Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The 4K Excerpt

I'm sorry about this post being a day late. I got really sick yesterday, so I wasn't conscious enough to  1) reach 4K or 2) blog about it.

This was my day today:









and








So, my profuse apologies. I did manage to hit 4K today, (Yes, I am very behind on my NaNo Word Count. But I'll catch up, don't worry!) and so, without further ado, I present to you... the long-awaited excerpt. Enjoy!




   When Chance came back out to the shop, William was just putting the whetstone and file away.
   “That’s a fine blade.” he remarked.
   His father grunted, clearly dissatisfied. Chance wondered what wrong there was.
   “It was good steel until I had to melt it down.”
   Ah, the quality of the metal. Chance knew almost nothing irked his father more than having to melt down good steel.
   “It doesn’t look bad though,” he said in a lame attempt to mollify his father. “Did you weld some other scraps in, then?”
   “Hm, hm.” William held up the knife for inspection, and with a nod of reluctant satisfaction, wrapped it in some cloth and handed it to Chance. “Be back as quick as you can; I need to repair some things, so I’ll need you to work the bellows.”

   The light was failing rapidly, but Chance knew the streets better than anything. The cloth-wrapped bundle tucked under his arm, he stepped up to Thomas’ door and rapped smartly.
   After a long moment, it was opened, and Thomas’ face appeared. As Chance held out the bundle, the door opened wider.
   “So, the measly dastard finally finished it, eh? About time.” The tanner said, cool as anything. Chance was taken aback by the churlish remark.
   “Stop that!” his voice was so abrupt and harsh that he startled himself. Even Thomas blinked in surprise. Chance fought the urge to pull the wrapped blade back so that Thomas couldn’t touch it. “My father is a decent, honorable man, and you know it.” He eyed the tanner with a suddenly hostile eye. “What have you against him?”
   The man curled his lip. “He’s not one of us. No, he’s not. And neither are you, for that matter.”
   “How dare you!” he checked himself. “What do you mean?” he asked, quieter.
   The tanner scowled at him darkly. “We didn’t know William afore he came here. And he didn’t seem to be a peasant like us, oh no, he didn’t. He looked fair noble-born, even with his smith’s apron. And he could read! No peasant knows how to read, oh no.”
   Chance was unconvinced by any of this, but his temper was flaring more with every word. “So you would slander him just because he’s different.”
   “That ain’t reason enough?”
   “No.”
   This caused Thomas to pause a moment. Then he said, “He’s a puzzle, that William, and we don’t take well to puzzles. He never belonged here, no. He never did. Anyhow, what’s a whelp like you have business answering back to your betters?”
   He snatched the wrapped blade from Chance and started to close the door.
   The lad placed a hand on it to keep from shutting. Struggling to remain civil, Chance said, a mite icily, “No matter what you think of my father, and even though it was finished late, you’re going to pay for that blade.” He added hotheadedly, “Like a decent, honest man ought to.”
   The tanner’s eyebrows drew together as he dug through his money pouch, but—was that grudging respect flickering beneath those black brows?
   It was a heavy coin that was dropped into Chance’s waiting palm. Despite himself, he felt grateful towards Thomas for it. He closed his fist, nodded almost imperceptibly, then turned on his heel and strode off.

   Not one of them! Chance fumed in his mind as he stalked home in the darkness. How dare that man say something like that? What’s reading have to do with any of it? The village boys thought none the worse, or better, of Chance because of his ability to read. And what he said about puzzles- oh, everything he said was rubbish, Chance decided.
   But against himself, doubts crept in, all too readily. What was it that the tanner saw in them? What did he know that Chance did not?
   The forge fire was burning nice and hot, and an unfinished hinge lay on top of the anvil. Chance walked into the shop quietly, his eyebrow arched. He then noticed that the door into the house was open. He hurried over and stepped inside. Aha—there was his father, seated at the table… fast asleep.
   His head was leaned back, arms crossed over his chest, snoring lightly. A half-empty mug was on the table in front of him.
   Good heavens, he’s tired, thought Chance with sympathy and surprise. He must have accidentally fallen asleep when he sat down. 
   Then he remembered the half-finished hinge out in the shop. He would have to finish that for William.
   Thankfully, finishing the hinge was no problem for Chance as far as skill went. But he was feeling as tired as his father, and it took every ounce of his will to keep his eyes open.
   Once he finished the hinge and set it aside, he lit the two lanterns hanging on opposite walls of the shop and put out the forge fire. And by lantern-light, began to tidy up the shop.
   There was a pile of wood shavings on the workbench, from when William had made the handle for the knife, and Chance absent-mindedly brushed the shavings onto the floor to be swept up.
   But out of the tail of his eye, he saw something glint in the light as it fell to the floor among the shavings.
   The payment for the knife! Chance was down on his knees in a second. He saw it roll between some barrels—bother! Chance shoved aside the barrels and crates, expecting a great cloud of dust, because as far as Chance knew, these barrels and crates and boxes had never moved from where they sat in the shop.
   But no such sneeze-provoking cloud arose, and Chance arched an eyebrow, studying the cases as he moved them. Sure, there was dust on them, but it looked like old, stuck dust that had clung to the wood for years. And only a single, thin layer at that!
   Why am I being so concerned about dust? Chance chided himself, and shoved another crate aside. Then something there in the gloom caught his eye.
   What he saw was not the coin, but there, in the deepest, loneliest corner of the shop: an old, beautiful, ornate, wood box. It was long, the length of a man, almost, and as tall and wide as a toddling child. Chance had never set eyes on it before. His inquisitive eyes studied it closely; the dust on it was disturbed by handprints. There, upon the wood was carved many images: great trees, a knight upon a horse (here Chance’s heart gave a leap), a dragon, it’s belly low to the ground, and even a being that looked like a horse, but had a horn coming out of it’s head like a goat!
   There were words, too, across the top. But they were rendered near unreadable by deep, hideous knife gouges in the wood, marking out the letters. Still; the first word looked like “Sir”, but from the second word, Chance assumed it to be a name: only an “i”, an “l”, and an “m” were legible.
   Questions pummeled his mind like hailstones. This was not an object that any poor blacksmith would own. Why, then, was it in his father’s possession? And why would he not display such a marvelous and beautiful thing out in the open? Why hide it? Whose was it? What was inside it?
   That sudden thought struck Chance harder than the others: Whatever was inside of it?
   Curiosity overcame any premonitions. Cautiously, almost reverently, he pulled the box out into the open. Then he ran to the wall and snatched up the lantern. Holding it up with one hand, he eased himself to his knees again before the case. Chance undid the hinge that held it closed. It gave a whisper of a squeak, but even that made him jump. He put his hand to open it, and found himself glancing over his shoulder at the door. It was open, but from within the house he saw no movement and heard no sound. The world was holding it’s breath, it seemed, and Chance realized he was, too. Slowly, ever so slowly, he let it out as he slowly, ever so slowly, eased the lid of the box upwards...


Well, that's that for you! Sorry to end it right there. Well, theoretically I'm sorry. But really, what fun would there be if I didn't leave you hanging? 
And if you were expecting something a little more exciting, I'm pretty sure you will be satisfied once I get the next couple excerpts out. This one was still in the "setup" part of the story.

So, in case you didn't figure it out, Chance is my main character (MC), William the Blacksmith is his dad, and this is in a rural part of England. If you were confused as to the setting because of my synopsis, don't worry. It's the same story. I'll post snippets and updates on the story as I go, so things will make a little more sense.

Oh, and you have no idea how funny it is to have your MC named Chance! Because I can't use "Not a chance" or any other phrases like that anywhere! It serves for very creatives re-phrasing though, let me tell you. It just makes me laugh...

Please, please please let me know what you think! Critique is totally welcome :)


And if I totally lost you, sorry. Hopefully things will make more sense later.



Alright... off I go to write some more... or pass out trying.... **sneezes and blows nose into tissue**



13 comments:

Lainie said...

Ahhhhh! How can I make you go to sleep or do school work when you have left me hanging??!!

Do you realize the position you have put me in? :D

If I bring you soup, will you tell me what's in the box??

*sigh* I know you won't.

Alright--

I'll be up to critique with you. Needless to say, I loved it :D

The Director said...

Do I still get the soup though??

Everyone's Favorite Composer said...

How DAREST THOU leave me hanging!? You know my arms aren't that strong... I'm gonna drop, any moment now... However, I am a bit lost. I'm hoping it will be cleared up soon.
When's the next excerpt?

Tammi said...

I'm sending virtual soup. Does that count? Very well done, kiddo. I really liked you word choice. Mollify, irked, and 'a mite icily' are not typical choices I would expect in middle school writing. But then, you're not a typical middle-schooler, are you? [That's a GOOD thing! :) ]
I really enjoyed reading it and can't wait for more.

Here, have another bowl of soup.

Tammi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Director said...

@EFC
**hope you don't mind that I abbreviated you**
I had a feeling I would make you lost... sorry.
I'm going to be cruel to everyone, including myself... no more excerpts until I pass 10K.

@Tammi
Thanks for the soup ;) Glad you liked it!

**I'm being lovingly overwhelmed by bowls of soup, virtual or otherwise**

Stephanie said...

Sounds great Abby!!! But why did ya leave me hangin' there:(

The Director said...

Hee hee :P

Son of the King said...

Great excerpt! It is good to know that there is another fantastic writer out there. Oh, one question for you, do you plan to publish your book in the future?

~Son of the King~
!(Still partying for reaching 16k)!

Squeaks said...

Hey Director, My brother, SOTK (Son of the King) pointed me here. It looks like you're a fan of the fabulous Jake (Teenage Writer blog) and NaNo XD I'm NaNoing this year too. I just hit 37,400+ XD

I'm officially following your awesome blog :)

Signed with a raven quill,

Squeaks.

The Director said...

@SotK
Thanks! I haven't really thought much about publishing it... but I just might :)
**Wishes I could join your 16K party**
PS I'm following your blog now, too!

@Squeaks
Hi hi hi hi hi! (I'm so excited. Bet you can't tell! Ha ha...) I had no idea you and SotK were siblings! Cool!
I checked out your blog the other day, and I really loved it! (following it now!) Random question: where did you get the cool picture you use as your blog background? wow! I love that picture **silly grin**
Yes, meesa is a Jake fan and a NaNo fan... hey are you doing YWP or the adult version of NaNo? We could be buddies!
That's so awesome that you've hit 37K... dude! **eats your dust** XD

Anonymous said...

I finally got a chance to read it and it was worth the wait! You definitely have a gift!
You are a credit to the Lord, your family, and homeschoolers everywhere!
Off to read the next excerpt!

-SeriousCakes

Anonymous said...

The preview button would have been handy, way too many !!!!!

-SeriousCakes, the expert writer :D