Thursday, January 04, 2007

From the Minor Annals - VIII

That year the old city slowly crumbled and the people fled.
From the dark things that crept over the western walls and through its darkened streets to live and feed.
We watched the first panic from our enclave and made our quiet preparations.
When we glimpsed strange lights at nightfall from its towers that was not the true green of leaf and vine, we knew the wards had failed and it was time to go.
We would have stayed and fought but for the children.
Even so, once past our barriers, we battled to reach the last gate and the eastern road and the temporary safety of a distant tor.
The final cross-street spewed forth a howling, clawing, mob - most human, some not - against our cavalcade.
I was with the rear guard.
They nearly broke us.
The early dawn saw our sabres fall silver and rise red.
I remember I rode into the day with a screaming, sobbing child, snatched from an overturned cart, on my saddle bow and a dripping sword in my hand.
Sometimes, cold steel is better than magic.

The fair city has fallen.
They say it is a ruin now.


Erik Ivan James said...

Ahhh, another of The Minor Annals.
Start binding them.
They are already becoming a wonderful book.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Erik.
Glad you like them.
They are not to everyone's taste.

Steve G said...

I find it a facinating tale. Part of a larger project?

Ric said...

Such good writing here. Placing us, as readers, into the action, with a minimum of words. I could see the horses, the women sheltering their babes, the terror.
Masterfully done, dear Bernita.

S. W. Vaughn said...

I love that you used "the wards had failed", and "most human, some not" is so creepy I got chills!

Excellent, lyrical work. :-)

Robyn said...

You bring up a topic that has always sent me into rages in fantasy stories. Protecting the children. Why in God's name would any parent stay in a village that was being menaced by cossacks/vampires/dragons regularly? They are usually poor villagers anyway- pack up your wee wagon and MOVE.

Bernita said...

Not at this time, Steve.
They are just short vignettes without an arc.

Dear Ric. You are always so encouraging. Thank you.

Thank you, Sonya. Wonder if "the wards" was a bit cliche.

Robyn, hope I avoided that.
Still I'm not sure if the timing of deliberate retreat was acceptably described.

Unfortunately, that's people.In the mass they may have trouble believing the extent. They trust the authorities. They huddle.
They fear it will be worse outside. It's never going to happen to us sort of thing. Etc.

EA Monroe said...

I love The Minor Annals, Bernita. So much imagination, not only visual, but audio as well -- at least for me.

Bailey Stewart said...

Short vignettes without an arc? Oh say it isn't so Bernita. This is wonderful writing, well paced; your words are illuminating, their cadence a perfect backdrop for the terror/sorrow of the piece.

The early dawn saw our sabres fall silver and rise red.

This one sentence struck me, it's image caught in my mind.

Very well done.

Kate Thornton said...

The Minor Annals are such a treat - and not minor at all!

Bernita said...

Audio, Elizabeth?
That pleases me, because I debated about clash and confusion for the street fight, and left it mostly to imagination.

Sorry, Bailey, without arc.
They are all over the place.
Happy you liked it though.

Kind of you, Kate!

raine said...

Agree with Bailey.
That one image is quite striking, along with the simple, dreadful statement, "they nearly broke us".

VERY well done, lady.l

Jaye Wells said...

You do have a way with words, lady. I like the description of the swords falling silver and raising red. Well done.

spyscribbler said...

Yay! Another from the Minor Annals! I'll add my vote for that once sentence as my favorite. :-)

What a wonderful way to wake up in the morning, with a taste of great writing. Thank you, Bernita!

Bernita said...

Raine. Thank you.

Thank you, Jaye and Spy.
Glad that image came across.
Particularly because I hadn't specifically mentioned horses prior to it.

December Quinn said...

I agree. I loved the one on EE when I saw it "ready for continuation" and thought it was one of the best openings we'd ever had over there.

I should have known it was yours. You are outrageously talented, Bernita.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Yea to the Minor Annals!

That was very reminded me of a movie I saw where a darkness, like a fog swept over the countryside, and as it passed there was nothing useful..or of color, left in its wake.

This reminded me of that..until you got to the battle part, and some were human, some not...*shiver* very cool!

More please!

Bernita said...

Thank you, December.
Not so, but very nice to hear.
It had the usual mixed reviews.
I erred in not stating at the outset that it was a "short."
Didn't think, just bunged it over, because I owed EE one.
The vocabulary objections astonished me.
Especially the certainty that "ichor" refers exclusively to god's blood.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Bonnie.

Movies: Sometimes a reader's visual memory will work to a writers advantage. Sometimes it makes them yawn "have seen it all already."

Candice Gilmer said...


They rung such a chord in me, I swore, I heard my character in a story I'm currently working on say them... They could very well be from his past...


Bernita said...

What? What, Candice?
Explain, explain!

writtenwyrdd said...

Beautifully poetic. I don't know what's going on, precisely, but I know enough. That line, "The early dawn saw our sabres fall silver and rise red" was gorgeous. Hell, it was all gorgeous!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Written.
Very much.

The Minor Annals are a series of incidents from different places and different times, told by a single, female narrator - who may, or may not, be the same person.

If I write more, I think I should preface with the above paragraph.

Candice Gilmer said...


A short that I started a few days ago, about a warrior vampire -- I can very much hear him saying some of those lines...

Particularly these:

"The early dawn saw our sabres fall silver and rise red.
I remember I rode into the day with a screaming, sobbing child, snatched from an overturned cart, on my saddle bow and a dripping sword in my hand.
Sometimes, cold steel is better than magic."

Bernita said...

Thank you.
Damn, Candice, that is so cool!

Gabriele C. said...

Shades of The Thirteenth Warrior in that one.

I begin to wonder if those vignettes would indeed work as novel, their style is maybe too crisp to sustain some 120K. But they would work great in a novel, as quotes. Someone finds the Minor Annals while have to deal with her own demons - and I mean real ones not those Snarked before the year's turn. Ancient evils that return, a family curse, a legacy.

writtenwyrdd said...

The Minor Annals might work as part of a frame story, or readings within the story (say an ancestor's journal)

I am inspired to start my own random stories just for the blog. It would be interesting as an experiment just to see what I came up with. But it occurs to me I used to do something like that in my high school journals. Random vignettes in the life of a character whose tale is still not written.

Bernita said...

I'm also inclined to think they would work in, rather than as, Gabriele.

If nothing else, it's a good exercise, Written - and who knows when the dots might connect.

sundae best said...

"Sometimes, cold steel is better than magic."

Man, is this a powerful line!

And although not an Antonio fan, I loved "The 13th Warrior" so much I had to buy it. Atmosphere can make or break any story.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Sundae.

I particularly enjoyed the Beowulf connection in the 13th Warrior.