Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Fang--Part 1

Shnakvorum Rikoyoch! (Greetings, friends.)

I did it over the holidays--finished my manuscript! Still feeling a little buzzed. I mean, sure there’s still lots of editing that needs to happen, but the fact that the story is actually written out in a complete form still boggles me a bit.

Many of you have stated that you can’t wait until you get to read Starfire, however that day is still sometime off in the future. However, Bailey is graciously allowing me to share a short story set on Sauria here on Scenes & Beans. It will run today, and next Monday and Tuesday.

The Fang is sort of a prequel to Starfire. It was a piece I wrote to help me get to know Rathe, the protagonist of this story and of my novel.

I hope you enjoy this little glimpse of Sauria.


Rough stone tore Rathe's palms as he stumbled through the gaping maw of the cave. He tore away the makeshift leaf filter that covered his mouth and sucked in the cool underground air, soothing his burning lungs. Pain lanced through his side with each breath, testament to cracked ribs on his right side.

He turned to the entrance and gazed into the ash-clogged air outside. Grey blanketed the world like a shroud, quickly covering any tracks or scent that would lead the trackers to him. Satisfied that he would be safe for the duration of the ash fall, Rathe staggered farther into the cave. His claws echoed hollowly on the stone floor, their quiet clack, clack, clack bouncing into the darkness.

The musical trickle of water sounded nearby, and Rathe angled toward it. Sudden wetness at his feet alerted him to the presence of a shallow pool. He lowered gingerly to the ground and stuck his snout into the chill liquid, easing his thirst, though the effort intensified the pain in his ribs. The cool, moist rock felt good against his hot skin, and he rolled onto his left side, stretching out to his full twelve-foot length. His tail-tip lazily slapped against the ground as drowsiness flowed over him, and the water's flow sung him to sleep.

A shrill cry jolted Rathe from soothing darkness, pain seared through his right side and down his tail. Through the agony the fading echo of the cry played at the edges of his mind. He groaned as he rolled onto his belly and forced a few swallows of water despite the fire in his side.

After a moment's rest he pushed to his feet, swaying slightly as his stiff muscled adjusted to his weight. He cocked his head and listened, but whatever had made the sound had gone silent, or the cry had been only the vestige of a nightmare.

A glint of light drew his attention to the cave entrance. The remaining half of his sokae lay just inside the entrance. The curved blade winking in the renewed light filtering through a lessened ash fall. He staggered to the entrance and slowly retrieved the weapon. Hefting its five-foot shaft gave him a renewed sense of confidence.

His gaze wandered the gray-toned landscape outside the cave. Ash blanketed the valley, yet even now bright flecks of color began stirring, as klants uprooted themselves and began skittering about, feasting on the bounty, their light-red fronds swaying as if in a gentle breeze. Other plants joined in, some slowly moving about, others making due with what fell nearby, slowly leeching away at the nutrients expelled from the earth.

Just down the slope the Hekaret river rushed along its course, choked with the ash. Rathe marveled at the fortune that had washed him ashore so near to this shelter. By all rights he never should have emerged from the torrent after his failed fording. But the same rock that had cracked his ribs had enabled him to reach the shore. And though he had lost half his weapon, and all of his gear, at least he was still alive.

Rathe craned his neck and surveyed the damage done to his right side. A wide black-green bruise spread from just behind his shoulder, over his hip to just past the base of his tail. The skin over his ribs was torn, but he was close enough to shedding that only a few scrapes showed blood, already scabbing over.

A klant wandered close to the cave entrance, little spurts of dust spouted from under its hard shell as it moved. With a quick thrust, Rathe speared the plant on the end of his sokae. He grimaced as the impaled plant's legs continued moving as if nothing had happened. A savage jerk tore one wrigling leg free, releasing a pungent odor and dripping sap. Rathe's lips formed an involuntary snarl as he lifted the limb, crushed the hard exterior between his teeth, and sucked the pulp out.

Three legs later he tossed the boxy plant back into the ash-covered valley. Despite a slight queasiness Rathe felt more energized. He turned his gaze back to the landscape, scanning for any movement that wasn't a plant.

A bloodcurdling scream tore out of the depths of the cavern, chased by a savage roar. Rathe spun around, scouring the darkness behind him. But the cries echoed into a skin-crawling silence. He backed toward the entrance a step at a time, but then froze as a new sound reached his ears.

The guttural cry of thorniks on the hunt sounded from the valley. A group of trackers, barely holding the beasts under control, appeared from behind a grouping of rocks on the far side of the river. There was no way they would have missed the scream, or the roar. Rathe shrunk back into the shadow of the cave entrance, as the group stared in his direction. Three weeks of dodging and hiding, and now he was finally trapped. It would take time for the trackers to cross the river, but even so, with his cracked ribs he'd never be able to outrun them.

He turned back to the black cave depths. Death waited within the abyss, he felt it. But better to chance death than face the humiliation of capture. With his sokae held in front of him and his right hand pressed to the stone wall, he took soft steps into the dark...


Visit "Riters Bloc," the personal blog of the author of this post

Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 8:47 PM
Whoa, Rathe has a snout and a tail tip. Just what IS he?
Posted by Anonymous E. Smythe : 12:23 PM
Hi, S-Man! I'm so glad to read The Fang. Can't wait until Starfire is published!
Posted by Anonymous Carly Suggs : 12:24 PM
And I thought I had problems.
Posted by Blogger Wilbur Hucks : 4:28 PM
Oh, goodness. What interesting writing. Yes, Ted, for all who don't know--you'd better explain just what Rathe is.
Posted by Blogger Janet Detcher : 4:29 PM

Rathe is a Saurian, specifically of the Yanguch clan. Saurians look remarkably similar to terrestrial dinosaurs, but are obviously much more advanced and a sentient species. :)

Click on the link at the bottom of the post to learn more.

I'm glad you are enjoying the story.
Posted by Blogger S-man : 4:40 PM
Nice descriptions of Rathe. I could feel his predicament as he moved back toward the cave.
Posted by Blogger JR's Thumbprints : 5:04 AM
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