Read Dragon Dodgers (Wounds in the Sky Prequels Book 1) Online

Authors: V. R. Cardoso

Tags: #coming of age, #gods, #dragon slayer, #low fantasy, #dragon cave, #dragon hunters, #crystal sword

Dragon Dodgers (Wounds in the Sky Prequels Book 1)

BOOK: Dragon Dodgers (Wounds in the Sky Prequels Book 1)
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Dragon Dodgers

By

V. R. Cardoso

To my
beautiful Sílvia, with love.

Follow
my
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date information on upcoming releases.

You can find
a map of Arkhemia
here
. Just click the
image to enlarge.

Contents

Chapter 1: The
Watcher And The Runner

Chapter 2: The
Contract

Chapter 3: The
Disagreement

Chapter 4: The
Agreement

Chapter 5: The
Departure

Chapter 6: The
Secret Weapon

Chapter 7: The
Shamissai Mountains

Chapter 8: The
Hunt

Chapter 9: The
Hero

Chapter 1: The
Watcher
And The Runner

 

Enrig chased
Merriqh
up the corridor, dodging weave baskets, pitchers, and even passing
workers. His arms rasped against the naked rock walls and he felt
the smell of wet stone with every gasp.


Merriqh!” He called.
“Merriqh, wait.”

He was forced to slow down when he reached the exit
chamber. Luckily for him, so was
Merriqh. The room was packed full of workers. A mob of
half-fed beggars, desperate enough to risk their lives on the
surface for a dozen gold Spades.


You have to take me.” Enrig
said.


No, I don’t.”
Merriqh replied.

The king’s overseer was a balding man with three scars and
a limp that he had earned in the days when he himself
had been a Watcher. Enrig swallowed
a curse. He was trying his best not to be annoying, but even he
could tell it wasn’t working.


Yes, you do. You need
me.”


Why?”
Merriqh inspected a pile of empty containers, then gave a
group of workers permission to carry them. “You’re still a kid,
you’re too slow to be a Watcher.”


No, I’m not!” Enrig
said. “Ugas is larger than a bull, are you
saying he’s faster than me?”


Hey!” Ugas cried from
across the room. “I can hear you, you piece of snot.”

Enrig ignored him.


And I have better sight
than most of them, too.”


Bullshit!” Yelled someone
behind Ugas.

With few exceptions, t
he group of Watchers Merriqh employed was a bunch of
overpaid slackers. Even the overseer could see that. They were
gathered at the corner closest to the exit, as they would be the
first to leave the safety of the underground.


Oh yeah?”
Enrig asked. “Last Fall, who spotted that Dragon on the
third day of the harvest?”

For a moment, no one answered
him.


You did.”
Merriqh conceded.


Exactly. And almost too late, because it
was
his
quadrant.” Said Enrig pointing at a
Watcher called Teric.


Fuck you, kid!” Teric
growled. “The sky was darker than my asshole.”

Enrig dismissed him with a hand
wave.


You want excuses,” He told
Merriqh. “fine. Stick with them. But
if you want Watchers that can actually spot Dragons, give me a
job.”

Merriqh
scanned his
grumbling team of Watchers and then looked up a ventilation shaft.
They were so close to the surface, he could see the sun, shining
from it, like a bratty child sneaking a peek.


I promised your mom I
wouldn’t.” He said with a low voice.

Enrig’s eyes went wide.


Are you serious?!” He
said.


She’s your mother!”
Merriqh yelled. “She worries about
you.”


She didn’t even
recognize me this morning!”

Merriqh
was taken
aback.


Breath of Fyr… That bad,
huh?”

Enrig was barely fourteen, but he
looked older, drier, as if childhood had been sucked out of
him.


It gets better when she’s
passed out.” He replied. “Are you gonna give me that job or
not?”


Alright.”
Merriqh said. “I guess I can use a second pair of eyes in
the Northwest Watch.”

There was a
collective groan among the Watchers, but one of them
stepped forward and took Enrig by the shoulders in a friendly
embrace.


Come on little cousin,
you can watch my sky while I nap.”

His name was Cavill and he was as tall
and blonde as Enrig wasn’t. He ruffled Enrig’s hair, making him
pull away while pushing back a smile.


Alright, you lazy bums,”
Merriqh yelled. “this crop won’t
harvest itself. Let’s go!”

 

* * *

 

Targon’s gray
cloak
flowed like a cape around him. Thick mud covered his boots as they
splashed across the forest floor. The sun was already above the
tree tops, and he could feel the temperature rising as sweat began
to drip from his forehead. He lowered the scarf covering his mouth
and pulled his hood back. He stopped, then whistled and raised a
closed fist.


Everybody change.” He
ordered.

Around him,
twenty shrouded figures undressed their cloaks. The darkness of the
group was replaced with a colorful mix of leather clothes, scantily
covering their brown, tattoo covered skins.

One of the men stepped up to
Targon.


Captain.” He called. His name was Nasur,
a towering man with shoulders wider
than most doors. His red plaited beard reached down to his massive
chest.
“The men are
exhausted, we should rest.”


Nonsense.” Targon replied
as he took off his own cloak. “We should be on top of the
city within the hour. The men can run for a little
longer.”


We’ve never been here,
how can you be so sure?”

Targon pulled out a piece of painted
parchment.


The map is accurate. It brought us this far without
mistake, why would it fail on the last couple of miles? Besides,
what idiot could misplace the largest city in the East?”


If the city is that big, it certainly won’t go anywhere.
Let’s rest for a bit.”


No way.” Targon put the map safely back in his pocket.
“We’re almost there, Nasur. We’re so close I can already see that
gold.”


I’m glad you can, because
no one else in the company has seen a single coin in
weeks.”

Targon knelt down and secured his neatly folded
cloak on his backpack.


Right!” He yelled standing back up. “Enough slacking
around. We’re almost there so let’s double time it.”

 

* * *

 

The Northwest Watch was nothing more than a brown hill
overlooking dark green rice fields. Enrig was sitting on a large
crevice where the edges of rock carved into his skin, but it
provided decent cover. Below, dozens of workers hunched down,
collecting rice in a frenzy. Even from that distance, Enrig could
see them constantly looking over their shoulders.

So much sky makes them nervous.
Enrig thought. He loved the outdoors, the surface. It
seemed so… infinite. Still, even Enrig had to admit it was
unsettling not to have a roof over his head. The way the landscape
just kept going on forever into nothingness seemed unnatural. As if
the goddess Fyr had made it on purpose, as a warning for humans -
you don’t belong here!


You should be more careful, you
know?”
Cavill
said.


About what?”


The way you talk.
Some of the things you said back there… You’re
not gonna make any friends that way, that’s for sure.”

Enrig shrugged.


I don’t plan on
being a Watcher forever.”


You don’t?!” Cavill
asked. “Why are you always begging for a spot, then?”


Because it’s good
practice for Surface Running.”


What?!” Cavi
ll was amused. “You wanna be a Runner?”


Why
? You don’t think I can?”

Cavill shrugged.


It’s not as easy as
sitting on your ass looking up, you know?”

Enrig
looked into the
distance. It was a sunny day, but clouds blotched the sky like
smudges of sauce on an empty plate.


See that dark mountain
on the horizon?” Enrig said.


Prophet's Peak. What
about it?”


I’ve been there. I
mean
, I didn’t climb
it… I’ve been at the base.”


No way…” Cavill got up
and studied the distance. “You would never get there and back in a
day.”


That’s why I slept there. Found a nice little
cave.”


You’re so full of it.”
Cavill shook his head. “You’re telling me you spent a night on the
surface?”


And made a two day
Surface Run.”


Well, if you’re not
lying, then you’re just plain crazy. I mean, why the surface would
you do that? Why would you even want to be a Runner?” Cavill looked
puzzled. “Why would you want a life like that? No home, no family,
having to sleep in the woods, eat shitty food,
and
being
chased by Dragons all the time…” He exhaled as if he was exhausted.
“Who in their right mind chooses that?” He paused suddenly, looking
really uncomfortable. “Huh, I’m sorry… I mean… Does it have to do
with your dad?”


No!” Enrig spun
to face Cavill. “It doesn’t have to do with him! Or my
mother. It has to do with me. I’m tired of living underground in
some smelly, wet hole. There is a huge world out there. I wanna…”
He stopped talking and Cavill saw him frown.


You want to what?”


Birds. Taking off.” Enrig said absently.


Birds? What? What are
you talking about?” Cavill looked around, half confused, half
trying to find the birds Enrig was talking about.
“I think you should turn around and
watch your quadrant.”


I saw
something.”


What?”

Enrig didn’t answer
him. Instead, he scanned the distance with an obsessive
look.


That’s not your
quadrant.
” Cavill told
him again. “There are Watchers on those hills, now turn
around.”


There! In Southwest
Watch, a shadow.”

Cavill
jumped up and
combed the patch of sky above him.


Are you sure?”
Cavill asked. “The clouds are moving pretty fast
today, it could be…”


It wasn
’t a cloud!” Enrig said. “And stop looking above you.” He
pointed southwest “I saw it over there, so...”

Enrig’s finger
arched
towards the sun.


South by southea
st.” Cavill said. “It had to be a cloud, I don’t hear
any horn.”


Of course you don’t.
Those idiots couldn’t spot a Dragon if it was blowing fire up their
asses!”

BOOK: Dragon Dodgers (Wounds in the Sky Prequels Book 1)
13.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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