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Welcome to the Hidden Valley


Guest Post: Clarissa Gosling

Welcome to the secret valley

Deep within the Cragspire mountains at the heart of Kaitstud is a hidden valley. This is the home of the dragons, where they have lived since they were first granted dominion over the land. Surrounded by steep peaks, it is almost inaccessible by foot, which makes it the perfect place to hide away. No human has set foot within the valley, and Varvaara is determined that shall never happen.

Geographical features

The valley as a whole is a long narrow diamond shape. Most of the valley is forested, with mixed deciduous trees including oak and ash. All three types of dragongrass‌ grows prolifically on the slopes and in the clearings. The Golden Tree‌ stands in the centre of the valley, deep within the forest, spreading its influence across the whole of the continent. Under the trees live many creatures, including a herd of goats which the dragons look after for food.

A stream runs the length of the valley and pools in the lake at one end, before plunging into the ground under the narrowest point of the surrounding mountains and beyond out of the valley. The lake is deep with clear water, full of fish. The dragons occasionally swim, especially when it is hot. They like to catch fish, as a alternative to goat.

Near the centre of the valley, there’s a cleared area that Artur‌, Nikulas‌, and Vincenc‌ use as an arena for training. A ring of large boulders surround a rough circle, inside which the grass is scuffed and here and there are deep scratch marks in the ground. 

The cave palace

In the cliffs to one side of the midpoint of one of the longer sides is the Cave palace‌ where Varvaara‌ lives. A dusty path winds up to the entrance, which is sheltered under a rock overhang. Once inside, cracks in the rock act as windows, allowing you a view across the tops of the trees to the lake at the other end. 

The main entrance takes you into a cosy living area. Tapestries of Queen Soovi decorate the walls. The furniture is a mix of styles, and well used. Tunnels take you deeper into the rock to more rooms. These include multiple bedrooms and storage areas. Everything the cave contains has either been made by the dragons, or was something given to them as tribute during their reign. Chests full of coins, clothes, and other items are piled up, waiting for anyone to need them.

On a higher level there are more formal halls and sitting areas. Shelves of books tell the story of previous grandeur. 

As well as accommodation for them in their human form, the palace includes spaces designed for dragons. Larger spaces, sunning ledges, and a nursery. This last is where they laid their eggs and cared for them before hatching. Dragonlets stay there for the first few seasons until they have the strength in their wings to fly out. It is almost inaccessible for other creatures, and also impossible for anything to escape once it is in there. This allows other dragons to bring live prey to allow the dragonlets to learn how to hunt.

Inhabitants

This valley has been the home of the dragons since they first arrived on Kaitstud and were gifted the golden tree. Even while they ruled, it was their home, where they could escape the pressures and demands of their people.

When the dragons were overthrown, Varvaara, the only survivor, retreated back to the valley. It was the one place she’d felt at home. With the steep mountains around her, she was safe from the humans. Eventually they stopped searching and she lived in peace for hundreds of summers.

Then she left to find a mate, which resulted in a clutch of four eggs. These hatched and she brought up three of the dragons in the valley. (Birgith was born as human, so she was returned to her father.) The four dragons in the valley stayed below the peaks, flying, training, and looking after their goats.

As the three boys grew, they became frustrated by the limits their mother set on them. Their gaze frequently studied the far horizon and the world beyond the mountains, where their sister was.


Clarissa Gosling

Clarissa has always lived more in the world of daydream and fiction than in reality. In her writing she explores purpose and belonging across worlds. Having never found her own portal to faeryland, she is resigned to writing about fantastical worlds instead.

She now lives in the Netherlands with her family, where she writes as much as they will let her. When not reading or writing, she drinks too much tea and has a burgeoning obsession with Bundt cakes.

Clarissa is the author of the “Dragons of Kaitstud” and “Lost Princess of Starlight” YA fantasy series, and the “Expat Life” series of non-fiction guides for families moving, and living, abroad.

She is an admin for the 365 Writing Challenge, an international writing support group that supports writers to build the habit of writing. And she is one of the co-hosts of the Reading Queens podcast, which discusses mainly young adult fantasy books and their major tropes.


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