Here’s the drill:
20 minutes. Fresh, free fiction (of the imaginative variety), based on a few preset parameters.
Every Tuesday, I’ll spin you a quick tale and give you something to think about. Call it a writing drill, an exercise in imagination. I spend nearly a year to get a book together, so what better than an opportunity to have something finished by the time I click “save”. Now I like that, and hopefully, so will you.
Head-hopping in fiction is bad. Any editor will tell you that. Lots of readers will complain. After all, it’s confusing. You have to keep figuring out who’s perspective you’re in, and it gets tiring. But sometimes it works. Again, it’s all about what madness lies behind said method. Well, today I have a particular madness in mind, so let’s see what happens.
So beautiful. She watched the acorn float along on the rippling water, amidst the shimmering ribbons of red and orange sunlight. It moved slowly, as though the river had turned to honey, cooling with the approaching evening. Darellin watched her quietly from the cover of the glade. How long had it been since he had come to this valley? The mountains, dim blue lines against the tree-studded horizon, reminded him of the time, a thousand years ago, when he thought he’d come here to retire and die in peace. If only I’d known…
“Do you think the Council will be so easy to convince?” Lord Nivellin asked. Only the faintest hint of the dusk snuck through the crack of the door. The other two conspirators were mere outlines of black against the brick wall. Nivellin didn’t know who they were, but one of them, a senator named Markus, knew who both his visitors were. They don’t even see how easily I dangle the puppet strings above them. Fools. They won’t know until it’s too late. Lucellus, who had been quiet for most of the meeting, spoke up. “The Bell of Last Light will toll soon. That will be the signal. We will fight. We will keep the Council safe.” And neither of you will realize I have betrayed you until it is too late. Oh, please, Laura, get out before it’s too late. Save yourself, and our daughter.
The garden was in full bloom, but red and purple and yellow blossoms cowered before the wall of shadow. Night time came quickly, the sun sinking in a golden blur behind Hollin’s Heights. The bell tolled, as it did every night, and Bar T’Dell listened, closing his eyes. I have been here since the beginning of time, and will remain until time is no more. No matter what. He didn’t hear the horses whinnying, nor the swords swishing as the attackers drew them from their scabbards, but Corellin did. He drew his own sword, but not in time to stop the attack. Brandel, his companion, roared with rage as he watched his brother-in-arms fall headless to the ground. He took down the attacker, then felt the bite of steel from behind. Oh.
In their paddle boat, suspended in the middle of the river as they were, the crimson sunset made the water look like blood. Anella did not like being away from shore, but her nanny had insisted. “But it’s bedtime,” she’d protested. “I want a story before daddy comes home.” Anella did not like this night one bit. Not only was her mother gone, but she’d been forced to put on the smelly duster made of oilcloth – the one that stunk like grandpa. Rowen watched her charge, worry wreaking havoc within, like a fist around her heart. “We must keep rowing. Quickly.” She looked at the water, wondering how much of it was the effect of the sun, how much the blood of those who stood and fought. The Garden of Eternity may fall, but we will be remembered before it does. She looked at Anella, into her big innocent eyes. I will make sure the queen is safe. I will be sure her reign begins anew, that the holy bloodline continues.
The Bell stopped. Someone screamed, another man shouted. Everywhere, the sounds of battle. Laura watched the river, flowing so slow. The pinecone was gone, but still she watched it. When she turned her head, she saw the first body, filled with holes, drifting in the current. Hurry Rowan. Oh, please hurry. She whistled sharply, and her fighters slipped from the bushes. Thirty women who would show all the men the proper way to wield a blade. “You know who to kill. There cannot be a single one of them left, or this attack will have been for naught.”
The assassin crept across the lawn, his scimitar drawn, but the monk did not rise from his knees. There was nothing dangerous about him. Why had the prince made him take such precautions? This would be easy, one swing, and the man would be dead. The most important being in the world, gone, and the New Empire would begin. He raised his blade.
“Do what you must, but know that your actions will come back to you.” Bar T’Dellin spoke calmly, keeping his eyes closed. He knew from the moment he’d heard the bells toll so fiercely that something was not right. He knew it was time to pray. Your life will continue no matter what. No matter what.
Mavin swung his scimitar, watched with satisfaction as his work was completed. Blood sprayed his arms, as it always did, but that wasn’t the part he hated about this job tonight. As the Holy One’s head fell on the ground, he saw the eyes staring up at him, still blinking, and he couldn’t banish the man’s last words. Your actions will come back to you… He turned and fled.
Bar T’Dellin watched the hunch-back run away, ignoring the pain that throbbed in his head, watching the world evaporate into a blur of red and white and yellow, like a thousand flower buds, and a thousand flames. I cannot die… Anella, no…I cannot…
“Is that a body? Is he dead?” Anella stopped rowing, but Rowan urged her on. “Why are there dead people? No one fights here!”
“Hurry. We need to get out.”
“Where’s grandpa? Where’s mother? We can’t leave them.”
There’re already dead. “Hurry. Row faster.”
Want to read more by Graeme? Be sure to check out The Pact, coming May 6st.