Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chapter Two, Scene Six (New Scene)

This scene is the continuation of the previous sample that I posted, which would be chapter two, scene five. I think I can complete chapter two with one more scene after this, but we'll see how it goes. For today, I've written this scene of almost 1500 words, and am happy with my progress. Hopefully you'll enjoy this log of Balfrith's struggles, and take some satisfaction in the results.

* * *

Balfrith awoke with a snort to the patter of steady rain on his face. He lay twisted on the rocky ground, pain throbbing throughout his limbs and body. He raised his arms and tried to roll over onto his knees, but a sharp stab of pain from his left ankle made him gasp, and he stopped moving. Lying on his side for a moment, Balfrith tried to think of a way to get himself turned over. Squinting in anticipation of pain, he moved slowly, one limb at a time, twisting his body over until he was on his hands and knees, with his left foot elevated to keep all weight off the ankle.

Releasing his held breath, he paused in that position, mentally checking the various pains in his body. Just bumps and bruises, he finally concluded, except that ankle. That may pose a challenge to this little adventure of mine. After pausing another minute, he thought, How do I stand?

Balfrith lowered his left foot to the ground, wincing when it touched, and gasping aloud as his ankle felt the weight and was forced to bend. He moved slowly, getting his right foot up and under his body, preparing to stand. Then, taking a breath, he pushed up on his hands and one good leg, rising shakily and struggling to keep his balance. Smiling, he exhaled again, relaxing a bit and letting his weight settle. But pain exploded up from his ankle to his knee, and Balfrith collapsed again, crumbling to the ground as he cried out.

The rain continued, and he lay there on the stone, gasping, specs of darkness swimming before his eyes, little representations of the pain emanating from his ankle.

I could turn back…

Where did that thought come from? Balfrith opened his eyes and stared up and the gray sky. "I’ll not be going back," he said aloud. And gritting his teeth, he forced himself to sit up, surveying his location on the hill. "Half way to the top," he muttered, looking up at the peak. "Might as well be ten leagues, for it will take me that long to climb, in this condition."

I could climb back down. No need to continue on…

Balfrith closed his eyed and bowed his head. "I will not climb down. I will not return," emphasizing the will as if he were buttressing his resolve.

Moving slowly, he got himself turned over and around to hands and knees, then stood up on one leg again as before. But this time, he kept his weight on the right foot, only letting his left touch the ground, but not supporting any weight on it. "Now, how do I walk?"

He hopped forward on his right foot, once, twice, three times, then had to stop as he almost lost his balance and put his weight on the other foot. Pain stabbed up his left leg, but he kept his balance, and his foot, and remained standing.

Balfrith looked around, muttering to himself, "This is not working so well. I must be able to walk, not hop. Perhaps I can find… there." Though only a few trees grew on this hill, he saw a fallen branch that appeared to be about the right length, a short distance up the hill. He smiled, then gave forth a grim bark, not quite a laugh. "Short distance indeed - this may be the longest and most difficult fifty paces I have ever trod."

Gritting his teeth, Balfrith hopped forward again, expecting the pain but still gasping when it shot up his leg. But he continued on, steeling his resolve. Hopping ahead once, twice… Balfrith's foot slipped on the wet and mossy rock, and down he went on the bad foot, then all the way to the ground and he cried out in pain.

Balfrith lay there on the ground, sobbing, as much from the pain as the frustration of his dilemma. After a short while, the shooting pain subsided to a throbbing ache, and he was able to think clearly again. This is not going to work, he thought, still frustrated. But what will?

I need that crutch. But I also need to strengthen my ankle, else I will fail at gaining the crutch, and this whole journey is over right here. He nodded to himself. But how to strengthen the ankle? And then he remembered how his father’s physician would tie tight bandages around injured limbs, and even had done the same with his own ribcage recently. That worked, somehow, to reduce the pain. Perhaps it will work for this as well. But what do I have to make a bandage?

He didn't need to open his rucksack to know what was in it - and there certainly were not any bandages in there. Just a change of clothes, a coil of rope, and as much food as he could carry. And of course the sword, wrapped in its protective blanket, was strapped to the outside with another short piece of rope.

I could use the sword as a crutch - just to get me over to that branch. That’s a start. Still no bandages though…

He untied the rope holding Branulf, and pulled the sword out of its blanket wrapping. Looking up at the sky, he smiled. Sørkell forgive me for abusing this creation of yours in such a way. Then taking the sword, he pressed the tip into a dip in the mossy stone, and used it to lever himself up. Though the springy blade bent, it did not break, and soon Balfrith was standing once again. He kept his left hand on its hilt, holding it close to his hip and using it as a cane to support his weight on that side. Then, taking a few experimental steps, he found that he could almost use it as a substitute leg - well enough to get him up to that fallen branch, anyway.

He limped the remaining distance to the branch, leaning on the blade as little as possible, so as to avoid damaging it. Though the shooting pains from his ankle had mostly subsided, its throbbing became more insistent as he moved, so that by the time he’d reached the branch, Balfrith was more than happy to sit himself down on the ground, even in the mud and rain.

Taking the branch in hand, he tested its strength, bending it this way and that, making sure that it showed no signs of cracking or breaking. His luck seemed to have returned, this once, for it held up to his testing, and appeared to be about the right length as well. As he prepared to wrap Branulf back into its blanket, a thought occurred to him. He took his belt knife and cut away two long strips from one end, just a few inches wide but the full length of the blanket. Then he wrapped the sword again, and was glad to see that its length was still fully protected, even with the blanket being almost a span shorter.

Next, he removed his left boot, took the strips of woolen blanket, and used them to tightly wrap his left ankle. He wound the wrappings from the middle of his foot to about half way up his calf, but concentrated the tightest part of it around the ankle. Finishing that task, he took his boot and pulled it back on. Though it was quite tight around his ankle and heel, he managed to slip it over the wrappings, which pressed them even tighter. Though he winced a bit with the pain of that pressure, he tested his ability to move his foot, and found that it was quite firmly bound. And smiling, he levered himself up using the branch as a crutch, and took a few steps around. This will work, he thought, nodding. And so, he took up his rucksack with Branulf bound to it, and set off up the hill, taking care with his steps so as to avoid falling again.

When he’d come almost full circle, he came once again to the place where he’d had to jump and climb the rock face. Knowing he would not be able to do that again, he back-tracked until he found a place where he could climb up the slope with a bit of effort, thus circumventing the risks of the other path, and in that way, he eventually made his way to the top of the rocky tor. By that time, the rain had slackened considerably, though it had not fully stopped. But even so, he was able to see some distance to the north, well enough to plot the next leg of his journey. And having done that, he set himself to the next task: finding shelter, and building a fire, in order to get warm and dry.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Balfrith's Journey Continued (A Re-write of the Previously Sampled Scene)

The scene that I posted a couple of weeks ago was alright, but I had always intended to make Balfrith come up against a significant natural challenge at the early part of his journey, and I so I decided to re-write the scene in order to introduce the challenge right away, instead of waiting. This now better reflects what I had in mind, and forces Balfrith to decide how badly he wants to get away from his father and join the Elves - is it worth risking serious injury, even death, in order to get away?

* * *

A few hours later, or so it seemed to him, Balfrith climbed out of the muddy fields and onto the stony ground at the base of the hill. Up close, it was a much larger rise than it had appeared from a distance. A few patches of grasses and a handful of trees grew up out of the stone, but otherwise it was rocky and barren. And while the climb appeared to pose a challenge, he hoped that at the top, it might give a clear view into the distance, and help him to set a longer goal for the next day’s walk.

And after that, his next priority would be to find a sheltered place to rest, start a small fire, and try to dry off and warm up. Though the rain persisted, he maintained a slim hope of finding fallen wood that was dry enough to burn.

Of course, that assumes I can find a sheltered spot. This tor does not appear to promise such.

Balfrith looked around, frowning as his hope dwindled. Then he shrugged, and started climbing the hill. First things first: he would get his bearings as best he could, then see about finding shelter.

The steady rain made the rock slippery, and he took each step with care, testing his weight before resting fully upon a foot. He made his way eastward around the leeward side of the hill, where the climbing seemed to be a bit easier, making a rough spiral around as he climbed the slope. Circling around to the north face, Balfrith noticed that the wind had picked up, and with it came a driving rain that made the going even more treacherous. The wind also cut through his wet clothes, causing him to shiver uncontrollably, and he had to stop more than once in order to huddle down to the ground and hug his legs, in a feeble attempt to stay warm.

Circling further westward to the windward side of the stony hill, Balfrith could see that he was about half way to the peak, and the wind and driving rain had become almost unbearable. He crouched behind a stony outcrop, as if it were a crenelation along the wall of a castle, taking what shelter he could. He rested there a short while, until it seemed like the wind had slowed somewhat, then stood once again and continued his climb.

He was only able to go a few steps forward, though, before he came to a new challenge: the path that he’d been following, such as it was, came to an end. Balfrith stood before a stone face that rose well above his head, blocking the way. To his left, up-slope, rose equally high stone, while to his right was a shorter rise of stone, which then cut off and dropped as a precipice many feet below. Looking around, Balfrith shivered, and sighed. What shall I do now?

He tested his weight against the low wall on the right, making sure of his footing before climbing up, knowing that he faced a long fall should he lose his footing. Now standing a few feet higher, he could just reach the top of the facing wall of stone that blocked his path. And he could see that from there, he would have a mostly-unobstructed climb further around and upward - at least as far as he could see in the dim light and driving rain.

Looking around, trying to find a good place to grasp and climb, Balfrith began shivering in the cold, and wrapped his arms around himself, hunkering down on the exposed low wall of stone, trying to regain what minimal warmth he could. But the wind rose more, and the rain drove on, and Balfrith realized that he had to choose then whether to press on, or turn back: he could remain in that place no longer, for the weather only grew worse, and his exposure became more dangerous the longer he waited.

Standing once again, Balfrith took a deep breath, and leaped forward to the rock face, grasping its edge with both hands, holding tight lest his fingers lose their grip and he fall. Pulling with his arms and scrabbling with his feet, he got his upper torso up and over the ledge, then one leg, and finally he rolled over onto his back, lifting the remaining leg up onto the platform. He lay there for a brief minute, gasping from the exertion and the cold, knowing he must rise and get moving again. He was still exposed there, even if the immediate risk of falling was now past.

Rolling over and up onto his hands and knees, Balfrith paused a moment to be sure of the wet stone surface, then crouched, and finally he stood, facing east, keeping his back to the wind and rain. He took one slow step, then another, for though the platform of rock was solid enough, it tilted somewhat to the right and downward, so that he was forced to take great care with each step, lest he slip and fall off the escarpment to the rocky level many feet below.

A gust of wind came then, and Balfrith paused again, holding himself still, feet planted on the wet and slippery rock. Ahead, he could see a small patch of grass, and he took a step towards it as the gust blew down. Another step, and he was on the grass, taking comfort in its springy squish under his boots. He crouched down once again as another gust of wind and rain came up, leaning forward onto his hands. After another minute, he stood once again and stepped forward. In a few paces, he stepped off the grass and onto bare rock, where he took care to plant his foot, then took another step.

And it was then that the wind rose again in a powerful gust, and Balfrith staggered from one foot to the next, leaning forward to try and regain his balance. But the wind came even stronger, pushing him ahead, and he lost his footing, falling forward onto his hands. The stone gave away, a single piece of unstable rock that slid to the right and fell clattering down the rock face, and Balfrith went with it, his right arm and leg hanging free, while he grabbed frantically with his left hand at a narrow lip of rock. He hung there while his mind raced, knowing his fingers could not hold him long. He swung his right arm up and around, trying to find a place to grab, but just then, the remaining bit of stone to which he clung cracked and gave way, and he fell, tumbling down along the slanted rock face, bits of rock falling with him.

His head struck the stone, and Balfrith saw stars for a brief moment, while his limbs and body bounced down the rock, before he finally struck bottom. The impact drove the breath from his lungs, and his head struck the ground one last time, before he lost consciousness.


Hi all, I'm back home as of Saturday and recovering nicely from the trip. Decided to take Monday (today) off from work, so that I could enjoy a real two-day weekend, before returning to the office. Planning to do some work on the story today, too. Look for another post from me, later today or perhaps later in the week if I'm still working on the same scene.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Off to the Southern Hemisphere Today

Per my last post, I was recovering from jet lag and said I felt a big hung over, which is normal for me. Alas, that hangover turned into a cold that I've spent almost the entire week getting over. My symptoms are mostly gone as of yesterday, just some hacking in the morning that clears up after being awake for a couple of hours.

I'm really glad that I only get sick once every year or two, because this thing really knocked me down for the count for a few days. It's a mixed blessing that I can work from home for my job. Rather than calling in sick, I just kept on working at home, doing conference calls and sending emails. Aside from the fact that people could hear it in my voice, hardly anyone knew that I was sick. The down-side is that I probably didn't get quite as much rest as I should have, but I did get enough to get through the worst of it, and today I feel pretty good.

The flights today amount to about 13 hours in the air, plus an hour layover, so my afternoon departure will result in an early Sunday morning arrival. I don't usually sleep very well on airplanes, not even on long flights, so it's likely to be a long night. But I can check into my hotel when I arrive, crash for a few hours, and then should be able to enjoy a relaxing afternoon and evening in Sao Paulo before going back to bed for the night. Temperatures there are supposed to be in the low 90s! Hopefully I can find a nice cool bar to hang out and have a couple of drinks in.

In writing news... not much happening. I thought I might do a bit this past week, but when the sickness hit, all I could do was get through my work day and then crash for the night. I was really hoping to be able to finish the first round of revisions by the end of the year, but with all this travel (and more to come, right through November), I probably won't be doing a lot of writing until December. That said, December should prove a good month for writing, with all the time off for holidays. I might just be able to catch up... time will tell.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Back Home and Recovering from Jet Lag

Landed in the US last night after about 11 hours in the air plus a 4-hour layover in Amsterdam. Needless to say, it was a rather long day. And though it was only 7 PM when we landed in the US, my body still thought it was 2 AM. My wife, the geekwif, was happy to meet me at the airport and drive me home, which was good since I could barely stay awake on the road. In fact I think I did fall asleep a couple of times. And by the time we got to bed, it was right around 4 AM subjective time.

After a good night's sleep, I still feel a bit hung over, which is par for the course when I'm recovering from jet lag. Today will be spent relaxing and recovering. Probably will do some writing a little later on, and if I do, I may even post another sample.

Hope y'all are having a lovely weekend. I'll be in the States for a week, then hop on a plane again next Saturday, bound for Brazil.