(cover art by the author, Shawna Smart)
We (moi, actually) still have a few more entries to post that were received before out June-first deadline. The diabolical plan has been to tickle out the prologue of the story you had intended to write, and, with the pump being primed, continue writing until you completed a full manuscript.
I strongly suspect that Shawna Smart, a previous contest winner here at The Word, will follow through. We’ve got blood, honor, slaves, dragons and swords and a dangerous Dragon Empress all in this prologue, oh…and implied death threat. Read on all; write on, Shawna!
The Forge of the Dragon
By Shawna A. Smart
Prologue: Cimon Speaks
All men yearn for immortality.
As a blade in the forge must ever be tested, so too the raw ore of a living soul, each traveling the cycle of flame until either shattered or tempered for hell. The stories of such events are manifold, and as vast as a calamity of stars in a midnight sky, which pass unheralded into the hungry void, beyond hope.
So it is the most honored task I now endeavor to undertake, to lift and untangle one such story, so that the burning light of my master’s soul, and those who stood with him, shall not suffer so unworthy a fate. I can only pray to the ancestors that I will not falter in the telling, for to fail him now would be intolerable.
I shall be brave…for him.
For my part, I seek only the strength to see this story delivered, so the people of our land will know him for the hero that he was, instead of the dishonored lie planted in their grieving hearts.
The Dragon Empress has declared that any hand set to my master’s story shall meet with death, for her part in his fall, and her depredations among the sacred earth avatars that protect and guide all living things, bear witness to her shame.
Yes shame, for her lustful commerce with evil and thirst for power, and for the most treacherous crime of all. The betrayal of an innocent heart, and the spilling of its faithful blood, which no clean earth can ever swallow whole, nor honor forsake.
So now will I speak, the lowest among you, a simple slave who loved his master. I ask only that in return for the price of my worthless blood, that any who find this document, bear you even only a humble plow, break such lowly instruments into a spear and cleanse our world of such abominations.
I humbly beg you to do this for the sake of the light in the hearts of all good men, who perish to save us all from the shattering of hope and enlightenment, and endeavor to purchase with life’s blood the freedom of us all.
Too long have our people submitted to dragons and the unclean spirits of the void, cowering in fear of fire and retribution, but I say to you all it is enough. Will you not rise against this contagion of horror and cleanse the world with your dishonored lives?
I beg you strike a blow for my master’s sake, and the lives of the young, for I fear they too will suffer now he has fallen. The Gods are watching, and there can be no peace until this wrong in the land has been defeated.
I, Cimon, say this, the last living slave of Drusus, Lord of the Seventh Province, and his son Lebuin.
Will you not listen?