Act Two – Scene Two: Project Phoenix

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PART I

THE BUREAUCRAT

The lobby was a thing of elegance. It was almost as if it were built specifically to intimidate the students of the Coreson School of Prophecy, with its high vaulted ceiling dominated by a crystal chandelier and the indoor stream snaking its way through a plant garden that covered three walls of the room. The final wall was set like the front of a cathedral with the bookkeeper at his desk in the middle dwarfing the door to the left which led down a long hall and eventually to the study and private library of the School Master. The grand waiting area must have cost a small fortune to build, and it all seemed to be for the purpose of reminding the students that waited there of their position in life. To be commanded to wait here was either an event of great excitement or foreboding.

For Maleoke Parphonet it was the former emotion. He had taken his seat here nearly an hour ago, and watched as the minutes of his appointment fell off the clock, and still every name was called but his. But still he waited, for he had been summoned and that meant that he would not go ignored forever. Someone wanted to see him, and as far as he knew he had done nothing worthy of reprimand. In fact, if he were honest with himself, he had to admit that several of his recent accomplishments were quite remarkable for any prophet, much less an un-graduated intern; nearly-graduated, corrected himself. So if all his recent actions had been positive he must only conclude that this audience was to be equally positive. He did not presume to make any assumptions, but he was hardly what might be considered worried.

“Mister Parphonet,” called the bookkeeper. “Approach the front.”

Maleoke rose from his seat, picking up his book satchel, and straightened his uniform. It was the nearly nondescript grey assigned to the fifth-year interns with the school-standard Sun Shield embroidered on the breast. The loose fitting tunic fell to just above his knees, for it was only upon graduation that he would be permitted to wear the full-length robe of the Prophetic order – the robe that would grant him access to a life most people only dreamed of. But for the moment he straightened his tunic and made his way toward the desk.

“The master will see you now,” said the Bookkeeper, without so much as looking up when Maleoke came near. It was always the way with him. It was said among the students of Coreson that the school Master and the bookkeeper had a way of speaking to one another through walls and without words. The master would dismiss a student even as the bookkeeper admitted another, and when the student returned from his meeting the bookkeeper might have some special instruction for him that the master had not bothered to give. It only added to the sense of grandeur that saturated the head Master’s office.

Maleoke stepped through the door into the hall beyond. He had been here only once before – a week after his arrival at the school. Then the head master had called him in to welcome him, and to address the matter of some small feud between Maleoke and another student – a feud that neither he nor the other student had spoken of to anyone. Yet the headmaster had more insight into the matter than either intern, and had settled it quickly, making punishment to fit crime and causing each boy to consider seriously his future with the school. It was a meeting Maleoke would not soon forget.

The long hall was just as he remembered it. The roof stood about three times higher than it needed to be, dwarfing the various doorways that broke through the wall in ornate frames. There were perhaps ten or twenty of them, and that number seemed to change each time he recounted. They all stood closed – locked – and of all the conversations Maleoke had ever heard about the head Master and this hall he had never heard of anyone opening any door but the one through which he was directed – the one at the end on the left.

There was never any confusion because this door was bigger than all the others, and the carved frame was wider and more elaborate. Unlike the others, this door had no handle. One walked up to it, and when it opened, one entered. Maleoke stood outside the door and tried to catch his breath using a rudimentary mental practice taught early in the Prophetic teachings. He had not realized how excited he was – how out of control his emotions were, and he must be in control of himself when he appeared before the Master.

“Come in, Maleoke,” said a voice from behind the door, and slowly the great portal began to open, swinging silently upon its hinges without the physical influence of any man. Maleoke stepped through into the school Master’s study.

Beyond the door the masters study appeared as it might be expected to which, considering, was in contrast to the rest of the building. It was certainly grand, and the furniture that filled it and the paintings that decorated the walls were all fit for the palace of a king, but everything here felt a little more to scale. It felt as if this might actually be the office of a living breathing human. Maleoke found himself breathing a little more easily.

The study overlooked the school ground by three windows which stood at angles to one another and so made a sort of alcove in one wall. While the sun was up one could stand at the windows and look out over the teachers’ offices to the fountains beyond and the circular pavements that connected the major buildings of the campus; the cafeteria and mess halls, the dorms, the library, and of course the teachers’ offices and training grounds. The head Master’s office was the highest building on the campus, but now the sun had set and all that could be seen through the picture windows was the faint distant lights coming from dorms and the library.

Before the great windows sat the Master’s desk, and behind it was his chair, but he was not in his chair. Neither was he at one of the several couches that sat in the left-hand corner of the room, for what purpose Maleoke could not imagine as they had never to his knowledge seen any use. Instead, the school Master of Coreson was standing on the near side of his desk, and with him was another man.

This second individual was clearly not a teacher, or any staff member Maleoke could recognize, and from his bearing the young intern knew that he was none of the staff members that he could not recognize. He was a little taller than the head Master, and though he had on his hand the marking of the Sun Shield that distinguished him as a Prophet, he wore no robe but instead dressed as a dignitary or a bureaucrat might, in a tunic and pants with an ornamental sword at his side. He had hard features, as though all the kindness had been chiselled off of his face, though it was not that he looked particularly unkind. His hair was coal black, and cut short so that it stood up on end, and even through his clothes Maleoke could tell that this bureaucrat was as strong as a young bear.

“There’s someone here I’d like you to meet,” the head Master was saying. It seemed like an unnecessary thing to say, but the intern took no notice. He was glad of any speech that might make the meeting less awkward. “Would you like to sit?” asked the master, almost as an afterthought. Maleoke nearly answered, but then he realized that the question was not directed at him.

“I’ll be fine,” said the bureaucrat. His voice was surprisingly low. “I won’t take long, and then I must be about my business.”

“Maleoke,” said the Master, “I’d like you to meet Sir Kandace Longshod from the Morovian Prophetic Alliance. He’s here in search of potential recruits for the alliance, and I suggested you to him.”

“It’s an honor to meet you, Mister Parphonette,” said Longshod. “Your master tells me great things about you.”

“I am humbled by his kind words,” replied Maleoke, accepting a little reluctantly the hand that was offered him and shaking it. The bureaucrat’s grip was like steel. “And the honor is all mine.”

“Yes of course,” said Longshod. “Now, Maleoke, I have a notion you’ve got some idea of what the MPA does…”

“Of course,” replied the intern without hesitation. “You’re archeologists. You manage the diggings in the tunnels of Morvan.”

“That’s part of it,” said the bureaucrat, a little amused. “A small part, mind you. What we do is not all digging. We search out the secrets of the old world, and we relearn them. Most importantly, we protect them.”

“Yes, I know,” said Maleoke. “I’ve read everything the library has on Morvan and the work that the Alliance does there.”

“You have an interest then?”

“Oh, very much so!” said Maleoke. “I’ve always been fascinated by the old world. My uncle was a member of the Alliance, and so was my grandfather.”

“Yes, they were,” said Longshod, “And great Prophets too. Maleoke, I’m here, as your Master said, to seek out new recruitment for the MPA. Do you understand what a big deal that is?” Maleoke nodded quickly, but the bureaucrat continued anyway. “The Alliance has around a hundred members stationed in various cities, mostly in Morvan. Normally we only accept two or three new members each year, and they are almost always seasoned Prophets with twenty years or more of experience, and then only the most outstanding applicants get accepted. In the long history of the Alliance only once before have we accepted a member as young as yourself. The fact that I’m here having this conversation with you says what tremendous words your Master has spoken in your favor. My purpose in coming to Coreson is to see if his words are true. Do you understand?”

Maleoke nodded, but he could not make his mouth open or coax words from his suddenly dry throat. His mind was exploding behind his closed lips.

“Good boy,” said Longshod. He gave the intern a smile that did not quite make it to his eyes. “Now, I’ll be in the city for two days, until after graduation. Then I’m going back to Morvan. When I go I want you to come with me and perform the tests for application to the MPA.”

Maleoke opened his mouth to speak, but the bureaucrat cut him off. “I don’t want an answer from you now,” he said, though it seemed plain that he knew what the intern’s answer would be as well as he himself did. “You have until graduation to make your decision, but I have faith in you to make the right choice.”

Maleoke nodded and then stood waiting. A long moment of silence stretched out, and then the school Master spoke. “That is all, Maleoke,” he said. “You may go now.”

The intern nodded again. “Thank you sir,” he managed to say, and this time when he shook the bureaucrat’s hand his grip was not so firm. “I won’t disappoint you.” Then he turned, and nearly fled the room. The door closed behind him silently.

“Are you sure about this, Andrew?” asked the bureaucrat from Morvan. His eyes were still on the door where Maleoke had been a moment before.

“I’m sure,” replied the head Master. “If it’s anyone in this rabble it’d be him. He’s the one you want.”

“I have ten other leads I could be following right now,” said Longshod. “You’d better not be wasting my time.”

“And I have fifty-six interns to graduate tomorrow,” replied the school Master a little hotly. “You’d better not be wasting mine. You’ve got no more to lose than I, I remind you.”

Act Two – Scene One: Into the Grey

It’s been about a month since I’ve sat down with a word document and produced anything. I’m back, and my resolve to finish this book… again… is redoubled. I’ve still got my best draft of my cover sitting on my writing desk, cut to size and folded around my warn copy of “The Two Towers” and every time I see it, it sets me itching to have something other than Tolkien in that book block. I’m sitting on three hundred dollars of hardware and so far all it’s done is print recipies for my wife (not at all a waste, by the way).

Our adventures in the world of surrogate parenthood at the beginnig bled into the holidays for me, and that combined with my brother-in-law staying in my office pretty much chocks up to my excuse for having done nothing on here in a month. But since my absence I’m sporting an extremely tiny USB to Bluetooth adapter in the back of my tower – which now means I’m typing on my shiny apple keyboard – which makes me happy.

On a side note: I write on a PC. In reguards to the Mac/PC wars I am quite willing to admit the relative supremacy of the former. I love my iPhone and you couldn’t pay me to trade it in for a windows phone of equal or greater value. I’m even using an apple keyboard, and I’m loving it, but the sad truth is that apple has yet to creat a word processor to compete with the wonder of Word 2010, and the Mac version of word is laughable. That is all there is to it. Perhaps this should have been in ‘Grinds my Gears’.

On another side note: It IS true what they say – BlueTooth DOES make EVERYTHING better.

Now back to… whatever the heck this was. If you noticed that my illconceived title numbers have progressed to the second act you should know that I had two reasons for doing this. The first is that as I write it has progressed to December the 30th and in 48 hours from now it will be a new year. If this is not enough reason for a second act I have also that I feel my repairing endeavors have moved through something of a transition.

What I mean is this: Up to this point I felt that I understood clearly the changes that needed to be made in Garawain. The story had already been written twice before I got my hands on it… again… and by now I know what I like and what I do not like. But with Gail’s arrival in NaRasch my endeavors become a little less cut and dry. As I recall from this point on my original draft was VERY different from the second (Garawain), and this third rendition is liable to be as different from the second as it was from the first if I am not careful. But though I’ve got some vague idea of what will still do and what must be changed, I come to the solemn realization that I’ve moved into deep water, so to speak, and from here I may have to put in a lot more work per chapter.

I think my chief challenge is in creating back story. It’s bad enough when a reader has a question about some particular that I am unable answer, but I begin to run into problems when I’m not even able to answer my own questions about things. In the past I’ve always given myself back story by writing and rewriting stories (thus this being the third draft of this story). The concept and outline thing that they tried to teach me in highschool never worked well for me. I always ended up making my outlines based on my finished essay.

So perhaps in all of this what I’m saying (what i’m figuring out as I write) is that perhaps what this book needs is some more short stories, concerning other segments of the Fall of NaRasch that will not be in the book but which impact it. Perhaps I should be writing more about the Karbaan, about Gomarden and the Irithol, about that strange king what’s his face, and about Whince Badural, the Barron, The Watch and Shadokoep (Poorake depreciated). Perhaps. In the mean time I’ll wander allong my way. More to follow soon. I think I’ll post whatever drama is to befall Gail in NaRasch when I’ve figured it out. Until then, I’ll be admiring my shiny keyboard and loosing myself in productive rabbit trails.

Act One – Scene Thirteen: The Passing of Titans

Here is my re-rendering of the death of Hayley (was Hasnove). I’m not entirely sure if I’ve done any good here, but considering matters, I’m not sure I could have made it any worse. At any rate, the rip-off line from Chronicles of Riddick is probably the one sentance I have written that I have regretted the most, so at any cost I am pleased to be rid of it. After all, it wasn’t as if it even made sense or did anything for the plot…

As a forward to the snippet I should note that I’ve reordered events so that Hayley and Alken leave the company directly before the rest arrive at Kanedon, so that as they fight in Craharn Gail has become engrossed in the Geldrin school of warfare as a means to pass time. Hayley on his return would therefore logically be heading to Kanedon.

When the sun set Gail was exhausted. She was more sore and bruised than she remembered ever being before, even on her first days with Anne. She stayed at the school that night. She could have gone back to her room at the keep, but it Lecia Geldrin offered her a bed, and it seemed better to her to stay here among her classmates. She was put in a room with the only three other girls in attendance there.The next day passed in much the same way, and the next after that. From sunup to sundown the princess of NaRasch was kept busy with various fighting scenarios, always pushed to expand her understanding and improve her reflexes. Her muscles hardened, and she found herself performing motions she had not been able to accomplish before.

 

 

The morning of the fourth day came as the two had before it, with a simple breakfast and then the resuming of practice. Gail had hardly faced off, however, when Arlen Bresh came riding into the grounds. He rode right up to here before dropping from the saddle.

“Hayley has returned!” said the Pirate breathlessly. “I came as soon as I heard! Come with me!”

Lecia Geldrin was with the queen that morning, and Taylor was teaching nearby. Gail looked automatically to the master of defense, and he nodded, giving her his leave – not that she would have needed it. Arlen Bresh remounted his horse, and held out an arm to pull Gail up behind him. When she had mounted he turned the steed about, galloping back to the keep.

They passed beneath the queen’s house and rode down through the city. The traffic of the morning scattered before them and in minutes they came to the front gate. There, a little beyond the gate, stood a horse, wounded and covered in blood and dirt. Beside the horse lay Hayley, himself every bit as battered as his steed. He was cut in many places, and an arrow protruded from his arm. Freyn was there, kneeling over her grandfather. The old man was shaking his head determinedly.

“Father, we must get you to the physicians!” Freyn was saying. “There is very little time!”

“There is no time at all,” replied Hayley, even as Arlen and Gail were dismounting. “My daughter, I am wounded far beyond what the eye betrays. There are few bones in my body which are not broken, for I was astride Bruno when a dart struck him down. I fell far. I am wasted – let me be.”

“You underestimate the skill of my doctors,” pleaded Freyn. “Come, and find comfort.”

“There is none left for me,” said Hayley, choking on his word. “I am thinking now for your safety. Know this now – that Craharn has fallen, and the royal house is dead. Your loyal warrior Alken died in defense of the king, and he did not throw his life away lightly as you commanded him. I escaped only when all those I had gone to protect were slain, but I was struck as I ran, and I have been pursued by the Watch. I must not pass your gate, or let it be known that you have been friends with the empire. Say, rather, that I came and you refused me sanctuary. Shut your gates!”

“I cannot do that!” insisted Freyn.

“You must!” replied Hayley, “for you and for your people! They will raise this place and burn your children alive! I am nearly spent. In any case they will not find me alive. Freyn, promise me you will leave me here.”

At last the queen nodded her head, accepting what she knew to be true. “I promise,” she said.

“I have loved you, dear one,” said Hayley.

“And I you,” replied the queen.

Then the old man turned his attention to Gail and Arlen. “Pirate,” he said, his voice rasping. He choked, and spat out blood. “The sword…”

Arlen brought the Sword of Anne Gretnert from his back in a fluid motion, and presented it to the old man. “Keep it,” said Hayley. “And bring it when you may to lord Gretnert, or return it to Vestrodge.”

Arlen nodded his acceptance of the charge. “Thank you,” he said, “for everything.”

At last Hayley addressed Gail. With a feeble movement of his good arm he beckoned her closer. She came, kneeling beside Freyn.

“I am sorry,” said her grandfather. “I have made many promises to you, and now I leave them all unfulfilled.”

Gail had nothing to say in response, so she took Hayley’s hand and held it. Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked into the battered face, and saw pain there.

“Don’t stop,” Hayley went on. “…not ever. You will find a way… they will need you now. They will all need you…” He broke into a series of coughs, each one more shallow than the last. When at last he caught his breath his eyes were unfocused, and his body relaxed. “Spektare,” he said with his last breath. Then he died.

Further Notes

My editing endeavors have brought me, thanks to a day off work, to the reordering of event around the coming to Kanedon, the invasion of Carn (still in search of a new name there) and the death of Hayley (was Hasnove). Namely that the last now comes after the first, with Gail being in the school of the Geldrins when Craharn is invaded.

Aside

I’ve brought Gail from Soptrod across the bay, into Oomar, and subsequently through Greatwood and over the Dividing Range – nearly to Kanedon. This is thanks in part to having removed much of the unnecessary Khalad drama, and also in part to having dramatically shifted the geography so that the distance between Oomar and Kanedon is greatly decreased.

Act One – Scene Eleven: Public Image


Well there you have it – tentatively the new cover for the Fall of NaRasch. Input, as always, is welcome, though it should be noted that due to the wonderful amount of spam that arlenbresh.ca has been attracting I’ve disabled comments from non-members. Membership is free and only takes a moment. You can log in over this way –>>> somewhere, or on the front page.

In other news, I’ve just gotten my new printer. It’s an Okidata B411 laser printer and so far it’s phenomenal. It spits out 35 pages per minute and I can print at 1.7 cents per page with the stock 88 dollar cartridges. I won’t be able to calculate the rates when I start refilling my own cartridges, but it’ll be pennies on the dollar. I’ll have my cost per book under 5 dollars, as opposed to the 12.50 that I used to pay to my publisher per copy. Now all I need is a stack paper cutter capable of handling 300+ pages, and a finished manuscript to publish.

Act One – Scene Nine: How to Catch a Corcodile With an Office Stapler

Thanks to the marvel of Mathematics I am pleased to announce that “The Fall of NaRasch” is approximately 18% complete.
Now, I know that doesn’t sound impressive at all, and when you consider how long I’ve been working on this it sounds downright depressing. But it’s not quite as bad as all that. Actually, for my part I’m about half way done editing, and a quarter of that has been accomplished in the past 2 months – that is to say, things are coming along faster. The remainder of my progress bar is for the different editing stages which, once begun, will be carried out by different people at the same time so that the remaining 50% will take much less time than the first 50.

I’m not sure if this is important to know
But reguardless I’m bothering telling you so

More snippets to follow soon
-Hiram

Act One – Scene Eight: Applicable Histories

Unedited and full of flaws as always, but here’s the rough of a new chapter which I’ve accidentally added to the Fall of NaRasch, dealing with the demise of the Paladin (Dragon Breath, Mighty Dragon – depreciated). Incidentally, WordPress DOES have editorial positions within its infrastructure. Perhaps if you’re one of these people who cant stand a typo you’d care to fill a position…

But for the warmth and the good food Gail felt an uneasiness growing within her. She kept checking her memory of the day past, wondering if at any point they had come across tracks. She knew that they had not, and that no one had seen them, but for all the calming that her mind would do she could not shake the feeling that she was being watched, or followed or both. The great fire that they had lit made her nervous, but as none of the others appeared to share her concern she kept it to herself. It was only as they were getting ready for bed that Anne noticed her furtive glances into the darkness.

“What are you looking for, Princess?” asked the Elemental.

“I don’t know,” Gail replied. “Nothing I suppose. I’m nervous, but I suppose there’s no reason to be.”

“No, no reason,” replied Anne. Then after a moment’s thought she spoke. “Where is your sword?”

“It’s in my sled,” replied Gail.

“Go fetch it before you sleep,” said Anne.

Gail went to the sled. Maroward was fastened sheath and all just under the inside wall. She untied it and brought it back with her, pulling the sword a little out of the scabbard as she walked, just to see that it was the same as it had been, and of course it was.

“Good,” said Anne. “Now take it out. What do you feel.”

Gail drew the sword slowly, carefully. That one action drew the attention of the entire company, and she was painfully aware of this. At first she felt nothing, but she noticed that the woods seemed a little lighter. Then the feeling of foreboding came back, but stronger now. She turned a full circle, looking in every direction. But she did not know what she was looking for.

“I feel frightened,” said Gail after a moment.

“Put your sword away, Gail,” said the Elemental softly. “It’s nothing. Let no dark dream disturb your sleep tonight.”

The feeling of foreboding did not subside, but Gail did as Anne said, letting her reasoning come and dispel the fear. She got into bed then, but kept Maroward at her side, along with the knife she had been given by the Smithy in Vestrodge. The knowledge that they were there helped her feel a little more secure, but the rest that Anne had recommended eluded her.

She strayed into fitful dreams haunted by nondescript shadows, and came out again to sit up and stare into the darkest corners of the woods until she became too cold and hid under her blankets. It was perhaps the third or fourth time that she woke and found that Anne had moved from her bed. Sitting up, she found the Elemental a little way off, standing with her back to the camp. She was wrapped in a dark cloak, and Gail thought she saw the end of a dagger protruding from one of the sleeves. So silent and unmoving was she that at first glance she might pass for a rock or tree in the night. She did not stir when Gail got up.

“There is something out there, isn’t there,” said Gail in a whisper.

“Yes,” said Anne after a moment’s silence. “I have felt him since yesterday morning, at the time when he set his thought on you.”

“Him?” asked Gail, startled. “You know who it is?”

“Of course,” replied Anne. “Don’t you? I would have thought that by now you would recognize the feeling of the Paladin when it comes.”

At that Gail’s breath caught in her throat. It took her some time before she was able again to manage speech. The fear had come upon her again, but now it was many times stronger, nearly what she might call panic.

“What’s he doing here?” Gail asked, her voice catching even as she did.

“He’s looking for you,” said Anne. Her voice was steady and calm, hardly above a whisper. “He’s been looking now and then ever since you and Maroward gave him that start on the road outside Ossuar. After his first fright he fled for a while in fear of you. But it was not long before he found his courage again. Even so it’s taken him a while to find you. He’s been hunting around in the south for a long time, but this morning I sensed that he had learned news of our passing. Since then he has been coming swiftly. He is still afraid, but the wrath and hope of the Paladin are far stronger than any mortal fear that the man Leordon still possesses.”

“Why?” asked Gail. “Why would he be afraid? And of what?”

“I’ve already told you that,” replied Anne. “Don’t you ever listen when people talk? He’s afraid of you; of that sword you carry.”

“That doesn’t tell me anything,” said Gail. “I saw his reaction to Maroward at Ossuar. But what has he got to be afraid of? Can Maroward do him some harm?”

At this Anne let out a chuckle. “My dear girl,” she said. “The Prophetess who gave you the sword could have answered that question. Arlen Bresh could have answered it. Even your grandfather here could tell you a little about your sword if you’d only ask. And yet in all our company you still don’t know…”

“Know what?” demanded Gail, growing a little exasperated.

“That Maroward – the blade you treat as menial – is the only weapon that the Paladin fears. Indeed it’s one of the very few that can do him any harm at all. But like him you are blinded by your fear.”

“Why should Maroward be any more dangerous to him?”

“Because,” replied the Elemental. “That is its purpose. Before Leordon took up that hated weapon – indeed before it was even forged – Maroward was made by the hand of Silence to have dominion over such weapons as the Paladin. That’s why the Prophetess gave it to you. Because you are to be the queen of Gaeline, and it has always fallen to the crown in the north to guard against these monsters.”

“There’s more than one?”

“Many more,” Anne said. “But the others are of no concern at present. They are locked away as they ought to be; as he ought to be. For now our attention must be given to the Paladin.”

“I’m going to fight him?” Gail asked. “I don’t know if I can.”

“Oh girl, don’t be ridiculous,” the Elemental replied. “You don’t stand a chance against the Paladin; not yet. But I said Maroward is the only weapon he fears. I did not say that it was the only weapon that could harm him. It is one of the few. I still have my dagger. I told you they were forged by the same smith – by Silence himself. Yours has the greater purpose, but my blade is meant only for the Paladin. I have waited long for tonight. But I will need your help.”

“What can I do?” asked Gail.

“Challenge him,” was the reply. “Draw his attention; make him think that you are the chief danger.”

“And how should I do that?”

“By ignoring him,” said Anne. “The Paladin, I mean. Somewhere within that monster is a very real man, and I think he is still at war with the sword, though he has been losing for many years. Treat the Paladin as of no consequence. Address Leordon, and it will provoke the monster to fury. It may make my job easier as well. Can you do that, Queen?”

“I think I can,” said Gail. She wondered that the Elemental addressed her as queen where she had always before called her a princess.

“Good,” said Anne. “Go back to sleep if you can. He is still some way off. I will wake you when he draws near.”

Gail went back to bed, thinking that the very idea of sleep at a time like this was ludicrous. But she had not lain long when her eyelids began to sag, and rested peacefully until they were all woken by a shout from Anne.

“Get up friends!” called the Elemental. “A foe is upon us!”

Redemption: Make Way for Another Novelette

It has been just over a year since I (Carson) began what I would later dub The Cast Diaries. And now, a year later I am happy to announce the nearing completion of this novelette. At just over 16k words I’ve deemed it ready for editing and–with any luck–publishing. As a memento to the occasion I have chosen to release a small portion of the draft which at this point will not appear in the finished book. I’ve also included a short 3-minute promo HERE, so grab your popcorn, turn down the lights and get excited for The Cast Diaries.

 

Redemption

She awoke; the piercing sunlight coming through the window intensified by her pounding headache. She rolled over. Where was she? This wasn’t her bed, it was too warm and comfortable—too welcoming. Nor was this her room. The light-coloured walls not her walls, the thick carpet far too clean to be hers. Her vision was foggy. She tried to think back; it hurt to think. She vaguely remembered something, or someone. Had she been at a party? How had she gotten here? It reminded her vaguely of some other time, but she couldn’t remember, not with the pounding in her head.

She floundered in the deep bed for a time, unused to the soft mattress, but finally found herself slouched on the edge, bare feet on the floor. She was in nothing but lingerie, her clothes neatly folded on a chair not far from the bed—her clean clothes? They were in fact still soft and warm from drying. She got up and staggered toward the chair—not more than two steps, but she felt as though she were on a ship in the midst of a storm; the floor kept pitching this way and that, and her sense of balance was muddled. She dressed with care, but also difficulty; the fog in her head was only beginning to roll away. There was a mirror on the nightstand next to the bed and she couldn’t help but look.

“Girl you are a mess,” she declared to herself. She ran her fingers through her knotted, dirty hair. This was all like a dream. Her face was pale and sported a bruise to her right temple. She had no memory of being hit. Finally somewhat satisfied, she turned away from the mirror and looked about the room. Save a dresser, a closet, and what else she had already seen, the room was bare. She now noticed the door across the room from her, standing ajar a space. She stumbled toward it, finally regaining her balance, and looked through. Opening the door fully, she found herself at the end of a short hallway, and it was now that she noticed the aromas drifting toward her. They easily overpowered the scent of alcohol in her hair that she had just begun to notice with growing disgust.

The hallway was dimmer than the bedroom had been, but it was not dark. Two doors on the left led first into a bathroom and then another bedroom. There were pictures hanging on the walls, she noticed. In fact the whole place had been arranged and furnished with a grand sense of décor, and the house seamed altogether inviting. Her bare feet sunk into the carpet, and made not a sound as she made her way down the hallway.

Coming to the end of the hallway she found herself looking into a small kitchen typical of an apartment of this size. The smell was originating from here and she found the source; a scrumptious dish of what looked like bacon and eggs set out on the island. She noticed this even before she noticed the girl tending to a frying pan on the stove, having not noticed the awakened visitor. For several moments the two remained this way, the first paused at the entrance from the hall, the second busily about breakfast. But finally the moment was broken and the second of the two turned from her work, pan in hand, and with little visible surprise, acknowledged her standing in the doorway with a cheery ‘Good morning.’ There is nothing like a ‘Good morning’ given with bacon and eggs.

The first was somewhat taken aback in surprise. “Come, sit down and eat, don’t just stand there looking hungry!” the cook invited her guest warmly into her realm. “I’m Amanda.”

“I’m Miranda.”

 

 

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Act One – Scene Seven: The Science of Embellishment and Getting to the Point

I’ve just now started into what has become chapter 19 of 36 (previously 17 of 34). What’s happened? Well I’ve basically rewritten everything from the encounter in Hembrage with Arlen Bresh (actually before that) to the exit from Arme. As much fun as it was to travel for two weeks inside one paragraph and be in and out of Vestrodge within the space of twelve hours, I found that too many things needed shifting and changing. So many long weeks late here I am, safely out of the Armein wilderness, beyond Rejhant, and rapidly approaching 150k words. Oh yeah and I have yet to reapply the destruction of Mighty Dragon which I clipped out of the Arme chapters. There, that’s what I’ve been up to.

“I have much history here,” said the Elemental, looking upon the walls to their left, “though I have not learned much of it. That is something we have in common.”
“What do you mean by that?” asked the Princess.
“I mean that sword you carry,” replied Anne. “It’s a lot like my dagger, you know. You must know, since you have carried both.”
“I thought they must be a little similar,” said Gail. “Do you know much about them?”
“I know a little,” Anne said, “but it’s a lot more than you, or your grandfather here know, though less than others, I think.”
“Which others?”
“Arlen Bresh, for one,” said Anne. “I’ve given it a great deal of thought, and my conclusion is that he knew much about your sword long before he knew about you. I don’t know why he would have that kind of knowledge, but perhaps if you ever chance to meet him again you should press him further for answers. In the meantime it will surprise you to learn that you’ve brought Maroward home.”
“Home?” Gail asked, still too concentrated on memories of their brief meeting with Arlen Bresh.
“This here,” Anne gestured to the eastern wall. “This is where Maroward was forged.”
“You know about my sword?” Gail said, “And you’re only now mentioning it?”
“I know little enough,” Anne replied. “And you’ve never asked me about your sword. I know that it was made by the same smith as my weapon, and therefore I assume it was made for a similar purpose. I know the purpose of my dagger, but I don’t know what purpose your blade might have. It’s quite old, though I think it’s got something to do with Gaeline and the Irithol. You really should have had the presence of mind to ask the Prophetess who gave you the gift what it was for. It’s bad news accepting gifts with an unknown purpose. You might find you’ve unknowingly inherited some doom.”
“But you said it was made here?” Gail asked. “What sort of weapons were made here?”
“Mostly unpleasant ones,” Anne said, almost dismissively. “But a few good ones – I think yours was one of these, but you may not find out its true nature until you put it to the use it was intended. Perhaps its use has already passed away and it’s nothing more than an heirloom now. I wish I had learned more of such history when I had a chance. Of course, when I was learning I did not think that I’d be coming across a girl like you, or a sword like that.”