I am unsure how this first chapter is going to look from an on lookers perspective so aspects of the story may make no sense to start. If you do find yourself confused at any point, as in properly confused. Not simply for the air of mystery. Then once again it would great if you could point it out in a comment below.
I am hoping that posting my writing to this blog will aid me in becoming a better writer. That is at least the hope. Whether that will work in practice is still to be decided.
Below is the first chapter of a novel called Barrowmen. This is at current a working title but will more likely turn out to be the final title also.
For anyone that's gotten this far in the blog, I salute you and hope you enjoy what is to follow.
One more thing. Please do not republish what you find on this page. This as I said is a work in progress and is simply not ready to be viewed outside of this blog. Thank you. But of course feel free to point people toward this blog if you think someone you know may enjoy it. More feedback the better in my mind.
Chapter One - A Rude Awakening.
Our tale begins, as most tales will atone, with a planet. A simple mass of rock and substance endlessly circling some manner of supreme power source. The Earth was one such example of this process. Through I'd be lying to say the planet before us now was the blue opal known as Earth. For this was clearly not Earth, and a simple look around would provide evidence to this point. Which would then of course be backed up by the glaring fact this planet was actually in a completely separate galaxy. Then to speak of dimensions? Lets not even get started on that! For some have been known to say this galaxy doesn't exist in any of the conventional realities. That of course is humbug, bunk, and outright slander. As all galaxies must exist within some reality, right?
Philosophical questioning aside, this planet existed. At least for the time being. And existed quite peacefully, under the light pink haze of the bustling space known only as The Glaze. Many planets existed upon The Glaze, and tales of courage, valour, and hardship were many. Spreading far and wide throughout the ever increasing density of a galaxy simply called The Doughnut. This tale will touch on the vastness of the celestial canvas known as The Doughnut. Per chance, we may even travel into the depths of this vast universe. And, per chance, we may return.
Dreaming is believing a wise man once said, and if the population of The Doughnut knew how close to home this pretty phase struck, rioting would ensue. Of course this is assuming the riots had first been dreamt! But once again we go delving into the recesses of philosophical questioning, and its dark down there! Thus a retreat to sturdier ground is in order. So back to the planet.
The planet in question was known as Barrow, named after its chief export, Wheelbarrows. Wheelbarrows made lucrative business in these parts, and none took more advantage of this than the Dwarfs that made then. The expectedly crafted barrows they would keep for them selves to aid in the prospecting of deeper mines. But everything else was sold. The good barrows, the bad, and sometimes even the downright shoddy. The buyers? The Humans! Those same Humans which moved here from somewhere? Everywhere was assumed. They just seemed to turn up. Then the Dwarfs would sell them a barrow, and everybody would be happy. Gold for barrows, a good deal to anyone. Especially Dwarfs, as to be expected.
Sometimes though a Human would find themselves working in the barrow business, and would find it quite lucrative, if played right. Maybe they could get some Dwarfs working for them? maybe fellow Humans too. Paid well of course, housing, dental, free travel, even off world and that was very rare. So Humans would come to the planet of Barrow and work for the Barrowmen. But of course they would all need a barrow, sometimes maybe even two. Most Humans needed them here. Things were heavy! Gravity was... Unkind! At least to non Dwarf folk. Dwarfs as to be expected, ran and skipped around freely. One of the privileges of being from a place is that usually you're used to the gravity of said place! Ten points to evolution. Evolution however can never quite prepare you for the politics of interstellar visitors, thus the Dwarves would never get used to Humans. So took pleasure in frolicking and dancing whenever they got the chance in front of them. This general air of glee was not normal behaviour for a Dwarf it must be stressed. Most preferred to take life at a slower more manageable pace, but occasionally rubbing salt into the wound of a species the Dwarves do say,
"Are asking for it!" Is a much needed way to blow off steam. But to the Humans, and lets face it, pretty much every other species, this just looked like a thing Dwarfs did to have fun. Thus was usually interpreted as,
"It's just something they do, I guess?".
Humans though, given their handicap for adapting to gravity, needed the barrows. For without them they might just have undergo an interesting conversation with mother nature about jumping back on the evolutionary band wagon. That was never going to happen however, as asking a Human to change in order to suit its' environment rather than the other way round, was like asking a leopard to change it's spots... while performing complicated math... during an earthquake! As most would expect, everyone would be left frustrated, confused, and quite possibly crushed by falling rubble. So of course, the need for barrows. For transport mainly; of goods, wares and stuff. Sometimes children, sometimes not. Very occasionally also, if lined with a few pillows, a barrow would make just the place for a mid morning snooze. Not dissimilar to the snooze like snores currently coming from a Human Boy named Trump.
Terrance Trump Thunderhammer to be precise. Terrance from his Grandfather, and Trump from the mind of his Father. Why his Father had chosen such a ridiculous middle name was beyond most, and Blane Thunderhammer had never touched on the subject. A mystery to say the least. Trump occasionally thought it may simply be a joke, but then again. Why did he keep introducing himself as Trump? A question he had often pondered during long dull nights in the mine. A question he was sure, would never get answered. But that didn't ruin the fun of contemplation, just occasionally heightened the sense of frustration! The one thing he did know however was that the name felt right, no matter which way you sliced it, no matter how silly the sound. Trump simply fit, and he was okay with that, despite the mystery.
Now Thunderhammer it should be noted is a name that once again, should be noted. Because it's important. Importantly confusing to say, that such a name belongs to a Human; most of which tend to favour the shorter less Dwarfish sounding names, like Smith or King. This could be a side effect of their evolutionary stunt of course, so should be taken into account.
Trump was Dwarven as such a name would suggest. But confusion would swiftly come if you believed that a name was a definite indication of ones physical species. As Dwarf in body, Trump was surely not. Unless looked upon under very bad lighting in a room of wavy mirrors. But that is just asking for deception and thus should be treated as the nonsense it quite clearly is.
Trump Thunderhammer was adopted, as you would hopefully expect given his current Human slash Dwarven descriptive form. Pretty common these days, unfortunately. After the fall of Heisner, Heisner & Crown, one of the biggest barrow busts in memory. Because as everyone and their wee mums knew. When a Barrowman runs out, so do all the jobs. Then people stop coming, then they start leaving. Then sometimes, thankfully only sometimes, someone gets left behind. Trump was one of these someone's, A 17 year old Man-Dwarf-someone, to be precise. Old enough to work in the Mines, but not old enough to drink the strong ale. Other than the occasional at Hidefest Holiday, traditions to be observed of course. Today unfortunately, was not Hidefest. For if it was, Trump would've woken to the sound of singing, dancing, gift giving, and the booming laugh of General Cheer, the seasons premier gift giver, delivering Hide crafted wares to all the good boys and girls of Barrow. That would've been laughably pleasant compared to what actually was about to happen, where in Trumps Steelie barrow, was to be stuck, By a large hammer!
As a shudder one would expect from a Steelie Hammer of such size colliding full speed with a likewise barrow, emanated with waking purpose through the structure of the make shift bed. A low booming voice filled the air. It's source? A rather round looking Dwarf, grey in hair and beard. A brown leather cap sitting atop the tangled mess of hair, and a long leather coat of equal hue draping either side of a large wobbling gut. A belt of midnight leather adorned with a shining gold buckle crossed the middle of the portly Dwarf. And this buckle was now centre point for Trumps frustration toward the festively plump Dwarf, whom had just swung that damn hammer!
"RISE AND SHINE YA LAZY PUP!" Boomed the voice, while at the same time giving another cheap swing with that blasted hammer. As the shock began to pass, Trump experienced the world slowly returning to focus around him. He now ignored the Dwarf despite his rising image of the shining buckle. Instead choosing to focus on the grubby building which he had awakened next to.
'That's definitely the Wheel & Fiddle' Trump thought to himself. 'Why by Odin am I next to the pub?' The slightly ashamed thought continued. 'I don't even drink, but now of course the old buggers going to think I have been' There was a pause mid thought. Somewhat like a pause mid sentence but filling considerably less time, and then Trump decided the best course of action was dumb ignorance.
"What am I doing here?" Trump murmured to the world, pretending only to acknowledging the Dwarfs presence mid sentence.
The Dwarf took a step closer and slammed his iron clad hand to Trumps back, a feeling he'd never enjoyed, so received with a wince.
"Damned if I know my boy!" The Dwarf began "But don't I know that old Mister Townsout is not much pleased with you, not at all, not one bit. At least that's my guess?" The Dwarf looked a bit puzzled
"But that's why I'm here" another puzzled look. "Odin knows why your here" The Dwarf kicked the barrow this time. "Wherever you were going you obviously needed your wheels."
"Obviously" Trump retorted glancing down at the make shift bed. "Besides, you know I don't need this thing the same way other Drifters do."
Drifters was as Trump knew the politically correct way of describing off-worlders. A blanket term if you will, not simply for use when referring to Human Drifters, but transferable for use regarding any being drifting throughout The Glaze. The reason for this wholly Dwarven bit of prejudice was simple. Dwarfs were not good flyers, not by any stretch of the phase "good flyer". They preferred to keep their feet in their boots, and their boots firmly on solid ground. Or more accurately, under solid ground in some sort of cave system, with lights of course, and a draft, a draft was important. The thought of Glaze travel to a Dwarf just seemed unnatural. For if the great Odin, high power and deity of all Barrow had intended Dwarfs to fly, he would have given them all Glaze ships, or at the very least some metal wings. Not shovels and a heightened sense of vertigo. But not being the case meant prejudice remained, thus the term Drifter and thus the occasional hushed muttering of Dwarfs curious about The Glaze. For prejudice is exist in places of ignorance and it is safe to say, most Dwarfs are pretty ignorant.
"You aren't no Drifter, ma boy" The Dwarf slammed his heavy hand once again on Trumps back, almost winding him.
"I know, I know" Nodded Trump "I was born on Barrow, am from Barrow, and for all intensive purposes, Barrow, Barrow"
Now this sentence doesn't make much sense when looked at with a grammatically savvy eye but to the Dwarf who seemed to mouth the exact words under his breath as Trump spoke, it must of had meaningful significance. For the faint sparkle of a tear could be seen shining at the corner of the old Dwarfs eye.
"Beautiful... beautiful" The Dwarf murmured "and me and your mother have stuck to that our entire lives"
"But that's because you ARE from Barrow" Trump almost shouted.
"And so are you my boy, found you when you was only a wee babby" The Dwarf gestured "wee babby" as one would gesture a cardboard box or varying size of fish. "Then I took you along to the old homestead and the rest is as they say, history, no more sinister than that" The Dwarf kicked the barrow again, startling Trump once more.
"Yes you may be Human, and your real parents may have been Drifters who done up and left you. Possibly even a proper Barrowman for a father, who knows? All I know is you've been a Thunderhammer longer than yourself can remember, and a Thunderhammer you shall always remain to ya mother and me"
There was a pause as Trumps face showed a slight trace of boredom, chiefly down to the fact that all though a touching sentiment between father and son had just occurred. It was that same touching sentiment Trump had been treated to on numerous occasion. Almost as if his father had rehearsed the whole speech many, many times, ready for the day Trump would ask his questions. But lately though, and Trump was not ashamed to admit it, his questioning had gotten somewhat, Out of hand.
Trump broke the silence
"So what did Mister Townsout want?" The Dwarf straightened up with a sense of fatherly authority and spouted
"Well, he sent a young Dwarf over to the homestead earlier this morning, looking for you he was, had this for ya" The Dwarf pulled a letter from inside his coat, and held it out to Trump. Trump took the letter eagerly. It was always nice getting mail and from a head Barrowman no less.
'It couldn't be anything other than good news, right?' Trump thought to himself 'But wait!' Panic washed over him. 'Why would it be good news, what have I done worth a Barrow Man messaging directly, hand delivered no less' The panic heightened.
'Think! What could you have done that would possibly earn you the direct attention of a Barrow Man' Panic peaked. 'Nothing' He had done nothing, precisely that.
Trump hadn't been going to work for a while, he preferred to focus his interests elsewhere, usually on tinkering with things. Like repairing such things if necessary, and more unique creations if the mood was right. Unique creations such as the interesting collection of gadgets currently about Trumps person, hand made gadgets to be expected as Dwarfs had never been very adept in the art of shopping. They preferred to craft their own solutions to problems rather than purchasing solutions to problems they never knew they had. Although very occasionally a Human gadget would make its way into the vast expanse of the Under Barrow caves, and a Dwarf would get curious. Trump remembered the day his brother bought home a small device roughly about the size of his palm. The device consisted simply of a button and a speaker, along with the mandatory cheap plastics found on Human made products. When the button was pushed the device would emit a loud, and what some would consider offensive word to the tune of an angry mans voice. The word in question referred to the Bulls found on Human home worlds, and more specifically referred to the Bulls rear door by-product. You get the point! The device as far as the Thunderhammer household could assume was used by Human farmers as a type of self warning system regarding the unsanitary nature of Bulls' shit. At least this was their guess given their brief upstanding of Human cleanliness regimes. It's true purpose however, to this day still remains a mystery to the quaint Dwarven household.
As Trump reminisced about the button device, it got him thinking that he had quite quickly taken the little device apart, curious of it's innards. This was one of the many instances that had led Trump to believe he'd gotten quite adequate with a wrench and pliers, and not to mention the wire cutters, but oh how he'd gotten good with the wire cutters. Trump was proud of this. But skill took time, and work took time, so one had to suffer. And possibly to the headache of Mister Townsout, it had been work that was destined to suffer.
Trump's father then cleared his throat with startling urgency, bringing Trump to realize he'd been stood starring at the letter for longer than one should stare at a letter.
"Bad news is it?" Barked the Dwarf.
"It could be" Gulped Trump before carefully turning the envelope over in this hands to reveal the Barrowman seal, this Barrowman's seal at least, there were many. This seal glowed of the finest gold wax, stamped with the unmistakeable crossed shovels of the Townsout, Townsout & Barley collective, the biggest of its kind in all the region. Also it was Trumps employer, and that was the worrying part.
'Another gulp for good measure' Trump thought, and as quickly as he could, broke the seal, tore the envelope back and yanked out the single white piece of card contained within.
'Another gulp for luck' Turning the card over was most definitely going to be the highest high or lowest low of his day, or so he thought... and turn!
'Blank' Thought Trump
"BLANK" out loud this time. This was ridiculous, he'd almost given himself a heart attack with the damned thing, and all for a blank piece of card. Was this some sort of tomfoolery or scam?! Although he couldn't help thinking
'Very nice card!' He had to admit, the fancy stuff, no expense spared. So if this was a con then it was a good one, or else the only other option was that this message was in fact from the Barrowmen. The only thing missing from making this a successfully pleasant digestion of words on a lovingly crafted canvas, was of course the words, and without the words, the sense of purpose evaporates.
'So let's get this straight' thought Trump 'I have a blank message from the Barrowmen in my hand, and for some reason this angers me' He thought silently for a moment. 'Perfectly justifiable cause to be angry, even if the card is kinda pretty' Another quick pause, before turning to his Dwarven father.
"It's blank, can you believe that?!"
"Oh well" Waved the Dwarf "A letter with no words, is a letter with no bad words, remember that my boy, the bases of a good optimistic nature" The Dwarf winked, or rather some eye brow hair twitched downwards, while at the same time some cheek hair twitched up. This somewhat resembled a wink, or as close to a wink as Trump could decipher through the hair.
"Aren't you even curios what the whole point of getting the messenger to deliver a message devoid of all, well... message?" Trump articulated furiously.
"Devoid" repeated the Dwarf "That's a nice word, is that one of your mothers book words?"
"I don't think that is what you should take away from this talk" Trump said in sombre tone.
"Well, what you decide to take out of life, is at the very least your choice" The Dwarf responded without pause. "And my choice is to live in a state of reasonable ignorance! Besides you know questions give me gout. Especially questions that don't need asking."
"But" Trump began.
"But" His father interrupted "If you want to, you should go and have a chat with Mister Townsout. Tell the guards at the gate the words. Bottoms Up! They'll know what you mean, and you can have as long a chat with the Barrowman as you see fit" The Dwarf smiled as the hair near his eye and cheek twitched again. "I'm owed a lot of favours in this region, and that Barrowman was young once, before the gold swelled his pockets that is. So speak to him and say your piece" The Dwarf nodded "So that is my piece and I shall say no more on the matter" He kicked Trump's barrow once more for good measure, not to mention the dramatic effect. Before saying
"And you don't need to worry about this thing, I'll get her back to the old homestead right as rain"
Trump jumped from the barrow once the final shudder had worn off, and preceded to stand in place for a moment as if stunned by what he had just heard.
'Was that a straight answer' He thought 'From Father?'
Trump spoke out,
"So I can go?" He gestured in a random direction with his head as people do when they believe their destination is in a some what that a way direction. The Dwarf nodded again. There was another pause...
"ARE YOU GOING?" The Dwarf barked at his son. To which Trump span on his heels, took a short moment to stretch out and straighten himself up, another quick one to check his kit. Maybe each moment took a little longer than usual, but he hadn't long been woken to a start, and this he could at least tell himself would excuse not knowing where his gold pouch was. That bridge would be crossed when approached, because right now he had some answers to get and the sooner the better.
Trump began to jog in place whilst the same time giving his Father a quick sideways glance accompanied by a thankful little nod.
"See you in a bit" He said. And before the elderly Dwarf could reply in kind, Trump had bolted into the distance toward the opening of the great cave. The stoned walls and curvature of the expanse gave life to every shadow Trump cast on his way past numerous flickering flames. The run was long but could easily be done in under twenty minutes by someone quick,
'and he is definitely quick' thought the now sombre Dwarf as he watched his son disappear into the daylight.
"Good Luck my boy, you're as sure fire gonna need it"
With this the Dwarf swung his hammer into the now vacant Steelie barrow, hoist himself up, and set off, toward the pleasant warmth of the mines. A song on his lips and a skip in his step.
"HIGH HOOOOOO... "He began as the soul of the mine took him into its depths.
Thank you for reading the complete first chapter of Barrowmen. I can't say how much it means to me that you reached this far. My hat is definitely off to you. Before you go however, if could take the time to give me your opinions on what you just read that would be great. Anything that comes to mind, good points, bad points, bits that need improvement. Grammar or coherency? That sort of thing. Thanks again and I look forward to seeing your comment below.