Greetings and salutations! We're in full-swing birthday party prep at our house today. The 4 year old turned 5 earlier this week and there's going to be a house full of Kindergateners here tomorrow for a couple of hours. The parties have proven fun over the years, so I'm looking forward to it. The amount of loud that comes with the parties also gives me a reason to look forward to the quiet after the party ;)
I talked about NaNoWriMo in an earlier post this month, and that I'd decided not to do it. What I did do instead was make up a spreadsheet and chart in Excel to keep track of the writing I hoped to get done during November, with a target of reaching the 50k words across the projects I have on the go. With birthday stuff this week and some other Real Life things happening earlier in the month, I'm not going to make my goal. I did, however, learn that my wavering habits plunked me firmly above 40k in a month of "normal" writing for me, so I'm really, really, really happy with that result!
I know, I know... I've been writing for years and years and never bothered to figure out my "normal" word counts. How could I survive not knowing if I was producing at my average or not? Honestly, over the years I've gone months without writing a thing. Other times, I can't even fight my way out of the words and type up shorts and novels and novellas and... shrug.
Tracking my words this past month let me see what my average is now that I have a real schedule that I try to stick to for designated writing time. This writing schedule is one I've never had due to jobs and life. Being an at-home mom has given me so much more than I ever expected and, looking back at the past two years, almost as much as I'd hoped for. Looking back over the past month I've gotten to see my progress and production and I'm not disappointed. Talk about an awesome start to the day!
Now to go clean bathrooms and finish icing cupcakes and try to figure out what kind of cool craft we can have for birthday partiers to enjoy. Hope you have a great weekend!
4. Lizard, Elf, Serpent, & Angel
Today was the predicted day that the target was meant to arrive. Draessellor walked over to check his soaking leather and stayed in the cool shade of the shelter to sharpen all of his blades. It was better to be prepared in case the Human was dangerous, which was the only reason he could think of that called for four killers to be lying in wait here. As he wouldn’t be making the kill, and that meant he had time to dry and condition the serpent skin, he quickly made a rack and stretched the hide. With the tanning settled to his liking, he returned to sit at his fire and wait.
The winged thing and the Elves were muttering insults at each other, all parties of the argument refusing to eat in the presence of the others. Draessellor crouched by the low flames and watched the winds blow dust across the stones. While he’d been walking back after stretching the hide, he’d heard the Elves discussing how to split payment. Only the mother had received the contract, and she’d decided independently to include her offspring. Counting only himself, the winged thing and the old Elf being here, the threat remained of another killer nearby that Draessellor hadn’t discovered. He dug through his long memory for who he knew, or knew of, who could remain completely hidden to him and came up with only those who had died many years before. So maybe there was someone new?
The argument bantering around him ceased when he drew his best blade and settled it across his knees. He rippled his skin and settled his scales for comfort while crouching, hunched beside the flames. Best to be ready for any surprises.
“Is our previous agreement broken?” the old Elf asked, her voice straining to remain polite.
The winged thing guffawed, sounding more like cackling than laughing after the initial outburst. “Of course it isn’t!” the winged thing taunted. “He always prepares to attack when he’s not planning to attack,” he added, rolling his eyes far enough up that barely any of the blue of his irises was showing.
“Holding a weapon is not using it,” Draessellor reminded the winged thing, who only scoffed another laugh in reply.
The winged thing and the young Elf both roused to begin pacing the same place the portal was predicted to appear. Their weapons shone brightly under the clear sky. It was a matter of seconds before they were busier hurling insults and threats – in spite of the old Elf cautioning her daughter to studious observation – and soon were circling to attack each other rather than watching for the portal.
The impending rend in reality charged the air nearly a full ten seconds before the actual split of it appeared. The building energy tickled over Draessellor’s skin and pulled his gaze to the exact spot where the portal materialized… likely eight strides from where the young Elf and the winged thing were bickering, which was half again how far it was from him.
Both youngsters and the old Elf were surprised at the appearance of the portal, turning toward it only after the Human had surged through and rolled defensively at a right angle away. His hand slapped out and the pebbles racing around the portal’s perimeter too quickly to see scattered across the hard ground. Half an arm that ended in talons on one end, and was perfectly severed on the other, dropped to the ground from the middle of where the portal had been.
The Human’s roll finished with him closer to the fire than the youngsters, and he fell back onto his ass from the crouch he’d finished in when he glanced up at where he was and who was looking at him. The obviously quickly made weapon in his hand, a flint-bladed knife with the sharp stone simply tied to a sturdy stick with a rag, never faltered from being protectively held out. The young Elf and the winged thing didn’t waste time with yelling as they charged from behind the Human, she intent on getting her first solo kill and him spitefully intent on stopping her from being able to.
Draessellor tensed his skin and snapped his muscles. He was on his feet, three strides from his fire, with his best blade extended before either of the competing youngsters had a chance to finish their swings. The killing was made easier due to the Human’s low position. The old Elf remained near the fire, a second snapping finishing her long, long life while the Human was still blinking in surprise about Draessellor’s first attack.
Draessellor tasted the air in all directions, stooping low and watchful in anticipation of the undiscovered assassin’s attack as he backed slowly nearer to the Human, stopping only when the Human drew up his knees to keep his feet out from under Draessellor’s. Seconds passed with nothing occurring. The breeze brought no new scents and the air carried no new sounds.
The Human panted into breathing after a stretched moment of holding his breath. The cobbled together knife dropped from loose fingers to clatter against the ground and he folded around his tucked-in legs to press his face against his knees. The pose left him looking even more like his mother; she had often sat that way while crying during the time she and Draessellor were travelling to the kingdom she now claimed as her home. Ceil’s offspring was not as well-groomed as in the ink painting she’d sent, and the smell of old blood proved he currently was or recently had been injured, but there was no mistaking that this was the offspring she’d named in her letter as being called Aston.
“A lizard, a serpent, an Elf, and an Angel,” Aston muttered against his legs, the volume obviously meant to be a private whispering. He steeled himself with a deep breath and looked up from his knees to glance over both shoulders and then across the fire. “Two Elves, an Angel, and… a lizard?” he asked, uncertain, as he looked up at Draessellor. “Are you going to kill me?”
“What is the list for?” Draessellor ignored the question to ask his own, the importance of which seemed much higher due to the fourth killer remaining undiscovered even after the violence that had just been committed.
“The… that”– Aston pointed at the half of an arm which had followed him through the portal –“taunted me that I’d be facing ‘a lizard, a serpent, an Elf, and an Angel’ if I used the stones again.”
Draessellor remembered that the serpent whose skull he was carving had attempted to speak to him when he’d first seen her at his fire. Which, with this new information, explained the odd satchel he’d found hidden nearby where the male had bled out.
“That’s a strange taunt,” Draessellor noted after concluding that the fourth killer had been dealt with already, by accident.
This was a weekly blog updating on Fridays, but life got busy so now I pop in now and then to let you know I'm still chipping away at my stories. If you look back through the archive you'll find weekly 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! Check out my Short Stories section for free downloads of most of my writing, too!