The Map Room
Here you will find the full synopsis and an excerpt for The Map Room
(Please note: This synopsis isn’t exact, the story has changed through the writing)
Fourteen year old Samra wants to investigate the phenomenon that is on every map she has ever seen, yet no one seems to know a thing about. There are Dragons in the North.
Samra was born in a desert kingdom and knows nothing of forests and mountains. The highest landmark she’s seen are the Date Palms that stretch their branches to the sky and the shifting dunes that move with the wind.
Samra decides she doesn’t need to stay home, especially as everyone seems to be lying to her. And they have her grubby little brother as heir to the throne, they don’t need her anyway.
Also Samra has been engaged to Prince Khader for as long as she can remember, and she’s not too happy about it either. He’s a weakling, with no sense of adventure and an imagination that could do with a boost. He’s stoic and traditional, to easy to follow whatever his father says, and she’s tired of both of them.
Samra is supposed to complete the first half of her betrothal the day after her fifteenth birthday, in four months, and spend the next two years of her engagement in training, learning about her new homeland and the customs she will need to follow.
She’d rather poke her own eye out! Leaving Prince Boring-Pants behind is a no brainer, but her only problem is what will her family think about her disappearance.
Samra decides that should she go, she can do it and investigate the North, and be back in time to complete her ritual, she couldn’t live with herself if she doesn’t at least try and make the trip. It’s not a hard thing, nothing will happen, a couple of the fast land runner birds that are used by everyone and she can make the journey there and be back before they get too pissed at her. She hopes.
She convinces Sebastian – a wily goblin who she bargains with to accompany him to the North, near to where he himself is from, in the Northwest. Sebastian, Samra learns is over two hundred years old, even though he looks like a child of ten, and he is a learned elder amongst his people. This is why he and a number of other Goblins were sent out to try and find allies to help them protect against an enemy that is attacking them from beyond the stars. Having agreed to guide Samra to the North, e decides to follow in the hopes that he may find some help as well.
Sebastian had originally decided to go home after Samra’s father tells him that he cannot help, because they have no means, no technology to enable them to travel beyond the earth, let alone the stars. And Sebastian will have to look elsewhere or hope that one of the others have found aid.
When Samra’s parents find she has absconded, they send out a bounty hunter to bring her back. He catches up to them, and once Samra explains that she had every intention to return, and that he should follow them, he reluctantly agrees. He also knows of the promise of the cartographer when Samra was a year old, and that her parents had refused to give her, despite the agreement.
Along the road, They meet up with Godfrey. He’s clumsy, ungainly and falls over his own two feet. He can barely swing a sword without getting it caught in an article of his clothing, often looking like he’s about to decapitate himself.
He begs them to let him come with them, as he too had always wanted to know what the dragon thing was about.
Together they meet Sand robots, a mechanical army that protect the desert from intruders. They meet the Centaurs who are being hunted by the horse headed Giant, and they help them to Defeat him also they can live in peace. They assist them as well.
What Samra doesn’t know is that her curiosity is leading her to her destiny. In the Map room is the Cartographer who has been waiting for her for fourteen years the dragons have been asleep for centuries and can only be awoke by Samra.
In the Map room, all the maps that have ever been produced have come from there. Now something is changing the lanes and the maps are mysteriously inaccurate. The star systems are changing, worlds that have existed are disappearing without any viable reason, and Samra need to wake the dragons and go and find out what has been happening.
The dragons cross space. They travel by lighting their way through the cosmos, a fiery arc of fire that precedes them into the dark, as the dragons fly faster than the speed of light, travelling distances never imagined in a few minutes. Only a dragon rider can control the dragons to fly the distance and travel between the solar systems.
It turns out that Godfrey also has an affinity with the dragons and he pairs with the gold dragon, while Samra pairs with the white.
Excerpt from unedited work-in-progress
The next oasis lay out of my way, an indistinct verring which caused me to alter my path from the heading I’d desired, unlike the previous watering hole which led us straight north. From looking at the map, I could see that the one after would lead me back, so the chance of straying too far was minimal. I’d contemplated avoiding it, but it was better to replenish my water wherever possible and seek cover during the night than to take on the open desert and risk being caught unaware by bandits. Or worse, the automaton and their Djinn leader that kept watch to rid the desert of unwanted visitors.
The yellowing sky shone over my shoulder, forcing me forward with the threat of impending darkness, and I urged the Grikak onward. I feared to tire him too soon, but my awareness and dread of the Djinn was almost, if not more, pressing than wearing out the Grikak’s energy. The closer he was to the oasis, the less risk we faced out in the open.
Topping a rise in the dunes, I came upon a sight I’d hoped to never witness.
Two of the automated guardians were attacking Sebastian from both sides. Somehow he’d held on, but I could see he was tiring, the movements of his arms and legs becoming erratic as he jumped and spun to avoid the wickedly accurate sword swipes of the two barely assembled, metal figures.
They looked as though someone had gathered human-like metal appendages; a kind of unclothed skeleton made up of objects resembling tubes, triangles, squares and cylinders, placing them one atop the other, while hoping the whole thing wouldn’t collapse in a strong breeze. They’d been given animation; a will to move forward; an existence, along with a goal and a purpose. They had hands, which resembled slabs of crudely shaped metal, with which they gripped deadly sharp swords, aiming with more precise accuracy towards Sebastian, intent to cause him serious injury.
I scanned the empty surroundings for someway to help. I wasn’t trained in warfare, neither did I carry a weapon. I noticed a few hand-sized rocks that might distract them long enough for us to escape, but being unsure of my aim,, I hesitated. I felt like David, throwing rocks at the enemy, a big enemy which I couldn’t hope to beat, but I gathered my courage around me like the shreds of my pride and charged down the side of the dune, scattering sand, and hurling rocks at the two automated robots that were pressing home their advantage over Sebastian.
The Grikak and I broke their momentum, and his long sharp beak, aimed at the gaps in their armour, pecking away at them with a eery cry and a squawk of defiance. I saw Sebastian draw breath as the attention from his assailants was diverted. Reaching beneath his thick cloak, he removed a long black tube, and pointed it at one of the automaton.
I had no time to watch Sebastian, loosening the reins to allow the Grikak to manoeuvre, as he pecked and scratched with his talons while I held on for dear life. The ability to defend was something I hadn’t realised he could do and was glad that Marwa had provided me with a bird that could protect me and carry me to my destination.
I heard a thumping sound, like air pushed through a small hole at speed, and watched as one of the automaton blew apart, almost in slow motion. It limbs losing the cohesion they’d once had, finally falling victim to gravity as they landed in heaps of smoking scrap metal in a wide arc where it had once stood.
The other looked at the source of the disturbance and headed straight for Sebastian, marking him out as the greater threat. Sebastian had crouched on the sandy floor, the thick tube of black metal before him, as he manipulated it, frantically pushing buttons and dials along its side. But something wasn’t right, and the automaton approached with such speed that Sebastian barely had time to move before it was upon him, swinging its sword straight for his head.
I screamed, and watched in horrified slow motion as the blade passed through the space Sebastian’s head had been not more than a second before. The robot stood, feet braced to aim another swing in the opposite direction, intent on finishing his work before he turned again, to finish me off.
Sebastian’s weapon had malfunctioned. What had worked for him, now appeared no more useful than the heap of smoking iron laying on the desert sand. His tube sat lifeless, unlike the deadly apparatus it had been before and I looked for another way to help him before he was decapitated before my eyes. Sebastian leapt backwards again, as the blade passed where he’d been a split second earlier, the robot advancing on him, with a relentless intention in its disjointed limbs, determined only on doing away with the small figure before him.
The rocks had proved useless, and I looked for another way to help, but the dunes were as empty as the bottom of the water canister I held in my hand. I lifted my arm, drew back and threw the small water carrier with all my strength. I watched astounded as it flew through the air, and landed with a solid thunk against the back of the robot’s head. The thing turned its hollow, empty eyes on me causing me to grip the reins and bridle in shocked horror.
“Move back, Samra,” Sebastian cried.
But it was too late, the automaton had turned back towards me, advancing on me with a single-mindedness to destroy in its jagged, stuttering stride. I pulled on the Grikak’s reins, trying to turn his head away so we could at least attempt an escape, but the bird was having nothing to do with my plan, spreading his feet wide to attack as it opened it beak and screamed defiance at the advancing robot, the long beak poised to dart in between the empty spaces of its makeup and seek a means of defence.
I watched with foreboding as Sebastian gave a grunt of satisfaction, raising his weapon and aimed for the back of the robot as it advanced on me. A hollow reverb echoed around the empty dunes, as warm metal pieces flew towards me causing me to duck, protecting my face. A solid object struck my shoulder and bounced, hitting the floor with a heavy thunk.
Heaving a sigh of relief, I stumbled from the back of the riding bird to assess the damage to the both of us. My shoulder stung where I’d been struck, but I was relieved to find the Grikak in good health, and uninjured. I pivoted, seeking Sebastian, to make sure he was unharmed. I had no way to help jim if he was, my knowledge of healing was rudimentary at best, possessing nothing more than the small medical supplies Marwa had packed for me. Another reason I didn’t want him to be hurt, was I knew he would somehow turn it around, focusing the blame on me for being the cause of the inconvenience. He stood panting; his shoulders slumped, half in relief and most likely, half shock.