NaNowriMo – Story Teaser

I’m too busy to articulate a post…so here is a teaser from the story I’m working on. This story is part of “The Keepers,” the new serial in the quarterly epublication, Gallery of Worlds, from Lantern Hollow Press.

Enjoy!  And happy writing!

The ringing of the Reach Bells started Larus LaCree out of his thoughts. He glanced over to his grandfather, who poofed contentedly on his pipe. They both waited, knowing what should follow.  The pattern on the Reach Bells echoed a cry for aid.  The Keep Bells would reply with an order.   The deep Keep Bell reverberated through the tunnels – the call for the Yeomen to assemble.

“Grandfather, I…”  Larus began, getting to his feet.  His heart was pounding and a nervous shiver ran through his arms.

“Yes, boy, you must go. I’ll wait here for your mother and sister.”  Llemuel said.

“Be safe,”  He called after him, but Larus was already running down the hall.  Other Yeomen were joining him.  He heard the rumors as he ran.

“Corruption,” someone said.

“Must have been a skirmish,” others commented.

“Killed?”

“Wounded, but it could be worse than that.”

“Families being notified. Check on Karla, she always knows.”

“Keepers have been summoned. There must have been a death.”

“A Binding gone wrong.”

Larus glanced around nervously trying to find his company, a friendly face.  Cold sweat was running down his back.  He did not know why he felt so anxious.  This was not uncommon; the bells summoning the yeomen to the Keep.  But this was the first time he had the privilege to join them.  And try as he might, he couldn’t stop thinking of the fact that his cousins and uncle had been forced to extend their Watch.  Something was not right in the Reach.

The Keep filled with Yeomen and from the many windows in the cavern walls Larus could see the faces of women and younger children staring out.  He used to be part of that crowd but now he was in the midst of the commotion waiting to hear what the Master Yeoman would say and what his orders would be.

“Have you heard?”  Henrick asked coming up behind Larus.  Henrick was accompanied by Mikhail and Camri.

“Only whispers.”  Larus replied.

“Well, we were coming from the Mess Hall when we saw…” Henrick started but Mikhail  interrupted.

“They were talking loudly and the tapestry was pulled away.”

“You were eavesdropping?”  Larus hissed his indignation.  In a world of echoey halls and tapestry doors, hanging outside of a doorway listening to conversations within was reprehensible.  On military matters it was punishable by highest authority, age did not matter.

“It wasn’t on purpose!” Camri explains hurriedly.

“Regardless,” Henrick exclaimed. “we heard that a new tunnel was found.  Or rather, a Chailtair revealed it. They are saying a new wave of Corruption has come from the eastern tunnels near the Reach.”

“All that from an accidental hearing.”  Larus said with a hint of condemnation.  But he could not help the thrill that swelled within him.  He was excited by the prospect of something dangerous, something new.  His company clearly felt it too.

“Someone was badly hurt.  A Binder.”  Camri said.  Larus noted the fear in her voice.  She was a Binder.

“Do you suppose they’ll let us go down and fight?”  Mikhail asked, grinning wickedly.

“Not seasoned enough.”  Ewan shook his head.  “But we’ll get placed somewhere, probably at a Yoeman’s watch in the Tombs.”

Larus nodded his agreement.  It was too much to hope that they’d get to see battle.  More than likely they all would be sent to guard portions of the Tomb that were normally unguarded and set up patrol there, keeping an eye on the dead and making sure they stayed dead.  Larus shivered, not out of fear, but anticipation.  He had heard stories.  They had all heard the stories.  Corruption begets more corruptions and stirs the souls of the dead.  Even the dead whose souls had crossed over, their corpses could be reanimated by Corruption.

Larus and his companions lined up in formation along with the other Yoemen of the Watch The ringing of the bells stopped and an eerie silence hung in the air as everyone awaited Master Yeoman’s orders. Noise from the tunnels drifted into the cavern.  They could hear distant shouts and the orders for the medical units.

Ewan was right.  As a brief description of the events that were transpiring in the Reach were explained, Larus and his companions were ordered to report for Watch duty in the Poor Man’s Lane, a section of the Tombs that was set aside for the unfortunate souls who did not have family or money to pay for a better resting place.  The Yeomen were dismissed to report to their assigned duties.

“Do you see Yeoman Caps?”  Camri asked.  In the shuffle they had all lost sight of their group leader.  Caps was incharge of all the junior Yeomen who had been recently promoted to Watch.  He was a middle aged Yeoman with more scares than seemed right for someone still rather young by Yeoman standards.   It was said that he had been part of another Keep in his younger years and had been brought to the Tombs for rehabilitation.  From what? Everyone had an answer for that but the truth of any of the speculations was limited.  Larus was partial to the story about how Caps had destroyed an infestation of Corruption but in the process he lost his Keep and everyone in it.  It was the sort of story that had honor, blood, death, and the most epic battles.

They did not need to look long.  Caps found them along with another group of junior Yeomen.   The other group had older more seasoned Yeomen.  Sevren could be on full Watch but he had not been assigned to a Soul yet.  He and Henrick were only one year in difference., but the way Sevren commanded his group and looked down on Henrick you’d have thought that they were years apart. Caps had left Sevren and Henrick in command of the two groups hoping that leadership would enhance their natural leading abilities. He was not far off.  Sevren was ambitious and he took his rule seriously. But his severity was not always looked upon favorably by his companions.   Henrick on the other hand still lacked discipline and he had a penchant for causing trouble. Larus, Ewan and Mikhail often were caught following his wildness.  Camri proved to be of tougher stuff but that is what made her a good Binder. But there was a respect among Henrick’s companions that was built on trust, honesty, and years of training and tomfoolery.

“Juniors,”  Caps called the groups to attention.  He looked directly at Sevren and Henrick. “You’ve been assigned the Poor Man’s Lane. It is the farthest from  the Corruption sighting but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.  Sevren you take your troop to Westmain Tomb and Henrick your troop to Drunkers.  You’re to set up a standard watch.  Have your Binders check all the seals.  You’re to report back to me at the beginning of every Watch, use the Chialtair.  I’ll be making my rounds with the rest of the scouts. Sevren, you have point.”

They were dismissed with a solute.  They went to the store rooms to pick up their equipment and supplies. There was no time to write a note or send a message to families.  But then, all of their families would know. Larus followed his group down out of the Keep and into the Tombs proper.  They followed the winding tunnels to Poor Man’s Lane.  It was not so much of a lane as it was a particularly strange series of tunnels and caves that were like honeycombs.  These caves were filled with the bodies of the poor.  The Chialtair cared for these sections more so than the Yeoman but in times of Sighting all the Tombs must be checked and looked after.

“We’ll set up a base camp here at the junction,”  Sevren declared.  There was an alcove ten yards from where the Drunkers Way branched off the Poor Man’s Lane and the section known as the Westmain began.

“Wish we didn’t have to all camp together,” Mikhail muttered.

“Rather be alone in a rat hole?” Sevren’s second,Eustis, retorted, having overheard Mikhail’s comment.

“Just don’t like your smell,”  Mikhail jeered.

“Well, it cannot be worse than…”

“Can it Eustis” Sevren threatened. “Henrick, keep your group in line for once.”

“We don’t take orders from you” Mikhail continued to comment.  Sevren rounded on him.  Mikhail took a step back but Sevren continued to leer at Mikhail.

“You’ll remember that I’m Point. You got a problem with that take it up with Caps.”  Sevren turned away and headed for the alcove with cold determination. “Henrick, a word.” Henrick gave Mikhail a jovial nudge, before coming along side Sevren. “Look, I don’t like this any more than you do.  But we’ve got to stick together. Right?” Sevren asked in a low voice.

“Yeah, Sev, whatever,”  Henrick replied dismissively.

“This isn’t a game.”

“Never said it was.  Lighten up.”

Sevren scowled. “You’re useless as a leader.”

“I’ll have Lars send out for a chial to set up the messaging system.” Henrick said taking his leave.  “Lars,”  he called out for the group to hear. “Go hunt for a chialtair and get a message to Caps that we’re at the junction.”

Lars nodded and handed his pack to Ewan.  “I’ll be back.”

Larus went to the junction and took the Drunkers Way.  The way was much more narrow than the main tunnel and immediately began to wind down, occasionally opening up into little rooms that had several other tunnels branching of.  All along the tunnels and in the little rooms shelves had been cut out of the rock.  Bones were laid upon bones, creating a wall of skeletons. Skulls peered out through the darkness.  There were bits of linens tired to some of the bones and words and sacred symbols scratched into the skulls.  This was an old section and he would have to go deep to get to where the newer arrivals were buried.

Larus held up his torch as he entered the first room or junction in the Drunkers Way in the middle of the floor was a rosette.  He took note that the tunnel he had come out of was indicated on the rosette by the symbol of a  bird with a knife in its beak. It was a symbol of the Yeoman. He would be able to use the symbols to find his way out again.  In parts of the Tombs he was familiar with he did not have to rely on the symbols to navigate, but here in the places he had only been once, the code would be his salvation for finding not only his way to the city of the Chialtair but his way back to his company.

The image of a spire with a cloth draped over it was the Chialtair’s icon.  Larus found the symbol in the rosette and followed the tunnel nearest it.  Several junctions later, Larus found himself winding down a tunnel that had no bones.  The shelves were empty but for the series of symbols etched onto the surface.  The symbols were the language of the Chialtair.  He and his friends had often tried to decipher their meaning but with no true reference point they could not.

Larus knew he was close to the Chialtair because he could hear the hum of a chant and the walls began to vibrate with the beat of a dum.

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About LizzyBeth

There is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.

Posted on November 22, 2013, in Children's Literature, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Rachel Burkholder and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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