Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Appeal of Dragons - Power and Sentience

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I love dragons. I mean, immensely powerful beings with the ability to fly, who can fireball their enemy, but are so layered in scaly armor they’re practically unkillable (and often immortal) are already awesome. Add in magic and I’m SO on board.

The traditional image of the dragon as a monster and a powerful foe, razing villages and terrorizing innocent maidens, was badass enough, but where I really get interested is when sentience is added to the sauce. It fires my imagination when the dragon isn’t a dumb beast, though isn’t necessarily human either but rather has its own alien intelligence. In those cases, conversation with the dragon changes everything and can tip the gameboard in interesting ways, upsetting everything the hero/heroine thought they knew.

Here’s an excerpt from Through Fire & Sea of THAT MOMENT when Leah discovers the dragon is more than a ravening beast.

Leah woke in the middle of the night.  Sweating, she plucked at her nightgown’s neckline, trying to cool herself.  Did she have a fever?  But she didn’t feel ill, only hot like—


Her veins throbbed, and she knew he needed her.  Had the dragon hurt him?  Sharp anxiety sent her scrambling out of bed.  The faint glow from the hypocaust guided her down the hall to the stairs.

Once she gained the second floor, she threaded her way to the corner alcove.  Silvery moonlight bounced off the Four Worlds mirror as she squirmed underneath.  

Fear for Gideon's safety spurred her to attempt the ladder climb in the dark.  Her foot slipped once, but she hauled herself over the lip of rock.

Breath laboring, she unbarred the door.  Heat rolled over her when it swung open. 


In the dark she saw the great diamond eyes first, then the gleam of black scales.  Even with its wings folded, it filled the fifteen-foot window.

“Where's Gideon?” she asked.

The dragon tilted its wedge-shaped head and opened its jaws, as if trying to speak.  Wet steam bathed her face.

Madness overcame her.  “Where's Gideon?”  She stabbed a finger at his empty bed.  “Gideon.  Where is he?  If you've hurt him, I’ll kill you,” she vowed.

The huge beast ducked its head as if chastened.  One corner of her mind wondered why it hadn't scorched her already, but she kept on.  “You should be ashamed of yourself.”  She dashed away tears.

The dragon moaned.

Staring into its eyes, Leah had the strangest conviction that it wanted something from her beyond bones to crunch.  

“What is it?” she asked in a more reasonable voice.  “Is something wrong with Gideon?  Do you need my help?”

In answer it touched the base of its long neck with one front claw.

Incredulity filled Leah.  “You want me to ride on your back?”
The dragon stared at her with unblinking eyes, but Leah felt a pulse of heat that seemed to mean, Yes.

Gideon needed her. As if in a dream, she set her hand on the dragon's side. Up close she could see that its scales were overlapping triangles. They felt hard and slippery, but her bare feet found enough friction to ascend its leg to the shoulder. She swung one leg over the knobby ridge of its spine, then adjusted her nightgown in a vain effort to get more comfortable. A dragon wasn't at all like a mule.

She cleared her throat.  “I’m ready.”

With an agile twist the dragon flung itself off the window ledge.  Leah screamed as the ground rushed up—

Then its membraneous wings snapped open, and their fall became a glide.  Three wingbeats took them high into the night sky.  The stars shone crisp and cold.

Frigid air whistled past Leah’s face, contrasting with the dragon's tremendous heat.  

The dragon banked left, and Leah smiled with delight.  Did Gideon do this every night?  Ride the dragon?  

Shivering, she remembered her purpose.  “Take me to Gideon,” she shouted into the wind.

She couldn't be sure the dragon understood, but its wings beat harder, carving a path through the night.  


There is one True World, and then there are the four mirror worlds: fire, water, air, and stone. And each has a magic of its own... 

In the Fire World, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm's most powerful lords. She's hot-blooded - able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods. But she has another gift...the ability to Call her twin "Otherselves" on other worlds.

Holly resides in the Water World - our world. When she's called by Leah from the Fire World, she nearly drowns. Suddenly the world Holly thought she knew is filled with secrets, magic...and deadly peril.
For a malevolent force seeks to destroy the mirror worlds. And as Leah and Holly are swept up in the tides of chaos and danger, they have only one choice to save the mirror worlds - to shatter every rule they've ever known...

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What are your favorite dragon moments?


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