Friday, June 26, 2009

"Broken Steel" -- Act III

Here's Act III of "Broken Steel".


~ Charles

"Broken Steel" copyright 2009 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.


THE MONSTER AND THE MINION: Wherein Faryad, Yele Prin Prin and Sarut Battles the Gigantic Sea Beast Rata Enki Yafuni; Snow Fox is Captured by Silver Wind; An Escape is Made with the Help of New Friends


The people of Tokerau stood at the shore, waiting in the storm. Lighting roiled across the skies. The Living Sea churned with the fury of angry gods.

Closest to shore stood Father Papa with his young daughter Heron. The young girl had become a woman, had bled with life for the first time. As it was also the Time of Feasting, when the little village of Tokerau offered a freshly born virgin woman to the sea in return for a good season of fishing, Heron had been chosen.

The villagers stood now, staring at the sea made angry by the defiant Father Papa.

"Throw her to Rata Enki!" cried out an old woman.

"I will not!" cried out Father Papa. "If he needs blood, then let him take me!"

"No!" pleaded the village elders, "It must be a woman!"

"Then send one of our old and useless hags!"

Heron wept.

The sea came in waves, pounding at the shore to remind the small people of its might.

Far from Tokerau, far from the shore, rowing for their lives with the last of their strength, came Faryad the Exploding Sword and Yele Prin Prin. Little Sarut the Ladybug had taken shelter, afraid of the sudden storm, in Faryad's shirt pocket.

With tremendous ferocity, with tidal strength and fearless hate came the beast Rata Enki Yafuni through the Living Sea churning with foul, wicked creatures of every kind. Long had it been since he had last eaten and now his annual meal was being denied. Hatred filled him, made him hungrier as hate always does, and he swam swiftly through the deeper waters until he spied a lone boat struggling atop the sea. Thinking it a wayward fishing boat from Tokerau, Rata Enki steered himself towards it. He lifted himself from the sea to tower of the tiny borrowed boat.

Yele screamed with terror, her neck craning to look up at the immense beast's face. Rata Enky Yafuni was like a serpent, but its face was that of a thin man's. Where hair should be sprouted long, tangled seaweed. Where a mouth should be extended tentacles that hid giant, snapping mandible claws strong enough to rip a large ship in twain. Where ears should be there were furrowing webbed fingers stretching out to make the creature look far larger, far more menacing.

A large wave caused by Rata Enki's appearance capsized the small boat. Faryad and Yele were thrown into the sea.

Yell cried out for Faryad.

Faryad swam to her side. He held her and looked upon the great beast.

"What is it?" asked Faryad.

"It is Rata Enki Yafuni, the vilest of all that live in the Living Sea. We are dead, Faryad. We are dead for no one has ever escaped his wrath!"

Faryad pointed, "I think the mainland is in that direction, though in this dark storm I cannot see. We will head in that direction and we will become the first to escape this beast."

Yele grabbed hold of Faryad. Her wings worked, beating hard against the choppy sea. At last she was able to lift Faryad out of the water, flying slowly towards land.

Sarut, drowning, climbed out of Faryad's pocket to rest upon his shoulder.

"I was drowning down there!" he yelled.

"I am sorry, little friend," answered Faryad, "but matters are not much safer here."

Sarut looked about to see the giant Rata Enki dive into the sea.

"It will kill us!" cried Sarut.

"Fly away," said Faryad as he swam. "Now's your chance!"

Sarut considered this, but was certain he would lose his way in the storm and so decided to remain with his companion until they reached land, should they reach land.

Rata Enki drove out of the water once more, this time closer. So afraid of the beast was Yele, so exhausted of strength was she, that she dropped Faryad.

"Faryad!" she cried out as he hit the water, Sarut taking to the sky to avoid splashing into the sea once more.

Faryad returned to the surface of the water, swimming.

Yele dived after him.

Rata Enki struck. His tentacles flayed. His mandibles spread wide. He sucked Yele Prin Prin whole into his small, toothless mouth.

Having seen this, Faryad cried out for his love. He then swam at the beast, but it went once more under water before returning right at Faryad's side.

Faryad grabbed hold of the beast's flesh. Though scaly and slimy, Faryad's strength kept him held onto the Rata Enki. He deftly climbed the beast, slipping here and there, trying desperately for the creature's head and ultimately to retrieve his love from its mouth.

But Rata Enki dove once more. Seeing the churning sea coming at him, Faryad quickly breathed deep and held his breath as he continued his climb even under water until he was, at last, able to grab hold of one of Rata Enki's fingers at the side of his head and hold it firm.

Rata Enki appeared out of the water once more. It cried out in pain as Yele Prin Prin fought back from within, digging her sharp talons into the gums of the creature's mouth, fighting a wicked, forked tongue grabbing at her to pull her down into the creature's belly.

Sarut swarmed around the beast, afraid to leave lest he get lost, afraid to remain lest he be killed. He spied Faryad crawling his way across the face of the beast and flew to him.

"Faryad, what is it that you do?" he asked.

"I'll retrieve Yele!"

"You are foolish! Surely she must be dead!"

Then the beast opened its tentacled mouth and Sarut caught sight of Yele battling the tongue.

"She lives!" he cried out.

"You saw her?" asked Faryad.

"Yes! In the mouth! She does battle with the tongue! Go, Faryad!" Sarut urged. "Go to her! She lives!"

As Faryad crawled to the mouth, weaving through slimy tentacles towards the mouth, Sarut flew directly into the eye of the great beast.

The sudden pain made Rata Enki blink. He lost his concentration upon swallowing the girl and turned to eye Sarut flying away. Rata Enki cried out in fury.

As the beast cried out, Faryad drew near the mouth. He was able to reach into the deafeningly loud, screeching maw and grab Yele by the arm. He pulled her free of the tongue and she came flying under her own power out of the mouth.

"Thank you, Faryad!" she called.

Seeing Yele freed, Rata Enki grew angrier still. He felt Faryad crawling amidst his tentacles and worked them to grab at the interloper.

Faryad struggled to get free, the mandible claws snapping beside his head. A flood of memory then came to Faryad, a memory of a murder on a beach, of a fist breaking the steel of a sword.

Faryad stopped fighting the tentacles. He instead turned towards the mandible claws, considered them.

Yele flew into the face of Rata Enki. She clawed at his eyes until green jelly poured from them and the beast was blind.

Faryad swiveled his shoulders, making a fist and punched at the nearest mandible claw. It shattered into pieces causing the beast great pain and woe. A few of the pieces fell into the beast's mouth and it began choking.

Yele dived after a large piece and grabbed it.

Sarut returned, resting on Yele's shoulder.

Faryad wriggled free from the tentacles and climbed the face to the top of the head where he punched repeatedly. With each punch came a loud crack like thunder. With each punch, the great sea beast drew nearer death.

Yele said to Sarut, "Hold fast, little one."

She dived at Rata Enki, driving the bit of claw into his forehead, striking Rata Enki down with a killing blow.

At last Rata Enki Yafuni fell floating face down atop the sea. Faryad fell into the sea with him and swam from the beast's side.

The sea calmed. The clouds parted and let daylight shine upon the world. Rata Enki Yafuni's body petrified, becoming stone. In many more years, after the sea had spent time bringing silt and soil to the body, plants would grow and the village of Tokerau would expand from the shore to the newly made island named it Papua Prin after the two that had caused its formation: Father Papa who defied the beast Rata Enki Yafuni and Yele Prin Prin who had killed it.

Faryad swam to the small boat, checking it to make certain it was still sea worthy. He flipped it over and climbed in.

Yele flew into the boat, saying, "I checked everywhere, but I cannot find the oars."

Sarut took flight to look once more. He called out, "Hey! Over here!"

"Have you found them?" asked Faryad.

"No," answered Sarut.

Yele and Faryad steered the boat the best they could with their hands until they found little Sarut resting upon the overturned back of Faryad's violin. Floating nearby was Yele's guitar.

"At least we can have some entertainment as we drifted in the sea," said Sarut with a smile.

Faryad and Yele laughed, grabbing up their weapons.

They floated for some time until Etain flew overhead, bringing the day and they were able to catch sight of land. Sarut then flew to the village of Tokerau and retrieved help from the villagers who, in turn, rowed their boats out to Yele and Faryad.

The three were welcomed into the village as heroes and were fed well and made to tell the tale of their victory over the beast Rata Enki Yafuni.

A day came and went before Faryad approached Yele to say, "We must leave this village."

"Why?" asked Yele. "We are accepted here."

"But it may not last. I've discovered a few men here know my father and several more trade with the people of Ayiti. It will not be long before they discover the true reason we are here and no long still before Sharif hears of our presence here. We must leave."

With great sighs and sorrowful, silent goodbyes did Faryad, Yele Prin Prin and Sarut slip from the village that night without a single word of farewell spoken.


The prefecture of Li was ruled by the Prefect Silver Wind that likened himself as a mystic and soothesayer. He had no grand powers, but could read tea leaves and palms and was forever searching for signs, omens and charms of luck. He was not any of the Blessed Ones, he was a mere man with an inclination towards those things that give us chills on warm evenings.

Silver Wind ruled pompously. He thought himself a greater ruler than he was, though he was not a bad Prefect. He thought himself well-loved and while there was a certain amiability about him, he was largely mocked for his foolishness and deluded sense of importance. As he rarely interfered with the daily lives of those he ruled, they allowed his rule without hindrance or revolution.

Li was in the southern lands of the world bordered by the Living Sea and north of Tokerau. It was a beautiful land, a productive land and the people were largely happy. It was this land, this prefecture, that Snow Fox came to after a year or more of traveling the world, chasing after rumors of his brother. He had learned much about Comet Fox's antics, his mischievousness, his kindness and his fighting skill. He had also learned he was presently being chased by soldiers of a mad queen's army for some reason. The more he learned of his brother, the more Snow Fox desired meeting Comet Fox.

But an agent loyal to the bumbling Silver Wind spied Snow Fox without his awareness from high on a hill. He ran to Silver Wind and told him of Snow Fox's appearance in Li.

Silver Wind said, "This is an omen of good fortune!" as he often said. He added, "He has come to help our small prefecture in some way. We must keep him here and keep the good fortune he most assuredly brings with him. We must stall him here until our happy lands grow happier still with abundant crops, boatloads of fish and a new generation of civilians are born onto us. We must make him ours."

The servant nodded.

Silver Wind devised a plan to capture Snow Fox.

As Snow Fox came into the warmer climes of Li his fur grew more rough, thinner and lost some of its white, turning to a ruddy brown. He stopped a moment to rest and study his changing fur beneath a large koa tree.

Spying once more from the hill, several servants gathered and descended upon Snow Fox. Only one approached him with a harried voice, claiming, "Please! Help! My wife! There has been an accident and without help she will die!"

Snow Fox immediately followed the servant only to be jumped upon by the others, tied up and netted, his small frame pressed to the ground under their weight. A cage made of steel was brought forth and he was placed inside and he was carried to the large home of Prefect Silver Wind.

"I am most happy to meet you, little Blessed One," said Silver Wind sitting in his koa wood rocking chair upon his home's front porch. "This is a most auspicious meeting between we two. I am Silver Wind, your host."

"You are Silver Wind," mocked Snow Fox, "my captor!"

"I suppose that would be so, but my intentions are not foul. I wish my lands to be far more prosperous than they already are. I want the history books to claim me the greatest prefect of Li to ever have lived. And with your presence, I will accomplish just that."

"What would you have me do?" snarled Snow Fox. "Tend your garden? Babysit your children? I am the son of Coyote and Nyavatalii the Frost Giantess, this is no way to treat me! This is no way to treat anyone!"

"Perhaps not, but I need you and I could not be assured you would come of your own desiring had I simply asked."

"You could have asked nonetheless."

Silver Wind folded his hands in his lap and considered Snow Fox. At last he said, "We are at an impasse. Let us not argue further."

"All I have are arguments for you!"

Silver Wind ignored this. He said, "Here is my offer: You will do for me three tasks that will not only benefit but improve the way of life for my people. When you've completed these three tasks, and not a moment before, I shall free you."

"And the moment you free me," spat Snow Fox bound in his cage, "I'll take your head!"

"Now, now," scolded Silver Wind, "That's no way to treat a business partner."

Snow Fox growled.


Silver Wind had Snow Fox bound in chains and his many knives taken away. He was lead down to the sea where the people of Li were fishing in their boats. Snow Fox struggled the full way, hoping desperately to get free.

"Why should you fight?" asked Silver Wind. "I'll make good on my promise if you make good on your duties."

Snow Fox growled.

"Here, now, are our fishermen. They work so diligently for the fish they bring in each day. Rarely do they falter in their task, but there are times, perhaps thrice a year, these good people return to shore with empty nets and empty baskets which leads to empty purses and empty bellies." Silver Wind turned to Snow Fox. "Can you remedy this matter for them?"

Snow Fox made a last valiant effort to wrest himself free from the shackles. He fell, exhausted, to the ground. Silver Wind said nothing of this as Snow Fox lifted himself from the ground, tired and defeated. He looked to Silver Wind.

"You will make certain I am freed if I help you?" asked Snow Fox.

Silver Wind merely nodded, smiling.

Snow Fox sighed. He sat, cross-legged at the rocky shore. He studied the tides for some time, the movement of the fish in towards shore where the rocks formed natural barriers against the sea so they may rest in their swimming. At last an idea came to Snow Fox and he said, "You should make a breakwater of stone, something that is just as high as the tide is normally. Make a small hole in the wall, like a door. When the fish tire of swimming, they will swim behind the breakwater where the waters are calmer to rest and breed. Then, when the tide lowers itself, they will be trapped there for you to feast upon. When the tide rises again, they will be able to come and go as they please."

Snow Fox nodded at himself. "Yes, make this. Make for the fish a well-made home. They will spawn and live there and happily give of themselves in return for this home."

"Brilliant!" cried Silver Wind. "I knew your presence here was a blessing."

Silver Wind ordered such a breakwater be made. To the pleasure of all, it worked just as Snow Fox had said it would and the fishermen never went another day without a load of fish for market and their families.

Many days passed before Silver Wind returned to Snow Fox shackled to a massive banyan tree. A servant brought forth a stool upon which Silver Wind sat. He eyed Snow Fox and said, "Recently, one of my messengers was sent forth to deliver a message to a nearby town with whom my people often conduct trade. This messenger was young, new to the task, and he fouled up the message that was sent. Now my people have an abundance of fish and no one to sell them to. I must make an amended message to send forth. Could you help me in this?"

Snow Fox thought on the matter. He said, "The problem was the message was befuddled by the messenger. What is needed is a way for you to convey your message exactly as you intend it. If you had written the message down on something and have it delivered to your fellow traders, this problem would not exist. Have you people here that are literate?"

"Not many in this entire region are literate. In fact, in all of Li only I am able to read and write," Silver Wind lied. He could not read or write.

"I could make a system by which you could communicate."

Silver Wind ordered a wood tablet be brought forth to Snow Fox along with many sticks of charcoal. Snow Fox worked swiftly. He drew out several symbols, first based upon numbers as he knew the language would be used primarily by traders that needed to know quantities and prices. Next he drew out several basic drawings for items of trade. As he was a fox, all of the symbols looked like foxes or trees, a favored hiding place of foxes.

"Have you scholars or wise men in the area?" asked Snow Fox.

"Only myself," bragged Silver Wind, "but there is a visiting scholar from the north."

"Bring him to me."

This was done and Snow Fox taught the man his system of symbols. Soon the man was sent with a new message, a written message, to all nearby towns where he taught tradesmen and merchants the system. Never again did Li or the other nearby prefectures have difficulty with trade or communications.

Silver Wind smiled on Snow Fox. "You've only one more task to perform for me, then you will be granted your freedom."

Snow Fox wished for the day to come swiftly. As he was left alone, vulnerable to the elements outside, shackled to the banyan, he found a stone protruding slightly from the ground. He dug it out. It was sharp on one end, like that of a finely honed blade. Snow Fox smiled, determined to used the stone should the opportunity rise. But then he thought he may need more than one weapon as Silver Wind had several servants and he was therefore surrounded at any given moment by many enemies.

Snow Fox took the stone and used it to peel away small bits of the roots of the banyan tree. He carved then into pointed sticks weight rightly for throwing. He worked all night and made five such wooden throwing knives. By dawn, he hid them under the root of the banyan with the stone before falling asleep.


Faryad, Yele Prin Prin and Sarut traveled northwest, skirting the coastline, until they came into Li. There they were confronted by three men, servants to Silver Wind.

"What is your business in Li?" asked on servant.

"We are merely passing through," answered Faryad.

"You must meet with the local Prefect first, it is only cordial."

"I would rather not," said Faryad.

"Oh? Have you something to hide?"

Yele whispered to Faryad, "Perhaps we should go, simply to avoid confrontation. We are still weak from our battle upon the sea."

Faryad nodded at this. "Lead on," he told the servants.

And so they followed the servants to the side of Silver Wind who was chatting idly with the shackled Snow Fox.

"Prefect, we have brought to you three interlopers: a man, a bug and a Blessed One."

"Ah!" gasped Silver Wind. "Another Blessed One! How fortunate for our little prefect!"

"I am Yele Prin Prin, daughter of Kompa and the Owl Mama Mara."

Silver Wind's eyes glowed with delight as he coveted her presence.

Yele eyed Snow Fox. "Why have you shackled this poor dog thusly?"

"I am no dog!" snapped Snow Fox.

Yele gasped in horror. "He is a Blessed One! And you have him shackled!"

"We have a matter of business worked out between us. He remains thusly until he completes a task for me."

Afraid, Faryad said, "You'll not do the same to Yele!"

Silver Wind smiled. "I'll do as I wish. I am the Prefect here and I rule everyone that passes within. You are my honored guests now, much like this one." He pointed at Snow Fox.

"We'll not remain your captives!"

"You will or I will issue a mandate for your head. I may not be able to do so for her, but I certainly can for you. You are mortal, are you not?"

Yele grabbed Faryad's arm to restrain him.

"Remember the island," she said.

Faryad breathed deep, gaining control over his temper. He then walked to Snow Fox's side. Snow Fox eyed him and Faryad eyed Silver Wind. With a cry of fury, Faryad bent low and punched at each of the shackles about Snow Fox's wrists. Each one exploded into a symphony of clanks and tinkling metal as the chains fell away from Snow Fox's wrists in small pieces.

Snow Fox eyed his hands, felt at his wrists where the shackles had rubbed away fur from his skin. Despite the wicked blows, Faryad had not hurt Snow Fox. He eyed Faryad a brief moment before quickly reaching for the wooden knives he had hidden beneath the nearby root. He deftly threw one at the servant standing closest to Silver Wind. The knife struck in the throat, the servant gagged as blood poured out of the wound and around the wood. The servant fell dead.

Silver Wind stood in haste, backing away in fear.

Snow Fox said, "I've four more and a stone. That's enough for the rest of your servants and the stone for you. Or, conversely, I can deliver them all into you. Which would you rather?"

Silver Wind swallowed hard. He straightened his clothing in some attempt at dignity. He stood tall and said, "I have decided your service to me has been met and hereby decree you free from bondage." He then nodded at Snow Fox, urging, "You may go."

"Where are my weapons?" demanded Snow Fox.

Another servant brought them forth wrapped in cloth. He did not wish to get too close to Snow Fox, so he threw the knives to Snow Fox's feet.

Snow Fox smiled as he gathered up his knives. He ran from Silver Wind's home.

Not knowing what else to do, where else to go, Faryad, Yele and Sarut followed him. They followed him until they left the prefecture of Li, they followed him until Kalavata flew high over head, bringing night upon them.

When they at last stopped to rest, they made a small fire and spoke.

"Thank you for freeing me," said Snow Fox. "Your prowess is unequaled. Lesser men would have broken my arms in two with such punches."

"It is a matter of control and directing your anger, your energy into precisely the right point. I didn't want to harm you, so I directed the energy of each punch into the shackles only."

"You must be a fighter of magnificent skill!"

Faryad sighed. He said, "I am no fighter."

"Your punches say otherwise. And I thank you once more. I am Snow Fox, son of Coyote and Nyavatalii."

"I am Faryad, this is Yele Prin Prin."

Sarut climbed to rest upon Faryad's shoulder. "And I am Sarut," he said.

"Well met, friends. Where are you heading?"

The three companions looked to one another. At last Faryad said, "North." He thought a vague direction was an appropriate answer.

"And you?" asked Yele.

"I seek my brother, Comet Fox. Have you heard of him?"

Faryad and Yele shook their heads.

"I wish to meet him. But he has been difficult to track. I think now I am closer than ever, but I have been delayed many days by Silver Wind."

"In which direction do you go?" asked Faryad.

"Northwest. I am told he is on the run from some tyranny."

Faryad looked to Yele. She nodded.

"May we accompany you some ways?"

Snow fox nodded. "I would like the company."

The four companions shared tales they had heard, jokes they had learned, bonding as friends. Eventually Yele began playing her guitar and Faryad accompanied her on the violin. Snow Fox sat back, listening to the music and enjoying his new friends before the instruments were put aside and all went to sleep.


I hope you enjoyed Act III of "Broken Steel"! Check back next week for Avt IV!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today A Strange, Elusive Man Died

"We were growing up on Doo-Wop and Hip-Hop, R&B and Soul. I don’t know exactly how or who or why or when any which one of us first started listening to the older stuff, but we were. All of us. Maybe we were listening cuz the music was the symbol of an era that defined America, an America living in the every-day fear of the A-Bomb or the H-Bomb or the Whatever-the Fuck-Bomb or the UFOs. Maybe cuz the fifties were confusing times and all the kids growing up then had was the music, Alan Freed, and James Dean’s red jacket or Brando’s black leather jacket and his soft, mad cry of 'Whadya got?'

Maybe it’s cuz we saw the same shit goin’ on in the eighties. We had fear and nukes and ICBMs and sky-jackings and dime-a-dozen serial killers like the Nightstalker and a racist president continuing the murder of the indigenous and blacks and making it harder for people to become citizens despite Lady Liberty’s promise. And we, too, had our red jacket. But it was Michael Jackson’s. And we still had the music on stations like KODJ, KDAY and KRLA 1110 AM. Yes, A-fucken-M. And, more than that, we still had our Brando battlecry of 'Whadya got?'"

This is an excerpt from a yet-to-be-finished novel based on my life growing up in Long Beach and surrounding areas in California in the 1980s and 90s.

As I stand on the porch tonight listening to illegal fireworks being set off in the street behind me a young girl crosses the grassy triangle down the street in a white dress. It looks almost like a wedding dress, perhaps a prom dress. But it's too late in the year for prom. Kids are out of school now. She walks in her white dress, though, clumsily in the soft grass so I think she's wearing heels. As I watch her walk, listen to the fireworks and think over the day's news, I am struck by a memory.

In 1985, maybe '86, I was in the 4th grade at Horace Mann Elementary School in Long Beach. I was one of the few white kids in my mixed class of 4th and 5th graders. Many of my classmates were Southeast Asian -- Cambodian, Vietnamese, Thai and the like. Of my close-knit friends then I was the only one to be born here in the Americas. I was the only one not a FOB. Maybe we listened to Doo-Wop and Michael because they were so very American and my friends and I needed to learn what it meant to be American.

I recall going on a field trip to the Griffith Park Observatory. The observatory has been in a million movies and TV shows, including James Dean's classic 'Rebel Without a Cause' wherein he wore his famous red, rebellious jacket.

My friends and I spent the day learning about gravity and stars and the moon and coughing up a lung on wonderful Los Angeles smog. It was a hot, humid day I remember. On the way back down from the hills of Los Angeles, returning to Long Beach, I was steadily growing sick from the heat of the day. I seem to have a lot of memories and tales about being sick. I rested my head back against the hard leatherette of the bus seat and enjoyed the breeze from the window upon my face. Soon I heard someone humming nearby. It was a friend, a very good friend. One of my closest friends then. He was sitting in the seat in front of me. We'll call him Pony for now, due to the hi-top shoes he wore and so loved. I recognized the song he was humming.

"Ya know," said I as I leaned forward and peeked over the back of his seat to look at him, "I know that song and I've heard bits of it everywhere, but I've never heard the whole thing."

"Really?" he asked in his thick Asian accent.

"I've just never had the chance to listen to the whole thing."

"Here," he got up from his seat, which was against the rules but fuck the rules, and sat next to me. He said, "I'll sing it for you."

We coasted down the hills and through the city of Los Angeles into Long Beach as my friend, this young boy of 9; a boy that had been taught a few martial arts moves by his uncle in Cambodia so he may defend his life, the same uncle that would later be viciously murdered right before the boy's eyes by agents of a corrupt government, prompting the family to move to the United States; a boy that had seen horrors that even I who had watched kids die of cancer in the hospital bed next to mine couldn't imagine; this very small, innocent, brown Cambodian boy sang to me the entire song "We Are the World".

Today a strange, elusive man died. With him went part of my childhood.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Broken Steel" -- Act II

I started "Broken Steel" last Friday. Here it Act I.

Now for Act II.


"Broken Steel" copyright 2009 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.


EXPLODING SWORD: Wherein Faryad Learns of Hatred and Falls in Love with Yele Prin Prin; Bleddyn Terrorizes the Island; Sarut is Born and Loses His Family to Faryad's Hate


Between the spaces of breath, amidst the pause of two heartbeats, a young girl falls in love. So it was with young Shazi Suha. She had run away from her parents' home when she was a mere fourteen. Finding the world difficult to live in, she turned to selling herself for the pleasures of men. With the money she made she fed herself and others like her. She soon became the cherished mother of whores for this.

When she was sixteen, Shazi Suha met with and was hired by Zahir the Indominable -- the mighty sailor and luster of wandering. Zahir spent many days with Shazi Suha, paid for her food and purchased for her new, fine clothing. Shazi Suha, in turn, loved him like she had loved no other and swiftly found herself loving him with more than her body, but with her heart.

When Shazi Suha awoke one morning to an empty bed in a room she had rented for them and unable to find Zahir, her heart grew forlorn. She did not return to her other trade for sorrow for having lost the roaming Zahir overcame her. She lived in streets and off the kindness of others.

Not long after Zahir had left, her belly swelled with a child. She cursed her fortune of having found a man she loved and lost him and was now with his child and unable to work. No man would want her.

Ashamed, uncertain, she returned to her home.

The sun set golden on the home of her childhood the day she returned. It seemed to her all the gods were welcoming her home by bathing her parents' home with golden rays of light.

Hesitantly, sadly, she entered the small hut in which she had been born.

Her mother, now old and ugly with wrinkles and age, peered from her work at a blackened wood stove.

"Come," said her mother. "Sit. I'll make for you some food."

Shazi Suha sat on a small stool at a tiny table as she had been instructed. Her mother went about preparing a plate of food for her daughter.

"I'm sorry," spoke Shazi Suha.

Her mother stopped, turning to look at her. She spoke no words. She merely nodded and prepared the food.

Her mother sat with her as Shazi Suha ate.

"How long have you been with this child?" asked her mother.

Shazi Suha paused in her eating. "Almost three months now."

"And you're already this big? He will be a large boy, and an even larger man."

"A boy? How do you know it will be a boy?"

"You carry him low in your belly and his male ways ugly your face. Look at me after I've given birth to your five brothers, I'm ugly as a dog."

"Oh, no, mother," Shazi Suha leaned in and hugged her mother. "You're the most beautiful woman in the world!"

Her mother thanked her and encouraged her to continue eating.

"Do you know the who the father is?" she asked.

Shazi Suha nodded. "He is a great man, but a wanderer of the world. He left before I knew he had sowed a child within me."

Her mother sighed.

"Where is father?" asked Shazi Suha.

"He passed a year ago."


A daughter cried for the loss of her father that night.

Shazi Suha stayed with her mother. All her other siblings had grown and moved away. They were alone. Only the neighbor came to help and only then for the birth of Shazi Suha's child.

He was quite a large child, as his grandmother had predicted, and a boy. He came screaming and hungry into the world. As such, his mother named him Faryad the Screamer.

The child grew. Shazi Suha went to work for a nearby miller, packing grain into sacks for transport to larger cities for sale. It was hard work, but it was good work. Shazi Suha lost the fat she had gained during pregnancy and grew strong in the arms and legs.

Though Faryad grew to no longer screamer, he was still quite a raucous child. Every opportunity that presented itself to him he would bang on pots or fallen logs and babble incoherently, yet in a tune of his own making. Seeing this in the child, his grandmother saved her money for a whole year and a month and when she had enough she traded it all for a fine violin which she gifted to the child. Faryad took to it immediately, playing as though he were a man that had played for many years. As Faryad grew, so too did his music. Wherever Faryad went, he was dragging his violin and bow behind him.



When Faryad was two years old, his mother met and fell in love with another man. He was a tradesman, a blacksmith named Beileag. He was a good man, a strong man, and he loved Shazi Suha's mother and son as much as he loved Shazi Suha.

They were wed and Faryad was told Beileag was his father and Beileag promised to raise him as his own son. They lived together in Shazi Suha's childhood home.

Shazi Suha's mother then passed. This greatly affected young Faryad who yet did not understand such things as death. At her funeral, as his grandmother's lifeless body was burned atop a pire, Faryad played his violin. So beautiful was the tune that people in far distant lands hearing the notes carried on the wind wept for his grandmother.

On Faryad grew as his father struggled for work in the region.

"There simply isn't much demand for a smith in a sparsely populated region," he told Shazi Suha.

Beileag then met with a traveling merchant that told him certain regions of the island of Ayiti were in dire need of good smiths for weapons of war. The small family saved their money and when Faryad was age five, they boarded a merchant's sloop that took them to Ayiti.

Ayiti made for a wonderful adventure for Faryad. He fell instantly enamored with its tropical climes and sunny days. He loved the beaches and the Living Sea and tales of monsters so frightening he was kept awake many night listening to horrific cries from the sea -- both from the monsters and their victims. He played with the other children and learned of war. Of all his playmates, one in particular caught his attention. She was a beautiful girl with dark skin and wings.

Faryad struggled with his feelings for Yele Prin Prin. He did not know of love, nor did he understand enough to ask his mother about such things yet.

He heard his parents speaking of her as being a demi-goddess, a Blessed One and they mentioned others feared her. But they, his parents, did not fear her.

"She is a gift to this land," Faryad heard his father say once. "Since her birth, our warlord has tripled his efforts to wrest control of the island and from me he has ordered almost more weapons than I can make. He seems to have taken her birth as a sign of the gods blessing his efforts. Perhaps they have. We live a good life now because of the arrival of that girl. May she have a blessed life."

And Faryad quietly repeated, "May she have a blessed life."

Faryad grew. He learned his father's trade and the work made him stronger than an ox. On quiet nights he would sneak from the fires of his father's shop, run to the beach to meet with his friends and accompany Yele Prin Prin's guitar with his violin.

Let it be remembered, however, that all was not well on the little island of Ayiti and not everyone so loved the Blessed One. One such person that despised Yele Prin Prin was Bleddyn, one of Yele and Faryad's peers. He was taller and stronger than even Faryad and he lived a life filled with hatred for Yele Prin Prin and he never traveled alone. Always he traveled with his little brothers Cai and Idris and all three always carried saifs they had taken from the dead bodies of soldiers in service to the warlords of the island.

He came one night to interrupt the music of friends upon the beach. His brothers in tow, Bleddyn pushed Yele to the sandy shore.

"Stop it!" cried Faryad.

"Shut your mouth," commanded Bleddyn.

Yele raised herself from the sand. She demanded, "What is this about? Why do you push me to the sand?"

"Because I hate you," gave Bleddyn.

"What have I done to receive your hate?"

"You were born."

"I apologize, then. But I had no control over that matter."

"Perhaps, but on the day you were born my mother passed. The Cosmos took one life for another and one day you will pay for it. One day soon I will murder you and on that same day I will celebrate your passing by conceiving a child with a woman. That child will replace you and will make my family grow."

Bleddyn and his brothers left them with that warning and prophecy.

"His mind is twisted. He will cause me more troubles in the future," Yele told Faryad.

"Not as long as I'm here," said Faryad.



Beileag had given his son a day off to do whatever he wished. Faryad, instead of spending time with friends, spent the day fishing alone. He enjoyed his day, lounging in the sun and dreaming of all the songs he would write. He was almost a fully grown man now and would soon complete his training with his father as a smith. He sipped cool tea and rested all day.

The day had been wonderful.

As he walked home with six large fish slung over his shoulder, Bleddyn and his brothers came to him.

"Cease right there," called Bleddyn.

"I've got to get on home," Faryad said.

Bleddyn smiled. "We watched you fishing all day. We are not surprised you spent the day loving fish instead of that filthy Yele Prin Prin."

"Indeed," said Cai. "The fish, after all, are far more clean!"

The three brothers laughed uproariously.

"That is not a kind thing to say," Faryad retorted. The words had hurt him deeply.

"She is not a kind creature," said Bleddyn. "She is a pox upon this island. She has brought more death, more war. I will spit on her lifeless body when I kill her."

"I'll not allow that!" Faryad raged.

"Oh? Would you stop me now?" Bleddyn removed his red tunic from about his torso to reveal is rippling, muscly chest and arms.

Faryad sighed. He doubted he had the strength to topple Bleddyn. He sighed and said, "I refuse to fight you."

"Of course you do," snorted Bleddyn. "You are a coward and a whore's child. It's true, I've heard the tales of your mother's previous life. A whore's child can never be more than a worthless bastard. Are you certain Beileag is even your true father?"

"Stifle your lies!" cried Faryad.

"Stifle me yourself," challenged Bleddyn.

Faryad, ill in his mind and stomach, tried to push his way past the three bullying brothers. They grabbed him and pommeled him with their fists until Faryad's body made an indent in the sand beneath him.

Bleddyn spat on Faryad as he replaced his tunic. "We will one day do the same to that Yele of yours, except we will not stop until everything within her body bleeds out to stain the sands of your island."

It was a long time before Faryad ceased his tears, lifted himself from teh ground, gathered up his fish and returned home. His parents were horrified by the sight of their bloodied, bruised son.

Beileag went to Sharif, the local warlord's Hand of Justice. Sharif came to their home and inspected Faryad's wounds.

"Who did this?" asked Sharif.

Faryad would not answer.

Beileag lead Sharif outside, yet Faryad could still hear them.

"I do not understand why he hides his attacker's identity."

"Because he is young," said Sharif. "He is at the cusp of manhood and feels he must defend himself and not involve others, yet is too uncertain in the world to know how to express it."

Beileag sighed. "I suppose you will hear music from him this night. That is the best way he expresses himself. As I pound against iron, so he makes a violin sing. I apologize for bringing you out here to no end."

"It is no matter. This is why I was placed as Hand of Justice. If he speaks of anything, let me know and I'll help however I can."

That night, when his parents were asleep, Faryad slipped from their home. He walked in the moonlight, thinking over what he had heard, what he had felt that day. He wondered at how such a lovely day could be made miserable by the hands of another. So it seemed to him was the course of life: to be happy only to have that happiness ruined by another, either a person or a force. This angered him.

The spirit of his father, his true father Zahir, infected him and he climbed the mountain of the island. Anger took control of him until, at last, he stopped by a large boulder. He thought the boulder the size of Bleddyn, though thicker. In his anger he cried out, clenched his fist, swiveled his shoulders and with a single blow cracked the boulder in two.

Surprised by his own strength, Faryad let slip his anger. He examined the boulder all night until he was too tired to remain awake. He returned home and slept most the next day.

On the day following he helped his father with his smith work. Out of curiosity, he tried and succeeded at bending thick pieces of iron with his bare hands. He worked diligently all day and when the time came for he and Beileag to put away their tools and have supper, Faryad excused himself. He climbed the mountain once more. He found the boulder he had split in twain and, summoning all his strength and anger, punched at the two pieces. Once more the boulder halves cracked.

Faryad punched repeatedly with both hands. He punched and punched, turning the large boulder into smaller stones. He punched on through the night, turning the small stones into pebbles. His knuckles cracked and calcified instantly into hard, thick bone so his hands became now harder than stone, harder than iron or steel. He punched until he was too tired to remain awake. He went home and fell asleep.



Without Faryad's knowledge a small ladybug had made her home at the back of the boulder. She laid her eggs in a crevice hoping the large stone would block out great winds and protect her family from the rains.

When Faryad had cracked the boulder in half, she was so afraid. But the damage was instant and stopped. She thought herself and her family safe. Soon her eggs gave birth to six small children and she fed them delightfully.

Then Faryad returned, destroying the boulder the next night. All but one such bug died in the tremendous fervor. Faryad left the pebbles behind along with the lone survivor.

When Faryad returned the next night, he clenched his fists in preparation for further destruction. The remaining ladybug, who had spent the day trying to find his family and forage for food on his own, witnessed this and the great terror that welled within him grew until he was able to cry out to Faryad.

"Please! Do not destroy these pebbles any further! My family is already dead! Please spare me!"

Faryad heard the small voice. His fist unclenched as he peered closer into the pile of pebbles.

"Who is there?" he asked.

The ladybug moved out from under a pebble and presented himself. "Please, I am a mere creature of the land. My family is dead from your destruction. Please spare my life."

Hearing the ladybug beg, Faryad asked, "What do you mean I've destroyed your family?"

"We all lived here, on the back of this boulder. Now you have destroyed it and they have all died amidst your fury."

Saddened, Faryad cried. He said, "Oh, little one. I am so very sorry. Please believe I meant you no harm. Please believe that."

It was then Faryad learned anger and hatred could grow from one to another and left death and destruction everywhere it bloomed.

"I will flee from this pile of pebbles," said the ladybug. "Then you may carry on with your anger and destruction."

"I am so very sorry," repeated Faryad. "Perhaps I can help you? Perhaps I can give you a home and feed you?"

The ladybug stopped. He looked up to Faryad. "Why would you do this? Why would you kill my family then offer to feed and house me?"

Faryad wept. "For I am guilty of murder and I can only offer repentance. I have made you a victim as others have victimized me. Please allow me to help you."

The ladybug considered all things. "I admit, having another wait on me sounds delightful."

Faryad wiped tears from his face. "I will serve you the best I can, this I swear."

The ladybug concurred. He climbed into the gentle, welcoming hand of Faryad. And though Faryad had the strength the press out the life from teh small creature, he chose not to. In this act of kindness he found beauty.

He asked, "What is your name, little one?"

"Name? I was not given a name before my mother was killed."

The ladybug's words stung Faryad. "I'm sorry. Perhaps I'll name you then?"

Faryad thought it out. He said, "What about Little Sarut?"

"I'm not so little! I was the biggest of my family!" cried the ladybug.

"Very well then, how about Sarut?"

The ladybug sighed. "I suppose it's as good as any."

Faryad took Sarut home with him that night. He introduced the ladybug to his parents and they were quite saddened by his tale, but proud their son was willing to do the right thing by Sarut.



Sarut went everywhere with Faryad. He bossed Faryad about terribly, but Faryad continued to obey him as his servant. Sarut was introduced to Faryad's friends and, most of all, to Yele Prin Prin.

As they sat on the beach one night playing music for their friends, Sarut climbed to Faryad's ear and said, "Why not ask the lovely lady to dance?"

Faryad shook his head.

"Go on. It is obvious you are in love with her. She is kind to you in return. I am certain she would love you."

Despite all his anger for Faryad and all his bossing, he felt for Faryad's yearning of the beautiful Yele. He wanted to help Faryad in this matter. He thought about enacting Faryad's avowed service to him and forcing Faryad to present himself to Yele. But that seemed too harsh even to Sarut. He instead lifted into the air and flew to Yele's ear.

"Hello, pretty Yele Prin Prin."

Yele smiled but did not stop singing and playing her guitar.

"Did you know our young Faryad kindles a flame for you?"

Yele Prin Prin blushed.

"I thought you should know," said Sarut. he flew back to Faryad's shoulder.

After their song, Yele Prin Prin moved herself to sit closer to Faryad. She eyed him, smiling.

"Another song?" she asked.

Faryad nodded and she played a gentle song of love.

Yet the song was interrupted by Bleddyn and his brothers laughing raucously.

"What a wonderful party!" cried Bleddyn. "Is this all for me? You are all much too kind!"

Faryad placed his violin on the beach and stood, clenching his fists.

"What do you wish from us, Bleddyn?" asked Yele.

"Oh! I've finally come for your blood, beastly Yele."

Bleddyn and his brothers drew their swords.

Faryad stepped forward.

"Oh, no! Get yourself killed on your own! Leave me out of it!" cried Sarut as he scurried into the pocket of Faryad's tunic.

Bleddyn eyed Faryad. "You still play with bugs as a child?"

"Get out of here," Faryad spoke slowly and in a low tone.

"Not until I press out the life from your lover."

Cai and Irdis attacked, their swords flailing about in mock ceremony before coming down at Faryad swiftly, viciously.

Faryad punched. His fist connected with the side of one of the saif's blade. The steel shattered into a dozen smaller pieces that flew in every direction.

Cai gasped. "My sword!" he cried. "He has caused it to explode!"

Faryad grabbed Irdis' blade and snapped it in half. He flipped the blade around in his hand and pointed the tip at Irdis.

"Come at me," challenged Faryad. "I've the wicked end now."

Bleddyn laughed with delight at this.

All of Faryad's friends ran, except Yele Prin Prin.

Bleddyn said, "Our little Faryad the Smith has become Faryad the Exploding Sword."

Bleddyn drew his saif. He scowled.

"Taste my steel!" he cried.

Faryad dropped the half blade and backed away.

"Do not run from me, coward! Do not run from me, you bastard child of a whore!"

Again Bleddyn lunged. Again Faryad backed out of range of the biting sword.

Frustrated, Bleddyn ran with all his might at Faryad. This time Faryad did not move. He instead waited for his enemy to draw near. He raised his arm, let Bleddyn's sword slip by him and brought his arm down to grab hold of Bleddyn's wrist.

Surprised, Bleddyn gasped.

Faryad lifted his fist and brought it crashing down onto Bleddyn's skull, cracking it. Blood sprayed from his nose, skin peeled away from under his hair and blood waterfalled down his face.

Faryad wriggled free his fist from his enemy's skull and let go the corpse.

Bleddyn fell dead on the beach, his blood staining the sand.

Cai and Irdis ran away.

Yele Prin Prin said, "We must go. Sharif will be after us for the murder."

"He'll be after me, not you."

"Nor me," Sarut flew from Faryad's pocket to land on Yele's shoulder.

"He came for me," said Yele. "I'll stand by your side."

"What about me?" asked Sarut.

"Fly away home," snapped Yele.

"I haven't a home!"

"We have to go!"

Faryad picked up his violin and ran home. Yele Prin Prin followed with Sarut grasping firmly to her shoulder.

Faryad's mother and father were harangued by the tale of the young couple. They helped them quickly pack.

"I know of a boat we could use. It is one of the fisherman's. He died a month ago but his boat remains tied at the shore," explained Beileag.

"Yes, I know of it," said Faryad.

"You could escape the island."

"We'll row out and wait a while until we came return safely," said Faryad.

Beileag grabbed his arm. "No, son. You may never be able to return here."

As he said this, Faryad knew it was true.

Yele Prin Prin looked to Shazi Suha and said, "Please, tell my father what has happened and that I love him."

"You don't have to go," argued Faryad.

"I'll not leave your side," she said.

Beileag looked out the door.

"Quickly!" he said. "Hide! Sharif comes!"

Faryad, Yele and Sarut hid behind the door of the home's pantry. They heard Sharif enter the home, heard him speaking with Beileag and Shazi Suha.

"Where is your son?" asked Sharif.

"Not here right now. He has gone to entertain his friends with his violin," said Beileag.

Sharif found Faryad's violin lying on the bed.

"Then why is his violin still here?"

Beileag stammered, "He must have forgotten it."

Sharif looked about the home, suspected the young couple were hiding in the pantry as it was the only true hiding place there could be in the home.

He said loudly, loud enough for everyone in the home to hear, "Cai and Irdis have come to me this evening claiming your son has killed their older brother. Do you know anything of this?"

"Not at all," Beileag lied. "My son would not murder anyone."

"I'll admit if anyone on this part of the island deserved it, it would be that Bleddyn. He was a sour man. Perhaps Faryad has nothing to do with it, but I'll need to speak with him as soon as possible. I'll go around and try to find other witnesses. That will take, oh, say an hour." and at this last part he raised his voice a little and looked towards the pantry. "I certainly hope that's not too much time for Faryad to escape, should he want to."

Sharif excused himself from their home.

Faryad and Yele stepped out of the pantry.

Faryad said, "He grants us time. He knows the dastardly nature of Bleddyn and has given us time."

"Then let's not waste a moment of it," said Beileag.

The small family ran along the shore. The island curved and shone silver under the night's moon. The family ran through this bed of soft silver until they found the abandoned boat. They loaded the boat with the few supplies they had time to pack, a guitar and a violin.

Faryad, Yele and Sarut got into the small boat. Shazi Suha and Beileag pushed the boat out to sea, guiding it until they both stood with water up to their chests.

Faryad leaned over the side of the boat and hugged his mother.

"I love you, son," she said. She then hugged Yele and said, "I love you, daughter."

Tears came to Yele's eyes.

"Son," said Beileag before he let go of the boat. "I am not your true father."

"Beileag!" Shazi Suha scolded.

"He needs to know," Beileag explained. He looked at Faryad and said, "Your true father's name is Zahir. I do not know what kind of man he is nor if he is even alive, but if you can find him perhaps he can help you in your new life."

Tears came to Faryad. He reached out his hand and held that of his father's. As his father let go the boat and his son, Faryad said, "You'll always be my father."

Yele Prin Prin grabbed the oars and handed one to Faryad.

"You could always fly away, you know," said Faryad.

"This is the life I am choosing."

Sarut flew to Faryad's pocket. Faryad looked down on him.

"You could also fly away."

"And where am I to go?" asked Sarut.

Thinking of the ladybug's urgings earlier that night, Faryad, in the night upon the Living Sea filled with monsters and moonlight, said, "I love you, Yele Prin Prin."

Yele answered, "I love you, Faryad. And thank you for defending me this night."

Together they rowed away from Ayiti.


I hope you enjoyed Act II of "Broken Steel"! Check back next week for Act III!

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Broken Steel" -- Act I

Picking up where we last left off on the latest The Children of Gods novel, I present to you today Act I of "Broken Steel".

Here are the previous posts that began this novel:

"Broken Sorrows" Act I
"Broken Sorrows" Act II
"Broken Sorrows" Act III
"Broken Sorrows" Act IV


"Broken Steel" copyright 2009 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.


AS THE SPACES BETWEEN STARS: Wherein Mama Mara Comes to Kompa; Yele Prin Prin is Born; A Girl-Child Lives with Friends and Enemies Both as Neighbors


Far in the southern portion of the world, far beyond the borders of land, floating the vast expanse of the Living Sea where monsters curled with wickedness made their home was the tiny island of Ayiti. Not many came to the island for the island gave no reason to be used. Its thick rain forests and fern forests hid many thieves running for their lives from authorities on the mainland. The flat part of the island had been cleared into a field and used to raise sugar cane, but the field was not large enough for a whole industry. All that lived on the island lived in poverty and with strife.

Criminals became warlords and dominated the small island. A history of starvation became tradition as a way for these warlords to rule the citizens of Ayiti. If a single person did not follow a warlord's wishes, an entire village or region would receive no food stores.

Then came the warlord Molay Mar rose from out of the poverty of the streets and amongst the people of Ayiti to establish a more fine and just rule. Many considered Molay Mar the savior of the people of Ayiti, but he was soon assassinated for his audacity. In his place came La Bela, a woman of great strength and power. While La Bela shared Molay Mar's desire for the establishment of a more fair rule, she knew she could not achieve such a thing without declaring open war against the whole island and her people were too weak with hunger and sickened by death to fight a war. She then compromised. While La Bela created a republic for her people, she declared herself lifetime ruler of her region.

Under La Bela, within her region of rule, lived the fisherman Kompa. He was a large man, strong and handsome in build. He had skin black as the nighttime sky prior to Balori's return of the stars. He was beautiful by any means and the sweetheart of his region. Many women wanted Kompa for their daughters or themselves.

Each day Kompa would fish and, when he returned to shore, would be met by one of La Bela's men to collect his day's catch as tax. Rarely was Kompa left with a small fish of his own for to make his own meals. Most days he was given a letter of marque with which he traded for food. Often he would give a little of his earned food away to his neighbors, especially to those that had children.

So beautiful was Komba that he caught the eye of Mama Mara, the screech owl. Mama Mara descended upon the island of Ayiti, of which she was guardian. She landed on the beach, fluttered her thick orange and tan wings until they all fell away to reveal a beautiful dark-skinned woman beneath. Her eyes shone brilliant green in the night as she walked to Komba's hut. Standing in the doorway of his hut, naked, she introduced herself.

"I have spied you for many years," she admitted.

So taken was Komba by her beauty he invited her in. He made for her rooibos tea. Together they drank the tea and made love through the night.

When Kompa awoke early the next morning as he always did to ride out in his canoe and do his day's fishing, Mama Mara was gone. In her place he found a large orange-speckled egg lying on his bed beside him.

Kompa quickly wrapped the egg, afraid some thing may be alive inside and in need of heat. He stoked a large fire and carried the egg to the fire's side before pushing his canoe out into the sea so he may fish that day.

When Kompa returned that night, he traded all his fish for a letter of marque as he always did. He tied his canoe to a fallen tree as he always did. He traded his letter of marque for rations as he always did. He then returned to his hut as he always did.

Next to the dying fire sat the egg, already cracked with some inner force. Kompa sat beside the egg, waiting. Soon a small talon reached out, tearing down the egg from around its inhabitant. Kompa helped here and there and placed a kettle of rooibos tea on the fire along with some seaweed soup to feed the newborn when it was finally free from the egg.

Bits of the egg fell away. Kompa helped as his daughter was born. She was a gloriously beautiful thing, half-girl and half-owl. Her skin was as black as Kompa's. Upon her back rested two large feathered wings, the feathers of which were dark as the spaces between stars. Her eyes, too, were without white, were pure black and they glowed green in the night. Her skin was soft and smooth and shone with great beauty. And though she had the body and face of a girl-child, each finger extended into a small, sharp talon.

Kompa named her Yele Prin Prin and loved her dearly.

As others learned of little Yele Prin Prin and Kompa's blessed encounter with Mama Mara, people from all over the island traveled to visit with daughter and father. They brought gifts and blessings. Even the wars between the warlords temporarily ceased as La Bela and two other warlords came to visit Kompa and his child.

"You are a creature of beauty and peace," Kompa would often tell Little Yele. "The world will be made better because of you, I know it."

And though the world appeared a happier place for some time after Yele Prin Prin's birth, Kompa would soon learn not everyone looked upon his daughter with the same hopes for the world as he did.



Yele Prin Prin grew quickly into adulthood, far more swiftly than most children her age. At the age of twelve she was fully grown. Her belly was slightly muscular, her legs and arms athletic, firm, yet feminine. Her skin remained smooth and black.

Jealousy grew in the hearts of a few of the families Kompa used to help with his extra food. Now he saved all the food for himself and his growing daughter. Others whispered unkind things about Mama Mara, saying she had truly cursed the people of Ayiti for some unknown wrongdoing by providing them with yet another mouth to feed. Still others were blatantly jealous of Yele Prin Prin's beauty and immortality. Finally, many women grew jealous of Mama Mara, for they had wanted Kompa as their own.

All this went without notice by Kompa until, one day when Yele was fourteen, she was horrendously teased by other children after a hard day's work helping her father with his fishing. She came home crying.

"What is it?" asked her father. "What's the matter?"

"The other children called me a half-breed demon!" cried Yele.

Kompa sighed. He said, "They know not what they speak of. Children echo their parents' sentiments for many years. These tormentors do not truly hate you. They merely feed upon the fear and jealousy of their parents."

"Then others are truly fearful and wicked towards me," Yele wiped tears from her face. "If not the children, in the very least their parents."

Kompa nodded. "But in our lives on this island, so many of us have so little. Look now at you and I. We have been blessed by your mother. She has given me a beautiful daughter and you Immortal Life and these beautiful wings. These are gifts beyond compare. It is only natural others may be jealous."

Fear turned into hatred within Yele. She said, "I wish mother had never come to you that night. I wish mother had never laid my egg. I wish I had never been born!"

Kompa sighed. He said, "Your words hurt me. I love you dearly, daughter. Please do not say such things. My life before was not the most horrible on the island, but since your birth it has been yet so much better. I regret nothing about my time with your mother or your birth."

Yele sighed this time. "Then you are perhaps the only one."

Kompa was discouraged by this, by their life. He was certain his daughter may have such troubles all her life, but thought perhaps there were places she would be better accepted. He suggested, "Perhaps you should use your wings to flee from Ayiti. Perhaps you should find a new home far from here."

"No!" cried Yele. "I couldn't leave you."

She hugged her father tightly and refused to loosen her embrace upon him.

"That is most kind," he whispered into her ear. "But one day I will have to leave you. You will live forever. I will live only until I must part from you. Perhaps then you can have a happier life."

Yele cried at this. The went to bed together that night, father and daughter holding hands and pondering the inner workings of the Cosmos.

On grew Yele into full adulthood, yet she remained occasionally sad about her life as she was occasionally taunted by others.

Once, when a trade ship came to the island, Kompa was there to greet the ship's crew and help unload supplies for trade. After all the stores were loaded and unloaded, he witnessed one of the crew playing a guitar. He heard the beauty of teh strings being plucked and strummed and felt at once at ease.

He asked, "Dear sir, what is that you do? What instrument is that?"

"It's a guitar," said the sailor. "With it I make music."

"So I hear. And beautiful music it is. It puts my at ease."

"Hence the purpose of music," said the sailor. "Have you an instrument?"

Kompa shook his head. "Oh, no. Such things are rarely available here. They are far too expensive a luxury and hard to come by. Only the children, on occasion, will build some crude thing with which to make noise, but never are their toys as refined as this instrument you play."

The sailor nodded with understanding. "You're people are quite poor here, it would seem."

Kompa did not answer. He felt as though he should be ashamed by the tone the sailor had taken.

"It's all right," calmed the sailor. "Being poor's nothing to fear or be disgraced by, no matter what conventions may say."

The sailor played and both men found their cares lifting away.

"How I wish I could have such a thing for my daughter," said Kompa.

"Does she play an instrument?" asked the sailor.

"No, but I'm certain she would if she had the chance, if she had some way to express herself outside of words."

"Hence the purpose to music," the sailor repeated himself.

The sailor looked at Kompa, at the dirty and nearly naked people all around, at the hungry bellies and starving eyes and smiles that glowed to show how happy they were someone was visiting, someone was recognizing they existed.

The sailor took a deep breath. He told Kompa, "I got this guitar when my mate died while we wandered the sea. It cost me nothing to gain. I suppose I'll be out nothing if I lose it."

But Kompa did not understand until the sailor handed him the guitar.

"You mean I can have this?"

the sailor nodded. "Take it. May your daughter be happy with it."

Kompa's grin was immense. He took the guitar and hugged the sailor who chuckled at being embraced.

"Can I give you anything in return?" asked Kompa.

The sailor shook his head. "I'm certain I'll come across another long before you and your people do. I'll be fine and need nothing in return."

"Thank you!" cried Kompa.

In his excitement, Kompa ran off with the guitar. He never exchanged names with the sailor. He returned to where the ship had been far too late to see it set sail and leave the island.



Yele Prin Prin loved the gift of the guitar. She began at once teaching herself to play. There was one other man in their region of the island that knew about guitars and had not grown jealous or hateful towards Yele and her father. He taught her what little he knew and learned with her how to play without her talons slicing the strings. Her fingers did not pluck, never did they pluck, but instead they gently stroked the strings of the guitar with the back side of her fingers, the smooth side of her talons in soft resgueados abd she used the tips of her talons to lightly tap the face of the guitar without damaging it. Only with the edge of her thumb did she ever pluck. She played each day after she had helped her father with his fishing. Their little hut grew bright with happiness and the sounds of music.

Many of her peers came to her, built bonfires along the beach and asked her to play. Many had grown out of their parents' influence and relearned a love for Yele. A select few, however, grew more jealous of Yele's great gifts.

On Yele lived, in poverty and happiness, with friends and enemies as neighbors, with wings that could set her free yet she refused to use, with Immortal Life and a father that would one day die. The life of Yele Prin Prin was one of sadness and beauty, of harshness and excellence.

She cared for none of the bad things that had bothered her before. If she grew sad, she made herself happy once more with music. She was a creature of beauty, delivering smiles all across her island.


This was a short introduction to "Broken Steel", but I hope you enjoyed it all the same. Check back next week for Act II of "Broken Steel"!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wuxia Fairy Tales -- Martial Arts Movies

I thought I'd give an example of movies that inspire my series The Children of Gods, of which the currently novel I'm blogging here as I write it.