It’s Monday, time for some more shameless, self-promotion (hey sometimes you gotta do it yourself!). A few weeks ago I posted the first few paragraphs from Chapter 1. Here is some more, following immediately after the last sample.
“A Tale of Alborea” Chapter One (continued) The Battle of Swollen Hands:
A detail of men appeared and went to work. Slowly I rose and stepped aside so they could reach him. I automatically gave orders–thinking little about what I said. They quickly stripped the body of armor and wrapped it in linen cloth–taking special care of the head, which had been brutally smashed in. My father’s personal affects–those that could be found–were gathered from the battlefield. They would be transported, with his body, back home for burial.
They carried my father’s body away. I lost them in the confusion of the campgrounds and the flaring torchlight. I assumed they would lay him in his tent, beside mine. Wilton’s muttered words pulled me back to where I was, atop a bald hill littered with harried flesh and iron.
“Sir, we should withdraw,” he said, extending a hand.
“Withdraw, to where?” My mind was blank. It ached.
“To the camp, sir. To your tent,” Wilton replied. “There is nothing left for us to do out here.”
The thought of returning to my tent, of laying down not a stone throw’s away from his cold corpse sickened me to the core.
“No,” I said, “I cannot rest.” I turned and began to scan the battlefield. “What of the others?”
“Others?” asked Wilton.
“The other dead—when will they be retrieved?”
“They will be burned, sir.”
“On the field of battle,” he said. “We cannot bury them all.”
“They deserve a proper burial,” I said, my voice choked. “For God’s sake they’re men.”
“They’re human!” I whirled around at Wilton, rage bursting from my lungs. He cowered at the fire in my eyes.
“There are too many, sir.” Wilton’s voice was quivering. “Our men don’t have the strength to pull the bodies out, nor the heart to look upon their fallen brothers.”
“B-but, these monsters.” My anger subsided. “They don’t deserve to burn with these monsters.” I felt weak. I felt sick. I sunk to my knees and stared at my muck-covered hands. A cool zephyr brushed the hair from my face.
“I know, milord,” Wilton said as he slowly approached me. “None of our boys deserve this fate. But it’s the only price we can pay to ensure our freedom.”
A smile passed over my face. “You’re quoting my father, before the battle.”
“He understood why we need to fight. And I know you do too.”
I looked up at Wilton. He stood over me, half smiling, his jittery hands at his sides. I gave the nod and he ran. A moment later he returned with our horses and slowly I rode away from the valley. As I moved further from that field of death, its somber silence was swallowed by the boisterous noise of the camp. It reverberated in my head like an agonizing din, drowning away a sweet song that lingered in the back of my mind. The song, I realized, was in my ears the whole time I had wandered the battlefield.
I don’t know when this draft will be finished. Probably not for a few years, as The Wizard of Quippley takes precedent over it. But once I get rolling with the writing, you’ll hear more about it. And I’ll occasionally post excerpts and all that gooeyness.