humor, Uncategorized, writing

Action on the Training Field

Who’s having a good week? I am, and I hope that you are, too! I’ve been making my way through Rayne Hall’s Twitter for Writers and really enjoying myself as I dip my toes back into those fast-moving social media waters. I actually have a strategy this time around which is good because Twitter is all too easy to spend hours and hours on each day.

Today I am posting from my YA epic fantasy novel The King’s Champion. Here, bumbling young Lance, newly arrived in the city from the countryside, tries out his grandfather’s sword. In true WIPpet (work in progress snippet) fashion I have added up a bunch of numbers related to the date to figure out how many paragraphs to post: 9+3 (month and day) +1 + 4 (last two digits of the year) = 17. Don’t worry, though, most of the paragraphs are not very long at all.

As always, I am embarrassingly grateful for constructive criticism and comments.

The sounds of sword fighting wakened me early the next morning. Staggering upright, I dressed, splashed water on my face, and went outside the barrack, yawning.

Carter and the others from yesterday stood on the training field in front of the barrack, fighting each other in groups of two. Carter shouted a suggestion here, an encouragement there, in a loud voice. He glanced over and saw me.

“Boy!” he boomed. “Do you want to try out that half-wrecked twig of a sword I saw you with yesterday?”

“Yes, sir!” I cried, my heart leaping in anticipation.

I ran inside, threw on my boots, and grabbed my sword. Outside, Carter broke up the duo fighting nearest him.

“Kenton, go a round with young Lance, here,” he told one a squat, dark-skinned man nearby.

Kenton looked at me and grinned, revealing a broken front tooth filed to a point like a spike.

I took up a stance in front of Kenton. He scarcely gave me a moment to center myself before he rushed at me, howling. I let out a surprised cry as he launched a stroke designed to chop off my head. Survival instincts flaring, I ducked and elbowed him in the gut. Skittering backwards, I let fly with a wild chop that sliced clean through a hank of Kenton’s thick dark hair. The men standing around us fell abruptly silent.

Kenton froze, then put a hand to his hair in dull surprise. He turned to me with a snarl of rage.

“I will chop you up into little pieces for that, boy.”

A wild exhilaration filled me. “Try and I’ll trim your whole head!”

Kenton gave another roar and unleashed a vicious round of blows at me. I fended them off with limited success, catching a jab in the ribs, a slap on the arm and a ringing swipe to the head. I managed to get in a good swat to his right side, unbalancing him. Backing up quickly, I found myself near the barrack wall. Shaddai! I took a few steps forward, trying to reposition myself.

Kenton snorted like a mad bull and pawed the earth. Lowering his head, he ran at me, powerful legs pumping his body forward with tremendous speed. I believe he intended to hit me in the stomach and knock the wind out of me. That might have worked if I hadn’t twisted aside at the last instant. Kenton hit the barrack wall head on. He sprawled on the ground, semi-conscious.

The others surrounded me, laughing and patting me on the back. Carter came up also, grinning.

“Good job, lad.”

I looked worriedly at Kenton’s inert figure. “Is he–?”

“Oh, don’t worry about him. Marl, Uffen, haul Kenton over to the doctor. He’ll be all right. He’s strange about his hair, that’s all.”

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Uncategorized, writing

Let’s Try This Again … WIPpet!

Today is Wednesday all ready! Man, the weeks go flying by these days. I spent the last week productively, however. After pondering on the comments everyone made on the beginning of my epic fantasy novel last week, I decided to rewrite it. It just lacked energy and humor and it didn’t really grab the reader. I hope you’ll all let me know what you think of this beginning instead. The connection with the date is that (mumble mumble, flails around for something) I’m posting it today, on a WIPpet day!  *grins and cringes*

Chapter 1

Take it from me. Adventuring all by yourself sounds better than it really is.

First, there’s the hunger. Just how many rutabagas and strips of dried pork can you carry? Not more than a week’s worth. Hunting and gathering may yield a straggly bunny or two and a few handfuls of cranberries shriveled and dried on the bush … nowhere near enough.

Next, there’s the confusion. I lost the trail several times despite the map father had scratched out on a deer hide back in my village.

I hardly need to mention the general discomfort of sore feet, attacking chiggers, rancid waterholes, and disturbingly close howls of wild beasts as I tried to sleep.

Last night, thunderstorms got added to the list. Specifically, crashing, freezing, hide-in-a-cave and shiver-all-night thunderstorms that leave slippery, splashing, stinking mud puddles everywhere.

Immediately after sighting the three riders heading toward me, I tripped and skidded into one of these very puddles. I leapt to my feet, not even taking time to curse over the soaking.

“Ho there, young sir!” boomed a big, dark-faced fellow a few pounds too heavy for the comfort of his horse. His teeth gleamed in the noonday sun. “Taking a bath, are you?”

“Err … ho there!” I called, grinning like an idiot and waving so energetically that water sprayed in ten foot arcs from my sodden shirt.

How I longed for companions on my lonely journey! Or, failing that, at least a shared meal.

The only other person I’d met on the road so far was an aging prostitute riding a sway-backed mule. She tried to trade for some of my rutabagas with her body. I couldn’t have run away any faster even if my hair was on fire.

All at once, I remembered the traditional greeting. “Welcome in Shaddai’s peace.” 

The riders each wore scraggly, faded leathers. Their unshaven faces and dirty, weary-looking mounts told me that they had been traveling for a while. Not that I looked much more respectable, with mud dripping off my tangled hair.

They formed a semi-circle around me. The one who had hailed me lost his smile. “Shaddai’s peace? A pox on it!”

Alarm squeezed me low in the gut…

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Uncategorized

A Moment on the Road

It’s Wednesday again, and thus the day of the week where I share a little snippet of my work in progress, thus, a WIPpet. It is posted as part of a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel. Comments, reactions, impressions, constructive criticisms – all are treasured, should you choose to provide them.

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I am, yet again, too lazy to look up what happened today in history, and will instead post a few lines from the fifth page of the third chapter (3/5). Usually I post on Wednesday evenings, but I’ve got a long day in store for me tomorrow so I’m posting early for once.

With no further adieu, a little from the newly christened City of Ages:

 

They traveled ten miles that first day, slow miles over gentle, rolling hills, following the rock paving on the old Roman road, passing by the vivid green trees and lush undergrowth of the forest. Tristan led a long-eared, long-faced mule that he called Henry.

“Henry?” Justus asked, dubious and amused. Tristan was less apt to take offense to him lately, but Justus tried not to goad him too much since that might change at any moment.

“Henry is a strong name,” Tristan declared, patting Henry’s thick brown neck.

“It is well that you have such affection for him, since you are responsible for his care,” Justus pointed out.

“So it is,” Tristan agreed. “Would that I had such affection for all my duties.” He slid a sly glance at Justus.

“Hmmph,” Justus replied, then aimed a light kick at the back of Tristan’s head, the doing of which caused a minor scuffle as they swatted at one another, laughing, until Justus remembered that his place as leader of this expedition probably did not allow for such foolishness, and he better comported himself.