Author Topic: Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.  (Read 3174 times)

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Offline LadyMarmalade

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Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.
« on: October 17, 2015, 05:05:10 PM »
My very first attempt at fan fiction. Consider it a taster and if you are interested in reading more, let me know.

This is not meant to be historically or in any other way accurate.  it's just stuff from my head that sounds vaguely possible.

...

Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.

When Father first came home and told us we were all going on an adventure my brothers and I were so excited we hardly knew what to do with ourselves but still, even at the tender age of 8 years old, I sensed that something wasn't quite right. I saw the look that flashed between my parents. I was too young to really understand it but I recognised the look. It was the same look that Mother had on her face when she served up cabbage soup for the third day in a row and told us it was because it was SO good for us and she wanted us all to grow up big and strong. I knew the cupboard was bare and I saw the white lines on her fingers where her rings had once been but I believed her when she told me she taken them off while she was doing the washing and they'd gotten lost. It was that same look.

My father, Adric, was a proud man and he hated not being able to provide for his family. He worked hard wherever he could get a job but what work there was. was poorly paid and erratic as well as being hard and often dangerous. Recently he had been working in a quarry breaking up rocks and filling baskets with the hewn stone. It was a hazardous job not only because of the risk of injury from falling rocks or landslides but also from the blasting which was still in its infancy and prone to miscalculations and mistakes which were often fatal.  Each morning when my mother waved him off from the doorstep I saw the sadness and the fear in her eyes as she kissed his cheek and whispered ' Stay safe, My Love and come back home to us'. Her eyes would follow him down the road until he disappeared from sight, when she would sigh softly and turn back to us, forcing a smile onto her lips that never quite reached her eyes.

Several of the men in town were in the same position. Each having growing families but finding it increasingly impossible to find work that paid enough to provide even the most basic way of life.  When a traveller came into town and told them stories of land 200 miles to the west, with rich fertile earth, rivers filled with fish, huge herds of buffalo roaming freely and an abundance of trees for lumber they soon became convinced that there was where their futures lay. The promise of free land and unlimited resources seemed like an answer to all their prayers and hasty plans were made to set off and make their claims as soon as the last snows of winter had thawed.

And so, one chilly spring morning, we piled all our worldly possessions into a small waggon and joined the other three equally over-loaded waggons as they left the town and headed West. I sat proudly on the seat beside Mother and held Emilia, my beloved rag doll, firmly on my lap.

The waggon train was led by a large hulk of a man with a mop of carrot red hair and a beard to match called Hezekiel. He travelled with his wife, Neliah, a tiny, dark-haired, quiet spoken woman and their two grown up sons Fredden and Garvine. Fredden and Garvine were twins and both had inherited their father's red hair and stocky build but also their mother's small cherub mouth and full lips. Hezekiel was a blacksmith and Father said his skill and strength would be invaluable once we arrived at the new Land.

The second waggon was driven by the Cleric, Hermonius Crankel and his wife Hyalah. I wasn't sure how old Hermonius was but I was sure he was the oldest man I had ever seen. His thick white hair fell past his shoulders and his small grey eyes were surrounded by so many wrinkles they virtually disappeared. His skin reminded me of how my fingers went when I stayed in the tub for too long. Hyalah was a sour faced, shrew of a woman who wore her thick grey hair scraped so tightly back into a bun that it seemed to stretch the skin around here eyes giving her a slightly oriental look. Hermonius and Hyalah didn't have any children, Hermonius always said he was too busy looking after his congregation to look after any more children but Id heard the other men whisper and joke behind his back and say that Hyalah wouldn't let him in her bed. I didnt understand what that had to do with them having any children but it sure made the men laugh.

Third in the train were the Worsted family. Thackeray Worsted was a tailor by trade although he hadnt been able to find work in that capacity for some time and his once smooth and nimble fingers that had so beautifully cut and sewn fine cloth were now hard and calloused by hard manual labour. His wife, Ellan was a beauty. Her golden blonde curls framed her cherubic face and clear blue eyes. Unusually for one so beautiful she was also a lovely person - kind, caring and generous. She was a schoolteacher and her infectious smile and happy disposition meant that she was loved by all her students and each of them tried their hardest with their letters and numbers in an effort to please her. Thackeray and Ellan had one child, a beautiful little girl called Emmeline. She could often be seen crawling around by her mother's feet, her chubby pink knees permanently dirty and her plump rosy cheeks streaked with grime but always with that same sweet smile that she had inherited from her mother. Travelling with them were Ellan's two brothers, Esac and Luthor. Their parents had died of a fever a few years back and Thackeray had kindly agreed to let them come to live with him and his new wife. Esac was tall and strong with an impressive physique that had not gone unnoticed by the young ladies of the town. His muscular body, long blonde hair and piercing blue eyes had made him the object of many young ladies fancies and he clearly enjoyed the attention. Luthor, on the other hand, was smaller and darker in complexion. He was quiet and studious and was usually seen sitting in the shade of a tree, book in hand, deeply engrossed in some adventure or other. Despite their differences the boys were very close and both very protective of their sister and their neice.

Our waggon brought up the rear of the train. Father at the reins with Mother by his side, leaning into him and resting her head upon his shoulder from time to time. My brothers and I spent our time either perched on top of the various boxes and bundles in the back of the waggon or, more often, running alongside, chasing butterflies, throwing sticks, hiding behind trees and generally enjoying the fresh air and open country.   Occassionally Father would call out to us if we seemed to be straying too far from the trail and threaten to make us come and sit back in the waggon but Mother would smile and tell him not to worry and remind him how much better we would sleep at night if we were exhausted from our running!

Kale, my oldest brother turned 15 whilst we were on the trail and Father gave him a fine hunting knife with a handsome carved handle made from cocobolo wood and a long rounded blade, as a birthday gift.  How he loved that knife and couldn't wait to put it to use. That afternoon, once the waggons had stopped for the day, Father and Kale went off into the woods and an hour or so later they returned with Kale proudly brandishing a pair of rabbits which he skinned and gutted with his new knife and presented to our Mother for supper. I think that day was a turning point for Kale. He changed from being a child to a young man and my other brother, Evan and I lost a playmate and gained a Protector.

« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 07:15:31 AM by LadyMarmalade »
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Offline LadyMarmalade

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Re: Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2015, 05:06:57 PM »
For the first few weeks it was an adventure and great fun but slowly the novelty wore off and we started to miss our comfy beds and a roof over our heads when the rains came. We grew tired of eating the same dried meat and biscuits at every meal and washing in freezing streams. As the weeks passed and the weather improved the sun beat down on us relentlessly and the winds cutting across the wild open landscape dried the earth on the trail to a fine red dust that blew in great clouds and choked us and got into every crease and fold of both skin and clothes.

From time to time we came across small towns or settlements and had the chance to stockup on food and other essential supplies  but as we travelled further and further from our starting point the settlements became fewer and further in between and our meagre amount of cash dwindled to almost nothing. 
The other families were all in the same position and the air in the camp became tense and agitated.  Minor squabbles broke out and tempers flared. Everyone was beginnning to question their decision to make the trip.

One day we came across a wide, fast flowing river. We stopped dead in our tracks and the men all gathered together on the shore deciding what to do. The river was wide and appeared to be quite deep but it would add days onto our journey if we looked for a narrower place to cross and so the decision was made to attempt the crossing right there.

Hezekiel volunteered to wade/swim across first and secure a rope to a large oak tree close to the shore on the other side. The rope would then be used to guide the rest of us across.  Neliah stood on the shore as Hekekiel waded into the river up to his waist with a rope tied around him. She rung her hands nervously as she watched him stride deeper and deeper into the flowing water and gasped when he momentarily lost his footing and slipped under the water, thankfully to emerge a second or two later and turn to give her a small wave signalling that he was ok before continuing. It took a full ten minutes for him to make it across to the other side and we all breathed a sigh of relief as he staggered up out of the water and onto the opposite bank.  He removed the rope from his waist and tied it around the trunk of the oak, the other end having already been secured to another tree this side of the river.

First across was Hezekiel's waggon. Neliah and Garvine sat in the waggon ready to grab anything that threatened to topple into the water. Fredden sat astride one of the the horses, still harnessed to the waggon and slowly and carefully manoeuvred  it across the river gripping onto the rope and guiding it through the rushing water. The water came up almost to the top of the waggon wheels and we all held our breath as they reached the deepest point only releasing it when the point was passed and the waggon safely emerged on the other side.

The Crankel's waggon was next to cross without incident and after that the Worsted's. Only our waggon remained and with Father on the horse, Kale, Eden, Mother and I gripped each other tightly as we slipped slowly into the water and started across. We safely passed the mid-point and started to climb out the other side. None of us noticed a large log floating downstream at high speed and it was only a split second before it crashed into the side of the waggon that a cry went out from the shore."Watch out!!"

It was too late and before I knew what was happening the waggon lurched violently sidewards and I felt myself slipping from my Mother's arms and into the icy water. I panicked as the water lapped around my ankles and then my knees. A sense of inevitablity filled me and I felt sure I was about to die when suddenly I felt a strong hand grip my arm and I was yanked from the water and deposited unceremoniously back on bench beside my weeping mother. I looked up and into the face of Kale who was grinning. "No time for swimming today, Sis, and next time try it without your clothes on".   Mother grabbed a blanket from inside the waggon and wrapped it tightly around me, holding me close to her chest and stroking my hair as she wept tears of relief. The waggon had righted itself and we continued across the river. It wasn't until some time later that I realised that in the midst of my panic I had dropped Emilia and lost my most treasured possession and dearest friend.

We made camp shortly after that and settled down for the night. I slept with my mother who seemed reluctant to let me out of her reach having almost lost me once that day. We both cried ourselves to sleep that night. Her tears were tears of relief at having almost lost a loved one whereas mine were tears of sadness at actually having lost something I loved a great deal.

The next day we packed up early and set off again. The sun was shining and the wind, for once, had dropped meaning we were soon basking in the warm sunshine. We travelled a few miles further along the trail which led along a valley floor between two small hills curved around their base towards the west.
As we rounded the curve the landscape changed and opened up into a wide,lush valley spotted with fir tress and oaks and surrounded on all sides by gentle hills. The waggons came to a halt and we heard Hezekiel's booming voice from the head of the train. "This is it! We are here!"

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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2015, 06:53:24 AM »
More please.  This is very good, and the detail is fascinating.  There are a few typos there and awkwardnesses, but they are trivial.  Go back and fix them if you want, but do continue your story.

As an encouragement, here is one that you won't find on this site because it has nothing to do with the theme: http://www.ezlink.ca/~jwinterton/Geordie.html  It is not fiction.
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Offline LadyMarmalade

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Re: Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2015, 07:49:06 AM »
@A Nonny Moose Thankyou, for your kind words and your comments. I really appreciate input from someone else, especially someone who obviously has a talent for creative writing such as yourself.

I've been back through the text and made a couple of small amendments to correct typos - let me know if I missed anything because after reading it through so many times I think my eyes are seeing what I think is there instead of what really is.

I love detail. For me everything is always all about the details.  The sections describing the travellers could easily have been three times as long had I given full vent to my urges but I think know I tend to overdo it and worry people will lose interest in the actual plot if I describe everyone TOO much. It's hard for me though because thats really the part I enjoy the most and as I write these stories and describe my characters I can see them so clearly in my minds eye and I have a need to share what I 'see'.

I think I know what you mean about awkardnesses but I'd be really grateful if you could point them out to me and perhaps give me some ideas on how to write it differently?

I enjoyed the story about Geordie very much. Funnily enough my first dog was a Setter although she was an English Setter called Lucy. We also had to travel some distance to find a breeder as English Setters are also not hugely common even here in England although somewhat more common than a Gordon. As you say, not overly endowed in the brains department but a real bundle of fun and mischief not to mention boundless amounts of energy.

Anyway, I look forward to your comments and will get back to the story writing. I've made a start on Chapter Two and hopefully this will be an improvement on Chapter One.
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Offline Bobbi

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Re: Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2015, 09:17:54 AM »
@LadyMarmalade, I love it! I will come back for Chapter Two. I was hoping the crabby pastor and his wife would get swept away by the river...... ;D

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2015, 04:12:14 PM »
You are most welcome.  You will find a story in my name further down the list.  I got so involved in it that I finally just killed everyone off out of sheer defensiveness.  However, don't let that stop you, you write a much better stick than I do.

Looking forward to your next instalment.

Things are a little hectic, but I will find the time to redact Chapter 1, and if I may, I will post the critique privately for you.
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Offline RedKetchup

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Re: Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2015, 01:04:35 AM »
<3 love it !!
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2015, 07:09:56 AM »
@LadyMarmalade I hope you are not waiting for my redaction.  RL is getting in the way at the moment.
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Offline LadyMarmalade

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Re: Ailiya's Tale: Chapter One. The Journey.
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2015, 07:55:17 AM »
@A Nonny Moose . Not at all, although I will look forward to reading it when you have the time. I am pressing ahead with the next chapters but struggling to get my enthusiasm under control and slow down a little.

Just about to do a final read through before posting the next one.
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Offline LadyMarmalade

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Ailiya's Tale: Chapter Two. The Arrival
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2015, 08:15:50 AM »
Chapter Two: The Arrival

As we climbed down from the wagons we stood speechless and slowly surveyed the scene around us, swiveling the full 360 degrees on the spot to take in every detail of what was to be our new home. It was hard to believe that our long journey was finally over.

We were at the base of a wide, flat valley bordered on all four sides by rolling hills dotted with mature Firs and Pines.  A river flowed from east to west, dividing the valley neatly into two distinct sections and promising to be the source of good fishing as well as fresh water and, in the future, a possible trade link with other settlements downstream. As the river meandered through it widened considerably at a point just west of centre and resembled more of a small lake than an actual river. To the north east, a huge forest covered the hills and spilled down onto the valley floor. We had high hopes that as well as providing essential timber it would prove a good area for hunting.

As the sun was already close to slipping below the horizon, we hastily collected firewood and instead of our usual family fires, created a large communal pile and sat around excitedly discussing our hopes and plans for our new life in the Valley. The women saw to it that our bellies were filled while the men discussed the list of jobs to be done and the order in which they needed to be completed.
 
The journey to our new land had taken many weeks. Spring was over and summer was well under way. The winter, when it came, would be harsh and it was essential that we be well prepared. The first order of business was shelter for ourselves, the horses and our supplies. Next would be food and firewood.

It was decided that the next day a full survey would be done of the valley to locate the best position for our initial buildings, plan future ones and also to gain an idea of what resources were available and so, at first light, the men divided into small groups and set off in different directions to explore. Hezekiel, with his sons Fredden and Garvine headed north west towards the forest with instructions to check out the local game as well as identifying some tall, straight tree trunks which we would need for the proposed cabins.
Thackeray, Esac and Luthor headed westward towards the base of the steepest hills. The sides of these hills were scattered with rocky outcrops and around those, varying sizes of boulders. Even though our first homes would be basic wood cabins we would still need stone and, it was hoped there might also be small amounts of surface iron which could be collected and put to very good use. Thackeray’s group was to find out and report back.

My father and Hermonius went to survey the lake and river. It seemed logical that the settlement would centre around the lake not only because this was the centrepoint of the valley but any future trading, visitors,’etc would most likely arrive by river. Being close to a water source also made sense, especially to those who would be charged with fetching a carrying it and even more so in the winter months.

Whilst the men explored the women also set to work. Neliah and Hyalah were instructed to make an inventory of all the supplies we had remaining and to begin locating them to a central storage point.
My mother and Ellan were to forage for food and firewood. Emmeline was left in the care of Neliah and Hyalah in a makeshift playpen close to their wagon and sat quite happily playing with some empty pots and a wooden spoon. My brothers and I joined the two women and we set off armed with empty wooden bowls and a couple of hessian sacks.  We headed to a lightly wooded area between the lakeshore and the hills to the south. Here we found several wild fruit bushes and a small grove of wild fruit trees. The apples and plums were not yet ripe but we made a note of their location to return to later in the year. The pears, however, were ripe and juicy and we were able to collect several pounds of them to add to our collection. We also found Elderberries, wild garlic, chickweed and nettles and these were all eagerly added to our hoard. In the mottled shade of the trees we found an abundance of field mushrooms and gathered these too. We collected as many as we could carry knowing that what we didn’t consume right away could be dried and stored for later.

Our bowls and pockets almost full to overflowing, we started back towards the camp via the lakeshore and added wild watercress to our collection.

While Mother and Ellan returned to the camp with our pickings, my brothers and I scoured the ground for firewood and managed to fill two large sacks before we too started back towards the camp following the river bank.

The sun was high in the sky and we were hot and sweaty from our hard labour. It wasn't long before the lure of cool flowing water beckoned us and, dumping our sacks of firewood, we threw off our stockings and waded knee deep into the water shrieking with glee as icy cold water swirled around our ankles and knees. Kale, being the oldest and by far the tallest strode out several feet from the shore, rolling his breeches up above his knees and beckoning for us to join him. Evan, never one to turn down a challenge, started to follow him even though, being a good foot shorter than his older brother, the water quickly rose above his knees and was almost to the middle of his thigh before he lost his nerve and stopped.

I hitched my skirt and petticoats up around my waist and tried to follow. I hated the feel of the muddy river bed squelching between my toes and tried to find stones to step on instead. Slowly I stepped from stone to stone, out from the shore until I too was standing almost thigh deep. The flow of the river was stronger than I had expected and it was hard to balance with my arms full of petticoat.

As I took another stepforward my brain registered a second too late that the stone I was about to stand on was not sitting firmly and as I transferred my weight it tipped suddenly sideways sending me sprawling into the water with a yelp. I held my breath as I went under and struggled to stand again as my clothes became waterlogged and threatened to weigh me down. Once again I felt a firm hand grip my arm and hoist me out of the water and onto my feet.

"Again? Are you determined to swim fully clothed, Ailiyah. Or do you want to drown youreself?" Kale was scowling at me. "One of these days I won't be here to save you!" Saying this he picked me up and threw me over his shoulder, waded back to the shore and dumped me roughly on the grassy bank.
 
Half an hour later we arrived back at the camp.  I hid behind Kale and Evan as we approached the camp, hoping to slip back to the wagon without being seen but I was not to be so lucky.

"Ailiayh Mae Burns, come here immediately".

I cringed as I heard the anger in my Mother's voice. She didn't often get angry but when she did she was like a bee in a jar. I stepped out from behind my brothers and stared down at the ground. My dress and petticoat hung like limp rags around my knees, ripped and streaked with mud.

"It wasn't my fault. I was only paddling. I was sooo hot and the water was so nice and cool and..." I struggled to make my excuses but Mother was in no mood for them. She stood, with her hands on her hips and shook her head angrily.

"Get back to the wagon and out of those wet clothes. Get into your nightclothes and don't move again until tomorrow morning"

I started to plead my case.

"But I haven't had supper..."

One glance at my Mother's face flushed with anger was enough to silence me and, head hung low, I walked slowly back to the wagon and stripped out of my wet clothes. I rubbed myself dry with a rag and slipped into my nightgown.

 The sun had fully set now and the temperature had dropped. I thought of the roaring fire that the others were enjoying and reflected on how unfair life could be. Wrapping myself in a blanket, I lay down beside the wagon looking up at the wide expanse of sky and the fast appearing stars.  I must have dozed off because I awoke a short while later to find my mother staring down at me. As I sat up she knelt beside me and handed me a mug of hot soup and a couple of dry biscuits. I waited for her reprimand but instead she stroked my hair and smiled.

"I'm sorry if I shouted at you, Ailiayh, but you must learn to be more careful. This is a dangerous place for people who do not take sufficient care - and I could not bear to lose you. I came so close to it yesterday, when I saw you today and realised what might have happened again I was so scared."

She sighed and shook her head slowly, took a deep breath and then looked right into my eyes and smiled.

"Do you promise me you will try to be more careful in future? I need you to promise me this Ailiyah because come winter I am going to have to rely on you a lot more and will need to be able to trust you"

I nodded eagerly and promised to do my best but I was puzzled.

 “What’s happening in Winter, Mama?”

"Come Winter you are going to be a big Sister and will need to set a good example"

She paused, watching my face, as her revelation sunk in.

"A big sister? Me?  Really?" I jumped to my feet and did a little dance of joy.
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