Second Book Excerpt! (Untitled)

I’m back from the holidays. Although, I’m still technically on Christmas break…Whatever. As the last day of 2017, I’ll be posting something a little more special, translation: another book excerpt.

This one is also set in a fantasy world of sorts. It’s one that merges medieval times with technology best described as, well, 1912 Cadillac’s, the first models of phones, and older cameras. I’m sure there’s a name for that but at the moment I don’t know what that is so I’ll stick with fantasy world with semi-modern perks. (And I wouldn’t call it steampunk, either.)

The plot centers around this man who works for the four emperors and empresses who long ago took over the six kingdoms of that country, and it follows him as he is tasked with interrogating a little boy to find out why he snuck into the palace.

I know that sounds vague and probably a little boring. I’ve enjoyed writing it so far, though, so maybe someone will enjoy reading it. If anyone ever even finds this website. This book is more an exercise for me to practice character arcs and development, which means I don’t expect much from it.

But I’ll just stop talking about it and get on with showing you the first chapter.

The general walked into the center of the room, and was immediately blinded by dozens of lights shining down on him. Listlessly shielding his eyes, the general continued forward until he could look directly at the four thrones looming over him without causing permanent sight damage.

The chamber was crowded that night. The general wondered who could have angered the lords and ladies enough to get such a full house. His eyes settled on the chair directly in front of the thrones, and he had to resist blurting out, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“General Gonosz,” said one of the merciless rulers, ice blue eyes boring into him. The general stood at attention, staring directly above his head like he had hundreds of times before.

“Sir?”

“Have you ever seen this boy before?”

Boy, Gonosz thought. Yes, that’s quite fitting. He’s merely a child. Why is the entire kingdom here to see his trial? Surely he wouldn’t try to overthrow the emperors…

The general walked around to look the kid in the eyes. He was dirty and bruised and, frankly, frightened. Frightened for his life. The boy had messy brown hair and green eyes that looked up at him and pleaded with him silently.

Gonosz pulled the wooden mask lower over his face. “No. I’ve never seen him before in my life, my lord.”

He took a moment to observe his superiors. Emperors Tane and Krowl, Empresses Carina and Smyth. He’d known them since they took over the six kingdoms of the country. And the general knew without a doubt that they wouldn’t hesitate to sentence this kid, no more than eleven, to death even if he’d done something as small as steal a raisin.

Gonosz shouldn’t care, though. The only person you can look out for is yourself.

“Permission to speak?” he called up. When the four nodded, the general continued. “What did he do, exactly?”

You haven’t heard, General?” Smyth asked patronizingly.

“You hadn’t either, until about four minutes ago,” muttered Carina. Before Smyth could retort, she addressed Gonosz and completely ignored her fellow empress. “He broke into the palace. We found him wandering around the halls at night.”

The little boy opened his mouth but the glare he received from the intimidating men and women in front of him made him keep quiet. He bent his head and tried to keep from crying. When Gonosz looked up at the crowd sitting in rows of seats, he saw several eyes fill with pity. They also knew what was to come. He wondered idly if the child’s parents were up there.

“-begin the trial,” Krowl was saying. Gonosz snapped back to reality, not even realizing he had zoned out. He better pay attention if he didn’t want to suffer whatever fate the boy would be given aswell.

“I suppose I should ask,” Tane said, his blue eyes still unnerving. “What’s your name, boy?”

“I…People call me Cowen.”

“Last name?”

“I’m an orphan,” Cowen informed him in a scared whisper. “No one knows my last name.”

“I see.” Tane nodded his head slightly to Gonosz. The general’s face twisted grotesquely underneath the mask as he walked to a table and picked up a deadly sharp knife. He really wished they would find someone else to be the torturer, he had enough work to do as it was.

Gonosz approached the child, letting the blade catch the light. He walked closer and closer until he was crouching before him, face to covered face. Cowen very quickly found a knife placed at his throat.

“Last name?” the general asked, repeating for the emperor. Again, Cowen pinned him under his pleading, deep green eyes.

“I don’t have one. Please, General, it’s the truth.”

Gonosz dug the blade in further. “Are you sure?” he said softly. “I could slit your throat right now.”

“I am telling the truth.” Cowen’s eyes darted to the people seated around them. “Ask my caretaker at the orphanage. She’ll tell you the same thing!” Gonosz looked back at the two lords and two ladies, who nodded in unison.

“Very well,” Smyth rasped. “Whoever takes care of this brat, stand up.”

A short woman shot up from her seat, twisting the fabric of her dress between her hands fearfully. Gonosz knew that fear well. He saw it almost every day on the face of anyone unfortunate enough to cross the rulers’ paths…Like Cowen.

“Do you know the child?” demanded Krowl.

The woman gulped. “Yes, m-my lord. He’s been with us s-since he was a babe.”

“No last name?”

“Nosir.”

Krowl stared at the woman for a very long time before giving in. “Very well. And were you aware of his sneaking off?”

“Nosir,” the woman peeped. Krowl sighed.

“Fine, fine.” He turned to Cowen. “Now, what were you doing here last night, boy? Are you working with the rebellion?” Cowen looked down at the knife still holding him and shook his head.

“No.”

“Are you sure?” asked Carina.

“Yes.”

“Then I’ll say it again,” hissed Krowl. “What were you doing here last night?”

Cowen’s mouth snapped shut. He wouldn’t utter another word. Gonosz slightly pushed the blade of the knife further, never enough to draw blood, but this only seemed to make Cowen freeze up more.

“If you don’t start talking-” the general began.

“I can’t tell you,” Cowen said finally. Gonosz gripped the handle of the knife tighter and looked back at the four again, waiting for what they would do. If the person wouldn’t give information, it was naturally assumed that they were guilty so they were sentenced to death. His superiors muttered amongst themselves as the chamber held its breath. Finally, Tane leaned forward in his throne and addressed Cowen.

“In that case, you are to be thrown into the dungeon for as long as we see fit.” There was a gasp of relief, met by warning expressions from the emperors and empresses. “General Gonosz? A word?”

The general pulled away the knife and left Cowen tied to the chair, walking up to his superiors. Gonosz couldn’t quite make out their expressions, however he did have a feeling that they couldn’t be too happy about these turn of events. Then again, they hadn’t cared when Gonosz didn’t torture the child too much and they’d simply said he’d be locked away. Obviously they had plans for Cowen.

“You are to take him to the most secure cell and interrogate him daily to see if you can find out anything more,” Carina ordered. “We think he may be a spy for the rebellion.”

“Him, milady?” Gonosz couldn’t help but notice Cowen struggling to get out of the chair, and instead making it topple over and land on its side. “With all due respect, he doesn’t quite seem like rebel type to me. And they wouldn’t send in a kid of his age to do their dirty work.”

“Precisely. You can’t trust anyone, General,” said Smyth.

Tane must have sensed his frown through the mask, because he added, “Gonosz, no questioning anyone besides this Cowen. You will interrogate him daily. Understood?”

“Yes, sir. Understood.”

The next time Cowen looked up from his nearness to the floor, he saw General Gonosz towering over him, arms crossed. The general lifted the seat back up, undid the bonds, and held the boy at gunpoint.

“This way,” he said gruffly, leading him out of the chamber. Cowen’s eyes returned to staring at the ground and they made their way through the palace.

They walked down the old halls, made of crumbling stone and ancient tapestries from each of the kingdoms. The two went down several levels from the chamber until they reached the dungeons. The rulers had many people in their cells, even for the most trivial things, and each of them began to jeer when they saw Gonosz and Cowen.

“He’s a kid!”

“Gonosz, if I ever get out of here…”

“My family is starving because of you!”

“You son of a-”

Gonosz turned sharply to the prisoners. “We don’t want to expose any rude language to the child, now do we?” he spat. Everyone in the dungeons decided on glaring at him fiercely, which was much easier to ignore.

The general strode to the very back of the hall of cells and turned a key in the door there. It swung open to reveal a soundproof, ultra secure holding area with nothing but a stone bed. Without a word, Gonosz pushed Cowen into the cell, and began closing the door again.

“Wait,” Cowen said desperately. “Don’t I get a phone call?” The general paused, looking up at him. Was that a legitimate question?

“No. Who would you even call?”

“I…” Cowen trailed off, biting his lip. “I don’t know.”

“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Before Cowen could say anything else, the general closed the door and relocked the lock. He felt relief wash over him and for the first time he realized that Cowen’s presence had been bugging him. Gonosz shook it off, leaving the dungeons at such speed that he didn’t have to endure the prisoners’ stupid shouting.

The general approached his room, only a level above the cells. Two guards stood at the door, wearing the same wooden warrior masks as Gonosz. Not for his protection; it was so that he didn’t try anything the emperors and empresses wouldn’t approve of. Gonosz was a general simply because they found him useful, not because he was trusted.

“You’re losing your touch, General,” commented one of the guards. No doubt he’s grinning that ridiculous grin under the mask, Gonosz thought. “Couldn’t even make a pip-squeak talk?”

“Watch it, Lake,” he snapped.

“What are you going to do? Go crying to those loons that you’re being teased?” asked the other guard.

“No, I’ll go and inform them that you were disrespecting your commanding officer and that you consider our rulers ‘lunatics’.”

Both guards froze up and Gonosz smirked, moving past them into his room. It wasn’t much but it wasn’t nothing, so it was…something. And something was more than the general could ask for. Gonosz pulled off the mask and avoided his reflection in the bathroom mirror as he washed his face.

Or, he tried to. When he looked up he saw his own sharp green eyes staring right back at him.

(For something I just needed to copy and paste this post took quite a long time. I need to go have a nap and satisfy my teenage sleeping patterns.)

 

 

The Christmas Special-Writer’s Gift

Christmas is around the corner. Like, “you-can-walk-a step-down-the-hall-and-there’s-the-corner” around the corner. I have no idea when it got so close, honestly. It came up so fast that I can barely believe it’s the holiday season.

Anyways, in honour of the freakishly upcoming Christmas, I thought I’d write a post to get myself in the mood. How do I plan to do this? Yeah, um, that’s the thing. I don’t have a plan. Maybe a bit of an idea, but not a full fleshed out plan, so I’m just going to type and see where it goes.

First off, here’s the idea: I’m going to tell you about my Christmas writing fails. (*Cue unenthusiastic cheering and applause*) Thank you, thank you. Now, let us begin.

I don’t think I’ve actually tried to write that many Christmas stories. Not a lot that I can remember, at least. But the handful that I have rarely got done. That’s the thing, Christmas is only around for a bit and a book takes a while to write. It’s rare that I’ll be done before Christmas depending on when I start, and by the time the holiday’s over I don’t feel like writing a Christmas book.

There’s one that I’ve finished. ONE. And it was about a couple of elves saving Christmas. Yeah, I know, very original, but I was like ten. (Actually, I was probably a couple of years older…) Besides that, there’s a stack of unfinished seasonal stories among the mother of all piles of unfinished stories. They’re all a part of my Christmas writing fails.

The one I remember trying to write the best was one about a girl who moves to a foreign kingdom where there’s no magic and she has to learn the power of the magic of Christmas, which isn’t an actual thing where she’s from, etc. (*Cue unenthusiastic cheers and applause again*) I think I just didn’t finish it because of the same reason I don’t finish a lot of stories, and that’s because I got bored of it.

I don’t think it was really going anywhere. I was bored, the writing became flat, and yes. Fail! This time I think I really was about ten, perhaps eleven. Age doesn’t matter though, because it was never finished and I’m not really sure where it is at the moment. The greatest detail of the story I remember is drawing snowflakes and candy canes on the sides of the paper I used for the book.

As I said, I don’t recall a lot of them, but I am working on a Christmas story for my one class this year. In French, too. Do you know how hard it is to write a story in your second language? It’s frustrating. I can’t use a lot of the methods I want to, and many of my favourite sayings don’t exist in French.

So far I’m happy to say it doesn’t seem to be a fail. It can’t be, or else my partner and I are going to get a bad mark. Thankfully the writing itself is coming along better than I thought it would in that language and I think I’m doing the grammar alright.

Please don’t be a fail, please don’t be a fail…

I could go deep into the recesses of my memory and try to pull out anything I can remember of writing Christmas stories. I could, but I won’t, as I think it would be unsuccessful.

The moral of the post? Christmas books are difficult to write, they usually end up unfinished, and I have no idea how Charles Dickens ever did A Christmas Carol. There. I think I’m satisfied.

Merry Christmas to everyone, and if you decide to write a Christmas story, I hope you have better luck than I have. Cheers!

Thief (Excerpt)

So. I decided to give an excerpt, for no one in particular. This is from a book I started writing in May, finished the first draft in June-July, typed it up during the summer break, edited it, and had it mostly done by the end of September. Which doesn’t mean I’m not still making tiny tweaks to it. I mean, there was one thing I had to really fix and that was…Nope. Too embarrassing. Only a few people would know what I’m talking about if they read this and I’d like to keep it that way.                                                                          The title’s Thief, if you hadn’t already guessed. It’s, like a lot of my books, fantasy and one of those cases where I got the idea from a dream. Although the final product was barely anything like the dream. Extremely different, I am not exaggerating. Only one kingdom in the world of my book is originally from my dream I had about half a year ago and the story line is as far off as can be. But, that’s probably not too unusual. Books go through a lot of changes, right?                                                                                                  Without further ado, here is the first chapter of Thief. Um, enjoy, I guess.

Note to self: The next time a shady figure slips you a pouch of gold coins and tells you to steal something, just say no.

Actually, I probably wouldn’t follow that note. As long as I wanted to eat the next day, my whole life revolved around shady figures slipping me a pouch of gold coins and telling me to steal something. But this, oh, this had been a step too far.

I snuck towards the giant structure ahead of me. It had been a long trip to get from Zybinaro to The Dome in East-Arcane. It had taken me…how many days? It didn’t matter now. All that mattered was finishing my job, and getting out of there. Not getting spotted would be ideal, too.

The Dome is a hard place to get into. Crossing the kingdom’s borders had been easy, the East-Arcanians dwelling place was what had me worried. Built into the side of the Edge of the World, this cylindrical building was big, easy to get lost in, and heavily guarded. You’d have to be an idiot to try and break into the place.

I stared up at the pastel coloured building, re-thinking my life choices for a moment, then I ran over.

I inched along the wall until I found a large window at ground level. I set down a sac I’d slung over my shoulder and rummaged through it silently. It was my bag of tricks-everything I needed was in there. Well, hopefully.

Out of the bag, I retrieved a thick blanket. I grabbed a large enough rock from nearby, placed the blanket against the window and kept it there with one hand, while with the other I rammed my rock into the window. There was a tinkling of glass.

I winced. Had the guards heard that? The blanket muffled the noise a little bit, but that had been audible. I briefly considered running, however no cavalry was coming to skewer me, so I continued to break the glass until there was a big enough hole for me to crawl through.

I stuffed the blanket back into the bag. I stepped carefully over the shards of glass, all the while assessing my situation. The Dome had several rings, levels with houses and marketplaces picturesquely sitting together like matching flowers in a garden. Guards patrolled each of these levels, and in the center, was the castle.

The Arcanian castle would definitely go against every law of physics that exists. Since these people love their magic so much, in the center of The Dome the castle sat suspended in the air, grand and tall and ultimately impossible. There was only one bridge connected to the structure and that was the one connected to the level I stood on.

And it was absolutely crawling with guards.

I ran through The Dome, using the many pillars to hide behind. I counted the levels of the castle in my head-one…two…three…Once I was sure I’d found the sixth floor I pulled a long piece of rope with a hook out of my bag. Then, I had to get as close to the castle as possible.

I was mentally kicking myself the entire time for accepting the job. The idea of running floated in my mind, taunting me, telling me how completely stupid I was. But if I wanted my full pay, I had to get my employers item. So I launched my make-shift grappling hook up into the air and towards the castle.

The hook hit its mark, lodging onto a castle window. I ran towards the edge of the level and climbed onto the railing there. With as much momentum as I could manage, I leapt off of the railing and flew fast towards the castle wall. I bumped against it so hard I almost thought that the whole structure would go plummeting to the bottom of The Dome.

When my ultimate demise by a falling building didn’t seem to occur, I started climbing. Don’t look down, don’t look down… I told myself. Naturally, of course, I looked down. My stomach did its own little gymnast routine. The depth of The Dome seemed to never end. It just dissolved into darkness. Suddenly my hands were way too sweaty. Suddenly the castle window was too far away. Suddenly that same idea of running was hitting my consciousness over the (metaphorical) head with a log.

I gulped and forced myself to look away from the never ending abyss. Just a little farther. You can do this. Don’t let go of the rope… I attached the end of the rope to a metal clasp on my waist, then I pulled my good old glass breaking rock out of my bag. Quickly I broke the glass, got into the castle, and touched solid ground before I had a heart attack.

Trust me when I say I would have loved to just lay there for about a day, but I still got up and kept moving. I replayed the conversation I’d had with the shady figure back in the kingdom of Zybinaro:

“A drunk Arcanian guard that had been out of Arcane on official business said it would be on the sixth floor of their castle. You’ll know that you’re in the right place if there’s large gold double doors at the end of the hall, with half a dozen guards standing in front of it.”

Well, I guess I’m in the right place, I thought with slight disappointment after I’d explored the castle a bit. If I peered around the corner I could see the same gold doors the shady figure had talked about, along with, yes, half a dozen very alert guards. I reached into my bag and closed my fingers around three small circular objects. I threw them behind me before ducking further behind a pillar. The second the objects (oh yeah, those objects were bombs) hit the ground they exploded and filled the hall with a thick cloud of smoke.

Several guards’s footsteps echoed through the area as they came to investigate. I watched them from my hiding place then I peeked at the doors again. To my dismay, two of the guards had stayed behind to guard the door. I grumbled internally before running over to them.

The two remaining guards raised their long silver staffs and yelled. The yelling only increased when I threw a couple of my bombs at their faces. The two flailed around, running into everything-walls, pillars, each other. I took it to my advantage and found the doors through the mist so I could pick the lock.

I slipped into the room and closed the golden doors behind me. And, just for good measure, I dragged a nearby cushioned bench over and placed it against the only thing separating me from the guards. It wouldn’t be long before they got in, so I had to move quickly. I looked around wildly. The shady figure had been very vague on what I was supposed to steal, saying simply that I would “know it when I saw it.” My eyes landed on a pedestal in the middle of the room, and what sat on top of it.

It almost made me scream. It was a little porcelain dove, carved to look as if it was taking flight. It could have easily fit into the palm of my hand. I’d gone through so much trouble to collect a common knick-knack? I sighed and pulled out the small lock-picking device I’d used earlier. I flicked it onto the pedestal, and ducked down.

My justification for these actions? Well, there were rumors of the spells East-Arcanians put on their valuables. You heard all over that thieves often found themselves teleported to a dungeon, frozen in time, or-and this seemed to be a favourite of most people-turned into a frog.

So I didn’t know what to expect. A small explosion, even a puff of smoke, but nothing happened. Nothing at all. I peeked up at the pedestal. The lock-picking device laid safely on top, just touching the doves foot.

That’s when, despite my bench lock, the golden double doors burst open and the guards filed in. All hesitation left, and I grabbed the porcelain dove. I found a single window, broke it open, jumped out and mentally kicked myself for the second time that night.  I fell. I fell fast and hard, tumbling down the hollow center of The Dome. What had been my thought process when I jumped out the window? Hey, I might fall to my death, but at least I won’t be a frog?

I put the dove safely into my bag and pulled out my grappling hook before throwing it up to the ring at ground level. I missed.

My scream probably woke up all the inhabitants of The Dome, and the neighbouring kingdom at that. I continued to plummet until my hook caught onto the railing of one of the levels. Then I swung about in the air, keeping a death grip on the rope until I stopped moving.

“Near death experience, check.” I muttered to no one but myself. I climbed up the rope, taking my time, because although I wanted nothing more but to get out of there as quickly as possible I didn’t want to shake the rope so much that the hook came loose.

When I got up onto the level I left the grappling hook, figuring I didn’t have time to stuff it back into my bag, and instead ran to a nearby ladder. I climbed so fast that I might have been traveling at the speed of sound. It turns out my hook had caught onto the ring just below ground level, and now I was close to the window I’d entered The Dome through. I threw a couple of bombs at some guards coming my way, then crawled through the window and ran.

Little did I know that my actions would lead to the biggest riot the world had seen in fourteen years.

(…Wow. It took me eleven days to actually post this. Somebody give me a medal.)