Below is the first chapter from a start to an old idea for a novel. The novel would be a sequel to my current work in progress, "Sisters of Perm." Therefore, I believe it a proper way to introduce you to my writing style. If you enjoy, please return for future blog posts, especially those that feature some of my writing.
Please let me know what you think of this chapter in the comments below. You can follow me on Instagram at @michaelrkielfictions. You can find a link to it on my home webpage.
Chapter 1 - From Platform to Train
Ippol Moveyich, dressed in an unassuming suit, and carrying a single, soiled bag of luggage, fidgeted again with his watch. The queue at the ticket office had not moved in several minutes. He looked to a nearby board, his face grimacing. The Raza train was departing in less than an hour.
Ippol stiffened. A great whistle had blared nearby. Metal wheels began to screech, their iron grinding to a halt. A brisk wind picked up and sent cold air down his neck.
Inhaling sharply, he bent his eyes. His trousers and boots were damp and filthy. A November rain the evening prior had made the land thick and muddy, and as such, the coach Ippol had taken to the train station had gotten stuck.
At length, Ippol exhaled, managing a laugh.
“I should have accepted more money,” he mumbled, brushing off clumps of mud.
Ippol had helped the driver free the coach from the mud. Once freed, the coachman had been so relieved that he had offered to return the whole fare. Ippol accepted only half.
Ten more minutes passed. The Raza platform gradually began to fill in with more commuters.
Ippol ignored them, gazing ahead at the ticket office, chewing on his lip. There at its main window, a woman was in the midst of a heated discussion with an attendant.
Ippol could not hear their conversation but clearly saw the woman. Elderly and white-haired, she hunched and leaned on a cane with one hand, and searched inside her purse. Both arms jerked. She twisted around to glance at the crowd, quite nearly falling over in the process.
The commuters standing in the queue watched and grew restless, jeering insults and curses. Ippol, however, dropped his gaze, opened his jacket, and reached inside a pocket. He exchanged his watch for a small stringed pouch. Both, despite their years of use, remained in exceptional condition. They had originally belonged to his father.
Ippol pulled open the pouch and counted the contents. Thirty notes and five silver coins. That was all that remained of his savings.
He pulled the strings tight and returned the pouch to its usual pocket.
Not a whole hell of a lot, Ipp, he thought to himself.
A clamor then caught his attention.
Cheers came from the front of the queue.
Ippol stepped aside and narrowed his gaze. Two Volshe peacekeepers now stood next to the ticket window with the old woman between them. Sanguine-looking and young, they wore finely trimmed beards and had backs massive and broad.
The taller of the two Volshe spoke harshly and held out a hand, evidently waiting for something. He dwarfed the old woman. She had to crane her neck upward to talk to him. Ippol could not hear their conversation, but the woman was clearly startled. Her body and hands visibly trembled.
“Foolish Krepst!” said a woman immediately in front of Ippol. This lady, wearing an elegant short grey dress, trimmed with lace below her partially exposed bosom, chuckled with her friend. “How could she ever think to manage yellow class tickets?”
“You should understand these modern Krepsts, my Vatya,” said the friend, exchanging curious, foul glances with Ippol. “Equality declared by our King floods their heads.”
The two Volshe men then strode past the queue, escorting the Krepst woman. Her body had now gone limp. Her eyes, however, met Ippol’s gaze. His heartbeat quickened. His face grew warm. He chewed his lip while the conversation next to him continued.
“I agree, Cathri. A change in official law, and suddenly they think that the whole world changes,” said Vatya with a rise in her voice. “Much will remain the same, thankfully.”
“Thankfully,” repeated Cathri. “And let us pray our society falls no further.
Steadily, the normal bustle of the train station resumed. Once more, the queue moved systematically, everyone paying and receiving their train tickets one after the other without interruption.
Ippol traced the people ahead of him, his eyes darting back and forth. He himself could not afford a ticket for the Raza. Such luxuries were typically beyond his means. Indeed, he had not purchased his present boarding pass. A family benefactor had acquired it, instructing him to pick it up today. He had accepted with reluctance.
Although a competent attorney, Ippol had recently fallen in debt with his landlord. The reason behind his financial burden was a very ordinary matter. In the last several months, he had accepted only two clients: a Krepst clerk who had disputed his recent dismissal from a Volshe bank and a Krepst waitress who had been molested by two Volshe men after having denied their sexual advances.
Ippol had technically won both cases. The bank clerk had his position reinstated but with reduced wages. The two Volshe molesters had received a sentence of ten years of hard labor that later got reduced to six months.
Originally, both cases had received little attention in the newspapers. Then, a few weeks ago, a scandal made widespread gossip. The Krepst waitress had been found raped and strangled to death outside her flat. A single word had been burned into her forehead – “whore”.
The woman had had no family. Ippol had chosen to use the earnings from both cases to cover her funeral expenses.
To this day, there was no lead on a suspect. The two Volshe men had been released from prison three days before the murder.
At this moment, the Raza hooted at the top of its tone.
Ippol flinched, wincing.
His previous musings subsided, and he lifted his eyes.
“Sir?” said the attendant.
At last, he found himself at the ticket window.
Ippol blinked, unable to speak for a moment.
He stared through the bars at a young, blond woman. Underneath a visor, her face reddened. His heart quickened. The girl smiled politely but then raised her brow. People behind him in line had begun to make another fuss.
“Sir,” she repeated at length. “Your name?”
Ippol nodded, smiling apologetically.
“Yes, yes,” he uttered, his own face growing warm, his arms searching for a comfortable position to rest.
“Moveyich, Ippol. Pick up.”
The girl bent her head, rummaged through a few pieces of paper on a clipboard, and then paused.
“Papers, please,” she said, tilting her head, looking inquisitively at Ippol.
He handed over his identification. She mumbled to herself while reading everything. Her reaction was understandable considering the latest Krepst scene. Undoubtedly, he was among the very few lower-class Krepsts who came to her window, picking up a yellow ticket. The red ticket was the Krepst standard - the cheapest.
A few moments passed. The girl began to hum. Ippol watched as she twirled a lock of hair with a slender finger. Her perfume wafted toward him. He smiled, closing his eyes, inhaling deeply.
“Thank you, sir,” said the girl, slipping Ippol his papers. Her fingers lingered over his hand. Narrow and delicate, they were cold but soft. “And here is your pass.”
“Yes, thank you,” he said. With the yellow slip in his grasp, an unexpected tingling sensation traveled his body. “Pleasant day, then.”
The girl returned the greeting, locking her blue eyes on him for a prolonged, purposeful moment. He moved aside and allowed the next commuter to step forward. He bowed and then left the window.
Ippol walked toward the train. Noticeably, he found himself in yet another daze of the day.
An interesting thing, he thought, to be called ‘sir’ by a beautiful young woman. The old man who has always been addressed in such a manner never gives it a second thought, assumes it is automatic even. Whereas the young man who hears it for the first time finds himself both bewildered and excited. From that moment forward, the man is changed forever, thought Ippol, and no longer is his own master.
At that instant, laughter filled the air. Ippol turned to his left. Five men drew near, each of them walking with perfect posture. Dressed ornately and stepping loudly in their shiny black boots, not one of the men acknowledged Ippol. They strode together toward the front of the train, speaking in their own language – the High Speech. Their voices rang loud and clear; they wore the complacent air of men who expected no person near could threaten them. Indeed, not many would have understood their conversation. The High Speech was the privilege of the elite, the Volshe class, the highest above all others.
Ippol sighed. The Raza train had blown its whistle a third time.
The crowd of commuters on the platform soon doubled. The Volshe men disappeared from view.
Ippol hesitated a moment, took a deep breath, and then quickened his pace.
Caught with a sudden curiosity, he pressed through the crowd. He ignored the shoves and shouts of disgruntled commuters as he walked against the flow of his fellow Krepsts. Most of them were making their way across the platform toward the back of the Raza, where the compartments reserved for the Krepst classes resided.
Ippol soon came upon the Volshe men and their Krepst servants. He walked behind the latter as they obediently carried loads of luggage, remaining a respectable distance from their masters.
Among the Krepsts, Ippol safely watched the Volshe group. One of them, a man who appeared only somewhat older than Ippol, guffawed. Tall and imposing, the man frequently tugged at the collar of a lavish black overcoat while he walked with his comrades. When his laughter subsided, he turned, eyed the entire span of his company, and gestured with a raised arm, indicating they should listen.
“An old Krepst, named Issac, lay on his deathbed,” began the Volshe in eloquent High Speech. “And around Issac, a lifelong servant, was his entire family. ‘Wife, are you here?’ asks the old Krepst with a thin voice. ‘Yes, husband, I’m here.’ ‘My brothers, Krk and Rori, have they come?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And T’ra? I don’t hear my sister.’ ‘Yes, she’s here.’ ‘And our Tyler, Eevan, and Rees?’ ‘Yes, yes, they are here. Do not worry, my husband, we are all here.’ And at this, the old Krepst’s eyes suddenly flashed and grew wide with fear. His last words on this earth were then uttered, ‘But then who’s left to serve our masters?”
As the company of Volshe chuckled at this anecdote, one of the Krepst servants behind them began to struggle with an impressive stack of luggage on the trolley. Ippol stepped near and succeeded in steadying the stack of suitcases before they could fall.
The servant, an old man with a sweaty, reddened face, nodded in appreciation. Breathing much too heavy to speak, he forced a grunt at Ippol through an open mouth.
With the luggage and trolley secure, Ippol renewed his fixation upon the Volshe men. None of them had noticed the near accident, save one - another tall Volshe, standing directly to the right of the one who had just spoken. Dressed elegantly as well, his overcoat was not as ostentatious as the others and was well worn. Ippol met his sideways glance. The man nodded at him, an unexpected gesture of gratitude.
“Mikal, you are not laughing,” said the story-telling Volshe. “You take offense then. You think I speak in cruelty.”
Mikal’s gaze lingered upon Ippol for a couple of seconds. Then, at length, he spoke to his friend with disinterest, “Selap, whenever do you not.”
The rest of the Volshe men smirked.
Selap glanced at his companions with a raised brow, adjusting his collar.
“You wound me, my Prince,” he said. He then grinned with derision, now recognizing the prince’s attention on Ippol. “I am afraid we cannot all have such weakness in our will for these Krepsts.”
A sudden and heavy silence fell among the Volshe.
The prince only looked at his friend, tilting his head slightly.
Selap soon eased his grin and bowed.
"Forgive me, my Prince, I spoke brazenly," he said. "Such sympathy in our will." He stood erect and continued without further hesitation. "But you must understand me – I have no such sympathy. These creatures are beneath us. They possess little strength. They have no capacity of the Sagi. They could not conjure a single spell to save their life. If not for our protection from the dangers of our land, they would surely wither and die. They are, in a word, pathetic."
Ippol's eyes darted between the servants. Not one of them held their glance above their own feet. None of them likely understood the High Speech, but they knew enough not to meet the gaze of their masters unless beckoned.
Ippol was not always so meek. He bent a glare back to the Volshe.
Selap shook his head and guffawed.
“Look at them,” he said, raising his voice and throwing his arm in an arc towards Ippol and the other Krepsts. “They are nothing. They know nothing. Nothing of our world. They are afraid of us. And rightly so. They do not even have the brains to learn High Speech.”
Selap abruptly paused. He narrowed his gaze upon Ippol.
“And look at that one there!" shouted Selap. "The creature is so dull and boorish. He dares look at me in the eye. He is unaware that I could kill him in but a word or a gesture of my hand.”
The prince glanced from Selap to Ippol.
“Perhaps he is neither dull nor boorish,” said Mikal with a shrug. “Indeed, perhaps he simply stares at us with disgust.”
And at those words, Selap leaned his head back, guffawing once more.
“Preposterous, my prince!” he bellowed. “Such as he? Too dim and dumb to decipher our tongue!”
“But Selap,” continued the prince. “What if he, a Krepst, could? What then?”
Selap shut his mouth, cocked his head at Ippol, scrutinizing, measuring.
“Then the animal would be a fool,” said Selap, at length, speaking in Low Speech. “For I would ruin him for such disrespect. No Krespst is my equal.”
Uttered with such clear contempt, these last words seemed to stir the air between the two groups. Neither Ippol nor Selap dared to drop their gaze upon one another.
A break in the severe silence came with another hoot from the Raza.
Soon bored, the Volshe men shrugged their shoulders and snapped their fingers, beckoning their servants to follow.
Mikal lay a hand on Selap’s shoulder.
“Come, my friend,” said the prince. “It’s time to board. Leave the Krepst be.”
Selap snorted and, without a further word, set off with the prince.
Ippol stood, clenching his fists. His heart threatened to burst from his chest. The sweat in his armpits began to waft to his nostrils. He closed his eyes and caught his breath a moment before a nudge came at his jacket sleeve.
He turned. Brown eyes belonging to a wrinkled stared back at him. Ippol blinked and smirked, at last recognizing the servant he had helped only a few minutes ago.
The old Krepst gave Ippol a full, genuine smile.
“Young man, I thank ye for the assistance,” he said. He began to push his trolley full of luggage and then gestured backward with his head. “But you best be off. That was the last whistle.”
The servant brought him back to his senses.
“Right, thanks, old fellow,” said Ippol, gripping his bag firmly.
Ippol then sprinted down the platform without looking back.
He passed several compartments and a few remaining passengers who were running late like himself. Wind gusting against his face, he breathed in deeply. Smoke and ash had filled the air. The train and wheels soon jerked forward a couple of feet. Ippol timed the movement and sprang aboard.
End of Chapter of One
Thank you for reading!
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Michael R Kiel Fictions
Blog 3 – 12-15-2020
First photo found on Instagram @simply.scotland