Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Here's Chapter 6 of Servant of the King

I got to this late tonight, and was beginning to fade as I finished. I really should have gone to bed as soon as I finished replacing the kitchen faucet, but this story called!

I'm really enjoying this. The things I've learned in workshops and from published authors careen through my mind as I write. I think that's good and bad. Good because I'm remembering goals and scenes, character depth and connection and so on. But I have had to work hard to keep the internal editor away!

Back foul fiend!

So with no further fanfare:

 Chapter 6

            They left the light behind quickly. As they walked, Lakhoni felt as if he was fading away into the trees, his soul dissipating into the deepening shadows under the wild boughs. He glanced over his shoulder, glimpsing the glowing embers interspersed with dark shapes that were all that remained of his family. No, there is still Alronna. Lakhoni focused on moving his near-dead body forward, the distance between him and Gimno lengthening steadily. I’ll find her.
            An idea flashed. Maybe he could slowly let Gimno get farther ahead of him and then he could just duck into the trees. But the fierce man had caught him so fast the last time! Where would I go? If he went back to the village, Gimno and his people would find him immediately. He could go to Lemalihah, the capital city and try to make a life there while he planned a way to find Alronna. But what could he do? Was there work to be found for a villager like him? Lamorun had often talked about going to live in Lemalihah or some other big city, going on about how much different life was there.
            Of course, Lamorun would never go to a city now. Lakhoni wondered if things would have been different if Lamorun and the other older boys had been around to fight.
            That is the real thieving. Bitterness, an old friend, filled Lakhoni. Forcing every man and boy of fighting age to wage war on the Usurpers to try to get the Abundance back. Yes, that was the worst robbery his village had suffered, even if it had been over three years ago.
            “Keep up, cub!” Gimno’s voice sliced through Lakhoni’s thoughts. “If you make me miss my evening meal, or even late for it, perhaps I shall spit you and roast you as a tender appetizer!” A rich, rolling laugh filled the forest, echoing amongst the trees.
            Lakhoni instinctively lengthened his stride for a few steps, but remembered that he had thought he could escape if he got far enough behind. But then, he really had nowhere to go. True, Gimno was a terrifying-looking person. But the warrior’s laugh sounded so much like Salno’s, and he had seemed sincere when welcoming Lakhoni into the ranks of the Living Dead.
            The decision made, Lakhoni stretched to catch up to Gimno. For now. But soon, I’ll go find Alronna. When my wounds are healed, Lakhoni told himself. In another few minutes, he was able to walk abreast of the tall man. Lakhoni hesitated for a moment, unsure of how to ask.
            “Whatever it is, by the First Fathers just say it!” Gimno’s loud voice seemed to challenge the now fully dark night.
            Lakhoni breathed deeply. He couldn’t live in fear of this man. “When will we get to your people?”
            “We will arrive at our settlement in another hour.” Gimno threw a quick glance down at Lakhoni. “But my people?” The man snorted.
            Lakhoni bristled. It was obvious the tall man was mocking him. “What?”
            “You have much to learn, cub.”
            “I’m not a child!” Lakhoni said. “Why do you call me cub?”
            “There’s that spine!” Gimno slapped Lakhoni on his injured shoulder. Lakhoni tried not to hiss in pain, but couldn’t stop the sudden intake of breath.
            “What?” Gimno stopped walking, placing a gentle hand on Lakhoni’s other shoulder and pressing down to make him stop too.
            “Nothing.” Lakhoni tore his eyes away from Gimno’s fierce gaze.
            “You are injured more than I thought.”
            Lakhoni felt probing fingers on his shoulders, chest, sides and back. Gimno muttered as he conducted his examination. When he was finished, Gimno trapped Lakhoni’s eyes again. “You must not hide serious injury. You weaken yourself and you weaken your cohort at the same time when you do this.”
            “I’ll be fine.”
            “Yes, you’ll be fine. But in the meantime, while you heal you will be weaker and that could make things very much ‘not fine.’”
            Lakhoni had no idea what Gimno was talking about. What was a cohort?
            “Is there anything else?”
            Lakhoni met Gimno’s eyes again. He searched for a reason to say there was nothing, but he surprised himself by being honest with the man. “My head. That’s why they thought I was dead, I think.”
            Gimno’s hands, strangely gentle, brushed over Lakhoni’s head. After a moment, Lakhoni felt the weight of Gimno’s stare again.
            “You should be dead.”
            “What do you mean?” Lakhoni asked.
            Gimno turned and began walking, his left hand on the back of Lakhoni’s neck, firmly pulling the young man along. “That blow should have killed you. Your brains should be giving an unfortunate vulture gas right about now.”
            “I have a thick head.”
            That rich, rolling laugh that sounded like it came from a fat man echoed through the forest again. “Or perhaps you’re too stupid to know when to die.”
            “Maybe my brains hid in my feet,” Lakhoni said. He was surprised to feel a smile beginning to stretch his lips. He fought it away.
            “I think it more likely that you simply don’t have any brains at all.”
            Lakhoni glanced up at the man. Gimno’s teeth glowed in a wide smile. Lakhoni had to fight his own smile away again.
            “Back to your question,” Gimno said after many minutes had passed.
            “What question?”
            “About my people and when we would get to them.”
            “You said an hour.”
            “No, I said we would be at the settlement in an hour.”
            Lakhoni bit his tongue to control his retort.
            Gimno spread his arms wide to both sides. “But my people have been with us this entire time. Open your eyes.”
            Lakhoni’s heart skipped as shadows suddenly slinked closer to him. As the shapes got closer, he realized that he and Gimno were surrounded by other people of the Dead-but-not-Living. Shiny heads and torsos glinted in the pale light of the rising moon.
            At that moment, desire overcame his fear. Lakhoni decided he would learn to move like the Living Dead, how to fight like them. Then, when he could beat any man in combat and he knew he could not fail, he would go and find his sister. 

So that's it for today. That's about 1030 words, putting the story at about 9300 total so far. 

I'm having a good time, how about you? 

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