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Timothy Walsh

"Konfus Vogel: Prologue" by Timothy Walsh

SciFi/Fantasy text 1 out of 4 by Timothy Walsh.      ←Previous - Next→
 
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This is the first chapter of a parable about a vagrant angel. Its meant to be somewhat sarcastic and critical (though that really doesn't show up in this section). Its meant to start with a serious tone and then shift to something a little more unique. This is a revised draft, but its still going through revisions as I see them necessary. Your comments are very much appreciated.
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←- Shadow of a Fallen Mountain | Konfus Vogel: Cold Stone of the Bell Tower -→

Prologue:

 

Enduring drought had reduced the once lush grassland to the burnt yellow of a broken husk, crusted and dry.  The afternoon sun, once brilliant and piercing, had stalked the lingering shadows of night with overhead vigilance, but now dwindled in a timely wilt from omnipotent white, to pale yellow, and finally to vaguely discolored red.   The darkness clustering upon the western breeze boiled in a mizzly shadow to swallow dusk’s brilliance with a gurgling whisper.  The air turned gray as slate to eclipse the twinkling light of the distant heavens and hold it obstinately in its wake.   Sternly seeking to peek through, the infinite weight prodded an ebb of tiny drizzles to seep out and scatter in misted droplets to the parched fields beneath.

Now, in the near-absolute darkness of dampened night, there was gentle respite from the heat.  The shadowed peaks of mountains, now dwarfed by the unbounded shade of the overcast, bowed aside.  The crests were not large, but substantially tall enough to bear a modest cap of wind-packed snow well above the tree line.  Under heat of diurnal sunlight, the frozen crystals thawed away and trickled into the plodding silt of a shallow creek bed, overflowing to fortify a deeply rich, but thin, strip of green among the burnt yellow.  This olive stripe framed the clear-blue ribbon of the brook as it meandered steadily into the deadened valley.  Passing through its crackling heart, it ambled into a village distinctive only for its firm agelessness and perpetual penury.  These people were much indistinguishable from their predecessors and would hardly falter from that unsteady course.  The smith would go to the stream and take a pailful of water to cool a steel plow hammered on the forge; and the farmer then would come to his shop and purchase it with a purseful of tarnished coins.  Making his way home, he would follow the threaded knots of the stream to the edge of the village and then continue on alone as it receded deep into the crust of the earth.  Though he had shopped with a watchful eye, he never seemed to realize that much of the water needed to nourish his fields had steamed away to cool a blade hardly sharp enough to pierce its surface.

The churning atmosphere provoked a moment’s reflection from the wearied community, for there was indecision in the anticipation for the much-needed shower.  There had been opportunities before, but they had been fruitless and illusive, cultivating little but resentment.  Even so, some were hopeful that, this time, the clouds’ provision would serve to stir their sluggish fortunes and sow the fields anew.  Taking their hopes into their faith, they fell to their knees in prayer.  Others were hesitant to waste their energy on such hollow dreams; but they kept silent with their beliefs, standing firm, with their lack of faith hidden deep inside. Regardless of the qualms held within, they ventured to call themselves God’s people, high in opinion but often lacking in compassion; and those who lacked the sternest faith were in their eyes weak and lost the respect of the community.  To the destitute, that respect was worth more than gold, for to garner it was as close to becoming wealthy as they thought possible.  They did, however, not comprehend the irony that it could often more easily bought than earned.  Now, with the exception of a peculiarly diligent, or perhaps depraved few, they settled down at long last to leave the day’s stringency behind.  That brief moment in which they clutched to sleep, however, was hardly savored.  They would now hide teary-eyed from the haunting moans of their children’s stomachs gurgling from beneath scratchy bed sheets.  Each night the portions given grew more meager than the previous and soon there would be nothing left for them to eat but the dust beneath their feet.  Though a seemingly hardy people, they were beginning to shallow to the hardship of a year of famine.

……………………………………………

The damp breeze from the west continued further and drifted languidly over the thirsty plain; floating dew began to settle slightly, and saltless tears dropped silently from the clouds.  The gentle drizzle echoed growing thunder as the vaguely transparent grey of the clouds darkened to opaque black.  The brilliance of distant constellations was snuffed in the indifferent swamp.

The steady rumble rolled over the soft knolls and found rest among the peaks of the leaning hillside.  A band of meager shepherds scuttled beneath the boughs of balding trees as the stirring drizzle thickened to a downpour.  The droplets, heavy and cold, nearly frozen, smacked hard to the ground in muddy splatters, washing it aside in streams of bleeding silt.  This was more than a fleeting prospect of vacant renewal; there was true respite from the drought and they were grateful.  Prayers spoken through diligence found their meaning and fortified their meager hopes.  Faith to some, however, is not always what is believed but what is assumed.  A steady distance from the hills, the single bronze bell of the church tower clanged in chorus with the crackling thunder, half swaying with the wind and half with the uneasy strength of the bell keeper.  He was a devout, yet gawky youth lost someplace between his dreams and his beliefs.   Acting on superstition to shield his people from the scorching flashes of wind-born fire, he did not realize that faith alone should have been enough for the preservation.  The insistent storm would fall thick, with steady echo, until just before dawn.  With the final peal of bronze only a lingering memory to his ears, the youth could at last leave the tower and lay to rest on the cold kiss of straw.  The distance was quiet, and the syrupy overcast gave way to the once obscured blanket of crystalline starlight.

Though the sky had cleared, it had not settled.  Streaks of silver flashed across the splendid darkness in a cherubic flicker.  These were trails of scavenging angels, searching the earth for the carrion of fallen men, ravenous to guide them to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Perhaps they had been searching in vain since the early dusk, and only now did they find it clear enough to navigate the stars; perhaps even angels, brief vestiges of heaven, could be halted by endless murk.  Or maybe they could navigate through the shadowed banks by means of their radiant halos, and had all along been dancing brilliantly, yet unseen, to the thunderous cadence of light.   This daunting spectacle captivated the humble shepherds on the hillside, but they were not afraid.  An angel, a creature of light and mercy, was a simple reminder of their steady faith, not of the empty superstitions of their ancestors. They worked hard and held their beliefs high, but did not rely on them; it made little sense to wait idly to catch hold of the falling strands of Heaven.  Though they were meek, they were devout and made the most of what they had been provided with.

←- Shadow of a Fallen Mountain | Konfus Vogel: Cold Stone of the Bell Tower -→

DateNameComment 
29 Nov 2002:-) Caitlin Schneider
*dances around the office* This is AMAZING!!!!!! The incredible amount of detail is candy to the senses, the part before the storm is, i can't think of the word, just the building excitment! I'm definently book marking this page, Thank for writing this, it is truely inspiring!!!

:-) Timothy Walsh replies: "Thanks a lot, I've edited it a little more (that'll be up in a week or so probably). Glad to inspire, this is really the first thing I've ever written, so saying that is definately inspiring to me. That means a lot to me."
9 Dec 200245 Stephan P. Calloway
Heya Timothy! I'm sure I said it the first time, I'll say it again here, your descriptive style paints a picture for the reader. It starts in the first sentence:
"...burnt yellow of a broken husk, crusted and dry..."
There is no doubt of what you are describing, no doubt at all to what the world looks like. I am awed and amazed the flow to your words. Outstanding reading!

:-) Timothy Walsh replies: "Again, thank you very much for support. It's a good feeling to know that all the detail I put into the words to make them lush and flowing. I spent quite a bit of time in revision and I'm glad to know it noticably payed off."
16 Dec 2002:-) R.E. 'Riibu' Kankaanpää
Well, people do seem to compliment you on the words you used. I understand that for someone this could be very telling, an excellent piece.. but for me..
To tell the truth, I didn't understand like half the owrds you were using, and even if I did understand something, I didn't get it, because of the words used with them. I see, that this is greatly done and deserves mighty compliments (absolutely!), but unfortunately, I'm not in the place to give them. Except for one.. I admire your skill to manage to write something like that. It is good! (I guess....)

:-) Timothy Walsh replies: "Please don't think that I'm using that vocabulary just to use "big words." I personally know what each one of the words means and used them to fit the texture I wanted (as opposed to using words just because they "sound impressive"), but there are plenty of words I encounter nearly constantly that I need to look up. I certainly recognize where you are coming from; these just happen to be the words that are familiar to me. I respect your comment and I thank you for your input. Just realize that I'm not using the words to be pretentious. Again, thank you."
18 Dec 2002:-) Logan Pickup
That was pretty impressive... If I'd written that, I'd have just ended up with "It rained." Very nice.

:-) Timothy Walsh replies: "Thanks a lot, I appreciate it."
20 Dec 2002:-) Signe-Sanne 'dapper dier' Oortgijsen
ps... do NOT take 'Kill your darlings' litterally!!

:-) Timothy Walsh replies: "Don't worry, I'm one of the most sarcastic (and most difficult to offend) people around. Thanks for your thought out comment. As I said in my bio, criticism is the only way to grow."
20 Dec 2002:-) Signe-Sanne 'dapper dier' Oortgijsen
Be prepared this is going to be a long comment:

First of all... how much do I admire writers. I who have so many times started a story or a novel in my head, but have never trusted it to paper, can do nothing but sit in awe whilst reading. And everytime I do so I get inspired, images pop into my head, and sometimes they have to be trusted onto paper as an illustration.

This piece has some beautiful sentences in it and you imediatly know that the writer want to abduct you into his world. However I find it hard to see the beautiful sentences through all those words, some of which are just too difficult. And sometimes to much. I do not doubt you knowing every meaning of every word... Writers know a lot of words and so they should. But readers do not! And for whom do you write? The words that distract me the most are... umm. my English grammar deserts me here... Allow me to illustrate by editing a little piece of tekst. ( O really hope you do not mind... please just see this as constructive critisism..)


(..) is where I have taken out
* * is what I have added

The insistent storm fell thick, with steady echo, until just before dawn. Stopping abruptly, it lingered only in twanging droplets falling from the (..) branches of the lanky trees. The (..) overcast cleared to *reveal* the once obscured blanket of *the night sky, punctured only by* brilliant and crystalline starlight. *The lucid light of the moon* was quiet. *But* the church bells, spent on illusion, *only fell* silent *when time had crept* far past the morning hour. The night had been sleepless for the bell ringer, and only now, (..) could he leave the bell and lay to rest on the cold kiss of straw.

Though the sky had cleared, it had not settled.=> ( beautiful !) (..) Streaks of radiance flashed across the (..) darkness in a cherubic flicker. These were * the* trails of scavenging angels, (..)and searching the earth for the wayward souls of fallen men, ravenous to guide them to the kingdom of Heaven.=>( beautiful again!)

Again... I hope you do not mind. I will leave you to comtemplate or scoul or both! But I will also give you a motto that has pulled me through art academy.. no wait, two motto's, they need eachother..

Less is more!
Kill your darlings!

:-) Timothy Walsh replies: "This is VERY much appreciated. Its difficult to edit your own work because (as you somewhat stated) its hard to know what "the reader" would pickup on or not. This was extremely helpful and I will certainly take some time to look over your suggestions. However, I do tend to read (from a readers standpoint) works that are pretty "thick" in themselves (try to crack through "Heart of Darkness", its pretty dense). I'll always write this way, its the way I think and I don't want to compromise that (I do however want to strengthen it). Still I know what you're talking about, if it doesn't add to the story and in fact distracts from it, it should be revised. Complexity only works if its seamless. I'm still in the process of trimming the fat and I certainly don't mind you marking the cuts for me. Thank you very much, this is probably the strongest comment I've had so far. I'll check out some more of your art when I get a chance, you have talent."
27 Jan 2003:-) Jorieke 'JoSav' Savelkouls
Well written. Vibrant use of words although at some points a bit excessive this was indeed a very good read. You show talent, and the prologue has enough tension to keep you reading. Too bad I can't since I'm at work... but I will read more soon.

:-) Timothy Walsh replies: "Thanks a lot for your support. I try to put as muh as I can into my descriptions; and yeah sometimes it can be a little much, but I'm always trying to refine it. Its a slow process, but I enjoy it. Thanks for giving me a read, I really appreciate it."
5 Feb 2003:-) Sarah 'Devils Dare' Scott
Big words... wow.. very descriptive too, i like that. And, in the words of my sisters english teacher, "That is good." So, basically, i like the description, i like the big words, i like the story! *zooms off to next chapter*
4 Apr 200345 Ludovica Wing Shuen Price
Okay, crit first, I guess. One word especially got me, and that was 'mizzly'. I have never heard of it before - maybe that's just me - but it just doesn't feel like an appropriate word here. Then there's the way you began one sentence - 'They did, however, not ...'. I'd rather change it to: 'They did not, however...' Of course, these are only minor things, and do not detract from the piece as a whole.

Okay, good stuff know 10
Rarely have I seen a writer who can almost match Tolkien in terms of landscape description. In fact, I would say that that was the highlight of this piece. You have a very fluid, vivid and engaging manner of describing scenery, weather and atmosphere. Especially when these parts of a story can be potentially the most boring parts, your style comes as a very welcome surprise indeed.
As implied, the atmosphere you build up is nice; slow in the sense of tranquil, yet moves at a fair pace. You build up an idyllic - should I say moral? - world, which I can see is quite cleverly set up for satire. It's interesting in that it's quite an unlikely topic for a story. Or an unlikely manner of setting up a scene.
A very promising start.
23 Jul 2004:-) Brandi Pastories
From the very first sentence to the last word, I was enthralled. The contrast between such a sophisticated and almost dark tone and the simple people and their lifestyle it describes was executed wonderfully. I also found the range of your vocabulary quite refreshing as I have seen so many writers unable to fully realize visions due to lack of a strong vocabulary. Toward the end I found it only hints at what the true story may be and it made me hunger for more. All in all, I found this prologue to be all it should. I cannot wait to read the rest!
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'Konfus Vogel: Prologue':
 • Created by: :-) Timothy Walsh
 • Copyright: ©Timothy Walsh. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Angel, Bell, Dusk, Konfus, Prologue, Shepherd, Storm, Tempest, Vogel
 • Views: 324

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More by 'Timothy Walsh':
Konfus Vogel: Cold Stone of the Bell Tower
Konfus Vogel: The Deliberation and the Vocation
Shadow of a Fallen Mountain

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