Wraithbane---Chapter One

Fiction By Laura Elizabeth // 3/15/2011

I know I'm going out on a limb here, since this tale isn't finished. But I fully intend to finish it, even if it does take a while. This was the 2010 NaNoWriMo novel I started, but never got far because I was trying to finish another story. If anything seems confusing, please tell me about it. I've written it in a way where not everything is going to be explained right off, but if you have any questions, please ask me :) Hope ya'll enjoy it, and the next chapter should be up soon

Chapter One
Secrets, Secrets!

Terram leaned against the door, trying to look nonchalant, as several servants passed by him. They looked at the prince, dipped their heads respectfully, and, perhaps sensing that he wished it, they hurried away. Terram waited for another two or three minutes before opening the door and ducking inside and closing it quickly. Once inside, he looked around for a place to hide. Curtains hung from a wall length window, but they were of a sheer substance through which things could be seen. The table was bare, with no tablecloth. He had never been in this room before, that he could remember, and now he hoped that he could either hide or get out before the room began to fill.
Fifteen years old, slender but small, with blue eyes (the left one crossed) and dark brown hair, he had an almost insatiable thirst for learning everything he was not supposed to know. Eavesdropping, sneaking, and hiding were what he was good at. Whereas his older brother, Kellam, the crown prince, was almost an expert with his sword and bow, Terram was only interested in his small dagger, which he hid in his boot most of the time. Terram’s older sister, Airilla, had often said,
“Terram, why must you find out everything? Can’t you just be content with finding things out the ordinary way?”
“Then it’s no sport," he would reply. "To hide, and no one know that you know what they know, is all the fun of it. Asking is so dull.”
He had two younger sisters as well, mere babies. One was five, and the other four, and they stayed most of the time in the nursery.
Terram’s father and mother, King Eragim and Queen Efolia, knew very little about their son’s inquisitiveness. Eragim (of the royal house of Andreus), had too much to do, training Kellam for the day he would take the throne, to pay much attention to his second son. Anyways, Terram was so secretive that he attracted little attention. His sisters: bubbly Erilna, cheerful, soft spoken Airilla, and chubby Kairla, were shown more attention than Terram, which was fine with him, for the most part.
Terram’s eyes gave one more glance around the room, and then fell upon a large, oaken chest.
“I’ll wager I could fit inside, with a bit of room to spare,” he said to himself.
He opened the lid and looked inside. It was empty. He heaved a sigh of relief and stepped in, curling himself into as small a ball as possible. Taking out a tiny, square piece of wood from his tunic's pocket, he propped the lid open and lay silently in the dark. He tried to stop breathing loudly, as well, but it sounded very loud in that small, enclosed space. Just after he had succeeded in this, the door opened. Peering out through the opening between the lid and the chest, Terram saw a servant with a candle, lighting the candelabra which stood on the table. Then the servant went around the room, lighting all the candles which stood in nooks and on window sills, until the whole chamber was lit with a warm, yellow glow. Then he left, and Terram waited for about five minutes.
He was proud of himself. He had found out all about the secret counsel meeting by himself. Little things he had picked up from his brother, Kellam; a chance word spoken by his father, King Eragim; and a small box in which there were papers which he was not supposed to look at. But, of course, look at them he did.
Some time later, the door opened again, and he heard the well known voices of his father and several noblemen. He peered out for a few seconds. There were two noblemen whom he did not know by sight, but he knew who they were from the papers he had stolen a glance at. They were from Arvindia, and they were there to ask aid from King Eragim for their country, which was at war.
“Pray be seated,” came the king’s voice.
Terram saw that his father was in a chair facing the chest he was hiding in, and quickly ducked down. He could still hear what they were saying.
“Now, sirs,” Eragim said. “My son, Kellam, will be here with me in a few moments. Though he is young, he is the heir to the throne, and as such I wish for him to be treated as you would treat me. He will ask you questions just as I will, and I will allow him to have some say in the decisions. Agreed?”
There was a murmur of assent from the two visiting noblemen.
Alrik and Kinver, thought Terram proudly. Those are their names. I remember that from those papers of father’s.
At last the door opened, and Prince Kellam entered, looking slightly flushed and flustered. Terram, peering out for an instant, could hardly hold back a laugh as he watched his brother sit down hurriedly and try to look as though he were not late. If anyone was ever late, it was always Kellam, and Terram had often had a bit of fun at his brother’s expense on this matter.
“Just wait until I am crowned,” Kellam had growled once. “Then you will not be allowed to laugh.”
“But what if you are late to the crowning?” laughed Terram. “Then I suppose I would have to be crowned in your place!”
Terram heard Kellam speaking.
“Thank you, sirs,” he was saying. “I am well.”
“Let us call this council to order,” the king said. “I suppose you all know that this is a secret council. That is why we have no servants in here, and all the guards are outside. What goes on in this room is not to leave it, except for my lords, Alrik and Kinver. They may relay our decisions back to their king. Now, to begin, tell us the situation in Arvindia.”
Terram listened with interest as the war was explained.
“Well, your majesty,” Lord Alrik said. “If you’ll remember, Lecartin has had some long standing grievances against us. His majesty refused to make an alliance with them, because, as we all know, the Lecartians are known to us all as untrustworthy: spies, and traitors.”
“Ah, yes,” the king said. “I do hope they will not ask me to make an alliance with them, because I will have to refuse on the same grounds.”
Terram almost laughed at the extremely serious look on his older brother’s face, then brought his attention back to the conversation.
“...and their navy is at least twice as large as our own,” Lord Kinver was saying. “We know that your majesty has a large fleet, and his majesty, Talliver, asks that some, at least, be lent to him. Not necessarily manned with your own men, even. But we have no time to build new ships. And if any of yours are destroyed, then we will pay you in full, or build you new ones after the war.”
King Eragim turned to his son.
“Well, Kellam, what do you think?”
Terram envied the ease with which courtly language rolled off of Kellam’s tongue as he replied,
“I believe, my lords, that it would not harm us to lend you several ships. How many would you ask for?”
“Fifteen?” Lord Alrik said.
Kellam pondered it for a moment, then said,
“That does not seem too great a number. We know that Arvindia is a trustworthy land, and that whatever they borrow, they pay back. If it were wholly up to me, then I would do this thing.”
He looked at the king, who was trying not to show his fatherly pride in the words of his son.
“Then let it be done so,” he said, smiling at Prince Kellam.
“We thank you, your majesties,” the noblemen said, standing and bowing. “And now we must hasten back to Arvindia with the news.”
“Surely you will stay to a private banquet?” Kellam inquired. “It is already growing late, and I do not think you could reach the coast before dark.”
“Thank you, your highness,” they replied. “We will.”

An hour or so later, Terram was called to the banquet. It was a small, quiet affair. Only the royal family, the ambassadors from Arvindia, and a few of the Bynthybrian noblemen, were there. It was served in a small dining room and lit by a chandelier, and a musician played on a harp in the shadows. Terram sat beside his older sister. Halfway through the meal he nudged her and said,
“If I tell you a secret, will you tell anyone?”
“I don’t care to know what you have found out now,” she said, with an annoyed air. “But if you want to tell me, then do. I will tell no one.”
“Good. Well, I was in the secret council chamber earlier, and those men are not just visiting from Arvindia. But I won’t tell you what they were here about.”
Airilla gave a slight gasp.
“Terram! How could you listen in on a secret council?”
“Easily,” he said with a grin. “I hid.”
His sister shrugged.
“I should tell father,” she said.
“But I know you won’t,” Terram said, still smiling. “For one thing, you promised you would not. For another, you know it will do no one any harm just because I know about it.”
She sighed, and turned back to her meal. But now curiosity had gotten the better of her, which rarely happened.
“What are they doing here?” she asked in a whisper.
Terram smiled, and said,
“I told you I would not tell you. You will have to hide somewhere and find out. It should be easy...”
Airilla made an annoyed motion with her head and tried to forget everything about it.

The next day, Terram slipped out of the palace very early. The air was chilly, and foretold that winter was on its way. He went into the stables, where his horse was standing nibbling straw, in a stall between Kellam's black steed and Airilla's gray mare. Terram’s horse was a black mare, which he had begged his father to get for him. She was not spirited, but she was quick and quiet, which was of course what he liked best. He had named her Secret. He trotted out of the wide, paved courtyard, the gate of which was opened for him by a guard. The palace was situated just five miles from the royal city and was surrounded by huge and ancient trees, as well as younger ones which had been planted by King Eragim five or so years ago. Most palaces in that part of the world were in the middle of the royal city, a city which in other places would be heavily fortified, but Bynthybria was known as The Peaceful Land. In its long history among the other countries of the southern part of the world (Lecartin, Arvindia, Erasthinia, Belvia, etc.), it had had exactly two wars, and one was over a misunderstanding. The other had ended after three months.
Not even the Bynthybrians themselves knew the reason for this. That is, hardly any of them knew. Terram knew, but his father did not, the reason for the long peacefulness of their country.
He rode down the long avenue of trees, which were all ablaze with the colors of autumn, though those colors were muted in the early morning grayness, and then turned onto the great highway. It was rutted by heavy cart wheels, and there were large potholes which the relentlessly pounding rains of summer had made. After ten minutes or so, Terram turned off the highway, following a faint track into a dense forest. The track was just wide enough for one horse to walk on it, and it took many windings and turnings, around huge tree trunks and through grass as high as his horse's belly.
After about an hour, he came out into a small glade. In the glade there was a stable, large enough for at least ten horses. He dismounted and led Secret inside the stable, unsaddled her, and put her in a stall. Two other horses were already there. He glanced at them.
"Only Gildan and Farrel here yet," he said.
In the back of the stable there was a door, low and hidden. He had to stoop as he went through it. A few steps in uncertain darkness, and then stairs going down, down into the earth. Terram had been here often enough to know how many steps it took to get to the bottom.
"Forty-one, forty-two, forty-three, forty-four, forty-five," he counted.
A door stood just in front of the last step, lit by a dim lamp which hung above it. Terram rapped against it three times, and then two more. It swung open, and he found himself blinking in the glare of torch light.

Two men were sitting in a room which had originally been (so Terram had been told) a small cave. After a lot of excavation, the walls were now squared, and the room was big enough to seat fifty or so people. It looked very large and empty at the moment as Terram took a seat beside one of the men.
"Well, Terram," said the older man, who was rather short, with a grayish beard and a balding head. "Any news today?"
"My lips are sealed, Gildan," Terram said. "Until everyone has arrived."
"I would give my hair (what little there is of it) to find someone more secretive than you, Terram,” said Gildan. “And, since you refuse to tell what you have to tell, I will similarly close my lips.”
Terram laughed.
“I can get your secret out of you before the last member gets here, if I want to,” he said. “But as for myself, how do you know I have anything to report?”
“Look carefully,” said the second man, who was around forty. “He can do it, Gildan.”
Gildan, who was obviously fairly new in this place, said uncertainly,
“I will not say a word until everyone has arrived.”
"I can make you talk before then," said Terram.
He and the other man, Farrel, looked at each other and smiled, and for a moment there was silence, as the prince thought of how to do what he had said he would. At last he said,
“Farrel, tell Gildan how long you have been in the Society.”
“Four years.”
“And what is your job here?”
“Ambassador for the Society, and general public-house sneak.”
Terram nodded.
“I know you have a lot of stories to tell. I have heard some of them, but tell me a new one, if you do not mind.”
“Certainly, Terram. Let me think now. Ah! I have a good one. Believe it or not, this actually happened.”
Terram leaned back and prepared to listen, but he kept half an eye on Gildan, who was attending to Farrel with keen interest.
“Well, about two years ago, there was a disturbance in the village of Kaida."
"How far away is that?" asked Terram, eyeing Gildan.
"Oh," said Farrel, smiling slightly. He knew what Terram was doing; he had seen him do it often. "I would say it is about... ten miles from here. Surely you should know your geography!"
Terram laughed.
"Anyways, there was a disturbance. The people there said they had seen things at night that they had never seen before. So, naturally, the Society found out about it, and I was sent there to learn more. One night... you aren't timid, are you Terram?"
"Of course not!"
"Good. And you, Gildan?"
Gildan merely shook his head in the negative.
"Well, I took a walk one night, and something happened that made my hair stand up on end. Can you guess what it was?"
Terram said nothing, but merely looked at Farrel with wide eyes. Inside himself, he was laughing.
"I saw a dead body of something in the middle of the street. And, as I approached it, I could smell that it was decaying. The problem was, that it had not been there several hours before, in the daylight. It was too big to have been dragged there without anyone noticing, or so I thought. When I was about three feet from it (with my sword drawn, of course), I almost cried out with fear."
He paused dramatically and looked at his two companions in turn. Gildan could barely keep himself from saying something, so he bit his lower lip very hard.
"The dead body," Farrel said, very slowly. "Got up and snarled at me..."
He was interrupted when the door opened and two men entered. One was short and round, with a bald head, and small eyes which darted about warily. The other was taller, broad chested, deeply tanned, and muscled like a blacksmith.
"Hello there, Gildan, Farrel, Terram," the taller man said. "What has you so enthralled?"
"No doubt," his companion said in a low voice. "Farrel is telling them a story he has made up."
"Please explain yourself, Adder," said Farrel hotly. "I make up none of my tales. I tell them strictly as they happened. I do not embellish them." He turned to Terram for support. "Do I embellish anything?"
"No," said Terram. "I've never known you to do that."
"Then I would refrain from saying things like that, my good man, or you and I may have it out together one of these days."
"No you won't, Farrel," said Adder's companion. "You know the rules."
"That only applies when the Society is in session. Keep out of it."
They all sat in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. Terram was thinking of how to get Gildan to say something before the last member showed up. Finally he leaned over and whispered something to Farrel, then to Adder and to Gaddis, the broad chested man, but not to Gildan.
They all nodded their heads, while Gildan looked at them in annoyance. They went on whispering, until Gildan finally burst out with,
"What is going on?"
Terram laughed and said to the others,
"See! I told you I could do it."
Farrel and Gaddis laughed, but Adder was silent.
Gildan growled slightly, and tried unsuccessfully to suppress a smile.
"You were right, Farrel," he said. "I would take my hat off to you, young man, if I had one. As it is..." he got up, bowed comically, and resumed his seat.
After a few more minutes of silence, Adder spoke, still in the same low voice.
"Shouldn't the Gasper be here by now?"
"He keeps his own time," said Gaddis. "Be patient."
Terram leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. The Gasper certainly took his own time to come to meetings, but it was certainly his right. In the meantime, the prince was willing to wait and think. He supposed that soon, perhaps even today, he would be promoted to a more active role in the Society. It did not matter to the Gasper, or those even higher than the Gasper, that he was the king's son. Everything progressed at the same rate. Rewards went to those who proved themselves good members, no matter who they were, and Terram did not mind in the least having to prove himself.
At long last, the door open and an imposing man came in. He was head and shoulders taller than Gildan, with a curling brown beard and iron gray eyes. He was not as muscled as Gaddis was, but he was obviously very strong. His rumbling voice filled the cave as he spoke.
"Well, boys, I see everyone is a wee bit early here. How do ya'll do?"
There was a chorus of,
"We're well, thank you sir," and "Very good, sir."
The Gasper pulled a chair out and sat so that they could all face him.
"Let's call this here meeting to order, boys."

Comments

... someone needs a good

... someone needs a good spanking. ;)

But I love your writing style, and everything that's going on has me absolutely intrigued!

Kyleigh | Wed, 03/16/2011

Highly intrigued! Can't wait

Highly intrigued! Can't wait for the next chapter!

Heather | Wed, 03/16/2011

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

I can't wait

To read the rest of the novel. When will it be out on store shelves?

Micheala | Wed, 03/16/2011

Well, I certainly hope you

Well, I certainly hope you finish! I know from experience that the encouragement of those in the apricot grove can finish a novel for you as long as the inspiration is there now and again.

Anna | Fri, 03/18/2011

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

 This is marvellous! I can't

 This is marvellous! I can't wait to read more. My curiosity is piqued ;)

Renee | Fri, 03/18/2011

Hold your horses...

Chapter two should be up next week, probably Monday :) And thanks to everyone for the comments. They make my day =D

Laura Elizabeth | Fri, 03/18/2011

*************************************************
The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

Terram reminds me of Eustace

Terram reminds me of Eustace before he was good, and I absolutely detest him.  I like the story though.

Bridget | Fri, 03/18/2011

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

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