I have reworked the First Chapter of my book, Tree of Roses. I’m rewriting the entire book, so I figured I would once again share with you the first chapter.
Hope you enjoy!
The two sailors looked up at the sudden crash of lightening and thunder. They could see the young man standing beneath the tree in the middle of the small town. He was watching the harbor and one ship in particular. It was the August Leviathan and it was easily the most magnificent ship in the harbor. It was a ship of war, it’s masts and orange sails looming over the broken town. The figurehead was a fierce looking maiden, her hair a wild tangle of orange curls.
The young man noticed the two sailors watching him. He walked over the damp brick street towards them, noting how they suddenly began to look busy as they saw him approach. They had never seen anyone who looked quite like this stranger. He was pale, which was an unusual and rare sight around those parts. His jet-black hair was tied up loosely at the base of his neck and everything he wore was shabby. He wore 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.
He seemed to be amused at their cautious expressions as he walked towards them. Stopping close to 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 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. This town ‘as seen better days.”
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 some of the 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. He had never seen such a decrepit place. He shook 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.
He walked up to the dark wooden door, not knowing what to expect on the other side. Placing his hand on the handle, he pushed the door open with an exceedingly loud creak that attracted everyones attention. He walked in, the wind slamming the door behind him.
The first thing that hit him was the awful stench of the place. Dirty people sitting in dirty chairs, drinking cheap alcohol and smoking. Wrinkling his nose subtly in disgust, he looked around him at the gathered sailors and few leftover townspeople. Everyone was staring at him, they looked curious, but not curious enough to pay more than a moment of attention to him before going back to more important matters, such as gambling, drinking, laughing at absolutely nothing and enveloping themselves in smoke. He glanced around, quickly taking in his surroundings.
There were tables scattered here and there with too many people seated around them. Then there were a few corner tables, reserved for more private meetings. Natiir shrugged his shoulders and walked to the front counter. Behind the counter stood a small young woman, wiping some glasses with a rag. Her messy, burgundy colored hair tumbled around her shoulders as she worked. She looked up at Natiir as he began to approach and he noted the dark blue of her eyes.
“Yes?” she asked impatiently, not setting aside her task. She was short and slender, giving her an almost graceful air. She wore a ragged sack of a dress that was a faded brown color.
Natiir stepped right up to the counter and asked, “Where might I find wolf?”
The young woman narrowed her eyes slightly. “Come with me. I’ll take you to him.” She carefully set down the glass and placed the rag on the counter. She walked out from behind the counter and gestured for him to follow her. Natiir followed her silently, his eyes darting around the tavern.
She led him across the tavern to the farthest corner table. When they reached the table, the large bearded man at the table was accepting a mug of ale from a barmaid. He looked up at them as they approached his table. “Veltrie!” he shouted excitedly, raising his mug to her.
Veltrie smiled slightly. “Hello, Wolf. This man was looking for you.” She indicated Natiir, who was standing silently behind her.
Wolf glanced at Natiir and grunted. “Wha’ you wan’ then?”
Natiir sat down across from him, nodding to Veltrie. “Thank you for your assistance.”
“You are most welcome. A serving girl should be around shortly, if you want anything.” Without another word, Veltrie turned around and walked back across the tavern.
“Well,” snapped Wolf, taking a large swig of his ale, “Wha’ you wan’?”
Natiir sat casually, his arms resting on the old wooden table. “I wish to join the crew of the August Leviathan.”
Wolf’s eyes widened a bit as he really took in the picture of the young man sitting before him. Then he nearly choked on his drink. “Wha’? List’n, lad, this isn’t some pansy crew yeh wan’ te join. This is the Queens prize ship, her best cap’n is in command. Have ye not seen what we’ve come fer? The Cap’n be wantin’ some experienced sailors, who know wha’ they’re getting’ themselves into, he doesn’ have the time to train anyone.”
Natiir nodded and leaned forward a bit, “I do realize this, Wolf. I’m not some young fool looking for adventure. I’m perfectly capable of sailing alongside this so called experienced crew of yours. If you find that I am not what you are looking for, you need not keep me.”
Wolf looked into Natiir’s eyes, searching for some hint of squeamishness, but all he could see was pride and persistence. As Wolf was about to speak he was interrupted by the sound of the tavern door bursting open. The gust of wind that followed the opening of the door sent a shiver through the tavern’s occupants. Then something else followed, or rather someone.