Daily Snippit: High/Second World Fantasy

Seven times seven was forty-nine.

Small in terms of men, huge in terms of dragons. Each beast ate its own weight in food and even with feather-light bones it took two tens of hunters to feed them. The scoured the land as they went, stripping it bare of game. But the advantage would win them the war, so they kept on.

Seven times seven was too old to fight.

The farmer’s joints ached in the bite of an early winter and he focused his small magics on a blanketing warmth. Not enough to attract attention, but enough to soothe the pain. Beneath him the dragon shifted minutely, cupping wings closer to the heat.

Seven times seven was too young to notice.

He hadn’t been alone when he joined the march to the warfront. Every man that could be spared had donned the moss-green tabard of the sacred army and joined the ranks. They left the best behind, to carry their families forward; the gods of war seldom sent heroes home.

Seven times seven was the second tier of the sacred army.

There were fifty men in his unit, seven sevens assigned to a single leader mounted on a grass-green wyvern. He taught them, drilled them, lead them into battle knowing only a handful would survive to die another day. Dragons were almost invulnerable, men less so.

Seven times seven was magic, exponential.

He hadn’t thought, just reached out to hold closed the jagged deathblow that leaked bright light instead of blood. As he touched the lime-green scales the magic grabbed him, shook him, poured a dragon into a man and burst him at the seams. And they survived.

Seven times seven was a line of lifetimes, strung along a pine-green wing. A patchwork quilt of souls pieced together through war and death, but backed by centuries of peace.

Seven times seven was the rhythm of life, and they flew with its rise and fall, waiting for the next cycle of shared experience.

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. gileonnen

    I really love the way that the style of the piece funnels it down to the end; it makes the whole thing very focused, and parallels well the focus of your war-unit. It’s also really intriguing, how you begin with the pragmatic realities (feeding these massive beasts, choosing who will go to war) and moving to an almost dreamlike place with your narrative.

    Because you asked for constructive criticism, I might want a little more concision at the end, to further heighten that feeling of simultaneous narrowing and expansion of focus. There are also some elements that I would love to see clarified concisely (just to make this piece even prettier)–for example, where did this dragon receive its ‘deathblow,’ and how is it a deathblow if they don’t die? Is the blanketing warmth magic a kind of draconic heating pad to sooth wounds/aches, or does it serve a different purpose? Is the ‘poured a dragon into a man and burst him at the seams’ thing a temporary condition, solely focused on healing the dragon, or is it how one of these men died? Are you using one focal character, or are you kind of head-jumping to different characters (and does it matter which)?

    These are just things for you to think about; I’m really quite happy with how you’re constructing an entirely new form of pragmatism for this world, and your style’s nice.

    Would you like me to create a new tag for fiction: flashfiction? And would you like some guidance for what counts as drabble/flashfic/short story in the tagging guide? (Don’t worry too much about rating; that part’s really only there so that people can have some warning–i.e. so that our bases are covered–before opening an R- or NC-17-rated story. You may also feel free to use a non-American rating system, if you feel more comfortable with it.)

    1. Martha Bechtel

      Thank you so much for your feedback! I have a bad habit of leaving too much information out of stories in an attempt to avoid info-dumping.. and going too far in the other extreme. I’ve decided that I really want to focus in and try to improve this year, so comments like yours really help me figure out how to ‘fix’ things. ^_^

      A flashfic tag for would be wonderful, as that’s what a majority of my works fall under. I am assuming that you’re defining drabble as the 100 word limit I’m use to, but I may be wrong?

      And the rating issue is my own little headache. I’m just never sure how to translate some of the movie terminology to fit written scenes. I tend to rate everything as PG13 unless it’s horror. ^_^;; < -(sheepish look) ((baa))

      1. gileonnen

        No problem–I tend to do the same thing, so it’s just something we’ll both have to work on.

        Yep! How would you feel about ‘drabbles’ being 100 words or fewer, ‘flashfiction’ being between 100 and 500, and ‘short stories’ being 500 up?

        Aaah–I tend to do PG for somewhat dark or unhappy themes, as well as for romance with more than one chaste kiss; PG-13 for allusions to sexuality, cursing, and visible battles; R for somewhat explicit sexual conduct, seriously dark themes (rape, torture, murder), or graphic depictions of injury; and NC-17 for full-on sex scenes. However, my own rating uses are definitely not everyone else’s, so I’m not going to try to enforce them. ^_~

  2. meggins

    He hadn’t thought, just reached out to hold closed the jagged deathblow that leaked bright light instead of blood. As he touched the lime-green scales the magic grabbed him, shook him, poured a dragon into a man and burst him at the seams. And they survived.

    This is the one that grabs me emotionally, makes me want to know more. It’s also the most dramatic overall. I agree with that beginning with a practical problem like feeding the dragons “grounds” the piece and eases the reader into that world.

    I, too, am confused about POVs. Surely the farmer and the next one aren’t the same person. But is the one from the “sacred army” also the next one, too?

    1. Martha Bechtel

      I keep being tempted to steal that line and use it for something else. ^_~;; *sheepish look*

      They are actually all the same POV, so I need to clean that up a bit so it makes more sense. Hmm. *ponders* Then again, there are a lot of things I need to clarify. *pokes flashfic* I’ll chew on it a bit this weekend and see if I can’t make it a little less obscure… Thanks for your feedback!! ^_^

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