Tuesday, June 01, 2010

New Beginning 755

No one in the Seven Villages had ever seen the dragon. They knew it by the quickening of the wind and the sudden purity of the light before its coming, and by the gifts it gave them—fire, death, rain, fertile soil, dragon-children. Their small lives rose and fell through its great one like sparks in a wildfire or tears in the sea.

When the wind warned of its coming most folk ran for the shelter of spring or cave. There were always a few who waited in the open, drinking in the rich colors of earth and sky until the dragon-light overcame them and they closed their eyes until the fire struck, or until the wind died down and the bright rain fell. In the following years these saw always the richness hidden deep in things, waiting for the dragon-light. And sometimes two opened their eyes and saw one another. If the two were man and woman the woman often bore a child nine months after. This was no shame to her or to her husband.

Such was the birth of Semon and Anele, twins born to Nese of Corle.

"Nese of Corle, huh?"

"Yes."

"And that's what happened to you?"

"Yes . . . "

"Dragons? You were knocked up by a dragon?"

"Uh, yes. Dragon. Just like Nese of Corle."

"Dammit, Mary. Fool me once, shame on you..."


Opening: Joanna Hoyt.....Continuation: Anon

11 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Yet nothing in the legend explains what wayward thought possessed Nese of Corle to name her first-born son Semon. But whatever it was, he was clearly destined to be an unhappy child, cum what may.

--anon.



* * *

Piedmont hammered on his boss's door.

"What on Earth...? What do you want?"

"Sorry, Mr. Grissel, but we've got a bit of a problem. It's the manuscript for this new textbook by Richard Dawkins..."

--anon.



Or so she said. But no one I've talked to can remember a dragon sighting since last Mirtleberry, and I happen to know that little trollop was spending more time at the Blacksmith's than is seemly for someone without any livestock, and with her husband being away at court for months at a time so I reckon the only fire she saw was while she was bent over that anvil getting hammered like a horse-shoe, not that I would complain, I wouldn't mind a bit of that richness hidden deep in me once in a while, not that there's much chance of that with my Halpen still on the sick and what the fuck's that up there!

--anon.

Evil Editor said...

I don't know if it changes the meaning, but I'd delete:

In the following years these saw always the richness hidden deep in things, waiting for the dragon-light.

It's vague to the point that I don't know what it means.

Interesting that death is considered a gift (especially if it's death by fire).

I don't like the use of two similes to describe the same thing. It's like the second one is there for the benefit of those who didn't understand the first one. Thus I'd choose one or the other of sparks in a wildfire or tears in the sea.

Phoenix said...

I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the first paragraph.

The second paragraph has me scratching my head a bit, but only because I don't understand yet whether the dragon is a metaphor or a physical being. Just how fickle is it that it bestows fire or rain? If I think of it as a real, physical being, I can see a dragon flying over, breathing fire and scorching the earth. But if I think about where a bright rain might come from a dragon flying overhead, all I can think is "ewww." Sorry.

And "waiting for the dragon-light" could likely be explored a little more. Does the first encounter make them obsessive about another encounter? Are the SAME people staying out in the open like addicts? Also, you should probably say "some" came away seeing the richness of things since it seems the ones who see each other aren't affected that way.

An interesting start overall!

Kings Falcon said...

If no one has seen a dragon, how do they know it's coming? I think I can handle one paragraph of set up since the first one is generally "free" but the second one was too much, for me, and too vague to keep me interested.

My suggestion would be to delete the last sentance of the first paragraph, and substitute something that tells me that when a man and a woman look at each other through the dragon light, she gets pregnant. Then you can pick up withe the last line of the section. . . "such was the birth of Semon and Anele . . . "

I would also reconsider the name Semon. It makes me want to cringe.

What's really nice about this section is that you have a strong voice. Trim this a bit to get me to the current action and you have, IMHO, a really strong start

Evil Editor said...

I assumed the "dragon" was a thunderstorm.

Dave F. said...

I didn't take the "dragon" as a real dragon. I took it as symbolic of something else.

I don't have any more to add to the advice already given.

Joanna Hoyt said...

Thanks all. It really is a dragon, not a thunderstorm. Dragons bringing rain in their wakes isn't my idea, I borrowed it from Chinese mythology. I hadn't stopped to think about Phoenix's image before...need to see what I can do to dispel that. I guess I should also clarifying the waiting for the dragon-light part, since both Phoenix and EE found it puzzling. Basically, the world seen by dragon-light is much lovelier, and once people have seen it that way once they look differently at the things they see under ordinary light. And it's for that beauty that a few people stay outside and risk being burned.

Yes, death as a gift does sound odd, but is basic to the rest of the story, and to the culture of this world--that gets worked out further on.

Kings Falcon, your question makes a lot of sense. 'dragon' is what they've always called the thing that comes in a blinding light, sometimes sends down fire, and always is followed by rain; since it happens every year they're quite familiar wit the before-and-after parts, even though they haven't seen the thing itself. And about Semon...does it make you cringe because it's too close to an English name or too close to a possibly vulgar English word? The latter is easy to fix, the former might be harder.

I need to figure out how to convey more of the answers to your setup questions without having an excess of description. I'll work on this and post another try.

Joanna Hoyt said...

Another possible opening:

No one in the Seven Villages had ever seen the dragon. They knew it by the quickening of the wind and the sudden purity of the light before its coming, and by the gifts it gave them—fire, death, rain, fertile soil, dragon-children. Their small lives rose and fell through its great one like sparks in a wildfire or tears in the sea.

Nese of Corle was at work in a field on the high ridge one spring when the east wind rose. The men and women who worked with her dropped their tools and looked up uneasily. The cool midmorning light warmed and deepened around them; the dry sand under their feet turned gold, and their anxious faces shone. “It’s the dragon.” old Halben said, and they turned together and ran for the cave by the spring. But Nese laughed for joy and stood still, drinking in the light. No one tried to make her take shelter. It was her choice. There were always a few who chose so. Those who did not die of dragon-fire returned to the village with wonder in their eyes, and with gifts that had not been theirs before. Sefre the song-leader of Corle and Ailmun the true dreamer had chosen so. And Nese’s children were old enough to get along without their mother, if the fire did fall.

Dave F. said...

Perhaps the timing is too slow. Try a few less words:

No one in the Seven Villages had ever seen the dragon. They knew it by the quickening of the wind, {...} the purity of its light {...}, and by the gifts it gave them—fire, death, rain, fertile soil, dragon-children. Village life rose and fell through its dragon like sparks in a wildfire or tears in the sea.

_*rachel*_ said...

Could you show this happening instead? You've got a bit of a prologue anyway, telling us how they were born; it couldn't be much worse showing it happen. Alternately, skip this altogether and give bits of it along the way.

I like that second version, with or without the first paragraph, and maybe deleting everything after and starting with "There were always a few who chose so."

This definitely intrigues me.

As for the name, it's the latter. It'd be even worse if it was a girl's name.

Bernita said...

My main problem with the opening is with pronouns and antecedents. For some reason the "they knew it" gave me a hesitancy even though "dragon" is clearly the antecedent.
Same thing happened "rose and fell through its great one".
Maybe it is just me.
Otherwise, I really like it.