View Full Version : My book, Chapter 1: Eyes and Ears

04-29-2011, 07:23 PM
This is a story I have been building in my head for awhile now. I would really like to know what you think. I have a lot of background to it right now that is not in this passage, but I want you to read it as is without he background and see if you enjoy it. (and yes, I used the title of the chapter and the inn from the Wheel of Time, like an homage to RJ and his works that got me interested in fantasy.) This is a first draft.

Thanks and enjoy!

Chapter 1: Eyes and Ears

Benizo Haerniza outran the Flames, but barely. They had almost had him this time, and it seemed they were motivated more each time he escaped their hands. He ran towards an alley mouth, his shirt and breeches making no sound, his footfalls only audible to his ears as a low thump close to the sound of a heart. The darkness of night surrounded him as he made himself disappear into the alley. He put his back against the wall and breathed heavily and quietly as he listened for pursuit; none came. He had finally lost the Enlightened Guard, who were notorious rebel hunters.

As he swung his head to peek around the corner, he saw a paper hanging on the wall and froze. A wanted poster was adhered to it, and it had his name, along with a well drawn image of him, on it. Benizo quickly grabbed the poster and tucked it into his pocket. The paper had not been up around Puverni long because he had been out just a few nights ago on the same mission and saw no sign of it. The likeness of him was so well drawn that he knew who had had the poster made.

“Guirrez!” he said angrily under his breath. He was angry at the man for many reasons, but Benizo knew that Guirrez was good at heart. If only there was something I could do to change his mind! he thought. Taking a deep breath, he readied himself to move on. He turned his head towards the street – lit by lanterns lofted on poles – looking for signs of the Flames or any other guards. The scene, however, contained only a drunken man staggering through the streets aimlessly.

Something touched his arm and he nearly scrambled out into the street before he realized that his younger brother by half his years, Mirzon, stood with a wily grin on his face. He felt anger boiling up at Mirzon, but he was very self-controlled and kept quiet in the alley.

“Mirzon!” he whispered harshly. “What are you doing here? You should be in the safe house on the other side of the city!” His glare made his brother step back a bit and lose the grin. Benizo wished that his brother would listen just once to him. Mirzon should know the dangers of Puverni, or all of Taereza for that matter; he had been a Chaser for a year now.

“I was sent by the council,” Mirzon replied coolly. Benizo sighed, knowing his brother was a man now; his voice could not conjure up fear in Mirzon anymore. He turned to keep a weary eye on the alley mouth so he would not be taken off guard.

“What do they want?” Benizo asked. He crossed his arms as he peered up and down the stone paved street. The council had just sent him out on this mission to gather intelligence. What could they want of him so soon? Had they found out that he was wanted by the Enlightened? Well, he should not speculate anything, as he had learned from previous endeavors. He heard Mirzon shift his feet as he answered.

“They have summoned you back,” Mirzon explained. “They are preparing for a meeting. About what, I do not know.” Benizo kept his eyes and ears alert as he listened to his brother. What news had they gotten? It did not matter. He was too close to his objective that he could not – would not – quit this mission.

“Go back,” Benizo said. “And tell them that I will be along shortly, only after I see that there are no new rumors. There has already been something new.” Benizo reached into his pocket and pulled out the wanted poster. Mirzon unfolded it and gasped at its contents. Benizo, still watching the street, felt the fury emanating from Mirzon.

“Guirrez!” Mirzon half shouted. Benizo whirled around and shushed his brother before more could be shouted.

“Do you want to get us killed?” he whispered. “There are Flames all over the city, or have you been carelessly observant?” He whirled back to see that only the drunkard had heard them, and ran, stumbling away. Everyone knew the High Adviser to the Empress; everyone knew that to go against him would be to sign your own death warrant.

“He should be the one killed!” Mirzon flailed back. Benizo hoped that Mirzon was searching the other side of the alley for intruders. There were no street thugs in Puverni, but some men knew how to get around the streets without being detected. Down at the cross street, a small guard, not Enlightened thank the magic, strode by.

“He is a good man, Mirzon,” Benizo said. “He just had his morals corrupted by that brain washing school in Wucini. I will always believe the best when it comes to Guirrez.” The whispered conversation was taking up too much time. Benizo needed to cross the street and enter the tavern named The One-Eyed Man, named after the childhood story character.

“The deeds I have seen this 'good man' do are horrible, tyrannical,” Mirzon said. Before he could say more, Benizo cut in.

“Enough. I need to do some reconnaissance before I head back to the council.” Benizo spun to meet his brother face to face. Was Mirzon taller than him now? “See that they get that wanted poster, brother. The magic live in you.” Mirzon hesitated. He could be so stubborn sometimes it was a wonder that he learned anything.

“I am not leaving you, Benizo. I will return to the council with you or not at all, as I was commanded.” The stubbornness was swimming in Mirzon's eyes and Benizo could see that there was nothing for him to do but let his brother come with him on the mission. Sighing, he motioned his brother to silence and searched the street for any sign of movement. He heard his brother fold the wanted poster and put it away. He would have to teach him how to stalk silently; it was dangerous to make noises when you were in enemy territory.

Quickly making their way across the street, the pair entered the tavern unnoticed. Music drowned out the creaky door, and conversation filled the air. The room was mostly full, which was a surprise for Benizo as it was late into the night. Serving girls bustled about filling and refilling mugs of ale for men and women alike. Benizo took the lead and stealthily found a corner table to sit at, his back to the rest of the room. He motioned Mirzon into the chair across the table from him.

“You be the eyes,” he said to Mirzon, “and I'll be the ears.” He watched Mirzon's face as he listened to the cacophony of voices. Mirzon's face had more of their father in it than their mother, which Benizo knew he had more of. Mirzon did not look enough like the picture on the wanted poster to be arrested. Benizo heaved a sigh of relief, and then went to work listening for any new rumors.

He had heard most of the conversations before, and some were even on the subjects of the characters in the songs. There was a couple of men talking about Beauty Falls, both of which assumed it was in the west somewhere beyond the Carlizan Forest. Benizo had his own theories as to where Beauty Falls resided, but he was not here about it. A man and a woman were having a conversation about the Golden City, but neither of them had any rumors either. Finally, something caught his attention. Someone was talking about the Flames, the Enlightened Guard.

“Those guards think they own the place,” a man was saying. “They think they can walk in and dig anywhere they want because they have orders by the Empress herself! Now, I am a follower of the law, but the Empress would not allow them to destroy my livelihood.” Digging? He had heard that rumor before, but he did not believe it to be true. If he was understanding this man correctly, the man owned a graveyard and the Flames were digging through it. Benizo heard the man take a long sip of ale before continuing. “I will be on my way to the Empress herself tomorrow for a petition. Hear me now, they will be sorry they dug up the dead when I am done with them!” There were agreements of a few men around the table. Their conversation shifted and Benizo tried to hear elsewhere.

“What do you see?” Benizo asked his brother. The man's eyes spoke of intrigue more than fear of anything. Mirzon jumped a bit as if he was not expecting Benizo to talk. That was another skill Benizo had to teach him.

“Lyngali, staring at the portrait of the Empress hanging above the hearth.” Benizo nodded. He had seen the foreigner when they walked into The One-Eyed Man. Mirzon was not performing up to his capabilities. Maybe it was nerves, but in the streets of Puverni he needed his best to stay alive. And he still has to get back to the safe house! Benizo thought. A glower formed on Benizo's face at that thought.

As he went back to listening to the common room, he heard the door open. The murmurs of conversation drizzled down to whispers as the door creaked shut. He looked at his brother's face to see if there was any sign as to who entered. Boot steps clanked on the wooden floor, four men if his ears were right. Worry and fright appeared in the eyes of Mirzon, which made Benizo tense up. When Mirzon finally looked to Benizo, he seemed to realize that Benizo wanted to know who came into The One-Eyed Man.

“Flames,” Mirzon whispered to his brother. Recognition surfaced on Benizo's face. He knew now why everyone was quiet. More than just the rebels hated the Enlightened Guard, although the citizens who did rarely voiced their opinion. Mirzon was thumping his fingers on the table, probably out of nervousness.

Benizo wanted to know what the four Flames were talking about, but he knew he could not turn around. The Enlightened would know who he was the instant they saw him. He was about to ask Mirzon what the Flames were up to when he heard paper rustling. His breath caught. If anyone had noticed him and his brother coming into this establishment, he could be arrested and hung the next day. He closed his eyes and concentrated on his hearing. His heart started to pound loudly, and he soon irrationally feared the Flames would hear it and find him. Breathe! he told himself, and he took in a deep breath and let it out. It slowed his heart somewhat, but his nerves were still tense with anxiety. Boot steps sounded again, coming closer to Benizo's table. They stopped short though.

“You,” said one of the Enlightened – it did not sound like any of the patrons; too confident. “The innkeeper said you were scheming against the Empress.” Benizo could only imagine what the gravedigger felt. Benizo wished he could have done something for the man, or wished the man would stand up for himself.

“No, sir. My quarrel is with you.” That was the gravedigger's voice. Benizo felt pride rise up as one of the citizens was really standing up for himself. “You are digging up my livelihood with not a care in the world. How am I supposed to make a living?” Benizo's hopes continued, but he still heard Mirzon's fingers tapping the table.

“Having a quarrel with me is having a quarrel with the Empress, as it was by her orders we were doing so.” The man's voice made Benizo feel sick. It seemed to be seething with hate. “Anything against the Empress is a crime. Are you dealing in magic?” The gravedigger had no time to answer before the Flame went on. “Since you admitted to it, you are arrested as a lawbreaker and dealer in magic. Penalty is death.” The nonchalant voice made Benizo cringe. He expected every other man in the room to stand up for the gravedigger, but only one chair moved.

The gravedigger started cursing the Flames saying he was innocent of their charges and they had no proof but the word of an innkeeper. He told the Flames that they were not his judge, only the Empress could judge and give the death penalty. The Flames subdued him and dragged him out of the inn, but before the last one exited, he said, “Remember, citizens of the Taerezan Empire. Magic murders.” With that, and the creaking slam of the door, Benizo knew the Flames were gone, with the gravedigger.