The fate of a secondary character in my first Dragonwolder novel interested me so much that I made him a key character in the second work, Where Dragons Follow. I had to find out how his near-death experience in book one affected him, if it would mar him for life. In Where Dragons Follow, he endures many hardships and risks much, but I like the way his story works out and will share a snippet of it here with you.
His body had healed, but voices and painful memories filled Kurnan’s head. His nightmares felt more real than his waking life: sometimes he saw himself running from the outstretched talons of a screeching aiglonax; or falling, falling and never landing. In the dream that woke him, waves of poisonous green vapor wrapped around his throat, choking him. Eyes clamped shut, he sat up and flung off his light coverlet. His straw-filled mattress was soggy with sweat. Soon, the Voices came and scattered the remains of his dreams.
Kurnan’s eyes flew open. He flinched and clamped his palms over his ears. Dim morning light crept under the cottage’s door and brightened a small window next to the low door. He threw the coverlet over his head to block the light.
In the dark he heard the Voices again. Whenever they invaded his head, the amulet he was wearing heated his chest until it burned. but when he would yank open his tunic and brush the amulet aside, his chest bore no marks.
Kurnan’s days did not always begin this way, but when they did, he could not bear to leave the cottage, despite his mother’s pleas. “My boy, your nightmares will fade. They come from old fears brought on by the beast’s attack; but he is dead. Get up now. Dress yourself.”
Kurnan looked up and glared at his mother, a small bowl of steaming barley porridge in her hands. “Everyone’s telling me what to do. Why can’t you leave me alone?”
“I only want you to be happy, to help you rest.”
“Rest? Those dreams haunt me almost every night.” He shivered. “I keep seeing that aiglonax beast.”
“The aiglonax is no more. His poisons and spells died with him. He has no power over you.”
Kurnan stared at his feet and waved away the food she offered. He felt her looking at him, but said nothing more. He lay again on his cot, turned to face the wall, and pulled the coverlet over his head. His mother sighed as she walked back to the hearth. He was afraid to tell her about the Voices that swarmed in his head and squeezed until the pain was nearly unbearable. One of those voices called to him as soon as his mother left the cottage for errands in the village.
Kurnan, you can’t stay here. Kurnan, get up. Kurnan, you must go. Now, Kurnan, now.