I promise to do an actual post within a few days. I’m thinking something music related, just because it’s a rite of passage for any musician to write about music. For now though I wanted to post part of something bigger I’ve been working on. I started an idea in high school for some fan-fic, just because I thought I would like writing (turns out I don’t really) and while it was fun at first I realised I wanted to actually create my own story. So I started out by expanding a little and outlining what the story would do next. 8 years later I have an outline for an entire book series, and some day I’ll stop being lazy and write it, but for now only a few privileged eyes know of my grand story.
I’ve decided to start writing again, only I’m starting with the last book in the series. I like it because it can stand on its own from the rest of the books (although there’s a lot of great tie-ins, which only I find exciting because I’m the only one who knows) and I haven’t fully figured out the story yet, so I’m not bogged down by my pre-determined desires. Yet. The rest of this post is an excerpt from the introduction of the last book. I won’t say what the title is because it would probably give away where the story is going. Hope you enjoy.
The Girls of Spring
Far on the outskirts of the Archipelago lies the remote island of Tangelo. For most of society on Tangelo, their lives revolve around their beautiful island, stretching fifteen miles in a crescent moon shape with a smaller round island placed on the inside. The next closest islands are easily a two days sail, the three main isles of the Archipelago a week, and the thought of the mainland merely a tale. But really, none of that mattered, for the islanders of Tangelo had it easy, with good crops to grow, strong fishing to be found, and plenty of beaches to relax.
There was, however, a problem for the island of Tangelo. For centuries the islanders had participated in a ritual that they believed protected their island from any harm. For on the small round island that lay a few hours sail on the inside of the Tangelo Bay was the home of a large and fierce dragon. As mighty as the beast was, it had come to terms with the islanders long ago, offering not only to ward off any other troubles that would plague the island, but also to stay put upon its private isle and never venture to the Tangelo shores. The catch was the dragon demanded sacrifice from the islanders: a ritual meal of young maidens to be offered to the dragon every spring once he awoke from his winter slumbers. This price would seem devastating to most, but for the locals the tradition was so long ingrained in their way of life that they no longer gave it any thought. To the contrary, it became something one could be chosen for; any girls who were born during the spring season would be delivered to the island upon their 10th birthday. The girls became well trained in religion, in obedience, and in accepting any situation with grace. These were the Girls of Spring.
When girls across the island, born in the spring season, reach the age of five they would begin a pilgrimage to the northern point of the island. There the Dragon Temple had been built by the cult of the most devoted dragon disciples to watch over the girls that awaited their fate and readied them in anyway they saw fit. At first the temple was about fattening the girls as much as possible. The island dwellers were so afraid that they only focused on making sure this meal for the dragon would be enough to see his hunger quenched, especially if the number of girls for that year was small. But over time the tragic demand became more of a humbling ritual. The members of the temple began teaching the girls how to read and write, the legend of the dragon (with added details over the years), as well as much more about the world and history, as if culture and knowledge might lead one of these girls to reason with the dragon. Or perhaps over time they had merely decided that the dragon truly fed upon the weight of knowledge.
And so it was that the temple became a monastery for girls and the devoted. A white stoned, four-story building with a single tower in the middle with a light atop to help guide the ship home after traveling to the dragon’s island. Surrounding the temple were two fields: a small orchard of fruit bearing trees which the girls could tend to during the warm months, and a field for wheat that the devotees would harvest before the winter. A small rock wall, about two feet tall, ran around the property the temple owned, but only one side truly mattered for on three sides lay only beaches and rocks before reaching the ocean. South of the temple was the road that led to the nearest dock, and further on to the outskirts of civilization. Besides their own grown fruit and wheat, if there was anything else the temple required, the people easily obliged, for what was the cost to give cloth for patching clothing or oil to light the beacon to the islanders who relied on the temple to deliver every spring.
With the coming and going of seasons and of years, the young girls of the temple soon became quietly anxious for their time to come. Dressed in white they would all travel to the dock near the end of the spring season. There, the townspeople would deliver the new fresh-faced girls to the docks as well and together they would go through the ceremony, reminding the older girls of how far they had come, and the young ones to see what their goal was to be. Then, the one ship that would sail to the dragon island would take the high priests and those who had reached ten years of age across the waters of the inner Tangelo Bay, as the rest would watch until the ship left their sight, and then would make their way back to the temple. There the new girls would be welcomed to the temple with a feast, and while the other devotees waited for the return of the high priests, the girls would return to life as normal. As the priests returned, they would only nod in affirmation for there was nothing else to say. Everything that happened on the island happened the same way every year, no recorded problems ever being mentioned with the trip over the centuries.
But that would all change. It started when the islanders could see a terrible storm brewing across the seas towards the mainland. It was not a storm that effected Tangelo or even most of the Archipelago, but all could tell something in the world was changing. It did not happen right away and it did not happen in a way anyone could have predicted, but the world the islanders had so effectively ignored had now brought them into the larger picture, and that feeling was felt strongest by one who shared the blood of the mainland and sat alone on the western wall of the Dragon Temple, the young girl Sara Pen.