Below the Land JP 30
Jared Leys
Now presenting Part 2: "Our Salt Sea"! Below the Land is the first book in the new Universe ... Show More
Adventure, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Spiritual
land, adventure, fantasy, swords

Part 1: Below the Land - Prologue

Shadows cast themselves over the northern village of Tansfire.  The chilly spring day became a bit cooler as farmers turned their attention to the sky.  In the street, the young woman Tersanna set down the pail of water she carried and ran back into her house.  Her mother and younger sister sat inside, working together on a new summer quilt.
“Mother! Sorel!  You have to come see this,” said Tersanna, taking hold of her sister’s hand.  “The moon is covering the sun!”

“We should go out to the field to get a better view,” Sorel suggested, showing her excitement.  “Come on, Mother!”

 Mother remained still in her seat.  “I think I’ll look from the house.  Eclipses are nothing new, my dears.  Sorel, have I ever told you about how you were born during an eclipse?  Or was it just the same day as one?”  Mother continued to sow a patch on the quilt as she pondered.  “Well, either way, it’s true, you know.  Eclipses happen often enough, and you were born the same day as one, Sorel.”

Sorel sighed.  “Yes, Mother, you’ve told me the story.”  Sorel stood and put down her needle and thread.  “Now can we go out to the field?”

“We promise not to shirk our chores,” said Tersanna.  “We’ll go to the field for just a little while.”

“You don’t intend to skip out on your chores?” said Mother, raising an eyebrow.  “Where’s that pail of water I asked you to bring?  And speaking of duties, why aren’t you married yet, Tersy?  You’re well old enough now.”

Tersanna ignored both Mother’s pet name for her as well as this talk of marriage.  “I’ll bring the pail back soon,” she said.  “Can we go look now?”

“You two go ahead,” said Mother, a smile spreading on her lips.

Sorel rushed for the door.  “We’ll be back soon!”  She began to pull Tersanna by the arm.  “Let’s go before we miss it!”

“Don’t look at it for more than a few moments!” shouted Mother as the two sisters departed from the house.  “What good would two blind daughters be to me?”

Tersanna and Sorel laughed at their mother’s nagging.  Of course she was right about not staring too long at an eclipse.  As well as the fact that eclipses came often in this land—at least once every year or two.  Everyone knew about the dangers that came from staring at the sun, whether covered up by the moon or not.

So they ran out into the field just beyond the village where a dozen other people had gone, all of them there to view the phenomenon in the sky.

“Isn’t it amazing?” said Tersanna.

“It is,” said Sorel.  “It’s wonderful.”

Tersanna looked at her sister.  She was always beautiful and kind, with her lovely olive skin and dark brown hair, eyes full now of wonder and joy, as was appropriate for a girl of twelve years.  Even now she seemed radiant in the midst of the shadow that continued to spread out over the land.  She was just that kind of girl, ready to capture every moment for what it was worth—not to mention the extraordinary abilities she displayed from time to time.

Tersanna glanced back at the sky for a moment, before checking to make sure that Sorel wasn’t staring at it for too long.  Her attention then shifted to the grass that waved slowly back and forth in the light breeze.

“And isn’t it something, the way everything looks just a little bit different in this light?” said Tersanna.  “Like with the grass, the edges of each blade are less sharp and its movement is a near mystery.  And look at the trees.  The shade it gives is darker, but I don’t notice quite as much of a difference between that shadow and the shadow from the moon.  I suppose it’s not as easy to shade the shade as it is to shade the light, though I’m not sure how I feel about that.  What do you think about it, Sorel?”  They often talked about unusual things like this late into the night.  Tersanna liked to imagine it counted as practice for when she became a famous painter someday.  Right now, Sorel remained silent on the subject.  “....Sorel?”

From the corner of her eye, Tersanna saw her sister fall toward the ground.  The grass made a dull crackling as Sorel sat down hard.


The girl sat with her legs pulled up to her chest and her arms limp at her sides.  She had gone pale and began to shiver violently.  Her lips quivered as she stared absently toward the horizon.

Tersanna crouched and took hold of her sister.  “What is it, Sorel?  What’s going on?”  She had seen her sister like this—no, not even this bad—once before.  They all thought she had taken control over these bouts of nervousness, or whatever it was.

“Oh, dear Creator beyond,” whispered Tersanna as she prayed, “keep Sorel safe.”

Sorel muttered something.

“What did you say, sweetie?” said Tersanna.  “I didn’t quite hear.”  She pulled the girl closer.  The others in the field had noticed by now that something was amiss and began to murmur to each other.

“Don’t touch me,” said Sorel.

“Oh, Sorel, just take a breath and—”

The girl screamed at the top of her lungs.  Tersanna couldn’t keep herself from pulling back as the yell pierced her ears.  Sorel flailed her arms and pushed Tersanna away further.  As Tersanna fell back, she could only watch in horror as Sorel lay down in the grass, took a deep breath, and slammed her palms against the ground.

For a moment, the ground shivered as violently as Sorel herself.  The people in the field turned and ran in fear.  The grass around the girl began to shake and a moment later burst into thousands of tiny fragments.  Tersanna shielded her face as the pieces of grass slammed into her skin like little whips.

Tersanna tried to crawl back to her sister, but Sorel screamed again and pounded her hands on the ground.  The dirt underneath cracked like glass, began to shift, and then took on a faint orange glow.  Near Sorel’s feet, a pool of water started to form in the dirt, likely from a source close underground.  The water bubbled to the surface, roiled, and steam soon rose into the air.

Sorel had gone sickly pale, a look of utter pain on her face, her eyes were squeezed shut and her jaw clenched as hard as a rock.

“Sorel....” said Tersanna through tears.

The girl slammed her palms into the ground again and the glowing dirt cracked more, almost shattering beneath her touch.

And then, as if from a distant memory, Tersanna noticed that the eclipse began to pass as the moon moved on from hiding the sun.  Sorel continued to shiver, but slowly her shaking calmed.

Tersanna at last made her way to her sister’s side.  As if suddenly finding relief, Sorel let out a long breath before turning over and curling up on her side.  Tersanna lay down beside her and hugged her close.  Sorel began to weep.

“Dear, sweet Sorel....” said Tersanna, letting her own tears fall.

She ignored the villagers who ran up then, some of them offering help.  What could they do now?  She quietly despised those who now skipped being helpful and began to voice their fearful questions.  Poor Sorel wouldn’t be able to avoid their scrutiny now.  Not anymore.

But those concerns, coming soon enough, were not yet ripe.

For now, Tersanna held on tightly to her sobbing little sister.  “Everything’s going to be all right,” she whispered into Sorel’s ear.  “Everything’s going to be all right.”
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 8/23/2016 9:55:46 PM
  • Andre Clemons commented on :
    6/9/2016 2:17:10 AM
    I have similar feelings about the prologue. Starts off slow, but really gets going in the second half. I don't quite understand the need for this to be a prologue rather ... Show More
    • Jared Leys I think my decision to make this the prologue was largely influenced by it being a somewhat regular convention in the fantasy genre to have a prologue that gives a quick, vague introduction of a character with a bit of action, before then turning to the main narrative in chapter 1. So in the overall structure of the story, this way made more sense to me. However, I can see where people are coming from in wondering why this couldn't just be the first chapter. Thanks for your comment and for reading!
      6/9/2016 2:58:52 PM
    • Michelle Ewens Today's publishers look for fast paced first person narratives and cringe at prologues. Just keep writing but listen to some advice because it's rare like gems here where sometimes we can be a little to supportive and less critical. Publishers are critical though.
      6/10/2016 2:43:54 AM
    • Jared Leys I really am honored that you guys took the time to read my story and comment on it. I find the discussion interesting because lately I've been contemplating the value of someone making their art how they see fit versus the fact that storytelling is largely just an entertainment industry. Thanks for your thoughts!
      6/10/2016 12:51:48 PM
  • Michelle Ewens commented on :
    6/1/2016 10:05:28 PM
    The prologue is long. I'm not into prologues though and usually skip them but I forced myself to read this. It's actually interesting but probably unnecessary and could ... Show More
    • Jared Leys Thanks for reading! I'll take that into consideration.
      6/1/2016 10:52:55 PM
  • Yah-Hanna Leys commented on :
    5/25/2016 1:24:59 AM
    Can hardly wait for the coming chapters!
  • Scott commented on :
    5/24/2016 11:53:14 PM
    Loved it!