Saturday, December 13, 2008

Teaser - Men of Twelve Chapt 5, Scene 4

From the draft of my novel in progress Excerpt from The Men of Twelve Chapter 5, scene 4 By L. V. Gaudet © January 2007 Started writing Jan 16/07 A tall slender figure enshrouded within a long dark cloak riding an unnaturally tall looking white horse with grey at the roots of its mane and tale rode down the road as though on a casual jaunt through the countryside. To the east of the road lay an expanse of forest which wrapped around in the distance ahead to appear to be blocking the road. Beyond the start of the trees ahead to the north rose tall treed hills that were not quite mountains. As the rider drew closer it became apparent that the road continued on, curving before the trees ahead to cut across the land to the west. The horse came to a stop in the road seemingly of its own accord. The rider's cloaked head turned, surveying the land around. From the northwest ahead a stream ribboned out of the trees towards the road, then cut around and across to the east, re-emerging into the woods like a deep watery slash through the trees. Alongside the streams entrance back within the woods stood a thick leafless oak tree, it's twisted naked branches looking old and wrinkled, branches reaching like hundreds of twisted clawed fingers forever trying to grasp something. The tree's dark deep creviced bark was covered with green moss stained brown and yellow by the drying sun. It was an ugly frightful looking tree. The horse carefully picked its way off the road and across the narrow grassy field towards the old oak tree and the stream bed opening of the woods, pausing a good safe distance before the bald oak tree. The rider looked up at the tree, dark hood of the cloak falling back just enough to barely catch a glimpse of a displeased curve to the rider's lips and nothing more. The horse shook its head, mane tossing back and forth, and snorted loudly. The riders covered head lowered to look at the horse. The horse turned its head to stare back, shaking its head again and snorting a second time. The rider nodded towards the slash in the woods that is the waterway, flowing past the ugly old oak tree. The horse stood motionlessly, staring straight ahead at the tree. The rider urged the horse on, only to be ignored by the animal. The rider cursed softly, almost inaudibly, in a very foreign sounding language and urged the horse forward again, harder. Reluctantly the animal took a step forward, then another. Head lowered and ears back, the horse bared its teeth at the old oak tree, hissing through its teeth a threatened horse whinny. The rider urged the animal forward again and it took a third step. The oak's branches hung much lower now, its trunk even more bent and twisted, partially blocking the narrow creek bed's entrance into the woods. The horse reared on its hind legs, whinnying shrilly and tossing its head. With an indiscernible sound welling up from the rider's throat, the rider kicked the animal forward savagely. The horse leaped forward. The tree's roots seemed to lose their grip on the soil, the great behemoth teetering and falling, seeming to come crashing down upon the lurching animal. The horse panicked and twisted, kicking and biting at the hard twisted branches, tangling even more in them, neighing shrill and loud, thrashing and rolling, tossing the rider off its back. The rider went flying, cloak floating weightlessly in the air, rolling in mid air, landing heavily with a thump and whoosh or expelled air and rolling on the ground. Stunned from the hard landing, the rider slowly sat up, reaching one slender long fingered feminine hand to pull at and straiten the deep hood of the cloak that almost fell away to reveal the rider's identity. Hooves pounded the ground nearby. The rider looked up to see the horse struggling and rolling and twisting as though in a death struggle with something wrapped around it. Nothing was there. The rider turned to look at the old bare oak tree guarding the streams entrance to the woods, head cocking to one side quizzically. The tree stood motionless, unmoved from where it stood before. The dark cloaked rider carefully got up, obviously feeling bruised and battered, and cautiously approached the thrashing beast, whispering so softly it was impossible to make out the words, a slim boned hand reaching out to gently touch the panicked beast. The horse stopped thrashing, standing still, the energy of the fear and fight shivering down through the animal until at last it stood calm and quiet. The cloaked rider gave the animal a couple of gentle pats then slowly walked around the horse towards the fat old oak tree, stopping a height-span away from the tree. Reaching one slender hand into a deep pocket within the folds of the dark cloak, the rider pulled out a small hide pouch bound with a woven cord. Carefully untying the pouch, the rider carefully poured some of the black powdery contents into an open palm. The tree made a clacking sound as of naked branches hitting each other in a wind, only there wasn't even the slightest of breezes. The rider took a cautious step forward, eyes on the tree, palm held before the cloaked face like an offering. The tree's clacking sound intensified. Quickly the cloaked rider took three more steps forward, leaned in toward the tree, raising the open palm bearing the black powder, and blew hard on the open palm. The black powder billowed into the air weightlessly, creating a soft cloud of black powder with hints of a very dark purple. The powder cloud seemed to sparkle as it embraced the old oak tree. The tree's rattling sound became very loud then suddenly stopped. The powder seemed to shimmer like it was made of something with one shiny side as it slowly drifted down towards the ground, dissolving and disappearing before it touched the grass beneath the old oak. The moss clinging to the tree withered and shrank, drying and turning brown and brittle. The dark brown deeply crevassed bark of the tree turned even darker, black. With a single nod, the cloaked figure turned and walked back to the horse, mounting effortlessly. The horse moved forward, lowering its head with ears laid back, teeth bared, and eyes rolling nervously as it passed by the blackened dead tree. With a soft splash, the horse carefully picked its way into the stream bed and disappeared down the wet path into the woods. The trees to either side of the stream loomed, crowding against the narrow creek bed as they did for the group of riders that came before.

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