I have the lovely distinction of hosting Friday Fiction this week. I’ve been trying to smooth out this piece out between my weekend homework today, so I hope it doesn’t sound too much like all the Shakespeare and Melville that I’ve been reading. It is part of a gigantic creature-topia style world that I’ve been working on for the better half of nearly three years, featuring dragon-like creatures called Craegens. I’m really excited to share the first introduction/chapter piece. This is one of fantasy worlds, so be warned that my imagination is running at top-speed. Synopsis is below.
To join in the Friday Fiction fun, just add the link to your story to the linky widget below. Remember to keep your stories PG-13. Don’t forget to read and comment. We all love the feedback. Happy weekend!
A CRAEGEN’S HEART
Newly-turned 18-year-old Cassie Aldracks isn’t looking for anything exciting to happen as she works towards earning her Healer’s Ribbons. Her quiet existence is turned upside down when the worst swallows her whole–a creature inheritance? Her family was supposed to be human–and Craegens are supposed to be extinct! Her transformation, new powers, new friends and new enemies, have her rethinking a peaceful realm on the brink of war over a centuries old cycle.
claws and had ruined three pairs of black gloves. No one else seemed to notice,
as it was approaching our midterm season and everyone was focused on their
home during the breaks, I was now considered a legal adult and thus able to
stay over at the academy as long as I had less than five demerits. I only ever
had two and that was usually because of my idiot roommates who refused to break
tradition, even when it cost them a mark on their academic record.
would find myself up to my elbows in all kinds of volunteered work to make up
for the transgressions. I soon learned how to deal with it. Showing up to class
with claws for hands was definitely one way to ruin my carefully balanced
find my hands covered in silvery-white scales with a peach tint if held up to
the light. The claws seemed more natural then. A frantic scrubbing session in
the private showers only showed that there were more of them than I’d realized.
splotches along my torso and then my ears. My ears were the worst, instead of
the normal, natural, human-looking appendages with rounded tops, I had dainty,
was not supposed to be happening. I could hear just fine with them and there
was no shortage of sensation. In fact, they were more sensitive than before. The pain was excruciating when I tried to stretch it in a useless attempt to
return them to their original form.
sheer exhaustion. I’d spent most of the night trying to decide how I could hide
the scales, only to finally look up in the mirror and realize that my original
appearance had returned. No pointed ears, no shiny scales and definitely no
that there was a very distinct nightmare that chose to surface. For my
eighteenth birthday, the most important day of my young life, I had the worst
dream I could recall. I’d fallen into some sort of personal torture where
everything ached, burned and cracked.
recall any other that was so vivid. I don’t know how long it lasted, only that
I couldn’t wake up from it, no matter how hard I tried and that no one heard
me, even though I screamed and cried for it to stop. I clawed bloody marks into
my entire body and ripped up the sheets, coverlet and pillows. I made a mess of
everything and there was so much pain.
could barely whisper. The destructive details that would have proved the
nightmare to be more real than a dream were conspicuously absent. My bed was in
perfect condition, there were no visible marks anywhere on my body, but there
was a dull ache that lingered as if I’d pushed myself too hard in basic
training or something.
skipped the underwater basic training regimen that week—for a field outing with
my specialty Healer’s class—and never took part in any of the workout sessions.
The aches faded away, except for the occasional phantom pains in my shoulders
and lower back. I couldn’t figure out what they were and my monthly physical
didn’t show anything out of the ordinary.
that I was imagining things. I searched the library for all the information I
could about creature inheritances, hoping that I could find out whether there
was anything buried in my family history. Some of the ancestry records were
sealed though, and I couldn’t learn anything beyond my father’s parents, which,
predictably, didn’t explain much.
when I stumbled out of my student quarters for the day.
sling an arm around my shoulders. “You look terrible,” she poked my cheek. “Are
you still staying up to watch Lolly-dramas after curfew?”
of her blonde pigtails against my face. As my self-appointed best-friend, Kima
had a habit of filling in every single gap in my personality. If I was quiet,
she’d be twice as loud to make it up for us both. Today, she was ridiculously
hyper, if the constant twitching of her fingers were any indication at all. “Ow.
Hey, watch it. What’d you do, clean out the dessert bar again?”
gorilla-grip to wave her little flip wallet with her meal tickets in it.
“Actually, I kind of used them all up and I was sort of hoping that-”
sooner she stopped talking, the sooner I might have a few moments of piece for
my troubled mind. “Just take it, whatever you want.”
through the week’s tickets and tore out all the ones for the dessert bar. “I
can trade you a fruit one, if you like.”
beside her. “Cassie, you never eat steak.” She snapped my wallet shut and
tucked it down the front of my jacket. “How are you feeling? Fever?” She
slapped a hand to my forehead. “You look terrible, but you feel fine.” She bit
her lips. “How was your monthly check-up?” Her worried look changed to a frown,
“and for the record, the next time you feel like skipping the practicals, warn
me ahead of time!” She produced a plastic folder and generously whapped me over
the head with it. “I had to give your nonexistent excuses to Healer Surrey, how
do you think she took it?”
know that I would—I kind of overslept.”
dramatized web series that the art students took turns producing. It was a
wild, wacky show that was somehow addictive in spite of everything to the
contrary. “Quit watching that stuff after curfew.” She sighed, “Quit watching
anything after curfew. You need sleep. Every sane person needs sleep. Anyway, I
told her that you were helping Conner with his science project, so she was fine
with letting you off this once. The second time, I told her that you were
slated for a check-up, but she didn’t really buy it that well and the third
only worked, because I told her that you were helping me on a proj-” Conner’s
dry voice cut into the conversation. “Kima, are you filching dessert tickets
off of Cassie again? That’s rude, you know.”
walk on my other side, to make sure there was distance between her and Conner.
“I’m just helping out,” she frowned. “Hey, don’t you have a few steaks on your
menu this week?”
project I haven’t helped you with?”
said, smoothly. “Here,” he reached into his pocket and produced two dinner meal
tickets with pictures of a juicy steak printed on the glossy card stock. “You
can have these. I’ve already bargained with the others.”
the Athletics department so I can see if my experiment can really have a
positive impact on idiots with brawn for brains.”
tickets and retrieved my wallet to stick them inside. My friends were right, I
generally avoided most meats and sweets as a general rule, but lately, I’d been
craving red meat like it was going to be extinct. If I wasn’t so tired, I might
have bothered to care why.
have no idea what it’s like to be competing with them, the blockheads. Do you
have any idea what I went through this past week? I was supposed to take three
volunteers through my study, for the midterm project and two of them bailed. If
I see them again this semester, they’d better hope they’re heading home for the
myself through this on purpose. Being a duel-enrollment student is horrible.
Say, Conner, why didn’t you ask me to help with the experiment? I wouldn’t have
minded. I still count halfway for the Athletics department. ”
them walk on ahead. It was nice to have friends that were just mine, who didn’t
care that I had picked the most troublesome department to specialize in. Their
strange friendship included me and overlooked the fact that technically all of
our chosen departments were always at odds with each other.
academy was divided into the four departments that consisted of the
cornerstones of our society. First, Technologies and Sciences, second, Athletics,
third Medical and Healing, fourth, music and the arts. The Medical division was
fairly neutral and the art types were considered to be too strange and offbeat
to mingle much. Most students stayed within their departmental confines and
were content in doing so. The boundaries between each are fairly strict, but
students were allowed to interact with the other departments.
mornings were often filled with specialty classes. Kima was holding a special
position as dedicated Athletic Healer by her choice as a dual-enrollment
student. Conner held the highest GPA for his department—Technologies and
Science—consistently winning and holding either the top student award or the
decent grades and maintain the necessary levels I’d finally reached in my
healer classes. There was nothing spectacular about me, compared to Conner’s amazing techno-whiz abilities and Kima’s amazing Athletic feats, but I was happy enough to belong for the time being. Maybe I’d find a dream or a better career path later.
Doctor, if you were blessed with magical talents, then you earned and
maintained the title of Healer. My talents were respectable enough that I had
tested and earned entrance into the program where I felt I could make the most
up to stand between Kima and Conner, half-leaning on them for some support.
and followed them into the mess hall. The past week had left me feeling
increasingly tired with each passing day. I slept through the entire weekend
and scrambled to complete my homework during class.
thirteenth year, had vanished in the wake of this extreme exhaustion. I’d taken
to chugging energy drinks in between of everything, paying out of pocket with
all that I’d saved up from the past few years.
but I never bothered to tell them that I could earn some extra credits by
lending a hand on weekends. Thanks to some of the kinder superior officers on
board our floating-rock-in-space-station academy, I was able to find and accept
odd jobs that were safe and decent, earning some credits in the process.
of students filing through to collect their necessary meals. The entire process
was fully automated and thus foolproof. For tracking purposes, we all scanned
our ID cards upon entering and started the timer for the allotted hour and a
half given to the midday meal. We shuffled through the serving line after
scanning our meal tickets. Our trays were collected at the end and the
appropriate credits deducted from our personalized meal plans.
courtyard, just within view of the exits and close enough to the trash
receptacles so that we wouldn’t have to wait too long in line to clock out. The
steak looked appetizing enough, but a little too cooked for my new craving. I
hated the thought of wasting food, so I ate it anyway and then felt an
overwhelming urge to sleep again.
rested my head atop them. Conner and Kima were still arguing over his
experimental project and I knew they were giving me some privacy, when neither
of them commented as I closed my eyes.
A/N: Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this opening installment.