I haven’t had a chance to participate

oy12 by timepunchingin NaNo this year, or last. Why? The simple absurd drama that is my life. I ought to carve out some time, but I can’t promise to meet a certain word count every day. I’m sharing this here because I think I found the beginning that the story and myself are quite happy with. It’s rough, and by no means polished. Enjoy! (cross-posted to Destinare)

~*~

She stared ahead, her gaze unfocused. Caolán glanced at his sister as each knight, warrior, would be protector presented themselves. She acknowledged their presence, but did little else. Their mother handled all the proceedings, passing out the favours given to each participant.

The sister he once knew was gone. In Cinnia’s place was some wildling, a feral elf. She disappeared some years go, spirited away by a neighboring kingdom. But a dragon had attacked, and so they thought that their princess had perished with the raiding party. The kingdom grieved for the loss of their princess for years, until one day they heard a rumor of a dragon with a hatchling and a young elf.

They searched tirelessly for years, but always they found an old nest. It was as if the dragon knew they were coming. They hoped that the dragon was simply taking care of their princess and not saving her to feed the hatchling. By the time they did corner the beast, Cinnia was near full grown.

No one recognized her. Her hair was matted , her skin grimy; her clothes the colour of the woods, patched together with sinew. She wore leather that looked like dragon scale and used razor sharp blades as talons, and she snarled like a wild beast at their approach. The princess fought like a creature possessed, far stronger than anyone had thought possible as she was determined to protect the dragon and it’s juvenile offspring. The dragon was brought down, which sent their erstwhile princess into a rage. When the juvenile was captured and killed, she killed half a dozen men. It took three times that to subdue her.

She fought being cleaned. She fought having her clothing taken away. She fought being confined. She railed against their mother and defied everyone, shouting that she didn’t belong within cold walls. When she did escape, Caolán often found her in the garden. But there was one night that it seemed to him that the garden was different. There were fae flitting about, and the night air seemed warm and the moon appeared a faint shade of pale green instead of harsh white light. He followed her into some darker place of the garden. When she stopped abruptly, she turned to look at him. There was something unfathomable in her gaze. She seemed ancient, knowing what his intention was before even he knew what he was doing in the garden so late at night. He coaxed her back to her room. Since that night, each time he found her, she would come back to her room peacefully and wait until dawn.

Over time, she fought less and talked even less. She was subdued, and refused to acknowledge anyone but Caolán. She retreated into herself. He didn’t recognize the feeling that settled into his sister’s heart at first. Fearing the worst, Caolán took her out to the gardens in the hopes that she would react to something besides him. It was then he recognized the look in Cinnia’s eyes: hopelessness. It nearly broke his heart. He would much rather fight with Cinnia when she was full of fire than this empty husk that now sat at their mother’s side. It was Cinnia’s current state that brought about the need of a protector for the princess.

Cinnia’s gaze suddenly focused, her nostrils flaring. It was a small thing. So small that Caolán wasn’t sure he saw it. There was a man with dark hair and amber eyes, his features somehow off. Caolán figured he was one of the fae folk come to fight for the honour of protecting a princess of their fair woods. Cinnia did no more than watch the man approach the queen, take a favour, then depart.

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