Blood Bourne (Chapter 2)

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Blood Bourne (Chapter 2)

Post  thisangel on Sun 16 May 2010, 11:16 am

Okay - here's the next chapter of my novel - which is a flashback. The entire novel alternates between modern day and ancient. I did this because I wanted to give the reader a real sense of Rue's history, and why she is the way she is. And also I love history and historical fiction Very Happy

Anyway, without further ado...here goes!

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Chapter Two: Ur Temple Complex, Sumerian Empire. 1967 BCE


My name is Asharru. I am twelve years old, and my knees are sore. I have been kneeling on the stone steps at the foot of the Ziggurat for a very long time, while above me the High Priestess, the voice of the Goddess – who is also my mother – recites the words that will formally dedicate me into the service of the Great Goddess Inanna. After today I will begin my education. I will learn my letters, counting and mathematics, the history of my people and of my city, the paths and stories of the stars - and most importantly – the history and teachings of the Annunaki – our gods and Divine teachers.

I already know more about the Annunaki than most children in the city. I was born here, in the massive temple complex in the great city of Ur - the capital city of the Sumerian Empire, the greatest city of the greatest empire in the world. As a girl-child born to a priestess of Inanna, this moment was arranged soon after I was born. Not that I didn’t have any say in the matter – I could have chosen to become a merchant, a scholar, or even a married woman. But all of those choices seem foreign to me. I was born to this calling. Born to the gods. We are all their servants, of course – but I would be one who would know what they want from us, and tell that to my people.

I am a little frightened of what is to come, but I am also proud. And right now, a little bored. And itchy. I’m not used to having to be so still. Until now I was allowed to do as I wished, running and playing games with the other temple-born girls through the maze of the complex. We were not allowed to play with the other children outside the temple complex – but sometimes we’d climb up the walls and watch them, or - more often - tease them. They hated us, thought we were spoiled. And we lorded our place over them, threatening them with the anger of the gods if they dared to retaliate.

I gaze out over the city, daydreaming as my mother drones on. The view from the height of the Ziggurat is amazing. I can see, to my left side, all the way to the river, and far beyond, to the horizon, and the line of hazy blue mist where the delta meets the sea. Closer in, out past the walls of the city, and stretching out again to the river are acre upon acre of fields, orchards and gardens, the irrigation ditches that feed them shimmering like silver jewels in the sunlight. Closer still the city gates, and the city itself, is a maze of walls and houses, markets and people. Most of the citizens of Ur are gathered at the foot of the Ziggurat to witness the ritual today. Many of their daughters have been chosen. It is not only the temple-born who may become priestesses - any child may be. Many parents give generously to the temple so that the gods might name their children. They are good people, the people of Ur. My people.

I test the words, whispering them to myself in the same way my mother says them – with a certain sense of authority and responsibility. It is the place of the Priesthood to dictate to the people the word of the gods. It is the responsibility of the people to carry out those commands. But it is the Priesthood that the gods hold responsible to make every command clear.

The heat of the long summer evening beats down upon my shoulders as I squint against the still - bright sun to look up at my mother. The ceremony seems to go on forever and I wonder how she has memorized all of those words, knowing that soon I will be expected to do the same. Finally, after what feels to me like an eternity, she finishes speaking - and I can stand up to be led by one of the other priestesses up the steps to the House of the Goddess. My mother offers me a proud smile as she lays her hand on my unruly black hair – which has been platted tight to my scalp in neat rows for the occasion - and begins to speak again, aiming her voice so that the crowds gathered below can hear every word. I cannot hear her words, however – for at that very moment, the full light of the descending sun falls into it’s place in the doorway of the House of the Goddess - it’s rays hitting me full in the face, blinding me in a moment of pure intensity. I hear a gasp from the masses gathered below as a rushing fills my head, a crescendo like music, a roar like waves - and I am ecstatic, and filled with wonder, joy and gratitude. The Goddess has accepted me. Not only that but She has blessed me in front of thousands.

It doesn’t matter that I am only one of many children to be dedicated this day. It doesn’t matter that the priests, astronomers and mathematicians plan every ceremony like this around the path of the sun. A child of the temples knows all of these things – but none of them matter. I am in my moment of epiphany. And I do believe. Tears sting my eyes as my mother finishes the final words and I am guided to stand beside another girl in the long row of neophytes. The ceremony moves on, but I keep crying. I can’t explain it – I see the other girls’ strange looks in my direction. Not all of them have been affected the way I am. But it doesn’t matter. I know what I am. With absolute faith I believe and have been blessed. I am a true servant of the gods. A true daughter of Inanna. Forever.
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Re: Blood Bourne (Chapter 2)

Post  Liberty on Mon 17 May 2010, 2:49 pm

Very beautiful written.
I can imagine a young girl of that time speaking as you write. Not too mature, but with a slightly more mature voice than others of her age because of how she was raised.
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Re: Blood Bourne (Chapter 2)

Post  Whisper on Thu 20 May 2010, 3:30 pm

Your characterization here is amazing. I can imagine the little girl with all the wonder and at the same time a sense of entitlement and destiny. That part is really great.

I also like the idea of switching back and forth between past and present. It's a great concept that will keep the story interesting. I should say, though, that you have to be careful about the tone in an arrangement like that. For example in this chapter, if you hadn't told me the date and place, I wouldn't have known the difference between this setting and the one in the previous chapter. It might as well have been a different character, at the same time, in Ur today.

It's subtle things like words and phrases, sentence structure that seems like it should be different so far in the past. Maybe use "eve" instead of "evening" and I'd avoid modern colloquialisms like "it seemed to last forever."

Like here:

The heat of the long summer evening beats down upon my shoulders as I squint against the still-bright sun to look up at my mother. (This is a lovely sentence) The ceremony seems to go on forever and seems endless. I wonder how she has memorized all of those words, knowing that I know that soon I will be expected to do the recite the same words my mother speaks now and wonder how I will remember them all.

Finally, after what feels to me like an eternity(you don't need this, it's redundant) it is done finishes speaking - and I can stand up to be led by one of the other priestesses up the steps to the House of the Goddess. My mother offers me a proud smile as she lays her hand on my unruly black hair – which has been platted tight to my scalp in neat rows for the occasion (this reads strange. Is her hair unruly, or platted down? It'll read better if you choose one) - and begins to speak again, this time to aiming her voice so that the crowds gathered below can hear every word. I cannot hear her words any longer, however – for at that very moment, the full light of the descending sun falls into its (typo here: its, not it's) place in the doorway of the House of the Goddess (Too much info, makes the sentence long and cumbersome. After "doorway" try a ; instead of -) its (another it's/its I fixed them here) rays hitting me full in the face, blinding me in a moment of pure intensity.

I hear a gasp from the masses gathered below as a rushing fills my head, a crescendo like music, a roar like waves - and I am ecstatic, and filled with wonder, joy and gratitude. The Goddess has accepted me. Not only that but She has blessed me in front of thousands.

Just suggestions Smile Again, well done.
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Re: Blood Bourne (Chapter 2)

Post  thisangel on Thu 20 May 2010, 9:01 pm

Thanks a million for taking the time to read it all - and for your suggestions, Whisper. I really appreciate it. All is being taken to heart, and I'm making corrections to the manuscript as I go. Very Happy

I did think about the language of the far far distant past, and how Rue would have spoken back then - of course we have no real way of knowing, but you are right, I will take a closer look as the flashback language and make sure I keep that sense of ages past.

Thanks so much again!

Very Happy
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Re: Blood Bourne (Chapter 2)

Post  Dreamygrril on Sat 22 May 2010, 1:14 pm

I will be back to review all of this for sure!
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