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.