Monday, December 10, 2012

Tribes Of The Earth - Part Two

It's taken me a little while to get this one up since I'm still figuring out my editing workflow without Scrivener. I didn't realize I'd miss it so much. I need to consider buying it. 
Also there was a short section that just needed rewriting, and I procrastinated on that. But I think I've got it fixed so it flows better and shows more of that character's nature.
Anyway, here it is, Part Two:

Kazimir Camp

      Deidre ran for an hour and a half before she stopped for a rest. She had just crested a hill overlooking an empty valley.
      Not quite empty. She corrected herself. A small cabin sat at the base of the hill, a touch of faint smoke rising from the chimney, evidence of a dying fire.
      No one would settle here unless they had a water source. Stretching her arms over her head, she breathed deeply. Favor is gained with a gift. All I’ve got is this scraggly squirrel.
      With a heavy sigh, she sat down and began to think. She was in no condition to hunt a wolf right this moment, and setting a snare for a deer would take too long, and had no certain outcome.          Unstoppering the waterskin, she took a healthy swig, then swished it around, listening carefully to judge the amount left. She heard water. Not just the water in the skin, but actual running water.
Her hopes soared, but she quickly pushed them down. Just because there was water didn’t mean it was safe to drink. Putting the skin back over her head, she stood and listened, turning slowly to divine the direction of the sound.
      As she started forward, something checked her. If this turns out to be a false lead, I lose valuable time and energy. The safest bet is to keep going.
      Well, then! Are you coming down or aren’t you?” A voice called out, startling her.
      Deidre whirled around, staff ready. A wave of annoyance passed through her. This was the second time today someone had been within earshot and seen her first. She had to pay closer attention.
      At the door of the cabin stood a man holding a lantern up in one hand and clutching a sword in the other.
      Come down here, mister, or I’m coming up after you!” He added sternly.
      Deidre realized that the moon was at her back, rendering her a silhouette to the man. Using her staff to steady herself on the steep slope, she made her way down.
      Once she had come within the circle of light, he hastily corrected himself. “Oh, ‘scuse me, ma’am. Just tryin’ to be careful.”
      Very wise of you.” Deidre said, gracing him with a smile. “I was just passing through.”
      As she spoke, he studied her carefully. She had dark hair that was lightly streaked with gray, which seemed out of place around her youthful face. Her clothing was rough and sturdy, but skillfully cut, and she handled her heavy staff with practiced ease.
      Most night travelers I get are more trouble than they’re worth.” He adjusted his grip on the sword as he spoke.
      I was left no choice.” She explained. “Earlier I was delayed by an attack. My water supplies are running low and I was heading for the next source I knew of when I happened upon your valley.”
      You’re wanting water, then?”
      Yes, sir.” Deidre retrieved the squirrel from her belt. “I have this to exchange.”
      The man eyed it. “Kinda scrawny.”
      She sighed. “I know. But if you’ll let me sleep here for a few hours, I’ll hunt for you at first light.”
      Now he eyed her. “Oh, will you? And what will you bring back?”
      A wolf.” She promised. “A wolf with a healthy pelt.”
      The man laughed, sheathed his sword and offered his hand. “Rath, son of John.”
      She took it, but did not give her own name.
      Well, come in,” He stepped aside to let her enter. “We’ll cook that squirrel of yours for a snack, and tomorrow, after you’ve gotten me a wolf, I’ll fill your waterskin and give you another besides!”
      She stiffened at his familiar and commanding tone, and didn’t move towards the doorway. “I’ll sleep out here, and make a fire with your permission.”
      He frowned, then finally shrugged. “Eh, suit yourself. Just keep it under control.”
      I will. You have my gratitude.” Deidre turned and walked away.
      Kneeling at the far end of the valley, she unstrapped everything from her back and rolled her shoulders in relief. As she organized her sleeping bag and her pack, she noticed that Rath was still watching her. It made her uneasy.
      She decided against building a fire and set the squirrel to the side, a plan for it slowly forming in her mind.
      After unhooking the cape and cowl wrapped around her shoulders, she began to untie the bandages wrapped around her arm. She grit her teeth as the dried blood tore away from the tender skin. Even in the faint lantern and moonlight, she could see that it wasn’t faring well. Opening the waterskin she used half of the remaining contents to flush the wound clean and rinse out the cloths. Then she retied them, glancing at the cabin as she did so. Rath was still watching her from the window.
      Sitting down cross-legged, back straight, she faced the cabin, staring back at him. After only a few moments, he left the window and then lantern went out. With a smile, she laid down, still facing the cabin, and soon fell asleep.
      The sun’s rays were just beginning to think about reaching up to touch the horizon when Deidre opened her eyes. It took her a moment to get her bearings, but once she realized where she was, she got up quickly. She had a wolf to hunt.

      Several miles away, a large camp was woken by a large brass gong. Two long lines of tents were filled with the moaning and groaning of men as they rolled off their cots and dressed quickly. They lined up quickly, glancing down to the end of the row. There sat a tent so large, it was really more of a draped pavilion. A man stepped out of it just as the last stragglers jumped into line. He was tall, and heavily muscled. His face was rough and weathered, but surprisingly pale. However, it was his attire that attracted your attention first. His jerkin, leggings and boots were darkest black, but his belt and scabbard, which was not empty, were purest white. Over all these he wore a long, finely tailored coat, red as blood on the outside and as white as his belt on the inside. Finally, those who dared, or were allowed to approach him were drawn to the fact that his hair was an unnatural white and his stunningly green eyes were always completely bloodshot. All in all, he cut a commanding, if not terrifying figure.
      He let his gaze rove over the lines of men, appraising them as harshly as he had the first day they had joined his tribe. One man in particular caught his eye. He walked down the line of men slowly, gaze fixed on the recruit that seemed to offend him. When he stood in front of the recruit, he said nothing, but looked down at him with a mix of disgust and challenge in his eyes. The recruit was trembling slightly, but continued to stare straight ahead as if his commander were not there.
      The commanding man drew back and punched the recruit across the jaw. Or he would have, if the recruit hadn't brought up his forearms to block and absorb the impact. He had to dig his feet in to remain standing, and even then he was driven back nearly a foot by the power in his commanders fist. Then he straightened and stepped back into his place in the line.
      The man nodded, satisfied, then signaled to one of his attendants to begin calling the roll and returned to his oversized tent.
      His name was Haemon, Son of Carl, and he was the Chief of Kazimir Tribe. He walked over the many skins that covered the dirt floor and crouched at a low table. It was covered with more gadgets than you could imagine. Cell phones, mp3 players, headphones, calculators, and car keys. But the prize of Haemon’s collection was a handgun, loaded and fully ready to fire. He had found a box of ammunition near the gun and had carefully figured out how to reload and operate it-mostly by letting some of his men play with it privately. Two of them shot themselves before he finally got any useful information. Already he had used it to rid himself of three would-be chiefs. Picking up a cloth, he polished it lovingly.
      My Lord Haemon!” His attendant burst into the tent.
      Haemon moved fast as a snake, pulling his knife and darting forward to grab the man’s throat and press the knife against it.
      You were not given permission to enter.” He hissed.
      But, my lord,” The attendant gasped, “There’s a man missing.”
      Did you search the tents?”
      Aye, my lord.” Choking, the attendant added, “He’s one of the loners. A tracker, my lord.”
      Haemon released him. “What is his name?”
      The attendant did his best to answer through his coughing fit. “G-gavin, my… my lord.”
      Gavin.” Haemon repeated the name thoughtfully, “Wasn’t he the one I punished for insubordination last week?”
      Aye, my lord, and laziness the week before.”
      He was the scarred one.” Haemon said softly. “I remember him. He was an idiot. Where did he come from?”
      He was one of the Farze, my lord.”
      Was that the last tribe we helped, or the one before that?”
      The attendant cleared his throat surreptitiously, “Farze Tribe was the first tribe we… er, helped.”
      Ah.” Haemon turned, his green and red eyes boring into the attendant, and growled, “I want him found and brought to me.”
      Aye, my lord. How would you like him found?” The attendant had learned long ago not to guess at Haemon’s methods.
      Send a tracker and two fighters after him. I don’t care if he can still see, if he’s in three pieces or they have to break every bone in his body to get him here. All I want is for him to still be alive when they get back!” His voice rose with each sentence. “And tell them that if they aren’t back within a week, we’ll send more men after them.”
      Aye, my lord.” The attendant turned to leave when Haemon added,
      And tell them we won’t be here for longer than two days. Ilismach Tribe and Averill Tribe lie ahead and beyond them is another of the Old Cities.”
      Aye, my lord.”
      Haemon turned back to polishing his gun and grinned savagely. No one left Kazimir Tribe without his permission. Soon the Kazimir would be larger and wealthier than ever. 

And now you've met my villain. Haemon, Son of Carl. He's going to be starring in my next character post. I find him quite interesting as well. I think I'll probably say that for every character, though. Each one is unique and distinct, at least in my own mind. The test of my writing skills will be whether or not I can translate that into the story. I hope I have, but I'd like your opinion. 
As per usual, comments can be left below, and are not only appreciated but anticipated. Seriously, you have no idea how happy I get when someone leaves a comment. It's like a mini-Christmas morning. 

Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass! 
~ Trinity

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