Finding more areas to improve upon and have commenced with some thorough editing, though I feel like I took a couple steps back. But sometimes one needs to reflect and make changes for the greater good!
Shanna found herself stranded beneath the shadow of a crimson mountain. Her eyes fluttered open with gentle provocation and they searched the starry night for Luriel, the Silver Moon. The stars themselves were faded and translucent, as if they were locked in the stasis of another half-veiled universe.
An emerald nova burned in the heart of the void, spreading tendrils of starfire across the abyss. And where the Silver Moon once was a massive rent in the fabric of time. An eye of a storm, Shanna realized, that swirled on the fringes of existence with bruised energies. The eye constantly fed itself on the void, consuming starfire and the endless night into its abyssal maw.
The reverberation of thunder quaked the crimson mountains around her. Roiling storm clouds swept in from the north and a heavy deluge descended from ashen skies.
Shanna pushed herself upright and realized that she stood upon a narrow precipice that loomed high over a down-cast and shadowed valley below. Wicked lightning arced down from a brewing storm and struck the earth with incessant and reverberating force.
A cacophony of war shook the entire valley now as it became churned beneath the boots of countless thousands of elves, men, and creatures of shade and darkness that writhed in the scarce traces of starlight.
Shanna staggered to her feet now, deafened by the ethereal cries of proud warriors and the screams of things beyond the nature of gods and men. Battle raged in the valley below, each life caught in the whirlwind a brutal aspect of death incarnate.
Something warm and thick—which reeked of copper, splashed across her cheek. Shanna’s fingers came away streaked in lifeblood, and it was quickly accumulating everywhere. The rain of blood never ceased pouring, coming down as quickly as the bodies fell in the conflict of battle.
An earth-shattering crash rent the skies above and Shanna gazed up in fear, she realized that the thunderous echoes were borne from the molten maw of something circling over the valley. The creature was borne aloft on great leathery wings of moss, layered in dense clusters of cracked sandstone-like scales that burned from within to the rhythm of a smoldering furnace.
Its wings reached across the horizon, but the serpent itself was slender and impossible of length. A softened underbelly covered in a myriad of ancient scars and studded with the weapons of warriors long forgotten slithered across the sky like a coiled snake. Four legs as long and lanky as a cluster of Leaves-of-Luriel clawed the veiled skies with diamond-hard talons longer than great swords.
And the Dragon’s broad skull was graced with a crown of curved horns that swept away from its molten maw and toward its slender-yet-colossal form. A great gust of embers disgorged from the cracks in its rocky teeth. Liquid fire fell in rivulets down a long jaw from where it pooled beneath its writhing tongue.
The Dragon descended upon Shanna’s mountain with a sundering crash, long talons gouging up and crushing stone from where it landed some meters above her. The entire mountain quaked from the force of its landing and sent a great tide of stone rolling into the valley below. It sprawled its leathery wings across the sky and reared its head high for an ear-bursting bellow of smoke and fire.
Shanna’s cry became choked from a blanket of acrid smoke descending upon her precipice. As if noticing her for the first time, the creature lowered its lava-filled maw and dispelled the smoke with a gust from its nostrils. Suddenly feeling as though her shoulders were burdened with an inconceivable weight, she hesitated, and then cautiously looked up into the Dragon’s golden pupil—cut in twain by an inky slit.
Shanna felt as though she were being burned from within, such was the heat from the Dragon’s furnace. The creature took in the sight of the battle below and brooded for long moments, as if interested in how everything would end. And then, with another earth-shattering roar, the Dragon weaved a burning blanket of liquid fire over an entire swathe of the valley.
Shanna screamed, seared from the heat and nearly caught in the flames. The sheer force that fueled such flaming breath berated her towards the precipice’s edge until she could no longer hold her
Shanna tumbled over the edge and into the inferno.
Shanna screamed into the void of silence that was her room. Her eyes snapped open and she jerked into an upright position. Bundles of burgundy silk were scrunched into her bawled fists. A pillow went flying from her bed and she did not snap out of her reverie until it bounced off of her wall and hit her in the face.
Shanna sucked in a long breath and studied her room in the twilight light of early dawn. On one side of her room hung her ebony leather armor, quiver, and scimitar on their stands. They remained behind an arched window cracked half-open and letting bird-song seep into the stifling silence.
Her cedar desk on the south wall of her room curved toward her bed. It was currently covered in a large, sprawling map of the Jumerith Conclave, she knew, which was half buried beneath a sprawl of weighty tomes. And beside her was the closet that housed her entire wardrobe, an entire room in-and-of-itself.
She swiped away the sweat on her knitted brows with her forearm. And her arm came away slicker than it already was. Her heart thrummed in her chest like it was being beaten by a war-drummer.
“Gods…” Shanna soothed. “Only a dream. But it seemed so… so vivid and intense. How could like that feel so real?”
Shanna pondered for a moment longer before realization dawned on her. Mentor Dichalis’ summons. Training would begin soon. She needed to prepare herself and leave early.
“Oh gods,” Shanna threw off her silken blankets and rolled onto her feet, her ebony night gown flowing around her heels. “What time is it?”
Shanna quickly changed out of her clothes and into her under-armor, which was nothing more than some clothes of fine silk. Her tunic was the color of dead ash, stitched with the symbol of Noon Hearth’s garrison—a dazzling sun cresting an oak—that she had embroidered herself. Her breeches were of the same cloth, but etched with blushing patterns of roses in bloom.
And then Shanna slipped into her armor. A spark of pride kindled in her chest each time she equipped it. After all, it had been made specifically for her. And would show her rigor and status to others, a marking that she was now something more than what she had been. And when she earned her cobalt and crimson cloak, then she would be a fearsome sentinel of the Jumerith Conclave.
Shanna wrapped her belt and sheathe around her waist and slung her quiver and bow over her shoulder. She pried open her door quietly and glided down the stairs like a ghost. The long hallway of her house was cloaked in darkness, but she could still make out the rosy tint of the walls and the paintings that hung on them.
Shanna’s ears perked at the sound of soft moaning from another room and rolled her eyes. She made her way down the hall and slipped through the entrance of her house without a sound.