Gnaw (a dragon acquaintance of author Heidi Lyn Burke ) is on the blog today with some advice for his scaly brethren. So check out his practical do’s and don’t, and enjoy an excerpt of Heidi’s novel, Dragon’s Curse. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end!
A Dragon’s Guide to Not Being a Trophy
by Gnaw, a Dragon (with help from Heidi Lyn Burke)
As a dragon, I have been hunted multiple times. It comes with the scales. People see you and they have one of two possible reactions: they either want to kill you or they want someone else to do it on their behalf.
Thankfully, due to the dramatic retaliations against such attacks by dragon parents, the hunting of young dragons and the raiding of dragon nests is illegal in most civilized kingdoms. Though some small scale poaching does exist, men do not pose a true danger to our whelps and eggs. However, once a dragon has passed its tenth year and is recognizable as a juvenile rather than a whelp, all protection ceases. A dragon must be prepared for the dangers of knights.
These are my best tips for head-loss prevention:
1. Settle remotely.
Yes, humans have taken the best lands for themselves and their settlements continue to sprawl, but at this time the Wilderlands mid-Continent offer a sizable territory of mostly-human-free forests and mountains. If at all possible, stay here. No humans, no problems.
However, I know the desire to travel and see the world is in our blood, so if option one is unappealing to you and you must travel or temporarily abide near human settlements . . .
2. Avoid snacking on livestock.
Nothing annoys a human farmer more than missing sheep. (Maybe missing children, but human is not the ideal diet for a young dragon, anyway. Far too fatty.). Some reasonable humans will look the other way if a dragon settles in their area. Few, however, will long ignore you snatching their livestock. Even if they lack the means to hunt you, they can send away for help, hiring knights who will be more than happy to do the farmer’s dirty work.
3. Know your knights.
Sometimes even if you have carefully chosen your lair and avoided angering the locals, a knight will come after you simply because you are a dragon. They’re in it for sport and glory. When this happens, you may have to fight, but sometimes properly wielded intimidation will spare you the trouble. Is the knight young and inexperienced? Is his armor still shiny and new? Are his knees knocking with fear? Try sticking your head out of your lair, flashing your teeth, and blowing some smoke. Nine times out of ten, this will send the idiots running home to Mama. If the knight shows signs of experience or age or if they come in groups, flight is an option. Unlike knights, we dragons do not hold ourselves to archaic ideas of bravery. If you have no reason to fight, don’t fight.
However, sometimes a lair is worth defending. Also, sometimes I just get sick of being chased off. If you have considered all other options, or are just feeling cranky, it may be time to fight. If it comes down to this . . .
4. Save your fire.
Yes, fire breath is big and flashy, but don’t get carried away and lead off with that. The inner heat required to power a decent sized fireball takes awhile to build back up, and you will probably only get one shot during any given fight. If the idiot has started the fight directly in front of your nostrils, then by all means, blast away. However, a dragon has many weapons at hand. My personal favorite is bulk. Sit on the fellow. It’s a delightfully undignified way to dispatch someone, plus it takes minimal effort. Also we have tails to swipe, venomous fangs, and claws to tear.
Honestly, a one on one fight, dragon to knight, the dragon should win 90% of the time. This is why most knights are smart enough to hunt in packs or attempt sneak attacks while we are napping.
So my final word of advice is . . .
5. Be aware of your surroundings.
Always scope out a lair before you settle in for the night. Check for strange smells, campfire smoke, or any other sign of human encroachment.
If you take these simple precautions, you can live a long and happy life, knight free.
On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous. Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family?
Novel excerpt from Dragon’s Curse
The shepherd and his dog urged the livestock along the path. The dragon drew a deep breath, arched his neck, flapped his wings, and dove.
The shaggy black sheepdog barked sharply at the dragon’s descent but too late to warn his master. The dragon grasped the man in his bird like talons and swept him into the sky. Lambs scattered every which way and the dog’s yapping grew frantic.
The great winged beast dropped the man on a rocky ledge far above the canyon floor where he rolled about, gasping and shivering. He tried to scramble away, lost his footing, and fell from the cliff. The dragon swiftly struck out. He bit into the man’s shirt, arresting his fall, and pulled him back to safety. The fellow jerked about like a fly in a spider’s web for several minutes before going limp.
The dragon lowered him back to the earth.
“Now that you have realized you cannot fly, perhaps we can talk,” he said.
The man stared up at him, wide-eyed. His Adam’s apple bobbed.
“You aren’t going to eat me?”
“If you answer my questions honestly, no. There shouldn’t be any need for that, though I wouldn’t mind one of your herd for a quick snack.” The dragon’s long tongue darted out and in. “You come from Regone?”
“The king, Ernest, is he well?”
“Ernest is no longer king of Regone.”
The monster drew his head back and up like a snake posed to strike and the man crumpled to his knees.
“What became of Ernest?” the dragon hissed.
The shepherd’s body shuddered. “He died, natural causes, almost a year ago.”
“Then the dragon-hunter now rules?”
“Dragon-hunter? Prince Edmond? Yes, he has ascended to the throne.”
The creature stretched out his wings. “All right, I have heard enough. I shall return you to your flock, but you must speak of this to no one.”
The man nodded and did not cry out when the dragon snatched him up and plummeted into the ravine. The gray drake deposited his prisoner on the ground, dodged an attack from the panicked sheep dog, and nabbed a fat ewe before streaking into the sky.
He came to rest on a plateau and tore into the animal’s carcass, swallowing great chunks of savory meat.
It is time to decide: settle the score or forget and move on.
He turned his eyes back to the horizon. To the west low, green foothills stretched out for miles, to the south lay near impassable mountains filled with freedom and peace.
“Not yet, but soon,” the dragon whispered. Leaving his meal unfinished he launched himself towards the craggy blue peaks of the Middland range, his path ripping apart the clouds like paper.
Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.
An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.
Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.