She sat on edge, nerves going crazy, heart beating. She wasn’t even sure if it had been breathing for any of the exhilarating flight. She watched the ground fly past far below. The wind was so hard it threatened to push her off the saddle. Determined not to make any sudden moves, she slowly leaned closer to the dragon’s body. As they continued to glide they lost speed until gradually they were going at a fairly easy speed for Fern to control without fear.

She decided they needed to turn around and go home. With the greatest of care she turned the reins. The dragon began to tilt to one side. Fern hugged the dragon and began to bank the turn. The dragon was sideways and she clung onto it with a fierce grip.

They finally righted and she could see that they had successfully completed the turn. She was about give a whoop! Of joy, but was afraid it might jinx the flight. She maintained a slow speed. She remembered the training.

“When you want a dragon to fly faster merely nudged its side like you would a horse. If you want it to glide then pull back gently on the reins.”

She realized that in many ways it was just like riding a horse. A horse flying through the air. Breathing as calmly as she could –the wind seemed to suck all the air out of her lungs- she let the dragon glide. She ever so lightly tapped the dragon with her knees and it gave a light flap of its wings. Then nothing happened. At first Fern wasn’t sure if she had to repeatedly tap the dragon. But then as she was about to nudge it again it gave another light stroke. After several more seconds it did so again.She realized that the harder you nudge, the faster they go.

Fern could now see the palisade walls of the village approaching, and then the bigger stonewalls of the castle. She pushed down on the dragon’s neck. In response it began to descend at a degree that Fern could survive without being terrified. She watched as they soared over the walls of both the city and the castle.

Over the tall towers and keeps she went. When she spotted the takeoff and landing spot for her dragon –right next to the dragon stables- she pulled the reins upward and then pushed down.The dragon glided and then made a small circle, swooping down as it did so. Fern was not expecting the move and clung to the saddle. However, she was wise enough to not tug the reins.

They finally reached the ground. The dragon gave a few strokes of its wings to slow them to almost a mid-air standstill, and then softly landed. Fern, who had shut her eyes tight as they landed, afraid that the dragon wouldn’t be able to slow itself sufficiently, peeked one eye open. She realized that they had indeed landed. The saw her father and the trainer standing nearby, massive grins on their faces.

Fern was about to jump off but then realized that this was now her dragon and she had to take care of it. She let loose the reins and pressed on the top of the dragon’s head between its two big horns. Submissively it sunk down to its knees.

She hopped off and landed with a thud to the dusty ground. She grinned wide, showing a full row of white pearly teeth. She giggled at first, and then busted into a loud laugh. Her heart swelled with joy and pride.

“I did it dad, I did it!”

He laughed heartily, a deep low-toned laugh, and looked down at her. “Well done Fern. You had me worried when you took off like that.”

She laughed, wordless at what had just passed. “I – I- I can’t believe it!”

She turned to the dragon and gave it as big of a hug as she could. It rumbled deep in its throat and she took it as a “thank you.” She felt a strange feeling about the beast. One that everyone told her would come. A feeling that came with owning such a pet as a dragon.

The trainer, who enjoyed this part of his work more than any other of the work he did, stepped forward. Fern turned. “It needs a name doesn’t it?”

The trainer nodded. “Yup. She needs a good one. You get to choose.”

Fern had been told that, but just wanted to make sure. She turned to the beast and stared for the first time at her eyes. They were big and round, vibrant. They reminded Fern of herself. Young and excited.

“I know what to call her,” Fern said, turning back to the trainer and her father. They waited in anticipation.

“I’ll call her Jumper, because she jumped right into the flight!”

The trainer nodded. “A fitting name. now, let’s get her back in her stall. You should come back tomorrow. We have much more to do to make you an expert dragon rider!”

Fern couldn’t wait.

Is this a review?



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36 Reviews

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Reviews: 36

Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:30 pm
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Linkzude16 wrote a review...

I think this is a beautiful, expert way of making dragons seem like parts of a real world. The mention of them is somehow unsurprising and rather natural. Whenever you mentioned these amazing creatures, it seemed proper because of the good simile you used. Reading this, I felt that your world was approachable. This seems like reality. Someone could actually ride a dragon like that. It's strange, but when I was reading, my question was not "can this happen?" but "what will happen next?". I noticed a few grammar mistakes. For example, when I saw the phrase "all the commands she had been caught," I had to stop momentarily to realize that you actually meant "she had been taught." However, I love the story you have going here. The concept of riding dragons is not new, and I'm sure you know that; but you did a good job with it. Honestly, I was in suspense when I read that Fern was about to crash. I felt comfortable reading about this world largely because you so excellently blended fantasy and reality. If you were to turn this into a book, I think you would do well. But as it is, it is still an amazing work. You surprised me who am normally not fond of these concepts. Thanks for a good story.

Messenger says...

please keep reading, this is only the first chapter. there are more ccoming

Linkzude16 says...

Okay, thank you. I will look forward to it.

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Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:52 pm
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ExOmelas wrote a review...

Hey, Mess, since you said Duck Warrior wasn't your best work and Aley suggested I try the Adopt a Novel club, I figured I may as well adopt Fern and see if I can get a sense of your writing.

'Fern watched as the dragon trainer petted the beast's large snout' - for a moment I thought her father was a dragon trainer. Perhaps you could mention the dragon trainer's presence when you say that her father is stood beside her.

'wiping a wisp of her golden-honey hair, excited and yet awed' - I think you should add something like 'from her face' after the word 'hair'.

'Fern's father the king, as a rule' - grammatically that should technically be a comma before 'the king'.

When you mention the birthday present of a dragon being a tradition, it made me wonder which birthday, otherwise it sort of sounds like every birthday.

'She inhaled deeply looking at her father. He had a wide grin on her face.' - I think these sentences should be joined together.

Or it had complete control over her!

I love the exclamation mark. :D

'...gave a very hard nudge. Before she knew what was happening' - I think there should be a paragraph break here.

'Everything from so high up looked so strange' - I suggest changing one of the 'so's to some other form of 'very'.

'she wasn't sure if it even had been breathing' - 'breathing' should be 'beating'.

For the next few paragraphs I got to engrossed that I didn't even notice if there were grammatical errors ;)

'I did it dad, I did it!' - 'Dad' should have a capital 'D' when she is speaking directly to him rather than about him and there should be a comma before it.

'She laughed wordless' - you remember when you said that I was using too many 'ly's? I'm beginning to wonder if you have some problem with adverbs ... ;)

I love your description of the dragon's eyes.

That's a really lovely last sentence.

Anyway, I'm intrigued by the characterisation of Fern, who seems surprisingly down to Earth (ironic considering the plot of the chapter) for being a Princess. Also, I'm a big fan of stories about royal protagonists because they often get very intricate and you have to follow them carefully.

I think you could do with a little more imagery. Saying that, I could picture it very easily. I just think that the majesty of a dragon could be captured better with the help of some metaphors. :)

See ya :)

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179 Reviews

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Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:08 pm
r4p17 says...

Here are a couple of thing I was wondering about. First,why would the king be dressed so plainly? Second, why where fern and her dad laughing? Finally, did Fern/Jasper and the king intend to fly on Jumper at first or not or not?

Messenger says...

1, The king (as I stated) believes that dressing ridculously expensive in situations such as this, is stupid. He has no way of knowing whether or not he may need to do something that involves more work (he has a strong work ethic) and i he does, wearing silver and purple and gold sure ain't gonna help anything.

2. They were laughing because it was exciting! When I do something fun or crazily exciting (take roller coasters or a game of tennis) I tend to laugh a lot when it is over, remembering how crazy and fun it was.

3. Jumper is Fern's birthday gift. Jasper and the king will never ride Jumper unless Fern is unable to.

r4p17 says...

@3. What I meant was, Fern seemed kind of surprised and worried about flying as if she wasn't supposed to so I am not sure if she intended to ride Jumper or not

Messenger says...

she was just nervous because it was her first time! I would be like first time driving, or first time riding a horse.

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301 Reviews

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Sun May 25, 2014 12:18 am
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Snowery wrote a review...

Hey Mess! Silver here to review for you today! :)

Let's get straight to it:

Main Points

This dragon had the ability to breathe fire.

I felt that this sentence was just thrown in for the sake of it. It slightly disrupts the flow of the sentences. I would suggest trying to incorporate it a little better.

nodding his head towards the beast. It sat still on its haunches.

Again here I felt that the second sentence was just thrown in. I would probably have combined it to the first one:

nodding his head towards the beast, which was sitting still on its haunches.

I've noticed that this problem runs throughout your piece. T becomes choppy and disrupts flow. I would go over them and try to make things smoother.

It felt so strong that Fern was unsure that she would be able to control it.

This is a perfectly fine sentence, but the thing is the word “that” is repeated within such close vicinity that it makes for clunky reading. Try reworking the sentence to avoid it.
A shoddy example might be:
It felt so strong that Fern becames unsure of her ability to control it.

But she knew that it was tamed

I really hate pointing these out because it makes me sound like such a kill joy and a nagger, but I have to. A sentence cannot be started with a conjunction unless it's in first person or in dialogue.

They were going to crash back down to the ground!

Already? I thought they had just lifted off?

and with a powerful surge they were flying!

This one is totally just my personal opinion, but I felt that the exclamation mark was funny here.

All the commands she had been caught

Taught? :)

going higher and higher.

You've already used the words higher and higher it's kind of repetitive. I would look for an alternative.

pushed higher and higher.

Here again. “pushed” has also been excessively used.

Just to make sure they were going to be fine, Fern gave a very hard nudge.

I'm not sure about you, but to me common sense says that nudging a dragon is not a way of checking to see if things are fine. I mean if you nudged a horse it means “go” right? Chances are things will be similar with dragons.

The town was a mixture of browns and grays,

I don't know about you but if I was on a massive dragon that happened to be spiralling downward I would not be noticing the scenery below in such detail.

trying to get her nerves calmed.

Would have sounded much smoother as: trying to calm her nerves.

She pulled up on the reins,

I thought:

“Pulling up means fly. Loosening on the reins means fly straight.”

Maybe give us a little more detail on the flying instructions?

With the greatest of care she turned the reins.

What do you mean by “turn the reins”? Imagine trying to do that, it doesn't really work. Generally from what I know, is that if you pull the right reign you go right, and if you pull the left reign you go left.

to fly faster merely nudged its side like you would a horse.

Aha! So I was right! I wish she remembered this before she nudged it before. :D

showing a full row of white pearly teeth.

Gosh her dentist must make a killing. XD
Okay, so that's the nitpicks done but unfortunately not the end of your woes. There are a few more problems that I need to mention.


Does the girl even know how to ride the dragon? It's confusing because she seems too be winging it (excuse the pun) for most of the time, but then she gets these sudden epiphanies where she suddenly remembers a snippet of training. She is the king's daughter. What does that say to me? That her safety is absolutely paramount. Which means? That her training would have been so drilled into her head that the screws would have been in nice and tight. Also, there is no way, and I mean NO WAY, that a king would let his daughter get onto a mighty dragon for the first time alone. The trainer should have gotten on with her to ensure that he could guide her and help her if anything went wrong. Continuing along this vein leads me on to:


her father and the trainer standing nearby, massive grins on their faces.

Really? I mean didn't he see this:

she began to slide back out of the saddle.

My first thought is WHAT KIND OF FATHER IS HE! He let his kid get on a dragon with seemingly no proper training, no trainer to sit with her and keep her safe. He saw her lose control of the dragon multiple times and he laughed heartily, at her when she landed? Would you let your own daughter do that? Would you laugh heartily after seeing her almost slip from her saddle? If the king doesn't shape up with his parenting skills I may have to contact the government and get Fern into state care. XD


The intricate details of flying a dragon. I would heavily advise you to make sure you have this down pat. You need to have a system in pace so that you don't end up contradicting yourself. Write it down somewhere so that you remember. Things like these are important in your story because it will add depth to your story. Using the same technique as flying a horse is a good idea, but just make sure you do your research. :)


Not much actually happens. The thrills and almost spills of Fern's first dragon ride weren't enough. I feel like more could have happened. I think it might have been good if things happen at the beginning before Fern gets on the dragon. Just so that we can get a better view of what she's like and the world she's in.

I'm wondering, is this novel meant to be aimed at younger viewers? If so then I think that this is really good. It's a nice light read. Though this might not really appeal to present me but 12/13 year old me would probably love it. A girl with a cute name like Fern: tick. A pet dragon: tick. Getting to ride dragon without a seatbelt: tick. Having a loving and friendly father:tick, tick. If it isn't aimed at that age range, then you may have to work on this opening chapter a little, in order to capture the attention of older readers. I am bearing in mind though that I haven't read the next chapters yet so I have no idea where the plot will go, so we'll see. I know this hasn't been a very nice review :( I hope I wasn't too harsh. Hopefully I'll have more nice things to say in the next chapter. Keep it up and happy writing! :) :)


Messenger says...

hey Silver, don't feel bad. This is what reviews are for! Yes it is for a younger audience. I am thinking 13-14 is around the right age. Definitely not a heavy storyline. :)
Thanks for the nitpicks and ideas!


Silverlock says...

Hey Mess! I'm glad you're okay with it. When I read over it I thought I sounded a bit too harsh. If it's for younger readers than it's totally adorable :)

Linkzude16 says...

Although I write a review, I think Silverlock said the most necessary and helpful things.

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223 Reviews

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Reviews: 223

Wed May 21, 2014 11:31 pm
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Kelpies wrote a review...

Pretty good! I have good news and bad, but good comes first! like it, it is a joy to read. It almost sounds like Dragonvale, a book I once read. Now some bad news. When you say
"whirlwind.She couldn’t breathe!" It would look better with two spaces between the period and the She. Otherwise looking good! I like the length of the chapter, mine are too short. Yours are nice and long, that makes a good chapter. Keep it up!

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1125 Reviews

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Tue May 20, 2014 3:19 pm
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StellaThomas wrote a review...

Hey Mess, Stella here!

Okay so I have to say, that was a pretty cool opening! The dragon being a birthday gift was a brilliant idea, and I really liked the whole concept of this first chapter. But as always, I have a few things to say ;)

-most of your description here is really good, but some of it is a bit "tell"-y, and a little bit dull. Like the second paragraph where you say her father was standing next to her, and what he's wearing. I feel like we didn't need to know all that right then and there - and maybe you could have explained that he was there to say "Fern tore her eyes away from the dragon to turn and look at her father" or something like that! If there's an action, or some way that you can describe something without just launching into it randomly, then always always take the non-random option!

-I also felt that the two halves of this were a bit disconnected, due to the lack of dialogue in the first half where the language is very majestic and grand, and the second half where everything is very casual. Now I can understand the awe that a dragon might inspire, but if I was honest, I think I would prefer if originally when she's standing with the two of them, they're chatty, and then when she flies all of that falls away, and the grandeur of the dragon and the fact that they're flying takes over. Change of tone is fine - just make sure you know when and why you're changing the tone!

-I also would like a bit more explanation into what makes the dragon hers! How does she know she has total control over it, other than just climbing on its back? What if it rejects her?

But overall, pretty interesting chapter! I'm off to read Chapter 2!

Hope I helped, drop me a note if you need anything!

-Stella x

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Sat May 17, 2014 2:17 am
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MadamKroft wrote a review...

I really enjoyed this chapter! I'm simply going to point out a few things that, I personally feel, need to be looked at again. You don't have to change any part of your chapter because it's your work and you can do whatever you want with it. Please, don't take my reviews personal because I may simply be confused. :)

Fern pranced back and forth excitedly, eyes wide with curiosity and happiness, hands and knees jittery.

How old is Fern? Was fern a child, teenager, or adult? It's possible for an adult to act like a child and so the matter of age of Fern confused me.

Dragons were fierce and dangerous animals in the wild

Animals? Was that word needed? Would they technically count as an animal? It felt like I had to pause the story to ponder a bit before I accepted that it could be used. If it was left as, "Dragons were fierce and dangerous in the wild," I feel like I wouldn't have had to pause, thus not disconnecting me from the story. It could just be a personal preference though! :)

It had the shape of a monstrous dog, but the head was more like that of a tiger. Except for the ivory horns.

What part had the shape of a monstrous dog? Maybe more detail? More details about the scales or texture of the dragon would be pretty interesting too. While reading this, I had a really strong desire for more and more detail about the dragon. :)

Or it had complete control over her!

This isn't really a needed sentence because it's demonstrated relatively soon that she isn't in complete control when:
The dragon, assuming that the jerk was a command, pushed itself forward, slowly getting into a trot. Fern screamed, clutching to the reins tightly.

Once again, this may be a matter of personal preference.

the dragon leapt from the ground, extending its broad wings. Fern screamed louder than ever. They were going to crash back down to the ground!

Give detail on how they suspect that they were going to fall by providing something on the lines of this, "Fern had no experience with handling dragons before, and wouldn't know how to get the dragon to land! They were surely going to crash!"

Remember, I'm not an expert and so you don't have to take any of my advice. I'm so excited to see the next chapter! I really enjoyed this one! :)

Messenger says...

thanks for the review! I intend to give more detail of Jumper in the next chapter because I myself felt like their wasn't enough description, so if you stick with me, I hope I can please you.

Some of your preferences I agree with and will be hopping on when I edit.
Thanks for the review, and if you really liked it please leave a like. If not, no worries!


MadamKroft says...

You're very welcome! I'm glad I could help! Yes, I will be sticking around to see how this will turn out. :)

Messenger says...

ok, thanks! *Adds to list of followers*

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59 Reviews

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Fri May 16, 2014 11:19 pm
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Sunshine1113 says...

Awww Messenger, this is so sweet ^_^ thank you :D This was simply amazing.... just wait until I finish yours.... hehehe

Messenger says...

i shall beat you to the finish lines *runs off*

Sunshine1113 says...

*mission accepted*

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.
— Voltaire