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New Fiction: The Lost Heir Saga. Book One: The Heir Exiled Chap 3 - Show us your world through the view of your word.

namfleJan. 2nd, 2013 07:42 pm New Fiction: The Lost Heir Saga. Book One: The Heir Exiled Chap 3

Alright, fans of intrigue and romance, here is the third chapter of The Heir Exiled, rough draft. Comments are encouraged and welcomed.

To repeat, this is a work of fiction, taking place in a fantasy setting of my own creation. What you see here is a rough draft after only slight editing for punctuation and spelling issues. The final, finished product may look very different.

Chapter one is here, and chapter two is here, in case you missed either.

And now, I bring you...


THE LOST HEIR SAGA
BOOK ONE: THE HEIR EXILED
by V Peter Collins

PART I: Havencliff Keep

CHAPTER 3 - Meetings


Candles placed in settings nailed into grey stone grew short. Their still flames cast soft shadows of Callan as he made his way up the winding, carpeted stairs to the King’s war room, a story below the royal chambers. The Prince did not notice the candles were nearly out, signifying the end of the evening and the time for sleeping. Callan’s feet carried him up stairs he had been traversing for the better part of his sixteen years, leaving his mind to sing and dance and hug and kiss with Glory, or at least the version of her that lived in his heart.

He was drawn out of his fantasy when he reached the top of the stairs. Straight down the hall was the Throne room, where King Jardinne conducted much of his official business. To the left was the entrance to the war room. Waiting patiently outside was Lady Myir, still dressed in her shimmering evening wrap and head-dress. Callan was briefly pleased to see her, but he quickly realized that her presence meant her husband was already inside with the King, and he was holding up the meeting.

“Good evening,” he said to her somberly as he approached. She nodded. He stopped before the closed thick, wooden door and drew a long breath; he pushed out thoughts of Glory and set himself ready for mental battle, for he knew any time spent with Garunth would be one filled with contests and friction.

“Be the river,” said Myir softly. She was referencing one of her earliest lessons she had taught him, back when he could count his age in single digits. Her advice; bend when necessary, and stand firm when correct. He looked at her, more relaxed than he was a moment before.

“My thanks, Instructor,” he said. He straightened his back and rapped upon the door. The four locks that held the door fast were swiftly undone with practiced moves. Callan instantly knew it was Garunth who was undoing the locks – the Master at Arms used the room regularly to make schedules for the men under his command, while King Jardinne did not spend nearly as much time in the room despite it’s proximity to the throne room.

The door swung open and Callan found himself looking up at the scowling visage of Master Garunth. Even out of armor and wearing silk formal clothing, he had an imposing aura to him. The Prince suddenly felt naked without armor and sword. Reflexively, he broke eye contact and looked around the massive man to his father.

The King beckoned with agitation. Callan could tell by the glower in his eyes and the set of his thick, white mustache, that he was no longer in the mood for merriment. This was not the King Callan saw, it was his father, and he was angry. Eyes down, pride swallowed, Callan stepped into the room. Garunth closed the door. It slammed like a clap of thunder.

“The two of you,” spat Jardinne. He was still wearing his formal robe, black with blue and red highlights, with the Havencliff sword-and-wheat shield crest emblazoned upon the left breast. He turned his back and paced alongside the massive round table that dominated the room. There were no windows, for the same reason of security as there were four locks on the door. The walls were squarely separated at eight paces apart. However, between the massive table, and the shelving that lined the walls and held reference books maps, blank parchment and ink, and other tools, there was hardly room for a crowd, or for pacing. Callan stood at ease, feet shoulders apart, hands clasped behind his back. Beside and behind him, Garunth did the same.

“I expect the sort of bickering and nonsense rivalry to come from siblings. From children.” Jardinne wheeled about, causing his beard to fly behind him. “Yet I get this grief from you two, my most trusted, and not from my son and daughter.” There was real fire in his eyes. Callan found the magnitude of his anger to be far greater than the cause seemed to merit, from his point of view.

“Father,” Callan said softly, about to ask the question that had occurred to him.

“Silence!” barked Jardinne, an accusatory finger pointing for emphasis. “You will speak when I command it!”

Callan’s eyebrows raised to their utmost heights, and his cheeks blushed. Stunned, he held his tongue. Jardinne continued with his rant.

“This meaningless rivalry you two have been nurturing all these years nearly cost us the trade agreements with Brightwood and Ridgeriver.”

“My liege,” started Garunth. He, too, seemed perplexed. Jardinne’s accusatory finger shot to him, and the Master of Arms silenced himself duly.

“All guest rooms have a view of the courtyard, as I am sure you are aware,” growled the King. “This day’s lesson – a grade tournament, yes?” Garunth nodded his confirmation. “…was held with our northern neighbors as an audience. They saw the only two students from Nobility lose rather soundly, and saw their hosts’ Prince win his contest in dramatic fashion, only to have his victory awarded to another.” As he spoke, Jardinne gestured wildly and began to pace once more. “And then at dinner, those same guests were treated to a shower of veritable sparks as the two of you blatantly avoided and dismissed each other.”

“I fail to see the relevancy, my liege,” said Garunth. Callan knew he was emboldened by the lengthy friendship he enjoyed with Jardinne, but felt his timing was poor. What’s more, he did understand what had driven his father into a fitful ire.

“You fail… my master tactician fails to see the relevancy of proper conduct while negotiating peaceful commerce and establishing a healthy relationship with nearby lands?” Garunth took in a sharp breath behind Callan, and the Prince knew that the king had touched a nerve.

“If it is their resources you wish, we could simply march troops into their tiny villages and seize them for ourselves.”

Oh, Master Garunth,” thought Callan to himself. The King became apoplectic.

“Absolutely, Gar, we could just stomp across the fields, through their forests, wave banner and steel, and proclaim them a part of the Havencliff Kingdom. You are correct, it would be the easy way. BUT IT IS NOT THE BEST WAY!” Jardinne slammed his fist into the table with the last statement, a yell that echoed around the room and seemed to disturb the candles hanging overhead. “You and I both served under my father, Gar. How can you still possibly think using our military for conquest is viable strategy when we spent a decade defending ourselves against revolutions caused by my grandfather’s conquest?”

“The end result of those conflicts was the undeniable strength of our military, my King,” Garunth returned. “However, if you feel the effort for a peaceful contract is worth the time and expense…” and he shrugged, letting the question hang.

“It is better to have a trusting ally taken at hand than an untrusting servant taken by the sword,” quoted Callan, from the final conclusion of his father’s accounting of the long war that Jardinne had referenced.

Jardinne rounded on Callan. “A poor play, my son,” he growled. “Do not take my side against Garunth to win my favor!” Again, Callan was stunned.

“Was that not your point, father?”

“Yes, by the Gods of sky and earth! But it was not your place to make it, not here, not now.” His eyes flashed and hands balled into fists. “Our guests saw the head of my military flexing his muscles against those in his charge who were not of my military. Do you see the damage that sort of notion can cause? To establish trade agreements with the northern territories, peacefully, Garunth, would bring new, invigorating life to our villages, extend the influence of Havencliff, and create the possibility of expanding the Kingdom, without bloodshed, without burning precious resources on war, without scarring the land. First we show them that our hand is strong and inviting. Then, when they have taken it, we show them the strength of our sword, not by striking them, but with a demonstration to convince them that we can protect their villages, should they need it.

“And the two of you and your petty, misbegotten rivalry nearly sent all of that to the bottom of the sea.” He charged Callan and Garunth then and, to each in turn, stepped to them and roared. “You are not equals, you are not vying for the same position, or a woman’s hand! You,” to Garunth, “are my main advisor and leader of the Havencliff army, and you,” to Callan, “are to be my prime emissary until it is time to sit upon the throne! I value each of you – both of you – equally, for I will not be able to hold this Kingdom without both of your efforts. What’s more, Garunth,” and he softened then, “you are my oldest and dearest friend. I have given praise to the gods every night to have had your loyalty for all these years. And you, my son, my first born, have been an answer to my oldest prayers, and proof of my faith.” He stepped back, the wind gone from him, and looked the boy and the man in the eyes. “I beg of you, the both of you. For the sake of each other, for the sake of this land, and for my sake, overcome whatever it is that causes this gap between you.”

“As you command, Jardinne,” responded Garunth. Callan thought it curious of him to mix formality and informality in his response.

“Yes, father,” the Prince said simply. He watched his father lean heavily against the table. He was overcome with sadness for the weakness his father was showing, a rare thing, and for his own part in causing it. He took a hesitant step forward.

“Take leave of me,” said the King softly. Callan’s heart sank. Behind him, he heard Garunth’s hands fly across the locks. The Master of Arms was swiftly gone.

***

In the halls, with the candles nearly extinguished, Master Garunth pushed towards the stairs. Myir Treebender, as able-bodied as her husband, scurried to catch up, caught in surprise by his speed. They slipped down the curved staircase down a single flight then turned into another hall. The doors that lined these walls each lead to the living quarters of the Masters and Mistresses of the castle. Garunth and his wife enjoyed the largest of the rooms, which was also the one closest to the stairs. Myir surged forward, her key already in hand, and opened their door in time for Garunth to charge in without changing his great pace. He had slowed, however. At the other end of the hall stood the Captain of the Guard, one of his lieutenants. He beckoned her over with a quick movement.

“I’ll be but a moment,” he said to Myir with a perfunctory kiss upon her forehead. As the Captain made her slow way to them, Myir took hold of her husband’s formal robes, hauled his head down to her height, and planted a wet, passionate, inviting kiss upon his lips. It was, he understood, an invitation. “A very brief moment, then,” he said hungrily into his wife’s ear. Smiling with satisfaction, she slipped through their door into their quarters.

“Master,” greeted the Captain with a slight nod.

“Captain Liendra,” Garunth answered, eyes locked upon his closed door as if he could see through it. He made her wait a moment before turning to meet her. She was young woman with a burly figure, easily the match of every other man Garunth had trained. He looked her in the eye to be sure his intended meaning was received, failing to notice her sheer sleeping gown. “Tomorrow,” he said. With swift movements, he entered his quarters and locked the door. Captain Liendra looked to the door and frowned. She turned slowly and carried herself heavily back to her quarters.

***

With the candles out, Havencliff Keep was steeped in noisy darkness. Insects in the courtyard sang their songs, and the waves at the bottom of the cliff crashed in a near perfect rhythm, steady enough to sleep to, for those with cliff-side windows.

Although night had firmly grasped the castle, not everyone had been lulled to slumber. Callan exited his room with a personal candle in hand and a change of clothes on his body. He crept down a narrow, side stair case, one used predominantly by the castle staff, and bade his feet carry him to the hall which housed the guest quarters, three below his own. He did not need the light to make the trip, for he could navigate nearly the entirety of the castle while wearing a blindfold, and while walking backwards, but he did not wish to accidentally startle anyone.

With a sack slung over his shoulder, he glided down the guest hallway, moving swiftly and silently, past over a dozen wooden doors, until he was at the end of the hallway. The carpeting that covered the grey stone floor ended at a curtain. Beyond it, a roomy balcony that offered an unadulterated view of the ocean to the east.

The Prince hissed sharply at the curtain before drawing one end aside and slipping through. On the balcony, sitting on one of the lounge chairs, her long hair whipping about, was Glory, waiting in serenity. She smiled sleepily as the prince slipped to her side. They embraced slowly, warmly, and held each other for long moments. He took in the faded scents in her hair, perfume that he had drunken in while they had danced together. Memories of the evening, now made fond, flooded back to him.

“You looked as an image of the Skynight Goddess, this evening” he said to her, when they at long last parted. She smiled, blushed, and turned away from him, but only for a brief moment. She looked into his eyes and stroked his face.

“Only you, my Prince, could say such a thing sincerely.” They shared a laugh. A stiff breeze sliced right through them and the thin sleeping garments they wore. Glory wrapped her arms around herself and shivered. Callan smiled. “You think this chill amusing?”

To answer, he reached into his sack and withdrew, with a flourish, a large, warm blanket. He slung it over Glory, then crawled into the lounge chair beside her. It was a tight, cozy fit.

“How was your meeting with the King?” Callan’s face fell, seen easily even in the dim candlelight. Glory frowned. “There, now I’ve ruined the night. I’m sorry, Callan.”

“The fault is not yours,” he said somberly. “Father wishes for Garunth and I to, I don’t know, coexist peacefully.”

“I could envision that,” she answered thoughtfully. “He would need to cease his unfair treatment of you, and you would have to end your goading…”

“I do not goad!”

She looked at him matter-of-factly, as a mother would to a child that had just blatantly lied. “What label would you give to the fact that you often lose your shield and replace it with another sword?”

Callan sputtered. “All I am doing is applying what I have learned in his wife’s martial class…”

“Mistress Treebender teaches empty-handed combat. Master Garunth teaches sword, shield, and armored down to your bum-hole combat. Even if one set of lessons could be applied to the other – and I am not saying they cannot,” she put a finger up to abort the Prince’s rebut, “is it wise to mix the two before an instructor that has a great big itch to bring you to the bottom as often as he may?”

The Prince seemed to deflate. Glory did speak true, and once the words were out and undeniable, Callan could no longer hide the truth of the issue from himself. He took the soothing sounds of the distant surf softly crashing into the Cliffside below.

“It would seem you are correct,” he breathed at long last.

“It is my place to be the one person in your life that is eternally correct,” she returned.

“Do you spend much time thinking on that?” he asked, seizing the opportunity to change the subject.

“On what?”

“Your place in my life. And mine in yours.” She faced him fully then, studying his eyes.

“I do,” she answered in time, a noticeably measured response.

“As do I.” He smiled and traced the top of his finger along the contours of the back of her hand. “Do you realize tomorrow’s significance?”

“My parents depart for our home?”

“Close,” he coaxed.

“The visiting Lords and Ladies return to their homes in the north?” She was unsure of her answer. Callan nodded.

“Aye, but there is something deeper, more important for you and I.”

“Callan?” her voice suddenly attained the quality of mock sweetness. The Prince knew he had her stumped. He smiled.

“Aye, my heart?”

“I shall punt you right into the sea if you continue riddling with me thus,” and the smile she laid upon him was as dangerous as the snarl of an angry beast. Callan laughed.

“Neither Ridgeriver nor Brightwood have any eligible daughters. Or sons, for that matter.”

“Oh, that?” Glory waved away the news. “Sam and I spoke on that just the other day. He was feeling quite sorry for himself and his lack of prospects.”

“Quite understandable,” said the Prince. He was now sporting a mischievous grin. “And what of your prospects?”

“Oh, I’m sure I have caught the eye of a boy or two from my classes, but…”

“I can guarantee that you have,” and the Prince’s grin deepened. Glory studied him for long moments. At first she was confused, but her fast mind quickly tracked on to what Callan was eluding to. He could feel her heartbeat quicken.

“Callan… I mean my Prince… I mean…”

He laughed softly at her loss for words. He kissed her lightly. “I know your parents had suggested for you to wait until after the full breadth of what the northern villages might offer before you chose a husband.”

“How…?” but she could surmise how. Their fathers were fast friends, equally vested in the success of the Havencliff Kingdom.

“Father bade me the same. That is no longer a concern.” He was smiling broadly now, no longer with mischief in his eye to spoil it.

“Callan? Are you asking me to marry?”

“Not yet. I mean to, however,” he answered, his voice barely a whisper. She bit her lower lip and looked to him lovingly. “What? No swarmy returns, no demands of what gems should be on the proposal gift? I must admit, I expected a much more memorable response to…”

“Shut up,” she breathed, and kissed him, long and deep. He immediately returned the kiss, and their embrace became so tight, neither could breath properly. Neither cared.

The one kiss became many, and the embrace loosened enough for their teenaged hands to roam each other’s thinly clothed bodies. Urgency added to their passion.

Glory pulled away suddenly, panting.

“What? What is it?” asked a confounded Prince.

“You have drills at sun-up,” she reminded.

Callan scowled, fiercely for a moment, but his expression quickly softened. “This would be reason alone to detest the man,” he groaned.

Glory nodded vigorously, eyes closed, breath slowing. “For this moment, I do.”

“Glory…” he touched her face. They kissed again. She pulled away once more.

“Go, Callan, before we pay at length for something so brief.” He rose, conflicted. “But…” and she took his hand, sitting up. “Go with my heart. Keep it safe.”

He smiled, and kissed her hand. “Aye, my glorious lady, but only if you do the same for mine.” He snatched up his candle. “Tomorrow, then.”

“Tomorrow,” she returned with a warm smile.

“The days already seem brighter.” And with that, Prince Callan blew her a kiss and slipped through the curtain lest he succumb to his heart’s – and body’s – desire. Her wisdom was sound and best heeded.

He walked at a hurried pace, which turned into a jog, which turned into a sprint. He wore the widest smile on his face. His speed blew out the candle before he could reach the staircase. He did not notice.



That's the end of Chapter 3. Any comments will be treated as from a beta reader, and will be sincerely appreciated.

5 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry

Comments:

From:hybrid_xisha
Date:January 3rd, 2013 11:14 am (UTC)
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When I first was reading the King's ire, I was agreeing with Callan and thinking, "Okay, this guy is far too bent out of shape and unreasonable just for two people not getting along." Thank goodness for the perspective that "two people not getting along" could cost the King the desired alliance; it made a lot more sense then. I'm still a little puzzled by the sudden display of aggressiveness (which might be caused by my reading each chapter in bursts as time allows). Is the King prone to losing his temper in private, or has he walked down this road with Callan and Garunth many times before and gave up on calm discussion?
From:namfle
Date:January 3rd, 2013 06:36 pm (UTC)
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No, this is really the first time we see The King as a character. In the next draft I'll have to make it clearer why the King is reacting the way he is.

Thanks for pointing that out to me! And thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed everything else. :)

-elf-
From:clarionj
Date:February 18th, 2013 03:23 am (UTC)
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I like how the chapter sets up the outside world and the kingdom's relations, then shows the important relations at hand (alliances, threats to alliances), and ends with happy, hopeful things for Callan. It shadows his hope, adding tension because we want the two to be happy together, without conflict, which, of course, means we'll be keeping close watch.

I wondered at first about the king's extreme reaction, but agree that it seems justified after his explanation. And if this feud has been going on for so long, it would be come exasperating, especially as Callan grows up. It seems reasonable, and also means the king might have different ideas of what Callan's life should hold.

My only comments for change would be in language, the framing of sentences on occasion, but this is a first draft and those are the things that come later (at least that's how I write--get the story down and go back and tinker later!). Onto chapter 4!
From:namfle
Date:February 18th, 2013 07:33 am (UTC)
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Do you want me to unscreen the anonymous comment you accidentally left? Heheh

I'm glad that the set-up is coming across the way i want it to. I realize it's obvious that it is a set-up, but is that obviousness a bad thing?

And, the dialogue has been a challenge. i have some loose guidelines for myself, but I've been doing a lot of exploring as I write it. I figure by the time I am done I'll have a finer tuned sense of what these people sound like, and I can fix up the dialogue on the rewrites. Also, I'm hoping a good editor will able to help me with that. In fact, there are a lot of little issues that I'm running into that I'm leaving alone in favor of getting the thing done, and with the intention of returning and revisiting them with help to fix problems and make things work better.

Seriously, thanks for reading. I hope you're enjoying this so far!

-elf-
From:clarionj
Date:February 18th, 2013 02:03 pm (UTC)
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I'm with you on that. I prefer to get all of the story out and worry about word choices and sentence variations, etc., on revision. If I tinker too much, I tend to lose the momentum, which is most important at first stage. I wanted to check with you though because I've recently talked to two authors who seem to be trying to make their first draft their last draft by editing as they go. I think so many authors are now trying to put out three books a year (absurd!), and so don't want multiple drafts.

Anyway, no I didn't think it felt set up actually. I thought it went along fine. You've created some good character dynamics already, and we know who we're rooting for. :)