39. Into the Valley

220px-Langaa_egeskov_rimfrostIn 1972, I was working as head surgical technician in the dental service of a naval hospital. We did quite a bit of exciting work, but the day to day routine consisted of assisting in the extraction of impacted wisdom teeth.

The next day after the vision of the young boy in the tower (yesterday’s post), some unfilled appointments left me with a couple of hours to kill. I sat down and wrote the first chapter of what would become a fantasy series.

I typed the last period on the last polishing of that story in June of 2013.

Mark Twain said of a writer starting a novel, “. . . in the beginning he is only proposing to tell a little tale; a very little tale; a six-page tale.”

In 1972 I had no intention of writing a novel, much less becoming a novelist, but the boy’s story already had me by the throat.

In that first chapter, which I wrote there in the dental office, Marquart, the boy’s father, comes in on horseback (kakais came later), in midwinter, to take up his new lands in the Valley of the Menhir. His new wife is with him, pregnant with the boy. They are seen by Harthka, wife of a free forester and, as they pass on, we follow her to her crude, hidden dwelling. She is followed by a ‘shifter (only a simple werewolf in this first iteration) who attacks her. She is saved by her husband Amon (later Amyn, to avoid confusion with Amon Ra).

A simple story, and very medieval at first. Everything would grow, deepen, and morph as the fantasy elements crystalized, but I did not know that in 1972. I did realize, as I wrote that first chapter, that when Marquart was killed, the boy would flee to the hills, would be found and raised by the forester Amyn, and that those years would be the making of him.

I also knew the boy’s name, which I will share next post.

A young marine knocked on the door. I put the papers aside, called the oral surgeon, and went back to work. That night I took the chapter home and filed it away, where it would lie fallow for the next five years, then re-emerge to blow a hole in my career.

More next post.

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