This has been a very busy week. Just as busy as expected. I think I've used up all my September spoons and it's only the 5th.
No writing time happened this week, and no editing time. Something equally as awesome happened, though, and reading time occurred! If you haven't checked out the series Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond yet, why not?? Sayantani Dasgupta has created such an amazing world in these books. I'm half way through book 2, Game of Stars, and loving it just as much as book 1, The Serpent's Secret. These books may be targeted at middle grade and young adult ages, but the fast-paced story telling, wicked villains, sarcastic heroes and wonderful humor are enjoyable for every age.
As for my own writing, the big manuscript I've been working on for a couple years was a single book idea, which then blew up into a trilogy, and is now ticking all the boxes as a multi-book series. It's a plotter's nightmare, and not only because I'm a pantser. (If you're not familiar, plotters make outlines and write from a plan, pantsers sit in front of a page and just write "by the seat of their pants".) This story isn't coming to me chronologically, and I'm working on the entire thing as a single story arc. I'm writing scenes, then placing them like puzzle pieces into the whole arc timeline. It's... apparently how this manuscript wants to be written? *nervous laughter goes here*
Lucky for me, two things for this manuscript did show up as single stories: the prequels. One prequel is too removed to blog out without at least a few of the novels being released first, some history only makes sense in the context of the current world, but the other is a glimpse into the Nine Oceans universe which can stand on its own. This other one is The Meek Valley Incident, and the story I'd like to start sharing today. Hopefully you like it :)
Stay safe and well this weekend!
Justin looked up the length of the curved sword pointed down at his throat. The younger man holding the hilt looked like he was trying harder than he needed to at appearing threatening, considering the all-black scout’s uniform he was wearing. Almost wearing, Justin corrected when he realized he was looking at the man’s face. The scout was dark haired, slim built, and had the typical Opattan features of rounded, brown eyes, high cheekbones, and skin that had been tanned from outdoor labor for generations. The sword in his hand was shaking badly for a scout – meaning that Justin could see the tremor. There was a chance the sword’s vibration was due to the amount of chains Justin was currently locked into, but more likely the tremor could be attributed to the cold so that wasn’t enough information to get arrogant about. Justin was also sporting more bruises than he usually had after a bad month and he wasn’t in the mood for collecting more because of whatever this latest intimidation game was all about. The guards had done enough gloating during the walk to wherever here was, although that had reduced considerably in the past three days.
“You’re going to help me,” the young scout whispered the command. Justin scoffed a laugh at him. “You will help me or I’ll kill you right now,” the scout threatened quickly.
Justin assessed the uniform, and the young man in it, and then lifted his chin to expose his throat to the tip of the sword. He figured he was likely a few years older than the scout, probably outweighed him by more than half, and was taller than him by more than a head, but Justin was chained and the scout wasn’t, and only one of them had a sword. The scout’s first demand had been a request for help, and Justin wasn’t in a position to care.
A lot of things flashed across the young man’s face as he looked down at the man he was trying to intimidate, the last of which was the expected collapse of whatever it was he was trying to accomplish with threats. The tip of the sword dropped – not far enough to bite into the snow, Justin noted – but enough to no longer be a threat. Justin scoffed at the scout again and went back to counting the links of the chain tying him to the steel wagon that the rest of the prisoners were riding in.
The scout looked like he was going to say something else, but he just sighed and slouched and then slid his sword back into the scabbard. After a moment of standing there, words he never said flashing behind his eyes, he glanced around the sleeping camp. His eyes paused on the watchers who were facing out toward the trees and he shook his head that none of them were looking toward the prisoners as he pulled his mask down from where it had been sitting on top of his head. He stepped away from Justin and sat down, leaning against the wagon wheel nearest to where Justin was chained.
“Stones and mortar, all to dust,” he muttered, knocking himself gently in the forehead with his own fist a few times.
One of the women in the cart – barely so, but still older than the little girl – looked out through the cage as well as she could and down to where the scout was sitting. Justin looked up from counting links and watched the young man twist his neck to look up at her and then shush her. She reached out and he held her hand as well as he could through the bars without standing up, not drawing attention. They spoke together too quietly to overhear. It wasn’t a conversation that needed words to understand, though.
Justin looked at the lone scout in a new light: deserter. That wasn’t going to go over well with the rest of the scouts in his troop, or the army the scout troop belonged to. It did, however, explain why a uniform Justin knew should usually be associated with group activities was wrapped around a man who was here by himself.
The woman in the wagon said something that made the scout laugh and he dropped his head to keep the sound low. The chuckle stopped suddenly when the mask lifted enough to see that Justin was watching them. The young man stood, pressed the backs of her fingers against the smooth part of his mask that covered his forehead before releasing her hand, and then walked back to the fires and the guards.
He stooped and picked out a water flask and a rations packet from one of the guards' packs. The guard sitting beside the pack almost argued before looking, but then saw the scout uniform and politely asked if there was anything else the young man might need or want. The scout never replied. Justin lost sight of him between the trees as he walked out of camp.
Ten minutes later, the same quiet steps approached from the opposite side of Justin to the camp and stopped a sword blade’s distance away. Again.
Expecting the same metallic view he’d had of the scout earlier, Justin wasn’t sure if he should be amused or surprised when he turned and the young man was just looking at him. With a sigh that left him slouching, the scout took a step into striking radius, and then another step into easy arm’s reach, and then sat down back to back with Justin. A couple of the guards looked over when Justin jerked out of surprise and his chains rattled loudly.
“They can’t see me back here. You’re big enough to make a good wall,” the scout stated, his voice too low to carry words beyond Justin’s shoulder. “All I’m asking is that you at least hear me out.”
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!