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"!!!

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