Tag Archive: exceeded goal


Week 3, Chapter 3

Chapter Three

“The Outain commander Ustain. Do you know him?” asked Adept Belay.

Kam nodded. “I have worked with him before.”

“Good,” said Father. He glanced at me and said, “He is here for a visit.”

What did that have to do me? “I don’t understand.”

“You and Kam will be his escort while he is here,” Father announced.

Escort? I frowned at him. “What do you mean?”

“Show him the city. Be a friend. Keep him out of trouble.” He paused. “Kam, you will be his military guide while he is here.”

I stared at Father. “I don’t understand what is so special about him.”

“Sir . . . Sire. May I?” said Adept Belay.

Father nodded permission to the Adept.

“He may be a rogue magician,” said Adept Belay.

I choked on my egg pastry.

Kam pounded on my back until it came flying out my mouth.

What? What?” I burst out. “You can’t expect me too – I am not going to – I am not a magician!” For the first time in my life, I was glad I wasn’t.

“Sir, she is just a girl. She can’t be expected to deal with -”

“Her mother dealt with magicians at a younger age,” Father said mildly.

“She was raised to it,” I snapped. “I am not.”

Mama’s family was one the premier magician families in the whole country. They had produced more natural magicians than anyone else, so mama had told me, and nearly all the rest were wand magicians. I wasn’t sure what the differences were, but mama had wanted to tread the boards and for that they had disowned her.

“That will be your best defense,” the adept said.

“I don’t understand,” I repeated.

He leaned forward. I tensed, leaning back, sensing the tight whiplash of magic rising from him. Not rising more than a few inches from his skin, but I wanted to keep at least an arms-length between us.

“He will know your ancestry and he will understand your enmity for all magicians.”

He would not; I had made no secret of how badly I wanted to be a magician.

“Your rejection from acceptance into the ranks of magician apprentices will only make that more believable. He will be open to trusting you,” the adept concluded. He stared at me expectantly.

“That doesn’t make me feel any safer,” I said.

“You are my daughter,” said Father gently. “Even if he is a rogue magician, he will not harm you. At least not in my city. Kam will make certain of it.”

“Yes, sir,” said Kam.

Why did he have to be so agreeable?

“He isn’t a magician either,” I protested. “He can’t-”

“No, he is not. He never will be because he, too, is related to his Majesty. However, he has had pre-apprentice schooling,” said Adept Belay.

Pre-apprentice schooling? Only children of nobility got to do that and only families who were willing to disinherit their children if they were accepted. It was a point of prestige for them and conveniently got rid of third and forth sons. Which, I realized, Kam was. He had three older brothers.

“He was expelled from apprentice rank when his mother married his Majesty,” continued Adept Belay. “But he learned enough to recognize a natural mage when he sees one.”

“But his family -”

“I adopted him formally,” said Father. “His mother did not.”

Oh. I supposed that would work. Father hadn’t disowned him and it was illegal to adopt a child you had disowned.

I glanced sideways at him. He looked stern and controlled. He’d wanted to be a magician, too. I wondered if he resented Father for that. I couldn’t tell. He was as magician like as most soldiers. How far had he gotten in his training?

“You can recognize other magicians?” I asked him.

“I know when someone is performing magic,” he said.

That wasn’t quite the same thing. But maybe it was good enough.

“Why me?” I asked Father. “There have to be others that can do this.”

“No one I trust as much I trust you. No one else has a reason to be unhappy with the Magicians’ Guild.”

Meaning no one else in the family had created such a public row about not being a magician apprentice.

I slumped in my chair. “How will I meet him?”

Father smiled. “In two days there is a soiree. Kam will be your escort.”

Perfect. I might get out of this yet. “I don’t have a dress and no seamstress will finish one so soon.”

“Madam Tari is waiting in your room. She will manage, I am sure.”

Hell. Who had thought of having Madam Tari waiting? Father couldn’t have. I am not sure he ever noticed clothes.

“Your mother is waiting with her,” he added. “She’s thinks you need more clothes for this season’s activities and I’ve decided to indulge her.”

“I’ve no space to put more clothes!” Not to mention Asa would tease me mercilessly if I showed up with ball gowns.

“They will stay in your room here,” Father said.

The room that mama used for storage now.

Father laughed. “Smile, Isi. I’ve yet to see a daughter so displeased with the prospect of new clothes. Go on, now. And, mind, don’t discuss this with anyone else.”

“I’m always smiling, Father.” I forced a smile, rising. “Good day, Father. Adept Belay.”

Kam rose, bowed to them both, rose again, walking backward to the door.

The door shut softly behind us and I found myself relaxing.

Kam glowered down at me. “Where is your room?”

“The Round Wing.” It was named for the large round tower and off to the side. It was really only connected to cellars; you had to go underground to get anywhere else. I’d loved playing games down there when I was younger. But it was not near the front public wing, not in the west servant wing, not close to the east diplomatic wing and nowhere near the rear family wing. I suppose that was part of why Father had installed us there. He didn’t want his Queen and mama to be too close.

“Of course you are. Where else would you be?” He held out his arm, like he had before, looking at me expectantly.

What? Did he think he was going to come into my rooms with me? “Good day, my lord.”

I tucked my hands behind my back and walked down the hall to Father’s library. The cellars were easy to get to from there.

His footsteps were loud behind me, than his fingers closed on my right wrist and jerked me around. I stumbled back and glared at him. “Let go! You have no -”

He loosened his grip, but didn’t let go. “You,” he said slowly, “will not keep me from doing my duty.”

“I am not! I don’t want to!” I jerked my wrists, but he held them tight. “You are hurting me.”

“No, I am not. Did you hear what his Majesty said?”

I scowled at him. Clearly, I wasn’t going to get free until he was good and ready. “That I am to get new clothes. Now.”

“He ordered me to be your bodyguard.”

I shook my head. “No, he didn’t, he just said that -”

“That’s what he meant,” said Kam.

“No, he -” I cut myself off. Obviously, he wouldn’t believe me. “I will go ask him. Right now.”

He studied me, than nodded and let me go. I marched back into Father’s little study. The adept was just getting up and he sat back down when he saw me.

Father looked quizzically at me. “Yes, Isi?”

“Kam thinks you ordered him to be my bodyguard,” I burst out.

After a moment, Father said, “I did.”

I took a deep breath and tried to sound reasonable. “You told him to watch over me, but that’s not the same thing as being a bodyguard. And I don’t anyone hovering over me when I am in class or rehearsing. It’s not necessary and he’ll be in the way and I will be safe enough. This rogue magician isn’t going to do anything and I’ll be safe enough.”

“You’re going to be contending with a rogue magician. Yes, contending. Isi, make no mistake, this will not be easy, and Kam will assist you as much as he can. Won’t you?” Father looked behind me to Kam.

Kam had closed the door and was leaning against it. “Yes, sir, I will. Though I wish you would reconsider. She is just a girl.”

“Another reason why he is likely to trust her,” Father said. “Go on, now.”

Kam was a large, imposing presence. He looked very out of place in mama’s living room, covered as it was by fabric and lace and bowls of shiny beads. He had insisted on being here and now looked deeply uncomfortable. I hoped he rotted in his discomfort.

Mama had roped Kam into pushing the table to the side so there would be room for me. I stood, barefoot on the slightly dusty floor and dressed only in new linen shift. My stone was safely hidden in mama’s bedroom, under a pile of clothes. The windows were open to the kitchen gardens and the scent of fresh herbs relaxed me enough to ignore Kam. Yards of bright blue lacy cotton and the lighter silk lining lay crumpled at my feet. More fabric was draped and pined about my body. Madam Tari bustled about me, making marks and sometimes snipping with a pair of small scissors. Her assistants sat in the corner, preparing lengths of silk ribbon with beads.

183 words. Below what I should have done for today. I don’t feel like doing anymore today, but I am over my weekly goal, so it’s all good. Weekly word count is 1610. It is not a good place to end a chapter, so I think I will just continue with chapter 3 tomorrow.

I haven’t really started the science fiction short yet. The little bit of snippet I wrote the other day helped me with voice, but I don’t think the character reflecting on himself is a good place to begin. I’ve a kernel of an idea, though, and I think I am going to start with him in the garage. The thing I am worried about is whether or not I will be done by the 30th. Even if I am, I likely will not have time to rewrite or submit it for critiques. So whatever I submit will probably be a first draft and all I’ll really have time for is check spelling and make sure there are no missing words.

On the other hand, even if the story is not done in time for contest, I can still finish it, edit, rewrite and submit to other magazines.

Week 3, Day 6: 321 words

So, 321 words. Word count sounds good and I am on track.

Except today’s stuff had a lot of dialog and I am not really good at dialog. I am afraid it may sound stilted. I feel like I am forcing words in my characters’ mouth and I don’t like this feeling. Come edit time, I think this may be one of the places that will require a full overhaul.

How do I make them sound real? I wish I knew.

Week 3, Day 4: 237 words

237 words. Not bad for today. Ended with a piece of dialogue, but it doesn’t feel right to me, so I am thinking that has to change and so the last few words don’t really count. We’ll see what I do tomorrow.

I discovered a story contest on twitter today. Here: http://crossedgenres.com/simf/contest/rules/. They want science fiction story based on some new (new as in this year!!!!) discover or innovation. I am going to try and see if I can write something. I can’t really think of any new inspiring discovery. At least, inspiring to me. If I do anything at all, it is going to be based on either biology or computers. Maybe some combo of both – nanotech with medicine. Or cybernetics. Or data mining. I read something about a scientist that managed to model a rat brain and what if someone managed to model a human brain . . . I don’t know. Maybe someone’s prosthetic suddenly got a virus? If it was a biological  prosthetic instead of one involving chips . . . maybe. Or something to do with neural networks. The last submission date is June 30 so if I am going to write something, I need to figure it out fast.

Week 3, Day 2: 342 words

342 days. That should please me, but it really doesn’t. I am just so tired and it took so long to come to a point where I felt I could leave off for tomorrow.

I found out about more one of my secondary characters today. I’d thought Kam was going to be a fairly minor character, but he is not. I found out somethings about him I didn’t anticipate. Maybe I should have. It looks like he is going to be a major character, but I am not sure what his role is. He’s nicer than I first suspected. Gonna have to figure him out.  What are his issues?

Week 3, Day 1: 403 words

Writing was hard today. I started chapter three and I did not want to write. This chapter is a turning point, I think, an early one. I could have done a few different things and not doing them is going to lock in some of the plot. But I am past the hurdle now and I am not going to go back and edit and change anything. At least not until the whole thing is over. That is not what this experiment is about.

Anyway I wrote more than 400 words and I am happy about that.

Week 2, Day 7: 286 words

Meet and exceeded my daily goal. 🙂 Yah!

The week’s word count comes up to 1, 468 words. Weekly goal is 1, 400 and so I am on target. I am grateful. Considering how many non-writing days I had this week and how I got sick, I am lucky to make the goal.

I feel like my story is finally going somewhere. I can see a little of its shape now. She finally, finally met with her father. I thought it would happen last week, but here I am, at the end of the second week and it only happens today. A few unexpected things have happened already – the stepmother showed, a magician appeared and I hadn’t planned on either. I’d thought her mother would have appeared when she met with her father, but so far, her mother is MIA. Truly, I’d expected her mother to be a powerful character, but so far she has yet to show herself.

Week 2, Day 6: 601 words

601 words today! Yes!!!! Made up for the wordless days, I think.

I still feel a little under the weather today. The meds are helping, I think. But I stayed in bed and wrote on my iTouch. Don’t have the energy to sit and work on the computer today, but typing on this for a little while all day today was okay. It worked since I was able to nap, than write, nap, write, nap write.

But my spelling probably sucked. Will run it all through a spell checker later.

Week 2, Day 2: 306 words

306 words more! Haven’t quite made up for yesterday’s lack of words. If this weekend shapes up to be anything like last weekend, I am going to be waaay behind in my weekly word count. What a scary thought. Only 2 weeks in and I am already in trouble.

Anyway, she hasn’t gotten to the palace. She was waylaid half way there. I didn’t expect that. I thought she would just go directly from the theater to the palace. Silly me.

Week 1, Chapter 1

Chapter 1

I clutched the ragged sack in my fingers. The stone thrummed in my hand, sang contentedly in my head. The cobbles beneath my bare feet were hard and slick with rain. I ran as quickly as I dared; I wanted no one asking what a scruffy girl was doing out at this hour. Especially here, so near the Magician Square. Its wide expansive splendor was covered with sleeting walls of rain and surrounded by squalor. Father would be furious.

The sack was a lowly thing to carry a blood stone in; they were usually carried in jeweled silk bags and displayed in cages of gold. But I was a lowly apprentice myself, and if the blood stone couldn’t tolerate such treatment, it shouldn’t have called me! I was not a blood magician; their apprentices never lacked for money, to say nothing of the masters.

No, I was an entertainer; we tread the boards in every city in the country and quite a few larger towns, too. When I completed my apprenticeship, I would have a permanent position with the Royal Theater here. Every other entertainer would have needed to fight and claw for such a position, but I was also the King’s bastard daughter and so even if I was denied entrance to the Magician’s Guild no matter how I begged and pleaded, I could never be denied the theater.

I tossed my wet, bedraggled hair out of my eyes and glanced behind me. A few inspectors, some magicians in their long black robe and some people who looked like they had wealth to hire a magician or two. No one was paying me any mind; people never noticed beggars.

I slipped from the square into a side street and slowed, panting. Houses, here, that magicians lived in.  I shoved the sack inside my shirt, safe and out of sight. Most of the houses here belonged to magicians and all of them were surrounded by a sparkling ring, like a moat. Magical protections; I knew enough to pretend I did not see them.

I kept my head down, wet hair over my face and started to run again. Past the houses, past the market after, I turned into Beggars Lane. Beggars Lane was a narrow little street, little more than an ally.  Aunt Sebina’s shop was here. It was a spindly building, drafty in winter, hot in the summer. People said she was a witch, but I had never seen any sign of it. She was just a herbalist. I loved it here, the smell of fresh herbs and scented lotions. Aunt Sebina had closed up shop and gone north for a week to visit someone. She had left me the key, because she knew how much of a refuge the shop was for me.

It took only moments to get inside. I shut the door against the storm and just rested against it. I had never been more grateful to Aunt Sebina.

I breathed deeply and took the stone out of my bosom. It was hard inside and when I dumped it into my palm, it glowed a beautiful blue, as if someone had poured the sky inside. It was as large as my little finger, polished to a mirror finish and . . . was it pulsing? I stared at it, fascinated. It warmed in my fingers and a golden light pulsed inside, like a miniature sun. Its song grew louder in my head, gained the joy of a Noel morning recital.

“Well, hello there,” I whispered to it.

Magicians generally named their stones. What would I name mine?

“A bath first,” I told it. “I am wet and cold. Than we go back to the theater.”

The stone came into the bath with me and I nestled it among her collection of lotions and creams. It looked as out of place as a tomato in a bushel of onions. After, I dressed in my normal theater clothes – pink cotton sleeveless shirt, trousers and leather slippers. I didn’t wear skirts so much unless it was a costume. Aunt Sebina didn’t have a mirror so I was forced to braid my hair around my head by touch. It was hopelessly curly and there was no other way to deal with it. I dumped my beggar rags out back. I could always get more if I needed them.

I sat on Aunt Sebina’s bed, stone in my lap. “What do I do with you?” I asked it. It hadn’t stopped its humming since I’d taken it, but it didn’t answer me. Not that I thought it would. “We have to go back to the theater.” I tucked it back inside my shirt, slipped on the oiled leather poncho I had stored by the door and left.

I was soaked to my skin by the time I got back. All of the city’s theaters were in Theater Circle and the Royal Theater was its queen. The Royal Theater was a grand affair, all rosy marble and silvered glass, and domed like the king’s own bald pate. Delicate balconies ringed it; several restaurants were housed on the top floor and the theater’s own musicians provided entertainment. The façade was covered with carved reliefs with scenes from classical plays; the inside had paintings and tapestries of them.

I entered through the side. The main stage was just down the hall and tonight’s performance must have been coming to an end, because the audience erupted into applause. My room, sadly, was in the bottom level. Well, four of us apprentices slept in the same room. I slipped inside as quick as I could, before they could come streaming out.

Not so much as a candle was lit and I had to make my way to bed by touch. Luckily, I was on the bottom bunk, the on the left wall. The wall was smooth beneath my fingers and though I could not see it, I knew it was white washed. Directly above was the training stage; the instruments classroom, the voice classroom, and the library were up there too. Our small yard was right outside; we learned acrobatics there. There were rooms below the other classrooms, too. I was glad I wasn’t in any of them; music lessons tended to get loud. The window was along top of the wall, between the two bunks, tiny and shuttered against the rain. Our trunks rested under it. Their tops were flat so they doubled as tables. Grateful I managed to get my bunk without banging a leg against them, I felt for the sleeping robe I had left folded on my bed. The stone came into bed with me.

* * *

“Up! Lazy Apprentices!”

I awoke to Mistress Raine’s scarred face inches from mine. “Mistress. Morning.”

“Morning indeed, Ising,”she said. Mistress Raine had a posh accent and it went oddly with her face. “Up you get. A messenger has arrived to take you to your father, and as such you are excused from classes.”

My heart skipped a beat. Did my father know I had the stone? How could he know? “W-what?”

“A messenger. From your father,” she repeated.

“Oh lucky princess Isi,” called Rose from the bunk above me. “She will miss Master Elim screaming at her.”

“Lucky,” I muttered. “Where is the messenger?”

Mistress Raine favored me with an irritated look. “He is upstairs in the Nightsky Lounge.”

Nightsky, named for the sheer number of theater stars that relaxed there, was the best lounge in the whole theater and this messenger must have impressed someone a lot to be allowed up there.

“You will dress and go up to receive up him,” she went on, studying each of my roommates in turn. “The rest of you have class shortly.”

“Yes, Mistress,” they all said.

Here I only had one set of clothes my father would approve and it had been sitting at the bottom of my trunk for months. I dug it out and sat staring at its wrinkles while the others dressed around me. I ignored them; I had gotten used to the sight half-naked girls around me.

“Aww, poor Isi’s dress has a crinkle in it. Maybe – ”

“Shut up, Asa.”

“Oh, you, well, princess -”

“Leave her alone, Asa.”

I shot a grateful look at Bark. She was a magician’s daughter and my best friend. She smiled at me. “I will fix your hair.”

Well, no help for it. Father would just have to accept it and put it on. The dress was a couple seasons out of date, puffed sleeves instead of the cap sleeves that everyone wore today and pale pink instead of the brighter colors that had become popular in last few months. Bark did something to my hair, weaving ribbons into it, and winding it about my head like it was a circlet.

The messenger was really my step-brother. Father’s wife’s son by a previous marriage and a duke’s heir as well. He wore his Captain’s uniform and since he never came to the capital, probably Mistress Raine had not recognized him. She would have said if she had. Ising, a prince has come to see you. I’d never had much to do with him; he didn’t approve of me and I didn’t really care if he did. But he was handsome enough and the girls were probably all in a tizzy over him. God knew they had him so surrounded.

I cleared my throat. “Ladies. My Lord.”

He looked up, away from Tira. She tossed her glorious black hair and said, “Isi! How nice to see you. I am told your classes for today are canceled. Surely and this -”

“We need to go. It’s not a good idea to keep my father waiting.”

She paled. “Your – his majesty asked . . .”

“Yes.” I smiled sweetly, enjoying her discomfort.

Kam extracted himself from her arms. “Yes, he did. I am afraid we must go. Come, Ising.” He held out his arm to me, like we were going out.

I eyed him. But I decided to be polite and take his arm.  The silk of his uniform was warm under my fingers. “I have a carriage waiting.”

“Of course you do.” I turned, following him out.

There really was carriage, and right outside the front gates, too. An official carriage, complete with matched horses and the King’s sigil in black and purple, used only by people on the King’s business.