Friday, June 19, 2009

"Broken Steel" -- Act II

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

Now for Act II.

Enjoy!

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

ACT II

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

PART 1

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."

"Oh."

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.

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PART 2

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.

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PART 3

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.

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PART 4

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.

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PART 5

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.

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

1 comment:

ladytian said...

Exploding Sword!!! He's so badass. I love that he's playing a violin, there's so much to that. =)