Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jack of Troubles - First Page

While not quite raw, I am in the earliest stages of editing Jack of Troubles. Thought I'd share the partially cleaned up first page. If you like it, there are 149,400 (or so) more words to the tale that I need to get through.

Jack of Troubles
Crystal Deck Saga Book 1

    Dara swung her ax at the tree and knocked out another chunk of wood. She jerked the ax free and swung it again. As she jerked the ax free once more, she heard the unmistakable crack as the tree began to fall. She had cut the tree properly so she didn’t need to move as the tree fell to her right. The bare, dry branches shattered as the crown slammed into the ground.
    Dara hefted the ax and walked up the trunk and began removing the branches that hadn’t broken. It was the fourth dead tree she had felled that day. As a ranger, she was charged with a variety off tasks, one of the most important was to clear the dead trees in the mountain forests. This section of forest hadn’t been tended to in several years.
    She considered it part of her punishment. They hadn’t called it that, but sending her to this wilderness corner of the kingdom really couldn’t be considered anything but.
    When she finished stripping the trunk, she hefted the ax over he shoulder and made her way to the next dead tree. It was the challenge she had been working up to. Unlike the others, which were young and thin enough to cut down in just a few minutes, this was a large old tree. It had few branches to cut off, but it had a sizable trunk to chop through. As she eyed the best direction to fell it, she heard that someone unskilled in woodcraft moving in her direction. Instantly the ax ceased being a tool and became a weapon.
    “You won’t need to use that, Dara Nihnvareh,” a familiar voice called.
    “The voice I recognize, but those are not your footfalls.”
    “No, I bring a guest who wishes to speak with you.”
    Dara dropped the ax to a resting position, but her stance remained poised to put it to use if needed.
    The owner of the voice made her wait to confirm his identity. Dara’s ears flexed as she tried in vain to listen for his approach. He was too skilled at stealth and his companion was making enough noise for both of them. It wasn’t until her keen eyes detected movement by an outcropping that she confirmed it was Prince Velderah with an unknown Onzhi companion. She did not bow or acknowledge the prince. This was her territory and she was charged to act for the king as one of his rangers.
    “You can put away the ax. I come in peace.”
    “Like you did when you got me exiled to this place?”
    “Come now, it was your own actions...”
    “You needn’t bother with pretext, we both know what you did.”
    “Look at this interruption as a chance for me to make it up to you.”
    “What do you want?”
    “The King has sent me to recruit you for a special mission.”
    “We aren’t at court so you can just get to the point.”
    “You are to come with us so you can act as guide to an untrained traveler.”
    “Why me?”
    “You are the best. You may be out of favor, but no one can deny your talent.”
    “You don’t have to lay it on so thick. If the King commands it, I will go.”
    The prince turned to his companion and spoke in the Onzhi tongue from south of the Zantin mountains. She caught a few words, but not enough to grasp the meaning. She waited while they talked. After a fairly long exchange, the prince turned back to her and said, “This man is a messenger and we will be traveling with him for many leagues. I suggest you work on your Onzhi. You are going to need it.”

©2013 Robert Courtland