Author Topic: Into the Wild  (Read 19605 times)

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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Into the Wild
« on: September 07, 2014, 12:41:05 PM »
Here is an initial submission for a longer story.  If people like it, I will continue.



Into the Wild

The gates of the city slammed shut behind us. The oxen plodded forward and the loaded cart creaked forward on dry axles. Beside me, Marta shuffled along stunned, weeping, "Why", she said, "Why?"

I held her elbow to my chest. "You know why", I said, "We are different."

This was the tenth town in which we had tried to settle, but sooner than we expected we had been found out. In spite of keeping to ourselves, it became clear that we were not of the pantheistic worship that was followed everywhere on this side of the sea. We admitted to no gods at all, and as such were unwelcome among those who felt the need for divine support to explain their fears. We could not bring ourselves to the little sacrifices that came with almost any action in public or in private.

Ahead, on the road, there was another cart, but without oxen. It was being pulled by two men with their women walking along side. We easily overtook them. "May we pass", I called. The others pulled off to the side to allow our lumbering beasts to pass by. As we came abreast of the other cart I said, "Thank you, and good day."

"Wait", said one of the men. "Let us travel together if we have the same road. A larger party would be safer, so I considered this seriously.

Why not, I thought. "That would give us a larger party and some safely", I said. "Why not?"

"What is your destination?", I asked.

The other looked blank. "What does it matter?", he said.

"Not much", I said, "but we might have a common place in view."

A quick shrug told me that no answer would be given, so we continued companionably until near sunset.

We both pulled into a dip off the road at around sunset. Each set about making camp, and we agreed that the new people would take the first watch.
* * *

In the morning we found our new companions gone complete with our oxen and cart, leaving us only their dilapidated buggy and a few supplies. The road was deserted, and no one was in sight. We had always been too trusting, and it seemed that our temporary friends had absconded as soon as we slept. The hard ground gave no sign of any direction, so we packed up what little remained of our gear and hit the road.

Over the next few weeks we added a few people to our party after some vigorous conversations. It seemed we were not the only ones who had been banished from the local civilization of pantheists. We were fortunate that among our companions were some experienced farmers and beast-holders as well as a smith and an experienced huntsman. We continued through the countryside until we reached the point where we felt we were well away from those who might interfere with us. Then, in a watered box canyon, we set up our first permanent camp.

For our party of ten adults and four children we set up some lean-tos to keep off the elements then agreed on a couple of spots for stockpiles, assigning one in particular for firewood to keep us warm. We set about removing the trees the immediate area and converting some of them into kindling and stock for the fires at each lean-to. Marta and I set our hovel near the water so that we could catch fish. We laid some lines in the water to supply the encampment with fresh food. We were soon joined by Walter and his spouse Juliana.

As soon as we were able to set the lines, Walter and I left the women to tend them and set about converting our shelters into something more permanent. First, we built a small pier out into the water to provide a dock, then using logs and stone from one of the growing stockpiles we were able to lay out a cabin to provide some better shelter. We were lucky that it was just spring and that the walls of the canyon provided some shelter from the winds.

While watching the lines, the women were able to put together some simple crates from slats split off the firewood faggots to provide crates for our fish. This let us distribute the catch to the others.

Deodato came into camp with a brace of deer across his broad shoulders and called out, "Serpina! Come give me a hand." His first hunt had been quite successful and it would be venison steak for dinner.

Serpina stopped working on the shelter she was building with Consuela and extracted her knives from her pack. As her mate lowered his take to the ground she set about gutting them, then carefully flensing the hides with the least possible waste. After scrubbing the hides with a strange mixture from her pack, she hung them to dry over some nearby bushes. "Bear repellent", she said.

The meat was transferred to clean bags, cooled in the river then hung high in the trees to keep it from predators and scavengers. Separate bags were used for the bones to be dried and the gut pile was taken into the woods and buried. The bones and horns would be made into buttons and other necessaries.
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Offline rkelly17

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2014, 08:13:47 AM »
Absolutely! Keep it up!

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2014, 12:54:24 PM »
Next instalment.  If the dish doesn't run away with the spoon, I'll tell you more tomorrow.




A light rain began to fall as heavier clouds closed in. We huddled into our shelters and as darkness closed in we could hear the twilight hunt starting. We had built up our fires, but the rain was slowly damping them out. Geogio, the smith, had the first watch, and we noticed as his body crossed the embers of each fire as he patrolled the camp. The night closed in.

***

After a chilly night of fitful sleep we awoke in the morning to find Juliana on watch and making tea for our scant breakfast of porridge. "All is well", she said as the rest gathered at the newly kindled central fire.

Everyone turned to their own tasks after breakfast, and we fishers examined our overnight lines and hauled in the catch, gutting it and setting it on racks to dry in the sun. We were running low on salt, and Walter volunteered to search the area for some.

Georgio and Carmencita went to scout of the area for iron. His anvil has been taken by our earlier acquaintences. He was feeling helpless without one and would be reduced to using a large rock if he could not make one. Meanwhile, Consuela started setting up a charcoal burning hut. A smithy needs fuel and we certainly needed more tools than we had left. The others continued building cabins for better shelter from both the weather and the local beasts,

As the sun neared its zenith, Serpina went to the storage tree for some meat. She called me over. "Look", she said, there are claw marks on the bark. Something has attempted to reach our storage."

"Yes! Looks like we have a bear in the area. Bear is good eating, but Deodato will have to be careful". I helped her to lower the pack to the ground where she took a chunk of meat from it, then we hoisted it back up.

The women turned their attention to the stew pot, while I strolled around the encampment. Five cabins had been laid out, and the first was well under weigh with three solid courses of logs leaving room for a doorway. Since Deodato was spending all his time in the hunt, this would be his cabin.

After the mid-day meal, Serpina started working on a bellows for the forge using some skins that we found in the buggy. She made needles from some of the bones of the recent kill, and cord from fibres of plants from the surrounding woods. At the same time, Finbar started digging the pit for the casting of the anvil, while Consuela entertained the children. Those twins of Deodato and Serpina were a handfull at that age, and kept heading for the woods. Finally we constructed a pen for them and Dash and Vicki, which held them for the time being. I began weaving a net that would enlarge our daily catch over fishing with lines alone. The hot stones from the morning fire cooked the flat bread to go with the evening meal of fish and forest greens that had been gathered.
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline Bobbi

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2014, 03:43:55 PM »
@anonnymoose, I wish you had participated in the story challenge. This is good, keep it up.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2014, 03:02:26 PM »
The dish was spurned by the spoon.  Here is another installment


About the middle of the afternoon, Deodato came empty-handed into the camp. "I've found the bear", he said. "She is a sow with two cubs, and she is very protective. I don't want to attack her for the sake of the young."

There was general agreement, as we felt that it was important to keep the woods healthy as we were dependent on it. As long as we could take deer for meat without too much depletion, we'd continue hunting them.

Just then, Georgio and Carmencita came back loaded down with sacks. "We have found a large deposit of iron ore in the talus over by the eastern canyon wall", Georgio said. "That wall may give us a mine later on."

Unpacking one of the large bags showed some reddish and yellowish rocks. "These are iron, almost in native form but we will have to smelt them to get the metal. How are we doing with the charcoal hut?"

"Finished" said Consuela. "We've been working hard and have you all set up except for the hardwood needed to fuel it".

"Wonderful", Georgio took some hardwood faggots from another sack, and handed them over. "We'll start the charcoal tonight, and see where we stand in the morning".

Serpina showed Georgio the bellows she had made that day. "Very nice, now how did we do with a smelting pit?"

"Here", I said. He came over and inspected the works. "Well, not quite deep enough, but a little more and we can line it with the river clay we found. It should do for a refractory surface. We'll have to gather some more ore to get a big enough piece to beat into a proper anvil."

In another sack, Carmencita had gathered a quantity of fresh herbs, roots and berries to add to our larder. This included some wild onions and a bulb of wild garlic. Things were going to be more flavourful. Some of this new cache was added to the evening stew with some glee.
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2014, 08:32:18 AM »
Short instalment today, complete with a complication.


The evening meal went well, and the fish stew was delicious. While we were cleaning up afterwords Marta took me aside. "Indio", she said, "I am with child."

It took me a moment to digest this news with everything else that was going on. "Wonderful", I said. "We will have to be very careful of you while we fish." I gave her a hug, but not too tightly. "This will be a sibling for Dash. Wonder how he'll take it?"

"Leave that to me" she said. "When I start showing, I'll handle him."

A breeze sprang up across the lake, so everyone hurried to get into shelter. Rain often followed these little breezes and sometimes a bit of lightning as well. The light was failing, so we turned in.

***
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2014, 10:38:38 AM »
Chapter 2


By the spring our little group had grown to ten adults and seven children. Marta had been delivered safely of our new daughter, Myrtle; Georgio and Carmencita had produced Tinetta and Finbar and Consuela had Leaf. We now have 17 mouths to feed.

Fortunately the settlement has been completed and is starting to look successful. Geogio's anvil is a clanging success and he has set himself up under a spreading old oak tree with a complete forge using the bellows made by Serpina. The furnace can be made hot enough to smelt and work the iron ore into usable tools. I twisted enough rope for a flag halyard, raised an ash pole, and the women had made a trading flag, which was now flying at the dock. We waited for our first trader.

We haven't been bothered by the bear, who has raised her cubs into youth, and seems to be looking after them well. There is enough game in this forest for both of us, and we know that when they mature these young bears will seek new territory. We live in a kind of mutual respect with them.

Carmencita came into camp from a gathering expedition quite excited. "Look", she said, "I have found enough wild rye in seed to start a small patch of our own here. By the fall we may have enough to make rye flour for better bread". She and Juliana were soon busy laying out and clearing a small plot for a rye field. Our first real step in farming.

Dash, our five-year-old came running up from the dock. "A boat! A boat!", he called.

I had set him on watch at the dock to keep him occupied never expecting anything so soon. Those who could ran down to the dock to see if this was factual. Sure enough, a large bateau was approaching.

Deodato and I stood by on the pier and received lines from the stranger. "Greetings", I said.

"Morning" the skipper said. "I am Leon of Okanto, trading out of Espero. We have some things here you might be interested in."

"Come ashore and join us for a morning cup, and we can show you what we have by way of trade goods. I am Indio the fisherman, and this is Deodato our hunter."

"Gladly", he replied. "John, stay with the boat and make sure she is fast to this pier. I'll bring you back something from the fire." "Aye, skipper." was the laconic response.

We walked up the the central area where we held our gatherings and evening fires. The women set out a small meal of biscuits and herb teas. Juliana brought out a selection of gathered foodstuffs she had gleaned from the forest that were surplus and Serpina brought out a few homespun items she had made. "We have some venison we can trade as well, if you are interested", I said, "And a few packets of dried fish".

Leon looked over our goods and said, "I can offer you some goods for this stuff. Good handcrafts go well in towns I visit. Do you have any spare hand-tools?".

Georgio said, "We have some scythes and hammers that we've forged but they are all soft iron. "We haven't found any coal for steel so far."

"I'll look at what you have.", leon said. "Several places nearby have no smithy at all".

Overall, the session went well. Serpina's beaded jackets were all taken along with a good share of the gathered foodstuffs. Leon went to the forge with Georgio and came back with a bag of tools. For all this we got some steel knives and a couple of big cooking pots that would assist in many areas. Leon, true to his word, took a selection from the prepared food down to his crew and we helped them get off the pier. "Drop in any time" I said.
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2014, 08:30:22 AM »
Author's comment:  I am at a crossroads.  This can turn into a novel (not very exciting) or a soap opera.  Lack of comment indicates lack of interest, so ...


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Offline irrelevant

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2014, 08:44:51 AM »
Didn't want to interrupt, it's fun. We might need a soap opera in here  ;)

Offline Bobbi

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2014, 10:21:05 AM »
I vote soap opera!  ;)

Offline Nilla

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2014, 10:38:21 AM »
Quote
I vote soap opera!

me too

Offline rkelly17

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2014, 11:55:43 AM »
Far be it from me to disagree with such distinguished literary minds as @irrelevant, @Bobbi or @Nilla. What I have found in my Banished fiction attempts is that at one level the story sort of takes care of itself. Things happen, babies are born, people die, life goes on. The creative part is trying to be inside the minds of these little electronic entities with the odd names and let out what is going on inside them. So far @A Nonny Moose you have been doing very well at that creative part and have given us a most enjoyable story. Maybe it doesn't need to be either a novel (where the author has more control over the plot that we do in Banished) or a soap opera (with the implications of over done, formulaic melodrama). You have the knack, so just keep going and see what happens.

Hopefully you are a CBC listener. Maybe two weeks ago Jian Ghomeshi interviewed Thomas King on Q (http://www.cbc.ca/q/) and they talked about King's new novel. It might be worth listening to. For those of you not lucky enough to be Canadians, you can get Q with Jian Ghomeshi on Sirius XM or check the website. Jian is interviewing Jon Stewart tomorrow (Monday the 14th). Thomas King is an essayist, radio writer and novelist who teaches at the University for Guelph. His best non-fiction is The Inconvenient Indian.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2014, 12:20:16 PM »
Interesting.  Three votes for "Oxydol's Own Ma Perkins" and one comment suggesting pure story telling.

The plot may or may not thicken.  I am almost inclined to abandon the basic premise of Banished and just let things develop in a normal manner.  You'll notice I took my group into the woods with very few resources (fewer than they would get in hard mode).

It would be possible for me to bring this to a very sad conclusion in the next winter, or we can make mama bear into a rug, etc.  Right now, the group is surviving on fish'n'bruise supplemented by a little venison.  If the rye crop gets a case of rot, things will get much worse than they are.  We also have an amicable group. 

The soap opera plot would mean some interpersonal conflicts and whose kid is that really? sort of thing.  I don't think I'll go there, but if anyone wants to lift the story so far into their own thread and take it from there, you have my permission.  If you like, I can give you the file.  It is in HTML and I can put it on Dropbox.
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2014, 01:36:32 PM »
Well, after some soul searching, I decided to go with a novelette.  So here is the introduction of a new (single) characters to spice things up.


Later that day, Deodato returned from his hunt with a game bag and a skinny young man coming along at his side. "This is Geoffrey", Deodato said. "I found him sleeping rough in the woods over by the pass. He wants to join our settlement."

"Hello, Geoffrey", I said. "We'll have to know more about you if you are to remain with us. Where are you from, and why are you here and not in town?"

"I am alone", Geoffrey said. "My parents were both killed in a raid a few years back, and while I was fostered in the village of Talford, I have grown up and felt I wanted to find something better than mucking out barns."

"So you have some knowledge of caring for herd beasts, then?"

"Oh yes. As a kid I looked after the cattle in the pasture, and even took a turn on the milking stool."

"These skills may come in handly later, but at the moment we have no beasts. What else can you do?"

"I am able to do carpentry work, and I can build cabinets."

"Well, then, do you affirm to act as a member of our community?

"Yes, of course."

"Then welcome to Hereweare. Come with me and I'll show you around. Until you get your own place built, you can bunk in with my kids". I had sized him up and there was no guile in him.

We came over to Finbar's place and I found him at home having come in from the rye field. "Finbar, this is Geoffrey. He has joined our community and has some skills with beasts. You may want to take him under your wing."

"Hello", Finbar said. "Tomorrow after you have settled, come find me and we'll have a chat."
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2014, 10:11:54 AM »
Now for a little more accretion.




***

The next year, Geoffrey met a girl who was crewing for Leon. She was his daughter and had studied leather work and shoe making. She was a qualified cordwainer, and seemed to be attracted strongly to Geoff. While trading with Leon for some fine leather from the deer, she became friendly with Serpina, and spent some time discussing curing and tanning methods. She was reluctant to board the bateau to continue downstream.

I took Leon aside. "Your girl seems to want to stay", I said.

"She is of age and knows her own mind. I'll hate to lose her, but I know she will be safe here", Leon said.

"How do you feel about Geoff?" I asked.

"What can you tell me?" said Leon.

"Near as we know he is an orphan raised by the town on a farm near here. He is a competent carpenter and is earning his keep making cabinets and helping our farm stead improve. He says he has beast master skills and our chief farmer has confirmed this. I think he will make a living here.

"I'll stay a couple of more days, if you will allow, and we'll see what develops then."

"Agreed", I said pouring more herb tea.

Geoffrey and Julia were handfasted the next evening at the community fire, and retired to Geoff's cabin to make better acquaintance. Leon grinned at me as the couple disappeared into the night, and I grinned back. The women were gathered in a whispering group on the far side of the fire, but I could tell that there was approval in the air.

Leon presented the young couple with, of all things, an encyclopedia, as he and his son, John, prepared to depart the next morning. "She'll make you a good school marm when you think you are ready", Leon said. "Cast off!"

John freed the last line and leapt aboard the bateau. "See you next round", I said winking. "Maybe we'll have another mouth or so to feed when we see you again".
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.