Day Three of National Novel Writing Month

2013-Participant-Facebook-CoverDay Two

Yesterday was a narrow day, I was only able to get in 855 words. So that put me off the pace a bit with only 1916 words of 50k done.

But yesterday’s drafting gave me some new geographical points–the city that I’m call Sidge (which I don’t like and need to change) and Sidgean Bay, the Seven Spires (another city-state), and Mene Harbor (another name I don’t like and need to change).

Conflicts now are not just between Roth, the girl (now named Kira), and their kidnappers but also between the kidnappers and The Cathedral (which will either be another city-state or the dominate religion of the world), the city-states of Sidge and Seven Spires, and the world’s free traders and the various city-states. The Blockade is the driving political conflict, the Seven Spires have created a flotilla of ships that have cut off Sidge from all sea trade.

There are also some added nationalities/races–the Adrenine and the Essiens. I’ve introduced a particular religion that is colloquially referred to as “The Light” as well as a group that’s either a criminal organization or anti-religious opposition, Defiants. Finally, I’ve added some other characters–Captain Atal, Jerron, and Goshen. So I need to expand the depth and detail of these while still flushing out the plot.

So here’s the Day 2 additions:

The bow of the ship rose and crashed down with seeming certainty as The Adza, a trader, made its way to Sidge. The port town had long been a center point for trade and travel but had fallen recently due to a dispute with the Seven Spires. The sea was rough and the sky a steely grey. The churn of the whitecaps seemed to be all that signaled where the sky met the sea.

The Adza had left Mene Harbor more than three days ago. Its only trade, two units of soldiers meant to reinforce The Blockade. The crew was thin, whittled down to the most necessary crew—a trade freighter typically carried __ men. The ship captain, Atal, didn’t like being a ferry. The pay was low, the ‘cargo’ was always brutish, and easily seasick. Troops were routinely a cacophony of egotistical bravado and retching. All Atal could do was endure. Until the Spires lifted The Blockade and Sidge was open again to legal trade, this was his life. Ferry troops and supplies to the Spire’s navy.

Such a sad navy it was. Adrenine ships filled with queasy Spire troops all crewed by mercs. How The Blockade had lasted this long and been this successful was a wonder to Atal. Then again, Atal knew that a stifled Sidge mean the Spires could to as they pleased. The only seafarers able to break this blockade would have been the Adrenines, perhaps the Essiens but they were too far away and too little impacted by Sidge being shutdown. This left the free traders like Atal in the lurch. Some had tried to smuggling but the Blockade was too complete, only land could it have possible.

Standing at the forward bow of the ship, Atal gazed through his scope. He eye the horizon as his ship seems to rise and dip with an amazing regularity. Atal felt Adza slice thought the rough waves and carve a clean path for itself. He knew it wasn’t just the ship; it was the work of his steersman and navigator. But he couldn’t help but feel a love and pride for the ship itself. Slowly the grey sky that beat down on the churning grey sea surrendered a thin black line. Atal turned up the aperture of his scope and the black line came into focus. The dark wood of the Adrenine ships revealed, ships locked side-by-side in a continuous dark line that seemed to hem the horizon. The Blockade was an ingenious tactic. Five hundred Adrenine ships locked side-by-side in a ling chain that chocked off the Sidgean Bay.

**

“So, what happens now?” Kira whispered.

“Well, I’m not sure where we’re headed. They’d want to put as much distance between you and your friend as possible. Mene Harbor is a major route for trade with ____ and _____. I think paladin isn’t on his way to either of those.”

“Why?”

“Well, getting on to ____ wouldn’t involve a severely wounded man. Also, Jerron would have to be removed from the equation. I think they’re on their way to ____.”

“But the Cathedral will certainly find out what happened.”

“That doesn’t matter. Jerron will go along with it because the trip will be short and to a place where the crusader can be healed properly. From there he would think he could go forward.”

“Once Goshen reveals what’s happened the Cathedral will certainly dispatch a force to rescue me.”

Roth laughs, “Amazing how pompous you sound.”

“You think The Light would abandon us?” she responded shocked

“Now it’s ‘us,’ is it?”

Kira blushed out of shame. Roth continued in a kinder voice, “You’re not wrong. They will send someone. Whatever your mission, a crusader wounded by highwaymen and a priest kidnapped will not stand.”

“You see!”

Roth rolled his eyes, “Let’s assume we live to rescued.”

Kira goes white.

“We live but where are we? We have to first figure out what they want and then we can figure out where we’re going. Or…wait…maybe the other way around. Maybe”

“You don’t know?”

“I have been hit on the head several times, grant me some leeway. Where do you think we are heading?”

“Now you’re asking me?”

“Yes, yes I am. Why do these men want you?”

Uncomfortably, “I told you, we’re on a diplomatic mission.”

“What does that even mean? Stop talking in vague terms.”

“Alright, alright.”

“What”

“I believe those men are Defiants”

Roth sighs, “Yes, I know that. Their clothes made that clear.

Shocked, “You knew this the whole time?”

“No, I knew…” rubs his face with hands, “Of course, I fucking knew! Being attacked on the Grand Road by crimson masked men wearing blackened leather! We all knew. You might as well have just told me we were being held prisoner in a boat.”

“Oh, so…”

“I need to know why going after would be something someone would pay for. Especially since a botched run would bring the wrath of the Cathedral down upon them and even a successful run would still enrage it. They must’ve been paid a great deal or you must be extremely valuable.”

Day Three

I needed to punch up a good deal today. To make up the words I failed to write yesterday. Today’s work is actually an attempt to write what I imagine as the opening of the story–Roth alone in the wild when he is randomly draw into Kira & Goshen’s drama. I’m repeating myself here plot point wise (I keep having Roth question Kira about who she is) and need to refine the dialogue. Also, I’m not happy with the “we’re on a diplomatic mission” line–reads too much like Star Wars and I don’t want to make Kira & Roth into a piece of Leia & Han fan fiction. I need to polish the fight scene and do a better job of describing what the individuals look like. So, all in all it’s a bit shallow still. But the more I’m putting into it I think the more options I have. Priority one, just get this draft done. Numbers as of today, 4031 words.

Here is today’s addition: 

Roth leaned over this small cone of wood and kindling, striking his worn flint repeatedly. He knew a storm was coming and his impatience made igniting the tinder that much more difficult. The air was thickening, becoming more and more humid, soon the sky would crack and the rain pour out. Sweat beaded his brow as his hat slipped forward slightly. Roth pushed the brim up again with his thumb and sighed, returning to his flint work. Coaxing a spark to ignite the mess of moss, leaf, and twig was proving trying. The marsh air had cooled, a beading fog hung and then gradually turned into a thin, needlepoint mist, but intent upon his task he was oblivious to the gentle drizzle that had started to fall. Roth paused and removed one of his gloves to scratch his chin, his beard was unkempt it having been nearly two weeks since he had seen a town much less an inn. Returning to his task Roth bent over, he would have a fire tonight. Finally, a spark caught the kindling; Roth struck his flint a couple more times to spark more of the tinder. Just as a true flame emerged the top of his hat creased slightly releasing a small pool of rainwater. It traveled down his hat across the brim and poured over the edge between Roth’s eyes. He watched this small trickle fall dousing the young flame.

“Well fuck.” He tossed his flint down hard in disgust. Just as he did, there came a thunderclap and the sky opened in earnest with a hard, thick rain. Roth sat staring blankly straight out ahead of him, sitting motionless he was quickly soaked, “I hate this marsh.”

His ears then perked up as he caught the sound of footsteps, running, and bearing down on hi scamp. Roth turned toward the sound and began to unsheathe his dagger when suddenly he was tackled. His face fell into the mud and felt a body atop him. Roth quickly recovered rolling onto his back and pinning the stranger under him, he punch the body twice in the ribs and then saw a woman standing over him shocked. Her face stunned Roth for an instant and then he felt the hilt of a weapon against his head and he was thrown aside. Rising up on all fours, Roth watched as the body beneath him grab the woman by the arm and drag her further in into the marsh.

Roth rubbed his head and picked up his hat still watching where the two had gone, “What the hell…”

Just then, four men leapt into Roth’s camp from the same direction the other two had come. Three of the men ran on ignoring Roth, the fourth however made eye contact with him. His face obscured by a deep crimson mask the man’s eyes narrowed and before Roth could react, the stranger knocked Roth aside with a mace blow to the chest. The strike threw Roth on the back and knocked the wind out of him. The stranger seemed to grunt satisfied and tan on the catch up with the others.

Roth grimaced, the felt the warm rain on his face and the cold mud seeping into his clothes. He blinked several times, caught his breath and rose furious, “Damn it!” He kicked open his backpack and quickly grabbed several throwing daggers as he ran after the six strangers.

The four men were fast, obviously skilled and they caught with the woman and her escort easily enough. Roth could see them about a hundred yards from him. The one who had first run into Roth was fighting the three viciously as the woman kept running behind him. Roth could tell by his armor that this man was a crusader. Although better equipped he was losing to the three who were more agile. The paladin swung his mace making full contact with one and sending him sprawling backwards and unmoving. The other two closed in on him circling and preventing him from retreating to join up with the woman.

Running at full speed, Roth saw the man who had hit him with the club stop about forty feet from the melee. He cocked and raised a crossbow, the next thing Roth saw was the paladin drop to his knees with an arrow protruding from where his neck and shoulder met. Roth was finally close enough, the crossbowman heard Roth behind him and spun to meet the new challenge but he was too slow as Roth easily slicked his throat open running by him. A muffled, wet gurgling sound dame form him as he reached for his throat and fell to his knees. Roth kept his pace up closing the distance between himself and the remaining two assailants. Roth stopped in his tracks quickly raising a throwing daggers and sending it spinning toward the chest of the one closest to him. The blade lodged in this targets shoulder and Roth cursed himself for missing his mark. Then his mark stiffened and slowly fell forward with two arrows firmly lodged in his back. Roth could see the woman in the distance still holding the bow straight. Caught between Roth and her, the final adversary ducked down slightly and cut a wide crescent around Roth, stopping to pick up the still hunched over masked man Roth had first cut. The two backed off slowly at first but then quickly ran off into the darkness of the marsh.

After making sure the two weren’t coming back, Roth came up to the body of the paladin. As he bent over him, Roth could see that the man was still alive though barely. Roth removed the paladin’s helm and mantle to inspect the wound. Just then, he felt an arrow whiz by his ear, nicking it.

“Oow…what the hell?”

Roth looked up to see the woman standing not more than fifteen feet from him bow drawn back.

“Leave him be”

Roth starred the woman with contempt.

“He’s not dead”

The woman lowered the boy slights and peered at the paladin with a look of genuine worry.

“Look, I can patch him up…enough to get him to some help…”

Why should I trust you?

Are you serious?

How do I know you just won’t…

Look, he hasn’t the time for your games. You want to live, I help; you want him to die, I don’t”

Roth looked at the woman hard; she flinched and dropped her bow, “Alright”

Roth went to work. The arrowhead was lodged deep and Roth was worried that removing it would cause more pain and damage that just leaving it there would.

“His name is Goshen” the woman stood next to Roth and spoke quietly sounding apologetic

“Of course it is…” Roth mumbled. After spreading a weak salve over the wound, Roth broke off the around leaving the dead in and began to wrap Goshen with a treated bandage. Roth stood, the rain stopped and a cold, damp silence blanketed the march

“He’s not going to last long; we need to get him to a surgeon, a proper healer.” Roth shook his head then turned to the woman, “We need to head the Mene harbor.”

The woman didn’t look at Roth but rather at Goshen, she nodded and in a whisper said, “That was where we were heading.”

Roth bent down and undid the paladin’s chest and leg armor tossing it aside. The woman stared at Roth in horror.

“What are you doing?”

Roth continued taking the paladin’s gear off, “Are you going to carry his body?” he said contemptuously as he lifted the paladin with surprising tenderness

‘But…what if…”

“If he lives he can buy new armor, if he’s dead armor does nothing for him”

Roth held the paladin and began walking towards his camp; the woman spoke forcefully, “Mene isn’t that way.”

“No, but my camp is and I do need my things.” Roth didn’t hesitate walking at a sure pace even though he was burdened with the man’s limp body.

“Stay close,” he barked,” We can’t afford any dawdling.”

Roth reached down to pick up his pack. He threw it around his free shoulder and then tossed tow other smaller packs that were tied together to the woman. She caught almost as an afterthought and scowled at him, Roth scoffed, “Maybe we’ll trade after a few minutes.”

In the distance the storm was out over the seas, you could see lightning strikes diving into the horizon, but before that, there was the weak outline of ramparts of Mene. It would take them about two hours to get there.

“I’m Kira by the way.” The woman spoke as though Roth had failed her grievously

“Wonderful to hear.” His shoulders ached from the weight of the paladin

“And you are?” Kira asked obviously annoyed.

“Avery Roth.”

“It’s going to rain again,” Kira was looking behind them at yet another storm coming over the mountains down to the marshland.

“Yeah…there’s always a storm…”

Kira shivered, the night was damp and chill. Goshen lay on a makeshift cot Roth had fashioned, it stood about a foot off the ground and served as a litter to better move him. Roth had covered him with both Kira’s and his own cloak.

“You think we could have a fire?”

“Nope.”

“I mean, I think we should start a fire.”

“Be my guest.”

Kira gritted her teeth, “I don’t know how to make one.”

“Then I guess we’re not having a fire.”

“Why won’t you start one?” Kira was exasperated.

Roth let out an audible sigh as though Kira was not just a burden but also an imbecile, “I wonder if the people who hunted you down are out in the marsh right now? I wonder if, were they to be out there, I wonder if they’d see a fire out here in the open moor. And if they saw the light, if they’d come over to see if it were the people who had killed members of their party?”

Kira was getting more and more angry with Roth but said nothing.

“I don’t see why you have to be such an ass.”

Roth chuckled to himself, “I guess it has something to do with having my camp tromped all over, getting beaten and ambushed, and then being dragged into a babysitting gig that will afford me no profit. In fact, I’m probably going to lose coin taking you and the corpse there to Mene.”

“He’s not dead. Show some respect. Goshen is an emissary of the Cathedral of Light and a noble…”

“Well, all that served him well as he was set upon.”

“They weren’t after him”

“Oh? You? And who are you? Come to think of it, why the hell are you two even out here?”

“We’re diplomats, we’ll I am. Goshen is my escort.”

“Cute. A little mission. And then highwaymen surprised you…”

“No. They weren’t just thieves.”

“Those looked like Defiants. In fact, I know they were.”

Kira hesitated, “How did you know that?”

“You don’t get out of your convent much do you?”

“I’m not…no…but, I don’t see…”

“Their clothes. Defiants all wear blackened leather; a crimson bandana usually marks a lieutenant.”

“Who are you?”

“I asked first.”

“And I told you.”

“No, not all of it.”

“Why do you need to know?”

Roth shrugged, “You’re right, I don’t.”

Kira looked down, “I can pay you for your help.”

Roth perked up, “Can you?”

“Yes, when we get to Mene I can write you a letter that you can redeem…”

“Credit? Credit, through the Cathedral?” Roth laughed bitterly, “Usury. Yeah, sure, you do that.”

“The Cathedral’s coffers are plentiful.”

“Separating a priest from his money…I’d prefer taking on those Defiants again.”

“You have no respect for the Light, do you?”

“I have no respect for those who claim to know ‘the Light.’” Roth was suddenly aggressive, “Anyone can see.”

“I don’t agree”

“Believe what you want. It’s late; well make Mene before the morning is over.  You should sleep now.”

“What about Goshen.”

“He’s lost a lot of blood. I patched him with some clay-peat, which has held the bleeding in check. But he needs a surgeon and something to clean the wound so it doesn’t get infected. There’s always a poison on Defiant blades and arrows. This particular one has soured him, knocked him out. He’s got some kind of fever. If we’re lucky and quick he could pull through. He’s strong.”

“What about you?”

 “Oh, I’m strong too.”

“No I mean when are you going to rest?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Roth looks at Kira with true kindness, “You’re safe, he’s safe, get some sleep.”

**

And this is for you just for making it all the way through,

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