Chapter one, scene one: Teren Barque

On August 13, 2014 by T.
Teren of House Barque.  Photo by MRBee30.

Teren of House Barque.
Photo by MRBee30.

It’s been a while since I’ve last written, but I have an announcement to make (on my birthday).

Here it is: I have finished Chapter 1 of The Stave and the Shroud! *air punch*

My first novel is fully outlined, but there’s room for change if a character decides to take a detour.

I’ve also allowed enough space for the characters to evolve naturally in my mind, and for incredible discoveries to be made while leaving the story to itself.

Oh, did I mention a massive evolution in content (history, concepts, geography) and writing style?

Yeah, I have narrowed down theme, voice, tone, and also sub-genre. More on that later (think Steampunk).

Stay with me here.

Another reason to celebrate (apart from my birthday) is that this is the fourth year of “project” Tellurion. What began as a vision is now coming to life in black and white (with a bit of gray).

So, if you’re still following this post, I’ve got a surprise. I’ve decided to publish the first scene of the novel.

The catch is that you (the Wise Reader) need to answer five questions on the comment box below. Easy, right?

I need your honest feedback. To get published (in the real world), I need to know what you honestly thought.

Of course, if you’re not a fan of fantasy, then let me know and I can delete your comments. Fair?

First, the questions, then the scene.

1. Were you ever bored? If so, where in the scene did this happen?

2. Who is the main character? Do you like him? What about the antagonist? Do you hate him?

3. Was there anything you didn’t understand? A word, a description, a concept?

4. Was there anything you didn’t believe in? Did you find yourself saying “Oh, come on…”?

5. What do you think will happen next? What are you wondering about as you finished the scene?

 

The Fool In Reverse

The Stave and the Shroud: Chapter 1, Scene 1 (Draft #2)

Teren slouched over his bowl, pretending to eat. Mysterious meat dumplings that had the consistency of tendons floated on a flavorless broth of root vegetables. He pulled his hood closer before washing a piece down with watery wine, and counted again the days left until the end of the Bleak.

Eleven, he thought. Just eleven more days before I can leave.

Teren sat alone under his grandfather’s banner on a slate table designated for the Lords of Southerwake. The long banquet table crossed the entire length of the hall and housed numerous noble families – all of them sat as far away from him as possible.

Teren’s mother and grandmother had eaten privately, and were now tending to his ailing grandfather’s needs; while Laiyana, his younger sister, had taken one good look at dinner, said she wasn’t hungry, and ran away.

A couple near Teren whispered to each other, pointed at him, and then chuckled. Others simply looked past him, as if he were just a shadow in the hall. This was not his favorite part of the day.

People spilled into the room from everywhere around him. Files of ants swarming an anthill, the place erupting as drunken lords hailed each other. Servants carried brass plates and silver chalices, tending to aisles of starving retainers and noblemen. Merry minstrels sang about the sea, legendary sailors, and forgotten treasures of the Southlands. Everyone added to the chanting, the giggling, and the clanking. Everyone but Teren.

After his sister left, Teren recoiled over his dinner and tried to reduce his presence. Across from him, on a lesser table reserved for common folk and house retainers, sat his uncle.

The man made Teren’s stomach lurch. He had this thick dark beard that seemed to hold on to remnants of food left over from earlier meals. It was braided by leather straps in a fashion last seen a thousand years ago, and everyone called him Longbeard, though his given name was Emeuryg Barque. His face was scarlet from his banter, and his over-sized belly bounced up and down as he finished a tasteless joke; a score of men around him bursting in laughter.

Longbeard saw Teren from where he sat. “Hey, future Lord,” he snickered. “Will you do me the honor?” He raised his mug in mockery, inviting Teren to join them.

His left hand itched and Teren scratched it under the table; he then adjusted his leather glove to make sure no one noticed it.

“Why are you all by yourself,” his uncle teased again. “Lonely Lord.” The laughter turned into a roar.

Enough, he thought narrowing his eyes. I’ve had enough.

He pulled his gray hood to cover his eyes, and wrapped the dark blue cloak he wore around his broad shoulders so it would hide his long arms. He stood up from his lonely place at the table, hunching to disguise his actual size.

On his way to Longbeard’s table, Teren walked past a group of bards and jolly makers who, upon seeing him, immediately stopped in awe. He heard one of them whisper Slank, and he turned and glared at him.

The boy, no more than fifteen, froze when he met Teren’s eyes. Teren could only imagine what people thought when they noticed for the first time that his left eye: his iris, pupil and even the eyeball, was completely black. It must have been shocking to see the dark eye in contrast to the other that was a light blue the color of the sea, because the boy dropped his flute and fell on the bench behind him.

“Look at him,” his aunt said, breastfeeding her infant cousin. She sat next to Longbeard and was a pretty foreigner half his age. “He will make a fine lord, a terrifying one.”

His uncle hit the table and snorted, spitting ale everywhere. His men convulsed at the scene.

Teren was quick to reply. “I will have a drink with you,” he pointed at his uncle. “Out of respect for your father. One drink.”

Teren seized a chalice from a servant nearby. He downed it as fast as he could, and threw the silver on the table, nearly hitting his uncle’s belly. Longbeard jumped back, startled. Five of his men stood up.

“Long live Grandlord Taelyn Barque,” Teren gave his uncle and his men a hard look, and left.

He heard his uncle scorn him again, and men bursting out laughing.

As he made his way out of the banquet hall, Teren fought back tears. How could he be lord, when all he wanted was to be normal?

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