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.)

 

 

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