Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Awen: Book One of the Sacred Oak Series (Part 1 of Chapter 1)

If you haven't read the synopsis, beginning prophesy and prologue you will want to scroll down and read it first to have context for what you are about to partake of. The following is part one of Chapter One, which I'm releasing for feedback. Next week... the rest of Chapter Two. I hope you enjoy ~ Rebecca

Aber, Wales @ sunset
Chapter One: Winter Haven Manor  

     Ian stood at the water’s edge engaged in two of his favorite boyhood pastimes: skipping rocks and spending one-on-one time with his father. He and his dad gazed out at Cardigan Bay from the coastal town of Aberystwyth, Wales--known as Aber to locals--where he had been born. The pair stood in comfortable silence, the kind of quiet that said they were enjoying each other’s company so much that talk wasn’t necessary. Simply watching the boats was so entertaining there just wasn’t much need for words.

Aber's warf area
     Besides the occasional pointing out of something interesting and the one-word response or a quip to brag about how many times their rocks skated across the water before plunking below the surface, there was only the toot of boat horns and the distant rumbling of the men’s voices who were working the docks. Talking was for when the two of them walked over to the pier and haggled over the cost of the catch of the day. Talking took place as they made the thirty or so minute stroll back to their home on the estate known as Winter Haven Manor.

Aber sunset
     On days like this being together and soaking up the late spring sun when his dad wasn’t working helped all of life make sense to Ian. And so, every Saturday things were set straight again. They were just father and son and nothing else mattered in the world. There was no Winter Haven and he was no longer the son of a lifelong servant to it. In fact, he was able to step away from the fact that for generation after generation his family had been servants of Haven.  He was Ian Jones, a twelve-year-old young man, and he had hopes and, well, dreams. A lot of dreams, in fact, and those were what he was thinking about today.

     When the sun began to slip down on the horizon and the raging waves began coming in from the Irish Sea, Peter Jones, Ian’s father, disturbed his thoughts with what he said every Saturday, “Well, son, I bet your mom is beginning to wonder where we’re at. What do you say we get her some fresh fish for dinner?”

     Ian had always nodded and said, “Yep, she’d like that,” and fell into step beside his dad. Today, though, he looked for one last rock and heaved it as hard as he could over the water before joining his dad. He really wanted to tell his father about his vivid dreams but was at a loss for how to begin. Ian decided to start off slowly by asking his dad a few questions before he shared his news.

     “Dad, tell me what it was like away from Haven,” Ian started.

     “What do you want to know?” his dad said as he looked away from the bay towards the hills and distant mountains.

     “Why did you leave and why did you choose to move back and become the estates’ caretaker?”

     Silence reigned for a moment, and then with a big intake of breath, Peter Jones began to share: “I suppose I left because I’d met and married your mother and wanted to set out to be my own man.  I guess it was bad luck mostly that brought me back--not that I’m not thankful for the job. You know your grandfather fell ill about the time you were born and wasn’t able to do all his duties caring for the grounds any longer. With you being born, your mom and I needed money to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. There just wasn’t work anywhere else and, well, I knew the job inside and out from being raised here. At first I began working the estate from our little place across town until my dad passed, and then they offered your mom the nanny job caring for Reese and us the cottage to live in. We just couldn’t turn it down.”

Ian’s dad pursed his lips and a stony expression took over his face. Ian sensed that his dad was reliving a distant memory.

“It seems like there’s no way to stay away from this place. Everyone says it’s our destiny,“ his father added quietly.

A castle in Aber
With that, Ian knew the mood had changed by the now uncomfortable silence between them. He thought that asking questions would open a door for him to share with his father about the last several months, but he decided that now was definitely not the time. They reached the fish market, got what they wanted and then made forced small talk all the way home. 

Shoot, Ian thought, I’ll have to find another way.

As they neared their small thatched cottage next to the main house, Ian turned again to his dad.

“Thanks for working so hard to take care of us,” he said, seeing one of the reasons the Joneses had returned to Winter Haven out of the corner of his eye. Reese, the only child of Patrick and Victoria Williams, was ten yards from the main house practicing archery.

“It’s my job, Son.  I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Peter answered, rubbing his son’s head and turning towards the cottage.

     Ian watched Reese take aim with a determined look on his face until he saw that he was being watched.  Reese’s facial expression then turned to one of smug overconfidence as he set an arrow sailing precisely into the center of the target ahead of him.

“Show off,” Ian muttered to himself as he turned away and watched his father duck into their home to prepare the fish to fry.

     It was moments like this that Ian took pride in the fact that he was a full year older and over an inch taller than his occasional nemesis, the self-proclaimed nobility of Winter Haven Manor, Reese Williams. The two boys had been raised like brothers and were best friends until the day that Reese realized two things: first that Ian was naturally better at just about every boyhood skill than him; and second, that Ian was merely part of the hired help.

     Reese often talked poorly to Ian and his mom but would settle for playing with Ian when the other children in the area had taken enough of Reese’s spoiled, rude behavior. Ian for the most part didn’t think he had any other choice but to accept Reese’s offer to play and then to make sure things were the way they should be: he would trounce Reese in marbles, netball, cricket or whatever else was the game of the day. Ian had always liked that he was better at every sport or game than Reese. Better that is until archery came along. The Williamses could afford to give Reese lessons, and he’d left Ian in the dust.

     Ian had often overheard his mom describing him as having a “thin but sturdy frame, a brown mop of hair on his head and dark eyes that are both fierce and tender.” Ian wished she wouldn’t say embarrassing stuff around him but secretly thought she summed him up rather well.  People often looked into Ian’s eyes and then told his parents he had an “old soul.” It seemed like a compliment, so he thought maybe it was. It was some of these same people who also tended to say that he was “quick and competitive.” When Ian heard this he always added but usually only competitive in good ways in his head.

     Despite what people said, Ian knew he carried himself like he was the son of a servant and that his poorer-looking clothing made it evident to anyone who did not already know his station in life. He wanted to yell when wealthy people of standing looked right past him in town yet stopped to talk to Reese. When guests came for gatherings or dinner parties at the estate and handed him their coats and bags to hang up instead of saying hello he wanted to climb in a hole.

     Reese on the other hand, was average in height and weight and was unremarkable in every way. His hair was dishwater blonde, and besides a dusting of freckles on his nose and cheeks there was not one thing that stuck out to help people remember him. Ian couldn’t stand it that in spite of Reese’s looking totally average, his royal bearing and fine clothing were evident. Somehow he made up for being so ordinary by carrying himself like a king. That trait alone made Reese unforgettable.
NEXT WEEK ... The rest of Chapter ONE
Thanks for reading ~Rebecca

Rebecca Dunning is an award winning writer who lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and three children. She not only loves to read and write but also enjoys hiking, climbing mountains 14,000 feet or higher, traveling the world and about anything else out-of-doors. Ms. Dunning is a regular contributor to The Gazette, Pikes Peak Parent and FreshInk. Rebecca is also the author of two children's books: The Real-Life Princess and Beetle Hunter as well as her first novel, The Awen: Book One of the Sacred Oak Series.


Olivia Blue Music said...

So excited about these wonderful books you're writing... Keep up the great work! :) - Olivia -

1 of the Creekside Team said...

Your photos are inspirational!


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