Chapter 4 Of blood and oath

Of fire and ash cover

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I was caught up with writing, reading, holidaying and trying (and failing) to get a bikini body.

Anyway… here is chapter 4 ‘Of fire and Ash’

Enjoy

C. Perez Smith

The rain had finally settled into a steady drizzle, as Scyla finished learning about mind readers and their influence in the battles. She found it hard to believe that she was the only one who had such a suspicion about that man.

Certain that he was in fact using treachery to read her, she made the decision to go to the King.

The staircase was narrow and it didn’t take long for Scyla to run headfirst into the muttering Knoxx. Her eyes softened as she saw him and she smiled awkwardly. Scyla had never lost it like that before. Attacked a man, even worse a blind man, was simply unthinkable.

“Oof sorry Scyla, I was just coming to look for you, the king demands your presence.”

Her smile faded quickly and she nodded.

Scyla’s eyes burned with such ferocity that Aiovan feared his soul would melt. The large oak doors had shaken with her presence, and her anger was evident. He drummed his ringed fingers nervously on the arm of the throne. Gracefully padding across the floor, Scyla’s grim expression was etched all over her beautiful pale face. Stopping just before the marble steps, she didn’t bother to bow, her arms folded angrily across her chest.

“You allowed a damn mind reader to get inside these walls Uncle” her voice fuelled by her anger.

“Lady Scyla” replied the King calmly, yet still tapping his fingers.

“Do not ‘Lady’ me, did you know he was a reader? He made me look a fool in front of the entire court.” Her raised voice bounced off the walls. “Everyone was watching me attempt to beat him into a mess, yet nothing Uncle! I couldn’t lay a finger on him, he predicted my every move! And for God’s sake he is blind! There is no way he could be that skilled in Capoeira. Unless he had been trained by Sao and that is impossible” she paced in front of him, wild and filled with fury.

The king remained calm “Could it be that he is just simply skilled in combat my lady? I heard that he is much older than the youngers. Maybe he has already seen his fair share of battles? Have you considered that, before you took it upon yourself to raid every book in my library?”

Exasperated, she uncrossed her arms and gestured to Baine and Knoxx. “Ask your council then!” she hissed, her teeth firmly clenched together.

Baine strutted forward, ever the epitome of arrogance. “My King” he said, bowing slightly. Knoxx was huddled closely behind him. Baine’s grey eyes watched Scyla like she was his. He wanted her, and he was determined that she would be his for the taking.

“It is as my lady Scyla says, he does appear to be more than a simple peasant, training for a position on the guard. His skills were highly impressive, and dare I say even matched Scyla’s abilities.

She glared at Baine, the sight of this sent shivers through Knoxx. Her arms clenched fiercely into fists at her sides as the steady thrum returned again.

“As he humiliated her Sire, I think it necessary that a sufficient punishment be put in place for him. He disgraced her in front of her army.”

This was too much for her to handle, erupting into a blaze of emotions.

“Disgraced me? Humiliated? Was I a disappointment Baine? Would you like to pit yourself against me, and see who walks away in one piece?” she yelled, her hands erupting into a sea of scarlet flames.

With all the anger and hurt that was contained inside her, Scyla threw her hands out in front of her. The only object that could not handle the heat was the giant oak doors.  A sea of fire, gushed from her fingertips towards the colossus doors, turning them into a pile of coal and embers. It was too quick.

Her heart was ablaze and so was she.

It was difficult to work out where the flames ended and she began.

She was simply fire.

Pure, natural and beautiful.

The King, obviously used to Scyla’s outbursts motioned to his guards to start the clean-up of the once magnificent entrance.

Scyla lay sprawled nearly unconscious on the floor, her energy had been extinguished. She was drenched in sweat, a faint trail of smoke rose from her body.

Unnecessary tears poured from her eyes and she hurriedly wiped them away. Baine didn’t need another reason to try and comfort and touch her. The tears were not from being upset. She was frustrated, and it was overwhelming. She hated to feel weak, and that’s exactly how Fievel had made her feel. Like she was unskilled. And that was something that she could not bear to feel.

“Scyla?” murmured Knoxx, she hadn’t noticed him kneeling beside her. “Are you alright?” he touched her arm instinctively, but flinched from the heat that was radiating from her. She felt alight.

“Yes” she replied coolly slowly rising to her feet.

Baine stood staring at her from the foot of the King’s throne. He had risen to his feet calmly.

“Have you finished destroying my palace Scyla?”

“Yes”

“Pardon?”

“Yes Uncle” she replied bitterly, her eyes locked firmly on Aiovan.

“I’ve decided that this reader, as you call him, would be a welcome addition to my guard. Go and retrieve him Baine” he commanded directing him to where the doors used to be. He readjusted the crown that sat on top a mess of brown curls.

“Scyla” beckoned the King. She slowly walked to his side, as always his faithful servant, bound to him by blood and oath. He held a power over her that he believed could never be broken. She paced at his side, a caged animal. Trapped. Daring a glance at him, a sly smile on his face. She knew that smile, he was up to something. Her lips pursed as she heard the pad of feet and the clunk of a wooden walking stick. The reader walked steadily into the room, followed by her shadow, Baine. Knoxx shuffled nervously in the far corner of the room. “Dismissed” Aiovan muttered, waving his hand tiresomely towards the guards.

Scyla was not comfortable. She hated being in the company of others, unless she was ordering them around, and what was coming next she hated the most.

“So, what is your business here then…?”

“Fievel, your majesty.”

“Fievel, what did you hope to achieve by making a fool out of my own kin? Surely you know who she is and what she is to me?”

The silence was deafening.

Glancing between the King and Fievel, and briefly to Baine. Fievel had not moved, he stood leaning slightly on his staff. He was hard to read, which irritated her. She had never found anyone as annoying as him, not even Baine, then again he was the only person to match her in combat.

“Well? What is your purpose in my kingdom? You obviously already know your skill. You are older than the rest of the youngers in the courtyard, and have experience. You bear no colours of Edona. Are you a wanderer Fievel? Or are you a reader sent by another kingdom to infiltrate mine?”

Scyla was shocked, he had listened to her. However the King was still playing his favourite game. Talk them into submission, highlight their skill and then recruit and use.

“My lord, the power of your kingdom is renowned. I come from a small fishing village outside the kingdom of Edona called Sirin. There are not many people there and we are mainly known for trading pearls. My skill was useless, and as you are also aware I am blind. I am not a reader my lord, but a shadow. A skill that is of no use to my kin and my disability which is a hindrance. I have heard of your power and grace for all skilled. I have been a wanderer yes, as you can see it takes a blind man longer to journey the 7000 leagues, hence my age. What I seek, my lord is nothing more than to be accepted, and my skill put to good use.”

The king rubbed his beard thoughtfully. It usually took a great deal more convincing and a large amount of gold. Scyla’s suspicions began to increase. So he is not a reader but a shadow. What kind of a shadow would seek to be controlled in the way Aiovan would? She mused. He was renowned for his brutality. Aiovan used the skilled to his own advantage, and when he was done they were left empty shells, their skills diminished, or the more fortunate souls would be dead.

“Interesting” was his response, glancing at Scyla. A knowing glance that revealed more than he could say. Train him he’s mine. A shadow in the midst of this kingdom. We would be invincible. He thought to himself. Beckoning to Baine to get the guards. A whisper in the ear was all it took. The tallest guard marched forward “This way” he said deeply and gravelly. ”Your quarters will be with the new recruits.” With that Fievel; escorted by the guards left the marble throne room.

Baine’s jaw was set firm and disbelieving of Aiovan’s quick decision.

“Uncle” she implored, a slight plea in her tone.

Aiovan noticed this new change in his niece’s demeanour. “My word is final child, I know you will get the best from our new addition” he chuckled heartily.

“I cannot train a shadow my lord it is near impossible to control his movements.”

“Well” said the king rising to his feet and clasping his hands firmly behind his back, “I guess you will enjoy the challenge”

The conversation was over. She exhaled and smiled to her master. She bowed slightly and turned on her heel, marching from the great room. Her footsteps echoed down the flagstone hall.

The king moved to the purple velvet curtain to the left of his throne and made his way up the narrow winding stairs to his tower. He needed Lectio.

Chapter 3- of revelations and anger

I guess my creative mind has been flowing this past couple of days and here it is as promised chapter 3. Anyone who is taking the time to read my novel I thank you and dedicate this to you. As you are putting your time and effort into reading this, as I have put my time and effort into writing it.

Enjoy

C. Perez Smith

 

Scyla edged her way cautiously past her chambers. She wasn’t sure where she was heading but away from everyone seemed like a good idea. Her footsteps echoed through the halls, her heels click clacking steadily. She was frustrated with herself, her temper had flared and she hated to seem so weak and powerless in front of anyone. Fool. Shaking her head she stalked up the spiral staircase at the end of the hall, the open windows billowed the curtains resembling spirits or hiding an attacker. She was truly irritated and the only comfort she wanted came from the manuscripts and books that littered the tower.

“Lectio?” she called to the gathering dust as she heaved the old oak door open. Books were crammed into every nook and crevice possible, so the room had a claustrophobic feel to it. They cluttered the long wooden tables and were even in teetering piles that could come crashing down at any moment with the slightest nudge. Scyla moved around them with such grace so as not to knock over anything for fear of a domino effect. She walked to the far corner of the tower, where no light could possibly penetrate and cause damage to some of the rarest books in the King’s collection. Not that he ever came up here or even knew where it was. Scyla on the other hand had frequented this sanctuary since she had been able to walk. Picking up one of her favourite books she carried on searching for Lectio. Scyla thumbed to page 21 and instinctively began to read.

It is said that such a creature has never truly existed, yet if it did, it alone would hold such power that all war could be stopped. Peace would rule and the lands and people within would be fertile and fruitful once again. They would live in harmony with each other and the greedy would henceforth be punished. Such a mystical being, however has not been discovered in the lands of Edona and the said rumoured existence of the creature is possibly mere myth. The strength and ability lies within the death of something that is supposedly so beautiful, that any that dare gaze upon it are said to become entranced. The creature is able to heal itself and others at will and has been noted to hold the power of transfiguration. Said creature is so skilled and is commonly referred to as a …

“Mistress Scyla, can you not see how busy I am. What do you want child?” came the gravelly aged voice of Lectio from behind a pile of books stacked in the corner.

“Enough of your angst old man, I cannot stand a verbal beating as well as a physical one today. I require information… skill information to be exact.” She said placing down the battered copy of mythical beasts on a nearby table.

Scyla started to walk forward before her toe nudged a rather large pile of books causing a loud crash and an almighty dust cloud to rise like a phoenix from its ashes.

“Blast it child, now look what you have done!” shouted the man as loud as his 200 year old voice would allow him.

Scyla groaned and bent down to reposition the books into their unsteady pile.

“Leave them” he said waving his hand so the books righted themselves instantly. “I may be old but my skill is as strong as the day it revealed itself” Lectio was now standing, which to anyone else could be mistaken for a seated old man as he came to only 1 metre tall; his spine was so crooked from the hours he spent hunched over his books.

“So then what is the problem?” he asked motioning for her to sit down

Taking the hint Scyla perched herself in a large brown chair, unearthing the real colour beneath as the cloud of dust wooshed up around her. “I need all the manuscripts on skills you have Lectio”

“New recruit giving you trouble Miss?”

“In a sense, yes. I think he’s a mind reader which as you know is illegal in Edona and I need to know how he has been allowed to live so far. He is odd as well, his clothing, his stance, his speech. Everything about him. I suspect him to be a wanderer too, he is covered in various knickknacks and trinkets. I am suspicious of him Lectio, he is not like the youngers he is more experienced. So you see, I need the scripts. I must know so I can alert Aiovan”

Lectio nodded and grunted something inaudible, shuffling to a stack of books hidden beneath his desk. “These are the finest books you will ever read on skills child” he said coughing throatily. “Mainly because I wrote them!” he said chuckling to himself more than to Scyla. He placed the books carefully in front of her as she shuffled forward so she was sitting on the edge of the almighty chair.

“Can’t you give me the Lectio shortened version, I don’t have days to read it.”

The old man grunted and raised an overgrown grey bushy eyebrow above his spectacles.

“My dear, it took me a decade to write this and you are the only person to have the pleasure of reading it! So quit your forsaken moaning and get on with it before one of us dies of old age!” with that he shuffled away to his corner of the tower like some creature from nightmares. Scyla inadvertently sighed and opened the large document in front of her. Handwritten in a script long since forgotten Scyla flicked through pages reading the headings; Chaplain, Labourer, Militaria, until she came to the title she needed, Forbidden Skills.  Scyla ran her finger down the mottled page until she reached her goal. Mind reading- Throughout our history there have been those gifted with such a skill, yet the extent of skill is a much guarded secret. Many mind readers choose to guard their skill as a precaution from persecution or other such punishments. Most mind readers have one obvious feature. The constant movement of their eyes making it hard to pinpoint in exactly who they are reading. Such shifty behaviour also resides in schizophrenics, hence the two are so often intertwined. Mind readers ability varies from each subject. Most have been known to use said skill to his (for mind readers are always male) advantage, thus resulting in The Battle of the Orchid, The Destruction of Eelah and the horrendous seven year long siege of Oni. All resulted in numerous casualties and the lands were left desolate and lifeless. More often than not the readers are brutish fiends desperate to gain power and play kingdom against kingdom, brother against brother, yet there are few who shelter themselves from the atrocities of this world and instead choose to live out a life of solitude. Such readers are few and far between as they are still not trusted amongst the aristocracy, so much so that readers have been known to practise and train themselves as best they can in another skill so as to distract from their true instinct. Mind readers have one of the most straightforward of skills, as they can simply read what you are thinking and therefore use this to their advantage. Be this in gambling, fighting, predicting your next move or reading feelings and thoughts of those around them. Mind readers on the most part are entirely selfish and will stop at nothing to use their skill for their own benefit. However like all skills the individual should not be judged by the actions of the majority.

Scyla sat back in the chair absorbing what she had just read. She needed to know more and her next step would be to learn about the battles mentioned in this text. Searching for the books on the history of Edona she settled down once again and immersed herself in the stories.

Knoxx had knocked constantly, and yet Scyla had still not answered her door. She had not been spotted by the maids and she was not near the cliffs or forest of the city. He was worried about her, she had not been beaten in combat by anyone and this was bound to have some adverse effect somehow. If as little as a bruised ego.

He knocked again, the sconces on the door frame flickering in his attempts at rousing some sort of response. Next stop was the tower he thought to himself, giving up that Scyla must not be in her rooms. He began to make his way to the towers, but not before Baine intercepted him.

“Scyla?” he asked

“I’ve tried knocking Baine but I don’t think she is there. She must be elsewhere in the castle.” He was reluctant to give away that Scyla loved to spend hours in the tower. It was so hidden away that it felt like it was hers and he was not willing to spoil it for her.

“Find her then the King seeks an audience with her and this hooded man.” With that he walked away leaving Knoxx to resume his search of the tower.

The entire of Chapter 2- Of war and knwledge

So here it is, in its entirety. This is the completed second chapter of my novel. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Whoever and Wherever you are. Stay tuned for Chapter 3- of threat and revelations

 

Chapter 2 of war and knowledge explaining Scyla’s role

Being in charge of the King’s army was not something Scyla relished, despite enjoying a good brawl. It was her job to polish and perfect. To discover what their talents and gifts were; some didn’t even know what it was that they themselves possessed, which frustrated her. However, what frustrated Scyla the most was the constant eyes that watched her every move.  Which was partially due to the fact that she was the King’s personal bodyguard but also due to her unbelievable gifts.

Baine was her shadow and Scyla, as usual, ignored his presence and turned to face the new recruits. A small group of boys blinked back at her and Scyla saw a wave of emotions across the crowd. The usual awe, shock and pure fear were obvious on their flawless young faces. No hard edge or apparent scars from war. Not yet anyway.

“Welcome, new recruits, to the castle fighting grounds, where some of you will be chosen, most of you will have your gifts revealed and all of you will get injured. I am Scyla…” A murmur whipped around the crowd despite them knowing already who was in charge of training. “As I was saying don’t be too disappointed if you don’t get chosen. There will be a series of tests which will see how you perform under pressure, command and your overall skill. If you pass these you will be able to progress to working under the general. I suggest you work hard, keep your wits about you and most importantly do as I say.”

A booming laugh erupted behind her at this point, as Baine accompanied by his brother Knoxx, strolled into the recruits view. Scyla tried not to outwardly grimace at his approach. One of the recruits stared at her and then returned his stare to Baine, who was now approaching her. “Good morning my lady Scyla, it’s such a lovely sight to see you working with our new recruits. Maybe when you finish here you could come and put me through my paces?” Baine smirked at her, gesturing to the recruits with his chin.

“Of course my lord, as always I savour the opportunity to beat you.” She replied, sarcasm flooding her voice. Knoxx stifled a slight chuckle. Baine, oblivious to this, smiled and strutted to the balcony for a better view. Scyla sighed and punched Knoxx in the arm playfully. “You’re lucky I don’t beat that smile off his face you know.” Knoxx rubbed his arm and nodded towards the recruits, reminding her of their presence. They had remained silent and observant throughout the whole exchange.

“Are we ready to begin?” Scyla asked the crowd glumly. A hand was raised at the back of the crowd. “We’ll have time for questions later” Scyla said as she paced in front of them.

“Aren’t you a little young and delicate to be training us my lady?” Echoed a voice from the back of the gathering.

“Excuse me?” Scyla said surprised by the insult from a recruit. She was used to this kind of assumption but not from the recruits, however people quickly grew accustomed to Scyla. She was shocked for a moment before composing herself. After all she was only renowned in the castle village, she could have remained relatively unknown to some of the outside villages, and this man bore no colours of Edona.

“Scy…” Knoxx started but she was already moving into the crowd of people who quickly parted in her wake. She stood in front of the man who had insulted her, her face revealing nothing. She felt him glance around her, taking in her features. Something about him unsettled her, she found it very difficult to meet his eyes, which she noticed were a sharp violet. There were other things about him, his clothing for one was too clean and presented. Everything about him was neat except for a scar that ran right across his brow and nose. His stance was casual, taking in her every movement, maybe even waiting for a reaction she thought to herself. However she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. The recruit had remained casual throughout the stare off. A crooked smile remained on his face, trying to push her she was sure of it. The pair continued to stare at each other, the remainder of the group watching. Knoxx was nearby, aware of the situation that could quickly escalate, given the opportunity. He placed his hand in hers, easing her back to the present moment. Distracted by this, she breathed deeply and rubbed her eyes, trying to escape the hypnosis.

“Name?” she barked

“Fievel. What’s yours?” he replied

Scyla felt the tingle in her palms and quickly released Knoxx’s hand, too anxious to hold on. She clasped her hands firmly together and squeezed, the colour quickly draining from them. Stepping quickly in front of her Knoxx took over. “What’s your skill?” he asked, appearing genuinely interested in Fievel. Scyla turned away from them all and stalked away. She didn’t have the patience for this man, for he was, and not like the new younger recruits. He had experience.

“I am Scyla.” She said returning to the front of the group. Listening as another murmur travelled around. “Why don’t we release your skill then Fievel? Or perhaps your skill is pure ignorance and the inability to follow direct instructions?” The crowd whispered and then fell into silence. Scyla’s anger was rising and the tingle in her fingers had now turned into a steady thrum. She was focused, she was not someone who acted irrationally and this idiot had made her feel… well had made her feel something. That was what was so difficult to control, as she couldn’t decide what emotions she was actually feeling. Clenching her hands tightly together she breathed deeply and tried to physically shake the thoughts from her head. Glancing back to the crowd it was Fievel’s violet eyes that caught her attention. He continued to stare at her, even as another rookie muttered at him “Are you crazy? How can you not know who she is?”

“Of course I know who she is, how could I not?” he explained.

The crowd stared in amazement at Scyla. A crowd of younglings had gathered on the balcony above, overlooking the quad. Their faces peered through the ornately carved marble columns, excited mutterings reverberated off the walls, bouncing down to the new recruits. Scyla fingered her longbow as though it needed to be soothed, and reached for an arrow from the quiver placed next to the rack of weapons. Keeping her eyes firmly locked on Fievel she drew her bow and fired. The arrow sailed into a tree near the younglings, causing a flock of nesting birds to erupt from the leaves and screech around their heads. Shrieking, the children ran in excitement after the birds, waving their hands in the air, as if they themselves were trying to take flight. This natural reaction from Scyla caused yet more murmurs from the group of boys. Scyla hated having an audience, yet the younglings were fascinated by her. Replacing the bow and quiver carefully on the stand behind her, she winked reassuringly at Knoxx. He trusted Scyla with his life but he wondered if her missing was accident or on purpose. The sky was clouding overhead and soon the heavens would spill their sorrow, drenching the training arena and reducing it to a thick mud. The perfect first test, she thought to herself. Let’s see how well they fight when conditions are less than perfect. A smile spread across Scyla’s face. “Right then, your first test will be hand to hand combat. Each village is trained in their own style of combat. I will observe and select those of you who have potential.” Said Scyla, pacing in front of them, her hands clasped firmly behind her back. Fat droplets of water were now pouring down onto them, Scyla’s fiery copper hair was drenched, but she didn’t care about her appearance. The droplets rolled down her cheeks, splashing off her solid breastplate. Turning to look at Knoxx, she motioned to the King’s guard to assist. In perfect synchronicity a group of perfectly presented uniformed soldiers stepped forward, awaiting their orders. Motioning towards them they trotted down the marble staircase towards them. Choosing an opponent was easy as each of the recruits had an obvious tell as to which village they had belonged. Giving the guards an advantage over which style and techniques they were to use.

The kingdom of Edona was split into five boroughs. Each one wore a particular symbol and colour to show which borough they belonged to. The fishing region wore cerulean tunics with an embossed trident on the cuff. The mining region wore brown with a pickaxe on their cuff. The metal workers wore grey with an anvil on the cuff. The farming district wore green with an oak leaf on the cuff. The artisans wore white with an owl on the cuff. The Kingdom which rested in the heart of these five boroughs overlooking each wore purple with a gold stag embossed on the breast pocket.

The guard and recruit positioned their feet, boots sliding and squelching as the mud encased them. The guards were focused, possibly even a little bored by battle. They had fought every day of their lives and were prepared. The clouds continued to pour soaking them all through to the skin. The recruits shuffled uneasily, trying to find their footing. Their fists raised, some of them obviously had never fought a day in their lives. Scyla pulled up her longbow and drew an arrow from the carved wooden quiver. She aimed and fired into the air, the arrow soaring and disappearing through the thick grey clouds. A signal to begin.

The men eyed each other nervously, waiting for one brave soul to make the first move. The sky erupted with the sound of thunder; lightning quickly cracked after it. Scyla folded her arms around her chest, she didn’t feel the cold, but she didn’t care for it either. Glancing over at the recruits she noticed a few of them had begun circling each other and throwing punches, each deflected with ease by a soldier. The atmosphere was charged with their fear. She had never felt fear. She feared nothing and nobody, hence her being chosen to be the king’s personal bodyguard. A figure was emerging from the crowd, walking slowly forward. His soldier was lying unconscious on the floor. Scyla eyed him suspiciously, she did not admire him but simply wondered what his gift was. Motioning to the rack of weapons with a wave. The man simply carried on until he was facing her. Noticing the wooden staff in his hand. “I’m not sure your weapon of choice will be of any use in a war.” At this moment everything had stopped apart from the torrential attack of the weather. Everyone stared on, some with black eyes and cut lips, some from the comfort of their backsides.

“How do you know?” he replied calmly a gruff edge to his voice. Scyla noticed a hint of an accent that she couldn’t quite place. She was unimpressed and quite frankly pissed at the fact he had beaten his opponent so easily. Fievel stood a clear foot taller than her, his face obscured by the woollen hood atop his head. Something not associated with the kingdom of Edona. Removing his hood, Scyla noticed a strong jawline and again the thick scar running across his eyes. She inhaled sharply as she examined his features in more detail.

“You’re blind?” she asked and stated at the same time.

“Really? Thank you for making me aware of that fact. I hadn’t noticed.” He replied with sarcasm.

Regaining her composure. “I’m sorry, but I have no use for a blind soldier, you would be dead within seconds” she said.

Everyone, including Knoxx were frozen in shock at the revered girl speaking so callously to the blind man. Scyla’s reputation as a heartless bitch was continuing to grow. She turned her back on him and began to walk away, when the ornately carved staff landed inches from her face. Scyla instinctively dropped to her left heel, spinning her right leg around to knock the legs from underneath her opponent. She was however met with disappointment as the hooded stranger leapt into the air, feet tucked beneath him, dodging her attack. Her eyes blazed with fury and her hands burned. The recruits were stunned into silence.

When Scyla attacked you there were very few, in fact none, until now who would stand a chance against her, she was unbeatable. Fievel had landed softly on his feet, and leaned casually on his staff, one foot crossed in front of the other. Scyla was still crouched on the old cobbled floor, confused. Racking her brain for what gift he could possibly possess. She came up short. His composure remained as he folded his hands neatly over the staff. Scyla slowly rose to her feet, her fingernails scraping along the cobbles. The sound mirrored her emotions, the irritation set her teeth on edge. She analysed her opponent the way a bird might tilt its head back and forth staring at a worm. He’s obviously skilled in combat, she assessed. His reactions are quick, impossibly so. Fievel smiled as though he could hear her thoughts and that’s when it clicked. “He’s a mind reader” she said out loud as there was no point in concealing her thoughts from him. Everything about Fievel aggravated her. His stance. His composure. His attitude. Even the way he bore straight through her without being able to see her. Knoxx had bolted at this brief moment between the two and returned with a crowd of people including Baine, who were now gathered on the balcony with a perfect eagle’s eye view. In addition to this the younglings had returned to observe the spectacle. Staring into Baine’s cold eyes, Scyla could sense him analysing the situation, he rubbed his beard thoughtfully. Regaining her composure, she took a defensive stance, hands placed in front of her ready to attack.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked, with a hint of venom.

“I thought you were supposed to help me reveal my gift? He replied, remaining in his casual lean against his staff.

“As you wish” she replied darting forward.

Time slowed to a standstill it seemed, as the two took part in what could have been confused as a dance. It ran smooth yet swift, like a river on a natural course. Their legs moved simultaneously, yet missing each other just before contact. Scyla twisted and bent, moving onto her back before propelling herself forward onto her feet. As Fievel waved his staff above her and then rose it into the air. He dodged her kicks, countered her punches and avoided her leaps towards him. His response was as graceful as hers, bending and twisting his body. If you were just stumbling upon this scene, the two could have been mistaken for lovers, they moved as one.

Fievel rolled forward just as Scyla jumped through the air, her right leg outstretched, ready to bring it down on top of him. Scyla continued to push forward, her temper flaring deep inside her. She leapt into the air and dropped to a forward roll, as he again attempted to bring the staff down upon her. She had the sense that this was all very easy to him which made her even more infuriated. The heat was now radiating through her, and she felt as though she may burst into flames at any moment. She was a capoeira master and this man was making her look like a youngling in training. Water dripped down her nose, she was soaked to the skin. Her breathing was deep and she had stopped trying to beat him with her fighting skills. Her jaw set firm and before anyone could anticipate what she was about to do, she had reached into the secret pockets in the back of her shirt and removed four glinting discs of metal. With a quick flick of her fingers the discs had opened into stars and she had thrown them with such skill and accuracy that Fievel didn’t stand a chance.

 “Scyla! No!” boomed Baine. But it was too late.

Her opponent had kicked his staff at the bottom and was spinning it through the air so fast that it could have been mistaken for a solid shield. The stars diverted into the nearest columns with a loud thunk. Embedded fully into the marble. Scyla stared in utter astonishment, a flicker in her eyes. The two eyed each other for what felt like an eternity.

“Congratulations” she breathed before turning her back on Fievel and the recruits. She walked steadily up the steps and turned right, heading to her quarters. Baine stepped forward smiling, no one had ever beaten Scyla and this man could have his uses he mused. He slapped Knoxx heartily on the back moving towards the stranger, “Baine” he said crossing his right arm to his left shoulder. The stranger mimicked the gesture and nodded his head in acknowledgement.

Chapter 2 continued…

Sorry it has taken so long but I have been on holiday and have just sat down to my computer to edit and make some adjustments.

Enjoy

C. Perez Smith

“Scy…” Knoxx started but she was already moving into the crowd of people who quickly parted in her wake. She stood in front of the man who had insulted her, her face revealing nothing. She felt him glance around her, taking in her features. Something about him unsettled her, she found it very difficult to meet his eyes, which she noticed were a sharp violet. There were other things about him, his clothing for one was too clean and presented. Everything about him was neat except for a scar that ran right across his brow and nose. His stance was casual, taking in her every movement, maybe even waiting for a reaction she thought to herself. However she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. The recruit had remained casual throughout the stare off. A crooked smile remained on his face, trying to push her she was sure of it. The pair continued to stare at each other, the remainder of the group watching. Knoxx was nearby, aware of the situation that could quickly escalate, given the opportunity. He placed his hand in hers, easing her back to the present moment. Distracted by this, she breathed deeply and rubbed her eyes, trying to escape the hypnosis.

“Name?” she barked

“Fievel. What’s yours?” he replied

Scyla felt the tingle in her palms and quickly released Knoxx’s hand, too anxious to hold on. She clasped her hands firmly together and squeezed, the colour quickly draining from them. Stepping quickly in front of her Knoxx took over. “What’s your skill?” he asked, appearing genuinely interested in Fievel. Scyla turned away from them all and stalked away. She didn’t have the patience for this man, for he was, and not like the new younger recruits. He had experience.

“I am Scyla.” She said returning to the front of the group. Listening as another murmur travelled around. “Why don’t we release your skill then Fievel? Or perhaps your skill is pure ignorance and the inability to follow direct instructions?” The crowd whispered and then fell into silence. Scyla’s anger was rising and the tingle in her fingers had now turned into a steady thrum. She was focused, she was not someone who acted irrationally and this idiot had made her feel… well had made her feel something. That was what was so difficult to control, as she couldn’t decide what emotions she was actually feeling. Clenching her hands tightly together she breathed deeply and tried to physically shake the thoughts from her head. Glancing back to the crowd it was Fievel’s violet eyes that caught her attention. He continued to stare at her, even as another rookie muttered at him “Are you crazy? How can you not know who she is?”

“Of course I know who she is, how could I not?” he explained.

The crowd stared in amazement at Scyla. A crowd of younglings had gathered on the balcony above, overlooking the quad. Their faces peered through the ornately carved marble columns, excited mutterings reverberated off the walls, bouncing down to the new recruits. Scyla fingered her longbow as though it needed to be soothed, and reached for an arrow from the quiver placed next to the rack of weapons. Keeping her eyes firmly locked on Fievel she drew her bow and fired. The arrow sailed into a tree near the younglings, causing a flock of nesting birds to erupt from the leaves and screech around their heads. Shrieking, the children ran in excitement after the birds, waving their hands in the air, as if they themselves were trying to take flight. This natural reaction from Scyla caused yet more murmurs from the group of boys. Scyla hated having an audience, yet the younglings were fascinated by her. Replacing the bow and quiver carefully on the stand behind her, she winked reassuringly at Knoxx. He trusted Scyla with his life but he wondered if her missing was accident or on purpose. The sky was clouding overhead and soon the heavens would spill their sorrow, drenching the training arena and reducing it to a thick mud. The perfect first test, she thought to herself. Let’s see how well they fight when conditions are less than perfect. A smile spread across Scyla’s face. “Right then, your first test will be hand to hand combat. Each village is trained in their own style of combat. I will observe and select those of you who have potential.” Said Scyla, pacing in front of them, her hands clasped firmly behind her back. Fat droplets of water were now pouring down onto them, Scyla’s fiery copper hair was drenched, but she didn’t care about her appearance. The droplets rolled down her cheeks, splashing off her solid breastplate. Turning to look at Knoxx, she motioned to the King’s guard to assist. In perfect synchronicity a group of perfectly presented uniformed soldiers stepped forward, awaiting their orders. Motioning towards them they trotted down the marble staircase towards them. Choosing an opponent was easy as each of the recruits had an obvious tell as to which village they had belonged. Giving the guards an advantage over which style and techniques they were to use.

The kingdom of Edona was split into five boroughs. Each one wore a particular symbol and colour to show which borough they belonged to. The fishing region wore cerulean tunics with an embossed trident on the cuff. The mining region wore brown with a pickaxe on their cuff. The metal workers wore grey with an anvil on the cuff. The farming district wore green with an oak leaf on the cuff. The artisans wore white with an owl on the cuff. The Kingdom which rested in the heart of these five boroughs overlooking each wore purple with a gold stag embossed on the breast pocket.

The guard and recruit positioned their feet, boots sliding and squelching as the mud encased them. The guards were focused, possibly even a little bored by battle. They had fought every day of their lives and were prepared. The clouds continued to pour soaking them all through to the skin. The recruits shuffled uneasily, trying to find their footing. Their fists raised, some of them obviously had never fought a day in their lives. Scyla pulled up her longbow and drew an arrow from the carved wooden quiver. She aimed and fired into the air, the arrow soaring and disappearing through the thick grey clouds. A signal to begin.

Writing reflection…

A good friend took the time to read my blog as I was complaining about not being able to post regularly due to having to edit and rework my stories. He suggested maybe I write not just about my stories but about the actual process of writing, or even review some of the books I have read as I am such an avid reader.

I’m not a published author so I cannot possibly give any insight into how to get published but I can explain about the stories I am writing and the journey I have taken with my characters.

The ‘Of fire and Ash’ story was started a very long time ago when I was at work. I must have been 18, in my first job and surrounded by stories (the movie kind) I guess I felt inspired. Without realising it I had written an entire chapter of my novel. The second chapter to be precise. I found that the words flowed like the story was already there in the universe and I was simply the person who was recalling it. The idea has been with me ever since… I often go to places and borrow names, ideas and images for my book. For example the characters names are a re imagining of other names in stories I have read along the years. Their traits are seen in the loved ones around me. The calm and composed demeanour of Fievel is something I see in my partner every day, and maybe the stubbornness of Scyla is a reflection of myself.

The truth is that the world I live in inspires me. You just have to sometimes open your eyes and look carefully.

A good friend once got me to close my eyes and focus on everything that was blue in the room. After a minute or so (my eyes still closed) he asked me what was red in the room. I couldn’t tell him because even though it was my own living room I was to close minded to what was blue. He was explaining to me that I need to see everything not just focus on what I am being told. There is inspiration all around you. Just open your eyes and see…

Enjoy

C. Perez Smith

Chapter 2 sneak peek. Of skill and slander

So this is the introduction to the second chapter, which is finished but is in the long process of being edited. Hope you enjoy learning a bit more about Scyla and the mysterious Fievel.

Being in charge of the King’s army was not something Scyla relished, despite enjoying a good brawl. It was her job to polish and perfect. To discover what their talents and gifts were; some didn’t even know what it was that they themselves possessed, which frustrated her. However, what frustrated Scyla the most was the constant eyes that watched her every move. Which was partially due to the fact that she was the King’s personal bodyguard but also due to her unbelievable gifts.
Baine was her shadow and Scyla, as usual, ignored his presence and turned to face the new recruits. A small group of boys blinked back at her and Scyla saw a wave of emotions across the crowd. The usual awe, shock and pure fear were obvious on their flawless young faces. No hard edge or apparent scars from war. Not yet anyway.
“Welcome, new recruits, to the castle fighting grounds, where some of you will be chosen, most of you will have your gifts revealed and all of you will get injured. I am Scyla…” A murmur whipped around the crowd despite them knowing already who was in charge of training. “As I was saying don’t be too disappointed if you don’t get chosen. There will be a series of tests which will see how you perform under pressure, command and your overall skill. If you pass these you will be able to progress to working under the general. I suggest you work hard, keep your wits about you and most importantly do as I say.”
A booming laugh erupted behind her at this point, as Baine accompanied by his brother Knoxx, strolled into the recruits view. Scyla tried not to outwardly grimace at his approach. One of the recruits stared at her and then returned his stare to Baine, who was now approaching her. “Good morning my lady Scyla, it’s such a lovely sight to see you working with our new recruits. Maybe when you finish here you could come and put me through my paces?” Baine smirked at her, gesturing to the recruits with his chin.
“Of course my lord, as always I savour the opportunity to beat you.” She replied, sarcasm flooding her voice. Knoxx stifled a slight chuckle. Baine, oblivious to this, smiled and strutted to the balcony for a better view. Scyla sighed and punched Knoxx in the arm playfully. “You’re lucky I don’t beat that smile off his face you know.” Knoxx rubbed his arm and nodded towards the recruits, reminding her of their presence. They had remained silent and observant throughout the whole exchange.
“Are we ready to begin?” Scyla asked the crowd glumly. A hand was raised at the back of the crowd. “We’ll have time for questions later” Scyla said as she paced in front of them.
“Aren’t you a little young and delicate to be training us my lady?” Echoed a voice from the back of the gathering.
“Excuse me?” Scyla said surprised by the insult from a recruit. She was used to this kind of assumption but not from the recruits, however people quickly grew accustomed to Scyla. She was shocked for a moment before composing herself. After all she was only renowned in the castle village, she could have remained relatively unknown to some of the outside villages, and this man bore no colours of Edona.

Enjoy
C. Perez Smith

New chapter Of Fire and Ash

PLEASE NOTE THIS IS NOT THE SECOND CHAPTER OF MY STORY BUT A SNIPPET OF WHAT IS TO COME LATER ON.

 

Fievel stared on completely helpless as Scyla was dragged kicking and screaming into the courtyard. She had been beaten and she looked physically broken, but not her spirit, never her spirit. Scyla was wild, she had been created in the deepest depths of Mount Seraphine, and she was not of this world, and exactly of it at the same time. She belonged to a time where Gods would be worshipped not strung up and beaten. She spat fiercely like a caged cat into the face of Quinnet, the King’s personal bodyguard. He responded with a punch to the stomach, which almost certainly had ruptured some vital organ, causing a froth of blood to erupt from her nose and mouth. She couldn’t breathe and Fievel was certain she was going to die from lack of oxygen. She was weak and they knew it.

Coughing and spluttering Scyla was dragged through the dirt, her bare skin scraping along the King’s precious paths. Archers surrounded her, arrows poised ready to open fire at the raise of an arm. Scyla had started breathing, but it was harsh and laboured. She was semi-conscious and her head lolled around like a child who was not willing to admit it was tired. Quinnet threw Scyla against the marble podium, shattering her right shoulder. She screamed out in pain, Fievel launched himself to his feet needing to protect her but at the same time needing to protect his guise. The metal chains were locked around her keeping her firmly in place at the King’s feet and to the spectacle of his entire court. The king motioned for Fievel to sit.

“You always thought that women had no right in being beaten” he spat “you are a fool Fievel, and that is why Noce will never be ruled by a pathetic, sentimental fool like you” Fievel had no option but to nod in agreement if his plan to get Scyla out of Noce would work. He bowed deeply and retreated from the King’s side. “You are no better than this woman Fievel!” the King roared after him. “Descpicable” he said, directing it to anyone within earshot. His hoard of ruffians nodded and grunted; to the pleasure of the King. Rising to his feet he motioned for the archers to keep on their target until the morning, but for now the King was tired of all this excitement and needed to retire to his chambers. Turning on his heel he marched head held high through a door at the back of his throne. Scyla raised her head wearily and squinted through a swollen eye to see where the King had disappeared to. She was weak and it was taking longer than normal for her body to heal itself. The poison was still coursing through her veins and the fact it had not yet killed her was infuriating to Quinnet. Despite his brute strength he wasn’t a man who particularly liked getting his hands dirty. He preferred a more sneaky approach to killing his enemies. Choosing to poison them with his very own creation. Capsum. It was highly potent and deadly to most, the victim would have an agonizing death. Starting with the muscles contracting leading to the airwaves seizing and closing up, making breathing near impossible. What would follow would be a red hot fire changing to utter freezing, leading to a combination of third degree burns and frostbite. The victim would then endure what can only be described as three days of near death, and just as the sense of release was upon him or her, they would be dragged back to unbearable pain. None who had been poisoned survived. That was until Scyla. Hence why the King had demanded she be brought to him, in the hopes of using in her in some way or possibly the desire to watch the torture.

“Why are you still alive?” Quinnet asked “How can it be that just a simple captain of the court has such strength to withstand Capsum? Do you have any idea how many people I have killed with this little drop of hell?” he mused shaking a bottle at her that was no bigger than a bumblebee. He paced around her, stalking her. Bending down so he was at eye level, he gently raised Scyla’s head so she would meet his eyes. “You were so beautiful, before I had the pleasure of beating you to within an inch of death. But now I find you simply irresistible” he said, staring at her bruises and cuts lovingly. Quinnet leaned in to Scyla. Her hands were bound behind her back and she still hadn’t the strength to fight him off. “Good God no, anything but this, don’t let him, please somebody, anybody help me” she muttered trying to pull away from him. Quinnet ran his hand down her cheek, pausing just below her throat. He encased a firm hand around her and squeezed. “Beg” he breathed in her ear “Beg for me to stop”

“Enough” demanded Fievel, emerging from the shadows. “Ahh Fievel” Quinnet sniggered “have you come to save the bitch?”

“The king commands your presence at once Quinn” Fievel responded, his demeanour cool and calm.

“Shame” he said “I was just starting” Quinn began to rise to his feet, but not before he ran his tongue from her chin to her bruised and bloody eye, savouring her pain. “Soon” was all he said to her. He walked away to the king’s chambers, glancing back over his shoulder. The archers were still poised on Scyla and had not budged at the vile behaviour of Quinn. Fievel walked towards Scyla leaning down in front of her. “Scyla?” he asked gently staring, searching for any sign of the woman he had grown to love. “Scyla please look at me” her head lolled to one side, pain etched across every part of her body. “Go” she rasped.

“Scyla, please drink this it will help you”

Clearing her throat as best she could she repeated her command “Go”

“Scyla I am begging you drink this it will help with the pain”

“Go…Get…Bane” she panted

That stung him. He wanted to be the one to save her not Bane. Yes he loved her, but in all the wrong ways, he wanted to tame her, he didn’t understand that she needed to be. He didn’t understand her how Fievel did. Understand what she was that is. What she truly had inside her. Fievel was running out of time, and had no option, gently he tilted Scyla’s head up towards him and parted her lips, pouring as much of the water into her mouth as he could without choking her.

“What are you doing?” yelled one of the archers.

“The King demands that she be conscious for what he is going to do with her, he doesn’t want this, and he needs her to be in better health.” Fievel replied. The archer, seeming pleased with the answer returned to his post. Scyla spluttered, her throat seizing up at the few drops of water passing her lips. She was still in a fog at the Capsum and had little of herself left. It had been the worse pain she had experienced in her life. The promise of death so close only to be torn away from her at the last possible moment. She shifted slightly, a good sign. Scyla felt the tingle in her lips to start with, a heat gentle at first and then pulsing. Fievel cleared away some of the blood from her lips to see that it was completely healed. Nothing remained, no evidence that it had been split. He could see the pulse of energy from her. Her aura was changing, it had been dim merely a few seconds ago, a slight flicker like a candle that was about to extinguish, but now she was pulsing yellow. Scyla blinked, her eye was now her own again and not a foreign object attached to her.

“Scyla, listen to me” he begged “I am going to get you out of this but we need to do it in the right way. The king is launching an attack on Edona, he suspects what you are Scyla and he is going to use you to defeat and conquer Edona. I can help you escape but you need to wait until morning, I have a few things I need to take care of first. Please Scyla, trust me as you once did.”

“How can I trust you?” she croaked “you gave me to them to save your own skin, you couldn’t admit to the King that you didn’t agree with what he was doing to this world and you gave me to him. Do what you will but I am going to get out of this.”

“I will find you” he promised. With that he was gone. Disappearing into the night like the shadow he was.

Scyla could breathe. Her throat had unseized and her body was her own again. No longer heavy and dense, she flexed her fingers and felt a familiar tingle. Her teeth were no longer missing and she had healed the broken ribs. Her shoulder would take longer, and she felt the damage in her body, ruptured spleen, punctured lung, they were slowly healing. She could not escape yet, and she wasn’t sure whether escape was the option. She had to do something before returning to Edona. It went against her very code. She was going to have to kill the king, it was for the good of the people for her to murder one, to save the murder of thousands. Scyla focused with all her concentration on that single thought. “It is done” she said out loud. The archers could not hear her and were as focused as they could be.

Reflections

Yesterday was a pretty big deal for me. I “published” my first chapter of my novel, so to speak and I have mixed emotions about the whole thing. I so desperately want to tell my story but I am also worried about the obvious ‘what if it’s no good?’, ‘ what if no-one likes it?’ ‘what if Scyla’s story just needs pushing to one side because it’s too much like other stories the majority of people have read?’ …

… well my attitude today is sod it. I am going to write because I love it. People will like it or hate it and that’s fine. I read a book this week that was amazing until the last ten pages where I felt cheated on, or maybe I just didn’t understand it properly? So it’s a learning curve. This is a marathon, not a sprint and I am in it until the end… or is it? Did you see what I did there?

Well the introduction is written and obviously I could tweak it forever but it’s done and I am writing the climax of book one as you read this. Between Scyla and the city of Edona I have somehow created a world and hopefully the premise for a trilogy. Than you for reading, you are making a difference, even if you don’t like the story.

Enjoy

C. Perez Smith

Of Fire and Ash.

Scyla balanced precariously on the edge of the precipice, her soft leather boots shifted slightly causing loose rocks to fall into the vast abyss below. The wind whistled through her tangle of hair; whipping it around her face. Scyla breathed deeply, inhaling the salty air surrounding her. The world was too small to such a large and open mind. Every little thing surrounding her was singing a tune all of its own, and she could hear it. The trees rustled around her, talking amongst themselves or urging her on, she couldn’t tell. A sharp familiar cry caught her attention as an eagle soared above her, floating on the breeze. Scyla flexed her fingers feeling the vibrations of the wind as it rippled through every individual finger. A slight smile played on her full lips, and she sighed in anticipation of what she was about to do. Her senses kicked in as Knoxx approached. His familiar tread crunched through the leaves.

“I know you are there Knoxx” she called playfully.

“How do you do that? How do you always know that it’s me? It could have been Lottie sent to look for you Mistress Scyla”

“Since when do you call me Mistress?” she motioned with eyebrows arched and turned to face the small russet haired boy standing in front of her.

Knoxx had been three when his mother was murdered by the Nocens, a price had to be paid for his father’s deceit, which unfortunately his mother’s blood was the price. His older brother Bane had looked after him in his own way ever since. His father had torn himself apart for what he had done to their mother, the result of which was a drawn out life of drinking and Epsom fire, the most potent of all the drugs. Knoxx had known Scyla his whole life and it was a brother/ sister love they shared. She therefore felt a sense of protection towards the boy who was very quickly before her eyes turning into a man, and a valued member of the council.

“I’m assuming that you being promised to my brother means I call you Mistress now?” he replied flicking a branch between his thumb and forefinger.

Scyla could sense something was wrong, but she did not want to ruin the precious private moments she had to ask him. She quietly steadied her breathing and regained her concentration. An audience was not an issue for her and especially in front of Knoxx as he was one of the few people who genuinely cared for her. Turning to face him she smiled at, held out her right hand and crossed it against her chest. A peace sign of Edona.

“Scyla” Knoxx warned “Please don’t, you know how Bane feels about you. He will be so angry with me as well, don’t do it!”

It was too late. Scyla had crossed the short distance between him, turned on her heel and ran head fast to the edge of the cliff. The wind whipping away the last words of whatever Knoxx had been shouting to her.

Her arms outstretched, Scyla plummeted to the unknown depths below her. Knoxx stared at the spot where moments before his beautiful, fierce friend had been standing. Sighing deeply he shuffled over and picked up a piece of material that had blown onto the grass in front of him. Placing the scrap into his pocket he turned and disappeared back into the woods. A glint of gold circled overhead.