I've been posting excerpts over at the LJ community, but thought I'd put them together here for completeness' sake.
1025 words on Hawks and Dragon, bringing my word count back on target. Annie and Rose have returned to the castle together:
Beyond them all, close to the castle, ponies pranced around a fenced-off ring, circling a tall pole to which they were attached by long, colourful ropes. Almost like a Maypole, Annie thought, but with children perched on the ponies rather than dancing around the pole in clogs or ballet pumps. A man standing next to the pole cracked a long whip as one of the ponies shied away from the far end of the pen, breaking in towards the centre of the circle and almost tangling its rope with that of the pony in front.
Then Annie saw what it was that had frightened the pony, and shifted along the rooftop until her wing pressed tightly against Rose's.
The trap had been completed, and its prey was inside. A great green dragon, its scales shiny with water tugged ineffectively at the chain around its neck, snorting up great plumes of steam with every lunge.
I also wrote another 588 words of Searching for Julia. Linda has found some papers that weren't there the day before:
Linda sat down at the desk and began to flick through the postcards. They were arranged chronologically, and all had been sent by Julia to Edward with the earliest dating from soon after the War, and the latest matching the last of the postcards that Kate had received. Most were fairly standard views of tourist attractions with only a short note on the back detailing Julia's opinions on the weather, the people, and the places she had visited. Some of the earlier cards – though from after Edward must have left the army – included entreaties to Come home soon, or to Write more often. Others – Linda judged these to coincide with times when Edward had returned to England and when Julia was living with Hugh on the Estate – begged him to Come and see us, or to Let us know when you visit Matlock. One, which looked as if it might have been bought from a shop in one of the Pemberleys, said simply Call me when you get this. Need to talk urgently.
Turning to the letters, Linda was unsurprised to find that they were also from Julia to Edward. However, those that had been sent while he was in the Far East were more akin to a series of diary entries than to one half of a regular correspondence. Most started with a greeting followed by a comment on the address to which Julia was posting the letter: Edward's regiment, one of his former comrades in the regiment, the British Embassy, a post office box number. Julia seemed frustrated and annoyed that Edward never seemed to have an address at which he could be contacted directly – and he never had a telephone either, or if he did he hadn't given her the number.
349 words on Hawks and Dragon (mostly an action sequence); none on Searching for Julia.
Could the dragon free itself once the constant stream of water no longer quenched its fire? Annie didn't know, but she had no better idea. They had to try something.
She looked at the line of children handing buckets one to the other from the moat all the way to the great tank next to the steam engine. If she could disrupt the line, would the tank empty itself before the line reassembled itself? The smallest child – a boy – knelt on the bank of the moat, scooping up water to fill his bucket, then exchanging it with a blonde, bony girl for another empty one.
Annie swooped down, talons outstretched and raked deep gashes through the boy's scalp. He cried out, dropping the bucket into the moat as he clapped his hands to his head. Blood seeped between his fingers, and he began to wail.
Annie banked sharply, then flew at him again.
The boy lifted his hands flapping them ineffectively at Annie as she swooped back up into the sky. Then he toppled backwards into the moat.
1025 words of Hawks and Dragon achieved on the train before my table got overrun by a family of four (including two Very Young Persons). Annie continues trying to release the dragon:
Annie looked towards the man, standing once again by the dragon's head. He was tapping his stick against the side of his boot, glancing around at the crowd, shouting instructions to the children to work harder and work faster. Not once did he look up at the tower where the hawks perched, and nor did he look up to the tower that rose above the tank from where a pipe directed water onto the dragon.
I have an idea. Annie saw where the pipe hung from the tower on a rope, and below that more rope bindings secured the pipe to the tower's supports, keeping it straight. Ropes could be broken – or at least weakened – but it would take time. Did they have enough time?
Then a little later:
Annie hopped over the rope, flapping her wings to regain her balance as she reached the other side. Then she studied the rope again. One of the twisted strands in the closer portion was beginning to fray. Annie pecked at it as if it were a worm, or a small snake, or a particularly tender strip of muscle that she needed to tear from a bone.
Some of the fibres broke. Annie seized at the strand again, and more fibres gave way. One more tug, and the first strand was no more. She looked down at the activities on the ground. Some people were drifting away from the crowd of spectators, but others were coming in to swell its numbers. The big man walked around the edge of the exhibit, thumping his stick against the palm of his hand when one of the children seemed to be slacking. Then he returned to his position by the dragon's head and began to call out again, encouraging the crowd to draw closer and wonder at the monstrous reptile he had single-handedly subdued.
No writing happened due to playing with sports cars. However I now have a better idea of judging the racing line around corners. I suppose I ought to try going at a better speed next.
Parents were being noisy, so only 268 words got written:
The strand snapped, and a shudder ran the length of the crossbeam as the pipe dropped, then came to a sudden stop.
Annie peered down; water still poured from the pipe onto the dragon's back, but now only a few splashes landed on the dragon's head. She pecked at the closest fibres of the second rope, trying to get a purchase on the loosest. These were tauter, pulled close to the crossbeam by the pipe's weight, but as she broke the first of them more began to fray.
A thunderous rumble sounded below, then a great roar. Several people screamed. A thud, and then the tower on which Annie was perched shook as if hit by an almighty force.
No writing happened due to running around and moving furniture.
I managed a last minute push with Hawks and Dragon and reached my target, even if I didn't quite finish the story. More of the action sequence, and I suspect it will need more editing than the rest of the story eventually:
Annie took her cue from Rose, diving down as Rose soared upwards, then pulling away as Rose began her next descent.
Crash! Another upright fell to the ground and shattered. Bang! One of the chains tethering the dragon gave way under the great beast's pull. Whoosh! The dragon breathed a great jet of fire towards the three men, and they scattered, dropping their sticks as they ran away towards those still watching the spectacle from a safer distance.
Where was Rose? She had been swooping towards the men when the dragon had broken its chain. Hovering high above, Annie saw Rose plummet to the ground, one wing smoking.
Then she vanished.
I actually finished the first draft of Hawks and Dragon yesterday, so I'm pretty much on target with the short stories, especially as this month's will be a short one.