The Necklace and the Haunted Cathedrals

 

The immense bulk of Chaozz the Black glided smoothly through the air over Highpattern.  He glided between the twin spires of the Cathedral at Sarbad. The gargoyles watched him intently from their gutter spouts in fearful silence.

For hundreds of years, Chaozz had longed to knock those spires over with his tail.  But his powers were limited.  If only he could convince all the people in Highpattern to forsake worship, they themselves would knock the cathedrals down.  Then he would rule highpattern from his eryie.  Gargoyle slaves would bring him fresh meat daily, and the people below?  Ha! They would be his slaves too.  Ignorance is bliss!  No festivity in their lives.  No singing.  No Psalms. No days of rest.

It had been 13 years since anyone had renewed the cathedrals.  True, King Titus and Queen Lydia of Adelphia were continuing to feast and worship, thwarting his evil designs.  True, there were others who continued the ancient patterns.

But it was not like the old days when Queen Tirzah had gone on pilgrimage, many had been inspired to recover God’s patterns.  That woman had been so successful that his black style had been cramped beyond endurance.  But she was now his prisoner.  The old patterns were being forsaken.  He gave a final thrust of his powerful wings and folded them neatly, coming to rest on his eryie.  He could bide his time.  More and more gargoyles were enslaved by him every day.  He enjoyed seeing their heavy wings become more and more like vultures wings circling the cathedrals.

Though he always slept with one eye open, he let himself drift into a peaceful sleep. Peaceful?  He advocated total chaos for everyone else he could enslave. He knew deep down that there would never be peace for his wicked old self.  Oh well, Perhaps even God had forsaken Highpattern…

 

1

Martha always looked forward to these walks with Dad.   After dinner, on winter nights, Dad would ask who wanted to go for a walk.  They would all bundle up in snow pants and go traipsing about in the woods behind the chicken coop.   Old apple trees formed Gothic arches with their knobby branches.  Rumor had it that Johnny Appleseed himself may have planted them: reminders from apple seeding generations past.

On this particular winter night, the powdery snow looked like moon dust flying off Martha’s feet as she followed her older sister Mercy.

“Hold on!” said her little brother Malachi, as he stooped to grab an old frozen apple.  She noticed that his hat was about to come off.

“Don’t lose your helmet!” Martha laughed as she pushed the fleece back on his head.  “You might need protection from whatever’s in the woods!”  She pushed his hat down– a little too far forward.  His brown curls showed themselves, and snow got down the back of his neck.

“Yeow!  That tickles!”  said Malachi, putting snow on Martha’s face in turn.

Quiet now,” said Dad, “we don’t want to be spotted.”

The trail led across the lawn of an old mansion.   Cautiously, as if they were tracking someone, they emerged from trees.  Their feet softly crunched the snow 15 or 20 more times, moving to the cover of a hedge row, pretending to avoid being spotted.  Martha asked, “Dad, why do we pretend so much?”

“Well, it develops character.”

“Yeah, okay Dad.”  Sometimes Martha felt that they were the weirdest family.  They were constantly pretending one thing or another: you name it, elves, dwarves, far-off kingdoms and fair vistas.  She had to ask: “but how come other people don’t pretend much anymore?” she persisted.

Dad let that question be absorbed into the snow and silence of the grounds for a long moment.  Then he waved them forward toward the next clump of shrubs.  Martha couldn’t resist rephrasing her question.   “So…Dad,  why do you encourage us to pretend?”

“Marrr-tha!  You’re making too much noise!”  whispered Mercy, who took these pretending times very seriously.  “When you’re supposed to be quiet, you should be quiet!”

Dad signaled a huddle and spoke in a low conspiratorial voice:  “Martha is asking why we pretend.  Well, when you pretend to be a virtuous princess  who uses her wits, dresses prettily, and shows compassion…

“Yes…”

“Well, you become a virtuous princess who uses her wits, dresses prettily, and shows compassion.”

“I do?”

“Sure you do.  And, when you pretend, you can forget that you were bored.”

“Yes…okay Dad,” Martha said.  In a very non-pretending way, she laid down on the snow to look up at the moon.

“Princess Mercy,” Dad continued, “have you seen any more tracks?”

“Just some ruffled grouse.”

“What’s ruffled grouse?”  said Malachi.

“A fluffy, puffy bird with brown and white feathers,” replied Mercy with a giggle.

During these walks, Malachi usually pretended to be a ranger armed with a longbow, which, he felt sure, would be good for a real shot if it came to it.  When you were pretending, anything was okay– as long as it did not give you too much of an unfair advantage over enemies.  After all, any battle worth winning had to involve a real struggle.

The girls often pretended to be shield maidens delegated by the King and Queen for an important assignment.  The good thing about shield maidens is that they could dress up like a princess when the occasion demanded.  Their training included both palace manners and combat arts.

They moved on more quietly now, walking behind the chainsaw sculpture of the bear.    They had always wondered about that bear.  Was he a sentinel for something important?  When they passed him, they felt like they were entering into a different world.

They descended some stone steps into a garden.  At least, they knew it was a garden from previous experience.  Right now, it seemed to be sleeping under a blanket of moonlit snow.  In the middle of the garden, they came to the Victorian style table.  The delicate wrought iron webbing, and circular shape made one think of tea on Saturday afternoons. Parasols anyone? It was set on a rock ledge overlooking the smooth shadows crossing the lawn.

Now, when you’ve been traipsing about in the woods, and you’re dressed for winter, it can feel good to sit down at a table just breathe the crisp winter air.

Martha happened to look up at the moon.  “So far away,” she thought.  “And yet I almost feel I could reach out and touch it.”

They all began to laugh at one another as if their breath were pipe smoke reflected in the moonlight. Hmmm…Let’s see…what could they pretend now?  Well, this was a Saturday night.  They had just eaten Sabbath dinner–church tomorrow.

“Let’s pretend we’ve come from a long journey.”  said Mercy.

“Yeah, yeah, a pilgrimage,” put in Martha.  “And this table, (she paused…), this table could be the center of a great outdoor Catheeee-dral!”  Her voice was high-pitched and they all began to laugh again.

“Yeah, and we can take communion!” said Malachi.

At first, Dad hesitated, “you mean you guys want to pretend to take communion like we do on Sunday?”

“Course Dad!  It’s like a wedding rehearsal,” said Mercy, on a roll now. “You know, you’re not really being married at the rehearsal, but you say the same vows, and everyone knows you’re just practicing.”

Dad shrugged.  “Okay, just practicing.”

They all sang a Psalm at the table, gave thanks, and broke the imaginary bread.

“Mmmm. Good bread!” said Malachi in the way he would on Sundays.

As they pretended to eat, the air around them began to stir in a most peculiar manner.  A breeze began swirling the trails of their breath.  Gradually, the sparkling snow and the moonlight turned into a whirling cloud (as you know, of course, when garden tables are round, this makes the ideal place for whirling clouds).

Mercy and Martha looked at each other.  They noticed that the hair escaping from under their woolen caps was moving the direction of the spinning air.  Everyone began to laugh and smile.

“This is cool!” exclaimed Mercy.

“Even c-c-cold!” said Martha, shivering a little.

The spinning moonlit snow reminded them of fairie dust or some such.  They were lost in wonder.

After a while, the moonlight on their faces began to change to firelight.  The white spinning snow gradually turned into spinning torches.  The centrifugal force was combined with a feeling of downward motion.  After a moment, they experienced a slight lurch like an elevator coming to the first floor.  With a thump and a bump, they found themselves sitting around a solid oak table.  Dad had disappeared. Where was he?

“Where are we?”  Asked Malachi.

The two girls shrugged and remained a little too shocked to speak.  On the table were two warm ends of real bread–just as if they had really broken memorial bread.

 

Advertisements

About tubalschrift

https://highpattern.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/chapter-1/ I have five kids from 6 to 25, and so I try to review most of what they're reading and guide their reading in the right direction. Being a minister, I like to consider anything that relates to the Bible and history and I am particularly interested in the Hebrew Old Testament as a specialty. The children's literature I'm trying to write will involve biblical patterns as to how God made the world with time for feasting, festivity and music. I model my characters on my children and children I know. I am a musician, accompanying the music at our church with a 12 string guitar and my daughter plunking out the melody on piano. I am trying to read broadly in order to interact with the culture: this website has been very good for that broadening process. I have to be honest that I do enjoy the social interaction, but I hold myself honorable and faithful to my wife who is always an inspiration and a blessing. Thanks to all who help me to cultivate my mind!
This entry was posted in fiction, children's fiction, epic, character, swords, dresses. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Necklace and the Haunted Cathedrals

  1. jessica04 says:

    Hi, it’s Jessica B finally making a little time to read some of your story as promised back in August…

    I enjoyed your first chapter. It caught my attention and drew me in. I’m definitely interested in reading more.

    Just a couple small things that caused my mind to wander:

    1) The description of the steel table. First I pictured a cold hard, smooth, plain table maybe even a surgical table. But the description of it being victorian with delicate webbing and painted white make me think “wrought iron” might describe it better than “steel.”

    2) In the 2nd paragraph the snow and moon are personified as you describe “them” and how they are “combining their reflections for brightness.” The same sentence tells of how “they” (the children and father) are “traipsing about the woods behind the chicken coop.” I’d try to rephrase so it doesn’t seem like the snow and the moon are traipsing around. 🙂

    These are just little grammatical things but they can be distracting and pull one’s thoughts away from the story itself. I did enjoy the chapter. I’ll have to keep reading and find out what happens next!

  2. Tricia Oakenshield says:

    Hey. This is Tricia- Sylvia Robinson’s grandaughter. I guess she told you about me.

    Well, I read the first chapter. I must say, it is rather well written, but it did not grab my interest as well as I had hoped. I do not admit to being an expert at hooking readers, but I have got some standards when it comes to reading a book all the way through.

    For one thing, there are three main characters, are there not? At least they seem to be put on an equal level from the way you wrote it. Yet… Martha is the only one mentioned for the first two paragraphs! I thought that she was the main character right away. Is she?
    I’m thinking that it should introduce them all within at least the same paragraph.

    And, at first, you were vaguely inside the mind of Martha, then you kind-of spread out and had thoughts and feelings coming from at least two of them. You had them “thinking” and “wondering” as one, unlike the one mind and thoughts of Martha. If she is the point-of-view character, should she not be observing her family members, and building the story from what she sees?

    If you want me to go into detail- then you’ll have to tell me, because I think I sound like I don’t like the story, and I do! A lot actually! (Though, being busy with my own writing, I may be slow at reading it.) I am a bit sensetive about stories, so please don’t think I hate it!

    Okay, so the main thing… well the two main things I see, are general.
    First: I understand that you wrote this about your own children. You know what they look like. You know how they act. You know how old they are. But the reader doesn’t know ANYTHING! This sort of thing should be introduced within the first chapter. I know it’s short, but this is vital information! I have NO clue how old these kids are. Or even how they act as individuals. Who’s the main char? Are they all sharing the spotlight? Who’s mind can we see and who are we observing? Are they all into this Imagining stuff? Is Mercy getting to old for it? How do they respond to it as individuals? Does Malachi swing an imaginary sword wildly at unseen foes? Does he make his own sound effects? What about Mercy? Is she graceful, elegant? Does she see herself as a princessly character or is she more of an Eowyn? And Martha- I still can’t help but see her as the main. Does she become a gallant warrior or simply a brave maiden who fights when she must?
    That sort of thing is not usually stated outright, but should show in their speech or actions.

    The second main thing I see: A very large lack of action. There is a lot of narration- a lot of thoughts and feelings going on. But very little is actually shown. You inform the reader about what the children are pretending – what they like to pretend to be – why they like to pretend to be that thing. I really wanted to SEE the shield-maidens, not so much hear about them. People that pick this up and read it will already know what a shield-maiden is. There really is something to that saying: Show, don’t Tell?

    But seriously – this is such a great idea. You have quite the inspiration here! Can’t wait to read more!
    By the way- is this to be a children’s book? or maybe a YA novel?

    Thanks so much for giving Nana the web address – this is great 🙂

    And just incase you wanna see the tidbits of old fanfiction one-shots I managed to upload, please check out my Fan-Fiction account: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/4597803/
    It’s not as original as I’d like to get, but I’m working on my own story world.

    Now maybe I get some of YOUR input 🙂

    ~Your new fan, Tricia

    • tubalschrift says:

      Wow! Sincere thanks! This is EXACTLY why I’m blogging the book for a few years before I (if ever) publish. Your comments are spot on. Yeah, I can At least begin the tale from Martha’s POV. As the story progresses, I would like to jump inside Malachi and Mercy as well, but since she finds the necklace and is at the center of things, she makes sense.

      Perhaps my writing style is overly narrative. I’d be curious how you would perceive the action sequences especially in the 6th through 8th chapters, but I realize that it would be good to give some little action vignettes from Martha’s life as writing that sucks you in in the 1st chapter.

      I will indeed look at some of the things you’ve written, and give some input as I get time.

      I give you carte blanche to go ahead and chew it up and spit it out! I want to make it better and more appealing to a wider audience if that is possible.

      This whole thing will proceed very SLOWLY, since I work 50+ hours a week and have many family responsibilities etc.

      But please know that I highly VALUE your feedback! I’ll tack take a stab at reworking the 1st chapter and POV soon.

    • tubalschrift says:

      Okay, Tricia. I tried. I seriously tried. Below are the 1st few paragraphs written from Martha’s POV. I wrote them, and then I read them to my wife and kids. We reviewed it both ways and we came to the conclusion that this story would be better told from the omniscient POV. In other words, I believe I shall stick with being the narrator.

      However, before you read below from Martha’s POV, it sounds like the 1st chapter would be better if I described the characters better. It sounds like your hoping to feel 2 things: firstly, who Martha is and what makes her tick, and secondly, you’re wanting to feel what she feels a little more.

      Here is my challenge: take the picture of Martha in the “pictures of characters” post and write a few sentences describing Martha in a way that you think would be intriguing and suck you into the story more.

      Here was my attempt:

      1
      I always looked forward to these walks with Dad. After dinner, on winter nights, we would all go traipsing about in the woods behind the chicken coop where old apple trees formed Gothic arches with their knobbly branches. Rumor has it that Johnny Appleseed himself may have planted them. Dad said they are reminders from apple seeding generations past. Their creaks and groans grow louder every year.
      On this particular winter night, the powdery snow looked like moondust flying off my feet as I brake trail. My name is Martha Mary Jones, and I’m the middle of 3 younger children in the Jones family. I have blonde hair, and, most of the time, I’m pretty sharp.
      “Hold on!” says my little brother Malachi. Brown curls are pushing his hat off as he stoops to grab an old frozen apple.
      “Don’t lose your helmet!” I laugh, as I push the fleece back on his head. “You might need protection from whatever monsters are in this forest!” I push a little too far forward, and, somehow, snow has got down the back of his neck.
      “Yeow! That tickles!” he says, and promptly smushes snow in my face. I’m just about to smush snow in his face when I remember what we’re supposed to be doing.
      “Quiet now,” says Dad , “we don’t want to be spotted.”
      I step back into my pretended role in the little story we are acting out. The trail leads across the lawn of an old mansion. Cautiously, we emerge from the trees and move to the cover of a hedge row, pretending to avoid being spotted. Once we’re all huddled behind hedges, I ask, “Dad, why do we pretend so much?”
      “Develops character.”
      “Yeah, but how come most people don’t pretend much anymore?” I persist.
      Dad allowed that question be absorbed into the snow and silence of the grounds for a long moment. Then he waves us forward.
      I couldn’t resist rephrasing my question. “So…Dad, why do you encourage us to pretend?”
      “Marrr-tha! You’re making too much noise!” my big sister Mercy whispers. Mercy is about 9 inches taller than me and she takes these pretending times very seriously. “When you’re supposed to be quiet, you should be quiet!” She has set on previous occasions.
      Dad signals a huddle and speaks in a low conspiratorial voice: “Martha is asking why we pretend. Well, when you pretend to be a virtuous princess who uses her wits, dresses prettily, and shows compassion, well, you become a virtuous princess who uses her wits, dresses prettily, and shows compassion.”
      “I do?”
      “Sure you do. And, when you pretend, you forget that you were bored.”
      “Yes…okay Dad,” I say as I lie down to look up at the moon.
      “Princess Mercy,” Dad continued, “have you seen any more tracks?”
      “Just some ruffled grouse.”
      “What’s ruffled grouse?” says Malachi.
      “A fluffy, puffy bird with brown and white feathers,” replies Mercy with a giggle.

  3. yodenchild says:

    Okay, yes, I’ve been offline for a few days – just now catching up.
    I love that you put it in Martha’s POV, but you seem to have slightly, ehm, changed tenses… It would be harder to spread out to the other two kids if it’s present tense. I thought more along the lines of third-person past-tense, but still being a sort-of Martha POV. Not her talking, but being able to see inside of her.

    Here’s my little example:
    ______________________________________________________________________

    Martha always looked forward to these walks with Dad. After dinner, on winter nights, Dad would get their small troop together and they would go traipsing about in the woods behind the chicken coop.

    Martha was always the first to join him, followed quickly by her younger brother Malachi and older sister Mercy.

    Old apple trees formed Gothic arches with their knobby branches. Rumor had it that Johnny Appleseed himself may have planted them: reminders from apple seeding generations past.

    On this particular winter night, the powdery snow looked like moon-dust flying off Martha’s feet as she broke trail. “Hold on!” said her little brother Malachi, as he stooped to grab an old frozen apple. She noticed that his hat was about to come off.

    “Don’t lose your helmet!” Martha laughed as she pushed the fleece back on his head. “You might need protection from whatever’s in the woods!” She pushed his hat down– a little too far forward. His brown curls stuck out and snow got down the back of his neck.

    “Yeow! That tickles!” squealed Malachi, tossing a handful of snow into Martha’s face.

    “Quiet now,” said Dad, “We don’t want to be spotted.”

    _______________________________________________________________________

    So basically what you already had. Awesome work! 😉

    • tubalschrift says:

      Yes, great feedback! Omniscient point of view with occasional dives into Martha’s feelings! I also dive much into others’ feelings as you’ll see, but it’s obvious that this 1st chapter is not “catchy” enough.

      I think I’m going to leave it and just try to improve it, though, because it’s real for me. In other words, this book came about because of our winter evening walks. I could start off with Chaozz the dragon flying over Highpattern and then cut to us. I’ve thought about that. What do you think?

      As you read forward, I seriously would value your input. Be ruthless! But I think you will find that you get to know Martha quite a bit more, even “inside” of her.

      • yodenchild says:

        Okay, awesome, thanks 🙂

        I haven’t read as far as I’d have liked, but that’s what I’m doing right now.
        *returns studiously to next chapter*

        And the idea about starting with a bang and then cutting right to the beginning of the story is really cool, I’d like to see that!

      • tubalschrift says:

        How ’bout this…

        The immense black bulk of Chaozz the Black glided smoothly through the air over Highpattern. He glided between the twin spires of the Cathedral at Sarbad. The gargoyles from their perches watched him intently in fearful silence.
        For hundreds of years, he had longed to simply knock those spires over with his tail. But his powers were limited. If only he could convince all the people in Highpattern to simply forsake worship, they themselves would knock the cathedrals down. Then he would rule highpattern from his eryie in the mountain above Sarbad. Gargoyles would bring him fresh meat daily, and the people would float about in blissful ignorance with no definite seasons or festivity in their lives. Nobody singing. No Psalms.
        It had been 13 years since anyone had renewed the cathedrals. True, King Titus and Queen Lydia of Adelphia were continuing the traditions and thwarting his design for that city. True, there were others who clearly remembered that awful worship 14 years ago when Queen Tirzah had gone on pilgrimage.
        But the blackness was increasing. The patterns were being forgotten.
        With one final downthrust of his enormous powerful wings, he came to rest on his eryie. Perhaps 30 more years of this and the patterns would be completely forgotten. He could bide his time. More and more gargoyles from the cathedrals were enslaved by him every day. Each day their black heavy wings became more and more like vultures wings around the cathedrals.
        Though he slept always with one eye open, he began to go into a deep sleep which was so contrary to the total chaos he advocated for everyone else he knew. Perhaps even God had for sake in highpattern…

  4. yodenchild says:

    I think that the Dragon Opening should be more of a description – not backstory or explanation. But that’s really cool. You could hone in on the tone of despair and danger, hinting at the fear instead of giving backstory outright. Just to give the story a sense of danger and urgency right from the beginning.
    The stark contrast of the kids playing in the snow will urge the audience to keep reading, and get back to that incredible story that they had just begun to experience!

    • tubalschrift says:

      So you think that Dragon is a better lead in than snow on a winter night. And yes, I could create an even greater sense of the fear when I have someone’s house burning or something.

      Yes, not too much backstory. Just enough. You are obviously reading and thinking a lot!

  5. yodenchild says:

    After a full night of hard work, this is what I’ve come up with:
    http://thorindorre.wordpress.com/
    Hope you like it. Maybe you’ll read it to your kids 🙂

    *yawn*
    Time to take a nap XD
    Maybe watch Thor………

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s