So, I promised those of you who follow me via email exclusive content…and I aim to please in that regard.  I experienced one hiccup that may seem minor, but teaches me that the things you believe are simple are more often than not, far from that reality.  For some reason, WordPress does not do a really great job of handling “follow by email” requests, at least not with the version I am using (free, because I am poor and a writer).

I am investigating better options and possibly the best one for now is for all site visitors to go to my “Newsletter” page and fill out the secure form as I have removed the sidebar “follow by email” widget from my site.

One thing I firmly believe in is that promises should be delivered upon.  Well, all except those you tell kids like, “If you’re good in the store, I’ll buy you a pony.”  If you’re going to say that, you’d better make it clear right up front that the pony you are referencing will be within your price range and is likely to be something that child can carry around.  Snuggle at night.  If you have the funds to buy a living, breathing, hay-eating pony well, I tip my proverbial hat in your general direction.

Without further ado, I have provided the beginning of one of the short stories I promised as “exclusive” below.  To preface this, the short stories will be about the World of “PrinceFall” – an introduction into the places, people, cultures, customs and all-around basic information that I felt may enhance reading the actual novel when it comes out later this summer.  My cartography is in progress, but maps will be part of the content those who sign up via email have access to.

Enjoy —

MEADOWS – PART ONE

From the time he entered the world until he would traverse the path beyond the veil of Spirits, Andrew knew his place was among the fields and forest.  Bare from the next to waist, the sweat of his day’s labor was a sheen on his sun-bronzed body; chiseled with muscles defined by his unrelenting attention to his purpose.   His ash-handled axe was propped against a nearby log as he scanned the fields full of laborers and grain just beyond the treeline of the land’s large forest, Staffhollow.  Andres took a long swig from his water skein before handing it to his fellow woodsman.

“Grateful.”

Andrew didn’t acknowledge the comment but continued to watch the harvest underway, beneath the canopy of green above and upon the rise below him.

“A wonder.”

Handing the skein back, Carmus agreed with a nod that went unnoticed.

“Have you witnessed a better season in your day?” Andres questioned, his eyes panning left to right across the vast cropland.  “I am sure, I have not.”

“You have not take breath quite as long as I,” Carmus answered, wiping sweat from his brown with the sleeve of his light, linen jerkin.  “This is the better season since I was a lad.”

Finally pulling his eyes away from the golden crops and dutiful harvesters, Andres turned to meet the eye of his companion just ten years his senior.  Carmus smiled in response, motioning that they should resume their work.

“The cart is nearly filled.  We should be able to leave for Sheaves soon enough.”

“My throat will welcome a cool wetting and bite of hen this eve,” Andres answered and swung his axe in a wide arc meant to sink deep into the bark of the tree before him.

0-0

Nightfall brought the sounds of beasts across Meadows.  From the tiniest chirp of field crickets to the bleating of ewes to the voices of men, women and children gathered within the modest CentreHall in the village of Sheaves.

The community worked together, ate together and shared merriment as one.  All were gathered to refresh themselves from the labors of their day and share news with hospitality.

The smell of foods and bursts of laughter drifted on the breeze as Andres and Carmus stacked the last of their load of wood within the village storehouse.  Andres felt the prod of his stomach, a gurgling growl, urging him to increase his pace.

“I hear the protests of your belly from a twenty stone distance.”

“Ah, laugh as you may,” laughed Andres, “but soon it will be moaning with satisfaction once it is filled with fowl and cider.”

Carmus chuffed, a smile on his face from ear to ear.  He enjoyed the time spent with his cousin despite their difference in age.  They worked well in tandem and never had cross words to utter between them.  They would challenge each other in jest and were competitive only in sport when paired with others on opposing forces.

Their sport of choice involved a maul of men battling to possess a stitched sheep bladder stuff with grain chaff and soft grasses.  An occasional soiling by landing upon undiscovered beastly droppings within their field of play was not unheard of and elevated the spirit of the game to hilarity at times.

The final cord added to the stockpile afforded both men a brief respite before they walked to the village well, drew water enough to rinse their skins and their mouths.  Andres dried himself with a simple woven linen blouse before slipping it over his head and torso.  Carmus simply allowed his wet jerkin to drip as it cooled him.

“I believe my belly shall soon be joining yours in gleeful song.”

Andres nodded at his cousin and the pair races each other across the quad towards the laughter, voices and promise of fulfillment.

© 2015, C.L. Rivers

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