Saturday, July 30, 2011

Excerpt from Book 1 of an Altantis Series I am Writing

This is an excerpt from an Atlantean series I am writing. It will be a trilogy when I'm done. Let me know what you think and if I need to do anything to clean it up. Have I got your attention and desire to read more? Feedback from an audience would be very welcome.

Dark brown eyes gazed out from the thick woolen headdress covering an obscure form. The view was bleak - a barren stretch of sandy desert lay before the lone figure. The dark eyes hardened, and then the gaze shifted to the left where a thin strip of green glimmered promisingly on the horizon. The percussion of a balag enticed the wool-covered head to turn further to the left in the general direction of the sound. A small crowd had gathered at the mouth of the desert and the drummer remained hidden amongst the nearly shapeless wool-covered people. Regardless, the dark gaze that surveyed the group of on-lookers picked out the outlines and eyes of family members and former friends. The gaze met each set of eyes with intense determination, causing gazes to falter or quickly shift away. A lock of long brown hair worked its way out from beneath the woolen headdress and waved gently in the hot wind blowing across the sands. From this distance, the life giving sea could not be seen nor heard, but its briny tang still teased the air all around the desert.

A tall, wool-covered figure detached itself from the crowd and approached. Stopped a half a furlong away, arms stretched up and lean fingers pulled the woolen headdress back. Then the woolen scarf was unwound from the face and head. The man’s dark brown hair shimmered with white threads. Lines spread out from the intense dark eyes that squinted against the powerful light of the Mediterranean sun.

“My daughter,” the man addressed the lone figure, “for your crimes....”

“I have committed no crime,” a firm, yet feminine voice answered from within the woolen scarf. The woolen headdress tilted back slightly as though the lone figure were thrusting her chin out defiantly.

The man closed his mouth, looked sternly at her, and began again. “For your crimes against the sacred, the gods have deemed you unworthy and have commissioned your removal from the holy community.”

The woman hidden beneath the wool laughed. It was harsh laughter, full of derision. “We all know full well it was the counsel that deemed me unworthy of a crumbling society,” she said in clipped tones. Her voice lowered so only the man before her could hear. “And you, Salgan, knew it was I who suggested crimes to be punished with banishment.”

The man slowly lowered his head in acknowledgment and answered in a lowered voice that only she would hear. “Nimuan, little did you know then that you would be the first to suffer this punishment. The holy community has benefited from your contribution in this way alone.”

There was the sound of teeth clicking together behind Nimuan’s scarf before Salgan continued for the crowd’s benefit. “You are therefore stripped of your name, your title, and your family. Nothing will tie you to the holy community. You must also give all your belongings to the priests so that they may be cleansed.”

Someone behind Salgan brought a torch over to a pyre built upon the sand. The wood was soaked in oil and caught fire quickly. Nimuan lifted a brow at the display and her eyes snapped coldly.

“All that was mine has already been stolen away by the priests,” she said bitterly. “What more can you possibly want?”

“You will leave the holy community as you came into it,” Salgan said slowly and emphasized by looking at each article of woolen clothing she was wearing.

Nimuan’s dark brown eyes spit a fierce fire that made the pyre flames behind Salgan appear a mere flicker of light in comparison. She trembled with outrage while a battle waged within her to stubbornly keep the protective clothing. She knew the dangers of the intense heat, blowing sand, and bitterly cold nights awaiting her in the desert. But still... she had a chance. Fighting the priests would end her life now.

Slowly, she reached up and unwound the woolen headdress revealing the face of a woman in her early twenties. Her skin was bronzed by spending a great deal of time by the sea and her brown hair had a red tinge. Despite her youth, she held herself upright with regal authority and there was deep wisdom in her fierce gaze as she removed the outer cloak to pull the woolen dress over her head. All that remained were her sheepskin shoes and she dreaded their removal. She could already feel the hot sand burning her feet through them. She was accustomed to white beach sands tempered by the cool surf. Desert sand was less forgiving.

Reluctantly, she bent to the task of removing the sheepskin. A pile of light brown wool lay before her after their removal. Her naked body glowed bronze in the sun. As the priests came to take the woolen garments, she lifted her shameless gaze to the crowd beyond Salgan. She took a deep breath and let half of it out, holding the remaining breath a moment, then let it out to speak.

“Listen to me,” she began. Her voice became like the shimmering heat waves flowing off the sands. It flowed toward the crowd and everyone heard as though she were speaking intimately in their ears. “I may be dead to you now, but I will return.” Her body swayed gently and her brown gaze faintly glowed amber. There was a gasp from within the crowd. “And my return will be welcomed because it will bring life back into the community.”

“We will thrive without you, spirit,” Salgan said, although his voice quavered.

The amber lit eyes turned on him. “Beware, Salgan. A trusted hand will betray you and your house will be swallowed by the earth.”

Salgan turned his back toward the naked woman and sought the crowd’s attention by lifting his hands. The pungent aroma of burning wool filled the air. “Pay no attention to the spirit or she will lead you toward the emptiness awaiting her.”

Some turned away for fear of offending the gods and being carried away by a vengeful spirit.

Nimuan stood on the brink of the desert, gently swaying under the power of the prophecy filling her mind.

“The tribes will unite and the gods will die. Neighbors will seek the holy community’s secrets. The community will be forced to leave their home to thrive on a dead continent. Pestilence will claim their numbers and northern seamen will save them....”

“Do not listen!” Salgan cried out to the people. “Cover your ears against the blasphemy!” He began waving frantically and half a dozen people turned and fled back toward their village.

“One day, Salgan,” she said, slowly, “they will stop listening, but to your voice, not mine.” She turned away from the remaining crowd and walked into the desert. In the prophetic trance, she did not feel the searing heat or the blowing sand.

Please take note that this is my own work from my own imagination. All characters are purely fictional and any resemblance in any way to anyone is merely coincidental. Any copying and redistribution of this material will also fall within copyright infringement.


Anonymous said...

I like the originality of the story and the names used such as Nimuan and Salgan. The description of the desert and its hot sands remind me my home country. The novel seems very professional and its makes you wanting to read more of it. Good luck Via Sia!

Sia said...

Thank you. It was hard to find character names from the era and area, so I made them up. I think my 8 months living in Arizona helped me to describe desert weather, so I am grateful to be able to bring true-to-life experience to enrich my writing.