Chapter One, Introduction

Chapter One, Introduction

A Chapter by J. R.
"

In which the hero and his village is introduced.

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The golden sun shone down through the branches of the trees.

 It was the middle of the day; the soil was still damp from the heavy rains of last week. Achai was gathering herbs in the woods to make medicine.  He carefully pulled them out of the dark, muddy soil and placed them inside a woven straw basket that lay beside him. The forest was echoing with the songs of birds, squirrels were darting across the forest floor.  A long serpentine of a brook cut through the middle of the forest, a raccoon was groping around in the sparkling water for fish.

The village was just a short distance downstream; Achai had the good fortune to find most of the herbs he needed so close to the village.

He gathered a few more herbs before heading back,  he paused for a moment to look at his reflection in the stream; gazing back at him was the visage of a young man with soulful brown eyes, a lithe frame painted with spiral patterns that were the symbol of his tribe, the deep blue of the paint contrasted with his deep olive skin, his hair was black as coal and kept in a long braid.

He was clothed in only a leather breechcloth and a necklace made from the teeth of wild deer. He continued on his way, Tahoma would be waiting for him.

The village sat in a clearing in the woods. A wooden gate surrounded the entire settlement, inside were several dozens of mudbrick houses with thatched roofs set in a circle pattern, with the center used for festivals and village meetings.  The village was buzzing with activity; hunters were bringing in the game they had killed, a woman was drawing water out of a well, children were running and playing in front of their homes. As soon as he entered the gate, Achai headed straight for the hut with animal bones hanging from the ceiling, Tahoma’s hut. 

Tahoma was the village medicine man, an old man of great wisdom and knowledge. Achai stepped inside the hut; Tahoma was inside, cleaning a boar’s skull for display outside. Tahoma was a stout man with long dark hair with streaks of silver in it; he wore a kilt adorned with intricate patterns of green, red, and yellow.

“I’m back.” said Achai, slightly proud of himself.  

Tahoma turned to face his apprentice, a warm smile passed over his wrinkled face.

“You’ve done well, set them on the floor.”

Achai set the basket on the mud floor of the hut.

Tahoma sat down and began sorting the plants into little piles, taking the useful parts of each plant while placing the rest back into the basket to be thrown out. After a while, a row of assorted leaves, berries, and roots were on the floor in neat piles. Tahoma then sat the leaves from one pile out on a bench lying outside the hut to dry in the sun.

“Dry these in the sun, then grind them and boil them, then grind them into a powder,  it makes a tea that eases pain in the joints.”

Elsewhere, Kangee, a young hunter with fierce eyes and an athletic figure, was taking aim at a target painted on a thick, dead tree with a bow and arrow he had made himself. He pulled back on the string; the first arrow flew a pitiful distance and buried itself in the ground. He looked around sheepishly to make sure none of the other villagers saw that shot and plucked the arrow out of the moist soil. He pulled another arrow from the quiver, he drew back the string. Twang! The arrow shot through the air and struck the tree right below the target; Kangee let out a frustrated sigh and retrieved the arrow. He would practice all day if he had to. He would make his father proud and the other hunters jealous of his skill.

“Is your aim getting any better, Kangee?” Kangee spun around; standing there was Enyeto, a heavyset young man with shaggy black hair and a confident grin, wearing only a leather breechcloth.

“Better than yours, Enyeto.” Kangee said, sneering slightly. He and Enyeto never got along, they could not speak without arguing, and anything they did together became a contest.

“I wouldn’t have missed the target twice in a row.” Enyeto said smugly.

“The sun was in my eyes.”

“Sure it was, Kangee, sure it was.”

 

“I don’t have time for this.”

Kangee sneered and began walking back to the village.

He would not give up, no matter what Enyeto said. He would keep trying until he had earned the respect he knew he had always deserved. Someday the tribe would see him as a great hunter, he was sure of that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later that night, the villagers sat around the fire, eating and telling stories. Enyeto was laughing and telling exaggerated hunting stories in between mouthfuls of meat. Tahoma sat with the other elders, speaking quietly amongst themselves.

Akecheta, one of the hunters was telling a story how he saw a ghost in the forest.

“I was out one night when I saw a light in the sky, it was shaped like an egg and glowed red like fire. It was still for a moment before it started moving back and forth in the sky. After a while, it started moving towards the village. I tried going after it, but it started flying faster and then I lost sight of it.”

The village children were listening intently to the stories, their eyes wide with excitement. Kangee rolled his eyes, “Is this true?” He said incredulously.

“I swear it’s true. I haven’t seen it since” Akecheta said, slightly offended.

Akecheta began telling another tale of how a child long ago ventured past the woods and was taken away by an enormous black bird to its lair in the clouds, the children were listening more closely than ever, a few of the villagers were returning to their homes.

 Achai was tracing patterns in the dirt with a bone. His father had told him that story, he remembered how he would have dreams of the bird taking him away and swallowing him whole. He had heard other stories as well, about tall beasts with no faces, cruel men who captured children to use as slaves, monstrous animals that lived in caves and ate any child that wandered inside. He and the other children would look at the edge of the forest with fear in their hearts, never straying far from the edge of the trees, their branches letting in small streams of light from the terrifying world that lay beyond.

 He glanced at the tracing in the dirt; it was a simple drawing of a fox running from a hunter’s arrows. He studied it for a while before rubbing it out with his hand.

 

The hours passed and the orange glow of the fire died down. The people were going back to their huts for the night, the entire village fell silent. Achai’s hut was next to Tahoma’s. The hut’s interior was sparse but comfortable. A woven straw bed lay in the corner, a clay jug of water sat next to the entrance, a knife with a bone handle lay sheathed on a crude table at one end of the hut, a set of wooden sculptures that Achai had carved himself lay next to the wall in a row. They were figures of men and animals, painted with bright, warm reds, rich yellows, and deep, earthen greens in winding patterns.

Achai laid himself down on the bed, the straw rustling underneath his weight, and drifted off to sleep.

 

 

 

 

He dreamed he was alone in a wide, dark place. The ground beneath him was cold and was made of a grayish stone; the sky was black as coal. Shining in the inky darkness were stars of all colors, strange loud noises erupted from the darkness, though Achai was completely alone.  He wandered around, trying to see if there was anyone or anything else there, but the cold stone ground seemed to extend on endlessly, with the only light in the black sky coming from the colorful stars shining down on him.

 

 

           

 

 

  

 

 

 



© 2010 J. R.


Author's Note

J. R.
It starts out slowly, but I promise it will pick up by the next chapter.

My Review

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Featured Review

Nice descriptions and characters. Opening chapters really set up a story. You have easily drawn the reader into the environment and village community with clear images and actions. When writing the first draft, I like to ask why am I noticing these elements, what importance do they have now and later. This moves your plot and narrative forward.

I like this setting, a spiritual, simple, primal way of life. Your writing style lends smoothly to the story, it's a good start, .... waiting for chap. 2 lol.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

sigh.... It seems that something was broken last time i posted a review to this...it was all written out so nicely and it wouldnt post, meaning i have to write it all out again... oh well, here goes:

I love the way you create all the characters in this chapter, the foundations for all the relationships are formed, and the basics and simple setting for the conflicts seem to be formed as well, the rivalry between kangee and Enyeto is nicely created, and Achai, whom i gather is the hero is given a nice postition, as somewhat of a recluse from the normal flow of the village life. He seems to rather watch the other villagers and see how they interact than actually become part of their interactions

also, i see that you have created what seems to be a lot of potential foreshadowing, the stories told by Akecheta, the picture drawn on the ground by Achai, and his dream i'm guessing will come to mean a lot later on in the story (of course these are just my guesses, i can only begin to imagine where you will take this)

in short, its great, and i want to see more soon. but dont let your other story, populace, be forgotten...

Posted 8 Years Ago


Nice descriptions and characters. Opening chapters really set up a story. You have easily drawn the reader into the environment and village community with clear images and actions. When writing the first draft, I like to ask why am I noticing these elements, what importance do they have now and later. This moves your plot and narrative forward.

I like this setting, a spiritual, simple, primal way of life. Your writing style lends smoothly to the story, it's a good start, .... waiting for chap. 2 lol.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on December 6, 2010
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J. R.
J. R.

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I am an aspiring writer who is interested in improving as a writer and getting my work out to the world. . more..

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