Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Excerpt: A Plague for the Paladin

Thanks to all of the support I have received for NaNoWriMo so far. Below is a single chapter from what I have written so far. The rest can be found over at Protagonize here

Master Lear and Gabriel arrived at the Smithy after a silent walk, punctuated only by the occasional glance from someone along the dirt road leading into the center of town.

“Last night they were all very happy to see my and very loud in their hello’s and congratulations, what has changed?” Gabriel asked after the third person failed to respond to his offered greeting.

“Last night you were going to become a Paladin, today, at least in their eyes, you are one.” Master Lear responded.

“So am I to live a life of solitude? Will they ever talk to me again.”

“They will, don’t you worry. You just have to remember that you are a Paladin to them now. You are showing the exuberance of a young boy, but as we walk now, you are a young man.”

“I see.” At least Gabriel thought he did.

They arrived at the Smithy without any fanfare, and going in, found Drisbin hard at work, hammering a horseshoe into shape. The sweating man set down his hammer and tongs as he realized he had company.

“Ah, nice to see you again, young Gabriel. Ready to begin your work?”

“Yes sir.” Gabriel was eager to learn how to make his Dai’Sana.

“Well then, first, go over to Clarice and get you a proper apron made.” He held up his own blackened apron as an example.

“Yes sir.” Gabriel left, Lear in tow.

Making it to the leatherworkers shop, the same young woman from the night before greeted Gabriel.

“The Smith, Drisbin, sent me to pick up an apron.”

“I know who Drisbin is,” she sharply retorted, “I’m glad you stopped by last night. I was able to size you up. Here.” She lifted a large piece of heavy looking leather onto the counter. Lear picked it up and turned to walk out, Gabriel this time in tow.

Clarice coughed. “Ahem.”

“Oh, sorry.” Gabriel reached into his coin purse and handed a stack of coins to Clarice. “Will this be enough?”

Clarice smiled. “That will do nicely, thank you.”

The two, one old Paladin and one new one, proceeded back to the Smithy, where they found Drisbin hammering away on another horseshoe.

“Are you ready?” He asked after he set down his hammer.

“Yes, lets do this!” Gabriel’s exuberance shown through.

Lear looked at Drisbin and smiled. “I will leave you two. Gabriel, from now on, you report to Drisbin here until he tells you otherwise. I want you to keep up with your exercises though. And work with those stones!”

Gabriel nodded his understanding and thanked Lear for all his help, unsure of when he would see the old man again.

“First, fetch me that hammer.” Drisbin stated.

Gabriel did as he was asked, handing the smith a large metal headed mallet.

“Thanks, now go out back and bring in some logs so we can get started.”

Once again, Gabriel did as instructed, bring in an armful of chopped wood, which he dumped at the foot of the large furnace that took up a quarter of the space.

“Ok, the first thing you need to know is that in order to make your Dai’sana, you are going to need to melt the metal.”

“Of course.” Gabriel replied smartly, almost catching himself.

“You knew that did you, well do you know how hot you need to get the metal for it to melt and be usable?”

“No sir, sorry.” Gabriel hung his head, not daring to look the smith in the face.

“Bah, of course you don’t. That will be the first lesson then. Go get more wood, just in case.”

Gabriel went out to the back of the large brick building, and picked up a number of large split logs, thinking that there was no way that he would possibly need as many as he had already brought in, let alone more. He returned to the furnace, where his second armload of wood joined the first on the floor.

“Good, start feeding the furnace, I will let you know when it is hot enough.

Sitting on the ground next to the fire, Gabriel fed a the dancing flame a log, sweat beginning to bead on his forehead. A second log was added to the fire, and then a third. Soon, water was dripping off of Gabriel’s nose and chin and had begun to soak through the heavy leather apron he wore. Looking over at Drisbin, who had resumed hammering on the horseshoe, he noticed that the smith had not broken a sweat.

Drisbin looked up and caught the stolen glance that Gabriel had taken. “Keep going, I told you I’d tell you when.”

Gabriel managed to keep the incredulous look to himself, and resumed feeding the fire. After he thought he had gone through the first armload of wood, a puddle forming under where he was sitting, Drisbin finally stopped banging away on the curved piece of metal.

“Good, give the bellows a little bit of work now.” Clang, went the mallet again on the horseshoe.

Gabriel stood up, sweat continuing to drip off of his face, and onto the apron, off of the apron and into the puddle at his feet. Grabbing the top piece of the bellows, he pushed down and watched as the fire leapt life with the addition of so much air.

“Keep it up.”

Gabriel began to pump the bellows, the fire roaring in it’s furnace, the water beginning to dry on Gabriel’s face before it had a chance to drip off.

“Ahh, I think that will do.” Drlsbin set down the hammer and the horseshoe he had been working on and grabbed some thick gloves, a long handle pair of tongs and, and then with them a metal bowl. “You see those metal pigs over there?” He nodded at a small pile of almost black metal bars. “Bring me three and set them in the bowl.”

Once again, Gabriel did as instructed, and watched as Drisbin stuck the bowl into the furnace.

“Keep working the bellows.”

Gabriel pumped, the added air causing the flames to dance around and envelop the bowl and the end of the tongs.

“Is that the metal for my Dai’Sana?” Gabriel asked in between labored breaths.

“No, this will make the other two horseshoes,” Drisbin said, removing the crucible from the fire. Careful not to hit Gabriel, he turned with the glowing bowl and poured the metal over a pair of molds that Gabriel had failed to notice.

“Now tomorrow, we will make a whole set of horseshoes. Now go, clean yourself off, drink lots of water, and work on the lessons that Lear spoke of.”

If you read something you liked, didn't like, or just have a question about the story in general, I would love to hear from you. even if it is as minor as an misspelled word or a misplaced apostrophe, it made it this far so someone obviously missed it.

I take feedback seriously, it is the best way for me to improve and the easiest way for you to help me improve.

1 comment:

J. A. Platt said...

Horseshoes? You never get to the do the fun stuff on the first day!

Anyway, it's interesting to see Gabriel at this stage in his training after getting a glimpse of him defeating werewolves. I also like the idea that he's expected to change his demeanor now that he's become a paladin.

So... what exactly is this kid wearing other than the apron? I'm trying to picture how many layers he has to sweat through to leave that puddle. And a minor nitpick... you have your smithy sweaty and then he hasn't broken a sweat. Maybe he could just have a light sheen of sweat when Gabriel looks at him?

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