It’s been almost four years since I published Kingdoms of Broken Stone: Boy of Dreams. The plan all along has been to write a trilogy within this world I’ve created. Since Boy of Dreams was published, I’ve moved, changed jobs, gotten a dog, a promotion, our first house, and now our first child. Life has been eventful. I also took some time collect, edit, and publish the Between Calls devotionals.
Well, I’ve finally started to make a little progress with the second book, Kingdoms of Broken Stone: Rise of Arturius. I’ve had the title and general idea since before the first one was completed, but actually getting the first draft done hasn’t happened. Being a new dad I don’t have much extra time, so I’m hesitant to even do this, but I thought I’d let people see the first chapter as it is so far. Still a work in progress of course. I’ve written a total of five chapters in the last few months. Even if it is slow, hopefully the progress continues to be steady.
1. A Commotion
Arturius found himself walking by the farm of Warrenfin’s uncle often. He really had no reason to do so since it was the opposite direction of the village square. Yet reason or not, he had found himself on that road almost every day since Warrenfin left a month ago.
In his head, Arturius knew it was much too soon to expect Warrenfin to be returning down that same road with tales of adventure, but for some reason his heart was always a little hopeful as he walked towards the spot they had parted ways. Once there, he’d pause at the formerly dilapidated gate, which had since been replaced, and looked towards the Hook with a tinge of disappointment. After feeling silly for getting his hopes up, he’d turn around and walk to the village. He only occasionally saw glimpses of Warrenfin’s uncle, who had taken to calling himself “Sir” Mendax due to his new found wealth.
Now that he was rich, Mendax had paid for his farm to be transformed from the most poorly maintained in the area to the most beautiful, all without working any harder than he had in the past. He had also gone from being a recluse to a loud and boisterous nuisance in public, except for when Arturius was present. He usually avoided sticking around whenever Arturius showed up and often eyed him suspiciously. Publicly he explained his wealth by detailing a business investment he made long ago finally paying off and Warrenfin’s absence by saying he’d sent him to an academy on the Continent to receive a “real education.” People in the village didn’t seem to fully believe him, but now that he was paying so generously for their goods and services they didn’t question him. Arturius assumed people wouldn’t really believe the truth, that a stranger paid an enormous sum of money for Warrenfin to be her assistant, so he didn’t challenge Mendax on his lie. The only people he told were his parents, who agreed that most people in the village either wouldn’t believe or wouldn’t care. For their part, they trusted their son but were confused about who she was and what she could have been doing. They vaguely remembered a similar wandering “teacher” passing through a few years ago but didn’t remember anyone running off with her at that time.
On this particular day, as Arturius started to turnaround to head towards the village, he heard a loud commotion coming from the house. He could hear Mendax yelling, but couldn’t make out what was being said. Suddenly, the whole house shook for a moment and glass could be heard shattering as window frames shifted and household items were knocked from their places.
Arturius quickly jumped the fence and ran to take cover in a group of bushes closer to the house in an effort to hear what was going on inside.
“I swear! I’ve t-told you everything I know! Please, let me b-be!”
Arturius could hear the terror in Mendax’s voice.
“I can pay you! Wh-what do you want? I’ll give you whatever you wa-want. Just leave me alone!”
Then Arturius heard a cold, unfeeling, female voice answer.
“All I want is information and if you don’t have anymore, then you are of no use to me.”
“I, I told you there isn’t anything else to know! I b-bought him from a Sair Pirate in the Hook when he was just a small boy. They didn’t tell me anything a-about who he was and neither d-did the lady who bought him from me. All he did was take care of the farm. There’s noth… nothing special about him!”
“Why do you think she paid you so much for him?”
“I d-don’t know. She offered me the money, took him, and… and left. What did I care?”
“If you can’t or you won’t help me, then I can’t let you live.”
The house shook violently and wood began to splinter. The ground around the house started to pull away and sink like water around a drain. Arturius leapt up from the bushes and sprinted away from the house. As he vaulted over the fence and scrambled onto the dusty road, Mendax could just barely be heard yelling over the roar of the collapsing house sinking into the ground. By the time Arturius had picked himself up off the ground everything was calm and the air was still aside from a slight haze of dust. He looked at where the house had been and only a sunken divot of broken dirt remained. Stunned, he stared at the ground in unmoving amazement until his eye noticed movement headed through the field of corn closest to the house. Something was quickly moving west away from where the house once stood. Arturius debated if he should follow after it, but decided he ought to head home as fast as he could and tell his parents what had happened. Maybe they could make some sense of it?
“You said he was arguing with someone who wanted information about Warrenfin?” asked his father Darius.
“That’s what it sounded like to me.”
“And then the house just sunk into the ground?”
“Yeah. I couldn’t believe it.”
Arturius and his parents, Darius and Priscilla, all stood staring at where the house had been just hours before.
“Darius, I don’t like this at all.” The concern of a worried mother in Priscilla’s voice was clearly evident.
“Neither do I.”
“Do you think we ought to send him to your father? Would he be in port this time of year? What if whoever did this comes looking for Arturius next?”
“He’ll likely be in port preparing to load foodstuffs from harvest. Letting my father have him would get him away from here for awhile but didn’t the idea of him being on the ocean always scare you?”
“Yes, but not as much as whatever can do this scares me.”
Their son butted in to the discussion about his future. “I told you. I want to hunt and learn the farm. I don’t want to spend months on a boat with grandfather.”
“We know son. It won’t be forever, just until things here return to normal.” Darius tried to sound reassuring, but he had no idea what was going on or when things would be normal again. “We better go home and get you packed and on the way to Bellham as soon as we can. In fact, we’ll all go with to drop you off. That way the whole family is away from here for a few days.”
“But it’s harvest season soon. Don’t you need my help?”
“We’ll manage. Your brothers and sisters are getting old enough to do more of the work and it’s time they start learning as much as you already know.”
The conversation died and they stood staring at the broken earth for a moment longer. Then Darius moved towards the cart they had ridden from their farm and his wife and son followed. After everyone was seated, Darius pulled the reigns and the only one still in a normal frame of mind, unbothered by all the great changes occurring, started to lead the way home. For their donkey, it was just a normal day of work pulling the cart to and fro.