From one of the groups I follow in Face Book, this wonderful idea came across my newsfeed. I am posting this for two reasons:
1) For the Blog Hop
2) So that anyone may have a chance to see what I write – especially in regards to Breaking the Rules, which I love to do with writing styles.
This the first chapter in my debut novel Out of the Darkness that was released on 08-21-14.
When the Realms were still new, and the races emerging, a nameless champion arose. from the blood-filled Arenas.
Raised to be a fighter obedient to his owner in a culture where lives were only a means to gain power, can he
win acceptance and freedom from his dark childhood?
A Child is Born
Long and long ago when the world was still in its infancy, there was a time when beings walked the earth who are called myths and legends today. Some were beings of pure good; others were pure evil. Many, like today, were a combination of both. This is a tale of one who was caught in the eternal battle of the two pure forms of expression. Being born, he was committed to the battle, as is every life that lives, to carve his way into history – either as a Name, or to be lost in the masses of those mediocrities of the Nameless ones. Though few remember him now, he survived against all odds, and some would say he lives even now. Others say he died long ago when the newness of the world wore away. We will let you decide in the end.
As with all stories, they must start somewhere; often beginning with a notable deed or achievement. With him, we will start with his first and best achievement:
The squalling newborn was lifted from his dead mother’s delivery bed in the dank, dark, foul smelling cells below the noise. His cries were overwhelmed by the cheers and jeers from overhead. The midwife looked him over, turning him this way and that in her roughened hands without care for his comfort or safety. Not seeing any blemish, or cause for his mother’s death, she grunted, and thrust the infant at another expectant woman cowering in the corner. This woman, having no reason to expect reward for suckling two, and even less of a desire to, as her own unborn child was believed to have been fathered by the Champion Glatius – he who had won his freedom just a few days after she had been sent to him – refused to take the child held out to her. Not caring much, the midwife dropped the child and cruelly cuffed the woman, bouncing her head off the stone wall behind and causing her to slump to the limit of her chain and collar. The newborn, with no known parentage, except for the weak woman who died bearing him, fell into the slave’s lap as her form crumpled over unconscious. She was kept from death only by the thick chain that attached her collar to the wall behind her.
Even as the slave’s lap saved him from immediate death from falling into the thin, fecal laden straw, the fact that he slid feet first from her lap into the straw saved him anew. Not having the instincts, or the knowledge to throw his arms out to break the fall, he fell hard to the ground, his head not far from the slave’s scrawny chest where it was arched at an unnatural angle between her waist and her neck. His immature, untried kicks and flailing arm movements caused him to snake closer to the warmth and necessary milk that would allow his survival. He squalled from the cold, and the cruel straw ends that bit and tore at his skin as he moved towards the warmth emanating from the woman, but no one paid any care or attention to him. The midwife had already left to report both his birth and his mother’s death, and the other expectant women in the cell were apathetic enough to not care what became of him. Finally, he reached the breast of the unconscious slave, and turned his head blindly to seek comfort. Only chance placed his mouth close enough to the nipple so that after a few attempts, he was able to find it through the filthy, grime coated material that covered it, and allow him to suck. Thus was his first meal accomplished. Thus was the first decree of his life forged: Take what you can, when you can.
Like all mothers in a harsh, uncompromising time or world, once she had suckled him, she continued to do so in her despondency. Even as her own unborn grew on her, the child grew. The many demands of the unborn child, suckling babe, inadequate food, and unhealthy living conditions began to show in her, causing a large weight loss, her milk to sour, and her labor to start early. Though he was less than four months old, he was taken from her to preserve what life she had for her own child. The only concession to his age was that he was put in with an old ewe that had still birthed to suckle from and to gain what warmth he could. He was also offered a small bowl of thin gruel. When he began sampling from the bowl along with the ewe she was taken from him for his, as yet unknown, master’s table and he was left to fend for himself in the lonely, pitch black of the now empty stall.
Still he hung tenaciously to life, and progressed like all infants from snakelike crawling, to true crawling, and into toddling. He took his first steps at eight months, and never after crawled again, no matter how badly injured, or how exhausted he became. Though his physical skills developed quickly, he was very slow with developing his speaking skills. He had no one to mimic, nor did anyone speak to him in order for him to begin associating words to meanings. In his mind, he had the impression of items, movements, or feelings; things that had been left for him or that he sensed, but did not have spoken words or even hand gestures to give these concepts meaning. Then too, his ears always heard the cheers and jeers from above. Occasionally, on very rare occurrences, a word would become clear over a steady, rhythmical pounding, and he sensed the words were a call or an accolade of some sort -a thing to be desired. But, never in his young life, would he have guessed it was a name. One thing he had never had, or ever missed. Nor did he miss having others around, as his memories did not include ever having anyone around him. Even in the games he invented using the befouled straw as toys, he was alone. These games, designed for solo play, never stalled for the want of another to pass the time with.
The years between his first steps and his first sight of another being were filled with empty, solitary days, mysterious, irregularly spaced meals which shifted from his infant gruel to smaller portions of the adult foods (though he did not know it) of the preserved meat, and salted, green ale. On rare occasions, if he had done something especially noteworthy, he would be provided a hunk of stale black or brown bread with his meal. Even then, he would wonder at the stuff that came to fill the pain in his growling middle, but he never thought of it long, as he ate and drank what was provided. Then, as though he had been wound up and released, he would walk and run, jump and climb the ten foot by eight foot enclosure that was his entire world because his young muscles demanded the release of energy. Never did the straw trip him in these activities, though it would occasionally tangle his feet. Pounding into a layer of compost over the years, he did not notice the disappearance of the bedding. Always, he could extract his feet from the traps in the floor, his balance and grace developing abnormally fast. Lithely and smoothly, he would find himself skittering sideways to maintain his balance, though more often he would bruise his shoulder or elbow on the stone, which would result in smaller portions for several meals and his stomach complaining until he could learn to ignore it.
Thus he learned the fluid grace that would serve him during his life in the many battles to come, and thus he learned he was alive at the whim of another. He readily grasped the cause and effect connection between the bruises, and reduced portions though he had never been educated. His mind was sharp. Due to his living conditions, his senses were honed to an unnaturally sharp state; his sight able to penetrate the near blackness that was the normal light within his realm, his skin able to detect even the smallest stir in the air around him, and his ears able to catch even the smallest noise from within or without his boundaries. Though he could hear, smell, or feel the changes that went on outside the heavy wooden wall of his room, he never questioned what was on the other side of that wall or why it did not feel the same as the rest. He did not wonder what the second material was that felt smooth to his touch, and was softer than the rest. He had no comparison or memories of anywhere else except the blackness that surrounded him.
One last look at the first ten years of his life, a spot of humor he was to remember in later years with pride. It happened after one of his first attempts to burn off his excess energy after a meal by climbing up the walls in his dark tomb. He had fallen from some five feet, and hit the stone manger with his shin, leaving a hand-span sized area of pain. It made getting up off the floor difficult for many days. After the first day, he solved the dilemma by using some of the softest, least prickly of his remaining floor covering to fill the hard object with the dip in it to the brim and began using it for his bed. He thought the raised sleeping place a great invention, not knowing that if he had been raised with a mother he would have had a much better bed, until being moved to his own cell where a bed was a reward earned. This bed, or one like it, was to be his until he earned his freedom, even as the stone stall, or one similar, was to be his cell. The small two foot by four foot, sharp cornered stone manger was to grow ever smaller for him, as his body grew to its full height over the years. Always, he would manage to curl up and force his body to wedge into the small space, as comfortable there as most are in a queen or king size bed.
To read further, you can find my book at: