Hello glorious people and secret Dragonkin! Dan Wright is back on my blog, this time sharing an awesome excerpt from his latest work, his re-mastered and re-leased pride and joy, Trapped in Draconica, the first in his Draconica series! ^_^ I signed up to be apart of his Enchanted Book Promotions blog tour, but he had so many wonderful hosts wanting a piece of it, I did not get to! Awesome job though friend for being so popular! So, I promised him that when his tour ended, which was last week, I would extend it with a post on my author site and…ta-dah! 😀 Here we go!
Not In Canterbury Anymore
Cool breezes kissed Ben’s forehead as he slowly began to open his eyes. The light stung his eyes and nearly blinded him again, closing his eyes quicker than opening them. “Ow! Turn the flipping lights off will you?”
He lay back, the ground feeling surprisingly comfortable, despite the moist feeling, as if it had been raining for a few days. It was quite soft and he felt like he could go to back to sleep for a few hours. His head burned like it had the mother of all hangovers. The fresh smell of pure grass graced his nostrils – the wonderful sensation making him forget the pain in his head.
Then he realised that something wasn’t right.
Ben picked himself up and took in his surroundings. All he could see was lush woodland and tender grass beneath him, the sun warming him with calming light. It was a complete contrast to where he was a moment ago.
The last thing he remembered was being chased in an alley. Then a flash… and that was it. How did he end up here?
He checked himself, noticing he was still wearing his school uniform and he still had his backpack. Instinctively he opened it up and looked inside to see if anything had been taken. Everything was still there – the cigarettes, his mobile phone, iPod, schoolbooks and the World Soccer magazine he had pinched. Ben took his phone and searched through his list of contacts for Clive, calling him to see if they got away. The phone wouldn’t connect. After checking it, Ben realised he had no signal. He tried again and again to call. Nothing.
He slung his bag over his shoulder and held his phone up in the hopes of finding a signal. He didn’t know if it was the trees that were blocking his signal or not, but no amount of walking he did helped. “Argh, stupid thing!” Ben cursed as he moved around. “Why won’t you work? Most powerful phone network my…”
He stopped when he heard a low growl from behind. At first he thought it was his stomach rumbling, but then the growl came again. Very slowly, he turned round. He gulped when he saw a large dog, roughly the size of a great dane. Its crimson red fur standing on end and its glinting, yellow eyes looked towards Ben with the apparent intention of making him its next meal. Ben always had a fear of dogs since he was attacked by a Jack Russell a few years ago, but a dog this size made him twice as apprehensive.
“Nice doggie…” he said in panicked tones, backing away. “Nice doggie…”
With every step Ben took back, the huge dog took a step forward, glaring with blazing eyes that could light up the darkness of a cave. The dog snarled at Ben, opening its mouth to show rows of razor sharp teeth.
Ben turned and ran through a grove of trees. The dog followed in hot pursuit, matching him every step of the way. Ben’s escape plans were foiled when he tripped over a root hidden amongst the dirt, landing chin first.
The dog was on top of him moments later, Ben felt as if a huge weight had been placed on his back. It let out a terrible howl and grabbed the back of Ben’s shirt, tearing into it and missing his flesh by a hairsbreadth. It tore off the fabric and spat it away, leaving Ben’s neck exposed. Ben was terrified, of all the ways he thought he would die, he never expected being mauled to death by a rabid dog to be one of them.
Suddenly, the creature stopped. All traces of anger and discomfort appeared to leave it. It turned to its side and Ben noticed a girl no older than him and of the same black skin tone. She wore grass-green dress, with flowers attached for decoration. She reached out to the dog and instantly it leapt off Ben, relieving the crushing pain on his back. It ran into the girls’ arms, whining like a puppy. The girl stroked it just behind its ears and talked to it in soothing tones as if it was her own pet. Then the dog creature ran off into the forest. The girl walked over to Ben, holding out a hand.
“You all right?” Her voice sweet and childlike, lacking any malice.
“What… what…” Ben gasped as he tried to get his breath back. “What was that thing?”
“A blood wolf,” the girl told him.
“A wolf!” Ben screamed in shock. “Since when does Canterbury have any wolves?”
He saw that the girl was still holding her hand out, so he took it and she helped him to his feet. “What were you doing being chased by a blood wolf?” the girl asked him. “You didn’t act afraid near it, did you? You silly boy!”
“Yeah, it’s a little hard not to act afraid when it’s slobbering all over your back and all!” Ben yelled back.
“Didn’t they teach you anything about the wild? Blood wolves sense of smell is so acute that they can detect the subtle changes in emotions. They’re very sensitive to negative emotions so you don’t act afraid around them.”
“Where did you read that? Wikipedia?”
The girl appeared a little perplexed by Ben’s manner of speech, but remained polite. “What’s your name?”
“Er… Ben…” he replied, dusting himself off.
“Nice to meet you,” the girl said, smiling. “I’m Erowin. What are you doing in this forest all alone?”
“Looking for Bear Grylls,” Ben replied sarcastically. “What do you think?”
Erowin seemed mildly offended by what Ben said at first, then burst into a spontaneous giggle. “You’re funny!”
“Yeah… Er… listen, don’t supposed you could tell me… where am I?”
“Where are you?” Erowin asked, sounding a little shocked. “You’re in the forest!”
God, this girl’s a whack job! Ben thought. “Well thank you very much, Ms-Explain-The-Bleeding obvious, but can you be a little bit more specific?”
“The Forest of Celt, silly,” she chuckled.
“Where the hell’s that? Newcastle?”
“New castle?” Erowin placed a finger to her chin and her eyes rolled back thoughtfully. “There aren’t any new castles that I can think of. Unless any have been built recently.”
This chick’s clearly on something, Ben thought. “Right, see ya!” He turned and walked away in the opposite direction to Erowin, moving as fast as he could.
“Where are you going?” Erowin cried, running after him. “I’m sorry if I offended you.”
Ben ignored her and took out his phone again and dialled the same number he had been trying for ages, still he got no response. The phone didn’t even ring. “Argh! Stupid thing!” Ben cursed. “How do I get a signal in this place?”
“Signal?” Erowin asked. “For what?”
“For my phone!” Ben said, holding up his mobile.
Erowin’s eyes widened, acting as if she had just been shown the most unusual piece of jewellery in her life. She took the phone from his hands.
“Hey! Give that back!”
Erowin looked over the alien device in her fingers, feeling it up and down with her thumbs. It felt smooth against her touch, but a bit heavy for its size. “What a curious little device,” she mused. “What is it?”
“It’s a mobile!” Ben shouted, snatching it back from Erowin. “More to the point it’s a mobile that cost around a hundred odd quid, so keep your grubby mitts off it! Oh you scratched the screen!” He shut his phone off and put it back in his bag. “Look, just point me in the direction of the train station and I’ll make my own way back home!”
“You don’t even have a train station?” Ben groaned. “Fine, I’ll just have to walk it then.”
“Wait! I can help you find your way home!” Erowin said, following after Ben as he walked away. “This forest is dangerous and I would hate it if you got hurt.”
“Thanks, but no thanks!” Ben sternly replied. “I think I’m capable enough to navigate my way through a…”
As he turned a corner he was met with a roar of sound that made him fall back and land on his backside. He was greeted with a sight that made his encounter with the blood wolf seem small by comparison. The roar came from a bear, at least eight feet tall and with two bull-like horns protruding from its head. It roared again when it saw Ben, yet it did not move to attack. For Ben, two shocks in one day were more than he was prepared to take. “What the hell is that?”
“It’s a torobear!” Erowin cried, rushing to his side. “Don’t get too close to it! It seems angered!”
“You think?” Ben cried sarcastically. “What kind of messed up place is this?”
Erowin could sense a great rage coming from the creature, but she did not think it was directed at them. She knew torobears were generally gentle creatures who did not attack unless provoked. And Ben had not done anything to provoke the creature that she could see.
“Stay here,” she said to Ben. She walked toward the torobear, which dwarfed Erowin.
“What you doing you crazy bird?” Ben shouted.
Erowin moved closer to the bear and closed her eyes. The bear continued to roar, but Erowin did not flinch. “It’s in pain,” Erowin said, her voice sounding a little distant.
“What?” Ben asked.
Erowin looked down at the bear’s back legs, which were caught in a huge mantrap. The jaws of the horrific contraption had dug deep into its bone, tearing into its leg further as it struggled to free itself.
“You poor thing,” Erowin gasped. “Here, let me help you.”
The beast took a swing at Erowin with huge claws that looked like they could tear a man in half with one blow. Erowin lunged back to avoid the creature’s swing. “It’s all right,” she said in soothing tones. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
The bear’s roar changed to painful breathing. Erowin knelt down beside the trap. Looking at this device made her feel sick. It was a thing that was not only made to trap its prey, but also to cause it as much pain as possible. She tried not to flinch from the smell of blood in her nostrils as she reached for it, but stopped when she felt the cold steel of a blade underneath her chin.
“‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello,” came a sinister, yet highly common voice from behind. “What ‘ave we got ‘ere then?”
Erowin turned round slowly, spotting a man, dressed in fur from creatures he had previously slain. His lips raised in a mischievous grin. “Tryin’ to steal our catch of the day?”
The torobear let out a roar on seeing its captors. Two more men, dressed similarly to their leader grabbed Ben. “Hey, let me go, you creeps!” Ben cried out.
“Now then, sweetheart, ‘ow about you stand up and walk away from the bear so that we can ‘ave ourselves a little chat?” the Captain said. Erowin did what she was told while the Captain kept his blade to her chin. “Search her buddy!”
Another man appeared from the trees and walked over to Ben’s bag. He fumbled around to try and find some way of opening it, having never seen a bag like this before. Eventually, he found the zip and pulled it open, pouring the contents on the ground.
“Oi!” Ben called out. “That’s my stuff! Leave it out!”
“Why are you trapping this torobear?” Erowin asked. “Can’t you see it’s in pain?”
“We were waitin’ for the stupid creature to bleed to death so we could get to its horns,” the Captain replied. “Probably would have passed out if you hadn’t given it that scare!”
Erowin’s face dropped and her eyes widened as far as they could go. “You’re poachers!”
The man looking through Ben’s bag had come across his iPod and looked at it, totally confused by its alien design.
“Hey! You put that down!” Ben cried out. “You break that and I’ll… I’ll… I’ll sue!”
“But torobears are an endangered species!” Erowin cried. “Taking their horns is illegal!”
“Torobear horns fetch a good price on the market,” the Captain sneered. “Easy way to make a bit of coin for us.”
“Nothin’ good here, chief,” the poacher looking through Ben’s stuff replied.
“Ok then,” the Captain said in a snide manner. “Cut his throat. We can bleed him out and say his blood is unicorn blood or somethin’.”
“Gotcha!” The poacher drew out a huge machete.
“Er… say now…” Ben stuttered. “Let’s – let’s not be hasty…”
“You can’t!” Erowin cried fearfully.
“Oh, don’t worry, babes!” the Captain exclaimed. “We’ll be… humane!”
He grabbed Erowin by the hair and pushed his blade closer to her neck, but Erowin refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing her scared. “Now you’re a pretty little thing, aren’t ya?” he growled. “Shame to hurt ya, but you’ve seen too much. Can’t have anyone tell on us can we?”
“Just you wait until my sister hears about this!” Erowin cried. “When she finds out about this, she’s going to give you such a beating!”
The Captain let out a huge chortle, his saliva striking Erowin’s face. “I like you, girl. You make me laugh,” the Captain chuckled, moving his blade away from Erowin’s neck. “Because you made me laugh – I’m gonna make sure you die quickly!”
Suddenly, the handle of his blade became hot, as if it had been dipped in lava. The Captain cried aloud and dropped his blade, also letting go of Erowin. An imprint of the handle had been burned into his flesh and his flesh was smoking.
“You should have heeded my sister’s warning!” came a voice from above.
Everyone looked up. Erowin was the only one smiling at this point. “Daniar!”