What do you folks think of the following beginning for a story? Does it hold your interest? If you get to the end of it, do you want to know what happens next?
Please note that I speak British English, not American. That should account for any misspellings or phrases that sound odd. There are a lot of italics in this piece, but since Y!A doesn't allow them, I've indicated them /like this./
Observant readers might notice that neither character has a name. That isn't deliberate; I just haven't got around to choosing any yet.
A great rush of air came upon him from above, knocking him to the ground. A shadow blotted out the sun. As the wind subsided, he became aware of a large, hulking presence in front of him, heavy beyond mere physical mass. Expecting it to be the last thing he ever did, he looked up.
The tip of the dragon's nose was about three feet in front of him. It was hard to be sure from this angle, but he estimated that its head alone was longer than he was tall. It was covered in jet black scales, ranging in size from smaller than his fingernail to bigger than his fist. According to legend, dragons slowly changed colour over their lives. The black ones were the oldest - and the most deadly.
It looked at him dispassionately. Its eyes were the palest gold, with a narrow vertical slit in the middle, black as the bottom of the ocean. He felt as though that was what he was looking at; the pupils seemed deep enough to contain worlds. He recalled that legend also said you should never look into a dragon's eyes...
The dragon shifted its weight slightly, and its nostrils dilated. He felt air moving past him as it breathed in. This was it, then. He wondered how long it would be before the others noticed he was missing and whether, if they came up here to look for him, they would work out the meaning of the blackened patch of grass where he was now lying.
/Man-thing./ The voice reverberated inside his skull. The legends were right about that, too: dragons had no voices like humans, but spoke directly with their minds. What the legends hadn't mentioned was that the dragon's mind-speech was incredibly loud. Perhaps he should move further away? Given his present circumstances, that might not be a wise move.
/Crawling,/ said the dragon. /Grovelling, as befits your kind. If you were another dragon, I should kill you for this insult. Yet one such as you is scarcely worth that trouble./
The dragon paused and breathed out. His head felt as though he was reeling from blows. The ground seemed to be spinning underneath him. Still, he had survived a lot longer than he had expected to after the dragon's arrival. At the moment, he wasn't sure whether that was a good thing. Carefully and distinctly, he began to frame words in his mind.
/O great dragon,/ he said, /I offer my most humble apologies for disturbing you./
/It speaks!/ The dragon seemed quite startled. Its pupils widened fractionally.
/Indeed, o great dragon,/ he replied. /I have made some study of the ways of your kind, but there is, of course, much of which I am still ignorant. I assure you that I mean no offence by it. For instance, I would be most grateful to learn the correct manner of addressing you./
/Polite, too./ There was an uncomfortable pause. He imagined that the dragons had never had to consider such a question, at least not when it was being asked by a human. /"O great dragon" will suffice,/ it said eventually.
/Perhaps, o great dragon, you wish to know why I summoned you here./
/You did not summon me,/ said the dragon, and he sensed restrained anger behind the words. /I chose to come./
/As you wish, o great dragon./ He bowed his head.
/Look at me,/ said the dragon, and he complied. He knew that he couldn't have disobeyed. /I am nevertheless curious to know why a man-thing happens to be on this hilltop, far from its own kind, at the very same moment that I choose to visit it./
/That is quite simple to explain, o great dragon. I wish to propose an alliance./