Today is Day One of National Novel Writing Month. I have 30 days to write a 50,000 word draft of a novel. I’ve decided to pull the trigger on an idea I’ve been mulling over for some time now and have been writing snippets of here and there for some time. It will be a genre work, high fantasy, in the style of Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, and George R.R. Martin. I haven’t completely flushed out the work yet, but I do have the basic journey story in mind.
I’m envisioning a story that revolves around the dominate religion of the particular world butting heads with the state and merchant classes of that world. A kind of tripart politics–religion, government, commerce–where all three are vying for control. I suppose I’ll be modeling this conflict on Europe, perhaps just prior to the Reformation, but I may look to other sources–in particular, I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction about the Black Sea region and Central Asia. I’d like to create a story that is made of fictionalized reality as a way to educate readers.
But that might be far too lofty. Especially since I’m going to be writing a book about magic & swords. I’m also toying with the idea of having my hero, Avery Roth, be transsexual or hermaphroditic or androgynous. I like the idea of a Tiresisas kind of character or even race. I’d also like to take on ableism by incorporating sign language and braille as ordinary forms of communication. Again, maybe a bit too lofty for wizards & warriors fare.
Anywits, here is today’s contribution. It’s Avery Roth after rescuing two travellers, getting them to safety, then having them be re-captured. Keep in mind two things–I’m a shitty poet not a fiction writer so yeah this is gonna suck, and this is just a rough, rough draft. Progress can be followed here as well.
Roth woke with difficulty. He could feel a deep, throbbing pain along the side of his head. Opening his eyes he discovered that one of them was caked shut with what he could only imagine was his own blood. His clear eye tried to focus but found it difficult, the room was nearly pitch black, the sound of his own blood filled his ears and as he groped around to set himself up his fingers felt tight and fat as though they hadn’t been used in ages.
His wrists were loosely bound and once he righted himself into a sitting position, he began to take an inventory. Roth felt his head and quickly found what felt like a large gash just above his ear. He licked his thumb and suck on the cloth that held him, when was damp enough he began to wipe the crusted blood from his eye and face. The rest of him was intact, no holes, he thought. But he could feel some areas of his back and legs that were certainly well bruised.
The men had of course taken his blades and had done a thorough job of emptying his pockets. Roth made a note, he needed his knives back. With his eye cleaned up slightly he was better able to take in the room of the ship’s hold that was now his jail. Instead of the pitch black, he now saw everything in a soft brown. There were contours, crates most likely, and with those lines depth. The hold was not small, maybe twenty steps by twenty, which means the ship was large given that the crates in the room looked sparse and aged. This wasn’t a merchant vessel or even a pirate’s, not a warship and too large to be a scouting ship. Roth felt the boat sway and he tried to gauge the speed, the feel of it.
“You’re awake.” A voice, a girl’s, the girl’s, gently young and afraid sounding but still…confident.
Roth tilted his head and tried to look around the hold for the girl, his neck screamed sharp pain into his already grieving head, “Yes. I guess I am.”
“You’ve been out for hours.” She was sheepish.
“Well, I’m sensitive…” Roth tried to rub his eyes, he squinted as the images around him blurred, focused, and then blurred again.
“You tried to stop them.” The girl’s voice was more intense now.
“For all the good it did me.”
“But you tried.” The voice was lamenting yet tender.
“Or for you… Listen, where are you? I can’t really see and just hearing your voice from the darkness is rather unnerving.” Roth could hear some movement and then the sound of boots on the floor; she must’ve been sitting on one of the crates and was now coming closer.
“I’m here.” Roth jumped a bit as he felt the girl’s hand grip his ankle, her touch was light and somehow made Roth feel more relaxed.
“So you are.” Roth whispered, he relaxed and let his head lean back against the hold wall. The girl’s hand stayed on his leg and she seemed to be scratching it ever so slightly with her fingertips.
Roth pulled his knees up and tired to right himself so that he could see the girl more clearly, “So I need to know some things…”
He could make out the form of the girl; she was sitting with her legs crossed and seems to be holding a bundle until Roth realized that she too was bound messily by the same linens has he.
“Like what?” The girl leaned back and her voice became guarder, perhaps a bit hostile.
“Well, who are these people? Why do they feel the need to hold you? Why do they feel the need to hold me? Where are we going? Who exactly are you?” Roth turned his head and sneezed, then looked back toward the girl, “And where my stuff?”
The girl sighed, “Well…” she fell silent “They probably think you’re my guardian and they’re probably taking us to whomever wants me. Probably for a reward. I don’t know where your stuff is.”
Roth let out a long, weary sigh, “Damn it.”
“The one from the marsh. He tried to interrogate you while you were still a bit out of it from being knocked around.”
“The one from the marsh?” Roth searched his memory, “I don’t…I remember getting on-board the ship and then…blacking out.”
“Well, you were barely conscious when they threw you in here with me. Then they tried to get some information from you.” The girl seemed to laugh a bit.
“You don’t remember?”
“No, I told you. They hit me pretty hard. On the head.”
“Not hard enough. You stabbed one of them in the hand with his own knife, broke another’s nose. That gash on your head, the one from the marsh finally bashed you with the hilt of his sword. You went down and stayed down. I thought he had cracked your skull. Killed you.”
Roth thought to himself, “Did they think so?”
“The one from the marsh bent down to look you over and seemed satisfied that you were out. When they came to check on us you were still out and they didn’t seem to take any notice of your body.” the girl laughed, “but they did make sure to go through all your pockets and take everything but not before they bound your unconscious body. Apparently you’re quite the danger.”
Roth mumbled, “Yeah, well, that’s the training…” raising his head he looked at the girl, “So they think I’m coma’d?”
The girl blinked and stared at Roth with a look of slight incomprehension, “I…guess so…”
“When you’re delivering a bounty and it needs to be alive but it’s too dangerous to keep conscious you brain them which essentially renders them a ragdoll–unconscious but not dead. You get your bounty but usually begrudgingly, because there is some dam…”
“You know a bit about this?”
“I know enough.” Roth rubbed his head trying to measure the depth of the cut.
“The question is why don’t they just kill me and throw me overboard?”
“They’d do that?”
“If I didn’t have any value for them. And it’s not like I’m being recruited”
“Well, they’re probably…they think that…you’re my guardian.”
“And why,” Roth asked, “would you need a guardian?”