I am getting addicted to blogfests. These are just so much fun! I love participating myself, and reading what everyone else has done. Thanks to Kelly Lyman for hosting this one.
Since I have already posted my first page several times, I am going to try something different. I am going to post my old first page This was the opening of book until about a year ago when I came up with the whole nightstalker-in-the-snow thing. I'm thinking of cutting out the new chapters I've added at the beginning of the story, and going back (or rather, forward) to this one.
So, tell me what you think, please. Especially if you are familiar with the newer version. Thank you!
Long ago, when the mountains were taller and the seas younger, there lived a race of people who were smaller than humans, less magical than elves, and not at all like dwarves. For one thing, their menfolk (called hamen) had no beards, and for another, they loathed being underground. All they knew for sure about themselves was that they were Hanorja, and that their ancestors had come over the mountains in ages past.
A new moon hung low over the shoulders of the mountains as two hamen sat huddled at the base of a rocky slop. They had drawn themselves up to a dark fire, which gave off heat but no smoke and only a little, purplish light. One was taller and broader of shoulder; he stared into the fire with his head bowed, as if a great weight were upon him. The other was shorter, leaner and had propped his back against a rock with a quiet watchfulness, mouthing an unlit pipe. He was Faldur, a captain of the King’s Rangers that patrolled the mountain border. His tall companion was Melbrinor, eldest son of King Elmoran and the captain’s closest friend.
They had been following a regional protector called Chalmeth, whom they suspected of plotting against the King. His trail led them to Blackpool, an opening in the rocks into which a waterfall poured with thundering force, then disappeared into the earth. Chalmeth’s trail stopped at the edge of the pool; it was as if he had vanished along with the water. There was a cave behind the falls, but there was no way to reach it and no other entrance anywhere among the rocks. They had assured themselves of this after a long, discouraging day combing the mountainside. At nightfall they made their camp a short distance away, sheltered by a stand of aspens that sighed and rattled their branches in the chill wind. The sound of the water was not so deafening here, though it still mocked them.
“He can’t have possibly entered that cave, so where is he?” asked Mel in a low voice.
Faldur stretched his well-worn boots to the fire. The soles needed mending; he could feel hot spots on the bottom of his feet. “Perhaps he sprouted wings and flew away.”
"Perhaps he fell in."
Faldur chuckled grimly. "We wouldn't be that lucky."