Can’t believe it’s Friday again already!
I’ve made good progress, especially considering that I’m working on my first WIP concurrently with my NaNoWriMo novel. Altogether I’ve been averaging 5-6k per day. My first WIP, working title The Mirror Veil, is probably within 15k of being complete!
Here is a second excerpt from my NaNo novel.
Darkfall: Excerpt #2
It was Sakar who warned her, with a soft sound between a growl and a whine. Ada looked down and found him standing stiff and spraddle-legged. She followed his line of sight and drew a sharp breath.
The villager must have been past fifty, the age at which mine-call ceased. His hair was silver, his face seamed with wrinkles. Even so, he was strong, with a broad chest and muscled arms, his back hardly stooped at all. He looked at her with open hostility. He held a knife, long and curved and shining.
Ada backed away until her back bumped into the wall of a house. She held out her hands. “Please,” she said, her voice drying to a whisper in her mouth, blowing away like a puff of dust. “Please, I just needed water…”
“Who are you?” The man’s voice trembled, whether with fear or anger she could not say. “What are you?”
“I came from the forest,” Ada said. She held out her hands, showing the gashes from thorns, half-healed, weeping clear fluid through cracks where scabs had broken open. “I have come through the forest from my own village, and I was out of food and water. Please, I just wish to be on my way.”
“No one comes from the forest,” the man said. “Nothing. Nothing human.”
“I am human,” Ada said. “Please, can’t you see that I’m human? I am just a woman, nothing else.”
The man’s eyes sharpened even more at that, and he stepped forward, brandishing the knife. “If you are only a woman,” he said, “where is your husband? Or your father, or brother? Let them come speak for you. We would hear them.”
Ada opened her mouth. She closed it. Finally she said, “I have none.”
“Then you belong to your village leader,” said the man, “and should be escorted by none but him. How come you to be here, alone? Have you run from your master?” His eyes glinted with fury and righteousness at the thought. Ada pressed back as though she could sink into the wall, could disappear.
“I am not property,” she said, before she could stop herself. No one would ever own her. She was daughter of Sinda, who had overcome the stigma of marrying an outsider to become the most trusted among all those on the council.
In Blackstone, women made their own choices. The village leader before Nehtan—back when Ada was only a child—had been a woman named Kilam.
“Witch,” the villager said, his voice trembling.
Ada licked dry lips with a dry tongue and said, “But I… I am not from the royal family. I do not have magic.”
The man spat. “You don’t have to,” he said. “You show up here like a thief, unescorted, claiming to have come from the forest. And you tell me you’re no one’s property. You might not have magic but you’re a witch still the same. Don’t know your place. Like Her.”
“Just let me go,” Ada pleaded. “I will return to the forest. I will trouble you no more.”
The man advanced, eyes alight with anger and belief. It was the belief that frightened Ada most—the man’s certainty that he was doing the right thing, that his cause was righteous and just.
Sakar lowered his head as the man approached. The low rumbling growl in his chest turned to a full snarl, teeth bared.
“Call off your beast,” said the man, “or I will kill it.”
Ada edged along the side of the hut until there was only air at her back. They could yet escape this, she told herself. There must be a way.
The man advanced, and Sakar held his ground, still growling deep in his chest. The dog lunged, and Ada turned to run, blind with fear.
She made it three lurching steps before a knife pressed against her throat.
“Where do you think you are going?”
The second man was older than the first, thinner and more stooped, but the hand holding the knife was steady as stone. He smiled up at her, chill and feral. “Stand right there,” he said. “You’ll not be leaving.”
Behind them, Sakar yelped and fell silent.
“No!” Without thinking, Ada pushed away the second man’s arm, hardly feeling the thin slice the knife scored across her throat. “No, please!” She turned to run back to Sakar, but the man took her around the waist and pressed his knife against her neck, harder this time. “Stand,” he said into her ear, “or I will bleed you dry.”
Sakar lay on the ground, still. The fur on his head was dark and wet, but his sides still heaved with breath. The first man was holding his arm and swearing. Blood dribbled through his fingers from where Sakar had bitten him.
“Come,” said the first man, the one Sakar had bitten, to the man holding Ada. “We will cage these mad dogs until the assembly can decide what to do with them.”