As the first Sunday (and first real write in, which like a chump, I forgot to get photos of) of NaNoWriMo, I was hopeful for some productive word count boosting for today. After yesterday’s shortfall, I wanted to at least get the “par” daily average of 1,667 done, and I hoped to break the 2,000 word barrier for the second time. I figured anything over 2,000 would be a pleasant bonus but not something to be expected.
You can probably imagine my delight, then, when I did the “update word count” thing over at the nanowrimo.org site for the final time today and saw “3,025” next to the “Words Written Today” label. I had beaten my more optimistic goal by over a thousand words! It feels pretty darn great. Hoping I can use this momentum to barrel past 50,000.
The downside is that my story has already twisted away from the outline and snowflake method I had been working with. Mostly because an accusation of treason and exile made a more interesting call to adventure than a simple quest to prove oneself. It’s also lead to a mre nuanced history in regards to the religion and politics of my fantasy world. I’ve also gained 300 years out of nowhere and have to figure out why that happened. New outlines etc. will be worked on tomorrow, which may hurt my word count, but for now at least 10,000 words seems attainable. And to celebrate, let me share my newest excerpt, in which a man argues with a horse.
As the red beams of sunlight filtered through the gaps in the Tower’s masonry, Nikolai mounted up on the piebald palfrey that was the only companion Aethelred had permitted him and rode out to begin his life as an exile. As the horse’s hooves thundered through the main gate, he realized he had no idea where to even begin looking for the sacred amethyst of the princely crown.
Taking one hand off of the reigns, Nikolai ran the wooden pendant around his neck between thumb and forefinger. This was to mark him as outcast from the Order of Satiada until he had fulfilled the obligation Aethelred had set before him. He could simply remove the marker and none would be the wiser, but such was not done. Nikolai might be a drunk, an exile and an accused traitor but above all things he was a knight and that meant that he would always be a man of honor. Such deceit was not in him.
The only clue to the location of the amethyst, if it even existed in this world any more was that it had been lost during the terrible time known as the Judgment of Andraste. According to the few scrolls left by the chronicles of that time, four and a half centuries ago, the sun itself had descended from the heavens and set the entire western horizon aflame. There was talk of rains of coruscating fire boiling away the seas in flashes of super dense steam. Nikolai had seen fire and he’d seen rain and he could not begin to imagine how the two could work together.
The only thing that Nikolai could truly discern from the tale was that whatever the Judgment had truly been, it had happened in the west where the sun had set. It was hardly evidence at all, but at least it gave him a direction to strike out in. Nikolai spurred the palfrey forwards and started talking to the horse to pass the time.
“As it’s just the two of us now, I need to call you something else I shall go quite, quite mad.” I’m talking to a horse; I may already have gone madder than I’d like to admit. After struggling to come up with anything, and not wanting to start his journey through the desert on a horse with no name, Nikolai decided to go with the only clue he had and named his mount “Sunny.”
It was an pleasant name for a rather unpleasant seeming beast. Despite having been raised in the stables of a knightly order, Sunny was clearly unused to being ridden. Nikolai suspected that Illych had persuaded the stable boys to supply an barely broken horse as one last revenge for whatever slights the squire blamed Nikolai for.
“So, Sunny, why do you think my former squire was such an ungrateful cur?” he asked the horse, feeling foolish as he did so. He could feel his skin flushing as red as Boling’s finest wares with the embarrassment. Not that there was anyone around to see it. “I’ve offered him nothing but patronage, and a place within the Prince’s inner circle. He may have had to drag me from the floors of the occasional drinking establishment and dungeon, but surely that’s a small price to pay for royal favor?”
The horse snorted, but was otherwise silent.
“Why am I even asking you? You’re nothing but a dumb beast.” Nikolai said. Sunny halted suddenly, sending the old knight listing forwards within his saddle. “Perhaps not so dumb as the man riding you. Why did I ever let Alexei start talking about Lenusites and the throne? I should have denounced him as a traitor and then I could be watching him hanged this morning rather than riding west and arguing with a horse. ”
Despite being officially a Knight of Satiada, Nikolai had never understood why there was a schism between the follows of Lenus and those of Satiada. From what little he remembered of the Holy Writ, the two deities were husband and wife, with the creation of the world coming from the mating of Lenus, the goddess of the sun and Satiada, god of the moon. Clearly the two beings should be of equal importance to followers of the Faith. Why then must adherents ascribe superiority for one or the other of them? It seemed like a poor reason for battles, and yet it had resulted in a hundred and fifty years of war and at least three regicides.
“I wonder, Sunny, do horses also worry about the doings of gods and goddesses, or are they content ed with their lot on this world?”
Sunny maintained his silence, his only response to the knight’s questioning being to defecate upon the sand.
“Exactly. Even you can tell such concerns are nothing but dung gilded with meaning so as to seem important.” Nikolai thought that sounded clever, and felt like he should reward himself for it. He groped in the saddlebags for his oilskin of mead. Pulling the stopper out with his teeth, he spat the cork top onto the ground and inhaled the sweet, cloying scent of honeyed drink. Nikolai quaffed three quarters of the alcohol in two long draughts and proffered the skin to the horse.
“Drink?” he slurred.
The palfrey sniffed the oilskin and whinnied.
“I’ll take that as a ‘no,’ then,” Nikolai decided and quickly finished the last of the mead. “Boy, that hits the spot. You really don’t know what you’re missing.”
Thus fortified, Nikolai spurred the horse to speed up to a full gallop. “We’re going to get across the sands to Makar at The Last Drop tavern before noon. I’ll get you some water and food then.” He told Sunny.
As he rode, Nikolai’s stomach somersaulted in rebellion. Apparently, today was the day his body decided it needed more than mead and wine for sustenance. Nikolai let loose an enormous belch. He could taste the mead rising up in his throat once more. “’S alright. I’m alright.” He told his horse. Nikolai’s head was spinning, but that was just part of what he considered a normal morning. Each hoof beat of the ride was sending jolts of pain up Nikolai’s spine. He assumed that was simply because it had been far too long since Nikolai had ridden in earnest.