28 Mar

Where Dragons Go to Die (The Commodore #1.3)

Where Dragons Go to Die by Faith McKay

* This is the third installment of WHERE DRAGONS GO TO DIE, a serial that’s posted every Friday morning. If this is your first time reading, start at the beginning. Please check back next week to find out what happens next!

Myria squinted at the glittering snow leading up to Kindred Mountain. The soft blue dot of the mountain was so far ahead that the middle of their journey simply disappeared from sight. After crossing the snow covered expanse, they would abruptly be on the edge of a cliff looking down at a great canyon. They would then turn to the mountain, enter the cave, avoid burning alive, pack up some bones, and head home—hopefully running into their sisters toting their baby dragon back to the mountain, assuming they were still alive.

Klara sniveled at Myria’s feet. “Do you think they’ll make it?” She was resting before they continued on; they’d already walked half the day away.

“This is the last time I’m going to tell you this, Klara. It doesn’t matter whether they survive their wounds or their mission. If we don’t complete ours, we’ll all be killed. They’re depending on us to focus and get this done. Vera and Darya will be fine; they’ve made it this far, right?”

“Right.” Klara nodded, her blond hair covering her face, and looked back up with a smile so genuine that it took Myria aback. The smile annoyed Myria even more than the sniveling.

They returned to their trudge through the snow without any more conversation. Myria took the lead, unable to stand watching Klara struggle with her snowshoes. She’d never seen anyone have such a difficult time with them.

While the words she’d told Klara were true enough, she only half-believed them. She knew that her sister was not fine. She’d only seen Vera for a moment before being shoved off on her first mission, but that was long enough to get a glimpse of the blood, the weak sound of her voice, the panic in Darya’s eyes. None of that compared to the smell. No one could survive that smell. And who knew how long the Commodore would let her heal before sending her off to take care of that dragon. No, Vera, at least, was most certainly dead. It was almost enough to make her forget the assignment and plot revenge for her sister’s death instead—if only she didn’t believe that the Commodore would come up with more creative punishments than she may be able to imagine. And anyhow, Vera may still live… What a foolish thought to cling to, but she couldn’t let it go. She needed it.

And so she kept moving forward, with Klara huffing and puffing and misplacing her steps behind her, trying to figure out how they were going to complete this mission.

Vera had always been the capable one, and she was torn to shreds. And Darya? Darya was a soldier beyond compare. Their missions were always successful, everyone told their stories. And they’d failed. And there she was, with Klara, who seemed barely able to even make it to the mountain itself. What were they going to do once they got there?

She let the useless thoughts attacking her take up residence in the back of her mind, not having the energy to fight them off. She muffled their volume with the sound of shallow breaths into her scarf and the crunching of snow under her boots. It would have to do for now. They’d have more distracting problems soon enough.


* This is the third installment of WHERE DRAGONS GO TO DIE, a serial that’s posted every Friday morning. If this is your first time reading, start at the beginning. Please check back next week to find out what happens next!

21 Mar

Where Dragons Go to Die (The Commodore #1.2)

Where Dragons Go to Die by Faith McKay

* This is the second installment for WHERE DRAGONS GO TO DIE, a serial that’s posted every Friday morning. You should read the first installment before this one. Please check back next week to find out what happens next!

“La lala la…” the Commodore loudly sang.

“Another hard day?” Iris asked.

“Aren’t they always?” She ran the pads of her fingers over the polished cherry wood. There was barely enough space for it, but it felt like a piece of her, like home. She’d have given it up, though, if they’d been able to find a larger cage for Iris. “What I wouldn’t give to be headed back to warm water. I’ve had more cold than I would have liked for a life time.”

“Then let us turn this boat around! Please!”

“You know we can’t do that,” she whispered, shoulders sinking. “Don’t you believe that I want to?” Her voice cracked on the words. “I want nothing more than to see the dragons out of their caves, you out of your cage, and to take this ship somewhere warm. Somewhere I can watch the sky, listen to the water lap against my ship, and only make decisions about where to head next. Nothing would be better than an end to my days of scratching skulls and terrorizing people. I’d like things to be simple.” She fell into her chair and closed her eyes, unable to stand looking at Iris. “If any of us want to see simple times again, we best hope that I acquire the bones needed for that asshole wizard.”

Iris rose from her perch. Her legs kicked forward awkwardly with each step; she’d never been much for walking. “How much time is left?”

“You know I don’t know. Not really.” The Commodore stroked a hand over the curves of her horns. She loved running her sharp nails lightly over the rough skin, but it was a comfort she rarely had the opportunity for. She couldn’t relax in front of the others, it was imperative that she remained in control of herself. “It can’t be much longer. You feel that, don’t you? The changing. It’s grown so intense I’d expect even the crew to notice it. I dread to think what they’d do if they discovered what they were fighting for.”

“Saving you?” Iris laughed.

“It’s not just me.”

“That’s how they’d see it. You know these people have no respect for the magical anymore, only fear. When they see magic, they see your scarred face.” She spit the words from her lips.

The Commodore winced. People had always feared her, but the scars had magnified their reactions. Cutting her face wasn’t exactly a choice she’d made, as much as a necessary part of her mission. The scars served their purpose well, gaining her respect among those she was dealing with in her quest for the bones. They had the added effect of paralyzing the average person with terror, which worked well enough for her cause. Fear would make a person jump to attention just as well as respect, often much faster.

“Their fear is of more than my face,” the Commodore said. “I know you prefer to blame me, but I’m keeping you safe, Iris. If they discovered how easily they could rid this world of magic they’d kill you and wear your purple feathers in their hair while they mounted your body to the front of this ship. They’d be perfectly content to be the only beings on this planet. You saw what happened when they captured you in the jungle.”

Iris turned her back to the Commodore and the memory of her imprisonment. Her pretty wings, awkward in the small space, pushed against the bars and tore free several of the dark feathers. They floated from the cage, like baby birds rushing to escape, but only made it as far as the polished cherry wood. The Commodore tucked them in her pocket and left the room, feeling more like a monster at her desk than on her throne.


– – –

* This is the second installment for WHERE DRAGONS GO TO DIE, a serial that’s posted every Friday morning. You should read the first installment before this one. Please check back next week to find out what happens next!

14 Mar

Where Dragons Go to Die (The Commodore #1.1)

Where Dragons Go to Die by Faith McKay

* This is the very first installment for WHERE DRAGONS GO TO DIE, a serial that will be posted every Friday morning. Please check back next week to find out what happens next!

Her claws dug deep, white lines, screeching as they went. Cringing people surrounded her, but she ignored them, calmly focusing on the doors across the room. The carving was intricate. When you viewed it as a whole the doors depicted the ship itself, but she kept her gaze on the swirls that formed the breaking waves.

“Bring them in.” The sound of her voice could barely be heard under the high-pitched squeal of her nails. The men ran to follow her command.

Darya marched through the double doors with her burned face held high. She paced her steps carefully next to her limping companion, as though if she walked with enough purpose it could disguise Vera’s injuries. Even if her gait wasn’t distracting, and even if the fresh blood pouring down from the deep gash on her arm wasn’t staining her white uniform, the smell of them would have filled any size room. The source of the smell seemed obvious: both of their pant legs were full of holes exposing melted, red, flesh. The sight of them made clear one thing: defeat. In light of that, nothing else much mattered, but there was protocol to be followed. Once down the aisle, Darya pulled Vera’s shoulders back, straightening her posture and worsening the bleeding from her arm.

“I see you were unsuccessful,” she whispered.

“With apologies, Commodore. We attempted to retrieve the bones several times, but in the end were unable to complete the mission.” Darya stared straight forward as she spoke, careful not to look directly at the Commodore.

“Maybe it shouldn’t have been the end. Why did you return empty-handed?”

“We didn’t come empty-handed, Commodore,” Vera croaked. “We brought you a baby.”

One side of the Commodore’s face rose into a smirk, splaying the many scars across her cheeks into something even more difficult to look at. “And what, pray tell, do you suggest I do with one of those? I trust you’ve heard they breathe fire?”

The women’s jaws fell slack as they searched their tired minds for a response. The Commodore regained her business face first, to their dismay.

“I have no use for dragons, only their bones. I should think that would be quite clear to you, but it seems you need help understanding. What to do, what to do…” She lifted her hand to brush the chalky pile away before resting her palm firmly on the skull. Her nails ran light circles around the sockets until finding purchase and digging in once again.

“Seeing as I can no longer trust you, sending you back to shore to finish your mission will do us no good. Of course, now we have a baby dragon to contend with.”

Vera cleared her throat. “With all due respect, sir, couldn’t we clean the bones for you?”

Darya grimaced. They’d agreed Darya would do the talking. She’d been under the Commodore’s command for almost a year, and had more experience in restraining her tongue.

“Oh, dear! Why didn’t I think of that?” The Commodore leaned forward, a smile slowly filling her face. “The baby will have bones, of course! Except, that’s not what I asked you to do, now, was it Vera?” She leaned back into her bony throne. Pouting her lips and shaking her head, she continued, “No, no it wasn’t. I told you, what again?” She pointed a clawed finger at Vera, who was gradually tipping over. Darya struggled to prop her up.

“Dry, old, dragon bones,” Vera answered. “Deep in the Western caves at Kindred Mountain.”

“If you knew this, why are we here now? Lack of respect, I suppose. For your failure, you shall deal with your mistake: the dragon. TO BE CLEAR!” Those in the room who had fallen to a slouch jolted upright. In her signature whisper, she said, “We do not kill dragons. You are to take care of your kidnap victim and restore the creature to its home.”


She raised one talon, silencing Vera’s stammered question. “Maybe you should have thought about the ‘but hows’ before you brought a fire breather onto a wooden ship. Maybe next time, before you fail to fetch my bones, you’ll think about this. Assuming you survive, of course.” She looked to the men at the door and raised her voice slightly. “I’m done with them. Now, bring me their sisters. I still need my dragon bones.”

Horror widened the women’s eyes and they looked about to speak, but Darya thought better of it. She grabbed Vera’s left side to help her limp from the room.

“And someone, air it out in here. If I wanted it to smell like burnt flesh, you’d all be on fire right now.” She picked up the skull, now veiled in the same detailed markings covering her own face, and placed it at her feet before choosing another from the pile. She dug her claws deeply into the unmarked forehead, filling the room with the screeching.


* This is the very first installment for WHERE DRAGONS GO TO DIE, a serial that will be posted every Friday morning. Continue onto the second installment.

24 Feb


Accidentally deleting my website was a major bummer, but since it happened in the middle of a reworking of this site anyhow, it struck me at the perfect time to make me rethink what I’ve made of this place. And so now, I have new plans!

himym barney thumbs up at computer

I used to have a lot of fun blogging. I updated my livejournal several times a day for years, and then moved onto building up a fairly large personal site. And then blogging seemed to change, and I lost that feeling of home. That’s a silly thing to let happen, so back to the fun I go!

The pages of this site are (slowly) being updated and changed. I’m adding info for the books and other things. I’ll make an announcement when I’ve sorted all that out. The layout (I’ll never get used to saying theme instead of layout) here is still being poked and prodded as well.

Most days of the week you’ll be seeing my normal strangeness, just a whole lot more of it. On Fridays, though, I thought I’d do something a little different. If you were reading my blog before my site disaster, you may remember me telling you that you NEED to read Freakangels (seriously why haven’t you done that yet?). I didn’t read it until long after it was out in paper volumes, but my friends used to read the six pages that came out every Friday. The fabulous Elizabeth Barone has been serializing Baby Brooklyn on her website. All of this, combined with remembering how I used to have a lot of fun with my website, reminds me of the days I used to serialize my stories on my site.

And so! I’ve decided to post installments of Where Dragons Go to Die (The Commodore) here on Fridays. This story lends itself perfectly to this format, and I’m excited to finally be sharing it. I originally wrote Where Dragons Go to Die about three years ago. It’s getting a fancy rewrite and coming to this here blog in the next couple of weeks. It’s a dark fantasy tale with… well, dragons. And magic. And bones and blood and ships and… well, you’ll see soon enough!

Coming Up:

  • Liberty Bound! Lacuna Valley, #2 is completed. It’s formatted and all that pretty stuff! I’m just waiting on a hold up with the cover art, so it could be up any day. The first folks to know will be those on the mailing list, so sign up if you haven’t. I’m thinking I’ll post the first chapter on here this week. What do you think?
  • Staring Contests  This is Lacuna Valley 2.25. It’s a short story following Alzina during the first several chapters of Liberty Bound. Again, you want to be on the mailing list, as those wonderful people will be receiving this in their inbox in April. I’ll post the cover and more information for this on its page once I hear back from the cover designer. 🙂
  • Where Dragons Go to Die As mentioned above, this will be released in installments on Fridays! This March! Yay Dragons!
  • The Midnight Society.  I’ve joined an upcoming group blog where myself and 8 others will be blogging about the dark and lovely. This will hopefully be up this month, and you’ll see me posting there on Wednesdays. In the meantime, you can check out our twitter or facebook page.


I think this is all I needed to tell you about today, though I’m definitely working on a handful of other things. I’d tell you about one of them if only I could decide on a nice name! Ahhh! Oh, well. Lots going on in my writerly cave these days. Half of me is really excited about finally moving forward with these projects, and the other half of me…

This may be what I've looked like each time I've gone to post Chapter One of Liberty Bound.

This may be what I’ve looked like each time I’ve gone to post Chapter One of Liberty Bound. I’m SO fond of Chapter One, OMG, but I can’t even handle it.

But like I said! Progress! We’re letting the excited half lead, the part that just thinks stories, stories, stories and lets the rest fall away. So what do you say? High five?

himym high five barney