Sunday, 23 October 2011

Gifted Hunter Chapter 1 (first draft)

Chapter One from my current WIP (well, one of my WIPs!).  As Gifted Hunter is a novella, the chapters are much shorter than for my full-length novels.

***

Chapter 1
Journey to the Mainland

Sallis ti Ath found a quiet corner of the deck, well out of the way of the oarsmen.  He had spent two days enjoying and ogling the sights of Re Taura's capital city, waiting for his ferry to the main mainland.  Two days to Calcan, then overland to Marka.

To the city everybody called the "Jewel of the World."

Despite appearances, the channel was narrow here and a castle loomed far above, its turrets dominating the passage leading to the harbor.  The sound of a bell drifted down, an urgent sound of emergency.

There must have been something in his stance, because one of the other passengers smiled at him.

"The Mametain's son likes to experiment.  Inventive sort, you might say.  Nobody knows exactly what he's up to, but they test those bells every week."

"I see."  The wind freshened as they left the shelter of the land and Sallis pulled his brown cloak tighter around his shoulders.  They were broader now, as Sallis the boy matured into Sallis the man.  He had grown tall too, and not just "for his age."

"Just going as far as Calcan?"  asked the stranger.

Sallis had been warned to guard his tongue.  "For now, yes."

"Me too.  My family's in Calcan, so suppose I ought to spend some time there.  Sounds like you're from one of the outer islands."

Sallis blinked at the man and ignored the sudden bustle as sailors readied the sails.  The wind freshened further, the sails filled and the oars were no longer needed.  As cream-colored canvas filled the gaps between the masts, the ferry heeled as she gathered speed.

"From Re Annan," he replied.

"Not enough work?  Or just want to see the world?"

Sallis smiled.  "Both," he replied.

***
After his rejection, Sallis had spent the past four years on his father's farm.  Elvallon still visited and remained friendly, but there was a definite edge.  A certain something not quite tension, but close.  Sallis's visits to Leynx grew less and less frequent.

Lyssan always welcomed him warmly enough; Elvallon was the wary one.

Sallis had worked for people using his skills, especially the Guard who were sometimes careless with prisoners, but Hayland had always said the best work would be found on the mainland.  Not to mention the most rewarding.

"But who will help on the farm?"  demanded Sallis.

Hayland smiled.  Now their daughters were all married, he and Cellin were alone on the farm.

"We'll cope as we always have," replied Sallis's father.  "Neighbors and friends.  And we can still call on Barten and his family at need."

Sallis thinned his lips.  "When I can afford it, I'll send you some sylphs," he promised.  "You need more than neighbors to help."

Hayland waved a dismissive hand.  "We can make the farm smaller," he announced.  "Fewer mouths means less money needed to spend."

Sallis smiled.  "I'll send you sylphs," he promised.  "They're probably cheaper on the mainland than here."

"More common, certainly," replied Hayland.

***

There were certainly plenty of sylphs on Re Taura, though Sallis had not bothered to learn their cost.  He had money for the ferry and for a horse once he arrived in Calcan.  Get established first, buy sylphs for his father's farm later.

Sallis stared at the sylph hovering beside the steersman.  He wasn't sure exactly what a ship's sylph was, or precisely what she was for, but it was obvious that she was popular with the crew.  She even wore the same they did: canvas trousers, white shirt and a blue serge jacket with wooden buttons.

The only sylph Sallis knew well was Lyssan.  As she termed it, she was a "proper" sylph and vaguely contemptuous of infertiles, shaking her head whenever one was referred to as "she".

"Not proper females," she always said.  "Neuters who cannot breed.  What use are they?"

Lots of use, from what Sallis had seen in the past two days.  They were certainly plentiful.  Most servants he had seen were infertiles, and here was a ship's sylph, also an infertile.  More sylphs stood with their owners here, strangely all with wilted earpoints.

"Bring much food with you?"  asked Sallis's new friend, looking hopeful.

"No," replied Sallis.  "I paid for my meals with my ferry fare."

"Ah."  The other man nodded and looked disappointed at the same time.  "Probably sensible."

Sallis thought so too, and his attention returned to the ship's sylph.

There was little difference between her and any other sylph.  Skin and hair color the same, earpoints and vertically slit pupils...  She was shorter than Lyssan and certainly not as developed, but she was clearly a sylph.

Then Sallis noticed the other sylphs had begun to vanish, disappearing below.  Before long, only the ship's sylph was left on the upper deck.

"Why have they gone?"  he wondered aloud.

"That's sylphs for you," said his friend, who had overheard.  "They don't like being at sea."

Sallis nodded towards the infertile.  "Doesn't bother her."

"She's probably used to it."

Pushing the strangeness of sylphs out of his thoughts, Sallis leaned on the rail, stared into the water and dreamed of Calcan.

***

Feel free to comment.  This is a first draft, so it's still pretty raw.  Sorry for any typos!

4 comments:

  1. I find the sylphs very interesting and would like to know more about them. They seem to be a slave race, as they can be used, presumably,to help work a farm.
    I'm signing as anonymous b/c I'm not signed into wordpress atm.
    louise3anne@twitter

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comment Louise!

    Sylphs are indeed a slave race and are very adaptable. In August, I made a four-part posting about them and their evolution. The first part can be found here (you'll need to copy and paste the link):

    http://ilvenworld.blogspot.com/2011/08/about-sylphs.html

    The other three parts are newer postings, but all in August.

    Regards

    ReplyDelete
  3. Is there a tentative publication date for this book as an e-book? I have read the first book, and liked it, so I am curious as to the date of the second.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm aiming for January 2012 for this one. I let people know through the blog if there is any slippage in publication dates. (I was originally aiming for Christmas!)

    I'm glad you enjoyed Gifted Apprentice and thank you for leaving the comment :-)

    ReplyDelete