Sunday, September 4, 2016

Revised first segment of chapter one of Journey of Mystery

All along I planned on Indie publishing this novel so I thought it wouldn't hurt to do a serial on Google+ as I wrote the first draft. Actually I posted version 1.5 since I revised some of it each segment before I posted it.

Anyway, I have finally started the next and hopefully final revision of the whole novel. So this is a preview of Chapter one. It will be months before I get the whole book revised but a couple of previews are in order. I may do some touch ups here and there-I am still not completely comfortable with the first line-but this is basically it.

The novel is a genre I made up as I began the book: preindustrial steampunk-fantasy. It has elves, dragons, werewolves, airships, fairies, the first steam cars and aether devices and weapons. No gunpowder and just the beginning of anything like trains.

The first chapter will be split up into three segments of over 2,000 words each. This one is 2,500 and some.

I am working on a different title, for I think this one is too cliche-ish, and I will throw in a couple of alternates as I post these segments

Journey of Mystery:

A Weapon: one reason I led this journey was to be a weapon to defend the men who went with me. 
       My thoughts drifted in that direction when I stared at the horizon over the sea. At the moment I had little to do—at worse I would be in the way if I tried, at best I was a supercargo unneeded at the moment. My time of importance would come.
      The airship, The Seagull Storm readied to rise. We were headed out to find something I couldn’t describe. I didn’t have anything to do at the moment so my mind went off in dark directions on its own. We carried weapons and would buy more, but one of my purposes was to protect the crew.
          My name is Roger Twowinds and I am a native of this part of the American continent. I stand taller than average with a light build, perhaps because I have a training routine I carry out every day. I am also a wizard and for the first time in command of an expedition. 
         Hawsers dropped off as the crew untied them. Some plopped onto the hard, beaten ground while others dragged for a moment before members of the crew drew them back aboard the airship. Once up members of the crew looped them up in The Seagull Storm’s riggings. I stood on the low quarter deck near the wheel, which enabled me to see almost everything as I watched the crew, while I stayed out of their way. The pillions and masts that held up the large gasbag blocked my view in places but I knew what the airship looked like. It had the appearance much like an ocean going schooner with balloons instead of main sails. The Muser accelerators or aether drives hummed and sparked with colors only I could see, for they were ready to lift us. The Seagull was fast which was one reason I wanted it. It would have to fly and maneuver very quickly as a defense from ariel beasts. I didn’t know if the screaming part of the name was to invoke thoughts of a seagull about to attack, a fear yell, or just an expression of frustration over the exploits of its thirty man crew.  It could be all three.
         Many of my journals and scrolls contained short references to something very powerful that had been lost—someplace—with no description of what it looked like. The writers may have thought everyone knew, or they may have decided that it was too dangerous for anyone to know what it looked like. I read many old journals, scrolls and even books. A few months ago, while I again read certain texts, a new thought formed in my mind. It grew into a desire and lodged in my heart. I knew the artifact needed to be hidden where no one could find it, or something bad would happen. Why Me? I had no idea except that I knew of it. It had been lost so many centuries ago that no one knew of it anymore. I had asked some subtle questions. Only two older mages had even an idea of what it was. So my knowledge may have left me the only one able to find it and secrete it. 
         The Captain yelled orders, but the crew knew what needed to be done by long practice and they worked hard. A ground crew, which included young boys, gathered the ropes on the ground. They did so while running with joyous yells, as if in the middle of a contest to see who got the most ropes. They took them to one of the three short, long buildings to one side. Many of the children had the same reddish color of skin as I did for they, as well as I, were natives to this land. Most of the remainders wore pale skin, while a couple had olive skin. These were first or second generation of colonists.
          A mixture of sea, fresh and rotten fish, of men working hard, pine, and left over baking bread odors drifted around me. Pine trees, with a few apple and maple trees mixed in, bordered on three sides the dirt landing field we lifted from, which lay not many yards from the sea. There a small beach and tiny wharf slipped into the water. A few fishing boats and canoes sat tied up or on the sand. That is where the fish smells came from. That was why workers here ate seafood at most meals. It was cheap enough and obviously plentiful which made it cheap. They had bread and different types of mush also. Sometimes that odor would be so strong I could taste it, but that may have been my memory of last night’s seafood stew, since I love seafood. 
          I put away that memory and stared outward considered my quest. My thoughts boarded on dark ones. I didn’t know what we looked for and this was the first time I have led an expedition like this. I have been in charge of two and three men while with my tribe and later while I trained at the MAGE school, but this was larger than any group I have led. I didn’t know if I had what it took to search for what my research had found, or to order a crew and especially the fighters around. We would no doubt participate in battles against dangerous beasts and men, so Captain Teil suggested I hire a band of mercenaries who were used to hard work, and the supernatural. I found a group of fifteen which included two sergeants and two lieutenants. The airship was very crowded, but the holds were only half filled which gave the mercs room to sleep and to do some easy training. Captain Teil, his officers and the unit’s head people would give the actual orders in most cases, but I would need to direct them and to give the command to fight or not, and where. I shook my head once to dispel those thoughts and emotions. I would rise to the occasion because I needed to for I have been trained well and had experience on quests .
              Teil shouted my name from the other side of the wheel, and gave my a thumbs up. Roger isn’t my birth name, but I have used it for so long it is comfortable. Twowinds is a shorten version of my surname, I use it because of familiarity. Besides there are aspects of wizardry that can use a person’s or thing’s real name for mischief. 
            The cool wind picked up speed as we moved. It blew open my wizard robe to show the buckskin pants and tan cotton tunic that I wore under it. My shoulder length black hair flipped around. I like that feeling, so I didn’t tie or cover it. 
       The Seagull was the fastest airship of its type and size, from anywhere. I have seen it outrace pirates and outmaneuver warships of most sizes. It showed that speed when its crew stumbled upon a nest of warships from Northern Newhampshire. That was over a year ago and he may have been smuggling or just trying to set down for the night. That was a bad few minutes from what I understand but they made it. Its speed and ability to turn fast, or to pivot under the right conditions is why many think of Teil is a pirate. I know he isn’t. He may smuggle now and then depending on the item and other circumstances, but he never raided another airship, sea ship or a town. 
       For a moment I looked back over the land we had risen from. Three small barn-like buildings had been built here which now were used for airships—a few upside down U shaped frames for the tie done ropes, decorated the area. They looked much like the hitching posts horse riders use to tie their mounts to. Most were wood even though five larger ones had been made of thick metal. This wasn’t a proper airship field, but it worked for the traffic my village and the school had. I made out a few holes in the  hard dirt where large airships had used steam powered huge crossbows or gearguns to send a long bolt deep into the soil. They used the bolts to tie the ships down. Then somehow pulled the bolts back out to take them with them. 
       I turned back to study the Seagull. The steering wheel sat toward the aft end even though on an airship it didn’t matter where it was located. The gears and lines it operated pulled at the steering sails and smaller balloons. Toward the front a low shack like structure graced the deck. It sat with space on both sides to walk. It housed a galley, the Captain’s cabin, along with a dinning area for special dinners. There were storage closets in there too. As the one who hired the ship my cabin was in there too. It was a bit smaller than the Captain’s, but had more room than my usual cabin. A head was down a short passageway. The Captain had his own. 
      When the Seagull floated over a large pit full of fish heads, tails and bones a rotten stink filled my nose.  As bad as that smelled it still reminded me of the clam, mussel, trout stew we had last night. A little burnt but still I had seconds. I liked seafood which was fortunate for where I choose to live. Near but not in where my ancestors have lived for two hundred year, at least. 
        I looked up. The wooden hull hung from a cigar shaped gasbag, longer in both directions than the boat. Its shape and design also helped to make the Seagull move as fast as it did. Four smaller balloons graced each side of the large one, for extra lift and for protection of the main gasbag. The airship’s flat bottom looked black while the gasbag was grey and blue. The coloring had been designed to make it harder to see once in the air, especially at night. Another reason some had the mistaken thought he was a pirate. 
      The sound of many feet on the wood deck meant the crew finished the hurried preparations even as we lifted. It had taken what seemed like an extraordinary amount of time—months—to get ready. We had to plan for many conditions since I had only a hunch of where to start the search. We needed special supplies and provisions for the cold we headed for. And we had needed to wait for the mercs. I knew of some who might go, who were well trained and trustworthy but we had to contact them and to negotiate the price. I had also had to plan on some weapons we needed to have made to fight half-dragons, heaven forbid full dragons and anyone we met that were hostile to us. Both me and Captain Teil had made enemies over the years.   
      I looked upward at the men in the riggings. The Seagull carried sails but smaller ones, much like a fore topsail on seagoing schooners. They sat along each side of the railing toward the bow along while two that looked twice the size of the others flapped on either side of the forecastle deck. Each of those along with four on aft end were steering sails. They all helped to angle the ship when it turned or Captain Teil wanted to adjust the angle the wind hit the balloon. Gears clashed and air pumps ran. Grease stinks joined the others. The three aether drives lay in front of the quarter deck, almost touching it. Each was a box half the length of horse and as tall as the knees of the same animal. Each one had been covered with a black lacquer. Brass filigree, hollow frames Criss crossed over each one. The frame also served as pipes to move aethery gas around the box with more inside each box. Two sat on the outside with the third larger one rested just a little forward of the other two and in-between them. That one looked one third larger than the other two. All three helped to produce the Seagull’s speed. I didn’t know exactly how they worked but I did have some idea. It took a person with at least a some wizardry ability to activate one. On the Seagull there was an aether man whose job it was to operate the drives and to handle any repairs that might be needed. The second mate could operate them in an emergency and rumor had it that so could Captain Teil. He would not admit that though. I could make them produce lift, but that was a given since I am a full wizard. The drives produce more lift making the Seagull lighter even though their main purpose was propulsion. They could move an airship forward, or backwards if desired. They could push the airship against the wind even though they had to work harder and it could be slow going depending on the wind. They moved the ship at a pretty good clip with the wind or even becalmed.
       The first mate, a tall man from one of the African nations who went by the name of Jaclyn, also yelled orders to the crew. No matter how experienced and hardworking the men were someone or a piece of equipment would fumble, ropes could catch on something and last second irregularities. And sometimes the men needed encouragement to move faster.     
     The first part of our journey, which would be the easiest and one of only two legs that could be planned, would take us to Sweden. Sweden had businesses that built excellent weapons and watches for that matter. I had ideas of what we might need and the unusual weapons we would have built. There should be few chances of anyone attacking us or so I thought, for no one knew of my vision. 
        My tribe has hunted, trained and played in cold, snow and ice all winter, so the idea of going to extreme cold didn’t bother me as much as it many of the crew.     
      I watched the buildings recede behind us. They were each made from logs, complete with bark, with metal roofs. Two were the length of three cargo wagons and double the width of a farmhouse. The third was half a house wider and twice as long as the other two. I could still make out one set of gray-white lean-tos set along the sides of the larger building. Most of the children employed here slept in those lean-tos. They used old sails as roofs which they nailed to the thicker logs of the dormitory. Adults workers and sometimes passengers slept in there too. 

       The creak of the six steering balloons indicated the ship turned already, even before it reached cruising altitude. A bit unusual, but Captain Teil knew his stuff, his ship and that we needed to hurry. When we turned I spotted two large ships in the water near the beach. I suspected they were fast cargo ships; they would pick up the fish, and other seafood, caught by the fishermen here. The ships would have mages who kept the fish cold on the journey.

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