Monday, 1 November 2010

The Shield

Once again in a fit of avoiding my MA work, I've managed to knock out a little bit of Tefr narrative. This time to head up the Prelude to Rhapsody chapter on combat. It was an odd one to work on, I think writing action is quite hard work, and I found myself editing it over and again. I'm fairly happy with the results for now, but it will doubtless alter again before publication. In this piece, I've also sprinkled a few italicised Tefr places and terms, to get the reader into the idea of using them with their own characters.

The Shield

The shield was still propped against his pack on the other side of the campfire, where Meres had left it the night before, and now Camore was lying right beside it, a long shaft, with goose-feather flights still sticking up from his back like a ridiculous pennant. It was hard to tell if he was dead, or just pretending, either way, there was no chance of getting to him, and finding out. Not without gaining a little pennant in the back himself.
  Meres looked away and cursed; the shield would have been the best protection he had against an unknown archer, but there was no help for that now. He kept his back to the tree, it was big enough to hide him from sight for now; he was fairly sure the arrow that caught Camore had come from just up the slope behind it.
  ‘Yaruk, are ye’right?’ he shouted across the clearing in Gal. If he was guessing correctly, their assailant was probably a local scout, who might know these forests, but nothing of the tongue of the Northlands. Annu Cheviel’s men had been close on their heels for three days now; hardly surprising, considering Meres and his companions had taken the stone of Uregh from his chasator. If they could just survive long enough to get it back to the priests at Parlin before Yearsend, it may yet prevent the whole of Shelir descending into bloody war.
  ‘Aye, I’m fine.’ Yaruk called back in the same language. ‘They shot Camore,’
Meres could just see the tips of Yaruk’s horns moving behind the broken log on the far side of the camp, no-doubt so could the archer.
  ‘I think there’s only one, or there’d be two of us lying with arrows in our backs. He’s probably trying to keep us pinned down long enough for reinforcements to arrive,’ said Meres.
  ‘What’s the plan then?’ said Yaruk, horns bobbing higher. If he, stuck his head up any further, he’d find an arrow between his eyes.
  ‘The plan –we rush him.’
  ‘Simple and straight to the point, eh Meres. Very well, I’m ready when you are.’
  ‘On the count of three then,’ said Meres. ‘One, two...’ he flung himself out from behind the tree, rolling once and regaining his feet at a run; if he was going to draw fire, he wasn’t going to make it easy. He’d been right about the archer sighting on Yaruk; Meres could see him in the scanty bushes, not four standards away, swinging his bow across in his direction. He pumped his legs beneath him, his sword swinging ready in his hand, he wasn’t going to reach the archer before he could shoot, but if he missed, Meres was going to make sure he wouldn’t get another opportunity.
  He saw the bow shake as the arrow flew towards him, and Meres instinctively ducked away, but it wasn’t enough; a heavy blow slammed his shoulder backwards, almost spinning him round. There was no pain yet, but he could feel the solidity of the arrow head, a sort of wrongness that shouldn’t have been there, grating as it was held firm in his flesh where it had penetrated the stiff hide of his armour. Too bad for the archer it was his left shoulder, and with barely a check to his momentum, Meres swung his sword back round and closed the gap. Meres saw the fear in the archer’s eyes, as he flung his bow ineffectively towards him, before clawing with desperate fingers to draw the sword hanging at his belt. At the last moment the archer tried to dodge the charge, but not fast enough, and the tip of Meres’s sword caught him across the midriff, tearing through leather and flesh, to leave a deep gash.
The archer gasped in pain, but he wasn’t beaten yet, he was quick to recover, and with his, now unsheathed asafr sword, he struck towards Meres’s vulnerable left side, only to have it met by a length of good Sayanay steel as Meres parried. With his opponent still off balance, Meres stepped past him and threw a another blow at the man’s back. The archer tried desperately to reach behind and parry, but his skill as a swordsman was inadequate, and always would be; Meres’s felt his sword bite deep, and his opponent stumbled forward, then fell to the ground. He, could hear the dying archer wheezing in rapid gasps, fighting for his last breaths.
  Before Meres could do more, there was a sudden yell from behind, and, turning to meet this new threat, saw Yaruk hurtling past, to sink his axe deep into the man’s chest. Finishing it all.
  Meres lowered his sword, feeling the first sharp pain clutch his shoulder, and turned to examine the arrow sticking from it.
  ‘Where were you? The bastard nearly nailed me,’ said Meres, putting a tentative finger on the wooden shaft, it was painful, but he’d been lucky, it looked like his armour had taken most of the damage.
  Yaruk pulled his bloodied axe free, and shrugged.
  ‘You didn’t say three,’ he said.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


Continuing with my short narratives in the Prelude to Rhapsody book, I've just completed a piece introducing the theme of background for the characters. I've attempted to make it work in such a way that a character might tell the others about his background, as well as create a small amount of backstory (about a  spider in a pot) which in itself contributes to, or appears to explain, the way that the character behaves.
Like the previous short narrative, it is still a little rough in places, I'll give them all a final go through before the book is published.

The Spider in a Pot

‘Squelch, squelch, slog, slog, is there no end to this god-forsaken swamp?’ Said Endingas. He liked complaining, he was good at it.
  The other three trudged on in a line through the mud in silence, as the thin dawnlight revealed more mud-flats and reed-beds in each direction.
  ‘And just look at the state of my boots, and it stinks as well. Stink stink, squelch, squ...’
  ‘It isn’t a swamp Mexotan.’ Kebri Soor’s low voice sounded from the front, his thick accent turning each a sound into au.
  ‘Swamp, marsh –same thing– A muddy, squelchy, stinky, struggle.’
  Kebri Soor picked a wide bulrush leaf and examined it.
  ‘You know nothing of struggle Mexotan, I grow up in the swamps of Earchamon, filled with mud dragons, stinging insects, deadly snakes and silk spiders. Leaving the hut in search of food is dangerous, Mexotan, but if we don’t, we starve. Then the rains come, and the waters rise, so we starve anyway.’ He tasted the sap from the leaf he was holding, spat, and threw it away. ‘My father, he was our herb man, he know what plants to eat, which ones heal, and which kill. This he teach me, he teach me to hunt and he teach me,’ he dropped his voice, ‘to gather spider silk.’
  The others watched him walking in the growing light, he was the most mysterious member of the group. He knew his plants, he was the best of them with a bow, but his creative ways of killing with the link knife he carried, the eery tattoos that decorated his face and lean body with strange spider-like symbols, coupled with his blood red eyes also made him the most intimidating.
  ‘When I am small,’ he said, ‘they begin training me to bring in the silk, they catch baby silk spider, and put it in a pot. I am to feed it, look after it. Each month I am to put my hand in the pot, and be bitten. It hurts, I am sick for two days. As the spider grow bigger, it’s bite grow stronger, the sting hurt more, so much pain,’ he rubbed his hand as if the memory alone had reawakened the old hurt, ‘but the more times it bite you, the more you are resisting, so by time it grow to full, the poison not kill. Then we can gather the webs, the spiders spin in the swamp. Sell the silk to the Eamani, but if the webs are poor, then we get small money and we starve.’ He stopped and turned round to look at Endingas. ‘When I am grown, the Eamani say I am gods gift, I cannot stay with my people, so I am outcast, I live in the swamp alone, hunt and find plants alone, each day avoid death alone. So Mexotan, with your boots, don’t tell me about struggle, and don’t tell me marsh is swamp.’
  He turned fluidly and resumed walking, the others shrugged and followed. Endingas opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it, and continued the trudge through the marsh in silence.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Introductory Narrative

I've now been right through the Tefr Prelude to Rhapsody book and filled it with little red marks, which is an achievement by itself. The next phase is to then work through the In-Design master document and apply all those little red marks. But a pleasurable element of this process, is that I have chosen to include a number of new small narrative elements in the text, to illustrate certain sections of the book, giving both a feel for the narrative nature of the Tefr system, as well as breaking up what can sometimes be a lot of intense non fiction.

I thought it would be interesting to post up the these narrative sections as I write them. This is the first.

Dog Boy

Estial stood in the doorway of a disused warehouse on the other side of the dock, and blew through his hands in an attempt to warm them up. Despite his fur coat, the cold crept into his wiry limbs, and standing in one place wasn’t helping.
The visitors to the run down building opposite had been infrequent, but, even bundled as they were against the chill Rodien air, Estial could tell from the way they carried themselves, and the tell tale fall of their clothing, that each was well armed and well armoured. He felt for his own sword, with its worn pommel and fraying leather grip. When he’d been given it as the solemn parting gift from his father, a mere fortnight ago, he’d walked from his home village with a swaggering bravado that almost made up for the taunts and derision of the other village boys over the last year; you don’t mess with a man carrying a sword. Except now, when it came to it, Estial was barely even a man, and hardly had any idea how to swing his sword.
‘You’re new here, aren’t you dog boy?’
The voice came from right behind him, Estial nearly jumped out of his furry skin. He spun round, sword halfway from its scabbard.
‘Steady on lad, I’m not out to harm you.’ The speaker moved out of the shadow of the doorway, odd horns and ridges adorned his broad face, his eyes regarded Estial with dangerous looking cleft pupils.
‘How, how did you do that, get round behind me like that?’ Estial indicated his ears, upright and alert on top of his head, ‘I’ve good hearing, not much gets past me.’
‘There’s more to my god’s gift than a few knobbles round my head lad. Name’s Drutter.’ he stuck out his hand, and Estial shook it. ‘You look half perished out here, are you not going to come in for a bite to eat and warm up by the fire?’
Estial looked back over to the building, he couldn’t read the sign, but he recognised the crest that hung over the door as that of the Kerowan Guild.
‘I don’t have any money.’
‘I saw you watching, have you not joined yet?’
‘No, I only got into town this morning, I wanted to see first, see if it was safe. I’ve heard tales about guildmembers.’
‘You’ve nothing to fear from the guild lad, not if you’re one of them. The guild may well be the only friend for folk like you and me. Come on over I’ll introduce you to the Guildmaster.’ he set off around the dock, his motion lithe, his feet barely making a sound on the cobbled surface.
‘You think they’ll accept me.’ said Estial, following after a moment’s hesitation, ‘It’s just, you see, I’m not very good with a sword yet.’
‘Course they will lad. Once you’ve got yourself a god’s gift you’ve got to join, it’s the law. We all had to start somewhere. Take me, there I was ‘prenticed to the finest baker in Cormalon, set to marry his daughter in all, then what do you know,  I go and growed a god’s gift. Got kicked out on my backside without a penny. Guild did good by me then, took me in, sorted me out with some paid work, helped me learn the ropes. Don’t worry about  that lad. It’s a tough life, I’ll not deny that, but the guild’ll do right by you. you’ll see.’

Tuesday, 31 August 2010


It has been a long time since I've had anything to report on the Tefr Blog, mostly because my writing time is almost exclusively taken up now with my Novel and MA submission. But as a way to wind down my mind and get my eye in, I've been spending a few minutes each day going through the Prelude to Rhapsody manuscript and filling it with little red marks.

Given that this book was my first serious attempt at writing anything, I'm surprised at how little I need to change. Yes, admittedly I could have read a book on punctuation before starting, but I've done that now, so I'm picking my way through steadily with my red pen. I don't need to change much as far as the system is concerned, but I have to admit that some of the writing is pretty dry in places, and I feel that the addition of a few narrative examples, here and there, will liven up the text, and provide a better feel for the system ethos. The editing will take me up to Christmas, but it may take a few more months to come up with the examples. It would be great to get a fully finished edition, with a proper ISBN number, published in time for the Frankfurt book fair next year.

And then it will be time for me to tackle splitting the Knowledge is Power book into to different volumes, amongst my many other projects. Keep an eye on my other blog for developments there, next year is going to be exciting.