I am currently at the midpoint of a class I had been both anticipating and dreading for the past six months.
Anticipation because I think very highly of this professor – he’s by far one of the most intelligent, kind, and gifted people I have ever met. Dr. Simone Caroti is a brilliant instructor I had earlier in my education [Literature Criticism and Analytical Thinking] and I’m very grateful to say that we’ve kept in touch as I’ve progressed through the program. He has been a mentor to me as a writer and a friend, colleague, and overall source of optimism and positive feedback within the University.
So why the dread? Dread, because this class encompasses a subject matter I’m not comfortable with: Science Fiction & Fantasy.
[Cue Jaws music now, please.]
I’ve never been one to sugar coat my skill set or to pretend to possess a talent I do not have, nor have I intentionally undermined what I know to be my strengths. I am confident where confidence is due and humble when discussing my areas of improvement.
These are a few of the things I feel I am good at:
- Grammar, spelling, and punctuation – oh my!
- Journalistic articles and essays.
- Poetry, particularly modernistic and postmodernist-style pieces.
- Editing others’ work – I have a gift for “cleaning things up,” or so I have been told.
My weaknesses, on the other hand, are more varied:
- Keeping a story line on pace. I go off on tangents and totally forget where I need/want to take a plot all of the time.
- The creation-process as a whole – new places, new creatures, new worlds! How do people DO THAT?!
- Envisioning the unrealistic. I don’t enjoy stories with flying elves, hence I have difficulty writing about them.
With that in mind, I would consider this class to be one of the greatest challenges of my education thus far. Every single “area of opportunity” for me [that’s a nice way of saying weakness, in case you’re wondering] is involved in this course. Ahhhhh!
Fortunately, I’m being taught by one of the best teachers that Full Sail University [heck, Florida as a whole] has to offer. So, with his guidance and patience, I’ve endeavored on my first fantasy piece since beginning my education a a writer.
Here is an excerpt of the first chapter of the story, which I’ve tentatively entitled The Revenge of Inali:
It was the screams that woke her. Somehow, she had slept through the Hunapes’ entrance into their village, just hours before dawn. She managed to slumber, deeply and undisturbed, through the destruction of her neighbor’s homes. She even slept through the slaughter of her favorite horse, Ingapeyo, whose stable resided on the outer border of the village, directly in the path of the violent invasion; their bond in life not strong enough to penetrate her peaceful night. The sleep of the innocent must lay mufflers over the ears, for Inali heard none of the chaos surrounding her from the warmth of her bed. For Inali, it was her mother’s screams that woke her.
Her eyes were barely open as the blade slid across the slender neck of Appelina, priestess of the Yagaleh people. Inali watched as her mother raised her slender arms, the cry of warning still warm on her lips, as the crimson flow drained the vivacity from her beautiful face. The murderer’s eyes bore into Inali’s as the tall, leonine body went limp in his arms. Inali knew immediately that he was a Hunape warrior; the thick banded muscles in his arms and legs twitched at the excitement of the kill, the telltale serpentine goisenberry tattoos rippling with the movement.
His grip loosened while his gaze stayed firm; Inali’s eyes faltered as she watched her mother’s slight figure slide to the damp earth at his feet. From the way she crumpled on the floor, Inali thought for a moment that she could be just peacefully sleeping, much like she had been only moments before. Perhaps this was a dream? The last trace of a vivid nightmare? This could not be reality. Not for her.
She trembled under the blanket of hide, noticing everything simultaneously – the coppery smell of her mother’s warm blood saturating the soil, the coarseness of the bison hair against her bare legs, the pure white sliver of moonlight reflecting off of the sheen of sweat on the warrior’s brow – and yet unable to react, think, or breathe. The racing of her heart, the rise of the bile in her throat – Inali could no longer convince herself that this was a dream. Death stared, mockingly, at her youth.
The warrior took a step forward, then a second. As his soil-blackened foot rose to step over the still frame of Inali’s mother, the high shrill note of a wooden flute froze him mid-air. His head turned sharply to the east, listening, as if the tune itself contained words, a language only he could understand. Inali grasped at the extra seconds of stolen life, preparing to run, or fight – she wasn’t sure. Every part of her body tensed in anticipation of his attack. Before her muscles could decide on a strategy, the Hunape warrior turned quickly on his heels. He paused at the entrance of her once sacred home and turned to face the quivering teenager, slight amongst the heavy hide blankets.
“Send our love to your chieftess, little flower.” He blew her a kiss and ran quickly from the shattered remains of her childhood.
Finally released from the immobilization of her fear, Inali scrambled free of the suffocating furs of her bed and crawled to her mother’s body. The caramel skin of her high cheeks had gone pale and the warmth had since faded from her hazel eyes, though they stared back into her daughter’s with the same fixed concentration as they had in life. Even death couldn’t fully rout the beauty from her face; the blessing and the curse of the Yagaleh people. Inali placed her hands over the wound, the blood still oozing slowly from the perforated flaps of skin of the long neck.
Though she was young, Inali had been trained as a healer in the Yagaleh tribe, but never before had she been able to save someone who had already crossed over to the other side. Her medicinal magic was still volatile, weak, and unpredictable, but she knew that her mother’s soul would be irretrievable if she left her side now to seek help. She summoned her enuia and channeled it through trembling fingertips into her mother’s cool skin.
The room slowly became illuminated as Inali’s enuia transferred through her fingertips, the warm amber luminosity mimicking the color of a smoldering sunset against the Agalasi Mountains. Appelina’s body remained still, though her eyes twinkled from the glowing light of the room, as if filled with the laughter of a joyful celebration. Inali shuddered with the effort, the unspoken incantation weakening her small frame as she sacrificed her own life force, trying to resuscitate her mother.
The blood stopped flowing from the serrated edges of Appelina’s neck as the skin sealed itself, as if sown shut by invisible hands weaving their imperceptible thread. Inali drew in heavy gasps of air, fighting to remain focused, but her mother’s chest did not rise. Air, though surrounding them both in its humid embrace, didn’t fill Appelina’s lungs. Color, though vibrant in the flora and foliage surrounding their village, didn’t fill Appelina’s cheeks.
The tears, held captive in her light green eyes so piquantly, finally broke through their restraints and trailed in long curtains down Inali’s cheeks with the realization that it wasn’t working. The injury was too severe, her magic too weak. Appelina was gone.
The orphan wept.
Any and all feedback is welcome. =)
Here’s to trying new things and facing my fears,
~ Victoria Elizabeth Ann