I am posting the entire original start of THE RED ORB. I scratched every bit of this and began about chapter 3. My fellow authors from Anthem Authors Club in Henderson, NV, convinced me that the following was way off base, and a bit boring. Some of you will notice the few changes I made in the story and characters. Dumping small and large sections is common.
THE RED ORB (unedited first attempt)
The King summoned his five children to the great hall of the underground castle.
Inside sat a massive, long table with chairs. The table was made of centuries old wood, thick and rough-hewn, darkened by age. The chairs, solid and grand, were built for royalty, not for comfort. The room smoky, from the many candles burning within the lamps along the walls.
Princes and Princesses strode into the great hall. The five, whose mother had long since passed, were no longer children. They moved to the chairs alongside the huge table and waited. The King stood erect in front of his chair at the head of the table. He stared straight ahead. His serious expression quite different than any seen before. The five were tense, eyes wide in anticipation.
The King took his seat. He gave a slight nod, the others took their seats. The King rested his elbows on the table with only the fingertips of his hands touching in front of him. “I have ruled my kingdom for many years. Every person in the five villages that make up my realm has thrived.” He gazed down at the table and took a deep breath. “Now it is time to pass my kingdom to my children. Five villages, five of you. Each of you will rule a village, as I have this entire kingdom.”
Maldiva, the oldest, dared a question, “Father, we are hidden beneath a village, do those above know of your throne, your castle?”
“No, my Princess. They know not of this place, nor do they know of me, their King.”
Maldiva continued, “Then, if you are planning to step down from the throne, as the oldest, I am ready to reign.”
“Not yet. You each must live in a village. Experience the world.”
Noa, the youngest girl, asked, “Have you ever been to any of the villages?”
“Of course, long before you were born. I lived a time in all five of them.”
Parker, his oldest son, asked, “Are we to build castles beneath all the other villages?”
“That decision will be yours to make, but first you must live amongst the people. Learn their ways, understand their world, but no one can ever know your purpose or who you really are!”
The middle daughter, Laura asked, “For how long? When do we return?”
The question brought a tear to the King’s eye, “You shall not return.”
Several gasped at the King’s last words. The quiet persisted in the room. Oliver, the remaining son, broke the silence, “This is it, the last time we are together, Father?”
“I cannot say, every life has a path. I can’t know yours, as you can’t know mine, but each life is a piece of a much bigger plan. We can only seek to balance out evil with good. Sacrifices have to be made. You were born to serve, and serve you must.”
The King lowered an arm beside his chair. He pulled up an old burlap bag, and placed it on the table. He locked eyes with each child. “I have a special gift for each of you.” He stood and said, “From ancient times the mountains gave forth these magical glass orbs. The powers within are many and mystic. I have hidden them until this gathering. They are the source of my powers. Now they must be protected by you!” He reached inside and pulled out a perfect glass orb from the bag. He held it in front of his face. The orb gave off a dazzling green light.
“The time has come my children, you shall now be the overseers of the land. You will each live in one of the five villages. Learn and teach at the same time. Balance, there must be balance.”
The King’s piercing eyes surveyed them all. His glance settled on Oliver. “Come here my son.” Oliver came to his feet and walked over to the King, “Take this, the Orb of Good Fortune. You will reside in the land of the Tree-Dwelling people. Be courageous.”
“I will not let you down Father.” Prince Oliver took the glass orb. It bathed him in its green light. He turned around and walked out of the castle, for ever.
The King removed the next orb, it gave off a brilliant white light, he stared into it, “Noa, come take this my Princess, for the village of Birth-Power. It is the Orb of All Power. Be well my child.”
Noa stood rigid as she dutifully took the orb. She gave her father a prolonged look and left the castle.
He moved on to the next. “Laura, my dear girl, this Orb of Sound Mind and Body can only be for the village of Splendor.”
She had a tear in her eye as she took the sun-touched yellow glowing orb. Weeping softly, she said, “Goodbye my dear Father.” She then made her way out of the room.
“The next orb is the balance to all power, for it denies it. It is just as strong, the Orb of Denial. Take it to the village of Rhapsody Prince Parker. Live well.” He handed a blistering blue orb to Parker.
The Prince gave his father a tilt of his head and off he went.
“And the last orb goes to my oldest daughter, Princess Maldiva.” The Princess came to her feet and marched to the King to accept the glass orb. “Mal, you will live in the low lands of Guilders. Take care of this orb, for it is the beginning of wisdom. The Orb of Growth. Be strong.”
No strange color or glow emanated from this orb. Mal thought to mention it, but she did not want to question the wisdom of her father, the King. She accepted the glass orb and left the castle.
The King turned and watched the last of his children exit the castle. He slumped back into the chair. He leaned to one side with one arm extended on the table. He gave a heavy sigh, “Balance, there must be balance.” He reached one final time into the bag and withdrew a sixth glass orb. A radiant red glow cast over his face as he stared into it.
Each of the five did as they were instructed. They traveled to the village they were to reside in, and preside over. They settled within the villages and promptly vanished. The story might have ended here, but the plan did not go well.
Mal stirred it around and around in her mind. It tormented her day and night. She kept going over the King’s last words, time and again.
The beginning of wisdom. What does that mean? If you begin something then, you start with nothing right? These people of Guilders are masters at what they do, this village practically runs itself. Where do they need wisdom? The orb had no color, no glow, nothing! This thing is fake! Why wasn’t I given the Orb of All Power? I’m the oldest! Why was I given this stupid clear round rock?!
The more she dwelled upon it, the angrier it made her. These feelings consumed her. She thought of nothing else.
Noa got the choice magic orb, I just know it! And she was sent to the Village of Birth-Power too! The village of magic. It all should be mine. Shouldn’t I, the oldest, get the King’s power first? Let Noa live here with the smell of animals all day!
I will take back what is rightfully mine!
Princess Noa bought food from varied merchants, she spent as little time as possible with the vendors. No one in town could possibly know her, and yet, Noa couldn’t rid herself of that feeling that someone was watching her. She usually kept her gaze down, when she walked through town, but suddenly, she whipped her head around. She expected someone to be standing there. Nothing!
With her head lowered, Mal peered out through the shadow the hood provided. It took three days of waiting, but there was her sister, Noa. It’s amazing how easy it is to spot the person trying to hide when you are trying to hide. Mal watched Noa suddenly swing her head around. That’s Noa, always was a bit jittery. Mal laughed to herself. Tracking her is going to be easy.
Noa lived in a simple little shack between the last house on the road to town and a small stream. The land was rugged and not suitable for a home. It fit the bill for what she wanted. Heavy brush made the shack hard to see for anyone who happened to be walking by.
Noa always was a creature of habit, Mal counted on it. Mal watched her from afar for a week, the routine memorized. Noa washed her clothes on the same days, shopped twice a week for food. She cooked at the same times. Noa even took walks for exercise, but brief ones, she was never gone for long. Mal was going to have to be quick.
Noa rounded the corner on her way back home from a short stroll to stretch her legs. She smelled something burning before she saw the smoke. “Oh no, my home is on fire!” she yelled. She ran to the shack surrounded by brush, it burned on one side. She grabbed a nearby bucket of water and threw it on the fire. It was hardly enough, she needed more water. She stood paralyzed for a second, then dashed inside still carrying the empty bucket.
Mal hid in the bushes, smiled and watched. Noa burst out of the burning shack with a full bucket of items and arms loaded with her treasured belongings. She ran about thirty yards away from the house before she dropped everything and emptied the bucket in a pile. She continued running through the brush toward the water with the bucket in tow.
Mal scrambled quick to the pile. She searched frantically until she found what she was looking for. The cloth stood out amongst the other items. It was not worn and tattered, it was neatly wrapped around an object. The object had to be the Orb of All-Power. Mal carefully unwrapped the orb and shoved it into her pocket. From another pocket she removed the Orb of Growth. She stopped. Did I just see some light come from this thing? Her ears picked up the popping and cracking of the fire. Come on Mal, you are losing it. That was a reflection from the flames. She wrapped her old orb neatly with the fine cloth and placed it back in the pile. She clutched the orb in her pocket as she took one last look at the fire, then down the path for Noa. Perfect. Maldiva sprinted away. She picked her way through the brush towards the Great Forest.
Mal was miles away and deep in the forest. She finally stopped to rest and look at her prize. She held the beautiful orb in both hands, she extended her arms over her head. The orb shined its brilliant white light. She let out a deep cackling laugh that eerily echoed off the trees.
I will build my own castle. Yeah, yeah, I’ll hide it in the forest. Huge, it will be huge. A huge fortress. I don’t need any of them anymore. They all were in on it. I knew it. Everyone will know me. I am Princess Maldiva. They will worship my name. I was always the one meant for this. I had to correct the King’s terrible wrong. It is my Orb of All-Power and nothing can stop me now!
Maldiva had gone mad.