NaNoWriMo begins!

So here’s my obligatory introductory snippet of novel.  It’s going to be a fantasy called Silverwings, a bit low-magic with some thought behind it.  I may make it YA friendly.

***

Verity looked up, starting to shade her eyes before she realized that was silly. Whatever the thing was above her, it sounded like a huge version of Squawk, the raven.  Like wings, only impossibly large. She startled, realizing what that could mean, and slipped into the trees. She didn’t think it could be a dragon – they weren’t common here, and this wasn’t a known hunting ground. Still, if it was a dragon, she wanted to be able to get away. Maybe if it was a big one it wouldn’t be able to get through the trees very well.

Once deep into the bushes surrounding the Berrywood, Verity looked back for a moment. A whinny, high and frightened, met her ears. Is it a giant bird, perhaps, with a poor horse in its talons? she wondered to herself, panic rising. If it is, I have to find some way to help it… Maybe if I cast a light spell on it’s eyes… Half formed visions of giant horse-eating owls dissipated when she saw what was heading toward the clearing.

There was, indeed, a horse. A fine looking horse, colored silver-white, with an arching neck, a noble looking face with a delicate muzzle, flowing mane and tail, and long, slender looking legs that were caked with mud. It was descending, carried on a pair of huge white wings that looked like they belonged to the biggest hawk who ever lived. The horse whinnied shrilly and landed in the clearing. Still amazed, Verity noted that she was a mare.

There, she looked about her, nostrils flared, her neck and sides lathered. She rustled and folded her wings to her sides, blowing and puffing. Her tail swished in agitation and her ears were swiveling in all directions. There were the unmistakable signs of rope burns about the curving neck and graceful legs.

Verity paused a moment, stunned by the sight. This was the most beautiful creature she’d ever seen. She had the finest attributes of horse and bird, but she was also obviously afraid and in need of a friend. What should I do? Verity wondered. Did she run away from somewhere? And why? Then she saw the lash-marks on the mare’s back and flanks, deeper than the rope burns. Looking more closely, she also saw a fine silvery chain looped around her neck and shoulders, like a harness. Something glinted on it, half buried in the short fur of her muscular chest. It looked like a small stone, also set in silver. The mare didn’t wheel around to kick or run, but just stood here, still blowing, her head held low. She looked exhausted.

Emboldened and driven by compassion, Verity made a soft noise. She imitated a horse’s nicker. Here I am, she said wordlessly. Here I am. I’m not here to hurt you. Then, to show what she was, she called out quietly

“Easy there, pretty one. Easy, now. I’m coming out.”.

Heedless of the leaves sticking in her hair and clothes, Verity came out – slowly, carefully, and not meeting the mare’s eyes, but instead sharing a common direction with her. She nickered again.

The mare stayed still for a moment, then stretched her neck as far as it would go, sniffing Verity, then blowing warm breath at her. Her ears had stopped swiveling but her tail was still lashing her hocks.

Verity stepped sideways, just a bit, and let herself be sniffed. She blew a little breath back so the mare could get an idea about her. Thinking quickly, she grabbed a branch of berries and carefully extended them to the mare.

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