21

Oct

by thefourpartland

This is the third in a short #FridayFlash serial based in The Four Part Land. Events that take place here will have a large impact in upcoming TFPL novels.

Annwyd stared eastward, as a green tinge struck the horizon, and he called “Canfydda!” to those behind him. Waving others to the small rise upon which he stood, Annwyd pointed east, the tip of his spear angled at the thin strip of deep green that marked the horizon. As his companions crowded about, he glanced to the sky and then back at that distant line, and guessed that the distance was now no more than thirty miles, only a day or two of walking to arrive at their destination. That was good, for water tasted brackish and poor, and little more than dried meat now fed their stomachs. Grinning, they marched down the small rise and off towards the home of the morning sun.

That first moment that Annwyd Arwedda stepped onto green grass may well have been the happiest of his life. Those who had never lived outside of the cold lands slipped their boots from their feet and sunk their toes into luscious grass, kneeling to touch the strange fronds as they reached upwards. Even Annwyd, who had seen this before and wished to maintain his composure, knelt and placed his face to the dirt, breathing deep the scent of fresh greenery.

The travellers rested for a while in this first expanse of lush scrub, laying on their backs and looking at a sun full of warmth, no longer the cold white sphere of their high mountain home. Soon enough, though, they struggled to their feet and continued their journey, as Annwyd looked for land ready for the taking, and yet near to farmers. He knew little of farming, but enough that he would rather learn from those that did than make himself a starving fool. Annwyd would never forgive himself if he and his kind did not learn the basics of agriculture, and thus lose the right to live here.

Day followed day, as Annwyd stepped across the scrub lands and his people followed. Each stride brought him closer to the hallowed lands of green grass and swaying wheat, where he would make a home of pleasant aspect and long duration. A grin floated across his face for but a moment, then disappeared beneath his placid exterior. There was little enough to smile about until he arrived at his destination, but its nearness teased at the edge of his mouth.

A tinkling sounds came to the ears of Annwyd Arwedda, and his pace quickened, and then stopped, as he beheld a placid stream, wending its way across the plains. On the far side grass spilled forth, drinking from the flowing waters and emerald with the bloom of the season. He had found his first stopping point, and raised his hand, gesturing at the soft ground. Those with him spread their pack upon the ground, sinking their bodies to the earth and stretching their fingers through the damp soil. For men of the frozen tundra and hidden plateaus, this was a change almost beyond their reckoning. Years passed for them with little more than brief summers of scrubby plants, and yet here they lay amongst the soft terrain of a welcoming earth.

It was bliss, and two days they spent beside that stream, drinking the crystal water and dipping their bodies into the ghyll, letting limbs trail in the cool liquid. Only the desire to push onwards drove Annwyd Arwedda from that place, that, and the food supplies that dipped low into the empty bags of the travellers. They would need to barter or hunt soon, for despite the gentle climate and abundant water, they knew little of how to harvest grain.

When the expedition saw smoke curling into the air from the far distance, they looked about in glee. They had found the first inhabitants of this land, and they would speak and trade with them, their skills and some tools for food and the knowledge of farming. Annwyd led his troop towards the thin tendrils, and presently they stood upon a small rise, looking across the plains at houses of earth and woven grass, and fences of the same material holding livestock. It looked idyllic to men used to moving daily, their homes strapped upon their back, never able to enjoy a sedentary life.

To Annwyd Arwedda, opportunity stood before him. The first small step in freeing his people from the confines of ice and winter lived within that enclosure, and he strode forward, planting his spear tip down into the earth in a gesture of friendship as he walked.

Men turned their eyes from the fields and looked at the approaching travellers, and wondered if the spirits of the land had birthed these creatures, for they wore garb outlandish and foreign, and they moved in a way that no plains dweller had ever done, hunched forward, as if always fighting through a strong wind. Holding close their pitchforks and shovels, the men of the village gestured at their women to hide in the houses, and to gather the children away, while the men went to form a line before the march of the travellers, implements held at the ready. The farmers of this village had travelled little, and all but a few had been no further than the nearest town to buy supplies. They had never heard of Fferedig Ddynion, nor know of places where the lands grew high and cold, and snow was the eternal presence. And so it was with great trepidation that they watched these approaching warriors, these people from a land beyond the boundaries of the world.

Comments

  1. Ganymeder on 10.21.2010

    Great writing here. Really liked the descriptions of the swaying wheat and their reactions to the green fields. It’ll be interesting to see where the story goes from here. 🙂

  2. Rachel Blackbirdsong on 10.22.2010

    Such a beautiful telling of this story. The descriptions drip with lusciousness throughout. I love how you describe the joy the travelers feel in the green earth, when compared to their cold home. I also love the ending. It really makes me want to see what happens next.

  3. Lara Dunning on 10.22.2010

    Great imagery and visualization of the landscape. I loved the story. We return to check out the rest of the series.

  4. The Four Part Land on 10.22.2010

    Thanks all for the kind comments.

    I was trying to capture what it would be like for a people who have lived in the Arctic tundra for all of their lives to come to a land where it was warm and lush and green. Apparently it worked well enough.

    I really do like their reaction to the stream, which was mostly luck. I didn’t plot or plan this story, and I wrote it in very short spurts, usually only 300-500 words at a time, so the scene was probably written in 2-3 different attempts.

    As for what happens next, I think there’s one more week of this, maybe two, and then I’ll have to come up with a new story to post.

  5. Johanna Harness on 10.22.2010

    Love the “hallowed lands of green grass and swaying wheat.” Beautiful phrasing. Thank you for this.

  6. Tony Noland on 10.23.2010

    You do atmosphere and scene so well, I could almost smell the fields. Nice work.

  7. Kari Fay on 10.23.2010

    Beautifully described; also I love the tension at the end where the villagers watch the approaching warriors. How will they respond to these strangers? I can’t wait to find out!

  8. Sam on 10.23.2010

    I really like this series of stories. You have a deft touch with descriptive writing, and I love the glimpses we get into the world you’ve created.

  9. The Four Part Land on 10.23.2010

    Thanks all for the comments.

    I really enjoy descriptive writing, I just sometimes find I did a bit too much of it. I had to cut out close to 30% of my second novel because it was a lot of description that involved no action or plot movement. And that was just in the first editing pass.

    @Kari How they respond has a good deal of impact on the last line of this short, and the central plot of novel #4. I’m glad I wrote this story, because it gave me a good idea for the main story of the setting, and was in some ways the catalyst for a lot of what will happen there.

  10. Cecilia Dominic on 10.23.2010

    This was gorgeous and reads like a legend or old tale. I could smell and feel the lushness and fresh air with them, and I hope that they and the indigenous people will live in peace. Of course, lack of conflict doesn’t make for a great novel, but hey, I’m a sucker for the happily ever after. 🙂

    CD

  11. The Four Part Land on 10.23.2010

    There is conflict that comes from this tale, much of it within Annwyd’s people. After all, it would be a bit boring if it was a happily ever after, as you say.

    I often read stories where the MCs end up dead, wounded, or otherwise with many things missing, and find sometimes it’s necessary to keep the story moving. I haven’t personally killed an MC yet, but it has cropped up more than once, most notably in Breaking an Empire.

  12. Eric J. Krause on 10.24.2010

    Descriptions are excellent in this. Really brings the story alive. Good one!

  13. Steve Green on 10.31.2010

    Very atmospheric and descriptive, I could feel the tension in the farmers as they surveyed the possible threats that were walking towards them.

  14. The Four Part Land on 11.03.2010

    I thought that made for a perfect place to end the segment, because the farmers are plains people who have not really seen these men before, and the warriors are something out of their experience. And history teaches the villagers that warriors are not a good thing for more peaceable people.

    Thanks again

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