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Author Topic: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)  (Read 5499 times)

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2009, 07:20:40 PM »
The familiar figure of her grandmother shrinks away, and the countryside passes by. The horses break into a controlled canter, carrying her faster away. A rumbling cry resounds through the air, like a thunder clash and belling hound and an eagle’s mew warped together – Sampson was calling fairwell.

The scenery melted from known fields, still Grimsword land but rented out and worked, to less known lands to parts she had rarely seen. For all of their fine blood, the Grimswords were not courtly. A rumour had it they refused to step foot in the capital for an old offence that they were not allowed to bring to justice, but no amount of listening at keyholes or flattering the older members of staff had ever led to the reasons for that.

There were highwaymen along the way, but the footmen with rifles were enough of a deterrent when they let off a round in warning. Through the windows, she saw silhouettes on the hillcrest as they retreated back to wait for easier prey. If it had been winter and not the harvest months, they would not have retreated so readily.

A few hours into the journey, they turned in to a great, bustling stable yard. “Fresh carriage and riding horses for the heir of Grimsword!” bellowed one of the footmen over the chatter and calls from the stablehands. They were a deft lot – several strong lads came up to unhitch the carriage and another pair came to take the lathered and sweating mounts from the footmen. The door was opened and one of the footmen said, “If you’d like to get down, Sir, and stretch your legs? They also have an inn to the side where refreshments are to be had, they will have replaced the horses by then.”         

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2009, 09:01:28 PM »
Even as excited as she was about the adventures ahead of her, Audrey couldn't help but remember the last time she passed these sights.  She and her family had been returning from Jack's initial visit to the academy, and her father had surprised them all with a new purchase.  The automobile was sleek and black, and its canvas top kept all of them out of the sun as they headed home.

The fields to her right dropped off to the low river below.  The bluff rippled around the side of the road, sometimes disappearing behind the trees, sometimes being just feet from the edge of the path.  Then she sees the setting of so many of her recent dreams.  The tree is still there, it's wounds still looking fresh against the surrounding bark.  The brush has grown back some in the past months, but the snapped trunks of the saplings are still visible. 

The cab speeds by, but for the remainder of the trip Aubrey is stuck at that damaged tree.  Finally she's awoken from her daze by the carriage slowing, then coming to a halt at the stable.  She takes advantage of the stop and the given invitation for food and drink.  On stiff legs, she steps down from the cab and heads into the inn.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2009, 08:58:44 PM »
The footmen follow after her, that driver staying behind to watch over the changing of the horses. The pub was modest but well stocked, the alluring scent of good food filling the cosy rooms. The footmen sat with Audrey when she found a nook that suited her, the lines between master and servant blurring for the duration of the journey.

The taller of the two me – Norris – waved over the innkeeper. “Four house beers, one sent out to the driver. Mi’lord, would you like to eat? What’s the options, man?” Norris was forty or so, a little older than her father and very relaxed. The other footman, Aubrey, was only a few years older than she was and had a tight nervousness about his shoulders. It had been he who had been teaching Audrey how to shoot.

The innkeeper said, “It’d be rabbit pie, fresh baked. Meats jus’ right, tender an’ there’s wild mushrooms in’t fo’ flavour. Or there’d be a leg’o ham that’s been maturin’. No’in as fancy as m’ sure your like, but good road food. Keeps the chill out an’ keep you on t’ the next stoppin’.”

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2009, 09:45:23 PM »
At the mention of the pie, Audrey felt her stomach rumble.  She looked to Norris, and gave an embarrassed smile.  In all her years as a girl, she's never ordered for herself.  The few times she has eaten at an inn or a feast her father would always order for her, as was proper.  Now she felt a bit exposed, and unsure of what exactly to do.  Deciding to be brave, she muttered "Um, I'll have some pie then.  If you please."

She had also never really drank beer.  It was considered a drink for the men, like whiskey or other spirits.  A lady would never allow herself to drink such a thing, for fear of being thought base.  Instead, she would request a wine or one of the fruit meads, or simply do without.  With a brief hesitation, the young lord reached forward and took her first sip of the bubbly liquid.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #29 on: February 22, 2009, 11:36:07 PM »
Norris grinned. “Pie for four – three here, the last to the man outside.” The innkeeper nodded and went to get their food. Norris waited until he had moved out of earshot before leaning towards Audrey and whispering, “Less manners next time, Sir. Pleases and thank-yous are only used in the presence of ladies or your betters.” He straightened and picked up his beer, taking a great gulp. “Did you see how them hill-bandits turned tail! Didn’t even aim for one. You’ve got a good shooting hand, Liam.”

Aubrey ducked his head at the praise. “Yeah, well – didn’t want to waste Sir’s ‘munition when I didn’t have to. Least they didn’t have a sky-ship. They’re more daring.”

It didn’t take long for the food to arrive, steaming and oozing gravy.           

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #30 on: February 23, 2009, 12:01:33 AM »
Nodding shamefacedly, Audrey turned back to her beer.  She stared at it for a moment, then followed after Norris and took a swig.  Immediately the bubbles filled her nose, and she started to sputter.  Barely managing to swallow, she took several deep breaths as her cheeks turned bright red.

She kept her eyes towards her plate until the delicious smells of the pie began to waft towards them.  The filling was hot and well cooked, and the crust topping it was flaky and tender.  Aubrey savored the scents almost as much as she did the flavor of the first bite.  She demolished the meal, leaving only streaks of gravy on the plate.  Leaning back, she felt a pressure rise and without thinking let out a burp.  With joy, she realized she was allowed this release, and instead of apologizing, only smiled.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 10:55:52 PM by Tad »

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #31 on: February 23, 2009, 11:25:23 AM »
Norris gave a bark of laughter at the belch and lifted his beer as if toasting. The footmen had finished their portions just as quickly, but took a little longer over their beers, discussing non-consequential subjects like the horses and the old Butler’s snoring.

Soon enough, a stableboy came in to tell them the horses had been changed over, and would the young master like to give them an eyeing. The footmen stood without protest, though Norris drank the last of his beer before doing so.

In the yard, there was a new team of chestnut haflingers, and two long-limbed hunters of questionable breeding. “When we come back this way, our horses will be rested and ready to take back to the manor,” murmured Norris to Audrey. “The driver made sure they’re good, but you have to look over them yourself too. Feel over their legs and mutter under your breath a bit, then say they’ll do at a pinch.”             

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #32 on: February 23, 2009, 12:31:31 PM »
After a slight nod, she did just that.  She'd always been fairly good with animals, so she actually knew a bit of what to look for, and what terminology to use.  She admired their strong flanks, inspected their hooves for any cracking, and felt along their legs for any musculature problems.  They did seem to be decent beasts, and she gave an approving nod.  "I guess they'll do, in a pinch."

Then she climbed back into the carriage and settled herself for another long ride.  This part of the scenery would be new to her... both on the way there and back she had fallen asleep for most of this stretch.  Hopefully she could keep from doing so this time.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #33 on: February 25, 2009, 10:10:20 PM »
They paused for some time after she had gotten in, Norris talking with the stablemaster adamantly until the rough man agreed and had two long-legged Dalmatians brought out of the kennels, money changing hands and a drag attached to the back of the carriage. The dogs would be as much a deterrent as the two footmen, though nothing would scare bandits away like the high gliding threat of an adult War Dragon.

Sampson wasn’t tagging along for this trip, however, so extra precautions had to be taken as they moved through the less hospitable terrain. The world was a hard place, and several wet summers meant the crop harvest had rotted in the fields, making a lot of desperate men.

When the dogs were persuaded to follow after the carriage, they went on their way.

The landscape changed slowly, from pleasure-land of landed lords with irregular woods to a great plain of farmland, a mighty patchwork quilt of golds and greens. They passed another carriage, the Dalmations snarling monstrously at the other dogs, and a parishioner’s trap drawn by a mule.

They had passed out of the moorland before they had stopped at the inn, but a couple of hours later, Audrey saw the reason for the added protection. The swiftest route to the Academe was through a dense, dark-looking forest. Gorgan’s Wood, a hundred square miles in total. Owned by the King for his sport, one of the only places left in England that the wild dragons inhabited. Unlike War Dragons, wild dragons were barely a foot long sans neck and tail. Untamable and vicious but shy, reclusive things.

The woods had one road cleft through it, and it was guarded on both ends, but not patrolled. There was a different breed of men who made a living there, sharp-witted and bold unlike their fellows out on the moors.   

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2009, 12:59:58 PM »
Audrey's eyes widened as she realizes where they are going.  The past two times she'd been this way, they had skirted the forest.  It had added half a day onto their trip, but was deemed worth the time.  But for whatever reason this time they were going through.  She dug into her bag and pulled out the box her grandmother had given her.  Snapping it open, she withdrew the case of pistols and set them both on the seat next to her.  With that preparation made, she returned to her vigilant watch through the window.  A part of her hoped she'd get to see a wild dragon, even though the odds stood against it.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 10:55:27 PM by Tad »

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #35 on: February 27, 2009, 10:13:17 PM »
They reached the forest edge within a quarter of an hour – they would have got there quicker had the coachman let the horses move faster than a trot, but he was saving them for the two-hour stretch ahead.

They pulled up at the treeline, waved down by a Roadguard. The guard approached, cautious of the dogs that bared their teeth at the men. “You are aware you are entering Gorgon Wood, sirs? There is another, safer road you might take. We do not patrol this road out of the hunting season.”

“But there isn’t another rest stop where we can change horses or spend a night since…” Norris trailed off, not wanting to alarm Audrey.

“Good luck then,” muttered one of the soldiers. The captain ignored him and stepped closer to the carriage, peering inside to make sure there wasn’t anything suspicious. “Those dogs will be your best defence, then. Don’t be cautious if you have to use those, lad – but don’t kill any of the King’s game.” He backed away and nodded to the coachman. “Drive on, sir and be on guard of fallen logs.”

The carriage began to move again, the early afternoon sun turned to cool twilight in a mere moment.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #36 on: February 27, 2009, 10:28:01 PM »
Audrey gave the captain a solemn nod, and then the carriage pulled forward.  As the light dimmed under the heavy tree branches, she felt her guts twist in anticipation and fear.  As much as she would love to see a dragon, she knew there are many more likely foes in these woods.  The bandits were quite likely to attack if they see the carriage, and they would have to be idiots to miss it.  And that's not to mention some of the other 'game' that lives in the woods.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 10:55:07 PM by Tad »

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2009, 10:46:05 PM »
They travelled at a brisk pace, the men obviously nervous and eager for the distance be travelled as quickly as the horses could be pushed. As her eyes got use to the twilight, Audrey found she was in a different world. The trees were much taller than they were in the copses on the Estate or any of the woods she had seen before. Everything had a gentle cool green shadow over it, and leaves drifted down from above every so often, still green but edged with brown from the creeping autumn.

The air was loamy and crisp, the decomposing leaves overwhelming every other scent, though it wasn’t an offensive aroma. The sounds changed here, too – more birds chattering and crashing through the treetops, squirrels bounding up and down, deer darting away in the distance. She even saw a wild boar.

Towards the centre of the forest, the road became uneven, potholes dug by the brigands to slow their prey. It worked, the coachman was forced to slow, but there was no sign of a hold up.

After they had made it past the worst of the road, they travelled swifter than ever, wanting to be gone. It took a little less than two hours to pass through the forest. They emerged and Norris gave a brief report of the road to the roadguard. They then had to change horses again and leave the dogs to be retrieved on the way back. They rested briefly for another pint of beer before continuing at a calmer pace. 

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2009, 11:02:40 PM »
Even though she was glad they made it through without incident, Audrey felt a little cheated.  All the stories about the forest led folks to believe those traveling through it faced almost certain attacks.  As they saw the light from the edge of the dense woods, she sighed a bit, and slid away the pistols.  Maybe there would be cause to use them some other time.

The rest of the journey passed quickly, and within only a few hours the stone buildings of the academy came into view.  It's tall spires and broad walls indicate the many additions that have been built over the years as the needs of its inhabitants have changed.  While it had originally only housed the riders in training, its education base had been broadened as time passed.  Most recently had been the inclusion of apprenticeships for mages.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #39 on: March 04, 2009, 11:04:26 AM »
As they drew closer, Audrey smelt the unmistakable scent of dragon on the breeze, and the sound of their bugling calls ranged from young and piping to powerful and mature to a failing warble of an old beast. Even as they came up to the Academe the sound was distant, as if the dragons themselves were still some distance off.

They drew up outside its grand doors, a welcoming party already assembled. There was a gathering of five men of varying age, one very much wrinkled and stooped, another with greying black hair who seemed to be looking at a tree some way off, another with auburn hair that brushed his shoulders and a sever expression, the fourth bespectacled and portly, and the fifth seeming not to be part of the welcome but lounging against the wall with an amused gleam in his eyes. She recognised the last man as a cousin-by-marriage – not a blood relative or one who she saw more than once every few years, but still family. Seeing how interwoven many of the noble houses were, it wasn’t likely she would be able to go anywhere ‘civilised’ without bumping into someone connected to her in some way.

One of the Academe’s servants opened the door of the carriage, looking very sleek in the black-and-red livery of the school.   
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 11:58:49 PM by Eden »

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #40 on: March 04, 2009, 12:00:45 PM »
As they entered the gates, 'Jack' felt her pulse begin to race.  She was here!  And this time it was for her to be trained... not her brother.  For a moment her heart ached over that thought, but it brought her back to earth.  When the carriage stopped, she solemnly stood and stepped out of it.  With a bow to the assembled group, she waited for their instructions.

The sounds of the dragons was still magnificent, even from so far away.  Audrey could hardly wait to get to work with them and then, someday, to get to call one her own.  She knew it would be hard work and much struggle, but just being able to hold that goal in front of her made it worthwhile.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #41 on: March 18, 2009, 12:37:09 AM »
The second man, whose hair was black with thick streaks of grey, moved forwards to stand foremost. His eyes were blue and there was a fine tracery of wrinkles around his eyes and mouth and a particularly deep one between his brows. He bowed to her, the other men behind him doing the same. “Lord Grimsword, it is an honour to meet you at last, though I would have wished for it not to fall on such a sombre time for you.” His choice of words were callus but his tone was sincere, the sorrow in his eyes hinting he knew her parents a little better than most could brag. “I am the Headmaster, Tobias Nickleby. Allow me to introduce to you some of this years tutors to you.” He turned partially, clicking his fingers and waving at the carriage. A pack of red-and-black suited servants swanned out of the doors and began to unload the luggage.

“Now, this is History Master Montgrave,” the Headmaster gestured to the rotund man who smiled in a way that showed his uneven teeth in an unbecoming manner. “The Astrology Master Fritzwilliam,” the old man dipped his head and muttered something Welsh. “And the Ward Master Smyth. You won’t be learning Wards this year, but he is also the Dormitory Master.” The youngest of the schoolmasters gave a swift bow that made his hair flick. He held his right arm very close to his chest as if clutching something precious, but the right corner of his mouth seemed to droop, and his right eye didn’t blink in time with the left. It was quite a disturbing sight.

“Of course, you know Jonas Murkmere.” The headmaster waved at the youth further back who had straightened when it seemed that Nickleby was turning his way. “He volunteered to be your mentor and make sure you don’t get lost. We wouldn’t want you wandering into the wrong wing.”

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #42 on: March 18, 2009, 01:06:17 AM »
Audrey gave another bow, as the headmaster presented himself, then an additional one to each of the other masters as they were announced.  Each of these men were distinctly different, and they each had pieces to them that she could see would be quite unusual.  Still, none seemed to be hostile, just a bit different. 

And then there was Jonas.  She was not quite sure what to do with him... if he already knew of her secret, if he was supposed to...  It would be best to keep it hidden from him until she was sure, but what if he suspects.  keeping something hidden from strangers isn't as hard as it is to keep away from those that know you, no matter how briefly.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #43 on: March 23, 2009, 11:17:42 PM »
Jonas moved closer, nodding to Audrey. “Jack, good to see you again. Sir, may I take him now?”

The Headmaster’s eyes narrowed slightly, and Jonas grinned winningly. “Yes. Make sure he knows how to get to the classrooms, the dining hall, the dormitories and the roosts. And do try not to imbue him with any of your mischief.” The man sounded long suffering but resigned.

“Aye, Sir.” Jonas tilted his head towards the building, turning his gaze back to Audrey. “Come on.” He began walking inside with a loose, easy stride of someone with the confidence of youth. He was seventeen, with dusty blonde hair that fell in lazy curls, and alert brown eyes. He was less than a foot taller than she was, but his carriage made him seem taller. His teeth were white, telling more of a poor upbringing than immaculate oral hygiene – those who could afford sugar, caffeine and tobacco indulged regularly unless taught moderation – and his nose was thinner than it suited. When he turned his head too quickly, she could see a glint of gold in his earlobe. “There’s only half a dozen students in residence at the moment,” he commented as they moved up the steps and into the hall. “The rest arrive tomorrow. Hey, Jack, look.” He pointed to a large dominant painting that hung between the twin staircases and over a set of double doors.

The painting was of a landscape, vague enough to be anywhere in Britain with a valley. The focus of the image was a pale dragon, perched on a precarious rock, facing a lad little older than Audrey was now. The boy was dressed in pauper’s clothing, and looked very closely like her. “Your great great etcetera grandfather. Imposing, isn’t it?”       

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #44 on: March 24, 2009, 12:06:53 AM »
She steps in behind the blond boy, her eyes darting around the halls as they walk through them.  The stones show centuries of use, and she knows that if the floor wasn't covered with the long rugs, there would likely be wear trails across the stone from thousands of feet.  Somehow, though, she misses the giant painting until Jonas points it out to her.  For a moment she just stares at the founder of her line, the line that she's living a lie to keep going.  She nods vaguely at her cousin's assessment of the painting, and almost misses it when he starts to walk away.

Quick stepping up to walk next to the older boy, she decides to try and talk a bit.  "So...um... any pointers for me?"  A part of her wants to ask about the boy's dragon, how it feels to raise one and to have it bee your other half.  But she's not sure how he might gake it, so she decides to leave those questions for another day.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #45 on: April 11, 2009, 09:39:44 PM »
Jonas tilted his head back as he thought, looking at the high ceiling as they walked. “Pointers… well, a lot of stuff you’ll get told with the rest of the greens. Try to avoid the Magus’ wing. You don’t want to wander in there alone. And… well,” he glanced behind him and dropped the volume of his voice to a whisper. “Smyth is one moody bastard. He only came in the last term. There’ve been loads of rumours about how he got mangled like that, but…” He grimaced and shook his head. “Just make sure he has no reason to have a grudge against you.”

They came to a wider corridor with half a dozen closed doors down one side and diamond-paned windows down the other. The grounds visible were mostly lawns, presumably kept short by a small flock of nervous sheep. “You’ll find a lot of people will either grovel at you or try and throw you down all because of old Grim,” he jerked his thumb over his shoulder to indicate the painting they had left behind. “My tie to him are weak at best and I still got special treatment. Watch out for Demby and Ceres – they’re… not fond of the Grimsword name.” 

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #46 on: April 11, 2009, 10:41:03 PM »
Solemnly taking in all his advice, she nods in appreciation. "Gran said my dad got beat up his first day.  She said it'll probably happen to me too.  Who are Demby and Ceres?"

As she glances out the large windows, she sees several specks moving through the sky.  She can feel in her heart that they're dragons, and she longs to find one of her own.  Continuing after Jonas, she listens to his answer.  It's good to have someone here to help look out for her, even if he doesn't know she's a 'her'.

"Do you know what I'll be learning when classes begin?  Do they teach everyone the same things, or is there any types of choices?"  She keeps from asking the question that really lays heavy on her mind... when will they get to meet the wyrmlings?

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #47 on: April 25, 2009, 11:00:33 PM »
“Demby is the High Magistrate’s nephew, and Ceres is the Earl of Cork’s younger brother. They are… well, just full of themselves.” He touched his jaw, though there was no mark. “Do yourself a favour and try not to get trapped anywhere.” He gave her a tight smile, but didn’t elaborate.

“Well, you’re a first-year. You won’t get to do the exciting things until the schoolmasters know they can trust you. The day is split in half – outside and inside lessons. Inside lessons are the usual – history, learning how to write reports, map drawing and suchlike. Outside lessons are things like astrology, hunting, surviving in the wild – that’s one that everyone underestimates – and, of course, dragon care. You’ll get to clean out the dragon eyries, maintain the tack and learn the up-close stuff about the beasts. You’ll get taught the basics first. Choices come later.”

He stopped suddenly, flashing her an awkward grin and nodding to the door they were outside of. “I almost went passed it. This one’s yours. See?” He pointed to the doorframe, where a tiny Grimsword crest had been carved long ago.     

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #48 on: May 05, 2009, 11:14:02 AM »
As Jonas spoke about her lessons, Audrey found herself growing nervous.  She had the basic understanding of these concepts, but no tutoring in any of them.  Her education had focused much more on the arts and things more appropriate for a lady to study.  Suddenly she was being thrown into the other side of things, and she's not sure if she'll be able to catch up.

"I...um... over the past couple weeks.... I didn't do much...any really... of my studies.  Is there any way you could help me catch up, or tell me someone else who could?"

At that moment, they pull up in front of her new door.  Reaching out with a tentative hand, she brushes the small symbol with her thumb.  The wood is rounded over the edges of the mark... it's obvious she isn't the first one to rub it in such a way.  Then with a deep breath, she turns the handle and pushes open the door to her new room.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #49 on: May 11, 2009, 10:45:18 AM »
The room was small, only a third the size of her bedroom at home if that, but it wasn’t cramped. There were windows along the far wall, letting in the hazy sunlight. The bed was only big enough to lie in, and was draped in coppery red. The woodwork seemed simple enough, though generations of sleepless youths had carved into it – initials, mostly, but also crude shapes and forms.

There was a chest by the foot of the bed, and two chairs by the small fireplace, cushioned with the same copper-red fabric on the bed. There was only one carpet in the room, between the chairs, and it had several small scorchmarks where embers from the grate had fallen.

On the wall to her right, her family’s motto had been engraved into the whitewashed stone; Grace And Glory Aloft.

There were gas lamps set in the walls, the pipes that couldn’t be hidden in the old stone disguised with white paint. There was another lamp by the bedside, and a bundle of long matches on the mantle. A washbowl and jug stood on the windowsill.

“Don’t worry about it – half come here as thick as a plowman’s horse. If you really want, I could help you.” Jonas leaned on the doorframe, his eyes on the motto. “You have some dragon-obsessed ancestors and no mistake.”