Author Topic: First Chapter of Warrior.Please let me know what you think  (Read 5715 times)

mark stanton

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First Chapter of Warrior.Please let me know what you think
« on: January 12, 2006, 05:37:53 AM »
   
Half of Chapter One. In the beginning   

The sky was bright blue, clear and there was a light breeze; and not a cloud in sight from one expansive horizon to the other. The sun was just about halfway to the vertical indicating it to be about mid-morning and the mix of warm sun and gentle wind had a soothing effect on the skin. Sounds of bleating goats carried upon the morning breeze, drifting over from amongst the hills which were gently moulded into one another like perfect domes stretching away into the distance.

The domestic animal sounds were added to by the numerous bird calls of the wild, the constant echoing coo of the wood pigeon; the larking sounds of the wagtails; interspersed with the wilder call of the warblers and weavers. Insects completed the orchestra with an underlying buzz of excitement, pausing in its incessancy when the sound of the flute stretched its melody across the landscape. The first domesticated animal ambled into the glade, pausing to tug at the new grass, tearing the roots from the ground in the destructive manner of the goat. When ever a particular savoury patch was discovered by one animal, the other members of the herd rushed over to nestle themselves into the spoils, nudging and pushing to get at the succulent fodder. The resonances of nature were overlaid with a tuneful musical melody fading with the chasing eddies of the wind from a blown flute. Its tune was interrupted by a voice, pitched with youthfulness, calling to the senior lead goat,
“Come on Zeni, move on. Keep on moving,”
A youth came into view; he was tall with a muscular torso and strong-limbed. His skin was stretched tight over his strapping frame caused by regular exercise and a healthy natural diet, his head was shaven although the re-growth of tight peppercorn-like hair had already begun to re-amass.

Over his shoulder he carried a small animal skin bundle containing a calabash of water and a small package of fresh food wrapped in the leaves of a banana tree with a knobkerrie sticking out of the top. The knobkerrie is a basic form of fighting stick cut from the root of one of the hardwood trees, where the arm-length straight handle is crafted with a bulbous end.

In his hands was the formerly played musical instrument which he soon again put back to his lips, to play another melody assembled from the rising and falling of notes mainly higher pitched though, but in a steady and repetitive melody.

As the boy ambled along, the goat herd moved along with him, safe in their numbers and under the perceived protection of the young man.

A little ahead of the procession a small bush stirred, caused not by the movement of the wind but by a number of little bodies at its base, where four other boys huddled in a co-spiralling pack.

“Ha, there’s Zusa. Look, he doesn’t even know that we are here”, whispered one of the boys his eyes a light with excitement.
“Shush”, hissed the leader of the group. He was not the leader by vote but just by the fact that he was the biggest out of the set, a full head taller than the rest of the gang and proportionally as wide.
“Be quiet, we don’t want the enemy to know we are here”, he reinforced.

The group looked at each other in question at the mentioning of the word enemy, exchanging puzzled glances, and then glanced back at the speaker who just ignored them, and they wisely decided to let the comment go.

Earlier on, the group of boys had been playing down on the river bank but once the boredom of splashing through the shallows had struck home they had decided on a new game and so they had hoarded clumps of river clay which were now in a pile at their feet. As a means of distraction these were normally compressed onto the end of their own knobkerries shaft and all it took was a simple flick of the wrist and the semi-hardened clay would propel its self in the direction of the cast. It was an exciting game to play by any measure, with the heightened anticipation and understanding that a direct hit by one of these missiles, on an unprotected body could result in considerable discomfort and pain.

In stead of them deciding to battle each other, the sound of Zusa’s flute had floated past the place where they had grouped and so their attention became shifted and at the insistence of the older boy. The unsuspecting herder continued to approach the huddled group in hiding, totally unaware of the menace ahead, followed calmly by the goat herd.

The billy goat Zeni, also ambled on, tugging at grass roots as he passed, also delightfully ignorant of the silent gathering ahead. It was only after a few more steps that his natural instinct eventually sensed that something was amiss and he froze in alarm, his legs stiff and head held still with only his ears twitching and twirling in an attempt to determine the seriousness of the threat.

Zusa turned at this time to call to him again and noticed that the whole herd had followed the fearful stance of the herd leader and they all had paused in dreaded expectation. Zusa dropped the flute to his feet and slowly reached across his shoulder for his fighting stick not wanting to spook what ever the threat into action but he also did not knowing what to expect.

All of a sudden there was a whirl and buzz in the air as the ambush party flicked their clay projectiles at their quarry,
“Attack”, they screamed and rose as one, rushing toward their target. The clay missiles, a blur in the dazzling sky, with three of the shots going wide however one caught the unfortunate herds boy on the side of his head, felling him with the impact.

“Charge”, the attacking group leader shouted as the gang ran forward. Their surprise advance scattering the docile herd in all directions, with their gentle bleats changing to squeals of panic and fear.
“Yaaaaaa”, the raiders cried as they ran up onto the prone form of Zusa. Three of the young boys pulled up short as they saw Zusa stir and make a vane attempt to get to his feet. The leader, Pimi, continued running and as Zusa managed to sit up, he kicked the dazed boy in the chest causing Zusa to fall to the ground again with a cry of pain and clutching his side in protection.

“Pimi!” shouted one of the gang, “What are you doing, you’ve really hurting him!”
“Shut up,” Pimi snarled in response, spittle flying from his mouth with the aggression. “He is the enemy we stalked him and attacked and we have beaten him”, a wild and angered look upon his face, his eyes open wide his saliva drying as white flecks on his lips.
His three colleagues took an involuntary step backwards at the cruel passion of the shouted statement, their eyes darting between the large bulk of Pimi and to the prone form of Zusa at his feet.
“We, we, we did not want to hurt him Pimi, we were just playing a game”, one of the others pleaded in a stutter; “look, he is bleeding.”
A bright welt of blood had stained the side of Zusa’s face, scarlet at the wound turning to a dark purple before running into the dust-covered face of the herd boy, where he had fallen to the sandy ground.
“What is wrong with you all?” Pimi shouted, “We got him!”

By now Zusa had managed to regain some of his senses and was beginning to get a better understand of the situation he found himself in. Shaking his head he again tried to get to back to his feet, pulling himself erect he stumbled once again to his knees. Pausing for a few moments he made another attempt but this time he was able remain standing upright, although wobbling and unsteady on his feet he looked around. His belongings had been scattered in the short melee, the gourde of water had broken open and its liquid drained into the soil and his food was stamped into the ground. He noticed that his fighting stick had been kicked to one side and just beyond his immediate grasp.

Whilst the exchange of words was going on between the gang members, Zusa’s senses became almost fully restored. On face value he realised that Pimi, a local bully from their younger days together, had banded together a small group of boys from the surrounding kraals and had laid a trap for him. Obviously from the reaction of the rest of the group, what had started out as a few hours of fun had taken a nasty turn as Pimi used the opportunity to get back at Zusa. It was due to a past and ongoing feud between their families. The grudge went back as far as their own fathers who had competed for the attention of a certain young woman who had been eventually won over by Zusa’s father whom he later married and was now Zusa’s mother.

With the verbal exchange becoming more heated, Pimi realised he had lost the element of surprise and that his “army” was wavering in their support for him. In fact as he watched he could see their courage evaporating quickly. He knew he did not have long to maintain the initiative over Zusa and he looked up. From the corner of his eye he sensed a movement, turning on his heels he saw Zusa launch himself at his discarded knobkerrie about ten paces away and behind the position where he had been knocked to the ground.

With a few quick strides, Zusa threw himself forward into a roll which resulted in him finding his fighting stick at his feet and so without having to stoop for it, he picked up the weapon up in one flowing motion and rolled away again, just as Pimi threw his own stick at the spot where Zusa would have been if he had stopped and straightened up before his second acrobatic manoeuvre.

Coming to his feet Zusa faced Pimi who had used the few seconds available to him to counter by moving forward in an attempt to retrieve his thrown stick.

Realising this, Zusa moved as quickly as he could in an attempt to cut him off from his weapon but Pimi arrived two paces ahead of Zusa and he picked it up with a renewed look of triumph on his face. There was a lull in their movement as they used the time to take stock of the situation.

Facing off, the difference between the two rivals was apparent. Zusa was tall and lean with well-defined muscle structure, where Pimi although almost as tall, was slightly larger in stature. His shoulder slumped inwards and a layer of fat made him appear more heavy set and much larger.

Crouching slightly, the adversaries slowly circled each other in a clockwise direction, stirring the dust into the air to knee height; their arms outstretched with their knobkerries held vertically, the rounded head just over their shoulder level. Pimi broke first and lunged forward, aiming his stick at Zusa’s head. Having to duck out of the way, Zusa inadvertently stepped into the radius of danger and Pimi swung his knobkerrie back and managed to catch Zusa on the right side his rib cage with a wet smacking sound, bruising the bone structure and causing an immediate darkening to the skin. Zusa fell away out of the circle of danger, a sharp shout of pain escaping from his mouth. Zusa pressed his injured side momentarily with his free hand but realising that he was far from being safe he fell back into his defensive stance, regaining eye contact with his foe.

mark stanton

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Re: First Chapter of Warrior.Please let me know what you think
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2006, 06:02:10 AM »
I should of exlained that this is only about half of the first chapter so that is why it is left hanging a bit....

Regards

Mark

BiancaMiller13

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Re: First Chapter of Warrior.Please let me know what you think
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2006, 12:26:14 PM »
Hey Mark,
I have a weird process so I hope you bear with me.  I am going to print this off and I will return with my comments.  I hate reading off the screen, and always have a minute here or there when I run around to read.  Ta for now!

mark stanton

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Re: First Chapter of Warrior.Please let me know what you think
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2006, 02:15:50 PM »
JC,

Thank you for taking the time. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Mark

Offline Angeleyes

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Re: First Chapter of Warrior.Please let me know what you think
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2006, 04:29:07 AM »
Hi Mark. Just finished reading your first half chapter. You really bring the place to life with your descriptions.I'm glad you told us what a knobkerrie is, as I have never heard of that before! Loved the characters names. One thing I wanted to know was, do you write from real life experience, or is it all from imagination? Cant wait to read the rest.
                 Ann.J.
May all your dreams come true.

Whether you think you can, or think you can't....you're right!
-Henry Ford.

mark stanton

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Re: First Chapter of Warrior.Please let me know what you think
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2006, 05:26:53 AM »
Ann J, I write from real life experience. Many of the places, people and events in the book I have witnessed or been very close too. I spent 25 years in Souterh Africa, lived through a war, parts of which I experienced first hand, at least 2 other countries around us had civil wars aswell. The book is 99% complete. Just hope if reads OK to adults....

Offline Symphony

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Re: First Chapter of Warrior.Please let me know what you think
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2006, 07:32:52 AM »
Hi Mark,

Your chapter was too long for me to read on-screen so I printed it off and attached my comments directly to your story in a separate doc this morning. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of using 'comments' is that the boxes are too small to 'explain' everything and may come over as being abrupt - please forgive this since they're not meant that way.

I love the names of your characters in the story and it's got loads of potential. On reading, my first observation was that there were a lot of unnecessary words/adjectives/phrases in there which, rather than enhance the writing, slowed the pace - and for such an action-packed chapter, I think the pace needs to be faster here rather than slower.

But hey - this is merely my opinion and don't forget that when you're reading my comments! They are simply things that leapt out at me while reading and feel free to bin them all at will!!!

S
 ;D

p.s. are there shorter or more familiar ways of referring to knobkerries? I found it a long and awkward word to keep reading and was consistently relieved when you referred to it as a fighting stick rather than by its real name. A kid-style 'word' for this would work really well ... (just a thought)

p.p.s. it won't let me attach the document so I'm going to have to find some other way to get this to you ...

p.p.p.s. have sent you an e-mail with attachment
« Last Edit: January 17, 2006, 07:43:16 AM by Symphony »