NaNoWriMo 2018! Post 1

NaNo-2018-Writer-Facebook-Cover

I’ve been pretty radio silent on this blog for a little while, largely because I’ve been overwhelmed with things to do, and partly because it’s National Novel Writing Month.

Originally, I was just going to not post here until after November, but what fun would that be?

This year, I’m a NaNo rebel. My beta readers have repeatedly suggested that I expand my short story “Rapunzel, the Night Maiden,” so that’s what I ended up doing for the first six days of NaNoWriMo.

Now that that’s done (I expanded the story from 10 pages to 29 pages; I realize I’m going to do a lot more crowdfunding to be able to afford editing for my anthology… alas…), I have to start writing my NaNo novel, which I started today! It’s an epic high fantasy called The Wyrrian Reaper Chronicles. Before starting on it, I’d added 10,537 words to “Rapunzel, the Night Maiden.” Now, after my first day of writing The Wyrrian Reaper Chronicles, I’m at 12,382 words total (37,608 to go!).

So, what I guess I’m going to do is post what I’ve written in The Wyrrian Reaper Chronicles, for your reading pleasure.

The thing that drives me nuts about NaNo is that I have to ignore my inner editor. It hurts my soul a little to know I’ve just written a clunky sentence, but I don’t have time to go back and rewrite another three times.

That said, what I’m about to post isn’t going to be perfect. It is a first draft in the most literal sense.

And I still hope you enjoy it. 🙂

 

Chapter 1

There was great unrest in the White Reaper Society. Irena Feyr shouldered on her hooded white robe and glanced at the mechanical clock ticking audibly above her worn wooden writing desk. The meeting had started twelve minutes ago, but she wasn’t overly eager to sit through three hours of the Society Headmaster droning on about the miseducation of the poor, ignorant big city folk. What a shame it was that as the urban regions grew, so faded the collective memory of culture and tradition. Irena shook her head. She could think of a million better things to do than brainstorm ways to educate the urban public on the differences between Reapers and Necromancers. They deal with bodies. We deal with souls. Meetings like this occurred every time new of a mysterious death spread like wildfire across the lands.

Anyway, she wouldn’t be able to focus enough to pay attention in that meeting. The letter sitting on her writing desk was all she could think about. The name adorning the front of the envelope was written in handwriting befitting the scribes of old — Alond Feyr. This man had claimed to be her father, who she hadn’t seen since she was three years old. Though her mother had never spoken ill of him to Irena, she was aware of the fact that her mother had initially told everyone in their town that Alond had abandoned them, forcing her mother to take Irena and move back home. Now, twenty-five after Irena had last seen her father, he’d sent her a letter. How had he found her in the first place? The letter had made no mention of that.

A knock at her apartment door yanked her from her thoughts. She pulled her thinly locked hair into a ponytail (kinky new growth was starting to show at the roots, and she made a mental note to tend to that soon), smoother out her robe, and answered the door. Hanna stood shivering in the doorway, her gray novice robe so drenched that water dripped from her hair, down her robe, and formed a puddle on the floor around her feet.

Irena raised an eyebrow and frowned. “They couldn’t have at least sent you over with an umbrella?”

“Irena, you need to be at this meeting.” She spoke through chattering teeth. “I mean, you really need to be here.”

“The meetings aren’t as mandatory as they make them out to be.”

Hanna shook her head. “No, didn’t you hear what happened?”

“No, but do I really need to at this point?” Irena said. “I mean, the story is always the same, isn’t it? Some damn Necromancer wreaking havoc and someone blaming it on the Reapers.”

When Hanna didn’t reply right away, Irena took note of the younger girl’s slightly widened eyes, which hadn’t blinked much during their encounter. The more she thought about it, the more she began to realize the circumstances must have been dire. They must have sent her in a hurry, no time to even grab an umbrella.

“There were twenty bodies, all young, healthy, and fit.” Hanna looked like she might cry. “There were no marks, no scratches, nothing. It’s as if they all suddenly dropped dead, like someone had pulled their souls, simultaneously.”

Irena’s jaw slackened at the news. Now even the strongest Reaper alive could pull that many souls at once. Had a group of Reapers gone rogue?

“What in the seventh hell?”

“They’re sending the top White Reapers to investigate,” Hanna said. “You’re being assigned to Rowanston.”

“So they just involved me without asking.” Irena couldn’t say she was surprised.

Hanna nodded. “And I’m supposed to shadow you.”

Great. Not only was Irena being sent to the largest existing integrated country in the world, she had a novice to tag along, too. The good thing about integrated nations, though, was that their official language was Elvish (a remnant from the long fallen Wyrrian Empire), and no one would look at her funny for being born of a fairy father and an elven mother. Rowanston was full of half-borns.

She sighed and grabbed her umbrella. “Where in Rowanston?”

*

When Irena arrived at the largest conference room at the main campus temple, everyone present turned to look at her as she opened the door. The meeting was so silent, the only sound to be heard was the pelting of rain against the stain glass windows. Irena and Hanna both bowed and took seats at a table near the back of the room. The red rug matched the red cushions on the chairs, which matched the crimson robes of the Headmaster. Presently he glared at Irena from his lectern at the front of the room.

“I’m glad you found it convenient to join us,” he said.

Irena bowed again in her seat. “I couldn’t find my key, Headmaster Torrin.”

His eyebrows raised up as far as they could go. “Your key?”

“I didn’t want to leave my apartment unlocked, sir.”

“Twenty innocent elves are dead, and you’re worried about your apartment door being unlocked?” Headmaster Torrin scowled.

Irena looked down at her hands. She wasn’t any good at lying, but simply saying she didn’t feel like attending wasn’t an option. “I wasn’t aware of the gravity of the situation until Hanna told me. My deepest apologies.” And to be fair, this last part was true.

Headmaster Torrin closed his eyes and ran his fingers through his long, graying hair. “Right, then. Did Hanna tell you I am dispatching you to Rowanston?”

“Yes, she did, sir.”

“Good, good.” He gestured to another White Reaper sitting toward the front. “The incident happened in Orsons Town, where I’m sending Kaldr here, but the suspects are believed to have fled to New Gotha, which is where I am sending you.”

New Gotha, the second-biggest city in Rowanston. Irena would need to leave her white robe at home if she wanted her time there to go smoothly in any way.

“And we know for sure that these suspects are Reapers?” Irena asked. “Are they from the White Reaper Society at all?”

“We’re not sure yet,” replied Helís, another White Reaper sitting in the middle of the room.

Headmaster Torrin cleared his throat. “It’s highly likely, considering New Gotha often requests our services.”

Irena leaned forward to rest her elbows on the table. So then, she had to help solve this bizarre mystery and clear the White Reaper Society’s name, unless, of course, the perpetrators had indeed been White (or Gray) Reapers. She tried to picture a new batch of Gray Reapers or a seasoned faction of White Reapers traveling all the way to Rowanston only to bail on their commission in favor of murdering twenty fellow elves. It didn’t make any sense to her. The White Reaper Society had always taken good care of its residents and only bred the highest caliber of Reapers. Few recorded cases throughout history involved Reapers who had gone rogue, and to Irena’s knowledge, none of those cases involved the White Reaper Society.

“What do we know about the victims?” Irena asked.

“We don’t know much,” Headmaster Torrin replied, “but collecting information is part of the reason I need you to investigate. What we do know is that the bodies were found lying around a fountain in a school courtyard after an athletic event, and they mysteriously disappeared after they were discovered.”

A few attendees gasped quietly. Apparently this piece of information wasn’t only new to Irena. Next to her, Hanna covered her mouth with her hand.

Irena asked, “They faded away?”

“No one knows how they disappeared,” the Headmaster replied. “The guards who discovered them alerted their precinct, but by the time they returned, it was as if the bodies had never been there.”

“That smells like necromancy to me,”  Helís said.

“I was just about to say the same thing,” Irena said. “How else would the bodies have disappeared like that?”

Headmaster Torrin gave the meeting attendees a pointed look. “How else would the bodies have dropped dead without illness or injury?”

“It could have been a vampire?” Hanna spoke up in a small voice. “Bite marks are sometimes easy to miss.”

The Headmaster left his lectern to pace the front of the room. “No, no, especially not in integrated society. Besides, bite marks are rather stand-out telltale signs, even for untrained eyes, don’t you think? I highly doubt any trained guard worth his salt would have missed such a detail.”

It could be that a group of Reapers and Necromancers had decided to work together, but why? Who would stand to benefit from something like that?

“In any case,” the Headmaster continued, “the nation of Rowanston is prepared to reward you a handsome commission for solving this mess. And whatever they pay, the Society will match it, for helping to clear our name.”

Irena thought back to the letter on her writing desk. However much she would be rewarded would be more than enough to visit her father at his home in Kyra Forest, where she was born. She looked at the Headmaster.

“How soon should we leave?”

*

Irena figured she wouldn’t need much on her trip and decided to pack light. A tithe-funded stipend would sustain Irena and Hanna on their journey for at least two months, three if they lived frugally. All that was left was to tell her mother she was going away for another commission, the most important one in a long time.

The carriage ride from campus to her mother’s rural home outside the Capital took about six hours, and she made this trip alone. Undoubtedly, Hanna had embarked to inform her family as well. They’d agreed to meet at the Temple the next day and depart together from there. Somehow, for a trip as big as this, it didn’t seem proper to write a letter. She needed to see her mother in person. Although this most probably had more to do with wanted to see her father than traveling to Rowanston. As the horses trotted spritely down the dusty road, all Irena could do was gaze at the woods in the distance and think about her father in Kyra Forest awaiting her reply.

The carriage reached her mother’s cottage before sundown. The neat little garden surrounding her mother’s home flourished, providing evidence of her Elementalist mother’s green thumb and near-mastery over Earth and Water. Irena followed the little path to the door, knocked, and waited. It didn’t take long for her mother, Alva Torsson, to answer.

“Hi, Mother.”

“Irena!” Alva stepped aside to let her daughter in. “Come in! I wasn’t expecting you. You didn’t send a letter or anything. What a most pleasant surprise. How’s the Society?”

Irena closed the door behind her and stood awkwardly before her mother. The Torssons were all the color of honey with bright amber eyes. Irena, on the other hand, had come out with skin and eyes as dark as coconut, which she’d always figured were traits gifted her from her father. Her mother had been the only Torsson to truly treat her like a member of the family.

 

[[Uh, sorry this ends like this. This isn’t the end of the chapter, I promise. This is just all I’ve written today. I promise there will be more soon!]]

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