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Shadow's Rising Chapter 8

by dragonight9

Chapter 8

Shadow could tell Surge was still fuming as she walked back to the main cave.

“They’re gone. Go and play or something little hatchlings. Just stay out of the main cave. We have grown up things to talk about.” Surge growled as she walked back into the main cave. The dragonets didn’t want Surge’s anger directed at them so they quickly left the main cave, talking excitedly about everything that had happened as soon as they were out of the main cave.

After the dragonets had gone Surge sighed in annoyance.

“I know that flame wing was not the best one queen Sear could have sent but at least it’s over now so please, try not to be so upset,” Shear said gently. Surge snorted.

“Ha. You shouldn’t give him that much credit Shear. You might just make his ego so big he’d explode. Just so you know, he informed me that I must fly halfway across the continent to tell the Wings of Protection that ‘Lord Scorch’ has visited our humble cave,” Surge said sarcastically.

“That is preposterous! How does he expect one of us to fly that far? We would have to leave this place without a third guardian for at least a week!” Quake roared, keeping his voice quiet enough that the dragonets wouldn’t hear.

“I know. And we can barely keep the brats in line as it is.” Surge growled.

“I guess there’s no helping it now. The wings of protection must be informed.” Shear said reasonably.

“I know.” Surge said, growling slightly. She still hated the idea of obeying that snobby and egotistical flame wing. Surge sighed as she accepted it.

“I suppose we’ll have to tell the brats I’ll be gone for a while. Just keep saying I’ll be back soon. Then they won’t try anything in case I return,” Surge said in a tired voice as she started thinking of the long journey ahead of her.

“I’ll tell them. You do whatever you need to in order to be ready for tomorrow morning,” Shear said compassionately as she brushed Surge’s wing with hers as she passed. Surge nodded and went to go prepare with Quake following behind as Shear went to tell the dragonets that Surge would be leaving for a while.

Shadow was exhausted. Listening in on them this whole time and all the excitement had left him drained. He couldn’t help but smile though. Meeting the flame wing had been just as entertaining as he had thought it would be. Now he also got the added bonus of hearing that Surge would be gone for at least a week. He was relieved to hear it since she was by far the cruelest of the guardians and the dragonets deserved a break from her constant insults. Though now that he thought about it, they probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy the break if they were constantly worrying about her imminent return. Then Shadow smiled. This was his chance to send the dragonets another message! He hadn’t really been able to come up with anything to say after his initial message, but this was definitely something worth telling them about. His excitement filled him with energy again. Shadow picked himself up off the forest floor and rushed to the spot where he had prepared a number of suitable pieces of wood for messages.

The guardian Surge will be going to inform the wings of protection about the results of the flame wing’s visit. Use the week she is gone wisely. Your friend, Shadow.

He had a bit more room this time, but he still felt it wasn’t enough. He could always just send another message, but he felt the messages were special and shouldn’t be used for simple encouragement or conversation. Shadow sighed. This would have to be good enough for now. He sent the message down the river and considered going to listen in on what the dragonets were talking about, but he was still tired from listening in on their thoughts. Instead, he decided to go hunt for some food and practice his writing while he waited for the message to float down the river. When he got back to his listening spot Tempest was floating in the river and Aurora seemed to be sitting next to her on the bank. The other dragonets were walking away from them as if they had just finished a conversation, but their seemed to be some kind of lingering \ depression for some reason.

“Come on Tempest. I know that you want to get out of here and that Flame Wing was being a bit cruel but maybe he has some kind of bad experience with dragonets you know? Like maybe…” Aurora paused for a moment to think of something.

“Just leave me alone Aurora. I know you think there must be a reason for all the bad things dragons do, but that doesn’t make it any better. That Flame Wing and all the guardians can go stick their tails in a fire for all I care,” Tempest growled before ducking underwater. She didn’t want to see Aurora’s face of sad compassion. Even picturing it made her feel all soft and empathetic. She hatted it. She could hate whoever she wanted to hate, and those dragons definitely deserved to be hated.

Except for Shear. Shadow could hear a voice that sounded like Aurora’s whisper in Tempest’s head.

Arrrrgh! Tempest lashed out in frustration, churning up the water and smacking something with her talon.

Ow! She thought more in surprise than actual pain. At first she thought she had smacked the riverbank but when she looked over she saw a brown piece of wood floating away.

Shadow panicked. This message hadn’t gotten stuck in the bars like last time. If Tempest let it just float away then they would miss his message! Thankfully a moment later Tempest snatched up the piece of wood and brought it to the surface to examine it.

“What have you got there?” Aurora asked curiously.

“I’m not sure, give me a wingbeat.” Tempest growled. Still a little annoyed at Aurora. Then her eyes widened as she noticed the writing.

“Guys! It’s one of those messages again!” Tempest roared in excitement before quickly realizing that the guardians might have heard her. She shoved the piece of wood under the water even as the other dragonets came rushing over.

“Really?! What does it say?” Hailstorm asked excitedly.

“Shhhhh!” Boulder hissed. “We can’t let the guardians know about this!” He whispered. All the dragonets paused and looked nervously at the entrance to their cave. After a few seconds they breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed like the guardians hadn’t heard them.

“So, what does it say?” Gale asked in a whisper. Tempest sighed before bringing up the piece of wood and holding it up to the light of the torches.

“The guardian Surge will be going to inform the wings of protection about the results of the flame wing’s visit. Use the week she is gone wisely. Your friend, Shadow.” She read. All the dragonets paused for a moment to take this information in.

“This is our chance.” Boulder said solemnly.

“Yes, but how do we do it?” Tempest considered.

“Do what?” Aurora asked, a bit confused and concerned by the serious looks from the other dragonets.

“Escaping from this place.” Gale replied.

Shadow reeled back. They were going to try to escape?! He had heard them talk about escaping before, and they had even made a few half hearted attempts but… He never thought they’d actually do it!

At the same moment he felt Aurora’s surprise at the statement.

“Really?” She asked doubtfully. Hailstorm nodded.

“Yes. We need to if we ever want to find our blood relatives. The person who wrote this message must have wanted us to escape too. That’s what they meant by using this week wisely.”

Shadow’s eyes widened again. He never intended for them to take it that way. Was it a mistake to have told them about Surge leaving? No. They deserved to have a chance at freedom. The guardians had kept them underground for so long and treated them like they were no better than prized tools. No one had ever truly cared about them except Shear and even then she still couldn’t treat them like she wanted because of Surge and Quake. This was probably their only chance to escape.

However, even with Surge gone, five dragonets were hardly enough to take on two full grown dragons in a fight. They might be able to take on Shear since she would be hesitant to hurt them and her magic wouldn’t be as helpful in the caves, but Quake could easily knock them all senseless using his strengthening magic. He would be careful not to kill them, but Shadow had no doubt he wouldn’t care about knocking them out or even breaking a bone or two in order to crush an escape attempt. Shadow pondered this for a moment but quickly returned his attention to the dragonets.

“I know you don’t want to hurt them Aurora, but we need to spread our own wings and experience the world for ourselves.” Boulder said reasonably.

“Besides, it’s not like any of the tribes are currently at war with each other so we should be safe in dragon territory. The prophecy just says that we’ll save the world some day from a threat to all the tribes. I doubt the prophecy was talking about any time soon and we need to get as ready as we can before then. We’ll just be going to each tribe to see our parents and maybe picking up some skills and experience along the way.”

“But why don’t we just tell Shear that? She can help us convince Surge and Boulder that it’s safe for us to go out so long as they accompany us.” Aurora argued. Hailstorm shook his head.

“Sorry Aurora, but the wings of protection want to have us all to themselves. That’s the whole reason they’re keeping us locked away down here. So that no other dragons can influence how we save the world.”

“Ha! To bad for them it’s up to us and we don’t need to listen to them. We will save the world our own way and part of that is going to our tribes so we can meet our real parents. So there!” Tempest huffed.

“Still, I don’t want to hurt Shear. She was nice to us at least.” Aurora said sadly.

“I know. I don’t want to hurt her either.” Boulder said putting a wing around her. “But we have to immobilise her while Quake is out gathering food, or we’ll never stand a chance of getting out of here. Quake is going to be hard enough on his own.”

Shadow could feel the warmth in Aurora’s chest as she was comforted by Boulder.

“Don’t worry about it Aurora. The rest of us will take down Shear. You should conserve your strength for helping us fight Quake. Remember, Shear is going out for food tomorrow, so we’ll have to wait until the day after that anyway.” Tempest said in her gentlest voice.

“Couldn’t we just attack Quake while Shear is gone then leave before she gets back?” Aurora asked with tears in her eye.

“No. It’ll take too long to take Quake down. Shear might get back if we do. We’ll have to take her down first.” Hailstorm said solemnly. Aurora leaned into Boulder’s shoulder and cried. Shadow could feel all the other dragonets wanting to cheer her up but not sure how. After a little while Aurora calmed down.

“O-ok. I-I think I can do it.” Aurora sniffled. “We need to get outside and go meet our families. I know you guys all miss your mothers and fathers as much as I do.” She said wiping her eyes. “So, I’m going to help you. We’ll take down the guardians together.” She said determinedly.

Great. Now we just need to beat two full grown dragons all on our own. Gale thought sarcastically. It’s not like Quake could take each of us out with a single flap of his wings or swipe of his tail. Hmph. To bad he’ll take the only key to the door with him. Then we could just escape before he got back. He thought. Most of the other dragonets were having similar thoughts about their chances against the Stone Wing guardian.

Shadow wished he could help but there was nothing he could do. Or was there? He had never really considered trying to help the dragonets before other than his messages. If they were going to make their move while Quake was out hunting then maybe he could set up some kind of trap to stop him, weaken him or even just slow him down to give the dragonets more time. He couldn’t let Quake find him, so it had to seem like an accident or be unnoticeable.

Shadow smiled. This kind of scenario reminded him of the sneaky assassins in one of the stories Jarid had read him. They used wooden traps, long range attacks, poison and being sneaky to take down their enemies. Unfortunately, wooden traps wouldn’t do much against a dragon and he had no way of attacking from range. Poison maybe? Hmmm. There was something he remembered eating when he was younger that Jarid had called poison. What was it? Hrrrrrgh… Oh! Right! The white death! Or at least that was what Jarid called it.

Shadow had tried one of the white berries when he was seven and it had put him to sleep for a whole three days. Jarid said the pale white berries would normally kill anyone that ate them, and he was lucky that he was a dragon since their nature made them resistant to most ailments. When Shadow had woken up he still had a massive headache for days after. Ever since then he had always made sure to check with Jarid before eating any berries he found in the forest and stayed well away from the white death berries. If he was going to help the dragonets he’d have to get Quake to eat the berries, and a lot more than just one.

Getting the gluttonous dragon to eat the berries wouldn’t be too hard. All he’d have to do would be to leave a fresh kill near the cave entrance where he’d smell it and squish the berries into its fur. Shadow knew that Quake almost always ate the first few prey he caught before bringing the rest back thanks to Quake’s near constant longing for the days he would go out hunting. The real problem was how many berries to use. Shadow didn’t want to kill Quake, but he knew that a dragon at least three times his size was going to take a lot more berries before he went down. How many was hard to guess but Shadow reasoned he’d need at least ten to make sure. He’d probably only get one chance at this, so he had to put enough in and hope it wasn’t too much.

Wow. This was exhilarating! The dragonets might actually get out of their cave soon, and Shadow was going to finally do something big for the first time in his life. Maybe he’d get to meet Boulder, Aurora, and all the other dragonets.

“Yeah. Wouldn’t that be something.” He chuckled sadly knowing that he was doomed to a life of loneliness until Jarid returned.

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Wed Sep 27, 2023 2:16 am
Ventomology wrote a review...

Ten bucks says something will force him to go with the other dragonets. Poor Shadow.

Alrighty. Let's talk about dialogue tags! In case you don't know, dialogue tags are the little 'he said' 'she said' thingy that comes after the quotations. I was reading through those first several paragraphs where the guardians talk to each other. And here's the list of the tags we have:

  • Surge growled
  • Shear said gently.
  • Surge said sarcastically.
  • Quake roared
  • Surge growled.
  • Shear said reasonably.
  • Surge said, growling slightly.
  • Surge said in a tired voice
  • Shear said compassionately

Now... I see three instances of growling, and the rest are all 'said.' Five out of six of those 'said's are followed by an adverb.

On their own, nothing is wrong with any of these. But together in quick succession, as they are used in this chapter, they make the dialogue feel repetitive. Now, there are lots of different tricks for dialogue. You can skip the tag altogether with a full stop in the dialogue, some action (I know Shadow is limited in visual cues... but some workarounds could be additional sounds like grunting, heavy breathing, the sound of claws on the floor as a dragon paces... and I also think Shadow has been watching these other dragons for long enough and is a whimsical enough character, that he may have imagined actions in some spots), and then more dialogue. You can throw in the occasional strong verb--not too many, but one every four or five dialogue lines is usually not too much. You can literally just say 'said' without any qualifiers. Change it up enough, and you'll look like a pro.

I also think that you can push harder for each character to have a really distinct vocal/dialogue style. They should talk differently from each other, with different vocabulary, punctuation, and content. If different characters' speech is differentiated purely through content, you'll be able to get in a few lines without any tag or action at all to indicate who spoke, because it will be clear in the words themselves.

On a different note, I love the plotting! It's always great to see how characters with a lot of strategic thinking go through their whole process, and seeing Shadow work out how to slyly help his fellow dragonets was really great and well-paced.

Hope this helps,

dragonight9 says...

Wow! This is very helpful, thank you.
I realised it was repetitive but didn't know how to change it up so thanks for that.
Having a vocal style for each character might be a bit tough but I'll see what I can do. Perhaps I'll just give a couple of them more unique styles and see how that looks.

Thanks again and I hope you enjoyed ;)

The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch somebody else doing it wrong, without comment.
— T. H. White