This week is another excerpt from “The Brave Little Thrall,” a Heartsbane Saga short story that I’m still not done editing because life. It’s a retelling of the fairy tale “The Brave Little Tailor.” It’s a more obscure story than other fairy tales, so here’s the basic plot: a tailor kills seven flies with one strike (“seven in one blow”) and brags about it, but “forgets” to mention he killed flies so everyone assumes he’s a fierce warrior even though he’s a scrawny little tailor. He goes on adventures using trickery and eventually tricks his way into his own kingdom.
This week’s excerpt is skipping ahead just a bit. Our hero Fahim is traveling with some barbarians across the sea back to their country. He sees it as a big adventure, whereas they consider him one of their slaves. A big storm has come up and knocked him overboard.
* * * * * * *
The water pulled Fahim down. He thrashed around, kicking his feet and flailing his arms. Open or closed, his eyes saw only darkness. His chest burned as his lungs screamed for air;
surprisingly, however, his mind was calm. He’d always expected to live a long life, dying peacefully surrounded by his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Not dragged down in this sea, leagues from his homeland. But at least he would have left a legacy, albeit a small one, as an accomplished scholar. Inshallah, he thought to himself. The Messenger had taught that man could not fathom the will of God, and although he’d never considered himself devout, he found himself accepting this now, accepting his fate.
Until he was jerked upwards.
* * * * * * *
And here’s the rest of that scene:
His head broke the surface of the waves and he sucked in air, blessed air. He continued to flail his arms and legs, desperate to stay afloat now that death wasn’t immediately inevitable.
“Stop that or you’ll drown us both,” a voice behind him said in Karjalander.
Fahim turned his head towards his rescuer. A young barbarian from the ship had one arm around a barrel lid and his other gripping the back of Fahim’s tunic. The pelting rain made it difficult for him to discern which barbarian it was.
“I assume you’re unable to swim,” the barbarian stated. At Fahim’s nod, he asked, “Can you take hold of this barrel and kick your legs? We should be able to get to shore.”
Fahim nodded again. Panic gripped him as the man loosened his hold and he felt himself slipping under a particularly large wave, before his hands grasped the wooden lid.
Shoulders together, they kicked their way towards land. Large swells threatened to pull Fahim from the barrel, but each time the barbarian seemed to anticipate it and grabbed his tunic. By the time his feet connected with sand, Fahim’s shoulders and legs ached so badly he didn’t think he would’ve made it much farther. He half-walked, half-crawled above the water line and collapsed in exhaustion.
The other man, however, did not. Instead, he walked towards the tree line. He’d almost made it before he glanced behind him. His shoulders heaved in an exaggerated sigh as he turned back to Fahim.
“You’ll die if you just lie there.”
* * * * * * *
About “The Brave Little Thrall:”
Fahim Al Rasheed has spent his life studying foreign cultures, but he never thought he’d actually have the chance to visit them. When his journey of a lifetime leaves him and a young barbarian king marooned in a hostile country, he’ll have to rely on more than book learning to make it back home alive.
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So close to the end! Good the barbarian king arrived to save him. Probably more than once, it seems.
I like the scene. He’s ready to die and then gets saved, maybe twice!
His rescuer seems to have a lot ofpatience! Lucky for him…great snippet. THe scary part in the water was quite vivid!
Hmmm, I wonder what the barbarian is worried about? Sandy beaches aren’t generally known for their abundance of mortal perils, so there has to be something dangerous nearby.
Great scene. The barbarian doesn’t seem to barbaric, given that he went to so much effort to save him. Unless maybe he wants a slave to keep him company ;)
It doesn’t seem like Fahim cares whether he lives or dies at this moment. That’ll change, I’m sure.
Great scene. Felt like I was about to drown myself. Glad I made it to shore along with them.
The scene in the water was fabulous. A little scary as well.
Floundering in the ocean or sea is scary beyond belief. I’m so glad he was calm enough to not sink them both! Exciting snippet!
My whole body hurts just reading this. I once had an unpleasant experience in the Atlantic ocean when it took me more than an hour to fight my way against the current and back into shore again. I can definitely relate to that feeling of complete and utter exhaustion. Very well-written!
I am hooked! I want to read this. I hope life gets out of the way so you can finish editing it!
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