My Progress

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Prologue to my book

I would like to get some feedback on this.  So please read below and then let me know what you think in the comment section.  I'm writing a book, I have the outline done and I'm partway through the first chapter.  Actually, I was partway through and started doing a complete rewrite of the first chapter, didn't like where I started at.  So give me some positive (or negative, I guess) feedback.  Thank you in advance.

Watch Guard Maren stared out into the inky blackness beyond The Wall.  No moon tonight to give any indication of anything.  Not even the bright warlights mounted on the turrets made a dent in this darkness.  It was less than useless being out here on a night like this, he thought to himself.  There was nothing to see, nothing to do but get chilled.  He hunched his shoulders against the chilling darkness and tugged at his thick, woollen cloak to keep it even tighter about his body and he continued his rounds.  His steps echoed dully on the ancient stone, slick tonight with the condensation from the drifting fog.  He’d have to be careful where he put his feet tonight if he was going to make it back to the warmth of the fire in the guardhouse in one piece.

Just two more days to go.  Two more days and he could choose a specialty.  Two more miserable, windswept nights and he would choose to be a Rider.  All his life, he’d waited for this spot.  To be one of the Horse Guards, with their resplendent black uniforms with white helmets, was every child’s dream in Eryri.  Every young man dreamed of riding with the Guards and travelling the whole of the land and beyond, going to fight the Gehennom alongside the troops of Gander.  They dreamed of riding to victory and great honour on the curly coated steeds of Eryri.  Two more days and Maren would reach his 18th birthday and his dream would come true.

He’d loved his time working with the Horse Masters, cleaning stables, watching them break and train the great Curly chargers.  Maren had survived his time with the Craft Masters, learned to make elementary weapons, barely passed those exams.  The masters had taken one look at his bow and sword and he’d spent most of the rest of the time sweeping and emptying scrap bins, he remembered embarrassingly.  He’d done better with the Warders learning the slick footed dance of the sword masters.  He’d won his sword (fortunately not one of his own making, he thought wryly to himself).  He learned to fight with the lance and the staff, and even bare-handed.  Somehow, he’d managed to stay awake in the long classes on history, been fascinated by the lectures in tactics and strategy.  He’d excelled at his time on horseback, a few minutes with whatever horse they gave him and he had a bond with the animal.  He’d done even better with the Bow Masters, learning to shoot the composite horn bows accurately, to breathe out as he released his arrow; and then from the back of the Curlies where they were taught to shoot only in mid-gallop as the horse had all four feet in the air so as not to disturb the shot.  He’d scored near-perfect shots on all four of his tries, galloping through the obstacle course at full speed, holding on with his knees as he fired arrows into the targets from the saddle.

Just last week the Master of Horses himself had showed up and let him know that he’d be welcome with the Horse Masters if he so chose.  But he’d also had overtures from the Horse Guards, nothing as startling as the Master of Horses incident, but casually dropped comments from various Commanders that let it be know they had their eye on him.  It was still up to him, and as much as he was flattered by the Horse Masters interest, he’d always dreamed of riding into town on a black Curly, clad in the black dress uniform with the gold braid, the forest green leggings, polished black knee-high boots, white gloves and that dazzling white helmet sprouting white-bleached horsehair blowing in the wind, along with his long cloak.  He’d spent many hours on his family’s croft tending sheep, day-dreaming about the day he would ride into battle with a Company of Troopers...

A gust of wind tugged at his cloak and he broke from his reverie.  A faint noise penetrated the deep blackness of the night.  He stopped and peered over the battlement into the pass below.  There was nothing to be seen, nothing that could be seen in the mist-soaked pitch of night.  It was probably some animal, an owl or other night hunter after an evening meal.  Although how they could see anything to hunt, he had no idea.  It wasn’t like The Wall had even been attacked in the last hundred years.  The Gehinnom had learned years ago that it couldn’t be breached.  He remembered his history lessons.  They’d launched attack after attack on it to no avail.  Even their foul magic unleashed upon the ancient edifice, to destroy it, ultimately melted the face of the wall until it was one single mass of stone, unbreakable and impenetrable.  “Useless”, he told himself for the hundredth time this evening as he stamped his feet and tried to hunch deeper into his cloak.  Near morning, he corrected himself.  Only another hour or so and then his shift was up and he could retire for a few more hours sleep.  He’d head back to the guardhouse and warm himself one last time in front of the fire and then make his last patrol of his section of The Wall before roster change.

He breathed in the moist, spring night air as he patrolled along the great stone wall.  Maren smelled the acrid tang of smoke from the warlights, the fresh green smell from the trees in the pass below the wall.  And he caught a hint of something else.  That fetid, dead stench that he’d smelled so many times this year as he’d spent his appointed shift patrolling along the top of the parapets.  Whenever the wind blew from the north, as it often did, it would drag the scent of decay up from along the River Black, up through the pass before depositing the aroma here along The Wall.  But there was very little wind tonight.  Just enough air movement to make the mist drift lazily between Maren and the closest warlight.  So why was the stink so thick tonight?  His night-weary brain puzzled on the matter.  Perhaps he ought to sound the alarm.  He snorted at the thought.  Sure, and be the butt of every joke in the barracks for the last two days.  He could hear the laughter and jests now.  “Maren is afraid of a little smell...  Give Maren latrine duty to toughen up his delicate nose.”

He stopped and peered again into the shadows.  “Two days more,” he reminded himself. “Just two days...”

A shadow, black against the pitch-black of the night, dropped out of the sky onto him.  For a second he stared in shock, then broke and started to run, his right handed grasping the hilt of his sword, attempting to draw it as he tried to gain some space from the monster materializing from mist.

“Sound the alarm,” he screamed into the night and turned to face the Horror.  A second cry of warning was squelched as he was instantly knocked off his feet.  Something had punched him in the gut, he couldn’t breathe.  He looked up at his attacker in sheer terror.  A nightmare swam out of the darkness.  Huge horns protruded from boney plates and scales, a giant maw opened to reveal slick, sharp fangs as long as his sword.  A massive claw reached out for him as he scrabbled backwards in panic.

Then the warlights went out.  The darkness was so thick he could taste it.  He rolled to the side and lurched to his feet and began to run towards where the guardhouse should be.  He had to reach the guardhouse and sound the alarm.

Another crushing blow hit him from behind and then he was flung out into the darkness below.  “I must be falling,” was his first thought as he floated in the black.

Then a second and last thought before the darkness took him.

“There’s no such thing as dragons.”


Anonymous said...

Not bad, you kept my attention!

Diane said...

This is fantastic! My favorite genre! I want to read more, and that says it all. A couple of places where I would cut a few run-on words, and I think you need more paragraph changes, but those are simply cosmetic. The body is sound and needs to go on . . .

Anonymous said...

not bad, i would keep reading. let me know when its done.