The Wind Song (Tara-lin – Children of the Dryads)

Wind of the mountains
Wind of the hills
Come to my aid
Come to the aid of the trees


Wind of the mountains
Wind of the hills
Fly sudden swift
Turn the arrows’ way from us


Wind of the mountains
Wind of the hills
Hear me now!
Gust and blow and swirl around!


Wind of the mountains
Wind of the hills
Come with wildness
Wild and fierce and changing oft!


Wind of the mountains
Wind of the hills
Come, wild and strong
Blow my way, gusts and torrents!


Wind of the mountains
Wind of the hills
Answer to my call
Answer the need of your dryads!


Wind of the mountains
Wind of the hills
Hear me now!
Gust and blow and swirl around!
Fly sudden swift!
Turn the arrows’ way from us
Come, wild and strong
Wild and fierce and changing oft!
Come with wildness
Blow my way, gusts and torrents!
Blow sudden swift!
Turn the arrows’ way from us.


Excerpted from Children of the Dryads, Copyright © 2021 Raina Nightingale

Released June 3rd, 2021. (List price: $9.99 USD Paperback, $2.99 USD Ebook.)

Escape from the Valor Hall: An Excerpt from Children of the Dryads

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Escape from the Valor Hall: An Excerpt from Children of the Dryads

Over the weeks, more people arrived. Tara-lin was introduced to human ladies, and she found their company exasperating, for the most part.

It was not long before Lìrulin came to them. When Earnrìl had come back from the sea, she had borrowed her horse and ridden to them. It was now certain that she was pregnant. She stopped arguing with her parents about how she was going to go with her father.

One day, Tara-lin observed her mother and her father embracing. “I’d go with you, Eldor, no matter what, if I weren’t pregnant again… You must not die! You must not leave me with our second child an infant who’s never seen you.”

Tara-lin stood still, feeling horrible.

“I don’t intend to die,” said Sir Eldor. “We don’t know what this will be like, or what my role in it will be. But, if you don’t want that, we will have to make sure you don’t get pregnant again.”

“I love you,” said Lìrulin.

Tara-lin walked away. Just earlier that day, she had met a girl who did not irritate her as much as the other women – or men – around. Her name was Alis Luela, and though she spoke little she was definitely interested in what Tara-lin had to say about the animals and plants of the Elethrian forests. She was quieter than the other girls, and spoke little about herself and the other things interesting to them, and when she did ask Tara-lin a question it was about something in which Tara-lin herself had some interest. Continue reading “Escape from the Valor Hall: An Excerpt from Children of the Dryads”

Liebster Award

Hi. So I’ve been nominated for this Liebster Award by both Julia Witmer (https://juliawitmerblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/19/the-liebster-award/) and EG Bella (https://egbella.com/2021/02/05/the-liebster-award/) (thanks, and sorry for being so late). I’ll be answering both their questions (as well as I can; some of the answers aren’t real answers), but I will only be giving out one new set of questions (that, and finding nominees that fit, is what I really struggle with). Thanks to both of you, and let’s get to Bella’s questions first, since she nominated me first, and why this has taken me so long! My apologies on that count.

The rules:

Thank the blogger who nominated you.

Answer the eleven questions he/she asked

Nominate eleven more bloggers for the award. Make sure they know you nominated them.

And ask your eleven nominated bloggers eleven questions

1. When did you first get the idea to start a blog, and why did you decide to?

A couple years ago. I’d been writing an occasional essay for the purpose of explain

ing my thoughts to friends, and I’d just made a Twitter account (Twitter.com/rainanightinga1). I thought it might be a good idea to post my essays (often somewhat altered) to my blog, and link to them from my Twitter account. After all, in depth explanations are difficult there! From there, it has grown into what it is now, with a blog that consists largely of religious and philosophical essays, but an occasional book-related post, and then a page with lots of information and links to other pages with more information about my novels and worlds.

2. What is your dream job?

The one I have in dreams? Hmm. I’m not really sure. The one I wish I could have? That gets horribly complicated. In this world, as it is? Or in the world that I wish this one was? In this world as it is, I want to tell people that God is good and there is no reason to be afraid! But is that a job? On another level, I’d like to help people enjoy the world and the beautiful things God has given us – animals and trees and sunsets. And, of course, I write. I want to share the good I see through stories. I feel like that’s the way I think best myself, and so it’s probably the way I communicate best, too. But there’s lots of things that would be great to do, other than sit and write, too – in fact, how could one write well if one isn’t at least interested in getting know the world, the mountains and trees and flowers and streams and animals and volcanoes and storms and so forth, even if doing so isn’t feasible?

3. If you could domesticate any wild animal to keep for a pet, which would you choose and why?

An elephant, maybe? They’re smart, they seem kind, and they live for a long time – oftentimes, longer even than we do. It would be cool to make friends with an elephant.

4. Chocolate or vanilla (or other)?

Boring question. Whatever (though there are some things people have come up with that I’m sure I don’t like). I’m not that prone to favourites, though.

5. What’s the next book you hope to read and/or movie you want to watch?

Maybe The Mirror of Simple Souls by Marguerite Porete. But you never really know what a book is like until you read it. I did just read The Treekeepers by Susan Britton, though, and it is very good. It’s a children’s novel, but it’s suitable to all ages. Unfortunately, it is out of print, so it may be a little difficult to get print copies, but you can get the ebook from Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-treekeepers-susan-britton/1005616207?ean=2940015723779 . I would write a review about it, but I feel like the better a book is, the harder it is to write a good review about it – for me, that is.

6. What fictional world do you wish was real?

None of them? For one, it might not look at all like the fictional worlds, but I’m sure all that’s good and beautiful is fiction is true and better somewhere in reality. Unless the good of it is in being the fiction, in which case it’s good for it to be a fictional world and not a real one! But enough for that. I think that if you’re wishing that a fictional world was real, there’s a lot you haven’t noticed about the real one! I think it’s more magical than any of us have yet discovered and… if you’re really yearning to go on a heroic adventure that might kill you to defeat a terrible evil that’s threatening the world or something you love… we ll, I’m pretty sure those evils exist in the real world, and that if you want to go on such an adventure or quest that might be an option.

7. In three words, how would you best describe yourself?

Really, anything I say here is going to be really bland, and at the moment I can’t think of anything good/descriptive. Believer-of-Goodness is the best I can come up with at the moment. I am very bad at these sort of questions, but that does at least convey something very important and solid about me!

8. If you had to pick one season to live in for the rest of your life, which one would you pick?

That would really be horrible! How would it even work?! No, I want all the seasons. No season is itself without the rest of them. That said, I think Spring is really beautiful. I really like flowers, and I like rain and flowing water and green things sprouting up and growing everywhere (not sure I’d want to live in a tropical rainforest, though).

9. What’s one of your favorite quotes (about anything)?

I tend to like stories more than quotes! But I’ll try to think of something. Here’s a few I actually looked up to find them since I am so poor at favorites! There’s lots of quotes I like, but they are so many that I often don’t think of any at the mention of favorite quotes – also, since stories and sometimes poetry, not quotes are my favorites, well… Anyway, here are a few I like.

“I have never made a sacrifice in my life” – Hudson Tayler, missionary to China

“In all this I saw no sin, for I believe that sin has no part in being nor manner of substance” – Julian of Norwich

“God rejoices to be our Father, God rejoices to be our Mother, Jesus rejoices to be our savior” – Julian of Norwich

10. Who is a fiction character you think you’d get along well with? Who is one you don’t think you’d get along with?

Well, one never really knows until one meets someone how well one will or won’t get along with him or her – and, another thing, fiction characters, no matter how realistic their authors make them or how real they are in their authors’ head, aren’t real like real people, with as much breadth as real people do, with all the innumerable, unmentionable quirks and personality traits any real person has, so this makes it really hard to think about. Also, under what circumstances? I dare say there are people who might enjoy sitting under a tree together and watching the sun, or playing a game of hide-and-seek, but who would really irritate each other trying to find their way down a slippery, ice-and-snow-covered mountain in the middle of the night with orcs and gargoyles hunting them. I daresay under most circumstances I and my own character, Tara-lin (Children of the Dryads, Legend of the Singer Book One), would probably be able to tolerate each other, though. I doubt I and another of my own characters, Arendellie (The Three Scrolls, Kaarathlon Series), would practically ever enjoy each other’s company.

11. What’s one of your favorite childhood memories?

Probably playing with my parents.

All right. Now for Julia’s questions.

1. What is one of your favorite books?

Well, The Treekeepers, which I mentioned in EG Bella’s questions, is definitely a favorite. I

also really liked The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy (Magic’s Pawn, Magic’s Promise, Magic’s Price). The author is definitely not Christian, but her view of death is so much more Christian than what I see almost everywhere.

2. What is your favorite thing about your blog, specifically?

Hmm. That I write for it when I feel like it, and I post when I want to, despite the fact that that can get woefully sporadic. Also, I really like the name of it. Enthralled By Love. That’s what I want my life to be. That’s what I want the world – everyone and everything else – to be. That’s what I hope it’s about.

3. How did you first get into blogging?

Well, I’d write essays and snippets either just to get my thoughts down on paper or to share with people. Then, when I started my twitter account (@RainaNightinga1 – though if you’re almost solely interested in the novels aspect, the newer @Areaer_Novels might be the one for you) I thought that the tweets were short, but people might take an interest in my thoughts put down in a larger, more complete way.

4. What would be your ideal working environment for blogging/writing?

A place where I can write, obviously a frame of mind in which I both have something to write and have the faculties to write it. Other than that, I don’t know.

5. What’s one of your favorite foods?

What is it with all these boring questions? At least, and I should thank Julia for this, she asked about what’s one of your favorite foods, not what’s your favorite food. Anyway, I like many kinds of fruit.

6. What’s your proudest achievement?

I have no idea. I probably have none. I don’t keep a record-list. What would a proudest achievement even be? That would be for God to judge, but I have I feel He doesn’t judge that way, either. It’s less achievement and more being to Him. Really, I have no idea. I mean, there are things I enjoy doing, things that have given me thrills of delight, but, as I said, I don’t keep a record or list of them, so I don’t have a clue where they rank. And, as I once wrote in one of the essays on my blog, experiences are so unique. Who could judge them? The greatest joy or pain or sorrow or delight is always, or almost always, the one we’re experiencing right now, or at least that’s held mostly true in my experience.

7. How do you motivate yourself to keep your blog up and running?

It appears that I have not been. I have probably a dozen essays I want to write, some of them half-started, but I can’t pull them together and write them, and so it’s mostly sitting.

8. What’s your favorite thing to write about?

The love of God, and I write about it in half a dozen, or maybe half a hundred, or maybe two hundred different ways. When it comes to style/genre, I really enjoy writing characters.

9. What’s your least favorite thing to write about?

Almost certainly something I don’t write about, and so how would I know? I suppose scenes where I have to dance around with writing the scene in order to give the reader the emotional feel and all the pertinent informations without ever even having to visualize myself any of the gory details or torture mechanisms involved … well, figuring out how to do that is probably not my favorite thing to do, though, if I had favorite scenes, some of those scenes might make into, or even very high up, the list of favorites (lots of things would make it very high up the list of favorites for me – after all, the list is wholly theoretical, since I very rarely have anything that half-way qualifies as a favorite; only things I like so much I can’t even begin to say it). Also, actually visualizing the details would be an even less favorite thing to do, and writing the details would be an equal un-favorite thing to write about, so … my least favorite things to write about are definitely things I don’t write about, but there’s probably things I would hate writing about even more, that I’ve never even thought of writing about.

10. What’s something you were obsessed with as a kid? (i.e. horses, reading, a certain movie, etc.)

Given the line of thinking that was going on answering the last question … martyrs. I lived through rather a long period of wondering how and why the martyrs were motivated, what was the source of their joy and confidence. Oh yes, and making sure I never found out the details of their deaths any farther than, “So-and-so was beheaded,” or maybe, “So-and-so was beaten to death.” After all, I’d learned about those quite early, and as unamusing as even those are, I really couldn’t hope to avoid bits of information as that. Now, how someone was beaten to death … that might be something I do not ever want to learn (and even if it is to happen to me, I have a feeling it won’t be any worse for not having learned of it ahead of time).

To answer the question more properly … dragons, and I’m still fairly obsessed with dragons. The kind that form deep, empathic relationships. But anyone who reads my novels will soon discovered that, though there’s a way in which I will always love someone else’s dragons.

11. Do you still like the thing you were obsessed with as a kid?

Seems I already answered this one. Unless someone wants to know if I still like martyrs – or is it martyrdom? As for the first, they’re people. I probably would like some of them. Others of them probably have personalities that may mean we’ll have to be in Heaven to be best friends the way it’s easy for some people to be here on earth. Then again, I may like a few here and now. Who knows which of us will be awarded that crown? As for martyrdom, like is hardly a sufficient word if one is talking about the glory of the Spirit and the vision of the face of Christ at the right hand of the throne of the Father, even so much of it as I have glimpsed, and … no, words fail. I will say no more.

My questions:

1. What’s something you enjoy about blogging?

2. How do you feel about rain and/or snow?

3. What’s a theme you really enjoy in other people’s writing? Feel free to share more than one.

4. What’s a theme you find recurs in your own writing? Feel free to share more than one.

5. What’s a style or genre of writing you like, and something about why you like it? (This could be anything from prose/poetry/story to Young Adult Historical Fiction or Middle Grade Fantasy or Religious Devotions, etc)

6. Is there something in nature that seems or is dangerous, but that you enjoy in some way?

7. Is there something in nature that is not generally considered dangerous that you really enjoy?

8. Is there something that’s really common or even necessary for life that absolutely has you in awe and holds your wonder or that you really, desperately, enjoy?

9. Is there a myth (I’m using this word loosely; Christian ‘myths’ count) that you really like? Can you tell us something about why or how it draws your attention?

10. Is there a mythical creature that you really like?

11. How do you feel about night and/or day?

Nominees:

1. Tina Wanis (howtowritecoptic.wordpress.com)

2. Mikayla (truthfulstoryteller.wordpress.com)

3. Julieanneriddle (agirlandhergod.blog)

4. Strength of His Might (strengthofhismight.wordpress.com)

And anyone else. I’m supposed to choose 11, but I’ve spent too long on this and not come up with anyone else I know who I expect would be interested. By the way, my apologies if the formatting is terrible. I’ve never used the new Block Editor before, and I hate it, but I can’t find the Classic one right now. It looks like WordPress Admin isn’t available anymore, so if anyone knows how to get back into that, my sincere thanks!

The Gifts of Faeri, Fantasy, Dragons, Novella, Aneri, Return of the Dragonriders, Raina Nightingale, Fiction, Short Fiction, Young Adult

What’s Next in Areaer: Cover Reveal, Blog Tour Invite, and More

Hello!

Today, DragonSword, the conclusion to the Return of the Dragonriders Trilogy (previously DragonBirth and DragonWing) is available! However, while DragonSword is the conclusion to the Return of the Dragonriders Trilogy, it is not the last you will hear of Areaer! Therefore, in addition to announcing the release of DragonSword today, and giving you links to everything concerning it, I will be showing you the cover for The Gifts of Faeri (a standalone novella, free in digital format, and prequel to the Return of the Dragonriders) and telling you about the next series set in Areaer: the Legend of the Singer Duology.

First for Dragonsword:

Dragonsword, conclusion to Return of the Dragonriders Trilogy, Areaer, by Raina Nightingale, high fantasy dragon fictionWhen the Obsidian Guardian rises and the Dragon-sword shines again, so will hope to defeat the Nightmare…

Dragonrider Noren has narrowly escaped being burned at the stake. Reunited at last, he and Silmavalien flee northwards. Joined by Onyxalis, a black dragon who believes himself to be the destined Avenger of the Dragons, they must battle their way through the hordes of the Nightmare Lord to the Volcano of Ellen Island. There Onyxalis may receive the power he needs as the Obsidian Guardian, and there the re-forging of the Dragon-sword will be begun.

With the Gift of the Volcano, they will finally have the power to fight the battle before them and even the mightiest of the Nightmare Legion.

Ebook price in USD: 2.99. Paperback price in USD: 9.99

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Find everything having to do with the Return of the Dragonriders Trilogy and Areaer, including poems and excerpts for all three books at my Novels page, here.

Now, for the Cover Reveal!

The Gifts of Faeri, standalone novella, Areaer, Raina Nightingale, prequel to Return of the Dragonriders, fantasy

Descrption: Faeri has something no one else does: the ability to sing power into objects and direct that power to her will. For more than two decades she and the obsidian dragon paired with her, Chrysanthemum, have been traveling Aneri, using her song to give gifts to everyone they come across that will make their lives easier. But then the fabled enemy in the stories, the Nightmare, shows its hand, trying to taint Faeri’s gifts and make them a snare to the souls of those who keep them.

Just when Faeri is convinced that her song is worse than useless, and she needs to stop using it, a conflict with nightmare creatures reveals Chrysanthemum’s fire as a bane to the Nightmare. . .

For any of you who have read DragonBirth, you will be familiar with the Tale of Faeri. This is, of course, the true story.

If any of you are interested in the Blog Tour associated with its release, on January 27nth 2021, here is the link to see what I will be doing and sign up if you want:

Blog Tour Signup for The Gifts of Faeri

And now, last but not least, is the time to introduce you to the next series in Areaer, the Legend of the Singer! This one is a Duology, consisting of Children of the Dryads and Sorceress of the Dryads, and taking place several hundred years later, on the continent of Ellenesia. (See more here.)

Children of the Dryads

Description: When her human father, Eldor, a member of an organization of elite warriors dedicated to protecting the Valor Alliance, is called on a mission she does not think he can survive, Tara-lin violates his orders and follows him…

She is a half-elf, born with the long-lost ancestral magic of the elves. With her is Alis, a human girl desperate to avoid a marriage forced on her by her father, a colleague of Eldor, but terrified that gods Tara-lin does not believe exist will cast her into the netherhells for her disobedience. Ahead of them is Eldor’s terrifying destination – Nightshade Castle, haunt of madness and black magic.

Out of the Ashes: Excerpt from DragonSword

“I don’t want to leave just yet,” said Silmavalien to Noren and Keya. “I never told you, I think, about the obsidian rock, but before Minth hatched I found a black rock which spoke to me and told me it was the Avenger of the Dragons. It also told me that it was not the right time for it yet. But what if it is now? I mean to look for it. I think it’s a black dragon.” Continue reading “Out of the Ashes: Excerpt from DragonSword”

Song of the Dragon-Sword: A Poem from DragonSword

The Dragon-sword is arisen at last
Re-forged in the flame and light of old.
Winged in the hand of its bearer it rises;
Through death and life and death again he lives.
 
The stars in the earth are freed at last
And their Guardian arisen in light.
The war is begun; the war shall now be won!
Through death and life and death again earth lives!
 
Long has the challenge of Nightmare reigned;
Now we answer it with the sword unsheathed!
This war, thought lost, shall be won, though fierce indeed
And fire proceeds to predestined throne!
 
The flame and whip of the Shadow’s pit
Has been defeated; it has met its match
And been found no match for the flame of the earth
The light and flame of the Dragon-sword!
 
The fire of darkness is overcome
By the fire of light in the darkness’ depth
And the whip of Nightmare by the Dragon-sword:
Triumph proceeds to predestined throne!

Excerpted from DragonSword, Copyright © 2019 by Raina Nightingale

Will be released on Dec. 1st

More Here

Pre-order from Amazon (Paperback Only – Unavailable as of Oct. 14nth)

Pre-order from Barnes & Noble (Paperback & Ebook)

Poem from Book One, DragonBirth

Poem from Book Two, DragonWing

Dragonsword, conclusion to Return of the Dragonriders Trilogy, Areaer, by Raina Nightingale, high fantasy dragon fiction

The Legacy of Queen Valiena and Dragon’s Mystery: An Excerpt

Silmavalien was the name of a girl of about thirteen. She lived in the small village of Treas in the rich land north of the proud city-citadel of Kranah in the kingdom of Silrah. One late summer afternoon she sat in the village square with the rest of her family, tired, hot, and exhausted after the hard work of gathering the harvest in the summer heat. She had taken a dip in the river, and the cool wetness on her skin caused her to nearly shiver. She waited expectantly for the traveling bard, who had arrived in Treas only an hour or so before, to begin his tale.

The bard, whose name was Gahnva, swept his gaze over the crowd. Then he raised his arms and began to recite thus:

“In the obscure shadows of the past there lingers an ancient dread, ready to spring upon and devour the ignorant, known as Dragnor by some, or The Devil to others, or Maalok, or to yet others as Satein. To the Dragonriders, however, this King of Demons was honored and revered as Vïnra, the Soul of Fire. They worshiped him, glorified him, ruled and fought in his name, and even burned those of us who did not please them upon his awful altars. The souls of these victims will never find peace through all eternity because of this dark act of the Dragonriders.” Sorrow and anger burned in Gahnva’s eyes as he surveyed his listeners. Silmavalien had heard tales like this one before, and she waited expectantly for what would come next. Her brother’s wife fidgeted by her side.

“At one time,” Gahnva continued, “a certain city known as Truse was ruled by a king whom the Dragonriders highly honored: King Ris. While he was a young prince, Truse was ruled by his kind and noble father, Ken the Wise. During this time, Prince Ris came upon an emerald dragon egg while hunting in the woods. Immediately, he was captivated by its hellbound power and life.”

Unfathomable sorrow and grief burned in Gahnva’s gaze. “Alas! Sorrow was conceived that day, for dragons are not the glorious, majestic, sympathetic, and beautiful guardians of chivalry their witch-riders portray them as, but rather powerful, leering, frightful demons of Dragnor, who revel in the suffering of others. From that moment on Prince Ris became ever more corrupt, but he retained the favor of his people for the few among them who were not witches of some degree were enchanted and blinded by the spells of the demons and their puppet sorcerers.

“Then, in time, Prince Ris, whose green demon Kris was now full-grown, grew tired of waiting for the throne and power of his father. He poisoned the good King Ken, who was struggling against the power of the demons over his beloved city of Truse, and ascended to the throne. He ruled for many years, the dragon-demons and their witch-riders defending his kingdom as only supernatural powers can do. Evil wealth and riches of hell poured into Truse, and her foul Dragonriders conquered many cities through the most despicable of means. King Ris tortured and burned all who opposed the demons by whom he had been enthralled and corrupted. Only a witch-king could have committed the least minority of his atrocities.”

A mixture of terrible grief, hate, and disgust was now graven in the face of Gahnva. “Truse became a mighty empire, and at the height of his hellish glory and arrogance Ris resolved to make the noble, wise, and beautiful Princess of Eragos, the only neighboring kingdom which had resisted Trusan intrusion, his queen. Her name was Valiena.

“There had been few before, and none since, Valiena who were so beautiful, so wise, so noble, or so courageous as she. When King Ris attacked Eragos and cities began to fall left and right before her, it became clear to Princess Valiena that it was desire for her that drove him and that only if she offered herself to him would Eragos be saved from his destruction and tyranny. Valiena told her family. She assured them that she would be taken regardless, but only if she went of her own free will would Eragos remain free. Finally, with much wailing and tears, her father and mother, the king and queen, allowed her to go, but all of Eragos mourned her, and her mother and father soon died of grief, leaving the young but honest Prince Tor, her brother, as king.”

A tear gleamed on Gahnva’s cheek. “King Ris took Valiena, but was divinely prevented from further terrorizing Eragos. Instead, he terrorized his new queen, the brave Valiena. However, she was not left long at his mercy nor was he long permitted to continue tormenting those who resisted evil, for the High One looked with compassion upon Valiena’s brave suffering.

“He sent his son, with an army of the angels of light, to overthrow the demons of Truse and bring Valiena to his palace in the heavens as a reward for her courage and love. The demons of Truse had no power to resist the forces of the High One. King Ris was killed and all his witches and his demons with him, and Valiena was rescued and brought to live among the angels of the high heavens. Those who had been enchanted were released and the slaves were emancipated, but Truse was leveled and her very stones crumbled to dust before the fury of the armies of light.”

At that everyone breathed deeply. Simavalien’s brother, who was a mere few years older than she, drew his wife, Kriela, half a year younger than Silmavalien, to his breast.

Kriela leaned against his chest. “Oh, Varkul,” she sobbed, “That would be so awful.” She shuddered.

Varkul rocked her gently. “That’s fine. There are no dragons left. After the common people were released from their frightful bondage they killed every Dragonrider-witch and every demon-dragon in their midst. We can now live our lives in freedom, free from the bondage and fear of Dragnor.”

Silmavalien rose to her feet. “That must be where the ‘-valien’ part of my name comes from. I am proud to be named after Queen Valiena.”

Kriela looked up from her husband’s arms. “It is a name to be proud of, Silmavalien. I like it very much. I am so glad Valiena risked so much, even to everlasting agony, and underwent so much, even to the frightful abuse of demons so that others, ourselves included, could be free. And I am also so glad the High One had compassion to save her from all these horrors and the people whose Queen she had become, too.

Silmavalien agreed. “It was a brave and noble thing for her to have done. We are all indebted to her as our everlasting queen.”

Varkul and Kriela exchanged a whisper below her. Varkul glanced up and said, “It is also so great of the High One to care enough about us, mere mortals, to send his army to deliver us. I wonder why. At any rate, through the valiant sacrifice of Queen Valiena and the undeserved compassion of the High One we can lives our lives in freedom. From this day onward, I swear by my honor that the memory and service of Queen Valiena shall be neglected no more!”

At this, Kriela stepped out of Varkul’s embrace, even as he scrambled to his feet. Silmavalien stood still, not knowing how to respond.

Kriela held out her hand to Silmavalien. “You were named in honor of Queen Valiena. Will you join us in our mission to ensure the the honor of her royal highness is neglected no more, dear sister? We would be so delighted.”

Feeling awkward, Silmavalien stammered, “Of course. How could I not, when she bought my freedom with her pain?” She did not understand why, or even what, she felt like.

Her brother and his young wife inclined their heads. “Of course, Silmavalien. How shall we begin our service?”

“I –” stammered Silmavalien, “I don’t know. I suppose we might start with helping others like those who were here and heard with us to remember her. To keep this memory alive by nourishing it and talking about her.”

“Just what I was thinking!” exclaimed Kriela. “Oh, Silmavalien, this will be just great. Will you now speak to Noren about this? If he agrees it is worth it, as we may well hope, perhaps we shall then build a shrine to the honor of Queen Valiena.”

“Of course,” said Silmavalien. “How could I not?” She was betrothed to Noren. Their fates, their futures, their decisions were indissolubly bound together. Gathering what exuberance she had in the heat of the afternoon, she bounded off to find Noren.

Finding the fifteen year old boy was not hard. He was sitting under a tree, getting some leather ready to be cured. He looked up with a smile in his eyes. “Hi, Silmavalien!”

Silmavalien sat down close to him. “Hello, Noren. I’ve been thinking about the story we just heard today.”

“Oh?” asked Noren without glancing up from his work. “What about it?”

“It’s – it’s interesting,” said Silmavalien. “Especially the part about Queen Valiena.”

At this Noren did look up at her. “What did you find so fascinating, honey?”

“How the young princess gave literally everything up – her earthly happiness and her wellbeing in the afterlife, too – to save her people from the same. That’s just …”

“Incredible,” Noren finished for her. “And then the High One delivered her and her people by marriage. That, too, is amazing. Why would the High One care? Why would he even notice?”

Silmavalien nodded. “Very. We should remember, honor, and serve the High One of all creation and the courageous, noble, and loving Queen Valiena.”

“You’re right,” Noren replied. He seemed to be concentrating on his work and Silmavalien, feeling more awkward than ever, did not push it. Finally, after a few minutes, he spoke softly. “If they exist. We don’t actually know that it is true. It seems too … incredible … to be real. It’s fascinating.”

“Yes, it is,” said Silmavalien. “… Real things can be incredible too. And often are. What if it is true? What if we chose not to honor our deliverers who so nobly save us from our awfullest enemies? Who would deliver us, then, and why should the High One let us ascend into his heaven? Would we not rather be left for Dragnor and the demons? Who would send us good things and long lives and deliver us from our enemies and oppressors?”

“If you put it that way,” said Noren. “I don’t know what they would like.”

Silmavalien hung her head. “Well, if I were Queen Valiena I should like to be remembered and thought about, to begin with.”

Noren nodded, looking into her eyes. “What could be worse than being forgotten by those for whom you would sacrifice all? By the very one you love.”


 

The bard had gone that day and Silmavalien lay in her bed, shifting uneasily. A squeak pierced the night. She tensed.

Then there was silence, and Silmavalien could hear the beating of her own heart and the rhythm of her breath. For some reason, possibly due to her own tenseness, she found it extremely irritating. For a long time she waited, lying on her elbow, consciously controlling her breathing.

The shrill squeak pierced the night again, this time higher and clearer than before. It rang in Silmavalien’s ears and she found it intensely irritating and a little painful besides. It made her want to squirm. It resembled the screech of unoiled steel scraping past unoiled steel. It continued on until it passed from her hearing.

Silmavalien’s heart beat frantically. She was excited but not afraid and she felt weak, weak as she had never felt before, and yet, for some reason, she felt as if she had always been this weak. Totally confused she sank back into the straw mattress and sought sleep.

Overpowering desire startled her back into alertness. Something she had secretly desired all her life was so close. It was as if an essential part of her that was yet indescribably more and other than herself was about to touch her, or else was within her reach. A new weakness, that was yet present from her first, least articulate memories, held her back, stood in her way. Held by such desire, yet in the midst of such weakness, she felt helpless and desperate. Just beyond her lay all the meaning of her life, all her heart’s desire, and yet she had no strength to reach it, to stretch out her hand and touch it.

Her voice soft and strained, Silmavalien sang:

All I desire is with you to be

Yet I am without any power

To reach out, I to you, you to me

Desperate and helpless, call out to the Higher

All then perfected, outside and the Inner

Silmavalien sat up in her bed, rocking restlessly. She felt like all her life her heart had been a still, quiet valley in which dwelt a few silent forms of life endlessly seeking something wider and more. Now, all that was gone in a chaotic whirlstorm of confusion and emotion. Would it shatter the walls enclosing, and sheltering, the little valley of her heart? Would it shatter the valley itself? When it was gone, would enemies pour through the broken walls and lay waste all that she was or desired? Or would it let in the Higher, to totally transform and fill her?

Wrestling with her emotions and fears, a soft thump on the floor behind her startled Silmavalien. She twisted around and first beheld the white light of the silver moon streaming through her window and flooding her room with pale and colorless yet strangely beautiful soft and white luminescence. At first all in her room seemed to be just as she had left it.

Then, Silmavalien saw that her shiny white oval had fallen to the floor. Then she saw it, just a few feet away from her, shinning softly in the moonlight and riddled with a webbed network of thin, inky black lines.

Cold, icy fear surged through Silmavalien. Even her heart seemed to stop beating. She did not think. She did not move. She did not hope or guess. She waited, yet with neither patience nor impatience. Fear annihilated all else.

Then, the shiny white oval split, revealing its true nature.

A few feet away from Silmavalien, on the clay floor, sprawled what could only be a dragon. A long, thick, clumsy tail uncurled itself on her floor. A thin neck, but nonetheless short against both the body and the head, supported a large, awkward shaped, rough and squarish-triangular head. Large, bulging eyes glowed a dim minty color and whirled slowly. A spiny ridge ran down from the forehead to the nose, where wide nostrils flared revealing molten depths which seemed almost to glow with dark red slumbering flame.

The dragon splayed four stumpy legs out around its body and looked too thick and clumsy to properly walk on them. The claws were a pale color, faintly transparent. Rather too small, much-crinkled, crudely shaped wings were splayed around the contrastingly lithe body. Everywhere the skin shone white in the pale moonlight.

Though Silmavalien thought that the dragon was despicably ugly and even repugnant to look at, she felt a certain strange thrill of excitement as its birth. She felt strangely affectionate and drawn to it as, overpowered by its hunger, it twisted around and began to eat its egg-shell. She felt its hunger and helplessness in herself. Despite its ugliness, the dragon fascinated her.

When the dragon had finished its egg-shell it twisted back around and creeled mournfully. The plea touched Silmavalien’s heart. She recognized it! She knew it, from the very bottom. All fear and reluctance suddenly gone she reached out and touched the dragon.

The instant her fingers touched the dragon’s skin icy fire coursed through that contact into Silmavalien’s blood, bringing with it both burning, excruciating pain and a strong sense of pleasure, which, mingling into each other, made the whole sensation even more unbearable. The dragon screamed a piercing screech which hurt her ears.

Silmavalien tried to draw back from the contact, but found herself unable. She had touched a dragon hatchling and already their hearts and souls were uniting, becoming one. Their minds were linked. Neither of them could do anything to that anymore than Silmavalien could revoke the fact that she had, of her own conscious will, touched. Her heart was already melting and breaking so that it could truly bond to the dragon’s. Perhaps that is why dragons are born so ugly; an attraction to something based in anyway whatsoever upon beauty cannot serve as a foundation for such a bond.

Slowly the pain melted away. Silmavalien lay beside the dragon, conscious of his name though she could not remember learning it. Minth. Unbearable ecstasy of joy, excitement, and wonder flooded her being. She drew Minth into the mattress with her and kissed his ugly head. Joy and love surged through her.

Silmavalien’s eyes fell on the dragon and she loved him. The beat of her heart harmonized with his. The rhythm of her breath merged with that of his. Their whole bodies vibrated with the same force and energy as they stared into one another’s very different eyes, the one having dark brown irises and black pupils, the other a dim, pale minty glow. They were so different and yet they were so close and the differences served not to separate them but to draw them closer together. It was wonderful, impossible, totally new.

Silmavalien smiled and drew Minth close to her breast. She kissed him on the nose and stroked the smooth skin on his neck and shoulder. The unbearable, inexplicable, unbelievably wonderful had happened to her. She was freed and bound. She had been born with Minth, but she still felt quite confused. Perhaps, indeed, it was now that Silmavalien felt more confused than ever. A dragon. The dragon. Minth himself was with her. She loved him. She wanted him. She wanted to be with him. She wanted things she knew she had never wanted before, but what it was she wanted she did not know. She had been instantaneously thrust into the wide new world of the undiscovered and the unexperienced and of another being’s emotions, experiences, and personality.

One thing Silmavalien did know. She and Minth were indissolubly bound together. Bound by love, bound by joy, and bound by desire. Their very lives, too, were joined. She felt his breath and his heart beat in her even as her heart beat in him. Without putting into words or knowing how she understood that they were already bound by a bond stronger than fear or death.

Acceptance, love, gladness, and quiet marvel filled her heart. This was the foundation on which all truly wholesome bonds are set. The fear, the terror, and the panic of just a few moments before seemed to have no place at all in the whole world and all the worlds. Indeed, it was very nearly forgotten in the love and goodness of their bond.

In time Silmavalien sank into a soft doze, not really all that akin to sleep, as she lay about Minth. Desires and images such as she had never known before and can hardly be described flooded her dream-consciousness. New emotion and new being flooded her mind. Here I will do my best to translate the song that she heard in that dream, the song that told of and was told in the language of this new world which was opening upon Silmavalien. Others may be able to do better; here is my best:

Swift and fiery, wind immortal,

Running beyond all mortal sight,

Now made one, undying in unity eternal

Beyond the everlasting fire and light.

Before the worlds were born

This was and is a world of its own;

Only those to love forsworn

Know this world to which no eagle has flown.

Now see and behold, lo!

This world more deep than eyes may see.

Come and find what no mind may know

Where all may dwell and as one be.

The streams here are pure and clear.

The winds are born with a flame living.

Never can one come to the end of me here.

There is fulfillment and yet no end to the seeking.

Come and find all your desire

To be made one ever closer.

Soar on winds of fire,

Fly beyond all you ever were.

This is where your heart can learn to fly;

These are the lands of true flight

Where there is no end or limit of beauty and sky

And you can race flame, soar on light.

This where you may run

As fleet as deer;

This where you will soar to the sun

Find there is no fear.

Swim through the rivers,

Ride upon the crest of the waves of the sea.

The winds here are stronger

Than all you can ever be.

Yet there is no harm;

Even pain will be life in love.

Find only peaceful charm,

Join the joy of all winged life above.

Do what you cannot do.

Race the wind swifter than you.

Find her in your heart, too

In strangest ways all your desires come true.

So the song went on, telling of and told by that world where everything is stronger than oneself and yet nothing is impossible, the world of fiery winds and tides and rivers and healing and the joy of love incarnate. Silmavalien did not understand the half of what she heard, but she knew that she and Minth were together in a way that more real and intimate that she had ever imagined. She knew her life was changed forever. She no longer was, and yet she was just beginning to be.

“I love you, Minth.”

Excerpted from DragonBirth, Copyright © 2014 by Raina Nightingale

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Dragon Song: Poem for DragonBirth

Excerpt from DragonWing (Book Two)

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DragonBirth, Return of the Dragonriders, Raina Nightingale, Areaer, Fantasy, Fiction