I’ve made progress on my fourth fantasy novel. This first week has turned out well. I’m just under 20,000 words. Most of it has been transcription from my handwritten notebooks to typescript but still, in the process, I’ve been editing and adding new scenes. I’m now to the point heading into this second week of writing from notes and sketches I’ve made of scenes and story arches. This is the outline getting written and, of course, there will be changes and edits as it moves along.
But the great achievement is–it is moving along. I’m on track to have this novel done by month’s end, which means I ought to have it available for readers before the end of the year. My ultimate goal is to have Bone Weary completed and available for sale before the new year.
On Facebook, I got a notice from a few years ago when I started the series. November has always been a productive month for it. Although, perhaps not lately since it’s been two years since book three, The Punishment Hand. That post reminded me of the rough map I first made of the world I was writing about:
Things that have been going on in the story–Fery has found Declan’s body and is trying to find a way out of the Chasm surrounding the Cathedral, Kira and Jena are bonding as they travel to the city of the Seven Spires and helping folks along the way, Wynne has left the Spires army in the hands of Goshen as he goes to the other Essian capital of Heveonen to negotiate an alliance, Goshen is moving the army slowly while hoping to use it to search for the others (Fery, Kira, and Jena), and finally Roth is back from the far north looking to meet back up with the group at their rendezvous point and complete the task he’s been given by the Caretakers.
A lot of names, a lot of places, and a lot of events. Below is an excerpt from what I’ve managed to finish:
Kira & Jena On The Road
“Do you think it’s safe enough?”
Jena ignored Kira’s question as she continued to stoke the nascent campfire. Twilight was ending and although the sky seemed a bright enough blued hue once your vision entered the treeline and woods everything seemed darker than the deepest night. The two had just finished tying their hammocks up when Jena began the fire.
“What do we have to eat?” She asked.
Kira rummaged through her pack. “Two fists of jerky…and an apple and an onion.” She held them out for Jena to see. “Do you think we could still find some greens or is it too late?” She asked
Jena stared at what Kira held, then shook her head. “I don’t think we’d be able to see anything well enough. Unless there’s something right around us once I get this going properly.”
“You don’t think it’ll attract attention? Like those Spires men.”
Jena shrugged, “They said their camp was two hours back, and we’ve trekked at least that long away from where they turned back. I think we’re safe enough. Besides, I don’t know this country well enough to travel at night. And I’m hungry.”
“And I’m hungry.” Kira repeated smiling slightly.
“How much water is in your skein?”
“A stew then?”
“Apple beef stew.” Kira nodded. “Sure why not. All of it?”
“Leave a couple of pieces of bark for us to gnaw on tomorrow morning.”
Kira took out a small cooking pot setting next to Jena who silently began to set it up over the small fire. She reached her hand out for the water bota and Kira handed it to her without looking as she was set on cutting up their provisions for the stew. Jena filled the pot half way, then tossed onto the fire three larger branches watching as the fire grew illuminating their small space in the forest.
As she cut them into small bits filling the cloth in her lap, Kira would drop into the pot the bits of meat, apple, and onion. Jena sat squat just to one side of Kira staring into the woods scanning the blackness for hints of movement.
“The last rise we came over before coming into this wood, I saw a proper road.”
“You think we should take it.”
Jena nodded, “I think it’s the thoroughfare to Midhalm. I think we’ll be there by late afternoon tomorrow.”
“And when we get there.”
Jena stayed silent prodding the fire absentmindedly. Kira kept bring her hands to her face. Jena turned, “What are you doing?”
“My hands smell nice.” Kira blushed a bit holding her hands up for Jena to smell. Jena stared at her unmoving. The two sat for what seemed like minutes unflinching, then Jena leaned in to sniff Kira’s splayed fingers.
Jena chuckled, “They do smell nice.”
“Check the stew.”
As their dinner cooked the two women sat silently next to each other letting the flames, the darkness of the woods, deep blankness of the night sky, and the sounds of the wild occupy their thoughts. Finally the stew was done. Jena filled a wooden bowl and handed it to Kira, who traded her a small wooden spoon. After filling her own bowl, Jena sat next to her friend. She swirled her spoon around her bowl letting the stew cool a bit. Kira was eating quickly, making slurping noises as the hot stew scalded her mouth.
Jena looked out, then looked up, and closed her eyes. “I’m sick of this.”
“Of what?” Kira asked in a mumble trying to cool her tongue with quick breaths and a drink from the bota.
“Of being out here. Of doing this.”
“You’ve always done this.”
“I thought it was what you wanted. What you were good at.”
“It was what I could do.” Jena turned to Kira. “Like the way being a priestess was what you could do.”
“I wanted to be that.”
“Did you? Did you have anything else you could’ve done?”
“Yes.” jena made a face urging her to go on. “I could’ve been a healer.”
“A proper healer.”
“Well, no, not a surgeon or anything like that.”
“Because The Cathedral doesn’t allow it.”
“The scriptures are clear about roles.”
“Written by patriarchs long, long dead.”
“Are you just trying to pick a fight?”
“What if your father starts writing scriptures? What if he starts making declarations and they’re taken as the Light’s word? Does it make it so? We’ve seen what he really is. How does that fit with your faith?”
Kira shook her head, “I’m no theosopher.”
Kira nodded, “He’s none too trustworthy either, granted.”
Jena let out a long sigh waving the conversation off, “I’m sorry. I’m not talking about that, not really. I’m just…I’m just sick of what we’re doing. Running around like paupers. At best, we’re puppets being made to dance.” She was silent for a moment. “When I began ranging I thought I’d be free and have a good life by now. Not scampering through the woods, my life in danger, my friends gone, and no prospects.”
“I think you’re being rather dreary.”
“What would you prefer? We saw Declan die. Who knows if we’ll ever see Goshen again.”
“Or Fery and Wynne” Kira quietly added.
Jena nodded in assent. “And we’re hoping that in Midhalm we’ll find Roth, just waiting for us. Even if that happens, what do we say to him? What do we do? Where do we go?”
“We’re going to Ardavass. We’re going to find the Kyrios who hired Declan, who can help me take my place…”
“In the government? In your clan or Spire or whatever? To do what? We’re going from one intrigue to the next. It’s just madness, there’s no reason to it all. We simply hope they’ll take us in.”
“They won’t just be taking us in. I’ll be…we’ll be able to take control of…”
“Of what? The Spires Army? Those that’ve been hunting us? You think it’ll just happen instantaneously? Wynne was the most savvy person I’ve ever met and The Cathedral’s Conclave crushed him. What kind of machinations do you think we’ll encounter in the Spires?”
“‘Machinations,’ huh?” Kira raised an eyebrow. The two stared at each other a moment then burst out laughing.
“I’m not an idiot.” Jena said through a relieving smile.
Kira nodded, “I know, I know. It’s just…you’re usually the one comforting us, telling us what’s going to happen, what we need to do.”
“You get like when you see people you care about get hurt, when you remember the things you’ve done.” Jena’s face fell again.
“We’re here because of you.”
Jena smirked, “Thanks.”
“You know what I mean.” Kira set her bowl aside. “Without you, without Roth, I’d have been dead a long time passed. I know that’s true for Goshen too. You saved us. You saved Fery too.”
“And look where we are.” Jena held her hands out gesturing to the woods around them. “Roth had a plan, Wynne had a plan, we had a plan. This is where we’ve ended up.”
“We’re not done yet. We’ll find Roth, we’ll find the others, and we’ll put a stop to all this.”
Jena poked the fire, “I don’t really doubt that.”
“Then what is it?”
Jena’s shoulders sagged, “It doesn’t feel like it’ll ever end. We’ll just keep on…roaming from one place to another. What power do we have? What can we do other than just tell people what’s been happening. And then, then, what will make any of those act? If Wynne couldn’t do it…”
“I can do it.”
“If you help.”
There was quiet. “What else have I to do.”
“No wonder you work alone,” Kira rolled her eyes, “you’re horribly depressing.”
Jena smiled punching Kira in the thigh. Kira pushed her back. Their laughter mixed with the sound of the fire and the life of the woods giving both a long absent sense of ease.