Saturday, November 24, 2018

Excerpt two of my '18 NaNo Novel Paper Key

It is the beginning of chapter three. I am skipping chapters because I am only going to be doing four, possibly five, excerpts. I think I am doing well. The tale is flowing and I know where my hero is going even not all of the specifics. This is my sixth year-maybe seventh all together-and even though I may not do it next year this is fun. And it gets a novel done much faster than usual, even though I will have to revise and lengthen the novel afterwards.
Oh, I didn't use a lot of names here-called one guy the strongman-because even though I named them in the first chapter I forgot what name I used in some cases. One of the revising things I need to do.

Begin excerpt
The troupe arrived at the next town with injuries. The caravan they had chosen had been attacked twice. Once at night after everyone had settled in for bed and sleep. The elf had heard something so the attack had not been the surprise the gang of raiders thought it would be.
Jar had been the first to be up. He grabbed the crossbow and three bolts then headed out in the direction the attack seemed to come from. He wiped the sleep out of his eyes, while the chilly night woke him more. Clouds covered the stars and moon, even though gaps allowed the moon to shine down every so often.
He shook his head at the brazenness of the robbers. This area was kept cleared of all raiders by two neighboring cities who worked together, so it was usually avoided by gangs. Of course something could have happened to one or both of those cities.
Jar saw five riders come his way. Something funny there but he shot one anyway. When the rider fell from his horse, the one next to him reigned in and the other three slowed. Not for long, however. Jar shot a second one, but he didn’t fall. It looked like the bolt had only winged him.
When he breathed in he smelled horse droppings and clean air-a contradiction but it was what his mind said. The wind shifted. He gauged it and shot the third bolt. Another of the riders fell but he cried out when he hit so he may still be alive, Jar thought.
He spun around and ran back toward the troupe’s location for the night when he realized that there had to be other riders. Before he reached the camp he heard horse hoofs just before another five riders over ran the perimeter-which wasn’t that hard really-and rode into the encampment very close to where he ran.
Jar changed directions slightly to go for the closest robber. However, just as he reached for the rider, the robber fell off his horse. No blood and when moon shine shone on his face, he looked asleep.
Magic traces floated up. Hmm, someone else can do magic here. And they do not like to kill.
He switched target but this time the horse tipped over. The rider sprang away before the horse could touch the ground. Jar ran his way and punched the man hard, before he knew anyone was there. He turned on Jar but Jar got in another punch that threw the robber’s head back. The man recovered though and pulled out a knife. Jar shrugged and in a heartbeat had his knife out. The robber looked surprised but also determined.
They circled each other and both feinted. Another circle and again Jar pretended to attack. This time though the robber went with it, swung around, came toward Jar with more speed. Jar had to jump back to avoid the blade. They went back and forth. Jar swung but the robber used his knife as a block. Jar copied him two heartbeats later.
At one point Jar swung out too far and the robber was there with a quick stab to Jar’s middle. He reverse the direction his arm moved in and scored a slice of the top side of the robber’s arm. Blood scent filled Jar’s nose. The robber ignored the blood and probably the pain.
So the robber must use a dreamer to block any pain and to make himself faster. Jar thought about using his magic to rid the robber’s system of the dreamer. But he was a bit slow and the robber nicked his side twice.
Jar back handed the robber hard but he only staggered back three steps, then came at Jar again. Just then the robber looked surprise than fell asleep. Jar stepped back to make sure he was really asleep. The spell must work through the dreamer.
Three other attackers lay on the ground. Two looked dead with blood all over them. That may not mean much though if some of the blood belonged to someone else. A thruak noise sounded: a robber, with a mail vest, went down with an arrow in his chest.
A cross rain of wood began as a few of the raiders started to show bows and crossbows.
Jar turned to send a shield spell toward a family with four children. He turned back when a shadow reached for him. More torches and lanterns were lit and the new light showed a curved sword in the middle of a swing toward his shoulder. Jar willed his body to flip and to move sideways. It did faster than he thought possible but something sharp dug into one shoulder even as he spun out of the way.
Blood flowed down his arm and back. His leather and chain shirt had hindered the blade’s course into his shoulder but it still bit him. He landed on the ground to avoid another swing, but the horse’s hoofs danced his way. The shiny black hoofs with muscles that could move hundreds of pounds of meat faster than a man could run, came his way.
A burst of air escaped his mouth as he wanted to shrink into a ground squirrel hole. The bottom of one hoof cane at his face. He managed to scoot sideways so that it pounded the soil next to his ear. Dirt particulars blasted his ear and side of his face. Dirt got into one eye.
He rolled away and drew his longest knife. In a feat of panic he lifted his torso up enough to knick the horse with the knife. He hadn’t wanted to kill the animal when a knick should cause it to back off.
The knife went in almost too easy but when the cutting edge started to break through its skin the horse whined and reared. The hoofs came back down fast but on top of another area of ground.
It jerked back and reared again with a high pitched whiny. This time its hoofs landed a few feet away from Jar’s face. He took that to mean he had chased it away for now and rolled sideways and up. He got all the way up to his feet, which stretched some of his leg muscles more than it should have. He ran toward their camp.
Half way to it he ran by a raider on horseback. The man had an arrow nocked and ready to let fly. He must have been concentrating on his target for he didn’t seem to notice Jar. A mistake Jar decided to use. He reached up, snaked his arm through the space between the man’s arm and his wrist, grabbed the raider’s waist from the inside and pulled down.
The sudden movement caused the man to let go of the string and the arrow shot outward, but his aim had been knocked off which sent the arrow off to one side. It must have nicked a horse for one reared almost hitting its rider who had to duck and weave.
Jar’s man slipped off of his saddle headed for the ground. He hit hard powered by Jar who punched him in the chest once, then straightened and ran again. It took him four more heartbeats to reach the space around the troupe’s camp.
Four robbers had them under a sort of siege. He sent a throwing star into the back of one of the. He threw it extra hard and fast but his clothes most have partially block the star, for the robber arched his back in pain but then ignored it.
Jar picked up a half fist sized rock and threw it at the head of the same robber. The throw had been off a bit for the rock only crazed the side of the robber’s head. It bounced off the man’s ear.
He turned around this time. Good it got his attention away from the camp.
The robber snarled, spat and said something, Jar just shook his head and ran toward the man. The robbed looked surprised but brought up his sword. Before Jar could reach him however, something hit him and spun him around.
Jar panted hard, wiped sweat off of his forehead and looked down. Arrow stuck out of the robber’s side.
Jar could smell split blood and his own sweat as he looked at the man. He may not by dead so Jar ran up to him, punched him in the back of the head then ran toward the camp. He turned when a noise sounded from the right side. A robber came their way on horseback but before he could reach the camp he collapsed and fell off his horse. Seeing no arrow shaft he thought the man had fallen asleep.
So the wizard was still at it, good.
Jar continued to run toward another robber, he jumped high than came down on the man’s back. Both fell forward and Jar hit him on the head. Then, though, his head connected with the robber’s. Pain shot through his head and he saw stars. Even through the pain and nausea, he managed to shove his hands against the robber’s back to shove himself backwards; and the robber forward.
Jar hoped the man had the same pain and sight problems as he did. He landed on the grass on his face. His nose felt squashed and grass got in his mouth. He spat it back out. His sight cleared and he stood, even though he wobbled. The robber stayed down, Jar studied him, then checked closer. The man was dead. Jar blinked he hadn’t done anything to kill him that fast. Unless his neck had gotten broke.
No time to check on that. He started to run again even though he was almost at the wagon. One robber must have heard his footsteps for he turned and ran toward Jar. But it had been a mistake to witch his attention. The strong man came out from the wagon and swung his long handles club. The tip connected hard with the robber’s head. The man’s helm went flying and he fell.
An arrow flew at he strong man, he swung his club up but it only deflected the arrow. It sliced through his tunic and cut his shoulder a nice long slice. The strong man cried out but he kept on the move.
Soon though the surviving raiders rode off. Two on one horse. Jar shook his head, and wondered if they had gotten anything to remotely make it worth their time and loses. Jar went through the robber’s pockets and such seeing if he could find anything of interest.
Nothing but a few coins, three sliver, two smaller gold and four larger copper which hadn’t seen in ages, which he kept. He found a blue crystal on a chain around the robber’s neck, but it wasn’t worth much. The next robber was the same: a few coins with small gold, silver and those larger copper ones, and a blue crystal. The third one was still alive, Jar could smell more blood on him but the injuries didn’t seem life threatening, if the bleeding wasn’t stopped that is and no infection formed.
Jar found the blue crystal and when he grabbed it, the robber fought him-as much as possible that is. The man, growled and jerked then tried to smash in the side of Jar’s face but he had been able to use less than half the strength needed for that. He thought for a moment that a metallic taste formed in his mouth but it could be only residue from earlier when he bit his lip. He moved Jar’s head but not enough to do any damage. Jar let go of the crystal though. As he had thought already it wasn’t worth much and he now figured it was used as an identifying. It could also be a key to the gang’s hideout. Some have used a certain word to open a side of a mountain but usually it was a key: a piece of something that had a magical force embedded in it. It didn’t usually amount to much but it was attuned to the magic that open a secret door, when they touched the door would open. Sometimes it depended on a simple spell to for the key, at times it took a moderately tough spell and there are times it took a very specific ritual, with lots of hard to do parts. Sometimes the last could take days with exhausting actions and spells. You had to know just the right ones, done in the correct order with absolutely no slip ups.
This one he thought would have been very simple but maybe not. When the robber gasped, jerked upright then fell back dead, Jar pulled off the cord that had kept the key around the robber’s throat. One never knew when something like this could come in handy.
Once he had the crystal in his pocket, then checked over the robber’s body. He found his throwing star still in the man’s clothes and he found three medium gold coins, six sliver and a mixture of the large copper coins with small ones and a medium one, than the other had. Once he finished he hurried on to the camp. John greeted him with a smile.
“How is everyone?”
“Fine, the strong man was injured but he will heal okay. No one else got hurt.” John looked closer though then said, “No one except for you that is. We are save now, take off that guard jerkin and let us treat that shoulder. It most hurt.”
Jar shock his head but then decided that it did hurt a lot. He had blocked out most of the pain but it did need some help plus his padding and leather shirt needed cleaning and fixing.
He let them help him off with it and let loose a short yell only at the last when it pulled away from his arm. He smelled his own blood, not for the first time. And in the torch and lantern light saw it. The color was off, more red than an elf’s would be but not quite as red as human’s. He didn’t know if anyone noticed, except for the full elf that is. He would be able to smell the difference anyway. The elf didn’t say anything though when he saw Jar look at him, he gave a very short shoulder shrug.
Jar wiped his face and his head jerked back. There must have been some of his blood on the back of his hand. Yecch, he hated it when any blood but especially his, got in his mouth.
A sudden sensation of hot and pain at his would caused him to cry out again and to jerk forward away from it. He heard a feminine cry and turned. There stood the daughter with a wet rag in her hand which was raised. She looked surprised and maybe frightened.
He said, “I’m sorry, I should have seen you there.”
Jar turned back around and backed up a bit.
He said, “Go ahead I am ready this time.”
She must have thought about it or saw her mother nod at her, for a few seconds later he felt the heat and pain again when she pressed the rag against it.
He held in the next yip, and gritted his teeth while she cleaned around the wound, being as careful as she could.
Next the mother wrapped it twice securing the bandage with a couple of thin vines she had collected during their journeys. He flexed his left arm. The bandages and wound made it stiff but he could still use it. He thanked them both.
Later, after the bodies were cleared out, he found that no one in the caravan had been killed, three had been wounded like him and the strong man though. The robbers who had been put to sleep woke suddenly and found themselves surrounded by armed men while their weapons had disappeared. They let themselves by taken captive. One tall, skinny man though kept yelling insults to them all. They were placed in cages one member of the caravan carried along with empty barrels and wood boxes. They would be turned over the city guard or high sheriff to this county when they reached the next town.
The rest of the night and the next day went well. The cloths that doubled as bandages were changed two but kept on after the second time because the bleeding had stopped and he seemed to be healing fine. He always healed faster than most humans probably because of his elven father.
Seven days later they were two days outside of the next town: Cobalt, which was known for a quarter that had been colored blue probably during a much earlier wizard war. The buildings, trees, ground all wore the same shade of blue. New bushes, trees and grassed that grew from old ones were all blue. A couple of people have tried to transplant the blue trees but they lost their strange color a few months after the transplant, if they survived at all. Cobalt also had a wide and tall wall, a large church and political buildings even though it was considered a town. A further ride on the mule cart, and they would be there.
However, another robber band had other ideas.

End excerpt.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

2018's Nanowrimo novel excerpts # 1

For those who do not know November is writing a novel month. A number of years ago a group of people got together because they thought everyone should write a novel and that everyone has at least  one novel in them. So they came up with a plan. Convince and encourage everyone to do at least a 50,000 word novel in November. It has grown so thousands, if not ten thousands of people at least try each year. Some of those are long time professionals, some of whom write out the next book in a certain series each November. The web site, , has many types of helps to get people through this. Some humorous and some serious.
Oh, I didn't use a lot of names here-called one guy the strongman-because even though I named them in the first chapter I forgot what name I used in some cases. One of the revising things I need to do.
So I have done this six times-I think-five years in a row and one somewhere around 8-10years ago. I have written mostly Science Fiction but also Urban Fantasy, steampunk, and now what I think of as classical fantasy.  Two of those books I have revised and formatted so they are for sale. A third one is waiting for a cover then it will be published. And yes, this year I am doing it again.

This is an excerpt from the prologue of what I am now calling "The Paper Key"

A half-elf spy steals a key that could rise a war-god. The worshippers who owned it are better organized than he thought therefore he has to hide with a troupe of performers. Before he can extract himself from them, the war-god is raised, now he has to stop it. 

Excerpt of prologue 

First excerpt from my ’18 NaNo Novel. Because it is the first I decided on starting at the beginning so this is the first 2,660 words. I tried to find a cliffhanger within a good number of words. All I did was run it though a spell checker-okay, I did some slight revising but only on a couple of sentences. I also did some revising while writing. I think I am, as some people call it, a slinky writer for I go back to fix something or add then forward again. I usually work on the last two to five paragraphs I did in one sitting and the next sitting of work.

This is a more or less a classical fantasy: A half-elf spy steals a key that could rise a war-god. The worshippers who owned it are better organized than he thought therefore he has to hide with a troupe of performers to get it to his boss. Before he can extract himself from them however, the war-god is raised, now he has to stop it.

Part of the Prologue to The Paper Key

A shadow moved on top of the ten foot tall stone wall. It joined other shadows, for the moon shone down and a breeze blew. Branches moved, as did night birds and cats on the hunt. Torch light flickered on the outer streets and inside the house he had come to rob.
His black with dark gray panels, trousers and tunic faded into the dark as easy as a snow leopard hid in snow. Already he felt warm which would increase throughout this event but he had experience that many times and knew what to expect. The climb up the outside of the wall had gone without a hitch. The class and sharp metal embedded into the top of the wall did not prove to be a deterrent as the owner had probably thought.
The air carried scents of trees, tended flowers, fresh mulch, dogs and guards who didn’t seem to care how much they sweated on duty. Two of which just went by so he better get moving. The guards that worked for this house patrolled by twos in a pattern that moved in a strange way. So it would be possible that another two would show up in seconds or in half an hour.
He looked down then with quick short steps, ran to a tree limb that hung over the wall. The shadow had seen it earlier when he came by to check the security. He smiled with humor. He had dressed in black and white finery just like those who kept track of money and who managed estates for those too rich to do it themselves. He knew of one religion who sent out young men dressed like that. He went only by himself instead of with a partner but no one seemed to notice.
But he saw the humor of the idea of one religion going to the door of another to talk about their god and book. He managed to get in by just not taking no for an answer and by pretending to be a new believer with a fire inside. They had chased him out of the house with sharp bladed weapons. It hadn’t been his fault that in his fear induced hurry he had taken a wrong turn and ran along the wall until a dog chased him back the right way. Just because he yelled didn’t mean the dog had bit him as everyone seemed to think. His clothes had been ripped by then and the guards may have seen a spot or two of blood but even injured and yelling curses down on them he somehow made it out of the gate and on his way. Everyone saw him leaking blood and yelling.
Now his clothes were still made from very fine cloth and silk but none were white and these would not tear anywhere near as easy as those special garments.
He half ran to the spot under the limb and hopped upward. He caught the rough bark with the first attempt. First with one hand he let go and reached higher before he could start to fall. The second hand went up further. When both hands settled over the top of the branch he pulled himself up. Somehow he got a leaf in his mouth. Chewy. He didn’t spit it out like most humans would have done. Half of him came from his dad’s side and his dad’s people liked greenery of many types.
Once in the tree he stood up and ran across the limb. He knew it would hold his weight. The same with the next one, on the other side of the tree. He spotted a branch from the next tree and leapt to it. It gave a bit when he landed but didn’t break or even crack.
Dogs barked down the way almost as if they could sense him this far away. Maybe they had heard something or as well trained animals they just knew someone who shouldn’t be there was. Of course no one but their handler was supposed to be there. That included other dogs, squirrels, birds , etc.
The Shadow moved from tree to tree. Something else he had noticed while here a few days ago. The tree were old and needed trimming for their branches reached each other. A nice trail for someone who knew how to run over narrow “trails” and who could see well at night.
A dog came near under one tree just as he landed near the trunk. It looked up, might have smelled him, but didn’t see him. He left a tiny bit of scent from a bottle then leapt to the next tree.
He cursed on his way through the sky. In his hurry and distraction, he had jumped to the wrong branch. The one he landed on bent, jiggled and creaked. The dog must have heard it but it gave him only a glance before it resumed its surveillance of the tree he had been on. It knew something was up there. The scent confused its thoughts though for it still searched the tree he had been on when it saw or smelled or heard him.
The guard though came running and called for the dog. He is used a name from a language the Shadow was not familiar with. It sounded guttural and angry. A further confirmation that he had chosen the right estate after all.
The dog took its time responding so the guard turned his attention to it for a moment. While he said something else in that tongue the Shadow moved through his tree and launched himself through the air to a last one in this row. If the guard, or anyone else, had looked they would have seen something block the lights from the house for a moment. But he figured no one looked. From the last tree he checked out the guard and dog who had finally lost interest in that tree. Maybe that had been its favorite tree to fertilize since the guard cursed in the town’s language.
He took advantage of that to leap high and to gab hold of an ugly face in a bias relief on the corner of the house. He held onto the guy’s head-he figured no woman would be that ugly-and pulled himself up. Sweat rolled down his back. The clothes had gone passed warm but he knew how to live with that too. So he did. He licked his lips and got sweat off his upper lip. Quite a bit too.
Once his feet rested on top of that head, he looked around and noticed more heads. He had seen them earlier but hadn’t been able to get a good enough look to know what they were.
Lights from distance windows made his climb a bit easier but they also would allow someone to notice him better. They still may not know what he was, maybe a trained Kull spider sent to kill someone, or a lost monkey in search for food, but they would sound the alarm anyway.
Up he went, his hands became slippery with sweat but because of his gloves they could still grip protrusions and more of those heads. But not all of the bricks he used as footholds were of the same quality.
When he pushed on one with the pad of his right foot, the edge crumbled. His foot slipped. He looked down in time to see small pieces of brick fall. They would land near that guard. He would look up. His right foot hit his left and knocked it off of its perch. Now he hung like a Christmas goose ready to be sold by just his hands. He managed to swing to one side where it was darker.
Even though he lost sight of the brick pieces he knew when they landed. The guard turned to look. Sweat dripped down The Shadow’s back. His shirt had come untucked and some of the sweat dripped out from under the shirt before it could be absorbed. He saw the drops twinkle when it reflected various lights. If any hit the guard he would look up.
The fingers of one hand started to slip. The guard couldn’t help but notice when The Shadow landed on him. It would not matter though for both of them would be dead.
He let go with the hand that had begun to slip, held his breath and reached up again with it. It landed to hard and bounced. His second hand trembled. He quickly threw the free hand back up. He managed to catch the head again. The thing’s ceramic hair helped to keep his hand in place.
The Shadow managed to get his feet back in place. He looked down. The guard was walking away, at a sedate speed. So he hadn’t been seen. He didn’t know if the man had looked up or not but obviously he hadn’t seen anything or thought the movement of shadow around the head was bat.
After a short rest he continued on. After a few still fast heartbeats he stopped to listen: the very feint rustle of his clothes, a guard talking in a soft voice, a slight breeze curving around the corner of the building.
Even up this high he could smell the scent of the trees and mulch, bird droppings too. Nests were built over in that direction. They really should check on that more often.
Another minute of climbing and he found the right window. Nice of them to place one in a good position for him. He held onto one of the heads with one hand. Even though his flexible glove he could feel the spikes of the man’s hair. Jar wiped more sweat off of his upper lip. This time dirt and grim had gotten mixed in with it. Must be from the dust he stirred up or when he brushed a bit too close to the materials the house had been built from.
A click sounded. He froze for a heartbeat but he knew that sound. The window’s lock now lay in the open position. Most house owners skipped on the locks and security of upper windows. Some even left windows open all night: for air or for a romantic visitor.
One foot slipped when he swung it to the open window but he hopped for one jump and managed to get through the open space. His second foot hit something but the thud wasn’t loud.
Once he stood on the floor inside, he made sure the window was closed. He even hooked it shut without locking it. He may be in a hurry to leave later.
The hallway he found himself in had no lamps, but a trace of light came from the stars and another bit from various lights on nearby floors.
One room, two rooms and finally at a door that looked ordinary. He slipped a small pouch out of an inside pocket, sewed to be just wider than the pouch. One small button kept them in that pocket. He flipped open the cloth and studied the objects in the pouch. He picked one, placed it in the keyhole and fiddled with it. Nothing.
He tired the shorter one. Still nothing: oops, it caught. A twist of his hand and the tumbler moved. Not far though. He tired it again to mixed reviews:It turned more but the door still wouldn’t open. A third try and the lock turned two tumblers. A jiggle on the door handle and it opened. As he thought it would.
A fast move inside, made quicker when he heard a footstep from around a corner. He closed the door and listened through it. The smooth wood made pressing his ear against it feel comfortable. Most be waxed too. The footsteps continued on. He stood there for a minute to make sure than turned to look at the room. A den or office. A large desk close to the door, carpet on the floor, shelves with scrolls and six tall cases with glass fronts filled with the new books and small statues and other ceramic, marble and wood items. One larger one on the desk sort of looked like the guy whose head adorned the house. He moved closer to see it better. One ugly man with short hair except in the middle where a strip looked over two inches. In real life that had to be close tall as the length of the Shadow’s foot.
He moved around while he looked for a hidden compartment. While he did Jar picked up various pieces and made sure they were not put back in exactly the same spot. Three that looked gold or had gems he placed in his pocket.
He found what might be an alter in front of the desk near where the tall statue of the ugly man stood. Various small statuettes had been placed in various positions. They all sat in a case that looked like the inside of a cave. An obvious alter but to whom?
The Shadow moved on. Touched and moved more of the cups, statues, and curved animals just a touch. Not every one but enough for them to notice. He pocketed another cup, a sliver one this time. They would get that one back though. His back had stopped sweating and he kept his nose alert for scents that would give away a hiding place or someone in here.
Every time he moved over his eyes went back to the small alter. After the sixth time he moved back there. He reached out and touched one of the figurines. It didn’t move. When he tried to lift it he found it was somehow connected to the floor of the cave. Why?
Even his eyes could not see anything in the darkness around the cave. Was it that way on purpose?
Jar took out a small, special lantern. It burned unscented oil, it held only enough for ten minutes of light. The box that held the tiny flame had only one clear side and that only in the center. Carefully crafted mirrors direct the light through that clear spot.
He set it down and used the built in flint to light it. He shone it on the crafted cave. There on the edges of each side a very tiny line. That could explain why the statuettes were sealed to the floor. He moved to the back of the desk and slid in as close as he could get. He reached for the cave but something sparked. Instinctively his hand pulled back before he realized it needed to. So it had protections. Another reason to get into it.
The Shadow mumbled some words in ancient elfish and reached again, slower. Same reaction. This time though a tiny star appeared for half a heart beat next to the larger statue on the desk.
Okay, that was interesting.
He placed an invisible shield around it that kept all magic inside the shield. So no alarms could be sent or an order sent to the cave. He managed to reach for the cave through an invisible wall that made his hand tingle. He touched the closest wall and felt around. There had to be a latch somewhere.
It felt rough like real rock. Someone could have carved it out of rock. It would take a lot of work but it could be done.
The Shadow found a tiny hinge under an outcrop of rock in the back.
Good, now to find the method to lift the top.
He reached further back but at the moment he decided no one would make it this hard to get at a latch when they would want to get it often, his foot slid forward. His side touched the magic wall there. He had been too eager and stretched his body too far.
Something snapped. When he pulled back, his body did not move.

end excerpt