Chapter 1:

Battle 1: A Dragon Rises

Dragon Waker

Author’s note
Hello! Author here! This short story was written, so I could practice writing fight scenes and battles. Don’t expect too much from it, but I hope you enjoy! I welcome opinions and critiques in the comments! Thanks for reading!

Nora Eclaire, Slayer of Unget, Champion of The Equinox Games, and Official Ambassador to The Dragon State. That is to say, she will claim these titles one day, but today, she is just Nora Eclaire, university student, unemployed, and talented disciple of the Strong Ki Martial Arts. In other words, no one of public importance. However, the events of this day will change that and set her on the path to her destiny, because there is one title Nora has claimed dating back all the way to her birth, Dragon Waker.

Part 1
Nora is certain she looks like a tourist or, worse, a country bumpkin. This being her first time in a city, and having spent her whole life on an isolated farm, both these labels apply. Which is why she can’t help but crane her neck up at the skyscrapers, turn her head at every unknown sound, and apologize every time she bumps a passerby in the crowded street, though they take no notice. The city is as foreign as another planet to her, and just as menacing.

According to her phone’s GPS, she is nearly to her new school and home for the next few years. That, assuming she can overcome her anxiety and already building homesickness. She has just about convinced herself everything will be fine when it happens.

Two hearts beat as one. Nora’s and a slumbering dragon. Connected by Nora’s innate ability as a Dragon Waker, she and the dragon sense each other at the same moment. They know each other’s thoughts, intentions, and location. She sees it in her mind's eye buried deep underground, something long forgotten and written off as myth. It stirs simply because she got too close.

“Not here. There can’t be one here.” Nora says aloud. A vain hope that if she voices her desire it will help it come true, but not so. The ground rumbles beneath her feet. She knows the dragon is coming. They always come.

Her expression shows a mixture of disbelief and cowardice. She doesn’t want to deal with another dragon. Especially not this dragon. When she glimpsed it’s thought’s the only thing she saw was anger and contempt. This dragon will not be reasoned with, will not show mercy, and will not be happy a city was built on its domain. The excuse that it's been thousands of years since the dragon fell asleep will not matter.

The ground rumbles again. Some pedestrians take notice of the shaking. Nora takes notice of them. A city full of innocent people and an angry dragon about to emerge from underground. Her mind instantly considers dozens of scenarios, and lands on the best option for saving as many lives as possible. The idea is simple. First, she wishes she’d never left her farm. Second, she removes a modified flintlock pistol and short sword from the poster tube strapped to her back. Third, she charges the pistol with ki and with a loud crack fires into the air.

Nora’s master taught her many rules for handling dragon encounters. Rule #3: Always be prepared for battle. This is the reason she always carries her weapons. Rule #4: Protect those who cannot protect themselves. This is the reason she wants to scare away the nearby common folk. And the last rule. A special rule just for you, her master had said. Rule #12: While trying to save people from a fiery death at the hands of a dragon, don’t worry about how you look to them. This does not stop her from feeling like an idiot for firing a flintlock pistol in the middle of New York City.

While the first shot got people’s attention, it did not have the desired effect of getting them running from the soon-to-be flaming hellscape. Nora charges her pistol again and fires, shattering a window. Now people look worried. She charges her pistol again and fires, destroying a traffic light, then blows out a car tire, shatters more windows, and puts craters in the concrete. When she charges her sword with ki and cuts a car in half, it finally gets the desired effect. People stop filming her with their phones and start running. For good measure, she kept firing at cars and people until the area is clear, and just in time.

The low rumbling has become a full earthquake, and the road is a network of fissures. Nora watches the asphalt rise, then shatter as an enormous black dragon emerges. Debris sprays in every direction, causing more destruction in seconds than all she did to scare people off. The dragon tears itself free from the earth and smashes two buildings simply by stretching its wings. Nora doesn’t attack. Rule #5: Never attack first. Try for diplomacy. She waits till the dragon locates her. This does not take long, since dragons are drawn to her waker ability, and she is the only human in the vicinity. The dragon spots her, and fixes her with its radiant blue eyes. Much to her surprise, it doesn’t immediately try to kill her.

Nora decides to try for diplomacy, as her master instructs. She bows deeply with her palms held out and up to the dragon. A customary show of respect.

To the dragon, she projects, “Hale, great one! Your slumber has been long, and your return most exultant! I humbly request audience with your greatness!”

Nora awaits a response, as is customary, but eventually decides not getting burnt to cinders is an invitation to continue. So far, this is proceeding much better than Nora expected.

She continues loudly, “Highest gratitude, great one! I am Nora Eclaire, daughter of Emily and Steve Eclaire, practitioner of the Strong Ki Martial Arts, and disciple of Master Diam—”

The dragon tries to melt her with fire. Expecting this possibility, Nora cleaves the fire in two, but still must coat herself in ki to protect from the searing heat. Rule #11: Mention of the name Diam will either result in instant adoration or instant death.

Nora leaps into the smoke and hides herself behind the smoldering remains of a car. She tries to think of a plan while surveying the damage. Just from that blast, the asphalt turned to liquid, every window in sight shattered, and all the manicured plants burst spontaneously into flames. Her experience tells her this is not good, that this dragon is beyond her skill level. Rule #6: When things look bad. Run away. Live to fight another day. This is what drove Nora to the decision to let someone else deal with the dragon. Fully intending to flee, she stands just in time to be struck by the dragon's tail.

Her rag doll form smashes through walls till she crashes into a café and collapses half the building on herself and its occupants. Were it not for the ki surrounding her, she would be dead. The occupants of the buildings she just smashed through weren’t so lucky, and she full well knows this fact.

Nora stands from the rubble heap, shakes off the debris, and observes the scene. People scream and cry, wander dazed and senseless, some cling to limp bodies or hug their own injures. The whole scene is utterly unforgivable. Nora’s blood surges. She knows there will be no fleeing now, not now that she’s seen this. Nor now that it’s taken hold of her. Battle rage, her master had called it. He’d warned that she was especially susceptible to it. Rule #7: Keep a cool head. This rule she knows, she is about to break.