A Little Slice of Nothing is running a Weather Blogfest today. I joined because I have a lot of rain in my book and I would love any feedback on weak spots or at least your feelings about the scenes (there will be a second scene next week for the Rainy Day blogfest).
I have a simple little scene just at the beginning of the deluge. The point was simply to ramp up the hints about some upcoming military action, while also showing that this POV character falls ill. Geldrath is a young man who is heading north to fulfull the required two years of military service for the king. He is riding in a merchant cart with three dwarves.
The summer rains behaved strangely this year. Usually they came thundering in each afternoon for several weeks, dark clouds roiling and lightning flashing, lasting only until evening. This year the rains came and didn’t stop.
For the past three days the mules had strained to pull the wagon through the mire. The four companions sat with hoods drawn, lost in their own thoughts. The sound of the rain drowned out all other noise, except for the thunder that followed the jagged flashing of lightning.
Several times the wagon plodded past farmers watching helplessly as their fields flooded with too much water. Geldrath knew how they felt. Each year the farmers of Kalinford had looked forward to the summer rains to help their crops, but this much rain could do more damage than good.
The worst part for Geldrath was making camp each night. Gorm insisted on continuing his martial education. “You can’t choose the weather when you must fight,” was all the dwarf said when Geldrath complained. When Geldrath gave only a half-hearted effort, Gorm gave him a sharp crack in the ribs with his stave and cursed at him. “Do you wish to die so badly, boy? You can’t let the weather get to you. You can’t let anything interfere with your focus on your foe, that is, if you want to live!”
Geldrath had risen out of the mud, shook the water out of his eyes, and tried to concentrate on his lessons. The day before the rain had begun, he had started to feel a sense of confidence during the sparring. He could hold his own for a short while, though the strength and experience of the dwarf always told in the long run. He felt a growing pride that he could fend for himself with at least one weapon, and he didn’t want Gorm to grow angry with him and discontinue the lessons.
Now he lay under a wet blanket in the bed of the wagon, the warmth of Barmin pressed up against his side. Though an oiled leather tarp covered the wagon, water managed to seep in anyhow. Sleep came slowly under these miserable conditions, and to make matters worse Geldrath felt his throat beginning to hurt and his nose run. That’s just what I need--bruised ribs, no sleep, soaked clothing, and then a sickness to boot!
When Geldrath tried to roll over and find a more comfortable position, Barmin grunted irritably at him. Geldrath lay on the hard boxes and thought about his brother and East Gate. Just when he thought that sleep would never come, he jerked awake in silent darkness. Silence! The rain has stopped! He wondered if the silence had woken him, but then he heard a distant noise.
He sat up, pushed the blanket from his head, and lifted the tarp a crack. He heard a clinking sound and a low rumbling from far off down the road to the south. Riders. A group of them. The sound grew and Geldrath recognized the sound of hooves splashing through puddles and the jingle of harnesses.
His head now poking out of the tarp, Geldrath noticed that Gorm was awake also. His eyes glittered in the bright light of a big half moon. The two smaller moons were not visible, and Geldrath was glad since he’d never liked the tiny red moon. The more superstitious folk considered it bad luck at best. He heard Gorm winding a crossbow under the tarp. The dwarf looked over at Geldrath, shrugged, and whispered, “Just in case, eh?”
Geldrath felt around for his cudgel, found it, and drew it out onto his blanket. The riders would be in sight any moment. He wasn’t too concerned. If there was any real danger, Gorm would be waking the others. Bandits were rare in this part of the Southlands. As his eyes strained in the darkness to see the riders, his ears told him it was a large troop indeed.
They appeared from behind the small stand of trees that screened the view of the road. The riders moved in pairs, bulging packs draped around the horses. The shapes of spears, bow staves, and swords poked from the bundles. He counted thirty-three soldiers, the last riding solo behind the others. He wondered why this band was out in such force at this time of night. He wondered where they came from. Kalinford had a bare handful of men who were trained enough to be called soldiers in time of need. He decided that they must come from the small keep at Trasken Ford. He had visited Trasken Ford several times with his father and brother to sell and buy goods at the large autumn market, and he’d seen the small stone keep where his liege lord lived. He assumed Lord Magdor must have enough soldiers to field this troop. But, why would they be trekking so far from home? Does it have something to do with the gathering of troops that the courier was talking about?
The soldiers barely glanced at the wagon as they passed. Gorm released the tension in his crossbow and tucked it away. He watched Geldrath stow his cudgel, and then whispered, “Get some sleep, lad, we’ll be reaching Lythandia tomorrow with luck.”
Geldrath felt a twinge of excitement. It would be good to see the large city and have a break from the routine of travel, camping, and training. He realized that the soldiers might even be from Lythandia.
He lay back in the blankets, cold, wet, and sick, but happy that the rain had stopped at last. A distant yet loud crash of thunder shook the wagon, and the mules cried out. He fell asleep to the rumbling snores of Barmin and Valgorn.
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