Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Soul Chaser - Sneak Peak at Chapter 8 Omens in the Ash - Introducing the Story Man

Well I've finally did it! After a 2 week gap I finally stopped messing about making a novel business card for a novel that isn't even finished it and actually did some writing on said novel. Chapter 8 Omens in the Ash is evolving quite nicely, it's kind of gone backwards a bit with a fair bit of recollections of Jenny's first initial days as a traumatised soul and one god, Bragi, decided to walk straight in there and become her first Aesir friend. Kind of nice when he's the God of Storytellers and Skalds and he just magically appears in Soul Chaser - I'm kind of hoping its a blessing of some kind he linked in to my imagination. Anyway in honour of this God and to celebrate a little bit that Soul Chaser has literally just this minute hit the 33 thousand word mark I'm releasing this key scene featuring him. Enjoy!

*please note this is still a very rough draft so any feedback is appreciated but only give some if you have kind of idea of what's happening etc.*

I knew Bragi was one of them, one of Odin’s family, by the way he dressed in the traditional greens of a national park ranger yet he had a ruggedness about him that made me think traveler of some type. He wore a moss green wool jumper with a long waistcoat of various green patterned and tartan fabrics. His trousers were patterned like army camouflage and I remember raising an eyebrow at the modern hiking boots he wore. I tried not to look too much at him. I didn’t want his company or attention. I just wanted to be alone and away from others so I didn’t feel so out of place.
“You don’t know who I am, do you?” He called across to me, not taking any further steps once we were aware of each other.
I observed his face, his delightful smirk, the sparkle in his oak brown eyes and his shoulder length hair the colour of golden sand.
“Should I?” I replied uncertain and nervous. I wasn’t yet sure what would happen to my already faulty soul if I did by accident or purpose anger a God.
“Depends on how much you like a good story.” He began walking casually towards me. “There are those that can only go to sleep if I weave them a tale to slumber by. There are some who shed not a single tear in regret, pain or grief yet when I describe two lovers kept apart they weep like I have broken their hearts.” He flung his leather satchel upon the grass and knelt down. “And there are some that have been around as long as I have and can’t stand my arrogant voice anymore.” He held out his hand. “I’m Bragi, the story man.”
How can you not smile when such a character walks up to you?  I took his hand in a limp handshake and gave him a fragile smile.
“I’m Jennifer but I prefer it if you call me Jenny.”
“Well, Jenny, why are you enjoying the woodlands by yourself? Where are your friends?”
“They’re all busy.”
Bragi gazed down at me, his smile fading a touch. “When did you arrive in Asgard?”
“Only a week or so ago.”
“Have you not been assigned to a Hall yet?” Bragi enquired regarding the various Halls of resident Gods souls could seek employment to be it Freya’s as a Valkyrie, Frigg’s as a Maid or even Idunn’s orchard as a Gardner tending to her Golden Apple trees. That is of course if you were a woman, men had the choice of Odin’s Hall, Valhalla and become Squires to his Einherjar, live with Thor and you could become master blacksmiths or even become Watchers under Heimdall who will teach the many ways and signs of tracking both supernatural and natural foes. The third alternative was becoming a local in a sense and resuming a version of mortal life in the many district quarters and set up a shop or tavern to cater for other locals.
“They, I mean I, don’t quite know my talents yet. I haven’t decided.”
“Well why not base your new role on what profession you had in your past life?”
I stared away into the blades of grass and randomly picked a daisy to fiddle with. “I don’t know what it was.”
“Ah, I see, a little memory loss is normal with the conversion from death, you’ll remember in time and then you’ll know which Hall to choose.” He explained the problem as if it was a very minor setback. “Did you visit any nice woodland like this when you were alive?”
“I’m not sure.” I kept my eyes fixated on the daisy; its white petals glowed in the shafts of sunshine coming through the trees canopy.
“Ok then, did you leave any family behind in your past life? Parents already passed on or still alive?”
“I don’t think so…my memory is still fuzzy.”
“What can you remember from the time before?” That was the first time I detected a hint of concern in his voice but the shame of my condition still wouldn’t let me meet his eyes with mine.
I could only give him an honest answer as what little truth I knew was all I had. “I know my name is Jennifer Wallace. I don’t remember what my life before was like. I don’t remember why or how I died. I remember Kate finding me and bringing me here. That is all I know of my life before, this.”
“Do you even know where you died?”
“No. I remember no names of people, nor names of places.”
“Hummm.” He turned around and delved into his bag, dragging pieces of paper out in a rush. “I think I might be able to help. Will you let me try?”
I let my eyes connect with his then, at the hope of learning all the truth about me although I didn’t stop to wonder why Kate hadn’t introduced me to Bragi earlier if he was a possible cure in some way.
“Sure, I have nothing to lose if it doesn’t work.” I joked feebly. “What do we need to do?”
“Firstly I need you to write your full name on this bit of parchment and then coil it around this quill you will use to write it.”
“Erm, don’t we need a pot of ink or something?” I was a bit confused.
“Oh, no, no, this quill is enchanted, as it writes it produces its own ink and never runs out. Perfect for when I’m collecting stories you see.”
“Ok.” I laid out the parchment across my leg and tried to write as clearly and as neatly as possible although it did come out of more like scribble than I’d hoped. I then wrapped the quill as he’d asked.
“Good now I want you to hold it at the feather tip end and I will take hold of the other end. We need to use both hands so just put it between them. That’s it. Hold it gently so you don’t bend the feathers just keep in contact with it.”
“Now what do we do?”
He shuffled around a bit to sit cross legged in front of me. “Now, I need you to close your eyes and focus in your mind on your own name. Imagine it up as words before you and keep repeating it over and over again inside. Keep concentrating on it until I tell you to stop, ok?”
I nodded once and closed my eyes. The shafts of sunlight passing over me as the soft breeze stirred the trees, turned my inner vision into a kaleidoscope of glittering gold and shimmering purple shades against a background of ruby red. I focused and imagined as Bragi instructed and I felt my breath become slow, my muscles ease and my mind less tense with the simple task of repetition. I could hear the fragile dappling sound of the spring gurgling up from the earth. The breeze rippling through the leaves in the towering trees made me think of the sea’s waves rushing against a stone and sand beach.
The vision inside was broken when Bragi’s voice reawakened my senses.
“Well, you certainly are unique.”
“Can I open my eyes?”
“Yes and you can let go of the quill and parchment too.”
The sunlight dazzled me for a tiny portion of time. I noticed Bragi turning the parchment piece over and over again, his quill stuck rather casually amongst the grass blades into the soil. I wondered if this enchanted quill would clean itself of dirt too.
“Well? Did it work?”
“Depends on what you mean. If you meant did I get to read your soul then yes. If you meant did I learn anything about you and your past, no, not really. Although…”
“Although what?”
“A connection was made. Your soul did leave its mark. See?” He handed the parchment back and where my name should have been written was now a small square written with the same ink. It was a blank square. Just four lines, a box.
“What does it mean?”
“That is actually a rune. Its name is Wyrd and is linked with Fate, the Unknown. It’s a rare and peculiar rune in that it has no defined mark and so it is often just symbolized as a blank square. Its meaning is always dependant on the person who has drawn it and the context it was drawn. I’m not as adept at runes as most of the other Aesir but I would advise in your case that this rune represents your transition from your old life into this. It perhaps suggests that whatever life you had before is not as important or as crucial as you might think, at least not yet. Wyrd’s symbol without a square is unending and thus has no beginning. In relation to you it means that your true purpose, not just in your life in Asgard, but your presence in the very universe, regardless of which realm and in what state, living or dead, is yet to be determined but it does not mean you will be without purpose forever. Certain events, choices or actions may yet have to be performed before you become aware of your true purpose and only then will your past and present become complete and help you follow your future destiny.” He took the paper gently away from me and stuck it back in his satchel along with this quill. “But, as I said, if you want a more precise rune reading you had best seek Freya or even Odin for that. They are the true masters at interpreting the signs.” He added with a smile which denied his bashful claim. “In simpler words, the presence of Wyrd represents you rather well at the moment, as a blank page. A story yet to be told or read. And you know what I always say about stories I don’t know yet?”
“If there’s a story I don’t know, it’s either because it’s not worth knowing or, because the story is of such epic proportions that when it is enacted it leaves such a mark on the universe that its fame will echo through the ages, it won’t require me telling it by a million firesides.” He took my hand and held it in a caring manner. “So who knows what kind of story you will be part of, so do not despair just yet of your memory loss, it might be a key part of your life’s narrative.”

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