Showing posts with label NaNo WriMo 2011. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NaNo WriMo 2011. Show all posts

Friday, November 04, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 4: The Storm Wall

Chapter 4: The Storm Wall

The ominous gray wall loomed over Gurley like a drooling hound staring down upon a pile of discarded dinner scraps.  Wisps of rain sprayed outwards into the dead silence of the eye.   Sunlight drowned in darkness as the storm wall crept forward towards the band of stragglers before it.

Gurley’s horse whined as he struggled to keep his balance.  He pulled hard to the right on the reins and his mare steadied beneath him now that it was not directly facing the wall.  The other boys were having similar difficulty.  In front of the group, Gurley watched as the warhorse beneath Orten stood like a stone pillar, rain splashing against it’s bridle.  Gurley craned his neck and looked up and around the storm wall.  “You sure we need to be riding through that?”

Orten spurred his massive mount forward.  At first it was a slow trot, but he quickly built speed.  “Remember, meet at the Sentinels.”  Orten’s voice trailed off as he disappeared under a vale of fog and driving rain.  

Gurley knew this was not the time to hesitate.  Orten would not be gentle with those that did not follow, so he drove his good leg into the side of his horse.  The beast bucked and neighed loudly, but it obeyed.  Gurley approached the wall.  A quick glance to his side revealed the other boys following.  The bright day turned into dark night as he passed into the storm wall and a sudden cold cut a thousand wounds into his skin.  The horizontal rain sliced at his vision.  Fading pockets of light guided him forward and the occasional peak of the sun ensured he maintained a southerly direction.  He crested a ridge and spurred his horse hard enough to will it down the embankment.

The horse crashed through the undergrowth. Gurley never saw the tree branch.  He hit the ground with a sickening crack of bones echoing out into the fierce storm.  His horse screamed as he locked the reins in a death-like grip forcing the horses neck backwards.  The horse jerked and pulled free.  Come back.  The animal was gone before Gurley could push the thought to his lips.  Darkness consumed him.


Enlil looked up at the storm wall as it hovered over the road leading out of the camp. His assumption was Gray Court lay in ruin a short distance down the road, leveled beneath the massive storm.  This brought a smile to his face.  The final coward deserters that had left over the past day would have flocked to Gray Court only to find it in no better shape than the camp.  

Enlil turned and looked back towards the remnants of the camp.  Outside of the blacksmith, Rodhero, no one could be seen.  Rodhero, of stout frame, continued his picking and separating of the pieces of the camp before dragging select pieces back to his makeshift working area.  Rodhero was not part of the army proper.  Enlil had enlisted him after finding him slaving away on pots and trinkets in Gray Court.  Rodhero had proven invaluable during the supply shortages with masterful skill when working bladed weapons.  Enlil mulled over whether to release the smith from his duty.  

The camp was not going to be raised again.  Enlil knew that much.  Outside of a few tents, including his own, the destruction was final and months of supply shortages ensured there was nothing to rebuild with. The debris that lay scattered across the camp’s grounds would be picked clean once the storm passed.  From his estimate, the eye of the storm had situated itself like a prison directly over the castle which he suspected is what kept the castle’s inhabitants contained.  However, it wouldn’t be long before they realized nothing more than the storm held them captive.  The storm was destructive, but it wasn’t washing away a castle anytime soon.  Castle Black would most likely send scouts out sooner than later and at that point, Enlil knew his failure would be final.

The Reichland forces on the other side of the southern wall of the storm would prevent escape in that direction leaving the only route of escape to the north.  Without fear of the Eatern Army there was little to stop anyone that wished to flee.  Gray Court would more than welcome the refugees and their looted plunder from the Castle vaults.  That’s if Gray Court hadn’t been brought down to anything more than stone foundations.

While the events of the past two days troubled Enlil, they did not trouble him nearly as much as losing sight of the Fravashi.  After knocking him senseless for a fortnight, they had all but disappeared.  Not even Govad, with his trusted western senses had taken note of where they had gone.  It seemed that the Fravashi had been replaced by their cursed storm.  Yet, something ate at Enlil.  A gut feeling that told him they were not far away.  Which is why he had sent Govad to find them.

Turning once again towards the storm wall, Enlil let his mind wander.  He thought back to the days leading up to his arrival in the camp.  He remembered how fierce the force had looked that day, aligned in the marching yard.  The elegant organization: a dozen Cadres broken down into perfect formation, the feathers of the Wind Lords flowing in the wind.  The king’s banner: the crimson star upon a white field.  The white uniforms of the officers, punctuating the sections, stood in stark contrast to the leather draped soldiers.

The sight of a proper military force.  One for him to command.  It had inspired him that day.  His soldiery ways were in his past and his climb of the leadership ranks was about to begin.  There was hope in that first day.  However, it was crushed when he had met with the incumbent Wind Captain.  Vico had been his name, of house Katara.  He was young.  Too young to be a Feathered Sergeant, let alone a Wind Captain.  The boy had hardly began growing hair on his baby-smooth chin.

The situation grew cumbersome quickly as Enlil took military turn over from Vico.  The boy had not documented anything.  Supplies were not tracked, discipline was lax, and the camp finances were in disastrous shape.  Vico had done nothing more than ensure the men could form up in neat rows and put on a show.  The camp was meant only for show.  How this farce had kept Castle Black holed up was beyond Enlil.

However, in the despair of what Vico had left him, Enlil had found a mission.  And even though that mission eventually lead to disaster on the field below the castle walls and left Enlil drowning in ale and the handsome clutches of a different whore every few days, he felt accomplishment.  If anything he had shown the king the betrayal that this camp had thrust upon the kingdom.  It was him, after all, who was betrayed by the lack of preparation imparted upon his station.

It was no surprise that Govad had returned without having found the Fravashi.  He opined that they were probably in the storm, if not the storm itself.  Enlil had not been pleased with that assumption.  Enlil shook his fist towards the sky above the storm wall in a silent protest.

Word count: 4630

Thursday, November 03, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 3: The Eye

Chapter 3: The Eye

It was morning when Enlil woke again. Darkened patches encircled his eyes and an uneasy air sat about him. “I’ve heard stories,” Govad was beside his bed talking, “that the Fravashi were sent to the living to tame the wilds of men. That they arouse the inner storms of those they meet before drowning them in the reality of the true storm. Consider yourself lucky.”  

Enlil sat up and eyed Govad.  “I fear no woman.”

“Then you are in luck, there are not any for miles around. No doubt some whores back in Gray Court." Govad smiled. "Do not let the dresses deceive you eastlander. They are spirits of the damned, not women.” Govad stood and walked to the entrance to the ten.  With a sweep of his arm he opened the tent flap and flooded the tent with sunlight.  As he tied the tent flap back he pointed out towards the camp.  “No mere woman does that.”

Enlil’s eyes struggled to focus as the bright light streamed in.  He rolled over and sat up.  Hunched over, he closed his eyes and counted to ten.  Upon opening his eyes he was able to somewhat see out into the camp, but at first he wasn’t sure if he was seeing things correctly.  Tents, supplies, and a variety of wooden debris lay scattered across the ground.  Far across the camp Enlil could see the smith’s anvil standing above a wind-flattened tent.  

“What happened?” A moment of fear caught Enlil as he anticipated Govad’s answer.

“Storm happened.”  Govad said as he avoided looking out at the camp.  “The Fravashi happened.”  Govad moved back over to sit near the bed.  Enlil stood up, feeling every ache in his body ten times over.  His head pounded as he stumbled towards the nearby foot locker.

Storm what?  “They did this?” Enlil felt conflict rising within him.  Were the stories actually true?  Were the Fravashi a destructive force of storms?  A super weapon?  Enlil had not imagined the significance of the power he had summoned upon.  Storms were expected, but this was something far worse.  The camp was all but gone at initial glance.  “How long was I out?”

“Only a night.”  Govad returned.  “Missed the worst of it to be honest.  Probably best for you eastlander.  No man should be made to witness power such as this.”

Enlil gained control of his pain and slid into his proper Wind Captain attire: a ruffled doublet of white, browned leather breaches, and a feathered cap.  He fastened his rank insignia upon the ruffled collar of the doublet. He paced the inside of the tent contemplating the situation.

Govad sat quietly in his place watching Enlil pace.   It had been weeks since he had last seen him in proper rank and attire.  It reminded Govad of the first days of his service to Enlil, back when he still foolishly believed he was free.  Govad was a paid man, a paid slave.  The eastlanders didn’t believe in slavery after all, but that did not stop one man from owning another.  They just had to pay a believed-to-be fair wage for the privilege.  

For the most part, Govad had not minded.  He ate well and had a roof to sleep under most nights.  He had more freedom than most paid men as long as he was around when expected.  To passing observers, Enlil seemed no more than a friend to Govad.  Yet, Govad knew the true arrangement.  He had first hand experience from the time he had lingered a bit too long with the wine and whores of Gray Court.  Enlil had sought him out with vengeance, sending a cadre of men into town to drag him naked through the streets and force march him back to camp.  You are my paid man.  Back then, the fury in Enlil’s words was unmistakable.  The words still rang in his head and the monthly blood money Enlil forced into his pouch left no question.

“If the storm has passed, have we checked the cliff side?  Whats the status of Orten’s supply line?” Enlil fell back into his Wind Captain’s role.

Govad could only chuckle.  “Storm hasn’t passed.  You really know nothing of the Fravashi and their storms do you eastlander.  I had only assumed you knew what you sent me to bring back.”


“Storm’s broke Orten.  Whore storms ain’t nothing against a good tree line.”  Gurley’s voice almost seemed excited as he nudged Orten’s mountainous sleeping form.  The night had been difficult as the storm raged upon the landscape.  It had battered the bastard’s boys, as Gurley liked to call the group, but had also concealed their departure.  The group had been able to slip out as the storm wall passed and while Castle Black was still visible on the horizon, they had made it a safe distance from the Eastern Army’s grasp.

“Shut your mouth you damnable fool.”  Orten rolled over, clearly agitated.   “The storm didn’t break.  The eye is passing over.  The worst is yet to come, but we have time. Rest.”  Orten rolled back over, pulling his rain-soaked blanket back over his head.  To Gurley, it seemed as though Orten’s blanket was much drier than his.

Word count: 3422

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 2: The Bastard's Boys

Chapter 2: The Bastard’s Boys

“Orten!”  Gurley shouted as he wobbled down the hallway.  “Orten!” He approached the steps and lifted his crutch by it’s worn handle.  The rap of wooden shaft on oaken door echoed throughout the open yard.  Wind whistled through the inlets flicking torch light across his face.  Hardly time for supper and it was near black as night.  “Open the door you lazy bastard.  Storms coming and I ain’t fixing to get my bum leg wet.”

The door creaked open.  A silhouette of a large man was cast against the far wall by the light of a roaring fire in the fire place.  Orten, with his back turned, was heading away from the open door back towards the fire place.  The distinct smell of burning pine wood permeated the room.  “I should strangle you.”  His threat didn’t seem to register with Gurley at all.

“But who would dance a little hobbled jig for you then?  What laughter you would miss.”  A smirk crossed Gurley’s face.  “And what of mother.  What would she think?”

“We may share a mother, but do not mistake us as family.”  The tone this time seemed to catch Gurley’s attention.  Do not mistake us as family.  Gurley had heard this enough to know something was wrong.  With the aid of his crutch, Gurley shuffled over to a chair at the dinner table.  The scraps of a forgotten meal lay across from him.  Reaching for it, he knocked a silver goblet over.  Left over wine spilled between the cracks of the table and a short roll later, a clanging rang across the room.  

Orten was on Gurley before the last bounce of the goblet.  His hands clasped around Gurley’s neck like a shackle on a prisoner’s ankle; hard enough to prevent escape but loose enough to be a firm reminder of imprisonment.  Orten’s tangled auburn hair fell free from his shoulders and brushed it’s way across Gurley’s face.  The smell of smoke trapped in countless clusters of ragged hair invaded Gurley’s nostrils and a burning sensation chaffed at his collar.

“You bloody fool.”

Gurley saw the ground before he felt it.  Orten had tossed him aside with ease.

“This is not your fault.  Excuse my anger.”  Orten didn’t look forgiving as he hefted the table and slammed it back to the ground sending cutlery bouncing off the stone floor.  Wisps of smoke rose from the tables edge.  “As if it wasn’t enough to suffer the insolence of this new Wind Lord, this Enlil, and his attempt to foul my one luxury in this forsaken by the gods hole, they send this sodden fucker, this, this Thunderer, here with his storm whores.  This foolish king knows not what he is dealing with.”

Orten paced hastely from wall to wall while Gurley recovered enough strength to begin the clean up.  It wasn’t long before the table was back as it was.  With care, Gurley worked his way through the left overs once again.  Hard rain began to drive against the wooden shutters drawn tightly closed across the windows.  A cold dampness crept throughout the room.  Minutes passed into a silent hour before Orten spoke again.

“Get Toots and Jacco to the stable yard and prepare horses for the rest of the boys.”  Orten’s tone was still serious causing Gurley to jump, as best as a cripple could jump.  Orten watched as Gurley fumbled for his crutch.  “We are going to ride out during this storm.”

Bum legs going to get wet after-all Gurley thought as he headed for the door. Halfway there he turned.  “Jacco won’t like this.”  Gurley put a concerned face on.  Orten furled his brow and looked down Gurley’s lanky frame.  “Not riding out in the storm, but the...”  Gurley stuttered.  “Me telling him whats to do and all.”

“That whore son should of thought of that before threatening mother.”

“He did not mean it.  Jacco needs you.  He would never dare touch mother.”

“The boys do not jape about mother.  That bitch is mine and mine alone to curse.  Make sure the boys understand this.”  Orten dismissed him with a wave.

It took longer than expected to reach the bottom of the steps to the yard.  Puddles sprang up in every wind worn crevice, corner, and foothold.  Castle Black was not built with cripples in mind, let alone for cripples tumbling their way through a torrential downpour.  A couple more awkward hops and Gurley reached the door to the lower keep.  A wooden rail aided his decent into the torch-lit room below.

Seated closest the door was Jacco, slant-eyed and olive skinned.  Jacco’s black hair lay taught against his scalp, pulled into an ornamental horn of sorts.  Gurley eyed him uneasily as he took a seat on the bench opposite. He tapped a wooden spoon on the table top.

“Orten says we riding.  Wants you Toots to go get the horses.”  Gurley pointed across the room to a pot bellied man hunched over a half-butchered hog.   The big man laughed.

“Picked a fine time, seeing as how we just caught this hog scrounging the pile below the walls.”  Toots spat on the floor as he spoke.  “Send for the stable hands.  That fat ben ain’t making me into no stable boy.  I cook, he eats.”  Ben.  As if bastard wasn’t harsh enough, to use the slang term for it where word may make trickle back to Orten was a bold statement.  The eastlanders had taken to calling Orten Fareen by this term.  Orten Ben Fareen, the bastard son they said, often dragging out the ben in before pausing after his name.  

“Ain’t my choice.  Orten wants you Toots.  And... “ Gurley turned towards the door to where Jacco sat.  “You too Jacco.  Says both of ya needs to get the horses ready.”

“Ten brother best come down and stit in my dinner bowl if he tinks I’m readying horses for tis fat ass.”  Jacco drawled the h’s as he spoke.  Gurley knew he would not dare call Orten a brother of Gurley in Orten’s presence.  The boys had clearly grown mad over this trouble with mother.  Not that years of imprisonment in Castle Black had helped.  Gurley started looking for a graceful exit.

However, before he could find one the door came crashing open.  Rain bit into the dry cellar air.  Orten’s large frame filled the door way, his blood-red studded leather armor drawing a stark contrast to the pale sandstone steps behind.

“Boys.”  Orten said with a nod of his head.  “We ride.”  

Gurley nearly fell off the back of his bench, but he steadied himself on his crutch as Orten strode across the room.  Orten’s long strides eclipsed the stone tiles beneath his padded boots.  The sweet smell of freshly oiled leather lingered in his wake and mixed with Orten’s distinctive smokey scent.  Orten approached the table with the butchered hog, a half dozen pairs of wondering eyes following his every move.

“Toots, I’m sorry for this son.”  With a resounding thud, Orten grabbed Toots square in the chest.  Lines of smoldering smoke rose from between the two as Toots large, wobbly frame stumbled backwards pulling Orten across the butcher’s table.  Toots, caught by surprise, failed to struggle.  Raw pig meat sizzled as it fell into the cooking fires.  The dagger was nearly invisible as it swept through Toots’ side.  The fat cook faltered, slumped, and with a firm shove from Orten, joined the pig meat in the fire.

“No one can know of our exit.  Toots fat arse wouldn’t make it a league outside of the castle without killing a horse so its best he cooks here with that pig of his.  If I deem that any of you boys can’t keep pace, you will meet a similar fate.”  Orten was dead calm.  He leveled his gaze towards the seat nearest the door.  “Jacco get the fucking horses while I drop my trousers to take that shit you spoke of.”  The room erupted.

Word count: 2764

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 1: The Arrival

Chapter 1: The Arrival

Death sat as a thick fog before Castle Black. Bodies sprawled in contorted positions formed a patchwork base from which descriptive dark-stone castle walls stretched towards the sky. The corner towers: silent sentinels mirroring in shadow the stained ground below. Neither side paid proper tribute to the dead. Instead, all manner of opportunistic beast had taken to the task. The stench kept patrols from the precipitous battlements while cliff-side updrafts gave little reprieve to those buildings hugging the eastern walls.

Tucked away towards the beach and out of site of Castle Black, the Eastern Army’s camp sat idle in the midday sun. The only stir of external activity came from the northern approach as a single cart rumbled into camp. The music of iron on anvil wallowed out deep from within the camp. Ka tink!

Enlil woke unto a cold sweat. Ka tink! The soft rap of metal sung in the air as he stumbled to his feet. Ka tink! With fumbling hands he reached out for clothing only to find his padded, lizard-skin jerkin discarded at the foot of the cot. Thrinnnnnnnnk, a glancing blow rattled off the anvil. The extra sheeting within the tent forced him to guess at the time of day. As he kicked at the closest tent flap, beaded streams of light filtered in.

Ka tink!

Enlil slipped into a pair of worn sandles. Curious, he looked down. His toes felt bunched. Were these leather even his? Three months, as many men had occupied this tent. He wiped his brow tucking dusty brown hair behind his ears. He wondered how long he had slept, but before he could ascertain the answer, his awaking misery was interrupted.

A voice struck through the folds of Enlil’s tent. “The Fravashi have arrived.”

“Finally.” answered Enlil as he emerged from the tent, half-dressed. Light flooded his vision. Ka tink! He carried the jerkin to his side. His paid man, Govad, stood before him, six women in his wake. Enlil, startled and adjusting to the overbearing sun, threw the jerkin over his bare chest.

It was said the Fravashi were risen spirits of some sorry wenches drowned at sea, ritualized and worshiped as near-gods. To Enlil, they were tools, a hammer to apply to raw steel, and only women. He had only recently learned of the presence of Fravashi within the Key, a small strip of land connecting Alb to the north with Reichland to the south.

“Welcome ladies.” The greeting was flat. Ka tink! Enlil felt uneasy. “I hope you are here to put an end to this mess. My predecessors may have used this post as a farce; pig dancing with that bastard Orten Ben Fareen.” Thrinnnnk! Another glancing blow trebled off the anvil. Enlil paused. The name grated across his tongue. “But I intend no such dishonor during my service here. Unfortunately, the bastard is too well supplied from ships anchoring to the cliff-side and winching up supplies. With no support from the King’s navy and lacking material support, I’m at a stand still.”

Stand still was Enlil’s assessment of the situation. He had been assigned to a post that had fallen to a rotation of Wind Captain status-seekers. Political house brats seeking recognition and foraging for placement within the King’s army proper. The Reichland forces to the south and the threat of the King’s justice to the north held Castle Black in a vice-like grip. A safe post for doing nothing.

From scattered notes and orders left to him, Enlil could only discern that Castle Black was meant to be kept isolated. Overland transport to the castle was closed off from the north by the camp and control of the port within the bay. However, the series of pulleys and winches on the cliff laughed at the Eastern Army every time another barrel or crate was hauled over the castle walls. A failure upon which Enlil felt he could improve.

Prior to the arrival of the Fravashi, Enlil made use of his month old post and ordered a minor siege encampment below Castle Black’s undefended eastern walls, closest the cliffs: a gamble to weaken the spiderweb of pulleys and ropes on the cliff’s side.

At first, the siege encampment seemed to amuse Orten. Enlil caught glimpses of him on the castle walls, his laughter bellowing as he watched catch poles reach out for hanging lines. However, it was not long before Orten’s mounted cavalry launched a counter from the castle gates, splitting Enlil’s siege force. Enlil retreated with the main force while the cavalry slaughtered the remainder: soldiers armed with massive catch poles and ladders. Enlil realized in that moment that there was more to Castle Black than just a mocking winch and pulley system on the cliff side. The split took precision and experienced cavalry, two things requiring more than just a winch or pulley strung across a few rocks.

Enlil had washed away the defeat with ale. His mind lingered on the events since. Military supplies had languished and respect dissipated. Drinks and frequent trips to Gray Court had taken their place. Command became simpler. Enlil began to understood his predecessors. However, the presence of the Fravashi had sparked a bit of motivation.

He had awaited Govad’s return with the Fravashi, but admittedly knew little of their ways. His knowledge was limited to battlefield tales and training texts. The basics: where the Fravashi went, storms followed. Or was it where the storms went, Fravashi followed? Were they glorified weather merchants predicting the next storm or something else? Something far more deadly?

Enlil brought his wandering attention back to the Fravashi as the six women spoke as one. “We follow our Storm. Six for one. One for six. We come today, not for you Captain, but for the justice sought by the Thunderer.”

Ka tink!

Had he asked them a question or had they plucked his thoughts like some low hanging apple in an orchard. Enlil was agitated. “The Thunderer!? I am appointed by the Kings own hand...” He shuffled. No, not something to get into here, he thought to himself. “This is my post. I order you to finish what should have long been sorted. Take the cliff wall with your storms and wash their mocking contraptions into the sea.”

“You would be well served to mind your thoughts Captain,” the six women stated, as one.

Ka tink!


The iron blows roared suddenly and Enlil found himself on his knees, hands crashing to the ground. Ka tink! The sound became deafening. Enlil’s eyes rolled forcibly back into his head. He reached out. Govad felt no impulse to aid his liege as his luxury of traveling with the six women had afforded him a front seat to far worse from the hands of the Fravashi.

Ka tink!

Across the bay Govad could see menacing clouds gathering above a curtain of gray. The waves lapping against the nearest dock jumped. The lone island at the bay’s inlet disappeared within the curtain as swirling winds picked up dust around the camp. The jangling of metal tools and the pothering of tent flaps could be heard as the smith closed up shop. The afternoon grew dark.

Word count: 1066