Saga of Bohok- Chapter 7

Chapter 7

They left before dawn. The light of the coming sun winked out the stars above them as they paddled the boat up the river. Kirso sat in the front of the canoe and set a furious pace for their rowing. It didn’t take Bohok long to figure out that Kirso was testing him.

Kirso had always been stronger than Bohok. When Bohok had been exiled Kirso could haul heavier nets than Bohok. He was a stronger rower than Bohok. He was a better wrestler than Bohok. When Bohok had been exiled Kirso was the better than Bohok at every skill the Fish-Eaters held high in esteem.

That, Bohok decided, was before he was exiled. He matched Kirso stroke for stroke and the canoe sped up the river. Bohok had fished hard, worked hard, fought hard to live all on his own all summer. He wasn’t weaker than Kirso anymore. He set his mind to his work and let the rhythm of the oars overtake him. He would not be the first one to break the pace, he would not tire first.

The canoe raced up the river. They flushed a bunch of ducks that had been sleeping in a calm stretch of water. The skein flew inches above the water, their wing tips touching the placid waters leaving pairs of rings expanding behind them. They flew just ahead of the boat daring Kirso and Bohok to catch them. Kirso gave a quick look back to Bohok before quickening their pace. They chased the ducks up the river until the flock finally veered off and headed up above the trees that hugged the banks of the river.

Bohok expected Kirso to slow. The ducks were gone but Kirso kept up the same pace. The muscles in Bohok’s arms were alight with pain but he swore to himself that he would not quit. Kirso stole a quick look over his shoulder. Bohok could see the same determination set in his eyes; Kirso wasn’t going to quit either.

The sun was well overhead when Bohok started to panic. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up. His body was screaming with pain. Each stroke was sheer agony. He knew that Kirso had to be feeling the same way. Nobody could row this long, this hard, and not be hurting. Bohok’s mind scrambled for a plan. He needed to end this contest and end it quickly.

Bohok stared at Kirso’s back as they paddled up the river; he saw the sweat pouring off it. He heard Kirso’s grunting with each stroke. He is almost done, he told himself, I just need to push him. With that thought Bohok increased his pace. Forcing himself to paddle even faster than before.

Kirso noticed the change immediately. He shot a furious look over his shoulder and matched Bohok’s new pace, then exceeded it.

Struggling to match Kirso, Bohok’s paddle just didn’t move fast enough. It seemed like Kirso was taking two strokes for every one that Bohok managed. Bohok shifted his grip on the paddle trying to get better leverage, he plunged it into the water and then, the water took it from his hands.

Bohok watched in horror as his paddle drifted away from the speeding canoe. Kirso kept paddling for several strokes before he noticed that Bohok had stopped.  He turned to see what had happened and a wicked smile crossed his face when he saw the paddle far down the river.

“I should have expected a Bug-Eater to drop his paddle.” He said with as much contempt as he could muster.

“It slipped.” Bohok said lamely. “Turn around.”

“What and waste half the day chasing a paddle downstream?” Kirso laughed. “In case you haven’t noticed we are about as far up the river as we are going to be able to paddle anyway. A true Fish-Eater knows the river. The currents get far too strong up ahead. We’ll beach here and start the walk.”

Bohok only nodded. He won’t go back because he knew that I almost had him beat and he doesn’t want to give me a second chance, he thought.

Kirso paddled the boat into the bank and they climbed out.  Bohok and Kirso hauled the boat up onto land and a good ways away from the river before flipping it over. Rainstorms and flash floods could wash a boat back into the river if it was right side up and then it would be gone forever. Kirso started piling up some large rocks around the bow and stern of the canoe to be double safe.

Bohok took out some dried salmon from his pack and sat down. The sun was almost at its zenith and he was hungry. He hadn’t had any properly dried fish in a long time, it was wonderful.

“Aren’t you going to help?” Kirso complained. His arms full of heavy rocks.

“Why should I?” Bohok laughed. “It’s not my boat, and a stupid Bug-Eater like me would probably do it all wrong anyway.”

“Probably.” Kirso nodded his agreement and kept placing rocks until the boat was completely surrounded.

Kirso pulled out some fish from his pack and sat across from Bohok. He ate in silence for a while then said, “So when are we going to do it?”

“What?” Bohok asked.

“Fight.” Kirso growled.

Bohok shrugged. “Now?”

“I figure I owe you one.” He made a fist. “Actually I owe you two. The way I see it we are going to end up fighting sooner or later on this trip.”

Bohok shrugged, his body was sore. He didn’t want to fight, but he knew it was inevitable. “You sure you want to fight me without all your friends to help you?”

“You sure you want to fight me in an honorable fight? You won’t get any sneaky punches.” Kirso stood up and assumed a wresting stance. He drew a line in the sand with his toe. “Cross it.”

Bohok stood and stretched his aching back. He twisted his arms in a circle, and tried to shake out the soreness. He walked up to the line and looked Kirso in the eye. “You ready?”

Kirso nodded and balled his hands into fists.

Bohok stepped across the line.

Kirso’s face suddenly went white with fear. He turned and started running away. Bohok laughed at him. “Come back here, coward!”

“Run!” Kirso yelled, not turning around. “Bear!”

Advertisements
Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 9:48 pm  Comments Off on Saga of Bohok- Chapter 7  
Tags: , , , ,

Saga of Bohok Sticky

I am writing a new story and posting it up here on the blog as I finish chapters.

 I am doing this for two reasons: One to hopefully entertain everyone, obviously. The second is I believe that the internet and blogs are causing a resurgence of the serial novel. Serial novels came about when an earth shattering form of communication changed the way that people perceived their world, NEWSPAPERS.

When newspapers first began circulating they had the same effect on the populous of the time as the Internet does today. Suddenly a wealth of information that had never been available to the average man was available on a daily basis. Like the Internet, it took people a while to figure out how to use it, but when they did, lookout.

Newspapers had the same coming of age as the internet and people struggled with the new media in similar ways. There were all kinds of inappropriate uses, there were misleading uses, and there were revolutionary uses. People feared and hated the newspapers, feared the change they wrought and the lies they told, they tried to censor and destroy them. But as we all know newspapers survived and flourished as will the Internet. You cannot take away information once it has been given, not for long anyway.

Sadly newspapers are having a hard time passing the torch to their technological offspring. No matter, for what the father sows the son reaps.

Okay, how is that for a tangent. The point was that when newspapers started off they had this giant page to fill. They needed CONTENT. Sound familiar? One way that they came up with the content was to hire writers to write stories and publish them in a serial form week by week. Some of the greats, including Charles Dickens and HG Wells, got their start doing serial pieces.

So far I like having a deadline to work under I want to get a chapter out a week until it is done.  I would like to ask everyone reading and enjoying the story to tell a friend, post a link on Twitter or Facebook and help me get the word out.  If I get a bunch of hits on this it could help me publish it, later. The best way to link to the story is  www.lystrawrote.wordpress.com/bohok it’ll take them right to the story page.

Lastly this is a work in progress. I do my own editing; and I am going to have to rush a bit to get a new chapter out every week.  There are going to errors that I miss. Please help me out if you see something that is wrong, or doesn’t make sense let me know so I can fix it.

Thanks

Lystra

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 10:52 am  Comments Off on Saga of Bohok Sticky  
Tags: , , ,

Saga of Bohok Chapter 3

Chapter 3

 

The gulls were the first to find them, their shrieking calls bringing Bohok out of his sorrowful state of mind.  Bohok once again looked at the great dead beast and made his decision; he had to tell the tribe.  He untied the rope from his hand and let it fall to the ground. He gave the creature one last look, turned, and dove into the river. Swam quickly to the other side and started running, not even bothering to shake dry before he started.

It was a long run back to the tribe. He had been in exile all summer. He had camped alone on the banks of the river waiting for the travelling fish to come up stream and with them his redemption. He had gone as far downstream as he dared without infringing upon the territory of the Root-Eaters.  It was almost dark by the time Bohok saw the smoke rising from the scattered cook fires of the Fish-Eater village.

The village was settled into a small glade cut by a stream which provided fresh water to the tribe before it joined with the great river. Bohok looked down at the village with apprehension. He had been cast out of this place, forbidden to return by the edict of Chief Yoosin himself. Without the first travelling fish or Chief Yoosin’s pardon he could be killed by any Fish-Eater as a stranger and an outlaw.  Bohok knew the sweat breaking on his forehead wasn’t entirely from his long run.

He took a second to gather his breath and his nerve before walking down the well beaten path towards the village. He had decided what he would do; it was too late to turn back now. Bohok swallowed his fear and walked into the village.

As Bohok walked past the first wicker house he admired the craftsmanship. He had been gone so long that it was like he was seeing the work for the first time. The Fish-Eaters weaved willow branches into everything. They made baskets, and bowls, as did all the peoples, but they also made more elaborate items. A Fish-Eater house was made of willow mats weaved so tight that it was impervious to all but the hardest of rains and the strongest of winds. They made looser mats in the winter to lay over the ground to keep people from sinking into the mud and snow.  Bohok had even seen smaller versions that strapped to feet and allowed the wearers to walk on top of the deepest snows. Especially skilled weavers could make fantastic items; like duck decoys that floated in the water to attract their kinsman close enough to have a net cast over them. Bohok had taken the wicker shelters for granted until he had to weather a summer thunderstorm alone with only his hide blankets to keep the rain off his head.

As he made his way through the outskirts of the village the children began to gather around him at a safe distance. He could hear their whispers as he marched toward the center of the village. He heard excitement in their hushed voices. Something was going to happen, but the children could only speculate as to what that would be.

He made his way through the village catching the eyes of both wives and their husbands cooking their dinners on the fires in front of their homes. Soon many grown men joined the crowd of children following him. They did not try to stop him, nor did they whisper among themselves they simply followed Bohok, silent and stern.

When Bohok neared the center of the village he saw the great house. It was made of logs stacked up atop of each other instead of wicker. The house was large enough to fit the entire clan within its walls. All the men of the village worked together to maintain it and the people used it as a meeting place and a sanctuary from the strongest winter storms. It housed Chief Yoosin, and his wife and family, but they only used a quarter of the structure.

In front of the great house there was a large fire pit. The fire pit was surrounded by semi circles of log benches. This was the fisherman’s fire, the communal gathering place and the site of Bohok’s ignominy.

Chief Yoosin stood in the center of the fire pit stacking logs for the night’s fire over a bed of kindling.  It was the chief’s duty to prepare and light the communal fire and Bohok knew that the old chief took great pride in only lighting his fires once.  The chief was strong for a man his age; his muscles were well defined as he stacked heavy logs atop each other. He was so engrossed in his work he did not notice Bohok, or the crowd surrounding him. Bohok stood silently watching the chief work not daring to disturb him.

The chief finished his work and then straightened putting his hands on his lower back stretching out the tight muscles. Without turning the chief spoke, “What brings you back to the people young Bohok?”

Bohok stood silent for a moment; he was sure that he never saw the chief’s eyes turn from the fire pit. How did he know he was there? “I, um,” Bohok started he began to feel foolish for coming here, and he didn’t know how to explain what had seen. “I came here to tell you that there was a great fish in the river, bigger than any fish I have ever seen before.”

The crowd exploded into a roar of nervous laughter. Bohok slouched; he had known that they would laugh at him. Nobody would believe his tale until he showed them the fish, of course they would laugh; he would have laughed. He had thought he had prepared himself for it but the laughter stung nonetheless.

The chief turned to look at him; his eyes were not mirthful but curious. He held up a hand and the laughter stopped abruptly.   “A great fish you say.” The chief said. “Describe this fish to me.”

“He is all black except for his belly and huge,” He spread his arms as wide as he they could go.

“A sturgeon!” A familiar voice called out from behind Bohok. “He caught a sturgeon and he comes to brag. We’ve all caught sturgeon longer than our boats. It is no great feat.”

Bohok turned to face Kirso, red flashing before his eyes, but he controlled his temper. “This is no sturgeon.” He spat, then turned back to the chief. “It isn’t a sturgeon.” He repeated. “It is as big as your house, bigger maybe, it is the biggest thing I have ever seen.”

The chief looked at Bohok pensively for a moment then asked, “Does it breathe air?”

The crowd exploded into another roar of laughter. The people thought that the chief was teasing Bohok for his lies but Bohok suddenly knew that the chief knew better. “Yes.” He said loudly “Well it did before it died.”

“Where did it breathe from?” The chief asked.

“From the top of his head.” Bohok answered.

“I have heard of these fish.” The chief spoke to his people, ending their laughter abruptly.  He waited until the crowd was completely silent then he asked Bohok. “Where is the fish now?”

“On the sandbar beyond the last deep channel.” Bohok spoke into stunned silence then added. “Where I caught him.”

“You caught the great fish?”

“My net is still around his head.”

The chief walked up to Bohok and looked him in the eye. Their gazes locked for a moment. Bohok felt the same uneasy feeling he had when he was looking the dying beast in the eye, except he felt like the one who was dying now, the one who couldn’t breathe. Finally the chief spoke, “You must take us to him.”

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 8:14 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Saga of Bohok Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The tears first shed were for the strangely noble beast dead in the sand before him but the subsequent ones fell for different reasons. They were for his father and for himself. The tears for his father were tears he never dared let loose amongst the dispassionate Fish-Eaters. Theirs was the way of the river, all emotion flowed through them and they let those currents wash away all anger and grief.

Fish-Eaters never showed outward emotion, and those who could not control themselves and their feelings were found wanting. A man of the Tuitar Clan never cried and never lost his temper. He never let emotion run his live or shape his judgment. The river carried him through life, never taking more than it gave. It was a simple peaceful life, and one that completely eluded Bohok no matter how hard he tried to embrace it.

 His father was a Tuitar, a Fish-Eater, and had that noble peace flowing through his blood. Bohok did not receive his father’s way; he was cursed with his mother’s temperament. His mother had been a Caryar, a Bug-Eater.  He had never met his mother, she had died birthing him. His father had never spoke of her, never told Bohok about her or even allowed him ask of her. She was a total stranger to him. Bohok imagined that she had to have been beautiful. It would have taken great beauty to seduce his father into making the half blood abomination that was Bohok. Why else would such a great and good a man as his father do such a reckless and hurtful thing?

Bohok’s life had been hard. While the way of the river proclaimed a peaceful life it did not keep the children of the tribe from tormenting him. In a way it was worse, when Bohok lost his temper at the teasing and fought with the boys the elders would all frown and blame Bohok’s foreign heritage. As far as Bohok could see there was no right answer, no way for him to win. He did everything he could to fit in to the Fish-Eater way of life. He tried to emulate his noble father but no matter how hard he tried his temper and his emotions got in the way. They kept him from ever truly becoming a part of his own tribe.

 It was from that feeling of hopelessness that Bohok had committed the most heinous act of his life. Shortly after the death of his father Bohok was preparing to go out fishing. He had inherited his father’s house, his small boat and his nets. All the tools that a man would need to live a good and fruitful life.

He was alone, but he sat at the fisherman’s fire and listened to the stories of the day’s catch. They told of the triumph of landing a large fish on light tackle or the heartbreak of losing one, Bohok always liked these stories. No one sat near him but he still felt like he was a part of something, despite his cursed bloodline.

It was during the spring spawn, the travelling fish were so thick in the river that sometimes Bohok thought he could walk across the water on their backs and not get his feet wet. The thought had so intrigued Bohok as he fished that finally he decided to try it. He tied a line to a tree and then to himself; so if he fell into the river the swift current wouldn’t carry him off.

 He took only a moment to build up his courage then he charged out into the water. The fish were slimy on his bare feet but they held his weight for three steps out into the river, and then three steps back.  Once back on shore Bohok shouted in triumph and made a dance of his own invention. He felt a joy in his heart, the first since the passing of his father.

That night at the fisherman’s fire Bohok listened to the men tell their tales. The stories seemed different tonight. They seemed so boring, so old, so repetitive, not one man told a tale that Bohok hadn’t heard told before. He waited until all the men had said their piece then he stood up.  There was a look of shock amongst the fishermen and Bohok heard several of the younger men rumble their objections but Chief Yoosin put up his great pole and crowd went silent.

Bohok cleared his throat and told his story. He told it with all the enthusiasm and joy that he had felt upon accomplishing his feat.  He high stepped toward the fire and back away showing the men how he had tread out onto the backs of the travelling fish.

When he was finished Bohok looked into the faces of the men around the fisherman’s fire. Some looked incredulous, while others smiled and shook their heads, but most began laughing. Their laugher cut Bohok’s joy to the quick, they didn’t believe him, they were mocking him.  Bohok’s temper flared.

“You expect us to believe those lies Bug-Eater?” A voice asked.

Bohok spun to see who dared call him a liar. It was Kirso, the chief’s youngest son, who was the same age as Bohok. Kirso had always been the first to taunt and torment Bohok when they were children. Kirso had also been the first to point out Bohok’s temper before he could suffer any retribution for his words.

“I swear that my words are true!” Bohok screamed at Kirso. “I swear on my honor.”

“What honor does a half blood Bug-Eater have?” Kirso laughed even louder.

“Kirso.” Chief Yoosin stood. “You should not speak to Bohok like that.”

Bohok heard the chief speak the words but his temper had already driven him to action. He scooped a rock up from the dirt and hurled it with all his might at Kirso. The rock hit him in the temple with a loud crack. The sound of the rock hitting the boy’s head quieted all the laughter instantly. Everyone watched as Kirso’s eyes crossed and he slid slowly off the log he had been sitting on. He slid down to the ground and began twitching violently.    

The men around Kirso all went to his aid while the men around Bohok all surrounded him and carried him away. Bohok offered no resistance; his Bug-Eater temper had once again betrayed him. The non-violent Fish-Eaters had many forms of punishment that were far worse than just  physical pain. They stripped him of his house, his boat and his name. Bohok did not die that night nor did Kirso, although later Bohok would wish that they had.

Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 2:31 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

Saga of Bohok -Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The river was freezing, even this late in the summer the water was fed by glaciers high in the mountains and never truly lost its chill. Bohok climbed up onto the sandbar and did his best to shake off the water. Soon the sun would warm the black sand and the shallow water surrounding it but now the sand squishing up between his toes was as cold as the surrounding waters.

The swim had been miserable but necessary. The best place to catch fish was in the deep channel along the sandbar. The river was too low everywhere else for his nets to work properly.

The sun was slowly peeking over the mountains to the east as he readied his nets. His father had told him once that the hour before the sun rose was the coldest of the day, as his quaking fingers tried to untangle the fine ropes of the his nets he believed it. He could hear his teeth chattering over the rushing waters around him.

With his nets straitened and untangled Bohok tossed them expertly into the river just beyond a series of ripples and into the deep water beyond. He hauled in the nets hand over hand then examined the contents. Several yellow perch and two decent sized trout struggled within the confines of the net. Disgusted, Bohok reopened the net and tossed the fish back into the river. While all the fish were large enough to make a meal it wasn’t what Bohok was after.

The travelling fish were going to return soon. They always did this time of year. Bright red and hook jawed they came up the river in endless hordes.  Their arrival marked a time of plenty for the Fish-Eaters, who relied on the spawn to feed them through the winter.

While the fish always came around the same time each year the fisherman who brought home the first traveler was honored by the tribe and granted a boon from the chief. It was that honor and that promise that had pulled young Bohok from his warm blankets before the sun rose everyday for the last two weeks.  He was determined to be the first to bring a travelling fish to Chief Yoosin.

He heaved the heavy nets back into the current and repeated the haul. He would repeat it all day if he had to; repeat it for as many days as he had to. It was the only way he could erase the stain of his heritage, and he would not fail.

His body was strong and his muscles were used to the labor of hauling the nets. It didn’t truly seem like work anymore. His calloused hands hardly ever bled anymore; they were nearly impervious to the scourging ropes and lines. The rhythmic action of throwing, hauling and dumping allowed his mind to wander as he worked his nets.

He thought about the reaction of the chief when he arrived with the first traveler.  All the other men of the village would be so surprised when a half blood brought home such a prize. He would finally end his isolation and torment.

With his mind adrift he didn’t notice the black form making its way up the deep channel. He tossed his net out with a great heave, smiling to himself when he saw the distance of his throw.  As he began to retrieve the net the line went taught in his hand. His first instinct was to wrap the line around his hand and yank as hard as he could. The net had obviously caught on a rock or a branch. He quietly prayed it was something he could pull the net off of from the shore. He dreaded having to dive into the frigid waters to untangle the net from a log.

He was taken aback when the rope pulled back on him, hard. It snapped his arm out straight and his heels dug furrows into the sand. Bohok struggled against the pull of the rope, the fisherman suddenly becoming the fished. The rope slackened for a moment then pulled again. He was yanked off his feet and fell face first into the river.

Under the water Bohok could see what his net had caught, but he couldn’t believe his eyes. The creature was massive; its body almost taking up the entirety of the channel. He looked up and saw that his net barely covered the tip of the monster’s nose. It was a fish, he thought, as he looked down its dark length but different from any fish he had ever seen. Its gargantuan tail was sideways and moved up and down rather than side to side. Each powerful stroke pulled Bohok through the water at astonishing speed. The fins on each side of the creature were huge and flapped like eagle’s wings in the water.

Bohok was so stunned by the great beast that he only remembered he needed to breathe when the burning in his lungs became so unbearable that it felt like there was a weight on his chest.  Frantically he kicked for the surface, trying to move up the current in the direction the rope was pulling him.

He gasped for air when he broke the surface of the water and saw that the creature too had come above the water.  A huge gout of water streamed from the top of its head.  Bohok saw its body expand and heard the rush of air being sucked into the creature.  It breathes air, he thought, as he struggled to stay atop the water.

 The current and the speed of the creature fighting against it pulled him closer and closer to the beast. Bohok was a strong swimmer, like most Fish-Eaters he spent much of his life in the water, but he couldn’t keep himself from being pulled into the beast. 

A bare foot touched it first. Its body was smooth and hard, like wet stone.  Bohok put both feet against it and pushed off, pulling in rope as it slackened. It was like climbing a cliff, only sideways. Slowly he began to pull himself up to the nose of the creature. He had to untangle his net, it was his only hope.

He climbed for all he was worth; kicking off the creature each time they were pulled back together. 

Then he saw the creature’s eye, and the creature saw him. The eye was bigger than Bohok’s head, and was like no fish eye he had ever seen. The eye had depth to it; it was like looking into a man’s eye. Bohok saw fear in those eyes; fear deep enough to match Bohok’s own. 

He stood transfixed; staring into the beast’s eye until he heard and felt a rumbling. The river channel was getting shallower; too shallow for such a massive creature, its belly was scraping along the rough bottom. Its eye widened even farther, Bohok saw a look of utter terror.

He saw the tail of the beast rise high above the water then come down with tremendous force.  He was knocked off his feet as the creature rose into the air then came crashing down. Not into the river but up onto the sand bar.

Bohok too landed on the sandbar; the force of the fall knocking the wind out of him. Fighting to breathe he rolled away from the creature as fast as he could, terrified that it too may roll and smash him into the sand. 

Once he had rolled clear of the beast and as far as the rope that tethered them together would allow Bohok let his head sink into the sand and he lay panting and exhausted.

Finally he looked up. The great fish had flung itself almost completely out of the water. Its tail and fins were flapping uselessly in the air; the flippers had dug deep trenches in the sand to either side of it. Bohok could see the sides of the creature expand and contract in panicked breaths. He picked himself up and walked back up to the beast’s head. The fear in its eye was gone; it was replaced with despair and sorrow. Bohok reached out a hand and placed against the creature. He could feel each shuddering breath; he could hear each breath roar from the hole in the top of its head.

Bohok didn’t know what to do. He knew the creature was dying, each breath became more ragged and labored. He didn’t know why a creature who obviously breathed air couldn’t live on land, but it couldn’t.  It took a long time; the sun reached its zenith above his head. It burned down upon Bohok’s skin but he did not move. He felt like the creature was trying to talk to him, communicate with him somehow as they gazed at each other. He wondered what it would have told him if it could talk.

Even without words the connection was stronger than any Bohok had known since he watched his own father die of the fever so many years ago. He stood there, his hand resting on that hard smooth skin, staring into that sorrowful gaze until the breathing stopped; the great eye closed, then Bohok kneeled in the sand and cried.

Published in: on October 7, 2009 at 1:18 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,