Greetings! While on “vacation” in the Southern United States, I’ve been working on my novel for Camp NaNoWriMo, which has been renamed as a working title Tal’kan, so as not to reveal the name of the slumbering one.
I have completed the prologue and the first three chapters, and offer a viewpoint for the first time of a “civilized” Ittek on the planet, as is included below. The manuscript currently stands at almost 10,500 words.
There was a crash and then there was fire.
Shouts filled the air and Herenna Ataki Zovan sat up in her bed, throwing the wool covers aside. She ran to the window, clad only in her nightshirt, and threw open the shutters. What was that? Her eyes searched the village wildly, looking for anything amiss, but she could see nothing except the thatched roofs of the surrounding dwellings. She got dressed as quickly as she could and hurried down the stairs. Her brothers and mother were already down there, running out the door.
“What’s going on?” Herenna called, fastening her trousers. She threw on a vest and hurried after her mother.
Her father was outside, and was the only one to respond to her shout. “Lightning. Came out of nowhere and hit Ziran’s house.” He pointed, and Herenna’s eyes followed the path of his finger.
The house was indeed burning. It was made of thatch and wood, and though it had been burning for less than a minute, it was almost completely engulfed in flames. The Ittek of the village were gathered around it already, and she saw two of them wheeling the pump towards the fire.
Her father rushed to join those her brothers and mother, who had grabbed buckets full of water and were throwing them onto the flames, but Herenna could see that they were doing no good; they were only trying to make themselves feel better.
Half-dazed, Herenna walked forward slowly, noting that the doors and windows were burning the brightest. She saw blue flames appear at those orifices, and wondered at the flame’s odd behavior. Perhaps Ziran was storing some of his odd alchemical ingredients there.
The pump was made ready, a long hose made from shirp skins – the animals that also gave the villagers wool – trailing from its rear to the nearest well. Two Ittek grabbed handles opposite each other, flanking a large bellows, and began to move them up and down, like a child’s see-saw. Their pumping action powered the bellows, which created some sort of vacuum that pulled water up from the well, and then spewed it out the end of the device, which culminated in a nozzle at the end of an extension of the house, which a third Ittek held.
After a minute of frantic pumping, no water came out. One of the pumpers dropped their handle and raced along the house, looking down at it as he went. He stopped a few meters down and called back, “It’s cut! The hose is broken!”
“Get leather!” someone called, and several Ittek rushed over to the ex-pumper, who began to bind the whole with leather.
There was a second crash, and Herenna shrieked and fell over in surprise, her ears ringing and her vision black. She closed and rubbed the life back into her eyes and ears and slowly sat up.
The second lightning bolt had hit the door of old Ziran’s house, ignoring the cluster of downed Ittek in front of it, who were now surrounded by pieces of flaming wood. They all scrambled to their feet and staggered away from the house, which collapsed a moment later. Splinters of wood and shards of metal were sent flying out from the wreckage, and several Ittek screamed as the burning rain hit them.
Did he get out alright? Herenna wondered. She looked at the wounded outside the house with concern, but other than minor burns from the debris, they all looked fine. Ziran, however…
The Ittek working on the hose had fixed it by that point, and the pumpers began pumping once again. Water spluttered and then gushed forth from the hose, hitting the house at high speeds.
Too late, Herenna thought sadly as the steam began to rise. It is lost….