Here’s an except from Chapter 3. What will Remence do with the information he garnered at the orc encampment?
Chapter 3-“Do We Stay or Do We Go?”
Remence reached his village close to the time of the setting sun. He had run all day. His tunic and pants were drenched from the downpour of rain, and though he was soaked, and hadn’t slept, nor eaten in nearly two days, he could think of neither victuals nor slumber as his mind had but one purpose: to warn his people of the impending danger.
Yet, he was hesitant to enter his home. The day’s long journey had allowed him time to reflect on what his best course of action should be.
He had decided he would circumvent the people of his village and come in unnoticed. He desired his father’s counsel prior to letting any of his people see him in his disheveled state, which would cause them to inquire of his whereabouts the previous two days. Not wanting to alarm his people until there was a well thought out plan of action as to avoid panic, he moved to the outskirts of the village.
He cautiously made his way toward his dwelling, moving from the brush surrounding the hamlet to a run-down barn that his neighbor had allowed to fall into disrepair, which was within a stone’s throw of his little stock of land. He stopped, looking all about in a furtive manner to make sure no eyes would catch him heading for his house.
As he was spying the landscape, he smelled the long-stemmed pipe leaf and knew immediately his father had recently finished his evening meal. He inhaled, taking in the familiar cherry flavor that was his father’s favorite.
His stomach growled, and Remence salivated. The familiarity of his home and knowing he was so close drained him of his last reserves of energy. His hunger pangs were on the wax, and he decided he needed to eat.
He peered through the uneven, rickety boards of the structure that once served as his neighbor’s barn, and he spotted his father, sitting outside in his favorite chair, puffing on his pipe.
Slipping from the neighbor’s farm, then to the corral, and finally to the edge of his property, he laid belly-down on the ground, allowing the earth to swallow him up as he slithered the rest of the way to his house.
Once he reached his home, he rose and plastered himself to the wall, creeping against the rear of his residence until he was able to slip through the entrance into the kitchen area. Unnoticed, Remence moved through his home with the thought of getting to his father. He stopped briefly to grab a piece of bread from a meal his father had left out, presumably for him. He stuffed the small piece of food into his mouth to ease his hunger as he continued forward.
Sweeping through the familiar structure he and his father shared, Remence stepped through the open front door and out onto their small porch. His father looked up, and Remence could see immense relief on his father’s face as he laid his eyes on him.
“Remence!” he cried as he sprang from his chair with the grace of a cat. “My boy! I was beginning to worry. It is a rare thing that you are away for nearly two days without warning beforehand.” His father embraced him in a hug Remence had not felt since he was a very young lad.
“I’m fine, Father.”
“You don’t look fine. You look as if you’ve been run over by a wagon being drawn by a couple of dragons. Where you been, Son? What is going on? You look worse for the wear.”
“Come inside, Father, we have much to discuss. You must hear what I have to say.”
“Yes, yes. Come to the cooking area. I’ve left a meal out for you.”
Remence sat and told his father of everything that had happened and what was soon to happen. He ate ravenously while he recounted the events that had transpired.
“Son, this is most distressing. We must convene The Hand. Get some rest; you need it. I will call upon council at once.”
Remence went to his sleeping quarters, thinking that he would not find slumber, for his mind was unsettled with the impending doom moving toward his village. But as he lay in his bed, thinking of what might become of his friends and family, he drifted off.
Remence awoke to the din of battle. He jumped from his bed looking for his bow and sword. The orcs are here? How did they get here so swiftly? Where are my weapons?
As he frantically searched for his weapons, he noticed smoke through his open window. He stepped up to it to get a closer look. He saw that smoke billowed from all parts of his village. My people are dying. “Where in the Nine Hells are my bow and sword? I left them right here!” he shouted at no one as he stared at the chair near his bedside, hands clenched in frustration.
Remence abandoned the idea of finding his weapons. Instead, he decided to help as many of his people as possible to find safety. He bolted out into the village proper, his legs pumping with all his might. But as he ran toward the center of the village, passing home after home, he saw no one. He heard the clashing of weapons, saw smoke, but could find no one.
Then, he saw a lone orc. Rage filled his heart. Its back was turned to him, so he rushed it, screaming at the top of his lungs as he tackled the it. He was able to get the beast to the ground and get on top of it. There was a large rock right next to them. He grabbed it, snarling as he did. The orc brought its hands up to block its face and head as best it could. Remence did not care; he would smash the thing until it could no longer protect itself, then he would smash it some more! With both his hands he brought the rock over his head ready to bludgeon the creature over and over. It pulled its hands from away from its face and it was… Gromken?!
“Remence. Remence? Remence!”
He awoke in a cold sweat, the visage of his father bearing down on him with concern. It took him a minute before he realized it was only a dream. The panic within subsided as he realized the ransacking by orcs was no more than a nightmare. But still, he felt uneasy, and he could not shake the image of Gromken out of his head.
“You okay, Son? I’ve gotten the elders together, and they are gathering everyone from the village so that we can meet in the hall. They want to hear the story from your mouth. I left a fresh tunic there, next to your weapons. I will meet you on the porch.”
“Thanks,” Remence said absentmindedly. He arose from his bed, kicking his legs over the side. He stood up, but much slower than usual since his muscles had stiffened from his arduous journey. He dressed slowly and gathered his weapons. He decided he wasn’t going anywhere without them, to ensure that his nightmare did not become a reality. He met his father on the porch to discuss a possible alternative to facing the village.
“You are part of The Hand. Won’t your fellow council members take what you say as truth?” Remence questioned. “You are revered by them, Father, and a great deal wiser than me. A great deal wiser than most. And, as brave as any man in the village. Would not your words carry greater weight than mine?” Remence finished. He dreaded having to face The Hand. And, his village.
“No son. They… we, must hear from you. It is the way of our people.”
“But why? Why is The Hand so important? Why do we even need them?”
“The Hand was created long ago and called such to represent what our human hand does. What it might accomplish.” Remence’s father, Kael, held up his hand. “It gives us the ability to write, representing human intellect. It can caress, which provides a means of showing love. And the hand’s capacity to wield a tool or a weapon gives us the power to farm, fight, and defend that which we care for. That is what it represents, Son.”
Kael put his hand down and continued. “The Hand has been guiding our people for nearly half a century, helping to settle disputes among village members, making judgments on matters that possibly violate village law, and making suggestions and counseling our people about their individual needs. The Hand, like our human hand, which has no emotion attached to its actions, is supposed to give unbiased advice and judgment, so fairness will always accompany our counsel and decrees. That is its purpose.
“In this situation, we must help the village to decide on the proper course of action—stay or flee. This is a matter that affects us all, and we must decide as a village, and the village must hear from you, the one who witnessed it. I must sit in neutral judgment of your tale, like any other member. I cannot speak on your behalf.”
“But, Father, we must flee! We cannot hope to stop this wave of evil that is about to descend upon us. There is no way. You know that many will not want to run. They are too proud. They will want to protect that which we have drawn from this harsh land. They will want to defend our homes. But in defending our homes, there will be no one left to live in them. No one left to sow the fields. It is foolishness.”
“Then that is what you must tell them. You must convince them. Convince us, The Hand, and in particular, Jarden, Mand, and Grok, the most hawkish of the council. They are more likely to choose fighting to fleeing. And, they are stubborn. If you can sway them, they then will help you win the crowd. You know you have my belief and support. And, Falen will stand with reason.”
“But I am no orator. No sage. I’m only seventeen winters. And, my story will seem so far-fetched,” Remence whined, doing whatever he could to get out of this dreaded responsibility.
“You must,” reprimanded his father. “It is your responsibility, Son.”
Remence sat in silence for a moment. His stomach churned, as if he were drunk on very bad mead. He wanted nothing more than to go back to his bed and bury his face in his pillow. I think I would rather face the onslaught of the orcs than speak in front of the entire village.
“You can do this, Son. I have confidence in you. You have confidence in you.”
Remence took a deep breath. “Clovina guide my tongue,” he whispered to the wind as he and his father marched into the village proper.
Remence has to face his village. He has to tell them the story of what he knows. How will they react? What will the Hand instruct the village to do? Look for Excerpt #2 in a few days to find out the choice they all make- Stay? or Go? Let me know what you think by visiting my website at johndpepeauthor.com, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by simply posting a comment here at godamonggeeeks316.com.