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marrow
November 24th, 2011, 07:00 AM
Chapter 1
The wolf passed through the forest like a shadow. Its coat was a collage of earthy tones. The boy’s eyes followed the wraithlike hunter as it glided through the snow.

“Don’t be a coward or you'll just die” said the old warrior in a harsh whisper.

The boy gripped the bow’s sturdy handle trying to release the tension in his nerves, his breath visible upon the air, slowly floating in front of his eyes before disappearing.

“Concentrate on your target, be sure of your shot, and don't do anything foolish.” the old warrior exhorted.

The boy slid down the small snowy rise. He picked an arrow from the quiver. His blood was a rush of adrenaline coursing through his body. His senses on edge, he was aware of all that surrounded him. He was aware of the bitter cold that gripped the land, the falling snow, and the dull light that escaped through the thick canopies of the evergreen forest. He took a deep breath. His nostrils flared painfully red from the cold; the crisp aroma of sap filled his lungs.

“I am ready”, he whispered as he slowly made his way back up the snowy mound, fully aware of the old warrior's harsh eyes.

He scanned the forest; his mind was on fire. He was so painfully aware of everything.
The old warrior plunged a heavy hunting knife into the frozen earth next to where the boy sat.

The boy looked at the knife.

“In case you miss.”

The boy nodded.

“When the wolf approaches the bait, take a handful of snow and place it into your mouth.”

The boy raised his eyebrows questioningly.

“It’ll hide your breath.” the warrior grunted.

And with that the old warrior slid down the snowy mound and disappeared behind a cypress into the wilderness.

Scanning the woods the boy tried to pick out the subtle signs of the wolf’s passing. He grabbed a handful of snow. Heightened by his sense of awareness, the coldness made the inside of his mouth scream. Instantly the vaporous breath that surrounded him disappeared.

As he sat, the boy began to worry if the wolf had somehow sensed his presence. Or maybe the wolf might end up circling and coming from behind where he sat.
His alertness made the silent world around him roar with activity - the creaking of the trees, how the play of dull light cast strange shadows throughout the forest, even the snow that gently brushed his face.

He winced as he placed more of the burning snow into his mouth. His teeth crunched down on the powdery crystals; his heart stopped. He had caught a glimmer of the wolf’s enormous form ghosting between two cypress trees ten yards away from the deer carcass.

His breathing slowed. His muscles burned as he notched the arrow. He shifted his weight ever so slightly, bringing the bow level with his shoulder.

Passing from shadow, the wolf entered into the dull light of the small clearing. Its step was impossibly smooth and powerful. Its mane was thick and wild. The wolf’s eyes were a deep red that did not match that of a normal wolf’s eyes, nor did the wolf’s great size.

Freezing with a gut wrenching terror at the sight of this horrendous creature, the boy knew instantly that this was no ordinary grey wolf. This was a dire wolf, a huge monstrosity that dwarfed its distant cousin the grey wolf. Dire wolves were not common in this mountainous region.

His mind raced. He knew he would not fire the bow. Its pull was not powerful enough for such a beast. Firing the bow would be his end.

The dire wolf entered into the small clearing and glided to the carcass. Its hackles raised as it licked its chops, drooling over the easily scavenged meal.

Ever so slowly, the boy tried to work his way down the embankment.

Sounds of the dire wolf's raucous feasting emanated from the clearing, masking the noises made from his boots knocking loose clumps of frozen debris.

He froze as the sound of bone crunching ceased. The dire wolf stood over the mutilated carcass, its nose raised to the sky, tasting the air with its powerful senses.

His heart pounded with terror as his mind raced desperately for a solution. He knew the dire wolf smelled him, that the wolf now licked its chops for reasons other than a week old frozen deer carcass. The beast had sensed him. Sensed a true meal; a warm meal.
The beast worked its flaring nostrils side to side, trying to pinpoint the source of its prey.

Gripping the handle tight, he strained to pull the bow to its fullest potential. He knew that if he missed he was dead, that once the giant beast located him there would be no escape. There was no way for him to alert Cogar, the older warrior, to his mortal peril without alerting the wolf to both of their whereabouts. No, the only thing the boy could hope for was possibly injuring the giant creature enough so that maybe he could run away.

He steeled his nerves. Taking careful aim, he sighted the beast's left shoulder.
The wolf found him, locking him in its gaze. The boy froze in fear, his green eyes held by the intensity of the beast's wild gaze. The beast started forward as it issued a low rumble.

He let loose the arrow. Its flinty head punctured deep into the beasts shoulder, finding its mark.

Wrenching the knife free from the frozen earth, the boy spun and made a wild dash down the hill and through the dense snow packed thickets. Ignoring the thick twisted briars that ripped and tugged at his clothes he fought his way through to a barren snow field. He knew he had to make it to the other side quickly if he was going to escape. Plunging into the snow, he sank to his knees. Panting hard, he slowly made his way onto more solid ground. Looking over his shoulder, he felt his heart sink. The wolf had entered the clearing.

Sighting its prey, The wolf Ignored its arrow wound. Effortlessly gliding over the snow drift, its huge paws acted like snow shoes.

With nowhere to run, the boy stopped his struggling and turned to face the dire wolf, accepting his fate.

The wolf's eyes held a savagery that few beasts possessed; there was no emotion or passion, only survival. He was food, and food was survival. The simplicity of it made his skin crawl.

The boy and the dire wolf circled, sizing each other up. The snow crunching beneath his feet was a stark contrast to the soundless glide the wolf achieved. The boy decided if he survived that he would learn to move as the wolf did. The dire wolf furrowed its brow and pulled back its lips tightly. With a low rumbling growl, the wolf revealed its huge dagger like teeth.

The boy tensed, his entire world revolving around the moment. The only things that existed were the wolf and himself. Everything else stopped. In the camp where he lived, he had heard the warriors talking around campfires of their brushes with death. Some had explained feelings of brushing with the infinite, while others claimed to have seen their entire lives flash before their eyes. They had spoken in hushed voices with reverent fear in their eyes. Whatever the case, the boy figured that he would find out soon enough. Looking into the wolf's eyes, a deep understanding began to form in his mind. The simple nature of the beast's basic instincts had bothered him deeply at first, but there was something to be learned from it. A sense of calm overcame him. All he had to do was strike. The strike itself didn't have to be particularly fast or even strong, it just had to be right. A simple concept, but ever so hard to grasp.

He gripped the hunting knife tightly as the wolf stalked forward, its great head close to the ground. The boy back peddled quickly, trying to find his moment. Too late. Dread and dismay closed in around him as his boot struck a frozen chunk of earth, sending him sprawling backwards.

The dire wolf leaped forward through the air, its immense fangs bared, ready to end its prey's life.

Dread was momentarily replaced with a sense of perplexity. Why, even now with death so close, did his life not pass before his eyes? Maybe it was because he had lived only fifteen winters of life.

The boy did not get a chance to ponder the brevity of his life. A familiar hiss followed by a loud thunk filled the air. A thick black shafted arrow passed through the dire wolf, burying its broad head into the boy's abdomen. A sharp crushing pain radiated from his midsection as the wolf's immense weight crashed on top of him in a dead heap.
Red waves of nauseating pain erupted throughout his core, making every breath a struggle not to faint.

Soft footsteps came from behind as the old warrior came into view. His face was hard and deeply lined.

“Cogar, help me.” The boy struggled to breathe under the crushing weight of the dead wolf. The arrow's broad head sent tremors through his body as it slid in and out with each word.

The old warrior's expression was fierce as he scowled, “Haven't I helped you enough without causing myself further shame?” He sneered in disgust. “You should not ever ask another for help. There is always a solution to be found, you just have to be willing to do what it takes.” His hard lines deepened as he spat on the ground. The pungent weed he had been chewing made his spittle black. “Never again will I help you. Either you live or you die.”

“Pl...pl..please,” the boy finally managed, tears and pain blurring his vision.
With a look of distaste Cogar started away, calling back over his shoulder, “Do not come back to camp without my wolf, do you understand Marrow.” It wasn't a question, but a statement. With that, he was gone.

What seemed to be hours passing by was mere minutes as Marrow clung to consciousness. He laid pinned beneath the weight of the dead wolf, desperately searching for a way out of the mess he was in. The hunting knife lay on the frozen ground mere inches out of his reach, its dull handle the only gleam of hope he had of escape. Marrow laid back, his breath coming out in short bursts of steam. It had started to snow again, flakes landing lightly on his cheeks, his vivid green eyes dilating rapidly as he steeled his nerves for what had to be done. Before fear could grip him, Marrow exploded into a vicious push using his legs as well as his arms. The arrow slid out with agonizing slowness, cutting a shallow ravine in his skin as its broad head finally freed itself with a sickening tug. The pain was unlike any he had experienced. Marrow couldn't even scream, but instead whimpered in feverish pain.

The release of the arrow had given him the reach he needed. Grabbing the hunting knife, Marrow growled in defiance and plunged it deep into the dire wolf's thick shoulder, slicing and tearing and ripping until he was able to wriggle free of the gory mess. Marrow rose in triumph. The light had gone to the pale darkness of evening. More nocturnal hunters would be about soon, especially with the size of gore that littered the area. He cut a strip from his jerkin and tied it around his wound. Luckily, the arrow had not penetrated deeply, as surely he would have died on the spot. Taking in the scene, Marrow felt his wound begin to seep blood.

GostPhareal
November 24th, 2011, 07:47 AM
Very nice story. The description are well put.

But when you mean chapter 1, is that a whole chapter ? Is it the beginning of a chapter ? Or is it just a short story ?

It doesn't seem quite long enough for it to be a whole chapter by itself.

Cody
November 24th, 2011, 02:28 PM
I thought it was an excellent beginning. The first words we hear from the old warrior sounded just like somthing my dad would say and it made me grin. The characters feel realistic, even in the fantastical setting of hunting dire wolves. I like the names that you have chosen and I hope that they are not place holders!To me it seems obvious that there is more to come by the way that you choose to leave us hanging! I love short chapters in stories such as these, so if that is all of chapter one I won't hold it against you. I am looking forward to reading about the boy interacting with other people, more than I am about him fighting wolves.

marrow
November 24th, 2011, 03:51 PM
in chapter 2 i have a lot more human interaction. The reader gets to see how Marrow thinks and feels internally and yes chapter 1 is pretty short but i felt that it is more of a stylistic issue rather than a mess up. Thanks for the comments it really helps getting opinions other than family members.

Red-James
November 25th, 2011, 04:30 AM
*tips hat* well done, (finally another deeply descriptive writer like myself) I enjoyed this, i was drawn in right from the start and am looking forward to more. You do a great job painting the scense, with the visual, smell and emotional and physical feelings all very well protrayed. One thing that i wanted was to find out a better age range of Marrow, you keep calling him boy, which is fine, by the old warrior calling him such, but how old-ish is he? i mean boy could give you from 5 years to 18 really. Aside from that i have nothing bad to say about it. Keep up the good work.

Cody
November 25th, 2011, 05:51 AM
If you decide to tell us his age you should use seasons and not years to keep the romance. To me he seems like he is 12 or 13 summers or winters or whatever, because he is still insecure and on what seems to be his first big hunt. I should think as the story progresses we see him come into his own more.

marrow
November 26th, 2011, 07:18 AM
I added an actual age to the boy. i felt that 15 was a good age old enough to do some damage but young enough for room to grow. i would like some feed back on if 15 is a good age. thanks for the comments.

Red-James
November 26th, 2011, 09:15 AM
13 to 15 is a good age for him in this. In warrior tribes like this those would be the ages the older warriors would be pushing and training the younger the hardest to become the next generation. So yes 15 works fine. I really do liek this story, so far out of the few dozen stories i have read on here this is the cream of the crop and my favorite thus far. I can not wait to read more.

Cody
November 26th, 2011, 10:31 AM
Thats a cool age, but don't worry about the little details too much until you have poop'd the whole story out.

QDOS
November 29th, 2011, 04:50 PM
Hi Marrow
A great piece of descriptive writing held my attention throughout. The sentences evenly balanced between saying too much and too little and well constructed. Not quite where this is going but guessing the tiles of Kingslayer is an obvious clue.

Note: - Maybe it was because he had lived only fifteen years of life.
As already mentioned fifteen summers or winters might sound more appropriate.

QDOS 8)

Higurro
November 29th, 2011, 06:47 PM
I like this very much. I was worried it was going to be the usual fantasy jargon all over again at first, but you swiftly put those fears aside. The pacing is good and the details absorbing without getting in the way. It's a well-balanced start. I look forward to seeing more.

outoftheblue
November 29th, 2011, 08:21 PM
I do like this story (chapter), I think you' ve built the tension really well.

I just have this one niggle - and it might be a style preference rather than anything that is necessarily 'wrong'.

This paragraph:






The boy slid down the small snowy rise. He picked an arrow from the quiver. His blood was a rush of adrenaline coursing through his body. His senses on edge, he was aware of all that surrounded him. He was aware of the bitter cold that gripped the land, the falling snow, and the dull light that escaped through the thick canopies of the evergreen forest. He took a deep breath. His nostrils flared painfully red from the cold; the crisp aroma of sap filled his lungs.

There are a few sentences that start either 'He' or 'His'. This isn't a problem, and it might be a stylistic thing or something you wanted to do intentionally. But I'd vary it a little bit.

Overall, really good job!! You have a promising story!

marrow
November 30th, 2011, 07:41 PM
Thanks for the advice! it was really helpful. I changed it to 15 winters due to some of the feedback and really like the feel of it more. thanks again for the comments. i am well on my way through the third chapter of my book. it is encouraging to get such positive feedback:)

MadBen
December 1st, 2011, 11:48 AM
I like it. Stories that begin with the hero's harsh upbringing usually have a good potential for lots of action as they progress :smile2:

There are a few things you could improve, but its nothing bad:
- repetitions (for example: "he was aware", "he sat", "the wolf")
- illogical expressions (first his heart stops, then it slows down?)
- expected details ("the wolf glided effortlessly over the snow drift" - what about the arrow in its shoulder?)

I will make sure to check the thread for the second chapter, so please keep up the good work! ^^
--MadBen

YohannIan
December 14th, 2011, 01:02 PM
I noticed your name's Marrow too..lol..
Nicely done! Managed to keep me reading through the whole thing! Very descriptive too. Things feel very real as well.
There's something I want to point out: "His hard lines deepened as he spit on the ground." I think it should be spat.

marrow
December 14th, 2011, 08:49 PM
ah missed the spat thank you for pointing that out.

cussedness
December 16th, 2011, 05:47 PM
I would revise it with an eye toward avoiding passives (in particular the word 'was') as much as possible. And you have a few sentences that might be combined to achieve better effect. Overall a very fine piece of fiction so far. I would like to see more of it.

Anneky45
December 21st, 2011, 10:24 PM
Agree with lots of the comments here, good story, like the descriptions, watch out for repetitions
It gets you in and wanting more - that is a good thing!

archer88iv
December 30th, 2011, 07:34 AM
To disagree on a minor point with an earlier responder: I see nothing wrong with "years." Things like Stonehenge suggest that even ancient man understood the concept fairly well, whatever word you happen to use for it. On a related note, however, I wonder if "adrenaline" is the best choice of words.

---

Back with more substantive thoughts, having finished reading:

As I understand it, large predators (like, for instance, the size of wolves--and of course dire wolves, especially) will take dead food over running food because, whether or not they've a preference for warm meat, and whether or not warm meat provides better nutrition, dead meat is easier to catch, which makes it a better investment in terms of calories expended vs. calories gained. The wild is a brutal place, with little room for flavor in its calculus.

I realize that this is a major plot point, of course, and that changing it would require some revision.

The snow-in-the-mouth trick, to me, rung false; it seemed lifted out of an anime featuring ninja or something. Wolves, like humans, have their eyes mounted up front, for binocular vision--but unlike humans, their senses of hearing and smell aren't exactly blunt. The eyes are for hunting, while the other senses warn of danger. Most critters are like that, and it's just hard to imagine that a little snow in the mouth would help much compared to keeping quiet and downwind. Also, what would you do if it weren't snowing? It could still be cold and dry, after all. Anyway, I've seen Samurai X.

On the whole, the older warrior talks too much. I felt his character would have been more powerful had his only words been, "In case you miss."

SeaBee1
January 3rd, 2012, 03:41 PM
I too, enjoyed this read. Very intriguing, excellent pacing, excellent description, IMHOP. I felt like I was there. Aside from the very few little things others have already noted, I can find no fault. I look forward to more! WELL DONE!

Methinks this boy Marrow has potential! (double intendre intended).

Best regards

CB

Jeko
January 3rd, 2012, 04:16 PM
Great job. Your style is descriptive yet enthrallng, a ballance I struggle to achieve. Overall it is a lovely tale, which hooks me to read more.

Niggles:

On reflection, your first line confuses me slgihtly. He 'passes throguh the forest like a shadow', which implies a black appearance, but he is then said to be a 'collage of earthy tones'. As much as I love those words, they seem to juxtapose against each other. First he is dark and black, then he is brown and 'earthy'. Which is it?

Also, the wolf tastes the air, but you describe its nose and make that the crux of its action. Is 'taste' a metaphor for smell here? I'm a bit confused.

There is a lot of beginning with He and His, which although natural (as he is not given a name) are a bit intrusive on the excitement.

At one point, a lovely semantic field of struggle is created, but I don't think it is exploited well enough: 'What seemed to be hours passing by was mere minutes as Marrow clung to consciousness. He laid pinned beneath the weight of the dead wolf, desperately searching for a way out of the mess he was in. The hunting knife lay on the frozen ground mere inches out of his reach, its dull handle the only gleam of hope he had of escape.'

You use such vivid description (clung to conciousness, pinned beneath the weight, desperately, mere inches out of his reach), but talking about the issue as a 'mess he was in' has a lightness to it that removes some of the pressure, therefore making the effect less powerful. It has a different mood to it that infects the semantic field. I'd describe it differently, to keep the feeling alive.