Tree of Roses – Excerpt

So here I will randomly post an excerpt of Chapter One of my book: Tree of Roses

Feedback is welcome!

Chapter One

The ships had come in the night. No one had seen them coming until too late. Almost ghost-like, the ships had appeared from nowhere in order to forcefully recruit and enslave the entire town for Her Majesty. There had been no warning until suddenly the first screams and shots were heard rending the cold night air.

Salient green eyes looked out at the approaching storm from the shelter of a massive tree standing in the middle of the small, defeated town. The person to whom these brilliant eyes belonged watched the oncoming storm rock the remaining few ships back and forth in the harbor. He stood there impassively, hiding in plain sight beneath the shelter of the thick leaves overhead.

Both men and women were being herded onto the ships, linked together by heavy chains. The weeping and screaming of the townsfolk seemed to be constant, making the young man grimace at the sound.

He turned away from the enslaved people in order to watch one ship in particular; the August Leviathan and it was indeed a magnificent ship. The August Leviathan was an extremely large ship of war, but was very capable of holding a sizable amount of cargo. This was the Queen’s prize ship; easily the most brilliant ship in the harbor and he was going to join her crew. He had found what he had traveled so far to find, and he would not be forcefully taken into servitude.

The strikingly handsome, green-eyed young man continued to survey his surroundings, seemingly oblivious to the eyes that were watching him and not even flinching at the sudden clash of lightening and thunder.

Across the street, standing next to the August Leviathan stood two sailors who had stopped watching, with rather mournful expressions the people being piled onto the ships in order to shift their attention to the strange young man. They had never seen anyone who looked quite like this stranger. First of all, he was pale, which was an unusual and rare sight around those parts.

His jet-black hair, reaching to about the middle of his back, was tied up loosely at the base of his neck. The clothes he wore did nothing to match his appearance; everything he wore was shabby. Old worn boots, a loose white shirt and breeches with patches here and there. He was quite tall and lean, but clearly very fit. His eyes were the most unusual as they were almost inhumanly bright.

Finally the strange man realized that he was being watched and swiveled his head in the direction of the sailors, who very unconvincingly tried to look busy. The sailors looked rather silly as the young man started to walk towards them over the dampened brick street.

He seemed to be amused at their cautious expressions as he walked towards them. Stopping about a yard away from them and gesturing towards the ship, he looked momentarily up at the sky as the rain began to fall more heavily and asked, “Excuse me, but which ship is this?” His voice; so calm and cold startled the sailors and they looked at him as though he must have been blind, for the name of the ship was clearly facing them.

Its the August Leviathan o’ course. Why do yeh wanna know?” One of them asked warily.

I wish to join her crew,” was the sturdy, matter of fact reply.

The sailor who had spoken raised an eyebrow, looked the young man up and down and said, “I see, well, firs’ off, what be yer name lad?”

My name is Natiir Xylus.”

The sailor nodded, “Well, I’m Faust, and this here is Wade,” He pointed to the man standing directly behind him. Wade nodded briefly, still looking wary of the stranger.

Faust was a short, stout, surprisingly jolly looking man with a gray beard and no hair atop his head. Wade was most likely in his thirties and sturdily built. He had short brown hair and friendly gray eyes. Natiir nodded awkwardly to them both, still with no expression on his face.

Who should I speak with about joining her crew?”

Yeh’d go to the Ten Days Tavern, its in tha’ direction and straigh’ on fer a bit.” He pointed a rough, calloused hand in the direction of the tavern. “Ask for Wolf, he’s the one recruitin’ fer the Cap’n. Yeh’d best be careful on yer way over there. If’n anyone asks, say yer a willin’ recruit, yeh shouldna ‘ave any trouble.”

Natiir smiled a small smile, thanked the sailors and headed in the direction of the tavern. The rain began to fall more heavily around Natiir as he walked and he watched the few remaining towns people attempting to find shelter from the storm. The town itself was ruddy and worn, most of the houses had large holes in the walls and roofs.

Natiir glanced around as he walked and looked into the sad, broken faces of the people watching him with a hopeful glint in their eyes. The moment he locked eyes with any of them, they looked away immediately; they saw no sympathy in his eyes. The town didn’t improve much the the closer he came to the tavern, in fact it seemed to be getting worse. I’ve never seen such a decrepit place, he thought, shaking his head as he passed a decaying corpse lying on the street.

The tavern was quite a ways off from the harbor and was surrounded by some bent and gnarled willow trees, giving the place an eerie feel. He stopped a few yards away from the entrance of the tavern, looking up at the sign that was swaying heavily in the wind and nearly falling off of its hinges. The building was definitely old and in need of some maintenance, but it wasn’t nearly as rundown as the rest of the village.

Up to the door he walked, not knowing what to expect on the other side. Placing his hand on the door handle, he pushed the door open and open it did, with an exceedingly loud creak that attracted everyone’s attention. He walked in, the wind slamming the door behind him.

©Lea Jurock

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7 thoughts on “Tree of Roses – Excerpt

  1. The second half was more riveting than the first, for some reason. Almost felt like trying too hard to hook the reader with too many adjectives in the first few paragraphs, but as if you relaxed and really began to tell the story in the second half. The second half hooked me. It was comforting that you soothed the distress of the first scene of the slaves, to the crew members. Then again, maybe we need to know more about that distress, later, after the reader is distracted by the safety of the in-control crew. Of course, my degree’s in psychology, not writing, so whatddo I know?! 😀 What a very rich story. I can’t wait to read more…

      • As I was finishing Bronte’s Villette this morning, it struck me how the scholarly “introduction” was little more than a psychological analysis of the manuscripts, both original and the one in my hand. Writers paint the picture of inner realities, psychologists and editors make it external. No wonder editors need writers, and vice versa! Such a rich chapter, Lea – thank you for sharing it. It is helping me grow as a therapist. I wish I could read the rest of your manuscript, already!

  2. I really enjoyed reading your excerpt. Thanks for sharing!

    I agree with Southern Sea Muse–the first half was a little long and it didn’t hook me (and you can probably cut out some adjectives). I’d start with Natiir asking about joining the crew right off the bat. That’s what really drew me in. Then maybe he could stand there and watch what’s going on with the ship. Setting it up that way would make readers really wonder who this guy is because he/she would already start liking him as the main character and then want to know why on earth he’d want to work on a slave ship. I got a little wordy there at the end, but does that make sense? Just a thought 🙂

    I’m looking forward to reading more.

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