We’ve all seen it at this point (but if you haven’t, click here!). I gave it its own separate page on here, countless links in other articles, even its own widget. I’m sure by now anyone who even just glances at the page is aware that I have a novel I’m currently writing, and everyone’s aware that I went a bit overboard with promoting it. My bad.
But somewhere along the line I realized that just having an excerpt of Chapter One (link above) isn’t enough to give the full picture of what’s to come. Chapter One fleshes out a traumatic event that will have major impact on Siddo’s (the protagonist) future character development. The chapter you’re about to read, however, is where things really get off the ground.
The most important things to look for here are; introduction of two main characters, fleshing out of the setting, and introduction of the antagonists. With them, come inklings of the main conflict that will sweep up every component we’ve seen so far. What have I left out with this excerpt? Mainly development between Siddo and his love interest that I thought I’d spare you, dear reader. If you’re still apt to read it, let me know and I might include it in a future post.
So without further ado.
The War of the Rose
Chapter 2 (Excerpt)
Further down the beach, two cormorants stood side by side, their wares spread on the sand before them. Excellent divers, the mainland birds would often salvage pieces off the bottom, anything they thought could be traded for food. In the months since the Silent Death had killed so many shore birds, the food supply in the Great Bay had grown even scarcer. Starvation was a constant worry for most, and some, a constant companion.
Finbar hailed out of Newport, a harbor at the mouth of the bay. He was no stranger to humans, who were thick as soup in that area. They had built a massive settlement with great hulks of steel, concrete, and glass. Once smooth shoreline was now covered in gray seawalls, massive piers jutting out far into the bay. All this change had left behind much debris, many leftovers for Finbar to pick through.
Here, on the Green Isle, the gulls lived a pure life, just how Providence intended, but he was used to city gulls; nasty, vicious scavengers. Their lack of skill in finding food was made up for in kind by their skill in stealing it from others. Finbar was no exception to their raids.
Hunger, and a need for new supplies to replenish his stores, had brought him to the Isle. The gulls here were civil, at least, though no less ferocious if provoked, and often had spare food to trade for nicknacks and other interesting bits he found. Sea glass was their favorite item, the colored pieces rounded from years of wear by the depths. It was used to line their nests and add some variety to their homes. Problem was, Finbar had had no luck of late finding the stuff. This is what had brought him to Narco.
Narco hailed from Jamestown, a much smaller human site on the opposite edge of the bay. Less humans meant less waste, but Narco argued what there was to be found was much higher in quality than Finbar’s overabundant junk.
Needless to say, the two despised each other, and their feud over the trading business only escalated each year. Both wanted to be sole supplier to the best clients in the Great Bay, the Green Isle gulls. But Finbar knew an opportunity when he saw one, and finding Narco at the Isle at the same time as him, lighted down to hawk his wares with his competitor.
Loathe as he was to admit it, Narco’s beach glass was among some of the best he’d ever seen. Finbar was at a loss as he unfolded his cloth sack. Fishing hooks, lengths of fishing wire, bits of metal from old cans, and pair of bottle caps spilled out, none of it close to the value of Narco’s pieces. But astonishingly, just as Finbar had glumly accepted the prospect of another hungry night, Narco offered to buy all his fishing hooks and wire for the gorgeous glass he’d brought. Finbar couldn’t help but look the gift horse in the mouth.
“Why,” he asked, certain this couldn’t be an act of charity by his old time opponent.
Narco looked about, then leaned in close, “Not but two days ago, I was sitting by the ferry pier, sniffing about for a find or a bite or two. Some o’ the local gulls were about, chatting about food and gals and typical gull blather. Then these three Black-backeds swoop down, mighty in size and stature. Naturally all the Herrrings scattered, expecting a fight. But instead they start askin’ after me, wanting to know where the trader is. I have many a friend there, and none o’ them were about to rat me out to a gang of strangers. ‘We never heard o’ the like,’ they say. It caught me attention sharp like.
“So the biggest of the three says in this deep, black voice, ‘Forget him, we’ll make do on our own.’ He swoops up to a trashcan, and grabs the biggest bottle he can find of the lot. Now he’s got the mates’ attention, and everybody watches awestruck as he hoists the thing by his lonesome. Then he drops it, and they all go arunnin’ as the bottle smashes to bits. He lands, grabbing the most jagged piece he can find, and nods to one of the others, who reaches into a sack they’d brought. ‘The first one to bring me a decent length of wire gets this entire fish,’ ‘e says, holding up a fine carp.
“That sent the lads into a frenzy. Any fish is good, they always say, dead fish, rotting fish, but fresh fish ’tis ta die for. It was not a full minute afore one returns with a nice section of fishing line. The sight o’ that fish had set me mouth waterin’, and right then I walked up to them and told ’em my name. Only then did I notice the scar their leader bore, a clean slice right through ‘is right eye. His beak and feathers were gnarled from old wounds, unnatural like, too. My mind got an uneasy feeling ’bout him, but me stomach was doing the talkin’. He gave me the whole sack, four fat sea bass and another carp, for all the fishing wire, iron hooks, nails, screws, and glass I could offer. They weren’t interested in me sea glass, the smoothest around, a true first. Only sharp bits of the stuff met their fancy.
“At this point, the smallest in their rank had finished fiddling about, having tied the fishing line to the glass, he handed it to ‘is leader, who nodded in approval. He flew to a piling, standing over the hungry mob which had formed below, ‘For too long we gulls have been forced to squabble and squander our way through a miserable existence. But no more! Rise, I say!’
“He took off, the rig in his talons, flying over to where another gull had just set down with a bit of fish. Glacker was ‘is name, a decent sort as Herrings go, about to enjoy the remains of an osprey’s catch, when the leader flies up, hovering just above. He shouts, ‘Rise, and take what is rightfully ours!’ With a flick of the line, he sliced clean through Glacker’s throat, nearly took ‘is damn head off. Poor soul, I could see the life drainin’ from his eyes as blood spilled from his neck, bits of half-eaten fish and blood falling from his beak. Then the brute tosses the fish into the crowd, the murder forgotten in a second as they fought for a scrap.”
Narco’s eyes filled with horror at the memory, but he looked at Finbar with resolution, “I ain’t proud of the role I played in all this. Wasn’t right what they did, nobody deserves to go like that, being killed for mindin’ his own business. I would give every bloody fish in the whole sea to keep those objects out of their bloodstained talons. But now I’ve given ’em the means to murder every bird in the whole of Jamestown.
“Take this warnin’ to heart, Finbar,” Narco’s gaze grew deadly serious. “I know you’ve always had a soft spot for this place, has me fancy as well. These are good birds in this bay, this island tenfold. But good birds like Glacker don’t survive when evil comes to call. If these brutes come back, and I’m certain they will, we must not let ’em use these weapons against our own. If we fail, it’ll be a slaughter like none before.”