Zara’s Space on the Web – Musings

December 24, 2009

Prologue – Training

Filed under: Fiction — zarazilla @ 9:30 pm

The following is the prologue I wrote for the novel I was attempting to write in November for Nanowrimo (I really only got as far as finishing the prologue).  The novel is meant to be a biblical allegory and while the part where my character based on Jesus is born is several chapters and thousands of words from the prologue, I thought it’d be nice to post what I have written so far.  The prologue is also a homage to Robert Jordan; in his Wheel of Time series he enjoyed having Rand train sword fighting by fighting several men at once.

—–

Iron ringing against iron.  Flaming Sword meets Angel’s Descent.  Another one down, six more to go.  Whirling, weaving, parry, block, dodge, strike.  Father’s Sacrifice.  Two more down, over halfway now.  His sword arm is aching, his breaths short, but there are still four more to go and he has no intention of stopping and besides, this is not the worse he has experienced by far.

Out of the corner of his eye Godwin catches sight of his cousin Alucio, in a similar exercise across the courtyard, shining in full armour, whirling, dancing; he seems barely even human, and not even out of breath. Clang.  Godwin’s momentary distraction has cost him; he stumbles to his knees, lights dancing in his eyes. Get up you useless fool! Godwin rages against himself silently and he is up with Phoenix Rises, felling his attacker, half-blinded but much more wary and with the fire reignited in his stomach.  Godwin grips his practice sword tighter and steps aside from another blow, following it up with another strike, taking another two out at the same time.  Only one left but it his cousin Gavin, the fastest and the most cunning of his practice circle, and then they are joined by a third.  A third in shining armour with a rising sun and a star worked into the metalwork.  Godwin takes a deep breath and Gavin is taken out by a swift feint and a strike to the head, and then it is just Godwin and Alucio.  Time slows down and Godwin knows he is on his own.  All the fancy swordwork he has just applied has been taught to him by the elder boy standing across from him.  It is now all about stamina and speed and his innate knowledge of his opponent.

Alucio lowers his sword, signalling for rest before their duel, giving Godwin time to recover, but Godwin shakes his head.  He is on a roll, and the fire in his stomach still burns.  He has never beat Alucio in a fair fight before, but there is always a first time for everything.  Alucio nods and raises his sword again.  They begin.

The two swords ring against each other repeatedly and Godwin soon loses sense of the world outside of him and Alucio.  He is desperately tired but the fire in his stomach urges him on.  It wakes in him the old grudge he bears against the older boy, always faster, always stronger, always smarter and more charismatic.  A grudge he keeps buried on all other occasions, but uncaps and lets out when the fire in his stomach wakes it.  Soon, however, despite his best efforts, he finds himself lying flat with the cobblestones pressing against his back, breathing heavily with Alucio’s sword at his throat.  Alucio is glowering down at him, displeased.

“Reckless” he says shortly.  Alucio glowers at Godwin a bit more. “Whatever it is”, he continues, lifting the tip of his sword away from Godwin’s throat and releasing him, “you have 5 minutes to let it go, and then we start again”. He turns around and walks away, adjusting the buckles on his shield.

Closing his eyes, Godwin takes a deep breath and opens them again, looking around.  Gavin is by his side with water, himself barely recovered from the rather too sharp blow that Godwin had delivered on him in his haste to get to Lucio, but Gavin in his loyal faithful way does not begrudge Godwin the blow. Rising, Godwin thanks Gavin for the water and gulps it down, handing the cup back to Gavin.  Gavin nods and retreats, leaving him to his peace.

“Let it go” he mutters, starting to walk, pacing and breathing in steady deep practiced breaths.  Godwin knows what Alucio wants.  It is something he has never quite managed to do, and something he can never imagine being able to do when dueling Alucio.  It is a frightening thought, to lose all emotion and come out of himself.  Godwin shudders.  He imagines it feels like losing control.

Godwin reaches the end of the courtyard and turns, just in time to see Alucio catch Godwin’s twin sister Gaea by the arm as she stumbles.  Gaea blushes and looks down at the ground, briefly, mildly bemused.  Regaining herself, she smiles and thanks Lucio, stepping away from his bracing arm.  Lucio smiles back, unguarded.  Watching this exchange, Godwin smiles, everything else forgotten.  In years past Gaea would have shoved Luce backwards and stuck out her tongue before running away.  But it looked like things were changing between the two, and the rough friendship of childhood was paring away to becoming something much more beautiful.

Godwin walks back towards Luce, the warmth in his stomach no longer a fire.  He is calmer and more contemplative when he reaches his old friend.  Maybe he can, afterall, let it all go.  Afterall, if he can quite willingly trust his old friend with his beloved Gaea, should he not trust him enough to at least attempt once to try what he is forever telling him?

Soon Godwin and Lucio are facing each other, swords at the ready, the courtyard quiet and anticipating.  They have all seen it so many times before, but it is always a show for everyone when Godwin and Lucio duel, although most of the time, for the men, it is the simple potential rising from the two, and for the women it is the motherly concern they feel towards the two boys and in particular their young prince Godwin.

Godwin is feeling entirely calm now, and when the dueling starts he can concentrate less on trying to win and more on the strokes it would take to get him there.  Soon he feels the unfamiliar sensation of starting to flow out of himself, to feel as if he is watching from slightly apart from his body, concentrating entirely on the technicality.  Probing for weaknesses, the inevitable sidestep, the miscalculation of footing on the cobblestones. Godwin presses his advantages, driving Alucio backwards, and suddenly Alucio’s sword clatters onto the cobblestones. A very slight overextension from Alucio and a fraction of a second was all Godwin had needed to strike Alucio’s less protected wrist. The fight is not over however, and as Alucio dives for his sword Godwin’s foot comes out and catches him in the stomach, turning him over mid-air (and in the process, also bruising Godwin’s foot). Alucio lies flat on the cobblestones, Alucio the victor over him, sword tip against his throat.

There is a brief second as Godwin and Alucio stare at each other, both caught off guard by the novelty of the situation. Alucio is the first to break into a smile, his pride at his younger cousin shining through. Godwin smiles tentatively back, and around them the courtyard breaks into applause and cheering. It has been several years since anyone had won against Alucio in a fair duel, and the fact that their young heir to the throne is the first to do so since Alucio had turned 14 years old is cause enough for celebration. The potential that Godwin is showing brings happiness and pride to the onlookers. The future of the kingdom shines bright.

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