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Man, this is one of those projects I just look at and think "Did I really do all of this?" I've definitely got lost in this do...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Adventures of Abelhawk

Here's another gem I found in my Gmail archives—the first story I ever wrote, thinking I would one day finish it. It's an old story... I remember writing it by hand on the bus when I was in seventh grade. It's funny to see how much effort I put into the details of the story rather than on plot or character development. I think that's a common practice of amateur writers. The story itself is really not well researched or even interesting, but I do like a couple of the worldbuilding mechanics, like the stavesmen and the idea that the army is made up of "War Monks." This was written before Argaenothruzil, but story elements that later made it into the forum RPG are seen here, mostly Abelhawk (whoever he is in this story) and the country known as Ziccao (originally Ziccaho, a name inspired from the sound of cities in the Book of Mormon). I think I ended up turning this segment in as a freewriting assignment in my creative writing class.
I guess my biggest confusion about this piece of work is that it's called the Adventures of Abelhawk, but the focus doesn't seem to be on him as a character at all. Oh well.


The Adventures of Abelhawk
Austin Ballard

PROLOGUE

The flagon of mead on the counter throbbed. A single drop, jarred by the tremor, slid down the side, leaving behind a dark brown streak. A hand clutched the tankard. It was white, thin, and hungry, like the hand of a beggar at the end of his rope.
The hand belonged to seer, who had shaken his hand in fright of a sound. The seer’s face seemed in the same manner as his hand. It was white, and had tight skin wrapped snugly over the bones of his face. His eyes were normally small and thoughtful, but they had gone wide when the far-off sound had been heard.
The seer had only hear a small moment of the sound, and now he was completely alert for more of it.
“Moland? What is it?” said a deep, rusty voice from across the table.
“I th-thought I h—“ Another tremor of fear shuddered through him, and two more dark streaks made their way down the side of the flagon.
“What?” The rusty voice was calm, but there was a note of concern in it. “What did you hear, Moland?”
“Chanting,” Moland’s voice trembled.
Across the table sat the owner of the owner of the rusty voice. He was impossibly tall, with broad shoulders and menacing eyes. He had a thick beard, which was dark red-orange, and which had droplets of ale clinging to the hairs from a recent drought from his own mug. The man was wearing armor and a tunic, which had inscribed on it a great ancient green rune, above a drawing of a man with a snake body, also green, on a field of purple. The armor was black and crudely smithed, with large deadly-looking spikes extending from the shoulders to the sides.
“The chanting,” said Moland again, “of many men.”
A muffled gasp of joy escaped from a nearby corner.
“Shaddup, fool!” said the giant man, and clubbed the something in the corner with his foot. Then, turning back to Moland, said, “Are you sure you hear—” Then he heard it too.
He couldn’t make out the words yet, but many—there must have been two hundred—men were obviously approaching, chanting loudly. The sound was a long, deep, echoing zing that seemed to occupy the giant man’s thoughts entirely.
Other joyful gasps filled the room, and excited shuffling was heard all over the floor.
Sweat trickled down the giant man’s forehead.
Moland’s white skin seemed even paler.
One of the gasping voices was uncovered from its gag and it cried loudly, “Hail the Hawk!”
The giant man cried out in surprise, for that phrase was precisely what the men were chanting.
“Hail the Hawk! Hail the Hawk! Hawk! Hawk! Hail the Hawk!”
With a burst of fear and confusion, the man tore a torch off the wall and threw it into a bowl of oil outside the window ledge, igniting it.
The chanting grew louder.
The War Monks were coming.

CHAPTER 1

“Hawk! Hawk! Hail the Hawk! Hawk! Hawk! Hail the Hawk! HAWK!” With a final, echoing word, silence rang through the valley, with only traces of the recent sound reverberating off the cliffs at the east side.
Half a hundred War Monks stood in perfect formation at the top of a tall hill. A youth, holding a great silver banner with a yellow shape of a hawk, had silenced them from their chanting. He, like the white-bearded man next to him, were on horseback in front of the army. The bearded man reared around to face the army.
“Men,” he said, “our journey has reached its midpoint.” He was clothed in a yellow hooded tunic trimmed with white. Over it was wrapped a coat of glinting chainmail, and a long silver cape fell around his shoulders. He addressed the troops powerfully and considerately, like an encouraging father. “Over this hill lies what we have been looking forward to for five days of hard travel. I am grateful for your diligence in this hard trek, and I assure you it is for the good of the Kingdom, and well worthwhile. I wish you all luck, and I give you my word any deaths will be given honorable pyres in Ziccao.” He drew from his scabbard a beautiful glinting sword and raised it above his head. The early afternoon sunlight shone like a beacon from it, and the beam reflected off of warrior shields.
The youth held up the silver banner as the general cried out, “Attack, brave warriors! Save the prisoners, and shield your face from arrows! For Ziccao, and for the Hawk!”
The army shouted, and charged toward the small fort at the base of the hill. At the rear were stave-wielding soldiers, with gray urns strapped, lidded to their backs like clay quivers. A pale light flickered from the inside of the urns.
In front of them stood two rows of Monks with shortswords and large iron shields. They followed a final row of armored War Monks, each with a light shield in one arm, and in both hands carrying immense pikes, two meters in length, made of polished wood and tempered steel.
In front of the army were the youth, general, and two ballistae pushed by squires.
The general and youth were on horseback, the rest on foot. The pikemen had to run with both hands holding a pike, the squires were slowly wheeling the ballistae along, the army dashing past them, and the staff-wielding War Monks were running using the staves as walking sticks, the urns bouncing on their backs.
Aside from the distinguishing dark blue boots, the Monks wore unique pearl-white chainmail over teal hooded tunics trimmed with yellow. They also wore steel armor leggings studded with tiny amethysts, as well as short white capes, finely crafted leather belts, and silver vambraces. Most of the warriors wore normal leather gloves, but the swordsmen had white studded gauntlets missing the thumb, where was put a glowing yellow ring.
The warriors raced down the hill, roaring. Obviously, the fort had heard them coming. Scurrying black dots were writhing all over it, readying for battle. They saw alerting braziers alight in several towers. It was time for battle.
As they neared the fort, suddenly the general reared back. “On your guard, warriors! Be ready to pull back when I tell you to!”
The Monks were confused, but had learned to trust in their general’s judgement. When they neared the castle, suddenly the general blew his horn. Several flaming arrows flew in arcs towards them. They all retreated.
In an instant, the entire battlefield was aflame. The fort’s soil had been soaked with pitch, ready to be lit in case of battle. Monks rolled on the ground, extinguishing their tunics. They had made it out, barely. A few yards more would have doomed many of the front line soldiers to a fiery death.
The army quietly waited as they saw the torrent of flames die down. Whoever had placed the pitch had not put it close enough to the castle to fire arrows at. They also had fired the flaming arrows too quickly. If they had waited longer, they could have consumed the entire army.
Finally, the flames subsided. The pitch consumed quickly the grass of the battlefield, and it now looked like a dragon’s steppe. The general rallied his men again, and they charged.
The ballistae, once in position, fired huge tree-sized arrows towards the towers. They hit a weak spot of the masonry, and entire towers fell crumbling into the narrow brown moat. Black warriors in the tower fell and scattered into the air like ashes. The drawbridge had lowered, and many tiny black enemies dashed towards the army. The pikemen held their pikes out at length when they charged. The black enemies were revealed to be tiny gremlins, grey-brown skinned, with thin black armor. The pikemen speared many when they met, and any that got past were soon killed by the shortswordsmen. Soon, the drawbridge began raising again.
The general laughed. Whoever owned this fort couldn’t have been more unprepared for battle. The arrows were the only threat, and the towers holding archers were slowly falling apart.
The stavesmen advanced to the drawbridge and opened their urns. They reached their hands back into the glowing jars and pulled out crackling handfuls of lightning essence.

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