Okay, so I'm trying something out and hopefully someone is interested enough that this doesn't end up as a complete waste of my time!
I'm starting work on a young adult fantasy novel, which means I probably won't be posting as many smaller pieces or short stories as I'd like. But, since I want to keep posting something I'm going to post the novel in short(ish) chunks. If you feel like giving me some feedback, I certainly wouldn't mind! Without any further ado, I give you:
Dominions of Glory: 1 (a tentative title...)
The sky was crystal and blue, with a high, beaming sun on the morning that Baelin’s mother died. He was seven. She left behind little of value; she’d sold off what she could to buy them food, in hopes they’d last the winter. She’d made it until the first thaw before succumbing to starvation and cold, leaving Baelin alone in a disheveled and crumbling stone cottage.
Upon the wall in the back room -and there were only two rooms, each equally small- mounted on a termite-eaten piece of black wood, hung a rusted, leaf-shaped blade; a relic of ages past, his mother had told him. A blade from the time of Magic.
Supposedly the blade was a gift from Baelin’s father before he’d been called away to important duties. His mother assured him repeatedly that he was born of special blood, and that if his father could’ve, he would have stayed. But Baelin knew it was a lie. When they went in to town to sell their belongings for food, he heard the whispers: whore, slut, man-thief. These were the kinder names.
So when Baelin’s mother died, he knew nobody was coming to help him. His father was years gone, not even a memory. And nobody in Shadyridge would think to check on him, for they were none of them his mother’s friend, and the little cottage was miles from the road.
He sat in the broken room, his back against the wall, his knees drawn into his chest while his head hung and tears dropped from his eyes. He knew he shouldn’t cry, his mother had told him so many times not to cry, but he couldn’t help it. In the entire world, nobody alive knew or cared that he existed, and though the first thaw had come, he knew he wouldn’t survive.
And then, as in so many times before, he heard a voice in the back of his mind, calling to him. Use me, it said. Baelin knew this voice, it claimed to be Magic. But he’d learned long ago that Magic wasn’t real. If it were, why did he have a hunger so strong it burned his belly? Why was his mother lying in the other room, stiff and cold, an empty husk? But still Magic called to him, promising him many, many things. But none of what Magic showed Baelin was of any value, not without his mother, not being all alone. It promised a warm room, fields of wheat, friends to dance and play with, but what it did not promise him was food, right here, now, real and able to stave off his own impending doom.
Release me! Magic cried again. For you, I will do anything. I will give you anything if you but release me.
Baelin wanted to believe in Magic, wanted to have all that it promised, but even if it were real, what could he do? He didn’t know the secret words of Magic his mother had told him of. In all stories there were secret words, learned only through long, careful years of study and practice.
No, Magic said, it’s simple. And then it whispered the secret to Baelin’s heart.
Baelin stopped rocking back and forth, his tears dried up. He lifted his head and scanned the pathetic room. The floor was rotted boards and dirt, and the room stunk of sweat and an un-emptied toilet bucket. He wanted so badly to believe Magic was real… But he knew it could not be, certainly not with a secret so simple. Why, if it were so easy to use, and Magic wanted so badly to be used, why didn’t everyone use Magic? It made no sense.
Set me free, Magic begged him again, and I will show you a beautiful world.
With nothing to lose, Baelin gave up on what he knew and willed Magic to be free. There was no incredible moment, no flashes of light; he simply felt something warm slip from him, just a little. He looked about, but nothing had changed. He hung his head and cried again, knowing he was foolish.
In his tears he felt something open up inside of him again, a door he’d just barely cracked. Each tear opened the door wider, and a bit more warmth slipped out, flooded through his body, comforting him, making him feel well. After a few moments of this he stopped crying and opened his eyes, confused.
Outside, the sky was crystal and blue, sunlight filtered through a sheet of glass far more perfect than Baelin had ever seen. The room was flooded with color, not just the mundane shades of brown of death, dying and dirty.
Beneath him the rotted floorboards were now immaculate and polish oak boards, a table rested in the corner, simple, but sturdy, far nicer than the one his mother had pawned in the fall. And upon the wall gleamed a black wooden placard, upon which rested a gleaming bronze sword with a blade in the shape of a leaf and a simple handle of formed leather, at the base of which a solid bronze pommel finished off the piece.
Baelin sniffed in the last remnants of his crying and stood, wide-eyed, unable to fully comprehend or believe the changes he saw.
I give you this, Magic said, and I can give you so much more. Use me… Use me…
Baelin nodded as if in response to the voice in the back of his head. He would. He reached up and took down the leaf shaped blade, a relic of an age where men believed in Magic. A relic made anew by the Magic man had forgotten, which Baelin would use to forge a new world, free of the uncertainty and helplessness he’d felt for so long.