Hello, friends! I just finished a book by an author who is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers, Mr. Brandon Sanderson. I’m just about done with a review of his book Elantris, which was a pleasure to read. This post, however, doesn’t have to do with that book.
Apparently, Mr. Sanderson is teaching a class in creative writing this semester, videos of which are being posted online. The site that is posting these videos also started an online writing group, which I requested to join and was subsequently invited to. This group plans to shadow the class as best it can, working on the semester’s assignment: 50,000 words. (That’s about 200 standard pages, if I’m not mistaken.)
The people in the group are all wonderfully creative and eager to give feedback, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this all goes. Even if I don’t get to 50,000 words, it’s nice to write with what feels like renewed purpose.
I wanted to share with you my first 1000 words.
At a rustling of leaves, a jumping mouse skittered to safety from an unknown threat. The rustling continued, sounding like walking here, gliding there. The jumping mouse continued its frantic escape and was met by another, the two suddenly gaining a burst of energy as they raced away from the danger. They continued hopping away from their unseen predator and were shortly out of sight. The rustling continued sending creatures smaller and larger than the jumping mice fleeing at different paces; rodents scurried, small bears sauntered away, largely unconcerned with the source of the rustling but still making sure to be gone when the source of the sound finally approached. The rustling was soft enough that any human ears that might have caught it would think it was the wind or the normal sounds of the forest, but the denizens of the forest knew better; What they heard was a Walker.
Not far from the rustling another being was pushing through the leaves, but the sound it made as it moved was quite different than that of the Walker. The rustling this creature generated was rhythmic, almost like waves of wind kicking up leaves and ferns then dying back down to near silence. Oddly enough, animals were not responding to the rustles, instead carrying about their normal business, not even noticing that the rustles had rhythm. To the animals, it seemed to be the sound wind normally makes. This, too, was not the wind.
Pale bare feet stepped slowly and fluidly through the fallen leaves coating the forest floor. They flowed rhythmically, leaving no trail in their wake save curious creatures that, unable to understand how the feet were making the wind-noise, set aside their usual timid nature for a better look. Just above the feet, clean black linen tailored perfectly to ankles and calves made no noise as the legs worked, even when it occasionally rubbed against its twin on the wearer’s opposite leg. It seemed to be wearing an entire suit made of the stuff, including a cloak with a deep cowl covering the wearer’s face. The black of the fabric was deep, but not foreboding. Black not as emptiness, but as the depth of night. The body covered by the linen was muscular, yet lithe and had the appearance of deadliness, but it spoke only of calm in its movements. Every bone and muscle in the body appeared to move fluidly along with the motion of the feet, the body itself acting as the rhythmic pulse that kicked up the leaves on the ground.
The face inside the deep hood was strong, but worn. Despite the wear the man did not appear to be dangerous. His whole body spoke of a man learned in combat couple with the calm of a man who had taken a vow of non-violence, but did not cease his practice of the arts of the dances of sword and fist. His eyes were closed, and he walked as if he knew the path from countless trips, though that was impossible, as his were the first human feet to ever touch the forest floor there. Between his closed eyes and graceful movements he was the image of serenity, which was why the creatures of the forest found him to be unthreatening. In time, the trail of animals behind him grew larger, and before long he was being followed by hundreds of animals, predator and prey, small and large, all too curious to fear or attack one another. The man’s lips curved upward into a small smile, and his eyes opened.
At the parting of his eyelids, his smile widened, baring teeth. In his smile there was no emotion, but there was a touch of resignation in his eyes. The corners of his eyes tightened, and his smile faded, but his eyes remained open. Upon seeing his eyes, the animals began to scatter. A man with silver eyes was not to be trifled with.
The man stood in a small clearing, looking up at the Walker, standing roughly four paces in front of him. The forest here was still thick, but there was an unfamiliar salty smell to the air, and strange cries of birds could be heard far off in the distance. The man took a deep breath and, exhaling, took a step toward the Walker.
The Walker was a strange sight; tall and thin, with a wide torso out of which extended flatish, joinless arms and legs. His hands and feet were flat and wide, fingers long as a span each, toes long and flat as well. There seemed to be no bones in its body. Upon a wide, flat neck stood a head with no jaw and large, deep black eyes, unblinking. Two cat-eye slits served for nostrils. Its skin looked as though it were the top layer of a still pond, deep green under a clear, oily surface, seemingly flowing along its body, color shifting, distorting the sunlight as it hit the Walker.
The Walker extended an arm that seemed to undulate even as it stood still. It was inches from where the man stood. The Walker’s fingers curled inward, seamlessly forming a sphere-like fist. Turning its hand over, it rolled its fingers outward, exposing something in its palm. The man leaned in and examined it closely.
It was a seed.
Smiling, the man reached into the Walker’s palm, delicately lifting the seed from it, placing it carefully in a pocket covered by the black linen cloak he wore. The Walker let its hand fall slowly, and without making a sound, it turned and walked back into the deep forest.
Looking after the Walker, the man’s smile returned, now revealing the resignation previously visible only in his eyes. He noticed the animals, patiently waiting by his feet, exuding an overwhelming sense of curiosity, heads cocked sideways, eyes frequently blinking. The man continued on in the direction he had been heading, continuing to make the strange wind-noise the animals found so riveting.
The trees abruptly ended, and as the man stepped out into the sunlight, his black garments began to change, the darkness seeming to drain away like liquid from them as they became purest white. He stopped, for a moment dazed by a most wondrous sight.
Just behind him, the forest seemed a foreign world. To his left and right he saw that the trees ended abruptly but the land did not continue. It looked like a saw had cut through the earth, deep enough to hit the Mother-of-All: the water buried deep beneath the ground. He happened to be standing on the only bare patch of ground as far as his eyes could see, which in their current state was several leagues. Before him, though, was a site that stunned him completely.
An expanse of water larger than anything he could have imagined, extending far beyond the horizon. Perhaps the water never ended. The earth ended, and the chaotic water churning hundreds of feet below him was the Mother-of-All. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply through his nose, the salty scent confusing him briefly, as he expected to smell the clean scent of fresh water. Opening his eyes, he stepped toward the edge of the world. The precipice that now extended behind him was deep brown, contrasting and simultaneously suiting the dense cover of trees that sat directly atop it. Stopping two paces from the edge, he reached into his pocket and extracted the seed that the Walker had given him. Reaching to his waist, he extracted a short-bladed dagger, with a mahogany hilt carved intricately with vines. Holding his palm up with the seed in its center, he dragged the blade across it, cutting deeply into his palm and slicing the seed nearly in half. The animals that had gathered at the edge of the forest suddenly began to run away in all directions, moving as quickly as they could to distance themselves from the events taking place on the cliffs.
Hearing the sudden cacophony of animals departing, he sighed, closing his palm over the seed. He brought his closed fist close to his face and, opening it, examined the seed closely. It seemed to have absorbed much of the blood. He had known this would happen. Tears began to well in his eyes, and as he closed them, some fell into his palm, mixing with the seed and the blood. Turning his hand over, he let the halved seed fall to the ground.
Light blossomed from the place where the seed landed, growing suddenly into a large half-sphere. His eyes still closed, the man stepped into the light.