It's still Friday evening here, so I'm not late with my Friday schedule blog posting. It was a busy day (in a good way), and I'm starting a new short story today, so I also have zero complaints about posting a few hours later than I usually do. :)
It was a good week for writing for me. I got a lot of progress on my terrible stories that I'm using as training grounds for a couple of complex characters I want to be able to write well in my main manuscript, and I was able to add more words to the first book of my main manuscript. The major revision I started on it left my word count short, but also highlighted areas I'd written too thin (and have started thickening up) and has given me room to expand on my 'villain'. Did I mention before how happy I am with this revision? If I did, I'm going to repeat myself. These changes make the story so much better!
As for my non-writing updates, this week only had two appointments in it and the lack of struggling to run around and Get Things Done on a daily basis for every day of the week was wonderful. There were sill busy days. The difference is that things were completed and there was time to stop and have proper meals AND to sleep each day. The to-do list doesn't seem shorten, but the anxiety and depression definitely have less to feed on.
Please note that today begins the long weekend for November. I'm lucky enough to be spending these coming days with loved ones. November 11 is a day I personally feel as very important. Both my grandfathers were military, with my dad's father serving during WWII (his father serving during WWI), and my mom's father having a career in the RCAF. I have zero respect for war, but more respect than I can put words to for the men and women who fought and fight them on behalf of the freedoms I have. Please remember this Remembrance Day. Hope you have a great weekend!
1. Friends & Contracts
Draessellor stirred the flames of his small fire and watched the burst of sparks drift up to wink out between the stars. He would be paid well for sitting here and waiting once he killed whoever arrived by the way described. The contract didn’t mention who was coming. That was fairly normal and, to be honest, it never crossed his mind to ask. He’d been a mercenary and murderer for hire for too many years to bother counting them anymore. Not fancy enough for assassinations, and not pretty enough for subterfuge, he’d simply killed a lot of people for money. Over those many years, he’d made a couple of friends as well. Not easy, considering. More of a surprise when it happened, actually.
Ruffling feathers caught his attention and one eye swiveled up to look at the messenger crow one of his friends had sent to him, reminding him of the letter she’d sent asking for his help if he was able. She’d even offered payment, and written a sincere wish for his continued well-being. He stirred the flames again. Ceil was a good friend.
He set aside the stick he’d been using to stir the fire. He needed to get some rest and locking his joints was easier than lying down, so he hunched a bit rounder and settled in for a comfortable night. The contract mentioned other killers but didn’t say who else was coming, or precisely when, so he decided it was best to be able to move quickly. The fire ebbed down to embers as his eyes closed to slits and he entered into the nearest state he was capable of that was akin to sleep as mammals understood it.
His subconscious watched the stars spin overhead, their positions counting the hours that aligned perfectly with how far the fire was burning down. The messenger crow stayed perched on the low branch of the nearby tree as it slept.
As dawn arrived, so did the forewarning scents of approaching scavengers. Draessellor stood and walked away from his fire so he could bring his weapons to hand without being seen doing so, and returned to find one of the serpents coiling around the heat of the embers. She lifted her head to speak with him and he snapped out a blade quicker than she could dodge, separating her head from her body. Serpents rarely had anything useful to say, and the ones that could speak tasted exactly like the ones that couldn’t. Her male companion attempted to attack from behind and lost his bottom jaw to the first sword swing. The second swing cut the serpent in half, the front writhing away to bleed out rather than turn back for a swifter death.
Draessellor ignored the dying, useless half of the male and set to inspecting the female. Her hide looked like she’d recently gone through a shedding and would make good leather he could sell for additional profit. The nearby half of the male wasn’t in as good of condition so wouldn’t be worth the effort of tanning. As he started skinning the female, he decided that tonight he would track the front half of the male and cut out the fangs to sharpen for daggers. The serpent ivory was too brittle for his preference, but some lords and royals paid well for the small blades due to the rarity.
His friend’s promised second messenger crow arrived with a pop of light on the fourth day of waiting for the target. Ceil had said in her first letter that, if he wasn’t able to help her, he needed to reply within three days using the first crow. If he was able to help, he didn’t need to reply at all and she’d send a second crow with a small portrait of her offspring that had gone missing. Of course he hadn’t replied. The second crow delivered the portrait to his hand and then flew up to the low branch to roost with the first. Draessellor studied the image of the young human, memorizing every line, and then tossed the page into the fire he always kept burning.
Her first letter had said her king was dying and a neighboring country had tipped over the brink into war, so her country had sent troops to help. One of her sons had gone to war, and then then other had disappeared. She didn’t ask him to come and fight, which is what he’d expected, but instead inquired that – if their paths happened to cross – could he please protect and guide her missing offspring safely home to her kingdom, as he’d once protected and guided her. She expected to compensate him at his usual rate, which was odd because he didn’t know where – or even if – he would cross paths with Ceil’s wayward offspring.
He smiled at the flames as he stirred the fire; her dealings were always so professional.
He set aside the stick and took a blank parchment roll out of his pack. Careful with making his letters because he rarely used them, he scratched out a short letter using charcoal that stated he would look to find her offspring. He paused, and then added his sincere hope that she was also well despite the problems she was facing. He cut the note from the roll and put the roll away, then called down the crows by holding up the letter. One of them plucked the note from his hand. The two circled for a moment, flipping and spinning around the column of smoke from the fire, before disappearing through a pop of light.
Teleportation was neat to watch, but only a few species were capable of surviving it. Draessellor didn’t know if he was capable, and he wasn’t willing to try and see. Crows did well at it, and rats. (The rats couldn’t be trusted to reliably deliver messages, they were too independently minded, however seeing swarms of them sent to harass enemies never failed to be entertaining.)
While his pack was open, he replaced the blank parchment and took a moment to scan over the contract he was here to collect on. Whatever he was meant to kill had been described as only ‘Human; male’, but the method of arrival was set out in detail: portal teleportation, unique due to the use of twelve stones that created a doorway appearance. The final sentence mentioned that there would be at least three other assassins present to ensure success, and all would be paid without question even if only providing eyewitness proof of seeing the Human killed.
A weekly blog updating on Saturdays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!