Saturday, June 7, 2014

Eagle Scout

Today I had my Eagle Court ceremony, officially recognizing that I have earned my Eagle Scout rank in the BSA.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Update on novel

As Can be seen by reading the fist chapter on my novel there are two leading characters in my novel. the oldest is Hawkasuma, and the youngest is Dakisuma. That being the case both characters are going to travel very different paths and I have to be able to weave these two paths together through the story. The second chapter follows the path of the younger brother as he is forced to fight in a roman-like Colosseum of death. In the chapter as it stands now (draft 3) about three years have passed since the events of the first chapter have occurred. I have yet to fully conceive the events that will unfold in this chapter, but I keep trying to create ideas and map out the story in my notes.  The Third chapter of my book continues the story of the older brother. In the draft I am working on he is suffering from nightmares due to repressed memories thatare only starting to be awakened.

Chapter 3 Draft one

Chapter 3 draft one

Chapter three: The Koosha Tribe
                Deep within the forest the light filtered through the massive trees above. Wild animals wandered on the ground, scavenging for food and water. A cool breeze swept the land signaling the approaching winter. In the village Hawkasuma and the other villagers were making preparations for the harsh cold that would soon be upon them.  
                Sitting inside his hut Hawkasuma sharpened his sword as he did every morning.  With a nostalgic eye he examined his sharpened blade. Long before his father had ever taught him to forge a sword he had been taught how to fix and maintain all of the equipment and tools, a skill that had earned him much praise with the Koosha clan. He ran his finger along the cool steel before returning it to its scabbard and resting it upon his back. He then grabbed his flute and pressed it to his lips to play a short tune. He was adroit like his mother, moving his fingers across the keys on the flute.
                As he played his little ditty, a young woman entered his home. Her dark hair and violet eyes highlighted her youthfully beautiful face. His foster sister Gelien stood in his doorway as she listened to the music that flowed from him like water from a river. She stood there unnoticed until she clapped her hands at the end of his ditty. “Your talent never ceases to amaze me,” she said.
                Hawkasuma smiled, “thanks.”
                “I heard that you are going with Faleon on the hunt today,” she began.
                “Yeah, I’ll make sure to be careful,” said Hawkasuma. He already knew where the conversation was going. It was only three months ago that her father Lugon lost his left arm while he was down below the village in what they called the heart of the forest.
                “Make sure to take care of Faleon as well.

Chapter 2 Draft 3

Draft 3

Chapter 2: Enslavement
                The sun blazed brightly overhead. The heat beat down onto the bodies of Dakisuma and the other slaves as they watched the cruelty of the game. Their masters sat in the shaded stadium above, drinking wine and laughing at the scene below them. His master Harold locked his eyes on the two combatants as they prepared to fight like savages to the death.
                The first combatant was Brent, a short and stout with lean muscle. He was Harold’s strongest fighter and was only about the age of fifteen. He favored the long ranged spear over any other weapon and had become quite adept in its use. He stood on the left side of the arena, just underneath the seat of his master.
                The other was Sabin, a servant to Daryl. Unlike Brent, Sabin was small and wiry. This wasn’t a disadvantage though, because what he lacked in strength he made up for in speed and cunning. His short blade allowed him to swing his strikes faster and more efficiently than that of a heavy sword which would weigh down his arms.
                The owner of the stadium called down to the contestants in his deep voice that called the attention of everyone in the room. He said, “Make this a good fight and the god of battle shall award thee greatly when you have fallen to the better fighter. Now show us the glory of battle. “
                And with that the fight started. Dakisuma’s breath slowed as he watched the fighters slowly circle around each other, both waiting for the chance to strike. All watched in silence, anticipating the carnage.  Brent positioned himself with his legs spread apart for stability as he gripped his spear with both of his hands.  With a quick jerk he thrust his spear at a Sabin just scratching his side. Sabin winced as the blood seeped from the small wound, but quickly returned with his own attack. He swung his blade at Brent’s neck only narrowly missing his mark as Brent leapt backward. Sabin resisted the urge to clutch his side knowing that the slightest misjudgment would end his life.
Above the fight the other slave owners began whispering to each other, making bets and attempting to predict which would be the victor. Most voted in favor of Brent, but there was a strong following for Sabin as well. Harold and Daryl watched intently as their slaves battled for their profit. 

Sabin took a nimble step towards Brent and swung his blade across his chest. Brent screamed as the cold steel split open part of his chest. He then retaliated beating Sabin’s face with his fist.  Sabin sprawled onto the floor and dropped to his sword. Brent acted instinctively and struck at Sabin who narrowly rolled out of danger and leapt to his feet.
Sweat poured from their bodies as they again stood facing each other, both attempting to anticipate the next attack. The crowd in the stands cheered loudly, except for the other slaves who watched in silent horror. As the crowd grew silent the breathing of both Brent and Sabin could be heard across the arena.
The air was broken when Brent suddenly charged at Sabin with his spear thrusting at an astonishing speed.  Again Sabin was able to nimbly avoid most of the attacks sustaining only a few minor scrapes on his arms and legs. Sabin then threw his body at Brent and tackled him to the ground. They struggled upon the ground fighting for dominance with Sabin on top. Brent wiggled his legs until his feet were planted firmly upon Sabin’s chest and pushed with all of his might sending Sabin across the room. Sabin landed upon his back and noticed his sword was within reach of his left hand. Brent felt the adrenalin surge through his veins as he leapt to his feet as quickly as he could. He then saw Sabin reaching for his sword, he knew he would only have a mere moment to react or he would not survive. He rushed to attack Sabin while he was down, and then felt an agonizing pain as Sabin’s sword pierced deeply into his chest. 
Dakisuma felt his jaw drop as he watched Brent drop to the floor as he fainted from the pain. The crowd erupted in shock at the victory of the underdog, some in anger at the loss of their wagers, and others in in wild joy. From across the stadium Dakisuma could see his master’s outrage at the defeat.  Harold then whispered to his body guard who sat next to him before he quickly left the arena. Two men then came to the cage where all of the slaves were being held and opened the gate. Dakisuma’s heart leapt into his throat as he hoped not to be the next to be thrown into the battle. The guards quickly glanced over him, but then selected another slave to be sent into the arena. The slave attempted to pull away from the guards, but was easily over powered and dragged to his doom.
                For three years Dakisuma had narrowly avoided being tossed into the arena, instead he was forced to watch the carnage. Harold constantly ordered him and Pask, the only other slave Harold now owned, to practice their combat skills. With Brent now dead both he and Pask would be forced to fight in the tournaments. Today was not to be that day for Harold’s guard came to reclaim both Pask and Dakisuma from the holding area.
                Dakisuma and Pask were bound together by the wrists and led outside of the arena to meet with their master. Harold’s eyes were full of rage, “when we return to my home we will have to increase your training. I expect that at least one of you will be able to replace Brent in the next competition as my prime fighter. Do not disappoint me, or it will mean your sudden end to your life by the hand of your next opponent!” Dakisuma felt a chill run down his spine. Harold then led them through the narrow streets of the giant city.
                The city was the largest on the Island spanning from the Red River that separated the Thav desert from the Plains of the King, to the northern shore. A great wall surrounded the city, both protecting it from the outside and keeping the numerous numbers of slaves inside. The guards were on watch, keeping slaves obedient and harassing them with constant threats and violence. Slaves that were caught either resisting their masters or breaking laws were beaten until they were broken if they were lucky, and repeated offenders were publically slaughtered in a multitude of fashions.
                They lived close to the center of the city in the neighborhood of the lower-class nobles. Dakisuma and Pask were led into the decorative home and then thrown into their dungeon cells in the basement. The doors locked behind them and then they were alone. Dakisuma sat upon his dingy pile of blankets that he used for his bedding and stared at the cold stone walls. Sunlight poured in from the small vents at the top of the hallway between the two cells.  Silence filled the room and remained unbroken for over an hour. The afternoon heat slowly pored inside and Dakisuma wrapped his thin shirt over his black air to keep the sweat from his blue eyes.  He stared into the light and wondered what it would be like to play in the grassy fields again.
                Then Dakisuma could no longer stand the silence, he screamed at the top of his lungs and beat his fist against the walls. Pask was broken from his trance and fixed his eyes on his friend. “We need to stay calm. The next competition won’t happen for at least another month. Brent won almost nine battles today. The earnings should line Harold’s pockets long enough for the both of us to learn how to hold our own in the arena.”
                “That’s not what we need!” shouted Dakisuma. “I have been calm for the last three years doing everything you have told me to do to keep me out of the battle! I’m sick and tired of sitting here like cattle waiting for the slaughter. I want to get out of here!”
                “As do I, but there is nothing that we can do. We’re stuck in these games. Our only hope for living is to learn how to avoid the dangerous fights and learn how to deal with weaker opponents.”
                “That’s not living! At least Brent had the courage to stand and fight. Meanwhile you and I have sat here praying that we will be able to eat these tiny meals and rest on a few blankets!”
                Pask sat in silence for a few moments and rubbed his temples. After he took a few deep breaths he replied, “Your right. We do need to get out of this basement and out of this city. We need to come up with some kind of a plan. We won’t get far if we act like the other slaves who picked the locks on their doors and tried to climb the walls that are lined with archers.”
                “Then what can we do?” Dakisuma asked impatiently.
                “We watch and learn. There might be a way we can get out, but it won’t be obvious or easy…” At that moment they heard the lock turn at the top of the stairs and shut their mouths tightly. Footsteps echoed as Harold’s guard approached down the corridor. In his hand he held both a broom and a feather duster. He unlocked both cells and shoved the duster into Dakisuma’s hand. Dakisuma looked at the guard with fire in his eyes, but did nothing. The guard stood almost seven feet tall and was overwhelmingly stronger than Dakisuma. A few times when he had first become Harold’s servant he had defied the guard, but had only received harsh punishment. His back was filled with scars from Harold’s fire that he was able to summon with his hands.
                “Harold wants you to dust his library. He says that cobwebs are beginning to form on a few of his shelves.” Dakisuma nodded and marched up the stairwell into the main part of the house. He walked past the hallway filled with the fine craft ware that Harold had filled his hallways with into the library. There were several shelves all packed with books that had grown a thin layer of dust, except for the shelf that Harold seemed to use the most often only had dust on a few books.

Chapter 2 draft 2

Draft 2
                 A scream echoed in the courtyard chilling the blood of all those who stood helplessly as they were forced to watch. Harold used his magic to torment a disobedient slave that had evoked his wrath.  The slave gripped onto the wooden post in front of him to support his weakening balance as he slowly stooped to his knees. The magic shot forth like lightning from the master’s palm creating large gashes on his back. Blood seeped from the wounds and he looked into the faces of those around him pleading for someone to stop the torment, but he only saw fear in their eyes. The other children were only glad that it wasn’t them that had to face the beating form their master.  His heart sank as the reality echoed in his mind; they were all just too scared.
                Harold drank the pale blue liquid from his the veil he carried with him in his pocket then quickly stashed it away when he was through. He chuckled as he watched the slave crumble to the floor and decided to end the torment.  The other children stood still waiting to be granted permission to help the boy upon the floor. “Stop your gawking and remove him from my sight,” he barked.
                Pask rushed to the boy’s side. “Are you okay Dakisuma?” he asked as he lifted him to his feet. Dakisuma said nothing and shook his head. His wounds were nearly unbearable; all he wanted was to be taken to the small pile of cloth that he used for a bed and sleep.  Pask escorted him to the slave house which was on the opposite side of the courtyard while the other slaves returned to their duties.
                The building only had one dingy room and a closet where all the tools were kept. There were several piles of cloth that were used for beds and blankets. Dakisuma collapsed on the smallest pile and laid there as his friend mixed together a small batch of medicine. The greenish past possessed a strong sent that filled Pask’s nostrils and nearly brought a tear to his eye. He then rubbed the paste into the wounds that stretched across Dakisuma’s back.  Dakisuma felt a slight sting followed by a cooling sensation as the medicine was spread across his wounds.
                Pask shook his head, “You can’t keep doing this. To many more beatings like this will cripple you,” he warned.
                “Least I won’t be part of his games. I won’t be able to fight so he won’t use me at all,” replied Dakisuma.

Chapter 2 Draft 1

This is the first draft of the second chapter of my novel.

Chapter 2: Enslavement
                Three years had passed since Dakisuma had been taken from his home and sold into bondage. Every day he was subject to his master’s cruelty. He did mostly difficult physical labor making his muscles strong. When his tasks were not completed to his master’s likening he would be tortured with magic flames which scared his back. There was not a day that passed that he did not desire to escape even if only to return to the ruins of Joven.
                Today he was in charge of taking care of his master’s only son who was about ten years old. Jake, as the boy was named, loved to play with Dakisuma. Most of the time they pretended to fight with wooden swords, Dakisuma would pretend to be an evil warrior and would fight against the great hero of the north shore, as Jake would often call himself. They would play in the garden outside the magnificent mansion. Today Jake was especially vicious and began to swing his sword with greater ferocity than Dakisuma had ever seen in Jake.
                Jake swung his sword from the right side and aimed to hit Dakisuma in the rib cage, but Dakisuma blocked the attack just in time. There was a loud crack when the swords collided and Jake became further inspired with the excitement of combat. Jake spoke in his characters voice, “Today you die Morgan!” Jake spun around and swung at the other side of Dakisuma’s ribs. This time Dakisuma jumped back to dodge he blow making Jake lose his balance and fall to one knee. Jake grinned, Dakisuma’s resistance only made him hunger for the battle more. Now Jake leapt into the air and swung the sword directly at Dakisuma’s head. Dakisuma realized that Jake was not going to stop so this time when he blocked the attack he quickly moved in for a counter attack and slammed the hilt of his wooden sword into Jake’s ribs.
Jake fell to the ground and dropped his weapon gasping for breath.  Dakisuma knelt by Jake to make sure he didn’t cause him any real pain. “Are you going to be okay Jake?”
Jake nodded and smiled. He stretched his arms above his head to help catch his breath for a moment and once he did he said, “It looks like the villain Morgan finally killed the great warrior of the north shore.”
“Yes, the mastermind Morgan has killed the great warrior of the north shore and continues to plunder the world of its riches. Killing all those who stand in his way, laughing at those who dare to call themselves heroes and challenge him to duels to the death. May his reign continue forever and ever,” Dakisuma joked.
Jake had a glum look on his face. He asked, “Why would someone want to be so cruel?”
Dakisuma laughed, “Because life is all about plunder and power!”
Jake shook his head, “I don’t think so. It’s just not right. I would much rather be the hero than be a villain like in my story books.”
Dakisuma smiled, “me too.” They stood in silence and reflection for a moment. “Jake, I think that you should become a hero. You could become a man of legend if you wanted to.”
Jake smiled, “I will become the greatest hero the world has ever seen. I will master the way of the sword and slay all of the villains in the world!”
Dakisuma laughed, “You’re goanna be a puny hero!”  Jake was short for his age and hated it when someone would ever call him short or puny.
“I’m not puny I’m just short statured!” he called back at Dakisuma. Jake’s smile had faded into an angry glare.
 Dakisuma patted Jake on the head, “Then you will become a hero of short stature.” Jake couldn’t help but grin. The butler walked out to the garden from the mansion and called Jake inside for lunch. Jake dropped his sword in the garden and ran to get to the table as fast as he could. Dakisuma followed quickly behind, being sure not to let Jake out of his sight. He followed Jake into the extravagant dining room where he promptly took his place in the back awaiting his orders. While he stood in the back Jake and his family enjoyed their time together. Dakisuma’s stomach grumbled as he watched them eat vast amounts of food. Jake offered him a bread roll, but his father told him that Dakisuma would eat his own meal with the other servants later.
Then Jake began to tell another one of his adventure stories, telling his father of how he had finally been defeated by the villain Morgan. His father only pretended to listen focusing mostly upon his food. Only once Jake described how he had been beaten with a blow to the belly did his father take interest. His eyes flared at Dakisuma who naturally felt himself shrink further backward.
The master called Dakisuma to his side and then told to remove his shirt. Dakisuma did as he was ordered obediently. Resisting only caused his master to inflict further torment. His scarred back was revealed to the family as he prepared himself for the pain. Jake told his father not to hurt Dakisuma but his father replied, “This boy is not your equal. He needs to lean that he is never allowed to inflict pain on any of his superiors in any situation.” With this he summoned flames to his hand and placed it upon Dakisuma’s back. His skin sizzled and Dakisuma fell to the ground in agony.
 The butler quickly helped Dakisuma to his feet and led him to his quarters. Dakisuma lay upon his bed while the butler quickly applied some medicine to his back. The green paste has a fowl stench, but it was almost like breathing normal air to Dakisuma because he was burned so often.  He felt its cooling effects almost instantaneously. The butler then left him to be alone with his thoughts and returned to his work.
Alone Dakisuma looked out the small window and looked upon the sky. A flock of birds flew by and he watched them sail upon the winds. He envied their freedom and longed to be free once again. He remembered his home back in Joven as it was before the attack. He missed his brother dearly, running through the grass and being merry. He even remembered the fight that he and his brother had gotten into only two weeks before the attack.  He couldn’t remember what they had fought over because of how petty he thought it must have been. The spanking that his father had given him that night was something that he thought would have been the worst beating of his life had it not been for the torture that he now endured. His father had told him that he and his brother needed to protect each other, not fight over petty matters. Escape from this dungeon that he lived in seemed to be a stupid and childish dream now. ‘What am I thinking,’ he thought to himself, ‘this is not one of Jake’s books. I could spend the rest of my life down in this prison.’  With this thought he closed his eyes and sighed. Within a few minutes he had drifted off to sleep, the only place he was really free.
A week passed and Dakisuma quickly recovered from the burns on is back leaving yet another scar. His life quickly returned to the usual routine of servitude that he had grown used to. The butler told him, “Keep your wits about you from now on.  Your folly is going to get you slain one day.” Though well intended, these words seemed almost like an omen to Dakisuma. If he was ever going to leave this place alive he would need to be more careful.
In the Library Dakisuma organized and cleaned the books while Jake studied. He began by first removing all the books from their shelves, which was rather tedious because of the vast amount of books that were contained in the library. Then he dusted the shelves from top to bottom and then dusted off all the books themselves before returning them to all to the shelf. He also swept the floor and beat the dust from the rug.