So close. This is the last excerpt before the win, which I am expecting a day early (ie: tomorrow). Enjoy and I wish all my other NaNo cohorts a good finish in their dash for the 30th.
Peace and Writing Love,
* * *
The Shattered Darkness
Chapter 15 excerpt
The boat inched forward as if caught on a wake. Something was pushing them. They rocked for a moment and the bow shifted left slightly.
“Keep it straight, Sen.” Issy’s hand tightened around Senic’s. She scooted closer to him and lay her head against his.
The boat drifted on, the front taking its course now. The cavern opened to a wide chamber, the canal feeding into a vast lake. Knolls of grass existed on various islands that sprouted from the lake, the flowers from the other plain growing here as well. Gerad looked to the cavern ceiling as they drifted through the water. He could not keep his mind away from what Melana would have thought of this journey. After a short ride in silence, each of them looking to different areas of the lake, a larger wake rocked their starboard side. It was a minor splash at fist, followed up by a series of larger, more violent shoves. The green water sloshed onto their feet and boat bottom, drying as it had on Kyona’s hand. The wakes came from all directions, thrusting their boat unnavigable as Senic and Issy toppled over on each other.
“What’s happening?” Kyona asked.
“I feel something ahead,” Issy said. “It’s really strong.” She leaned away from the bow as the water continued to spray over the sides. She whined and put her head on her brother’s shoulder. “It hurts.”
“What do you feel?” Aroth asked.
“I can’t think right,” she cried. Senic also cried out, putting his hands out ahead, trying to hold off their pain.
“Something is pushing on me. A bad headache.”
“It is the domain’s defenses,” Aroth said. “Hang on, this is about to get rough.”
The water began to bubble and froth. Their boat spun in the foam and quickly took off across the lake, speeding by the small land dots and missing them barely. Giant upsurges of water stabbed into the air around them as they passed, as if siege engines were bombarding fire around their vessel. The green rain sprinkled down and they entered another cavern, the lake thinning off into a river again. The stinging water spat at them from the bow as they tore across the surface, and the children ducked low to the bench, gripping it.
“Don’t lose track, kids,” Aroth yelled to them. “This voyage is still under your control. Think through it.”
“It hurts!” Issy cried. “Make it stop.”
“Focus, Issy,” Kyona said.
She reached over Gerad, sitting on the boat floor with the kids and held them steady.
Gerad glared up ahead where a split in the river appeared. “Quick, Issy. You can do it. Help your sister, Senic.”
Although they continued to whine, the boat trembled, fighting to take both directions. It rocked wildly in the twins’ mental battle to take them down the right path. The river flooded into the boat now, filling too quickly to evaporate.
“Right,” Issy called, her brother repeating it almost on top of her. They rose up on their knees, taking their hands to the bow. The boat struggled for a second longer before they careened to the chosen path.
“Keep at it!” Aroth demanded again.
The children continued to call out the directions as they just came to the multiple paths the river opened at. The skimmed the side of the cavern, riding the wall as one of their choices came too late. The water continued to fill the boat.
“I see land ahead,” Kyona said. “A bit more, kids.”
Their screams became unbearable now, the pressure finally touching Gerad, also. The front of the boat sunk, mere yards from the shore the opened before them. The water weight inside the vessel took over and the bow dove under. The river gushed at them and they each went beneath the surface.
Gerad tossed and spun, blowing air through his mouth and yelling. His eyes bolted open, a green rush in his face and bubbles being thrown at him. He saw Kyona sweep ahead of him and he attempted to grab her, but she had wrapped herself around Issy. Senic was nowhere to be found. He spun over in the torrent, Aroth seemingly unconscious and being dragged at the rear. He heaved in, water entering his throat, but he burst out of the river with his next choking breath. They thudded onto the land with a flood tossing them ashore. He hacked and slammed his hand against his chest to spit up. Kyona rolled onto her side, Issy held in her arms with one hand covering her face. Splinters of wood exploded behind him as the boat found the shore. He wobbled to his feet, staggering to Kyona first. He pulled Issy off her and then took her up. Aroth came from behind, falling to the grass next to him.
Aroth took in an exhausted breath and looked up. He stared around. “Where’s the boy?” he asked. “Where is Senic?”
Gerad scanned the shore and gasped, stepping forward. “Renikarr, no,” he said in a prolonged breath. Senic lay face down in grass not ten steps ahead of them. He did not move.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my cohorts. Extended greetings to my family, who I am away from for the first holiday season ever. And I tell you, it is really hard to be at work today, despite it being Disney and all, and not with my family.
But, regardless, I found a good connection in the cafeteria here on property, so I'll be Skyping with them all very soon. That brightens my day a bit.
Here is my latest excerpt.
Peace and Writing Love, plus Turkey.
* * *
The Shattered Darkness
Chapter 14 excerpt
At the other end of the chamber, cut out of the rug, was a similar patch of floor where Ismer showed that he prayed. He took an interest in the prayer circle once more, kneeling at it with a finger on the line. He had noticed it with Ismer’s circle, but tiny lines formed interior rings. They were spaced not even inches apart, pegs connecting them at various parts.
“That’s not like the other prayer circle,” Mefist said. He kneeled next to Valence and the moment after, a whirlwind force pulled them to the ground. There was a flash of green, terribly bright, and something smacked at his back. He opened his eyes, daring the light’s intensity, but it was gone. They lay on the floor outside the circle.
“This seems too similar,” Valence said to the Demi.
“I think you’re right.” Mefist gathered himself and pulled Valence up. “And, I don’t think that was a prayer circle.” He looked around the new room. It was not the one that gave homage to day and night, but something else entirely. “In fact, I’m sure of it. We were portaled somewhere.”
“I think this is a ley,” Valence said, “but I’ve never seen an active one. I wonder what we did.”
“Who cares.” Mefist took in their new surroundings. “Whichever of the Archons called this tower home had no sense of decor. A chair and work table over there,” he said, pointing to it, “and some candles. Very homy. All the power in the world, messengers of the gods, and they can’t put a carpet down?”
Valence ignored Mefist’s complaints and found the door leading to what was likely the stairs down. He had learned his lesson and did not doubt the glance down would fare him any more solid a stomach than the last. He looked along the walls. The construction of the towers were mostly similar, with differences attributing each keeper’s taste, but what had been left to preservation sent his mind walking. Ismer’s tower and the one before both had the rib-like beams running down the entire length. He had not thought it as anything more than supporting the height of the tower, but he looked more closely at the beams. Tube-like glass was on either side of the beam, running top to bottom. An energy fed off it, obviously unused for some time, but even the oldest trace amounts held to age. It felt Seentirulian in shape and depth, but it was very deep, as if the glass did not end at the floor. It was as if something beneath the ground gave the tower the energy supply.
He came back to Mefist, thinking. The Demi was sitting on the floor just outside the ley gate. “These towers are definitely strange. I think they were used as conductors of some kind. But, I can’t tell for what.”
“Fascinating,” Mefist said. “Does any of this help us, though?” He went to say something more, but was interrupted by the glow of the gate starting up again.
It hummed to them, a force behind the veil of the ley pushing into the empty chamber. It filled the room and a sudden pressure ran along Valence’s back, his instinct’s way of telling him that they were being watched. The green ran through the ley’s patterns and the air shimmered with a flash of prismatic color. He looked at Mefist, whose red eyes and black slits softened with concern. He, too, felt the presence coming at them.
“I don’t like the way this feels,” Mefist said.
“Neither do I,” Valence said. He put out his hand to feel
the wards on the tower. They had been there, but something was
sucking the protection away at a very quick rate. Layers over layers of ancient defenses were being bypassed.
“Damn,” he muttered. “I just remembered the bad thing about ley gates.”
“Anyone can use them. We took this gate from the sun and moon tower, but it could lead somewhere else, also.”
No sooner had he spoken, the shimmering air burst apart like shattering glass and a tendril shot out from the gate. It was writing through the air, visible in the space they stood and just not inside the threshold of the ley. It snapped and coiled, grabbing Valence up, but Mefist was already on it. He came down on the tendril with a sai, pinning it to the floor. The slimy arm detached from whatever body fed it, the pierced half wriggling. The cut portion morphed to a thin, deadly needle and slashed back at them.
Valence dodged back, but grabbed at his chest after the swing had passed over. Fine drops of his blood sprinkled across the floor. He took his steps back, Mefist guarding his front, as the tentacle morphed again to a shape bearing claws. Another tendril came from the threshold, also clawed. They reached for them and something larger was coming out of the gate. A thick mass, slick with a moist shell as its body, rolled from the ley, the claws dragging it forward into the chamber. It hissed and spat, minimizing their safe ground, and two eyes pushed down the body to look on them. They flickered to life, the glowing shapes not even blinking. They only stared. The thing hissed again, vicious, and lurched.
The body of the demon went right while the arms came from the other side. Mefist put himself in front of the arms and it fetched a strike that put him to the floor. The Demi fought to rise, but the tendrils slapped down on him and knocked him chest-flat again. Valence leapt over the arms as the body rolled for him, the eyes spinning upward as the body revolved. Its stare never left him.
So I don't normally post my NaNo excerpts a day apart, nor do I normally post twice in a day, but I found my latest excerpt quite tasty. I also passed the 40k mark, so I'm feeling the win coming close.
Short and sweet, here's your next look.
Peace and Writing Love,
* * *
The Shattered Darkness
Chapter 13 excerpt
She glanced back at Phinella, who was tending to her mare. A patch of sun hung over her, but the brushing of the trees put it out. Eris looked up to the branches, but it was not the drifts putting out away the light. The shadow of something in the crowns moved across the air, stopping where the sunlight was shining through. When the things had blotted all the nearest sunbeams, she saw their faces. The Trapos warriors had followed them to the Crystal Pool, waiting and watching with bows dangling in their arms.
Phinella looked at her, a sweet smile on her and none the wiser of the assault awaiting them from above. The mistress’ expression changed when she next looked at her directly and she gave her a nod. She mouthed, “Do what you must.”
Eris dug her heel into the dirt, gave the snakes a second glance over and sprinted for Phinella. One dropped from the branches between them, its arms stretching for her. She doubled back and spun away from the snake, her hands already ahead of her and yellow aura snapping to life around them. She pushed at the Trapos as it brought its face to her. What should have been ochre eyes, splinters of black in them, were instead pure coal. The warrior flew off his feet, but the other snakes dropped around them before the first could hit the ground.
She motioned for Phinella toward her, yelling “Run!” The mistress slapped her own mare and the she took off for Eris. The pair of horses blitzed off into the forest. Phinella buried herself in her student’s arms and they ran for the Pool. Eris touched the well’s edge first when a thick twang slashed into the air. The mistress stumbled, instant dead weight, and Eris also dropped from the Phinella’s arm grabbing her leg. She spun around, drawing her in, but glared upon a two-foot long arrow driving out just below her shoulder.
Phinella did not so much as whine. She was simply silent. Eris crawled over her body, touching the shaft of the arrow lightly. She yanked her hand back when the mistress moaned and was grateful for it to have not been fatal. She rolled her over as the Trapos closed around them, but she gave the mistress her attention.
“Can you sit up?” she asked.
“Do it, dear,” Phinella said, her words in a mumble. She forced her head at the Trapos and let it drop back against Eris’ chest. She had seen their eyes. “Now.”
The Trapos launched themselves at the women, worse weaponry than bows coming at them. Deadly spears with coiling, tiny teeth were raised above their heads. One pike embedded itself inches from their feet and Phinella scurried back from it. Another soared at them, but Eris was already on her knees with her hands to the trees. An aura shield blazed from the dirt, coursing potent and solid. The spear cracked against the shield and bounced off in two pieces. The useless tosses of their spears did not stop the attack, however. The snakes put their fists to the shield, repelled with each strike and dazed, but they came back with heavier hits and more determined.
Eris leaned back with each hit, the aura snapping her will harshly. Each of their fists put a rebounding tone through her head, an echo that would not quit.
“They’re coming through, Eris,” Phinella said, sliding back further. “Can you hold it?”
She fumbled with her answer. The barrage was sapping everything from her. “I don’t know.” She stuttered off the last word and clenched her lips. “I need to...I need—”
“Don’t speak. Just think.”
“Think what?” Her question was lost under the ravaging hisses of the snakes. They glared at her through the shield, but showed no sign of weakness. A larger one, the first to have spotted them when they had crossed into their territory, flicked its tongue, tasting the aura. It slurped its tongue back in and jumped on top of the shield. A knife was then in its hand, driving down. Eris knew the knife’s point came through the shield, for she was knocked to her end on the rebound. She shook her head and looked up. An inch or two of the steel was stuck, but the warrior did not pulled it back. All four arms went to work where the knife had punctured.
Phinella screamed as another knife came at the shield in front of them, also barely puncturing it. The grounded warriors followed the other’s lead.
“I won’t be able to hold it,” Eris said, her breath escaping her. “They’ll be through soon.”
A sharp splinter cracked down the wall of the shield and Eris glared at it in horror. She looked up to the Trapos warrior, who had his face pressed to the barrier. His coal eyes set a curse on her: that they would not escape their murderous assault. He hissed, his open mouth drawing air and calling the others to him. The grounded Trapos crawled to him, tangling in a dark green ball of arms, heads and black eyes. They slapped at the shield, coming ever closer to them.
Phinella had slipped away, the blood loss taking her to an unconscious sleep. Eris backed against the well and clung a hand to the root dome, trying to maintain any shred of bravery left in her. A thought spun in her mind and she turned herself around, leaving Phinella to lay and looked at the dome. The Trapos were situated just above it.
She kept herself apart from the well, hands open at it and scanning the wards. She would require great power to ignite it and that would force her to pull back the shield’s protection slightly. Phinella grabbed her leg, but did not make a sound, and Eris readied herself. She pulled all the will left in her to her core and spread it down her arms. The channels were bleeding to be released from the incantation she was thinking. She blinked, her spell snapping to life the instant she pulled the protection away from the shield. Fire was in her hands and touched the roots. They were taken up immediately, the barrier no longer protection enough from the heat. She whispered another word, twirling her hands and releasing the full fury of the raging fire. It leapt and spun upward, consuming the Trapos.
The snakes screamed and hissed, jumping from the barrier over the well. Dancing tongues fell from the smoldering scales as they tried to pat it out in the dirt, but unsuccessfully. The fire wrapped around their bodies swift and merciless. Eris pulled the shield back and kept the fire steady on the Trapos. She strained to hold the fire and the rebounding heat made her back away. It was growing heavier by the second, but their dying hisses only fueled a greater passion to hold the torture on them.
When the last Trapos stopped moving, no more than a black charred corpse, Eris broke the link of the incantation and flicked her hands to cool the burn. She returned for Phinella, who sitting half-turned against the well, observing its ruin. She seemed to be teary-eyed, her cheeks red and lost in the emotion of seeing the ancient Pool as no more than wasted space.
“Eris,” Phinella said, weakly, “what have you done?”
“I am sorry, Mistress.” Eris took Phinella against her body and cradled her. “It was the only thing I could do.”
“I know, dear. But, Valence. You have taken away your only chance of finding him.” She paused and took in slow breaths. “I know of no other way to help you.”
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “Finding him would have meant nothing if I had lost you in the process. You’ve given me so much. You are the teacher who never gave up on me when everyone else did.”
Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.
• Copy this list.
• Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
• Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.
• Tag other book nerds.
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte Harry Potter series – JK Rowling To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee The King James Bible
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Complete Works of Shakespeare
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
Emma -Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
Animal Farm – George Orwell The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Dune – Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick – Herman Melville Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens Dracula – Bram Stoker
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
Ulysses – James Joyce The Inferno – Dante
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
Germinal – Emile Zola
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
Possession – AS Byatt
Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Watership Down – Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas Hamlet – William Shakespeare Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
??? (For you observant types, yes the list does appear to be missing book no. 100)
Here's my addition to the list, to fill in missing #100 - Paradise Lost -- John Milton
Too many tags to be made. Take the list if you wish to partake in the challenge.
We are nearing the home stretch, people! Eight days to go! Be warned, NaNo's sight is still about an hour behind of the word logging, so if you try to log anything past 11 pm (any time zone), it will roll it over into the next day. Do not crunch!
In other news, I have recently added an Artwork page to my blog in an attempt to get more traffic. I am a freelance illustrator. I range in concept art, story boarding, and I have even taken on covert art projects (although the turnaround time for those are longer). If you are interested in any work, we can discuss it. I know the page is rather bland, but it's just a start. I'll work at the glamour end of it.
Here is your excerpt:
The Shattered Darkness
Chapter 13 excerpt
Sevestra thought of Orin and what she had done. If he had taken her guidance to heart, his army would be at the forest in a few short days. By that time, Balter would be ready to be released from his incubator, the body ready for him to walk in again. She sat waiting for the word, the Tulzo Ank clutched close to her chest. As great as her part was in his return, she dreaded the day, for when he woke, he would be ready to call on the Darkness. It had been his aim: find the way to return to the world and control the infection. At all ends, the plan sounded as if it would fall apart before it could be enacted, but here she sat, waiting.
She held the manuscript down from her body, staring the jacket. He would take her at his side and bring the Darkness back to him, as if summoning a common solider, to give it orders. She looked at the clan mark on her skin and touched the cover. The lock snapped off and she opened it to the first page. In all the time she had played a false role for King Pallanza, with all the power she had obtained and the respect that she had be given, she was certain she was not ready for this day. So mighty a face in the world above, but her, she was a frightened witch about to witness the rebirth of an ancient enemy.
The doors of her chamber opened and a small demon entered for her. Its stomach curled in, the ribs in its chest more prominent than they should been, and two large knobs bulged from its shoulders, arms hanging long and thin. It bowed to her, tucking its gangling arm at its body, and kept its eyes to the floor.
“Is it ready?” she asked.
The demon rose slowly and put a hand out to her. “Come, Mistress Sevestra. He awaits you.”
Sevestra readied herself as much as she would be able and closed the manuscript. She gave a final peer through her chambers and wondered if anything would be the same from this day forth. She gave the demon her hand and together they walked the long corridor leading to his throne, the same she had kept for him. The crystal around the throne shone a sharp violet, his chamber aglow only by its light. Her mind went wandering and she expected something to be waiting for her when she approached. Other demons rose up from the floor, part of the room itself, and bowed as she passed.
The demon that showed her into Balter’s chamber put itself in front of the throne and stared at her, although she would not give it her eyes. The room suffered a quick drop in temperature and while she felt it, the bowing demons showed it as no inconvenience.
“He comes now, Mistress,” the demon said. It went to the floor on both knees, arms stretched to the floor in exultance. “The world awaits you again, Lord Mithrus.”
The opening of a door came from somewhere distant in the chamber and Sevestra looked for it. She knew of no other door, but when he turned next, Balter was approaching her. He was toned, each bare muscle a glistening testament of his long awaited glory. He came to her and she realized then he wore nothing. The coldness seemed to give no consequence to him and she could not help but stare upon his lower region.
He smiled upon her, taking his head back slightly and narrowing his eyes to piece that which had entranced her.
“Marvelous work the resurrection has given my body.” He checked his arms and ran his forefinger down the damp curve of his arm. “Although some things remain unchanged.” Mithrus put a hand under Sevestra’s chin and brought her to look at him.
She rose, not knowing how for she did not will it, but she stood inches from him.
“Are you well, Sevestra?”
“I am, my Lord.” She was weak kneed and grabbed to his arm when her legs gave away. He caught her up and brought her to his body. “Thank you.”
“Your age does not beget your feelings for me, do they?”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“It’s all right, dear. I need someone at my side you know. The throne will grow cold should someone else not share the rule. Will you be that person to seat it?”
“It would be an honor, but I must earn it. Orin goes on my behalf to the forest. The directive there remains unchanged since we last spoke. Are we ready to bring our war to them?”
Day seventeen! Yes, a milestone that felt as good as day fifteen when I was able to pass 25,000 words. I made my 31,000 mark only two days later. Now my NaNo Stats graph can't laugh at me for at least another day.
Here is the latest chosen excerpt.
Enjoy and continued writing success through November.
Peace and Writing Love,
* * *
The Shattered Darkness
Chapter 9 excerpt
Athmore coughed and massaged his neck. “We should get back to them. They get a little strange around this hour. I hate to see how they pass the time now.”
Yinadi smiled a large grin, the man he had shown himself to be—the speaker for the steward—now gone beneath the image of a mischievous Weaver. Athmore’s student dashed off into the shadows of skinny trees along the next hill, the grass short as if trimmed recently. Yinadi led them along a half beaten road side that showed a small farm house in the distance. A few other dwellings, residents of Gundo or not, rose up around the farmland just outside the fence line. Athmore breathed heavy and raspy, his age catching up with him for how swiftly Yinadi was taking them across the up and downs of the land.
Yinadi hid behind a tree, his body fitting its shape almost perfect. He picked up a rock, sized it with a short toss and gave Athmore a nod. He ran off toward the farmhouse, hunched and quick, and released the rock with a well readied arm. Yinadi staggered forward from the follow through and doubled back to their location. The clack of the rock hitting the fence bounced softly back. A moment later, the door opened and a figure strolled out. His whistle was also soft, but as noticeable as Athmore’s. The man twirled a walking staff up and tapped it on the fence’s gate post and returned to the house as commonly as he had come.
Athmore moved from behind his tree and went for the farmhouse first. The man at the fence left the door open, the golden glow of the inside spreading on his advance.
“Come,” Yinadi said. “They’re expecting us.”
Gerad and Kyona tailed Yinadi, hanging in his shadow as they entered the house. A pungent fusty scent hit him in the face. While it seemed to come from all directions, any crack or split floorboard, they approached the house’s attendant. He smiled toothless and pointed his walking stick at the far wall.
Athmore did not speak to the man, but slid his finger down the side of his eyepatch. The man’s toothless grin became a laugh and mumbled words over an old tongue sounding like, “Good to have you back.” Athmore patted the wall and something like a foot thumped behind it. Two sharp lines cracked down the wall on either side of him and continued on through the floorboards. Dust puffed up from the floor and it shifted beneath them.
“The door, Yindai,” Athmore said. “Let our guests down.”
Athmore stepped off where the floorboards showed their separation, Gerad and Kyona backing with him, and Yinadi jammed his fingers into two knots in the wood. The knots fell out, false plugs it seemed, and he hoisted a portion of the floor up and let it rest against the wall.
Gerad glanced down the rickety steps sending them to a level in the house that was beneath the ground. Yinadi went first, Kyona and Athmore after him, leaving only Gerad standing at the top, still examining the sturdiness of the steps. The old man at his back whistled and he turned.
He smiled, shooing him with his hand, and mumbled, “It’s worth it.”
At the bottom, he met Kyona and Yinadi. Athmore was already paces ahead of them in a tunnel leading nowhere. Another wall came to them at the end. Voices were on the opposite side, cheering also mixed with shouts that sounded like wagers being placed on something. When Athmore shoved the at wall with his shoulder, it slid like the solid slab it was, but gave way to a larger room that looked every part of being burrowed from the earth. Roots hung from the clotted dirt ceiling and lined the walls. The occupants slowly turned to them, some seated on tree stumps and others toward the center. Two men floated in the air above the crowd, a wavy field of energy under their backs. They appeared the most surprised by Athmore’s arrival.
“Testing levitation?” Athmore asked. Smiles grew across the gathering. “Who’s the high bidder. I’m in!” Roars and laughter jumped from the men, hands slapping Athmore’s back as he disappeared into the crowd.
Yinadi turned to them, the last hint of the speaker Jarrin disappearing in his grin. “Meet the Steeltongues.”
Welcome to the halfway point of NaNoWriMo 2010. While I was not able to write much yesterday, I'll be past the 25k point later in the day. On that note, I'd like to congratulate Dawn Embers for reaching a whopping 50,000 words. She has another fifteen days to reach her goal of 100,000 words. Keep up the fantastic work, Dawn!
Here's your excerpt for the day. Enjoy and I wish continued success to you all through November.
Peace and Writing Love,
* * *
The Shattered Darkness
Chapter 7 excerpt
“So, why is it called the Crystal Pool?”
“Do not reach for the water in the well. It will tease you with beautiful things that seem so near, but it is only a vision.”
Eris mulled all of Phinella’s warnings about the Pool and would wait for the next sun. She turned to the mistress, who was already examining her as she thought. “Can you teach me before sunrise?”
Eris rolled in her bed that night, the sheets twisting around her legs and body. She kept her arms up, folded beneath the pillow and aching.
Her eyes were hot and heavy, begging to close after the hours of quick and hard training Phinella had given her. The mistress said she had not taught a student in years and hoped she had done it right. While Eris had all her faith in Phinella, such confidence did not keep her awake. Weariness folded over her eyes and she was taken to sleep.
At mid sun the next day, she arrived at the Crystal Pool, whose surrounding grounds seemed strangely attended. Phinella was true as to the Pool’s beauty and all of Eris’ rapture of being given yet another way to locate Valence forced her to run to it. She leaned over the well. Roots along its lip raised like a dome over it. The stones forming the well were a soft gray, more pristine in appearance than the welcoming grounds. All around the inside of the dome, brass bowls had been fastened to it, each bearing a small flame cuddled in the Elf brand embers.
She held her hand over the water and a ripple went across it a moment later. The ring began at the center and pushed out, an image forming over the soft wakes as they moved. Valence appeared on the surface, sending looks left and right as if watching for something. The scene surrounding him focused next, familiar buildings and hatched roofs at his back. He stood under a bare tree with nearly no color. Eris waited for him steadfast, before he looked directly at her. She turned around, sure he might have been looking around her, but when she turned back, he nodded and smiled.
He mouthed words, but there was no voice to them. She waited before he seemed to repeat himself. “Where are you,” he was saying.
“I’m with the Elves,” she said aloud. “I’ve been looking for you. I need you.”
He mouthed, “Come home.”
“I can’t, I—” She paused and looked around. “I’m a week away.”
“Please,” he said. The water rippled again, now more violent. It sloshed against the well walls and splashed onto the edge.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
“It’s mom and dad.”
Eris reeled back, Valence’s face contorted as something pulled him away from the water. A shadow dashed in front of the Pool and a bullet of water shot up from it. It drenched the roots and stone, but Eris sat a foot away, reclining on her arms and watching it. It was not long before she scrambled up, all of Phinella’s warnings forgotten in her greed. She crawled for the
Pool and put her head through the water, allowing her body to fall in after. She twirled, legs over body, before the wash and push of the water spit he out onto hard ground of dirt and pebbles. A woman screamed in the distance and she pulled her chin up to glance level at the ground. She breathed at the dirt and watched feet scamper by her eyes.
She was yanked to stand by a two-handed grip on her cloak and thrown into a choke. The arm beneath her throat was black-skinned, minute prickly hairs lining its arm like razors.
“Pretend to be dead, girl?” the thing at her back asked. It growled hunger and hissed in her ear. A worm-like tongue slid down her lobe and she shied away from it.
Eris thrashed, a well-placed heel to the creature’s leg and the thing released her. She spun around, the creature whirling back to face her just as her saber met its neck. Its head plopped off and bobbled across the ground. After the creature’s body dropped, she looked at the head. Its face was pulled up in a snout, the nose two swine-like slits for breathing. Beady dark eyes sat above high boned cheeks, almost hidden, and they gleamed like obsidian in death.
This post was meant for yesterday, but seeing as a ten hour work day took priority, I got essentially no writing done. Here's to playing catch-up! Hope all of your projects are still chugging along. We'll be breaching week the start of week three very soon.
Here is your excerpt. It's safe to say that I've really been waiting to write this scene. Enjoy and continued writing success through November.
So we're one week past the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2010. I hope everyone's project is moving along. My current count as of 12:00 noon EST today is 13,000. I hope to be at 15,000 by the end of the day.
Here comes your daily excerpt. Enjoy and continued writing success through November.
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The Shattered Darkness
Chapter 5 excerpt
“Valence, wait!” Eris cried, though she doubted he heard it. The young teen lashed the reins and forced her horse next to his. “Please, where are you going?” She wanted to reach for his sleeve, but he did not so much as look at her. Her brother kept his eyes and expression firm ahead. If she did chance grabbing onto him, her fourteen-year-old, thin body would be pulled from the saddle. She sucked quick breaths, formed a plan and kicked at the horse. The black mare snorted and thrust a pace or two ahead of Valence.
She finally drew his attention as she looked back and he sneered. His horse dodged left and right to his pulls, but she kept her speed and matched his advance to pass her. She flicked the reins again to bring her mare a few paces ahead, and yanked the bridle harshly to spin. The sable horse reared and Valence spun off course, his mare frightened to collide. His mare tumbled, a painful neigh pushing from her as she landed awkwardly.
Valence scrambled on his knees and held Timat by the neck.
“What are you doing, Eris? Stupid girl!”
She hopped off her horse and doubled over next to Timat, recovering breaths as she placed a hand on its twisted fetlock. Harsh winds growled at them and Timat whinnied like a weak colt.
“Why are you following me?”
“Why are you walking away from your family again?”
“There is no again.” He shoved Eris aside with his body and tended to Timat’s injury. “I obviously was not welcome back to start. I was an idiot for thinking otherwise.”
“Dad is confused, Valence,” she said. “He has been told many things by the Consulate and those other advisors that he can’t think straight.”
“He seemed to be thinking just fine when he confronted me like that.”
“He hasn’t been sleeping is all. Please believe me, he wants you back and he’s said he doesn’t care about the incident. He would rather hear it from you than be told what to think about his own son.” She was crying now and smudging her tears away with her arm. “No one’s perfect and he’s ready to accept that.”
Valence finished wrapping Timat’s fetlock as best he could and pulled the mare up slowly. He moved his bags from where they hung to the saddle. “You are.”
Eris did not say a word and the tears returned.
“You don’t think you’re perfect?” He tightened the last strap and wrapped it through the supporting ties.
“I’m learning to control it.”
“Not as quickly as the Consulate’s asked, right? So why is your judgment on having powers too great for your age is not on the same standard. If anything we ever learned in school was remotely true, you should be the one walking away. But no.” He shoved her away again and pushed the sable mare aside. “You’re just Eris. They say, ‘If Valence could kill a Lunata brother, maybe they could prevent you from becoming like me.’”
“It’s not like that.” She grabbed onto his arm one last time, hoping he might have a shred of respect left for himself. “You can walk away from them. Fine. They might not believe you, but you would walk away from me? I have told them what you wanted me to tell, but not because I was scared. It’s because I believe something bad really did happen at Thenar. Something made you—” She choked on the last part of her words.
“Kill Irien,” Valence said.
He pulled Timat gently and waited for her to test the strength of the injury. The mare hobbled for the first steps, the hoof barely touching the ground, and then managed to walk on it.
The wind tore at his back, but Eris watched him go.
“I’m sorry.” Valence met her eyes a last time, and said, “but your sympathy alone is not enough for me anymore.”
Good day, NaNo writers. I hope all of your projects are moving along smoothly. I'm astounded that some buddies I've been looking up are on 15-25k words only six days in. As sickening as that is for me to look at, good for them.
As I try my best to not write verbal vomit, I'm taking a tip from Jodi Henry @ Turning the Page and posting a few passages per post, considering people may need a break from their own writing for however brief a time. As I planned to post every Monday for my update (and being my day off), I'll be making it twice a week.
For your enjoyment and brief NaNo rest:
The Shattered Darkness
Chapter 3 excerpt
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An organ’s tune went around Orin’s hallow chamber like a carousel. A creature with a grimly hunched back leaned over the keys and played. Always played, despite the bony fingers sore with each note. Not a demon, but a Human at one time.
Orin glanced at the organ player, who at the same time turned to him. While some color of his Human side still showed, black veins spread from his chin and up his face. Large veins pumped around his neck and fed over his body. The commander sat with a pen in hand by candle light and regarded the non-Human with little more than a curled lip.
“It hurts to play, does it not?” Orin asked him.
The subject nodded with a sigh, but said, “If my Master wishes my continued service at the keys, I will do so. But yes, my fingers ache.”
“I speak for your Master in this room, and he wishes for a new tune.” He turned back to his chair, to his more-than-rotting mahogany table, and the subject turned back to his tortured playing. He scribbled something along the papers as new music echoed from the pipes with painful coughs. The subject held the note long, drawing Orin’s eyes away from his work once more, and then flew into a piece that was made for his room. Each key struck, heavy and dull, could have been one more soul dropping into the Nether.
This morning started off with a bang. While I have been scrounging to finish the first half of my chapter outline for this project, I got maybe five chapters in before calling it quits last evening. That said, I rose at 8:30 and immediately went to work, a half hour break for breakfast and a second break now for blogging.