Things are alright here in Vermont. I have nothing to complain about, and even then I don’t think complaining does anything. I hope you have nothing to complain about either, or are actively seeking to eliminate the thing you’re complaining about. Complaining does nothing…unless you’re talking to a therapist.
I have been putting a lot of work into a piece I eluded to in a previous update. The working title is “The Tale of Hajra”. My goal is to have it completed within the year 2017. Heavy viking undertones, with necromancy and singing and brutality and awesome characters.
Scroll down for the first excerpt from the longer story. It’s a first draft, so take it with a grain of salt, or maybe a sprinkling of salt, or maybe a whole shaker of salt. Honestly I can’t wait to get critiques of this story as a whole.
I wanted something that branched between young-adult and adult fiction. Suitable for teenagers but not willing to fully go into the realm of “love triangles” or other vomit-inducing tropes of the target audience. What I want is something easy to get into. A story for story’s sake. That perhaps the reader will take something away from it, but at the bare minimum there is no regret for reading the story.
Something that I would read. Something that I think is missing from the literary world.
So enjoy! Or don’t. Either way, comments help. If you are debating about leaving a comment, please think of it as an investment. I am not writing on a whim. I am writing actively five days a week. If you leave me feedback it will come back to you as a reader.
Have an excellent…time,
-Scott “Destroyer of Fragile Things” Brown
Prologue: The First Siren
Crows feasted, gathering in a murder that would have blackened the sky if there was light. The bodies were fresh, and so they began with the eyes.
The crows cawed to each other, claiming their meals. Arrows, burning at their fletching, poked at the earth between the corpses of soldiers. Smoke filled the air. The scent of death clouded everything. Sweat, blood, and cooking flesh invaded the nostrils of the looters and one woman who had wandered into the valley.
She walked in a daze. Her footsteps were small and careful, and her teeth bit at her fingertips as the anger rose in her body.
Her people had been killed, and the enemies to the west had sacked her town. The local militia combined with the royal guard was still no contest for the Lenithan army.
Riza’s people had been tormented by armies from all around for as long as she could remember. They would take people and food, or both. These invaders had food to spare, and coin enough to throw away. The Lenithans would attack because The Sowd were there.
Her eyes passed from the bodies towards the looters. They pulled at the teeth of her countrymen, they took the boots from the slain, and they insulted The God of Death more with each passing second.
The bodies had unfinished business, there were Lenithans that needed to be slain. Justice needed to be dispensed.
She squinted against the pain of the sight around her. The countrymen who died for their small northern land.
This is what pushed her to perform the taboo. To raise the dead.
With Riza’s first vocal, her hair rose from the back of her neck. She gathered courage, and the next tone rattled the air around her like a drum. Her hair writhed. Another tone, louder and more direct pierced the relative silence around her. This one snapped her body to an uptight position. Riza’s hair color began to fade from the roots. Like a wave, it changed from sandy red to pure white.
But the god of death watched for any slip, any sign to take her. For she was asking a lot of a deity. In front of her, as she sang, was death itself. Its body was without form. A black cloud of changing shape. But eyes were clear, pure white holes seemed to burn at the black cloud from within. It stared into her with a white-hot gaze.
Her hair flowed in wind that was not there. Like tendrils, it writhed. Her singing carried through the valley, striking fear and awe into the core of all that heard her.
She sang in swaying tones, bending the notes into a series of melodies that was unlike anything she had heard. A soft white glow fell from her being, illuminating the space around her.
Enemy soldiers stopped their looting, gazing down into the valley. The glowing figure dressed in red and gold seemed to float past the bodies. The song sent shivers down their spines, and they clutched their chests, realizing that their heart rate slowed with each tone in the melody.
Reaching the center of the small valley, Riza travelled upwards in volume, sliding to reach a gravelly, unwavering, sustained, scream.
The bodies around her shifted. Green light oozed from their eyes. The closer to her, the brighter the glow.
Western enemies gathered their weapons from the ground in a panic. They rushed towards the mysterious singing woman. They tripped over corpses, their armor clanged as they went.
The bodies rose to stop them. The surprised soldiers ran spears through the risen, smashed axes into their chests, but the risen simply stood and took the blows without notice.
Riza’s voice grew more powerful, and the light from the undead eyes grew brighter still.
One soldier, ignoring his dying comrades, saw an opening to Riza. Knowing she was the one responsible for the mass defiling, he rushed her.
Riza saw this and her voice changed, her eyes rolled back into her skull. A nearby body snapped into a defensive stance, sword raised high.
The lone soldier leapt into the bodyguard, desperately slashing at Riza with his blade.
The bodyguard deflected the swing upwards. It was aimed at her neck, but instead it collided with her scalp. It sliced a section away. She did not scream, she did not yell. Her eyes simply rolled back to focus, falling onto the brave soldier.
The corpse held him back and he struggled to free himself in the scuffle.
Riza took a deep breath, and let out an echoing screech.
Green light blinded the dumbfounded soldiers, and the corpses surged with tenacity. They slashed, stabbed and bludgeoned the Lenithans until only one was left in the valley. The one who had struck Riza.
His arms were held by two undead.
Riza approached him, blood flowing over the right side of her face. Her scalp was cut away in a triangular swathe the size of the palm of her hand.
Her hand went out to caress his head.
“Thank you,” she said, “The pain helped.”
With her defiling touch, the man’s heart rate dropped quickly. His life-rhythm slowed to a stop, gazing into the eyes of Riza. He fell backwards, joining the rest of his comrades.
She swept through the enemy camps that night, raising the fallen with her singing, pushing them forward with her voice. The Lenithans were helpless. It was a slaughter.
As the sun rose, exhaustion overtook Riza The First Siren, and she fell asleep on the blood-stained grass of the western front. A new age dawned for The Sowd.