by thefourpartland

As before, this is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel, so there are some spoilers lurking.

They arrived at the edge of the docks to find them strangely empty, although there was one small boat beginning to row out into the harbour, and it was stuffed full of Áðexe.

Tarranau muttered, and made a slapping motion against the water, the others watching as a wave suddenly appeared out of nowhere and flipped the boat, dumping all the Áðexe over the side. Being excellent swimmers, once they had got their bearings they ignored the boat and continued towards the vessels in the harbour.

The watermage cursed. “Well, that was a bloody stupid thing to do, wasn’t it?”

“You had better fix it before Á?ðan finds out. He’s going to be very unhappy if we lose some of the boats.”

“No, he’ll just say something about life being interesting, then hiss a lot.”

“Well, there is that too.”

Tarranau waved them to silence, and then began skipping razored discs of ice across the water, slicing them in at head height. One after another, crimson stains began to bloom in the water, and with it the increasingly frantic motions of the sailors trying to reach their craft. But none ever did, although the last had been within touching distance of the bow line before Tarranau had been able to slay the creature.

As he turned his back on the sea, he could hear the fish biting and chewing at the corpses as they floated. Life, at its end.

“Sawwaed, what’s your nose smelling?” Bwyell had his helmet off and was sniffing the air.

“Blood, death, broken things. The usual after battle…” He paused. “And smoke. There’s smoke somewhere.”

Atyniadol looked at them both. “We’re in a town, why would the smell of cook fires be that strange in the morning?”

“I don’t think it’s a cooking fire.” Bwyell glanced up and down the docks, then began trotting off to his right.

The others followed, somewhat bemused by his antics. He was certainly convinced, wherever he was going.

After a few minutes of searching, Tarranau waved at Bwyell. “Are you sure there’s anything?”

“I know I smelt wood smoke back there, wood smoke with the tinge of varnish and the like. Not the kind you’d toss on a fire.”

“Well, there’s doesn’t seem to be any.”

Ceinder pointed to the farthest end of the docks, which they could now see. “Tarranau, Bwyell was right.”

Flames leapt from one of the seashore warehouses, and were quickly moving to engulf one of the others next along. Áðexe ran from the flames, but some of those running carried burning brands.

“Some bright officer is burning down the harbour before we can use it. Atyniadol, Sawwaed, can you stop them? Bwyell too. Ceinder and I will deal with the fires.”

Sawwaed nodded, and set off in a jangle of armour, the others close behind.

As the mages ran, Ceinder glanced over at her husband. “How are we going to put out a fire that’s already that big?”

“A lot of water and a lot of dust and earth. Unless you have a better idea.”

“I was hoping you did. Your intellect isn’t impressing me right now.”

“Well, it’s a little stressed out.”

“Why? It’s only a battle.”



by thefourpartland

This is an excerpt from the new material written for NaNoWriMo, and is a short scene between Tarranau and his wife, Ceinder. Also, as always, SPOILERS ABOUND.

The work of cutting through the forest went on unabated, day by slow day, as the army of Hálsiend dragged itself closer to the seashore and to Hádsw?pa, the small town from which Þracian’s assault had been launched. There was little in the way of entertainment, and at any one time perhaps a tenth of the army was engaged in hunting, foraging, and scouting. The humans and the airmages regularly lead those excursions, as their ability to pierce the trees with their magical sight allowed them unique advantages when hunting for game. As did their ability to bring down the game at a great distance. Still, it was dull, tiring work when it came down to it, and they would return to their tents at the end of a day to find they had moved but a mile or two, still in terrain that was beaten muddy by the passage of so many claws.

Tarranau was busy cleaning his armour, as best he could in the circumstances, when Ceinder came to sit by his side. They remained quiet for some time, until the watermage broke the silence.

“I still wonder about Ddif and Fyn. About whether I could have saved one of them, or both. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wondering, either. I think it’ll be one of those memories that just stays around, all through my life.” He paused, before continuing. “Have you ever noticed how our failures dog our steps, and our successes flit away on the wind? It’s like that damn incident at the mines. I killed miners, innocents, but I saved you, saved my friends. But I never remember that, I just remember the faces of those I killed, the aftermath of my actions.”

“Tarranau, if you’re going to turn into that mopey sot who nearly got murdered because he was too drunk to defend himself, I’m going to kick your ass from one end of the campground to the other.”

Despite his mood, the watermage chuckled. “No, no, I’m well beyond that. I hope, anyway. I just wish my successes were what came to the fore when I thought about something, rather than my failures. I have to live with the absence of my friends every day, knowing I can never see them again. I don’t want to dream about it as well.”

“Then don’t. You’re worrying about one of the things you can change. Why do you think Á?ðan is compulsively happy all the time? Because of his perspective on life, on his view that everything, no matter how trivial or dangerous, is a new adventure for him to explore. There’s always something over that horizon, and it’s rushing up to meet him. He’s looking to the future. You’re looking to the past. The past is dead and gone, immutable. You can’t unsay words, undo actions, so give them a rude gesture and turn towards the rising sun.”

“You know, you always have the right things to say to cheer me up.” Tarranau wrapped an arm around his wife’s shoulders.

“Yes, I also remember having to tell you to marry me.”

“Hey now, I asked you.”

“After I’d given you the kind of hints even a toddler could understand.”

“The kind of hints that involved the words ‘I’m coming with you’. You didn’t really go for subtly, dear.”

“I didn’t want to have to wait the rest of my life.”

“I’m so glad you treasure my intellect.”

“Your intellect, yes. Your common sense wandered off when you were a small boy and never came back.”

“And yours didn’t? I at least have the excuse I was being forced to come over the mountains to Læccan. You volunteered for it.”

“I had my reasons. Even if most of them involved an oaf.”

“There you go with the flattery again.”

“If you like, I have a whole list stored away against those times I might need it.”

“I think I could do without you trying to sweet talk me any more, my dear.”

“Good, because I think there are other things to do aside from talk.” So saying, Ceinder pulled her husband to her feet and led him away.



by thefourpartland

A quick update for those on how NaNo is trundling along – fairly well, I’d say. I’ve managed to put together 11,000 words in 5 days (yesterday I had other matters to attend to), pushing the total length of the manuscript to about 128,000 words. A good length, but still shorter than the first drafts of Tarranau and Chloddio.