Overall I think my books are written pretty well. But the first book starts out really slow. How can I expect anyone to read the first book if they can’t get passed the first few chapters? The Third Dragon starts out slow because I feel like I need to introduce the characters. But what if I introduced them in a more exciting manner?
Those of you who have read my books will find that if you read them again, some things have changed. One thing which has changed is that I added a chapter introducing Lord Kildas. Lord Kildas is one of the heros who befriends the main character, Tomis. Check it out below and tell me what you think.
Chapter 4 of “The Third Dragon”© by Dawn Ross
Armed men were catching up to her despite their thick and heavy leather armor. Her lungs ached with each breath as she struggled to outrun them. Her heart beat wildly in her ears. Each step seemed slow and heavy no matter how fast she tried to move. Her feet were sore from slipping on wet broken stones. Her legs burned from running uphill. Her face stung from wet branches slapping her on the face.
The woods were thick and wet. Tree limbs below hung heavily as droplets of water swelled on the branched fingertips. Rain stormed above making the sky dark and the forest darker. But it wasn’t too dark to see the five hulking soldiers chasing her.
“Come, miss. We don’t want to hurt you,” one of the soldiers coaxed in honeyed voice.
But she knew better. The leering looks and lewd comments they had given when they met her on the road made their intentions very clear. She knew from what had happened to her cousin what was in store for her if they caught her. It wouldn’t just be rape, but beating and torture which would leave her dead or near-dead.
She was a nobody―a simple farm girl. Her parents would weep but they wouldn’t be able to do anything against the injustice. These were the king’s soldiers. And they did as they pleased.
She misstepped in a deep puddle and fell to the ground with a cry of anguish. Mud splattered all around. Rocks cut into her arm and hand. Her foot twisted painfully. The soldiers cheered as they quickly gained on her. She struggled to rise and forced herself to go on. She tried to push her muddy hair off her face but she was too frantic. She could barely see, barely think, and hardly run. Without
meaning to, she began to cry between her ragged breaths for air.
When she broke through the next tangle of brush, she found herself upon an open road. The road was well traveled but easier to run on than the uneven forest floor. But she had little strength left. By the sounds of the soldiers’ voices, they were still going strong.
She had no choice. The pain in her foot told her to take the road. Wiping the last bits of wet hair from her face, she turned to take the road to the right as the soldiers broke from the woods to her left.
Just as she was talking her first step into a dash of escape, her breath caught and she stopped short. Two men in dark clothing loomed ahead on horseback. Her heart stopped. She was trapped.
A cry escaped her throat as she fell to her knees in both fatigue and submission. The two men on horseback approached and the king’s soldiers closed in from behind. She had no choice but to give in to her fate. There was no fight or flight left in her.
The men on horseback were not dressed like the soldiers. They wore black hooded cloaks which shadowed their faces. The leader of the two came closer and her eyes widened in terror. When he removed his hood, she cringed. But when she recognized his piercing green eyes and jet black hair, she found herself hoping.
A young woman emerged from the forest on the road before them. She was wet, dirty, and in obvious distress. Kildas didn’t have time to consider what she was doing there. Almost immediately after she nearly fell onto the road, five armed men appeared behind her.
When the young woman turned to run, she stopped dead in her tracks at seeing Kildas and his brother blocking her escape. The distraught look on her face froze in panic and her eyes widened in despair as she fell to her knees. Her ragged breaths held back the anguish which struggled to break free.
Realizing that he must look terrifying in his dark clothing, Kildas removed his hood. “It’s alright,” he said as assuringly as he could. “We’re not going to hurt you.”
The young woman either believed his words or recognized his face. Although Kildas didn’t know her, most people of his land knew him.
The five soldiers approached her eagerly at first, but slowed to a cautious walk when they saw Kildas and his brother, Barton.
“What’s going on here?” Kildas demanded even though he knew exactly what they were up to.
“It doesn’t concern you,” a soldier replied snidely. “You just be on your way and you won’t get hurt.”
This solider who spoke for the others was short but stout. His dark hair was in array but his beard was neat and trim. He was the only soldier wearing chain mail. Over the mail was well-constructed leather armor, and over that was a red surcoat with a dragon emblem. These were the soldiers of King Haban Dukar.
“Leave the girl be,” Kildas countered, “and you won’t get hurt.”
The lesser soldiers snickered while the leader turned red with anger. “This is the king’s business. Interfere with that and you will be lucky if all we do is kill you.”
“Really?” Kildas mocked. “The king ordered the five of you to defile a helpless woman? Certainly he has better things for you to do.”
The soldier took a moment of pause as he tried to think of a cunning reply. None came so instead he said, “It’s non of your concern what the king ordered. So in the name of King Dukar, begone!”
“I am Lord Kildas Lakast,” he yelled in reply as he unsheathed his sword menacingly. “This is my land and you won’t hurt anyone on it. Now I suggest you turn around and leave before my brother and I take your heads!”
Instead of being intimidated, the five soldiers eagerly took out their own weapons and prepared for a fight. It was five against just Kildas and Barton, but they failed to realize that five men on foot were little match against two men on horseback.
“Take them all at once, boys,” the lead soldier ordered. With that, the four men sprung forward all at once while the leader held back.
Before the first soldier could reach them, he went tumbling to the ground with barely a groan. An arrow from Barton’s bow stuck out through the unarmored portion of his neck. The other men came so quickly that Barton had no time to nock another arrow.
Kildas lunged his horse forward to knock one man down and cut his sword down into the bare head of another. Barton replaced his bow with his sword and encouraged his own horse to join in the fray. Sword clashed upon sword until Kildas and Barton took down another man each.
The leader who had held back now stood all alone. Realizing his sudden vulnerability, he backed away and looked behind him for a way of escape. It was his turn to be afraid, but that didn’t stop him from being cocky.
“Just wait until the king hears about this,” he threatened desperately. “He will take your lands for interfering with his soldiers. You will regret . . . “
His last words were cut short by the arrow which suddenly pierced his left eye. Kildas looked back at Barton in surprise.
What?” Barton asked innocently. “I didn’t want to hear all that, did you?”
Kildas raised his eyebrows and responded, “I suppose not.”
Turning back to the young woman, Kildas saw that she still knelt on the muddy ground. The fight had happened so quickly that she had no time to consider running.
“Are you alright, miss?” Kildas asked.
In her shock, it took her a moment to respond. She finally nodded her head absently and stood cautiously. Kildas could see in her eyes that part of her still wanted to run. But he could also see that she was beyond exhaustion.
“Come. Let’s get you home,” Kildas offered as he came up beside her and held out his hand. “I’m sure your parents will be relieved to see that you’re alright.”
The girl looked at his hand in wonder, then back at his sharp green eyes. She was no longer afraid like she had been a moment ago. Instead, her fear was inspired by awe. Kildas often got this look from his people when he offered them his hand. The people had suffered so much abuse at the hands of authorities that it was hard to believe a lord would be as concerned about their well-being as Lord Kildas truly was.
The young woman finally took his hand and he gently pulled her up on his horse behind him. She weighed almost nothing. He could feel her frail body still trembling as she cautiously balanced herself against his back.
“It’s alright,” he consoled. “Unlike the king, we do not take advantage of our people. You are as safe with us as you would be with your own family.” The girl’s trembling lessened but did not disappear. He could hardly blame her. This had to have been a very trying experience. “Tell me where you live so we can take you home.”
The girl pointed down the road before them. Kildas and Barton nudged the horses forward through the still drizzling rain. So much for getting home before supper, but his wife would understand.