Legendary Post is running an Elven Story contest. For the uninitiated in the world of fantasy, that means a story about elves.
Rules are simple: 1,000 words, submit before March 31st, and have it be about elves.
I’ve not written anything for a bit, so this was something I wanted to do. Saturday evening I sat down for an hour, and put the story below to virtual paper.
The problem . . . it came in at 1,093 words (per Scrivener). Damn! I was already trying to be a minimalist; how the heck do I cut an additional 93 words?! Well, boys and girls, I dove back in, and with deep sorrow in my heart, I cut words, shortened sentences, and even got rid of whole sentences. After two hours (!!!) I came in at exactly at 1,000 words. It took twice as long to pare it down as it did to write it.
Not re-writing the plot, action, or characters; the story itself is as written.
. . . and then I copy it to Word . . . and Word tells me it’s 1,003 words. Hmmm . . . let me try different counters . . .
Word Office tells me I have 1,003 words.
Google Drive tells me I have 992 words.
Scrivener tells me I have 1,000 words.
Three different on-line word counter tools give me 992, 1,001, and 1,003 words.
It’s all about how you define what a ‘word’ is, you see.
I ask . . . the person running the contest uses Word . . .
(expletive referencing a reproductive act; expletive referencing semi-solid human waste; more of the first expletive uttered in rapid succession)
. . . I have to cut three words.
“What’s the big deal? That’s only a 0.00003% change!”
It took me another half hour. Ten minutes a word . . . 600 agonizing seconds a word . . . but I did it. Word tells me it’s exactly 1,000 words.
The good thing, I think I caught most spelling errors and stupid mistakes. The bad thing, I lost some of the mood pieces, some of the character depth I wanted. Only some . . . I still think I did pretty good, and I have to admit the story reads tighter (whatever that means).
However, I am worried.
No, not about the contest . . . I’m worried because I really like this story. That tells me (according to past experience), few will read it, and even fewer will like it. That’s right; whenever I really like something, and think others will like it as well, I find myself out in a lonely field, with only the occasional cricket chirping to the erratic beat of my sobs.
OK, it’s not like that. For me this story is already a winner, and I share it with pride, regardless of its reception. I give you . . .
Medoran History – Birro’s Early Years
Copyright 2014, E. J. D’Alise
Birro watched his half-brother Malor train with their father. First the double blade drill, then the long sword, and finally the bow.
Even as he marveled at the three arrows shot so fast that they seemed as one long arrow, even as the second split the first and the third split the second, and all three arrows were in the exact center of the target, he could feel anger rise within him.
One could do that only if of pure elven blood. Malor’s mother had fallen to an Orc’s blade, and their father had remarried a human woman. Birro was a half-breed. Still ahead of full-blood humans, he fell well short of Malor’s abilities, even counting for their difference in age.
In fact, he ranked lowest of his class, and in one more year he would graduate in last place in the history of the Medoran Elf Academy.
No Elf fighting unit would take him; he would not protect the Medoran elf and human populations against Orc raids or Goblin attacks. At best he would be a constable, keeping the peace in some human village, tending to drunken disputes and the occasional bully.
He turned to see his mother watching him, and he felt the stir of resentment. Immediately ashamed, he could not go to her. He changed direction, heading toward the woods. Passing by the stable, he heard singing. Belain, the human who cared for the battle horses and the rest of the stock, sounded in a good mood.
He quickened his pace to get out of hearing range.
“How can they be so cheerful when they are so limited?!”
Reaching the woods, he broke into a run. He ran until he could hear nothing but the sounds of the forest, and then he stopped.
He heard the rustle of the leaves, and he heard the birds, the hum of insects, and the scurrying of animals, all going about their lives. They knew their place, knew who they were, what they were supposed to do.
All went quiet save the rustling of the leaves. Nothing else stirred. Birro looked around, straining to hear something, anything at all, to give cause to the stillness.
He heard his heartbeat quickening. He had not even a dagger; whatever danger came his way, he was defenseless. He trained for hand-to-hand, but he would be no match for even a small Orc.
A small Orc is what walked out of the forest to his left. An Orc like he had never seen before. A female Orc. No . . . she had elven features. She too must be a half-breed. There had been rumors of elven females captured and not killed, but no one had ever imagined . . .
A thick leather armor covered her torso, the rough tunic underneath coming down to her knees. A scabbard and short sword hung from her belt, and she held a spear, its rounded end sitting on the ground, and the serrated blade pointing to the sky.
They looked at each other for many heartbeats.
The Goblin broke out of the bush to Birro’s right already on a full run, its sword raised to deal a blow. As the sword descended, all Birro could do was focus on its rough edge as if time had slowed, his heartbeats now distinct and loud to his ears.
And then the world exploded into a fury of action. The Orc’s spear parried the descending Goblin blade, and Birro was pushed aside. He lost his balance and fell backwards, his eyes barely able to follow the quick fight. The Orc twirled the spear to knock the Goblin legs from under it, and before it could recover, she continued her turn while drawing her sword, finishing with a fast and powerful downward swing that ended at the Goblin’s neck. The sword sliced it as if it were a ripe squash. One spasm and the Goblin was still.
The noises of the forest resumed as if nothing had happened. The Orc wiped her blade on the Goblin’s tunic, turned, and walked to Birro, her sword in one hand, the spear on the other.
She stopped well within the reach of either.
“I’ve been hunting him all morning. Thanks for drawing him out.”
Her voice was like music, and Birro was too startled to answer. Orcs were rarely heard utter more than half sentences, but she spoke in flawless Elf.
She waited a few heartbeats before continuing.
“My name is Fevlyn. Do you have a name?”
She sheathed her sword as she spoke, and then reached her hand out, offering to help Birro up. Without thinking, Birro grasped her wrist and she his in a typical elven grip, and she pulled him upright.
“. . . ah . . Birro.” As he answered he took note of her delicate hands, well proportioned arms, and her smooth complexion. He had been wrong; she was more an elf with Orc features than the other way around; her garments had misled him.
They stood there, still gripping each other as a full grown Orc accompanied by an elven woman broke into the clearing. An instant later, so did Birro’s parents. The four adults drew their weapons even as two more Orcs came through the bush behind the first, and Malor appeared besides his father, his bow already drawn.
Birro’s voice was enough to stop everyone.
“We shed no blood today.”
Birro turned to Fevlyn, and bowed deeply before speaking.
“Thank you for saving my life. May I see you again?”
Fevlyn turned to her parents. Her father was about to speak, but her mother put her hand on his arm, stopping him. The mother looked at Fevlyn and nodded.
“It was the first step toward the peace that has lasted a thousand years. Now, go to sleep.”
The children smiled as they shuffled under the cover. The mother turned, and blew out the candle in front of the carving of Fevlyn and Birro, her great-great-grandparents.
The End (for now)
The actual entry is posted HERE, along with the other entries (two others when I wrote this).
If you are a writer, have aspirations of writing something, or hearing ‘elven story’ triggered a flood of ideas, you have until the end of the month to submit something. You have nothing to lose, and it’s good practice toward achieving your future masterpiece. Once again, details are at Legendary Post.
I would really appreciate if others entered, and I think it would make readers very happy.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.