Ok… I think I may actually enjoy this fantasy fiction thing.
A couple of nights ago, I shared the first chapter of the fantasy story I had begun writing for my current course. Over the last 48 hours, I’ve found myself unable to stop working on it.
Since I’m still so new to this genre and style of writing, I’ve decided I’m going to solicit the advice of the Blogging world as a whole on my piece to see if they think it has any potential. I posted Chapter One [please see: My first attempt at fantasy fiction] and now I’d like to share the second chapter.
As I continue to develop the piece, I’ll post it here for feedback, comments, and suggestions.
So… here goes! Chapter Two:
With the dawn came understanding. The chieftess of the Yagaleh people, Unole, had spurned the advances of the son of the Hunape’s chieftan, Guanopo. In his rage over the rejection, Guanopo led a small army of warriors in an attack on the village. The Yagaleh, peaceful by nature, were unprepared to defend themselves. Five had died, including an infant and their priestess, Appelina, and many others were injured and being cared for by Inali’s fellow healers. Inali’s wounds could not be mended so easily.
She sat among the council elders, words of comfort through aged, chapped lips, slipping past her ears, unheard. The last hours had been a blur. Palia, a friend of her mother, had sought out Inali among the destruction when she and Appelina failed to appear at sunrise. Fearing for their safety, Palia entered the darkened home that was once sanctity and now stood as a tribute to Inali’s despair. She found the child, weeping over her mother’s still frame, unwilling to move, unable to leave.
Inali wasn’t sure how she had ended up seated here, among the wizened leaders, priestesses, and healers, as they discussed the fate of the tribe among the willowy branches of the Kasagali Forest. She couldn’t remember Palia’s words when she had discovered her nor could she recall how she had convinced her to leave her mother’s side. Maybe Palia hadn’t said anything at all. Perhaps Inali was driven out purely by the grief of her loss and the shame of her failure as a healer. She wasn’t sure about anything anymore.
The entire tribe had gathered now before the council, a population that hovered around two hundred. Other than children, there were no men in the tribe. The Yagaleh women sheltered themselves from the outside world, aiming to remain as in tune with the earth – Tritania as a whole – and with the spirits as possible. Though friendly with neighboring clans, they limited their interaction with others, allowing only commerce, reproduction, and the occasional expedition break their otherwise sanctimonious and secluded domain. Male offspring, though shown the same fondness and attention by their mothers, were not blessed with the consistent gifts of healing and spirituality as their sisters. Occasionally, one would show a propensity for healing, but never a strong enough ability that they were retained for guidance and training under the elders. Once they reached the age of eight, they were sent to north to the Agalasi Mountains, where the Dosudu clan would raise them as their own. The Dosudus accepted the children graciously, as they struggled to maintain their population as a result of the treacherous climate in which they lived. However, that is another story to tell at a later time.
Inali was roused from her daze by the animated and irritated gestures of the elders surrounding her. Normally subdued and peaceful, any emotional response beyond complacency was note-worthy and stunning. Inali forced herself to pay attention to the conversation around her.
“We cannot sit still after a situation like this,” a voice shouted to her left. Inali turned her head slightly to look at Atsila, a healer with a renowned talent for producing medicinal herbs and tonics for stomach ailments. She was only a few years older than Inali and her beauty was stunning, even among so many other sylphlike figures. Her eyes were the color of burnt chicory and flickered with a light deep in her soul.
“We cannot solve violence with more violence,” responded Unole, seated at the center of the elders. As chieftess of the Yagaleh, Unole was responsible for the well being of every member of the tribe. Knowing that the attack was a result of her rejection of Guanopo, the weight of the guilt weighed heavily upon her features.
“We cannot sit still, either, and allow the Hanupes to get away with so much death!”
Inali watched Atsila, the flames blazing behind long lashes. Still under the heavy blanket of shock, she found herself unable to voice her agreement. Their eyes met briefly and Inali hoped that she could read the assent and encouragement in her gaze.
Another elder, Noquisi, shook her head slowly and tightened the cloak around her frail shoulders. “The greatest action, sometimes, is choosing not to act, my child.” Though her face was lined with age, her voice was smooth and commanding.
The other council members nodded vehemently, wishing to avoid any more loss or suffering in their small community. Inali looked around her, taking in the faces of so many young girls, most no older than her, who had never experienced death or loss. Their mothers were still by their sides, shielding them from the terrors of the world. Inali no longer had that luxury and the Hanupes were to blame. How could the tribe not retaliate?
Atsila opened her mouth to object, but faltered. Inali watched with pleading eyes as the elders settled more firmly in their decision, transitioning the conversation now to the burial of the dead and the continued care of the injured women for whom magic alone was not enough to cure. After a moment, Atsila joined the elders in their discussion of a medicinal tonic, for which she personally volunteered to gather the necessary herbs.
“What about my mom?”
The tribe was silenced by the words, despite their soft-spoken delivery by the teenage girl sitting among them.
“She has gone to the other side, my child,” offered Noquisi. “She is at peace.”
“But I’m not.”
Atsila placed a sympathetic hand over Inali’s. “I know you’re in pain. We all are.” She drew in a deep breath as she continued, “But attacking the Hanupes will not bring Appelina back.”
“I don’t care.” Inali withdrew her hand quickly, standing in her sudden boldness and resolution. “They deserve to die. All of them.”
Dalu, the oldest member of the tribe, had remained silent throughout the conversation. Her skin was leathery and loose over a skeletal frame, and yet the striking features of her youth were still apparent under the papery flesh that covered her. As Inali stood and faced the elders, Dalu watched her closely. Inali was no longer a child.
“What is it you wish to do, then, if the tribe will not attack?” Noquisi asked the question gently, but the message was clear that Inali would not gain the support of the Yagaleh to retaliate against their neighbors, despite the tragedy they imposed.
“I will go alone.” Inali squared her shoulders, bringing herself to full height. She was taller than her mother had been, but she possessed the same caramel toned skin and raven hair. The only striking difference between them was her eyes.
Before Noquisi could comment, Dalu raised a shriveled hand. All members of the tribe fell silent in anticipation of the words of the most knowledgeable member of their village.
“Let her go.”