This post is going to be updated throughout the month(or until procrastination gets the better of me) as I work on my National Novel Writing Month submission. Just a few words of warning: a lot of this is going to just be random stuff thrown in to stretch the word count. And if you pick up any sort of political messages or anything, believe I seriously am just making this up as I go. Also be aware of WALLS OF TEXT! And if anyone can come up with a good title or just wants me to throw some completely random nonsensical idea in, send a comment my way. I’ll probably do it.
The land of Silwarum was once a peaceful land. It was, and still is, known for its rich plant life. The southern area, with its beaches and expansive rainforests and jungles, is home to all sorts of tropical plant life. In the north are hilly and mountainous regions, covered with everything from prairie grasses to mighty needle covered cone bearing evergreens. In fact, through some strange meteorological phenomenon, Silwarum retains perfect conditions that all of its plants seem to be in perfect growing conditions, never going into a wintry hibernation and losing their leaves. Even in the belt of deciduous hardwoods that fills the center of the continent, which lies perpendicular to the Great River, is impervious to the usual autumn falling of leaves. And should you think that the feelings of fall be lost, in even another strange phenomenon many species of tree change color, yet do not lose their leaves. They simply continue to grow, stretching farther and farther into the sky. And yet none would ever reach the height of the source of all this power.
The mystical Yggdrasil tree, which stood in the very center of Silwarum. It stood higher than any tree in the land, its branches stretching across the sky. No matter where you were in the land, and even as you began to sail out to see, the Yggdrasil tree stood guard for centuries over Silwarum. Centuries lived in peace and prosperity. For the humans did not threaten the forests. They lived with them, being careful to preserve the forests, often building their houses right out of the sides of large trees, or planting new trees right where they cut another down. The Great River and the many smaller rivers extending from it fed the land with mineral rich water, keeping everything flowing with life. At least, until the day that would change everything.
It was during the festivities at the end of the year. A group of travelling merchants was staying at the base of the Yggdrasil tree. As they celebrated into the night, one of them came upon a shocking discovery. Slowly a massive leaf had drifted down from the upper branches of the mighty tree. A leaf, withered and brown. The traveler had heard about this, how in other lands every year the trees would lose their leaves and then they would grow again after the winter season. But it had never occurred in Silwarum, and the travelers knew something was wrong. They divided their group and rushed to tell the people of the north and the south of what was happening. As they ran, people watched as the leaves of the Yggdrasil tree began to fall and they wondered what could possibly be happening. Within days, the branches of the tree began to curl up and shrivel. Soon the trees surrounding it began to lose their leaves as well. To the people of Silwarum it seemed like the end of the world. In many ways it was. Because soon after, war broke out. Those in the north blamed the south for what had happened, while those in the south did the same. And those who once lived closest to the Yggdrasil tree found themselves in an entirely new world, caught between two warring factions. Caught in a conflict that would last centuries, ripping the continent apart until the people began to abuse that very thing which they fought for; the forest. And so we enter our story, many years into the conflict. Shall we finally see its end? Read on, for only time will tell.
Lief rolled over in bed as the morning light streamed in through his bedroom window. He really did not want to get up that day, but unfortunately he had an important appointment he had to keep. Groaning, he sat up and stretched. He glanced out the window. His house was part of a small village in the rainforests of the southern region of Silwarum. Here he had grown up, largely unaffected by the war. However, all that had changed when the Tropican military arrived to “recruit” the village’s young men to fight. Now Lief had to travel to the nearest city, where he would begin his army training. He stepped out of bed and walked over to a small sink in one corner of his room, shuffling his feet in the zombie-like state often seen in those who aren’t “morning people”. He turned the faucet handle and heard the familiar plinking noise of the bamboo piping system as water rushed through the hollow shafts. He pooled the cold rain water in his hands, splashing it on his face. Now somewhat more awake, he looked at his reflection in the mirror. His muddy blonde, medium length hair was rather unkempt from rolling around in his sleep. Then again it looked rather unkempt most of the time. He also hadn’t shaved in a couple days, and rough beard had grown on his face. He decided he should look more formal when he appeared to have his life end as he knew it. He turned the water off and shuffled into a smaller room connected to his bedroom. It consisted of a toilet and a small shower. He walked into the shower and turned the handle to activate another series of pipes that brought water to his house. He didn’t bother to take off his clothes since he wasn’t wearing any in the first place. It was the hot and humid season, and he could barely stand even using blankets. The cool refreshing water soon came pouring out of the short shaft of bamboo jutting from the wall which was fitted with a net to keep the water from being simply a column of water, and to keep anything else from coming out with it. Lief stood there for a while, looking up at the ceiling which had a small square hole, covered by glass, to let the light in. He thought about the war he was about to enter, and wondered why it was even going on in the first place. After all, no one could really prove that the northern region, Pinophyta, was the cause of the Yggdrasil tree dying. And no one could disprove it either. And no one dared state that the Tropican people were responsible. After all, they truly were the more plant faithful region. After all, they had so many different varieties of plant life; hard wood trees, vines, grasses, flowering plants, vegetables, fruits, the list goes on. What did the Pinophytans have? Conifers, maybe some prairie grasses and flowers. Truly a less diverse land. Yet in that lack of diversity they seemed to have gained more innovation, as their war technology continually surpassed that of Tropica. Perhaps all the variety was giving the scientists too much to choose from and they couldn’t develop new weapons quick enough. When all you’re working with is a bunch of soft wood trees, you start to come up with more and more ways to make the most of it. And of course the people of the north seemed to be more determined to fight than those of the south. Perhaps the cold had just gotten their heads, or the opposite with the heat. But Tropica was beginning to suffer losses in the war, which is why the government had sent soldiers to bring in more fresh meat… new recruits that is. Clearing out large sections of jungle and developing it into farmland solved the food problem years ago, though many had lost their homes in the process. But all to help win the war, right?
Lief quickly snapped back to reality when he realized the water flow was starting to slow down. He quickly shut the shower off. He didn’t want to go over his water ration zoning out in the shower. Still dripping wet, he stepped out of the shower and walked back into his bedroom, which more accurately could be described as a living room with a bed in it. It was a small house, but it’s in a tree, what’d you expect? He walked over to a dresser, on top of which was a large box. Opening it revealed a circular turn table and an arm with a pointed needle at the tip. Next to it were thin cases with discs that had music carved onto them. It’s a wonder that with the ability to create something like this they still hadn’t figured out a way to build better weapons to finish the war. He pulled out his favorite and placed it on the turntable. He grabbed a crank on the side of the box and spun it around rapidly, which activated the gears inside the machine. He grabbed the needle arm and placed it on the edge of the disc. After a few seconds of popping noises, the sound of flutes and mouth created percussion noises filled the small room. This was one of his favorite new artists. Not only was the music he played beautiful and reminiscent of the traditional languages of the area, the fact that he filled two roles at once just added to the sheer brilliance of it. Lief walked back over to the sink and shook his head rapidly, shaking the water out of his hair like a dog coming in from the rain. He ran his fingers through it a few times; it would settle into its usual form as it dried. He reached towards the mirror and grabbed the edge, pulling it away to reveal a small cabinet filled with various items. He grabbed a razor and closed the mirror. The razor was old and not very sharp, little hairs caught in between the two hairs. Still, Lief brought it to his face, cutting away the rough beard he’d recently acquired. Once he was done he placed the razor back in the cabinet and crossed back to the dresser. He didn’t particularly enjoy the song that was playing right now as much as he did some other ones on the music disc, and he didn’t have much time left before he left. Having done this many times before, Lief expertly picked up the needle arm. The music stopped, but the disc continued to spin. He set it down closer to the middle. There were a few finishing notes of a different song, some silence, and then a different song start. Lief opened up one of the dresser drawers and pulled out a pair of pants and under garments, both a woodsy tan color. The pants had been patched up numerous times and wear faded just about everywhere else. He grabbed his leather belt from on top of the dresser and secured it around his waist, holding his otherwise loose pants up. Onto the belt he had also slipped a small machete, really more of a large knife, mostly used for cutting through jungle undergrowth. Most parts of the forest where people settled had clear ground since little sunlight reached past the massive trees. However, some areas, mainly near rivers, were filled with vines and other growth. Opening another drawer he withdrew a nearly sleeveless shirt, over which he put a thin coat of chain mail. Over this he put short sleeved leather jacket, which he never bothered to button closed. Frankly he didn’t see the point in wearing this much of a wardrobe considering the weather, but the last time he’d tried going around town in less it hadn’t gone too well. Plus, as he kept reminding himself, he was reporting for military duty. He also grabbed a pair of thin leather gloves from his dresser. As the final song of his music disc came to a conclusion, Lief looked around his small home, wishing it one last farewell as he packed the few belongings he could bring into a sack which he tied across his back. He then walked outside onto a small platform that served as a front porch for his home. Next to it was a tall ladder, reaching from the floor of the forest all the way to the houses above him. It was not unlike an apartment building, just made out of tree houses. Of course, his preferred method of travel to the bottom was a thick vine that also extended down from the top of the tree. He grabbed onto it with one hand, pulling it in closer. He turned back to his door only to lock it shut, then stepped off the platform. He wrapped one of his legs around the vine, grabbed on with his other hand, and, loosening his grip ever so slightly, slid down to the ground. Which was quite the drop, and certainly would have been a fearful experience if you didn’t live in tree houses all your life. Once he reached the ground, Lief immediately headed towards the village gate, where a cart was waiting to take him and all the other “recruits” away. He just hoped there was no one annoying on the ride, or he might just die before he even stepped foot in the training camp.
As he walked closer to the edge of the village Lief found himself amongst more young mean being “recruited” for battle. Many, like him, were less than enthused, others had a sort of neutral feeling about them, and others seemed happy to be going to war. That, or they were lying to impress their futures commanders. Or perhaps they were just those kind of people that were always ignorantly happy. Not that he really minded, the world would be even worse if there were no perpetually optimistic people in it. Lief soon found himself being hearded by his group of colleagues into a line. The line slowly moved towards a cart parked in the gateway to the village. It was narrow but long, the back covered with a thin canvas. In the front was a pair of massive domesticated panthers. Their deep black fur looked sleek and shiny in the filtered sunlight. They lay on the ground, one napping, the other chewing on a massive steak from who knows what. The driver had also decided to take a mid-morning nap while his partner stood at the back of the cart. In his hand he held a flat board with a handful of papers clipped onto it. As the line moved towards him, he would ask for each person’s name and then check them off of a list printed on the sheets of paper. The individual would then step into the cart. Eventually Lief reached the front of the line.
“Name?” the soldier asked.
“Does it really matter? I’ve been here for a while, and last I checked I was the only one here with that name. Unlike my parents, most people don’t like the pun.”
“You’ve got a punk attitude kid. I like it. You’ll make a good fighter… if you can learn to follow orders.” The soldier made a check mark on his list. “Welcome to the army, Lief.” Lief climbed into the cart. Along the sides of the cart was a sort of bench. He walked to where the last guy was sitting and sat down. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. He had started to grow tired of the simple life in his little village hidden away. After all, he spent most of his time just lying around in his house. At least now he would have a routine in his life. Lief leaned back against the canvas wall and stared at the ceiling. Hopefully he would survive long enough to return to the village someday.
After about half an hour everyone had reported in and loaded into the cart. The soldier with the clip board then came on and did a quick roll-call just to make sure no one had run off. Fortunately no one had. “Alright then… Let me just give you a quick briefing men. We’ll be traveling to the capital city Torrid. There you will enter the army training camp, where you will spend the next few months of your lives. You’ll receive more information once we get there, but for now sit back and enjoy the ride.” With that the soldier stepped back out of the cart. He walked back up to the front and climbed into the driver’s seat, waking the driver up. The driver picked up the reins and tugged on them, bringing the panthers to attention. The sleeping one lazily stood up, stretching, while the other scarfed down the last piece of steak. With a quick snap of the reins the driver sent the massive panthers bounding through the village gates. Lief watched as his home disappeared into the trees. Now there was no turning back.
The trip to Torrid was about a day’s journey, so the cart hurried on throughout the day. After maybe half an hour to an hour of silence, small groups of people began shifting seats and talking. After all, it’s not like they were all strangers, it was a small village after all. Lief however just folded his arms and leaned his head back against the canvas, zoning out the conversations around him. He had never really been a very social person. He preferred sitting in his house or up in the tops of the trees, just letting his mind wander. No loud voices drifting from the market place, no laughter of children playing the streets(which, when you think about it, would have been quite loud to reach all the way to his house). Nothing but the peaceful silence of the rainforest, though this usually included rustling leaves and animal screeches. But he learned to tune those noises out, as he was doing with the other men in the cart. He was beginning to feel his mind wander further away, and he was about to fall asleep when the guy next to him spoke up.
THESE WORDS MEAN NOTHING.
More information about NaNoWriMo can be found here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/