Writing

What is Needed Pt. 3

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Author’s Note: This is the conclusion of Part 2 of the prequel blog serial entitled “What is Needed”. Click on these links to read Part 1, Part 2 (first section) and Part 2 (Conclusion). This series is a companion to The Bow of Destiny (Part 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga) as expanded writing samples originally published for the closed Indiegogo campaign for the novel. The events of the blog series pre-date those of The Bow of Destiny by several hundred years but include several long-lived characters who appear in the forthcoming novel. Please read this post and consider supporting the fundraiser. This material is copyrighted and not intended for reproduction except at the author’s consent.

 

What is Needed (Part 3)

by P. H. Solomon

The bell clanged and jolted Hastra from sleep. Screams, shouts and snarls echoed from the lower levels. It’s a dream like the others. She clutched her blanket at her chin and waited.

Zelma lit a candle. Light flared and illuminated her wide-eyed face and disheveled shocks of flame-red hair. “Is that what you heard in the first vision?”

Hastra groaned. It had come. No, it had been here all along. She swung her bare feet onto the frigid floor. “Get dressed in something warm. The snow’s melted but nights are still cold.”

Zelma’s mouth remained open as she twisted in her bed with a nod.

Hastra swirled into a dress and sat on her bed while she tugged wool stockings on her feet. “Shh.” She waved a hand and they sat silent. Ominous sounds rose and fell beyond their door. “Put that candle out, someone’s coming.” She snatched her walking stick, hoisted it at her shoulder and stood by the door.

Quick footsteps stopped at their door. It creaked opened. Lamp-light bloomed. Hastra withheld her swing at the sight of Howart’s gaunt face. His eyes blinked in the shadow of their deep hollows.

The tall Withling swung the lamp in the room. “Come with me. I’ve expected this and made preparations in the cellars if we can get there. I’ll get anyone else nearby while you finish here but hurry. No shoes from here, they echo.” Howart paused for spare moments, pulled shoes off his feet and then went tapping on nearby doors.

Zelma lit the candle again.

“Don’t bother with that, sister, we can see enough to gather what we need.”

“I’ll leave it lit when we leave so they’ll have to search the rooms.”

Hastra nodded and grabbed their winter cloaks as Zelma finished with her stockings. They left with their shoes in hand and found wide eyed, trembling Withlings gathered with Howart in the passage. Just ten of us? So few. Hastra pushed hair out of her face. Better than none.

Light flickered in the near stairwell.

Howart shuttered his lamp and lowered his voice. “This way to the cellars. Run!”

The knot of Withlings scurried along the hall. Their legs pumped as they navigated the far stairwell in near darkness. They reached a landing and crowded out of sight. Pig-faced bugbears smashed through barred doors at the far length of the lowest apartment level. Crashes and growls sounded from the level above them.

Howart pulled his hood onto his head and he murmured into their knot. “Follow me. Stay in the shadows. We can’t wait or they will catch us here.” He held the shuttered lamp away from the wall. The skinny Withling pressed against the stone wall and slipped into the deeper darkness gathered below them .

The others took their turns as the trolls ravaged rooms and drug out other screaming Withlings.

Hastra pulled on her hood. She slunk after Howart and schooled her attention away from the trolls. She held her breath and crossed in the shadows. She ignored the screams. But her eyes flicked toward the movement. A bugbear stabbed feeble Durna. Tears pooled in her eyes at the sight of blood. She was so kind and now gone. Hastra rubbed her damp cheeks and faded into darkness.

They plunged into the upper cellars.

Hastra inhaled the mustiness as they descended. She winced at the destructive clamor and she blinked back tears for lost friends. Why couldn’t she find their betrayers sooner. She bumped into someone with a grunt as they halted in the cellar passage. “Sorry.”

Dim light glowed on Howart’s face and everyone crowded close at his whispers. “I’ll chance a little light here. I’m not as familiar with this area. We need to go to into the lower cellars. Put on your shoes.”

Hastra slipped on her shoes and pushed closer to the skeletal Withling. “Those cellars aren’t used anymore. It’s dangerous with rats and decay.”

“I’ve been preparing for this. I’ve mapped a way out from there.”

Tenelle, the pudgy Shildran woman from the end of Hastra’s hall frowned. “Preparing? You’ve known about this and told no one?”

“We’ve only suspected based on visions Hastra had all winter without instructions from Eloch.”

Faces turned to Hastra. They were confused and angry with her. Torchlight flickered above and the sound of chaos rose.

“We’ve no time to discuss this. Follow me or perish.” Howart trotted away and passed closed doors to storage rooms.

Hastra hurried after Howart with the others but endured uncertain murmurs until Howart shushed them. They thought her to blame. Maybe she should have spoken out. Crashes echoed from the dark passage behind her. It wouldn’t have made a difference.

Howart led them through several turns until they reached a stairwell to the lower cellars. Their leader huffed with sweat beaded on his brow. “I’ve hidden a few supplies below that may help us. This is a maze and I don’t know my way well at all.”

Water dripped in places and the slick stair slowed them. Hastra held her skirt high and felt for each step with her foot. Dust tickled her nose. She covered her lower face with her sleeved arm and stifled a sneeze. If the trolls didn’t get them the foul air would. She exhaled, gasped for air and held it. What’s rotted down here?

They gained the lower cellar level and kicked up more dust. Howart risked more light.

Grit on the stone floor scraped under their feet. There’s Howart’s footprints from his earlier forays. Where’s he leading us? Their guide turned several times and Hastra lost her sense of direction. She pulled her skirt higher as she traipsed through a shallow pool of discolored water.

Howart opened a door and stepped into a room. Instead of darkness they met light as their knot of Withlings pushed into the room.

Kregen wheeled from shelves packed with supplies. The position of the Rokan’s light cast an shadow across half his face. “So you’re the one who left all this here.”

Howart’s voice rose in spite of the danger. “What are you doing here? Weren’t you at the gate? Didn’t you ring the bell? How did you escape the trolls?”

“Zeld had the gate tonight.” Kregen’s thin lips spread into a smile beneath his hooked nose though no friendliness rose in his eyes. “And I didn’t escape the trolls.” He snapped his fingers. Snake-faced hobgoblins and tusked bugbears stepped from behind old crates. Curved blades whispered from sheathes as the trolls drew their weapons.

Hastra wheeled toward the door. A sword-point rose to her throat. The mirthless grin of a hobgoblin revealed yellowed, broken teeth. They were trapped! She held her breath.

“You see, Withling’s Watch is mine in the name of Magdronu.”

Hastra gasped. The Hidden Dragon has destroyed us. The fetid stench no longer bothered Hastra as their captors snorted and snarled laughter.

End of Part 3 (Part 4 will be re-posted on 12/6)

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

Thanks for reading!

PHS

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Artwork licensed from iStockPhoto.com

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

What is Needed Pt 2: Conclusion

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Author’s Note: This is the conclusion of Part 2 of the prequel blog serial entitled “What is Needed”. Click on these links to read Part 1 and Part 2 (first section). This series is a companion to The Bow of Destiny (Part 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga) as expanded writing samples for the conclude Indiegogo campaign for the novel. The events of the blog series pre-date those of The Bow of Destiny by several hundred years but include several long-lived characters who appear in the forthcoming novel. This material is copyrighted and not intended for reproduction except at the author’s consent.

What is Needed (Part 2: Conclusion)

by P. H. Solomon

Hastra’s lips puckered as the door to the Meditation Hall closed softer than falling snow.  Nothing again. No impression to share with anyone or write it in the Book of Prophecies. She pulled her thick shawl close and high-stepped through the snow that billowed in her eyes. Thick clouds rolled over the Gray Spires. “Maybe I should just forget them.”

The Withling wandered to her room but didn’t find her sister. Zelma’s already at table. Hastra shrugged. She could use an early dinner. She found dinner ready and served herself a bowl of steaming soup that smelled of onions and sausage. Hastra snagged brown bread with butter and shuffled between the trestle tables toward Zelma who sat alone and stirred her bowl of soup.

“This is different for you. Your crowd is busy, I see.” Hastra straddled the bench, sat and swung her leg over.

“Your visions trouble me. You’ve spent so much time in the Hall of Silence. Won’t you write them down for others to see? They consume you.” Zelma sniffed and wiped her nose while a tear gleamed in her green eyes.

“This is hardly the place to discuss my visions.”

Howart approached and sat across the table from Hastra and her sister. The tall Withling lowered his head in prayer. If he heard us… Hastra picked at her food and then took a hot spoonful of soup, smacked her lips, snatched a cup of water and sloshed the contents as she gulped.

“What visions are you talking about?” Howart tore bread and dipped it into the steaming soup.

Hastra choked and almost spewed her water. Now it will be out. She swallowed and wiped her face.

Zelma elbowed Hastra. “You should talk about it.”

Hastra scowled at Zelma who arched one eyebrow higher than the other and offered a faint smile. No chance for denial now. Hastra’s face heated with a flush. That soup burned. Hastra drank again. She swallowed and opened her mouth.

The Grendonese sisters strode past. They giggled and whispered while their skirts twirled with their flouncing stride. Hastra clamped her mouth shut and followed the sisters with her eyes. Which one was which? She could never tell. They sat several tables away and shared a jest with Zeld and Kregen that set the Rokan brothers laughing.

Zelma cleared her throat. Howart paid Hastra’s reticence no mind as he dunked his bread again.

“Not here. Let’s eat first and find somewhere to speak.”

Howart shrugged and his sunken cheeks filled with his broad smile that exposed his crooked teeth. “A big secret, I see. Well enough, I’ve nothing to do after supper.”

Once they finished, Hastra led Zelma and Howart on a walk through empty corridors. She related the tale to Howart who bent close to hear Hastra’s whispers. She paused often and checked the passages for anyone following. They paused at a window overlooking the courtyard.

Howart gazed out the window at the late winter night beneath the early stars until his breath frosted the panes. “It’s almost like the vision is now since you have no unction about it.”

Hastra shifted her feet and cocked her head. “I don’t understand what you mean.”

The gaunt Withling turned from the window and his deep-set eyes shifted between Hastra and her sister. “The danger from these visions is here, now and not something in the future.” Howart swept his arms in an arc over Hastra’s head as he spoke.

Zelma hugged herself as she shivered. “But there’s no sign of trolls in this old keep. How can there be any danger?”

“The danger’s here though. That’s why there’s no interpretation, no instruction.” Howart wagged a long finger as he spoke.

Hastra turned to the window and found her murky reflection in the fogged pane. “But from where and whom is our danger? There may be trolls or not but there’s something else at work.” She turned back to her companions but neither answered. “We must watch for odd behavior and investigate if necessary. We have no proof of a betrayal or danger.”

Howart crossed his arms. “Except your dreams.”

Zelma chuckled and tossed her flaming tresses. “And oddity is common in this house.”

Hastra turned back to the window where the fog faded. Below, Kregen crossed the courtyard and entered the gatehouse. “You’re right, not odd, just activity that is out of place.” She watched her companions’ reflections nod.

“We’ll catch whoever endangers us.” Zelma patted Hastra’s shoulder.

Hastra drummed her cheek with her fingers. But this may not be about catching them. She shivered and pulled her shawl closer.

End of Part 2 (Part 3 will be re-posted on 11/29 or after)

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

You Blog With What?

TypingScrivener is a widely used software among writers and people who write frequently. Since it is used for a wide variety of reasons the software is extremely versatile. It can be used for developing fiction and non-fiction books. Also it can be used for short stories, articles and other forms of shorter writing projects. You can download a trial copy here.

Additionally, the software can be used to manage writing projects so it’s up to the user to adjust their development habits to suit what they are writing. Scrivener easily allows writers to break their books into chapters and scenes using the Binder. But not only can these be divided easily they can also be moved around in the scheme so that it serves as a functional outline tool which allows an author to re-organize edit by simply moving containers around. This makes for great structural editing on a book.

Among the uses some people put Scrivener to is blogging. After all, a blog is really just an article written for a website. With the research folder in the Scrivener’s Binder writers can develop their ideas with references, artwork and a host of other files that can be added for use later or just reference. I, and many other, use this to “cast” characters with photos of real people to help visualize their fiction.

Scivener BinderBut as a blogging tool, Scrivener is much more powerful than just developing a blog. If you are planning a blog series, Scrivener is very handy for the reasons noted above. Folders can be created in the Binder that represent individual blog posts. It’s a great way to write a post which is what I’m doing now. I’m also using Scrivener in just the way I’m describing to develop two new blog series which I will start this week. I anticipate the work-flow to be very organized and organic so that my posts will flow into one another and read consistently throughout each series.

However, there’s more to this organization than just a simple way to develop a whole series of posts. I can also look ahead with this basic organization to develop the content further than the blog. If I see that the posts are useful and there is more information to cover I can easily add more posts than I’ve already planned – or reduce as needed. Additionally, I have a ready-made outline to further develop these into short e-books for publication. Since Scrivener also compiles content into e-book formats I can save the blog posts as Word, pdf or full e-book formats. Of course there is other pieces to fit with the content such as cover and proper formatting but with Scrivener I have my content ready to develop into something else beside blogs.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

If you haven’t tried Scrivener, why haven’t you? If you already use this powerful software what other tips to you have for its usage? I’d love to hear from you so won’t you leave a question, idea or strategy in the comment section? I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today!

Thanks for reading!

PHS

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Cover art image licensed from iStockPhoto.com

Clip art licensed via Microsoft Office