The following is the first part of many to come of a draft for the first chapter of my planned novel. This chapter is supposed to follow the prologue I previously posted to this weblog. I have literally just written this within a few minutes, so it is very rough and unpolished. I am not particularly happy with it right now, both because of lacking descriptions of the surroundings and because of the dialogues. But perhaps it this will change when I return to this. Any kind of constructive comments and suggestions are welcome.
Fifteen months earlier.
‘What is this place, Damien? I thought we were heading for a monastery… This looks rather like a fortress’, produced Carlisle, a girl of eight and ten, taken by surprise, as their cart slowly moved towards the entrance gate.
‘It is a monastery, to be sure, though not of the religious kind.’
The guards at the gate stepped aside when Damien and Carlisle approached it without so much as a look.
‘Are they not supposed to…’, began Carlisle.
‘Look you in the face, ask questions such as who you are and what your purpose may be?’, interrupted Damien with a slight smile which was barely visible under the hood of his robes.
‘Aye, is this not what guards do?’
‘Nay,’ replied Damien calmly, ‘guards do not ask questions or investigate. Guards guard. At least that is what they are supposed to do here. They know me, and thus it is out of the question for them not to let you enter while you are in my company.’
‘So, you said this were a monastery, but not of the religious kind’, continued Carlisle while they headed for the inner courtyard of the monastery. ‘What, exactly, did you mean by that?’
‘My brethren and I are, for want of a better term, scholars. Within these walls, we do not concern ourselves with faith so much as with knowledge, knowledge passed on through the ages by those who would rather look for truth than comfort.’
‘Oh, but will neglicence of the godly not bring about godly wrath?’
‘I assure you, the perils for this world are of and in this world rather than from any place outside it – if that is even an intelligible concept. Yet I did not bring you here so as to make you a new apprentice. I promised you a warm meal and a bed for the night, and those you shall have.’
They had barely spoken these words, when one of Damien’s brethren came running across the courtyard, almost tripping over his own feet with every other step because he was a bit too short for his robes. Excited, with a red face, and completely out of breath, he cried:
‘Mentor, mentor! Mentor, I… Mentor, we have found… we have found… we have found…’
‘For goodness’ sake, Cain, would you mind catching your breath and then tell me that which you wish to tell me?’, interrupted Damien, but it was meant in a friendly manner. He lifted Cain up and supported him, while the latter tried to catch his breath.
‘We have found… ah, that’s better, thank you, mentor. We have finally found the scrolls for which you were looking. It was hidden away in one of the elder archives behind a secret…’
‘You are aware that we have a guest standing ride beside you, brother; and though she is certainly most welcome here, I think she need not be concerned with the details of our research’, interrupted him Damien again, this time in a less friendly tone.
‘I beg your pardon, mentor, I did not intend…’
‘We shall discuss this topic further once we are inside.’
‘Aye, mentor, as you wish.’ He was about to back away.
‘But before we go inside, brother Samuel here will guide our guest to her room for the night, will you not, Samuel?’
‘Aye, brother, that I shall do’, replied Samuel, coming forth from the shadow in which he had stood for some time now, without being noticed by Carlisle.
‘How did you… Whence did you come?’, asked Carlisle in a tone between surprise and fear.
‘I watched you come from one of our towers. I noticed that Damien had a companion with him, so I gathered he had promised you the usual.’