Chapter One - Han

Chapter One - Han

A Chapter by NicMac
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Han assists in the banishment of Calan's father.

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It took ten strong men to disunite the giant gates of Falaisgear, their boots digging into the wet sludge, their grimaced faces groaning like tired mules pulling a cart with broken wheels. The dirt and foliage had grown so fiercely around it over the past five years, it was almost forgotten to the inhabitants it protected. Icy rain poured from the dark sky above, forcing the mass of cold, wet villagers to huddle together in their wide horseshoe around the gate. They anxiously watched as a group of cloaked individuals marched across the concourse, carrying a large wooden platform, placing it in the dead centre. The rain bounced off it, reflecting fire from the flickering torches that lit the area. 


Across the courtyard, behind the assembly of shuffling people, Han, a diligent guard, stood statuesque in front of the Chief’s home. He was draped in a thick, black, hooded cloak that grey slightly heavier with each hostile drop of rain. He observed the crowd through his draped hood, his hands tight-fisted by his side. His gaze shifted towards the back where a restless young boy desperately grasped at a woman’s dampening shawl. Han’s piercing eyes twitched as he stared emotionless, as an irritated cat would stare at a heedless mouse.


The woman turned with a kind smile, but upon seeing the forlorn child, gasped, and quickly thrust him away before pulling her own little girl close to her body. The boy’s breath quickened as he fell back into the mud, hastily scanning the whispering crowd as if searching for a scrap of comfort or familiarity. Han’s tense face slackened as a tall, broad man in a red waistcoat approached from across the courtyard, kneeling behind the boy, gently placing a large, warm hand on the boy’s shoulder, causing him to shudder and whip round. As their eyes met, they reached for each other and quietly embraced with a sigh of relief.


A loud, ominous horn filled the air with tension, causing Han to step forward, ignoring the man dragging the boy off to the side. The door of the old stone structure sprung open, and through it a battered, half dressed man was dragged into the mud by two cloaked men. The boy’s eyes fixated on the man’s bruised, bleeding face. “PAPA!” he screamed, lunging towards the man, grasping at the air as his tall companion grabbed the boy’s shirt and yanked him backwards. The beaten man was barely conscious, but Calan’s scream seemed to rouse his broken body onto its feet. He began to struggle and kick out, slurring “Calan? CALAN! That’s ma son, ma wee boy,” “PLEASE DON’T DO THIS IN FRONT OF MA SON!” he begged.


One of his jailors brutishly pulled him in and hissed in his ear “Your boy will be next, Tavish, you murderous b*****d.”

A surge of energy seemed to course through Tavish, his crazed eyes opened wide, his lip snarled as he yanked an arm free, using it to land a powerful strike against the guard, who was thrown back into Han. He threw himself towards his son, falling in the mud just close enough to grab his outstretched hand. “I’m so sorry, Calan.” he cried; Calan hysterically wrested the traitorous arms holding him away from his father. His small muddy fingers grasped tightly onto Tavish.


Han stumbled to his feet, growling as he wiped the blood from his cracked nose. His cloak dishevelled and caked in mud. He stomped closer and towered over the father and son, wild eyed and breathing fast.

“PAPA, PLEASE, GET UP, GET UP PAPA!” the boy sobbed, as Han’s leg swung back and with a loud crack, Tavish’s arm was ripped away from Calan. Tavish howled in pain as he tugged his wounded arm into his chest. Han watched the colour drain from Calan’s face, as he began to drag his prisoner backwards through the gasping crowd. Tavish cradled his wounded arm, a bloody piece of bone was protruding from his wrist, his hand hanging lifeless. While Calan turned away and vomited violently into the dirt, Han reached the stage. He pulled Tavish up and forced him to his knees, woozily clutching his arm, facing the entire village, before stepping down and standing to attention.


Silence fell across the village, and the people turned their heads to see a silver-haired, stern-faced man make his way through the crowd. He stopped at the side of the wooden stage as Han whispered in his ear. He looked over at Tavish, then sighed and nodded to Han before stepping up out of the mud. The flickering light from the torches brought out the lustrous gold thread that framed his thick black cloak. His warm gloved hands rubbed together as he looked onto the crowd, clearing his throat before addressing the villagers.


“It is with great sadness we are here tonight. With the last five years of peace in our village, it appeared our curse was lifted…” he announced, looking down sorrowfully, “After the wicked crime committed today, it is very clearly still among us. As Chief of this village, it is my responsibility to keep you all safe, from the many dangers that dwell just outside our walls, and since the dark curse, protecting you from the inside too. The man that kneels before you has been lost to the curse, an evil has compelled him to take the life of his loving wife.”

Han looked from the corner of his eye, at young Calan, who had made his way to the front, between the crowd’s legs. The crowd gasped “Get him out before it spreads!” a voice bellowed from the back. Shout of agreement grew louder, and panic began to spread like wildfire.


The Chief gestured to a guard, who instinctively blew on the curled horn hanging from a leather strap on his shoulder. Han closed his eye tightly and faced away as the noise infiltrated his injured head.

“As you all will remember,” the chief continued, “every person that commits a crime worthy of banishment is given something to defend themselves from the dangerous creatures outside. Considering the crime, we are giving this man the same knife he used to attack his wife.”

Han stepped forward and dropped a small knife before Tavish. The crowd grunted and shouted, and Tavish broke down further as he saw the blood soaked into the handle and congealed on the blade. He made a sound Han had never heard before, it was not a sob, nor a sharp scream of physical pain, it was like a trapped, wounded animal. The sound that escaped Tavish sent a shiver up Han’s spine and made his heart thump in his chest. A gut-wrenching, desperate, wailing animal cry that made the whole village catch their breath in empathy.


“Take him now.” the Chief urged nervously. Han allowed Tavish to shakily pick up the knife before lifting him to his feet and dragging him off the stage, across the thick wet mud, and through the gates into the dark, misty void outside.

Han dropped Tavish to the ground outside, looking around warily at the thick fog that obstructed all sight. Han paused as delicate whispers filled the dense air, too many to discern any single one. As the whispers grew louder, he spun his head round, trying to locate the source. His eyes grew wide, and his breath became short. He caught a glimpse of the flickering torches and sprinted toward them, falling dramatically into the village. He raised himself to his hands and knees, catching his breath and letting out a heavy sigh of relief as the protective gates creaked shut behind him. 


A well-dressed woman ran toward him, setting down a leather bag full of dried herbs and vials that clinked pleasantly as she placed it down. "Hello son, it’s the healer, are you alright?” she said softly as she tenderly stroked his back.

Han groaned and held both hand over his ears, starting to shake feverishly.

“Here,” she said, removing the top from a vial and holding it to his lips, “this will help you.”

Han grabbed the vial and swigged it back, screwing his face up as the bitter liquid went down, his body relaxing almost immediately.

“Thank you,” he replied gratefully, looking up at his rescuer.



© 2021 NicMac


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I'm really hoping you add more chapters! This was great and I really loved the dialogue. The descriptions of expressions were great too, reminding me of something akin to Harry Potter. But this is truly its own thing- something mysterious that pulls you in and leaves you disappointed when you don't see another chapter. I absolutely cannot wait to read more, if you're willing to continue the story, that is!

Posted 6 Months Ago


NicMac

6 Months Ago

Thankyou so much, really needed to here something positive today to spur me on. Dialogue is somethin.. read more

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Added on March 24, 2021
Last Updated on March 24, 2021
Tags: fantasy, fiction, objective, magic, discovery, coming-of-age, rehabilitation


Author

NicMac
NicMac

Scotland, United Kingdom



About
Just starting out. Trying to fight the desperate urge to extensively world build before writing. more..

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