The story a day prompt is late and once again I’m feeling impatient. I considered writing a horror story about what happens when people are late to what they think is a normal job but after jotting down some notes I realize it will be a longer story. Since I want to take my time with it and think some more I decided to work on my fantasy story.
The part I wrote today will be a prologue, probably. I might redo it from the man’s perspective and make it a flashback. For now I’ll call it an excerpt. It needs a lot of work, as it is first rough draft stuff, but I don’t want to get into editing mode at all this month since I’m doing the story a day thing.
She held in a scream the contraction tore into her. Her blue eyes were clouded with pain. It wasn’t supposed to be like this she thought again and again. The woman was lying on furs and saddle blankets against the wall of a cave several miles south of the tundra that was her destination. She had tried to go further but the baby’s coming stopped her flight earlier than she expected. She couldn’t be sure the people of the trading village so the cave would have to do. She moaned through another wave of pain as her husband appeared at the entrance.
“I’ve got as much firewood as I could find.” He laid the wood in the pit he’d made earlier. “I have no flint.” His face was panicked.
“Help me up,” the woman requested. He helped her to the wood piled in front of him. She placed a hand on the nearest log for several moments. The wood reddened and caught fire. With her husband’s assistance she went back to the furs. He put their cook pots, already filled with water, on the fire and started ripping her extra skirt into strips.
She wished they’d left earlier. For the first time since marrying she wished she hadn’t turned her back on the sight. She’d only had occasional glimpses of the future for several years. Those she usually ignored. Two weeks before she started getting hints that she couldn’t stay home to give birth. Her husband’s people held to the old ways. The visions told her that if she had her baby in her husband’s home, her child would be killed. It has frightened her but she convinced herself it was just pregnant delusions.
Then, two nights ago she had a vision so strong that she could no longer deny it. She had to leave. She packed some clothes for her and the baby and a few essentials. As she prepared to leave her husband caught her and demanded an explanation. She told him everything. He tried to convince her that he wouldn’t let anyone hurt their child but refused to change her mind. She told him she was going back home to the tundra to give birth. He finally gave in and packed his clothes, insisting on going with her. The baby was due in a few weeks, but they left that night and rode hard. They were forced to stay off the road, so they followed a game trail through the forest heading north. She didn’t know if it was the hard riding or fate, but when they stopped at a cave for the night, her water broke.
Her labor pains were closer together and she knew the baby would come before morning. She glanced at her husband. The firelight reflected in his gray eyes and she saw the fear he tried to hide. Let the baby have his eyes she prayed. In that moment she knew she would not survive the birth. She was consumed by fear for a moment, but she wasn’t afraid to die. She was worried for her child. If the baby had the wrong color eyes, anyone would know the child was a half-breed. If her husband took the child home, the baby wouldn’t be allowed to live.
“You must take the child to court,” she rasped at him.
“What are you talking about, you hate court.”
She saw it in his eyes, he knew it too. “It’s her only chance.”
He smiled his lazy charming smile. “So you know it’s a girl?” He brushed her pale hair out of her eyes.
“Do not pretend with me, husband. You know it goes badly. Listen to me closely, it’s almost time. You cannot take her home. I’ve seen it. She will be killed. Go to your cousin and ask that she be cared for with the princes. She will not betray you. Most people in the capital ignore the old laws. Our child will be safe there.” He nodded silently and she was glad he respected her enough not to argue. He trusted her sight.
“Is there nothing I can do?”
She shook her head and he held her until she told him the baby was coming. The birth was difficult but the child was well. Her husband wrapped the crying infant in furs and blankets, then placed her in his wife’s arms. The child stopped crying and stared at her mother. She had one last vision of her daughter as a young woman. With one last relieved sigh, she stopped breathing.
The man took his daughter from his wife’s arms and looked closely at her as tears fell down his face. Grief and determination replaced fear. She needed his protection. He would do as his beloved asked and go to court to hide his child in plain sight until she was older. Looking at her small face he knew his wife had been correct. The child was in terrible danger. One of her eyes was gray and the other was blue.
As you’ve probably figured, eye color is a big deal in my story. The various races of man are forbidden from marrying outside their own race. Skin color means nothing to them but eye color indicates which god they worship and the gods themselves issued the law. A child born of two races is somehow dangerous, but I can’t tell you why yet!
This is a glimpse into my writing process. First drafts are extremely bare-boned. I generally leave out all description, except generic stuff like: forest, cave, tundra, etc. I might throw in a hair color here and there. Also, super emotional stuff, like this man losing his wife, I save for revisions because this kind of thing needs a lot of attention and care to be done right. If I spent all that time now, I’d never get the story written!
You’ll notice most of my sentences start with he, she or the. This happens because at this stage it’s all about getting the words out as quickly as possible. My mind forges ahead but my fingers can only type so fast. MS Word tells me I’ve used 9% passive sentences. UGH! I shouldn’t have looked.
Most importantly here, my two characters don’t have names! I always struggle naming fantasy characters. In later parts of the story I call the man Joran but I don’t know how I feel about it yet. The baby is named Aevith and I can’t for the life of me figure out what to call the mother. I have one restriction. Her name needs to be one syllable. It’s a tradition of her people. None of the one syllable names I’ve thought of seem to fit her. If anyone has any suggestions (for the man or woman) they would be more than appreciated!