The Chosen, Chapter 3A

[Today’s post is a continuation of a project begun last December and put on hiatus in January. You can read a summary of the first two chapters here, or if you want to read the whole thing from the start, knock yourself out.]

“We know you’re in there.” Billy remained silent, as the voice on the other side of the door continued. “One of the lads at Two Brothers saw you leave, and we convinced the owner of this inn to admit having seen you as well. We don’t want to hurt you, but if we have to break down this door, I can’t make any promises.”

Billy was scared, but had enough control over his fear to recognize the reality of his situation. “I — I’ll be right there.” He reached down to pick up a gray sack, the only possession which Gil and Ukhala had allowed him to bring. The teen had not liked the idea of moving to another inn for the evening, but Gil had insisted this was the only way they could leave him alone for the evening. If all went well, Crim and Archilochus would have returned from Judge Oliver’s manor by early evening, and Gil and Ukhala from their mysterious “mission” soon after. Judging by the lateness of the hour, and the sudden appearance of the Philos Safety Committee at the door, Billy assumed not much had gone well.

The latch on the door jiggled, but Billy prevented further action from the other side by releasing the lock, and opening the door widely. In the hallway was a short man with a fat body and a fatter face. Two taller men stood behind him, and the teen, in accordance with the Archilochus’ training, scanned the three men for their weaponry. A dagger and pistol each, but no armor. Obviously not expecting much of a struggle.

The taller men began to step forward, but halted on seeing the fat man remain stationary, glowering at Billy. “The guardsman, says you’re his nephew. But you don’t look anything like anyone I’ve ever seen come out of the empire.”

“My father emigrated — ”

FH-WEET! At the fat man’s sharp whistle, he stepped back, the two men coming forward and seizing Billy by the shoulders.

The Chosen, chapter 1 and 2

It’s been a while since the last installment of The Chosen, so for the sake of both readers and author (“Now what exactly did I write back then?”), a summary is in order.

Chapter 1 – Prisoner Three: the Safety Committe from the colonial town of Philos returns to the courthouse with a prisoner, apprehended during an attempted highway robbery of four pilgrims travelling to the shrine on Eighth Hill. The prisoner is identified as Wolf, a lieutenant in the army of Yungen, leader of a powerful criminal gang.

After being tossed into the third cell of the jailhouse, Wolf recalls the failed robbery. Her crew had seen four pilgrims travelling without an armed escort on the road from the Pentapolis, and Wolf had been confident of an easy operation. However, two of the travellers, a nobleman and an Islander, had resisted her gang’s attack, and the pilgrims had gained the upper hand just as the Safety Committee arrived. Her crew was then slain, but Wolf, already subdued by the nobleman, was taken in to custody.

Later that evening, Wolf hears an unexpected voice speaking to her through the narrow barred window of her cell. The priestly woman who had been in the band of pilgrims asks Wolf to lead her party to Yungen. Wolf agrees, provided the priestly woman and her friends free her from jail; the voice thanks her, and abruptly leaves.

Several minutes later, the priestly woman arrives in a room at the Two Brothers Inn. Her three companions — Archilochus (the nobleman), Ukhala (the Islander), and Billy (a teenaged boy) — address her as Crim, and she reports on her conversation with the prisoner. When her brother Archilochus objects to her approaching their assailant alone, Crim responds that Gil, who suddenly appears outside the window of their room, had been with her the entire evening. Archilochus then asks if she chooses to trust the prisoner, and Crim responds that they have all been chosen to trust her.

Chapter 2 – Futile Deals: Archilochus arrives at the Philos courthouse the next morning, and reveals himself to be a member of the Imperial Guard. He then demands that Wolf be released into his custody, so that she can be sent to the Empire to face justice.

A visitor arrives at Wolf’s cell, and introduces himself as Jerdain, a lord from the neighboring colony of New Frisaria. He offers to release her into his captivity, provided she leads him to Yungen, who has expanded his operations into New Frisaria. He then leaves her to consider his offer.

Billy, purchasing bread at an outdoor market, has his money sack stolen; Gil captures the thief and forces him to return the sack. Billy pleads to take part in a mission planned for the coming evening, but Gil demonstrates that the lad is not ready for such risk.

Crim and Archilochus are greeted that evening at the manor of Judge Oliver, a leading magistrate for Philos. They are then joined by Jerdain, who argues with Archilochus over who should have custody over Wolf. Judge Oliver declares that Philos has sole jurisdiction in this matter, and is then interrupted by an announcement of a distrubance at the jail.

Earlier that evening, Wolf works the bars of her window with a pick she had hidden in her mouth. She then jumps at the sudden voice she hears behind her; turning, she sees a short man, later identified as Gil, who helps her escape from the jail with remarkable ease. When they are outside, Wolf strikes Gil from behind and runs into the woods; Gil pursues and tackles her,

Guards from the courthouse arrive to arrest Gil and Wolf, but they are quickly subdued by Ukhala. Recognzing him as the Islander from yesterday’s attack, Wolf tells Ukhala she is ready to accept the offer made by his priestly companion. Not trusting her sudden offer, Ukhala and Gil then subdue Wolf, and escape with her into the forest.

Step In

Getting back to writing makes me feel like a kid again

Enough already! After a hiatus that has endured far too long, I’m going to resume posting on a regular basis — perhaps not every day, but certainly most days. I’ll begin by picking up where I left off with The Chosen, and mixing in the occasional prompt response, reblog, and commentary.

Felt good to step away for a while, but feels even better to step in once more.

Taking a Break

So much for not being a stranger

The rough draft of chapter 8 was completed on time (final post was on April 30) and right on budget (just over 20K words). Not entirely happy with the result (that last post was particularly disappointing), but I knew when I started on April 1 that this wasn’t going to end with a finished product. But that’s fine — what matters to me is “winning” the CampNaNoWriMo challenge for April, and more importantly, producing an item that I can craft into a more polished document for this year’s NaNoWriMo event.

As I do at the end of each of these events, I felt satisfied yet enervated at the conclusion. Decided to step away from blogging for a while, until my energy and enthusiasm return. Which it most definitely will, perhaps soon — I’m contemplating a return to The Chosen, the sword and sorcery project I started on a lark and wound up enjoying considerably.

But for now, a little more rest, then get back to indulging my enjoyable obsession.