Monday, October 13, 2014
First Five Pages Workshop - Wolfe Rev 1
Young Adult Fantasy
The Kinship Mantle
Sheba had warned him earlier that day, so when Kenley exploded and disappeared into the sword, Hal couldn't say he hadn't been notified. Of course, he didn't know exactly what was going to happen; his dragoncat was never quite so specific. Still, he could have been more careful. He could have made sure Kenley had been more careful.
That was a laugh, and Hal rolled with it. Sheba was resting across his shoulders, her weight heavy and relaxed, pressing down and loosening the muscles in his neck. She purred gently against him as he sighed softly, still in awe of what he had seen. The old wives tales of the one who would reunite the country and save her from centuries of strife. Kenley? His little sister? Even she would admit it was more than a little ridiculous. She was uncoordinated, clumsy, absent-minded - and she had taken the cracked sword in her scratched and muddied hand, raised it high above the straw-hued mane that hung untamed about her head, and stared defiantly at the damaged metal before spontaneously combusting. Right before his eyes.
Sheba's soft rumblings helped him stay focused on his memories, which were still fresh but confusing. It had been less than an hour since Kenley had disappeared and he now held the same sword in his hands as he sat on a bale of hay. His parents would yell at him for wasting time when horses needed brushing down, stalls wanted mucking, and cows lowed as they waited to be milked. Kenley would be milking them now if she were here, and they would be teasing each other about some silly matter or other. She snorted when she laughed hard, which was often, all the time, really, and he smiled. Was she snorting now, wherever she was, fit into the sword? It was an absurd and impossible feat but he knew without a doubt that she was there. She spoke of it right before it happened, leaving out all the details that would have made sense of it, to him, at least. If there was any sense to be made. All that was left was for him to figure out what to do with the sword to keep it, and her, safe.
He reached around to touch his fingers to Sheba's long back and stroked the black cat gently. She leapt away from his fingers and lay at his feet, her eyes nearly closed as she peeked through the small slits that revealed them, watching him closely. Hal blinked at her slowly.
"What now? Do you know where she is?"
Sheba's eyes drifted completely shut and her purrs became longer and deeper, almost like a growl. Hal stared at her then down at the sword.
"The castle. A princess belongs in a castle."
He slid the sword into the sheath strapped to his waist and yanked at his pants, pulling them up. His mother was always complaining that he wouldn't wear a belt, and for once, he wished he had listened to her. The pants were too big, handed down from cousins who were quite a bit larger than he, and if he was going to walk all the way to Dara he'd need something to keep his pants on. There were bits of rope in the mess of whatnot on a bench - mostly Kenley's finds - and he grabbed a hank, pushing it through the loops on his belt and tying it up front above the buttons. If she could only see him now. Maybe she could. He realized that although he knew the legend like the back of his hand, now that they had started their own path into the story he felt as if he knew very little. Very little that was practical, that is, and could help him figure out how to help Kenley if she needed him. Maybe she didn't.
The sword shone in the awakening sunlight, teasing him, the beams bouncing off the metal and shifting back and forth, nearly blinding him as he twisted it back and forth in front of him, hoping to feel her presence somehow within. He shook his head as a wave of helplessness came over him. She had disappeared right before his eyes here in the barn in seconds that had seemed like hours, her body dissolving into a million pieces like the exploding lights set off during summer fairs. Could she see him? Could she feel the sword swooping in the air as he moved, his eyes never leaving the weapon as he watched it carefully before tucking it safely away?
Sheba rose and stretched before padding to a corner of the barn to settle down, her tail curled carefully and thoughtfully around her sleek body. Her eyes met his again and he knew she was as troubled as he was. It made sense that Kenley would go to the castle, as she was, apparently, the rightful heir to the throne, but how was she going? Did the sword have to bring her there, now that she was part of it, or was there something magical about the sword that could transport her?
There were too many questions and reading his mind, as dragoncats were wont to do, Sheba narrowed her eyes in disapproval.
"I know, I know, " he nodded as he spoke aloud. "Crowding my thoughts isn't helpful. Distracting. One thing at a time."
Time, though, was a problem. If Kenley needed assistance, time wasn't an element to be ignored. Still, he had to focus on one problem at a time in order to move forward. Conrad. Focus was one of Conrad's favorite words. Where was he, anyway? Usually he was lurking about, sometimes sneaking up to give Kenley some sort of advice, something Conrad must have thought was wise or clever. Hal could use a clever solution right about now.
He stared at Sheba but she was looking past him at nothing, her feline senses somewhere far away. Maybe she could contact Kenley. Hal sat down on a bale of hay and rested his face in his hands. He had to be missing something important here. There had to be a starting point.
Legend held that long ago two brothers fought over the sword of Andaria, and the older brother was killed during their battle. Their mother, the queen, cursed the younger brother, as she had always favored the heir to the crown. It had truly been an accident, however, and the younger son was devastated that he had murdered his sibling. His sorrow was so great that the sword that had brought about his brother's death split and nearly shattered with the force of his grief and guilt. The curse was a dark mark on the royal family ever since, with every generation having some troubles but none that were as terrible, and none that stood out as anything more than the usual sort of family squabbles that were understandable, even amongst royalty. Now, with a younger brother pushing the older from his seat on the throne, it seemed that history was doomed to repeat itself, leaving the country in a state of panic. If both brothers were worthy of the crown, there would be little to worry over, but one was quite mad with his lust for power and disinterest of the problems of the common people. Unfortunately, he was the one in control at the moment.