Coming into today’s writing efforts for the ongoing project/slog that is National Novel Writing Month, I had three different goals I wanted to meet so that I could call the day a success. They were
Bronze Goal: Get the standard 1,667 daily word count covered,
Silver Goal: Have over 2,000 words written
Gold Goal: Have enough total word count to be two days ahead of ‘par.’ I needed to finish with 13,333 total words for that goal to be met.
As you can tell from the picture above, I made it through to gold level. I think breaking my writing time into a couple of discrete blocks instead of having a panicky “I’ve got 90 minutes to get 1,667 words down NOW” approach at 10:30 every night has helped.
As did switching up the writing environs. Spending the morning writing at Einstein Brothers rather than in my regular writing nook helped open my mind up more.
As ever, there now follows an excerpt. This happens to back up a friend’s theory that in my fantasy world the leading cause of death is entering temples.
The other mind retreated into the back of Nikolai’s skull as the pain in his hand intensified. The bronze dagger had bit deeply and rivulets of blood were pouring from the palm of his left hand and flowing down his arm, staining the burnished copper of his mail hauberk with a deep, ugly red. Apparently this avenging spirit that was using Nikolai as her instrument had very little tolerance for pain compared to the old knight. While the presence was in the descent, he had control, and Nikolai wasn’t going to waste it.
First, he tore a ragged strip off of the hem of his surcoat and wrapped it around the bleeding incision of his left hand, tying it tightly in an effort to staunch the blood’s flow. What he wouldn’t give for some of Boling’s finest to sterilize the wound and minimize the pain. A draught of it in his belly certainly wouldn’t go amiss either. From the way his head and body felt, the animating spirit had denied his body any food or drink. His stomach punctuated this thought with a long bass rumble.
Nikolai looked around, trying to see if there was a source of food present. As he did so, the true nature of his surrounding hit him with overwhelming force. This was a holy temple, though he had no idea to what power or deity it might be dedicated to. There was a white marble altar with veins of pink running through it. As Nikolai looked, he could see the veins flowing through the altar as though they were somehow alive. Carved atop the altar were strangely curved runic forms unfamiliar to Nikolai. The runes had been inlaid with either copper or brass.
None of that registered compared to what else lay atop the altar. It was the corpse of a grotesquely fat man with a shaven head and a long red beard braided into two forks that jutted a foot beyond his chin. The fat man was wearing priestly vestments of burgundy , trimmed with brocade of ivory and gold. The man’s eyes were glassy and empty; probably due to the fact that Nikolai’s sword was buried hilt deep into the priests swollen belly. The wound was deep and wide, and the preacher’s entrails had been dragged from him onto the altar and twisted to match the coppery runes beneath.
There was no charnel smell of blood or death clinging to the dead preacher. Instead the entire temple smelled of frankincense, though Nikolai could see no censer or brazier that might account for such an odor.
Nikolai pulled his sword free of the fat priests body and wiped the blood from it on the man’s burgundy robe. The old knight sheathed his sword within its scabbard. He made the sign of Satiada’s moon and knelt before this strange altar and offered a prayer of benediction for the fallen priest. Whoever this dark presence within his soul was, she had made a murderer of him. He swore a vow upon the body of the ruined priest that he would be rid of her forever. Nikolai had killed before, in battle, and even then never with any great relish. He was too attached to his own life to want to rob others of theirs, and he hoped that any enemies the kingdom, the Order or he himself had felt the same way.
But this, this was truly beyond the pale. The priest looked harmless, and certainly hadn’t been in any fit shape to defend himself from an attack, even if it come from a form as old as slovenly as Nikolai. The old knight was sure the reason that the fat cleric had been killed was connected to the strange runes that pervaded this place. He cursed his illiteracy and wished that the oily Inigo was here to tell him what it all meant. He’d even put up with the man’s jewelry and its incessant clanging together.
Nikolai’s first order of business was trying to figure out who this temple was dedicated to. It clearly was of different form to the ones used in the Satiadan rites that he was used to, and from what he remembered of Aethelred’s Lenusite practices, it wasn’t dedicated to the creator sun goddess. None of the runes suggested a shape he was familiar with, and the roughly triangular shape of this vaulted room meant nothing.