Alright, so, I’ve been really slacking on writing this summer and this is my attempt to get back into it. I have a due date to meet on July 15th to turn in the first draft of my new short story. I’m currently 2,103 words in and nowhere close to being done. This story focuses on a character from my first short story: The Tragedy of Carth Giator, Captain Jon Ames. Myself and my fellow author R.C. Erickson (also from the anthology) have resolved to meet every monday, wednesday, and friday for the rest of the summer to motivate each other to write, bounce ideas off each other, revise, edit, work on logistics for the anthology, figure out artwork, coordinate conferences, and maybe, just maybe, work on pitches for our stories. Also look for some vlog posts from the two of us. And now, as promised, an excerpt:
© 2013 Jacob Baugher
They came early in the dawn, the smell of fresh woodsmoke heralding their arrival. Thorn watched them in the dim morning light from behind a thistle-berry bush: men of his own country, clothed in tan tunics the color of the Caradruh desert, Black Raven embroidered on their breasts. He saw sentries, pacing back and forth; pikemen standing watch; archers in wooden watchtowers hewn from iron-oak and ash, and the man wearing the black helm with slits for eyes, giving orders from the center of the ring of campfires and makeshift tents. He leaned in closer, hoping his hunting camouflage would conceal him in the underbrush, ears straining for any kind of sound, any hint of the plan they were formulating.
“They will show resistance, M’lord, I’m sure of it, said a weaselly voice.” Thorn tightened his grip on his hunting knife. He knew that voice.
“You know this?” asked the man in the black helm, standing stock-still in the ring of smoldering campfires. “how?” His voice was like smooth honey, sticky droplets falling off of every word: sliding to the forest floor.
“It is in their nature, sir” came Jasper’s reply, his green eyes darting everywhere except to the dark slits in the helm. “They’ve already decided to fight. Even now they’re building fortifications.
“Very well,” came the honey-smooth voice again, slowly.
“Thatcher!” he barked, turning to a soldier behind him, grim-faced, with a mop of black hair and a wild beard. “you heard the man?” The soldier gave the barest of nods.
“Yes, M’lord Argos.”
“Good,” came the reply. “Inform the villagers of their orders: The Andret Empire demands they forfeit their homes for the Great and Honorable cause of his holiness, High Priest Orren the Arcane and Archduke of Andereth.”
“M’lord, what if they refuse our orders?” asked Thatcher.
“You are a soldier, Thatcher,” said Lord Argos, “Soldiers kill things. I daresay you will figure it out.”
“M’lord,” said Thatcher again, “our own people? Surely….” He trailed off, eyes darting here and there, shifting from foot to foot in his brown leather boots. Thorn could see the discomfort written on his hairy face.
“You have your orders, Thatcher,” said Lord Argos. “I do not care what it takes. Complete them.”
Thatcher, now visibly sweating, bowed a final time and exited the clearing.
“Jasper,” he said, turing back to the man who Thorn knew.
“M’lord?” he answered, wringing his hands together.
“Come to my tent,” he said smoothly, “I am very interested to hear what sort of fortifications the villagers are building.”
“Of course, M’lord,” said Jasper, his head bowed. Thorn saw a shadow of a grimace pass over the man’s face, then Jasper raised his eyes to the slits in the black helm.
“Anything to help the cause.”
“Well a’ clangin goes the iron an’
‘a clangin’ goes the steel
a’ clangin’ goes the hammer,
crushing all to ‘meal
‘a scratchin’ goes the steel brush
and whoosh goes the bellows
sweatin’ blood in droplets
a smith’s a fine fellow”
And clang, clang, clang, went cold iron on molten steel, striking to every beat of his song, accompanying his rough baritone. Each hammer blow sent a thousand liquid sparks flying from the soft and malleable metal into the air, lighting up the room like a midsummer’s fireworks display. Jon Ames shifted his grip, adjusting his meaty hands through his heavy leather blacksmithing gloves; eyeing the cherry red file closely, almost suspiciously, as if he were trying to determine whether it was more suited as a plow tiller or a sickle.
“be a tiller for a farmer, a sickle, or a scythe,
bring it to a blacksmith, he’ll…”
He paused, trying to remember the words, stopping for almost a full minute before shrugging his shoulders and resigning himself to humming the lyrics instead.
He raised his hammer again, bringing it it down with three rapid strokes, then flipped the file over on itself and began hammering at a slow and steady rhythm, watching as tiny flames leapt up from the cherry glow with every strike: shape, turn, shape, turn, shape, turn, as the beginnings of a scythe began to take to the once-straight bar. He felt a small surge of satisfaction in the rhythm of the dance. When he was an apprentice it would have taken him several tries to work the metal so fluidly. He marveled at the improvements he had made since returning from Dareth. He held the half-finished sickle up for inspection: Good, clean work with good, clean fire, he thought.
©2013 Jacob Baugher