Fall of Kings: Arc 1: The Beginning

Okay. Confession time. I’ve been delaying posting the beginning because I’m a little embarrassed. This first Arc is really quite rough, as (obviously) it was the very first part I wrote for Fall of Kings. In the hundred and twenty pages or so since that time, the story has evolved and changed and I keep going back and editing and tweaking the first sections, but there is still so much to add in and I keep having random plot bunnies appear and lead me down winding trails… I know I want to add in scenes to replace some of the lengthy narrative progression. Arc 1 is complete and Arc 2 is mostly complete, with some patchwork holes and some overhauling. Arc 3 ventures into much murkier territory and Arc 4 does not exist at the moment. What you’ve seen thusfar is Arc 5 territory, venturing into the sixth and final Arc. And there you have it. I do want to update and get going on the beginning, though, because there are definitely some fun parts that I quite enjoyed, and posting parts motivates me to continue working on the rest of it. Comments appreciated but not necessito. My spam filter keeps me pretty busy anyways ;] Total Word Count (not affected by my revisions, sadly): 54,653. Cue the THX theame.

No one was quite certain what provoked it. Only that once the classist rage had been awoken, it was a sleeping dragon that would rampage throughout the Northern Kingdom with a vengeance, wreaking havoc and overturning whole villages, whole kingdoms.

His advisers told King Richard to remarry, to have another child – one that proved more fitting to rule. One that was more regal than the pale, sickly infant with a smattering of jet black hair and icy blue eyes. The babe had barely survived his journey into the world – which was more than any could say for his mother, the concubine.

Looking back, no one wanted to claim that they were the first to urge the King to divorce the Queen and take the concubine who would produce such a child. But the King was running out of time – he needed an heir, and he was quickly falling prey to a wasting disease acquired in the southern provinces.

Amongst the nobles, fear-mongering and rumors flitted about like butterflies in spring – stating that the child, born half-royal and half-commoner, would bring the downfall of the monarchy and civilization as they knew it.

They were right.

One of the few things that the king had done for his son was to name him. Edmond Amadeus Holloway. Born during a thunderstorm, fighting to survive the same complicated birth that took his mother’s life, his existence would be marked by similar storms.

Advisers and nobles of every rank encouraged King Richard to remarry. He might have honestly been considering taking their advice to heart. However, before he could take action he succumbed to his disease.

As the pallbearers carried the casket to the ship at the Royal Pier that would bear their departed leader into the Beyond, Tatsuo, the Grand Duke and the king’s chief adviser, sighed grimly. The realization settled in that however sickly and unwanted the common heir was, they were stuck with him.

From his vantage point at the end of the northernmost pier of Castle Fortinbras, Tatsuo had a perfect view of the ship as it was tugged eagerly along by the frigid winds and into the Frozen Sea. Flames from the ship’s forecastle steadily spread across the fuel-soaked deck and consumed the mast. Yet still the ship sailed on, observed by mourners gathered at windows and balconies across the castle. Flaming pieces of wood and sail fell in graceful arcs to the freezing waters below – a beacon in the early morning light.

And all who watched its solemn journey knew that everything was about to change. Continue reading

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Hoperise

(Note: Well, this is the end of this mini-arc connecting events from the previous chunk to the final arc. This last arc would be pretty much my favourite as it brings all the characters from their far-flung origins together for the final events… but for any of that to make sense, you would need the beginning. So time to rewind and make some sense of all this. Thanks for your patience and without further adieu, the end of an arc. Total Word Count: 54,603)

“Edmond! I didn’t expect to see you up here.” Jocelyn’s voice was mild; pleasant enough, but subdued by the early hour – or perhaps something weightier than that. She scanned him quickly, taking in the seemingly innocuous way his hand rested on the hilt of his dagger. “I hope I didn’t startle you.”

He smiled thinly. “Not at all. There’s just too many blasted people trying to kill me these days. Please, forgive my inhospitality. Would you care to join me?” Edmond asked, making a sweeping gesture to the bench beside him.

Nodding, the young woman made her way up the stairs. Her olive skirts brushed the stone and soft slippers padded gently across the tower and sat on the stone. She tugged her gray scarf tight against her shoulders in the predawn chill, and Edmond had a vision of a jade ball gown and the taste of licorice. Her deep emerald hair was shorter now, falling almost to her shoulders in loose, heavy curls.

Perhaps it was only him, but even though Jocelyn was in exile, wrapped in common clothing and with her hair ruffled from sleep, she still was stunning as the last time they’d met.

“How did you sleep?” She asked, a tone of concern in the casual statement.

Wiping the rheum from his eyes and rolling his shoulders back into alignment, joints grumbling in protest, Edmond said with some degree of surprise, “Apparently, well!”

Jocelyn made an abortive movement, as though to draw closer to his side, and then thought better of it. She frowned, pert lips pursing in thought. “You didn’t sleep out here, did you?”

Edmond chuckled. “That wasn’t my intention, but that was the outcome, yes. ” He rubbed his neck with a grimace. “I suppose I’m more used to falling asleep in the wind and rain than indoors, swathed in feathers.” Continue reading

Apro-post: Midnight Musings

Note: Well, surprisingly this is drawing close to the end of this arc. I have been writing my NaNovel in arcs instead of chapters, and after November ended I took a tremendous leap forwards plot-wise and started writing scenes that I thought would be fun/interesting. Of course, the Big Reveal was among them (though there is some assorted random cuteness/culture/battles and shenanigans). But this is coming close to the end of the longest chain I have of uninterrupted writing before all I have is notes before the would-be-epilogue. I think that what I might do is, when I come to the natural end of the content I have now, start from the beginning. That might also help make much of this make more sense, as I did start posting content from about 3/4 of the way through the novel’s plotline. Sound good? Hurrah! Well, there’s still just a bit more to go here.  For now, enjoy!

Rubbing the lingering ache from his knee, he slipped into the bed prepared for him and sighed, closing his eyes and settling down for a long-awaited rest.

And waited.

And he waited some more.

Minutes slipped by and Edmond lay there, heart pounding with adrenaline. He had pushed himself in crisis mode for so long that it was difficult to unwind even now, when he knew that there was nothing he could do for the moment to affect the situation.

Edmond let out a groan of frustration and draped an arm over his forehead, trying to block out all distant light sources. He intentionally deepened and evened the breaths he took, attempting to slow the pounding of his heart. But even after several minutes of controlled breathing, Edmond felt his heart racing. Lingering doubts and concerns whispered frantically in the corners of his mind, refusing to be soothed or silenced.

Ages passed as Edmond lay on the bed, suspended in a state of wakefulness but craving sleep so deeply that he abjectly refused to move. The monks had provided him the finest feather mattress that they possessed, but the softness was unusual to a back accustomed to wooden berths and swinging hammocks.

Even in his fortress in the Wild, even in the home of Fraenir, he had always provided himself a hard bed. Something within him resisted the opulent living of his youth and would not permit him to relax in such surroundings. His disgust at the wrongness of the way he had lived and the way he had treated others had attached itself to the trappings of the lifestyle. It was enough to turn his stomach even now. He never wanted to go back to being that same person, not when he knew the price of his comfort. Continue reading

A Very Tika Interlude

The deed was done.

His identity, unveiled.

For the first time in years, he had been completely open with the very people for whose benefit he labored. There was something liberating in the notion of working alongside the counter-revolutionaries as opposed to behind their backs with the best intentions, but little perspective on what they considered to be their true needs.

This way felt more honest. At the same time, he was making himself incredibly vulnerable to a group of people that, admittedly, he barely knew. It was terrifying and exhilarating and heartwarming all at the same moment…

But right now, Edmond reflected as he tousled his hair dry with a gradually dampening cloth, he didn’t need exhilaration. He needed rest. After scrubbing away what felt like several layers of skin in, he was at long last ready for sleep.

If only his body would grant that to him.

It felt as though he had been driving himself for years, not days, and his heart pounded as though preparing for another marathon ride, another battle, another intense encounter.

Tossing the cloth onto the side table to dry, Edmond closed his eyes and pulled in a long breath. He exhaled slowly through pursed lips, trying to will his pulse to calm.

At that exact moment, the door to his chamber burst inwards and slammed against the wall, making a terrific racket as a blonde blur hurtled its way toward Edmond, hollering something incoherent.

His greatsword lay in its sheath leaning against the bed stand, his slender saber and dagger hanging on his belt on the side table. But before he had time to reach any of these, a lithe form collided with his stomach and wrapped fierce arms about his waist. The impact drove the breath from his chest and it was another moment before he comprehended that the form was, in actuality, a very familiar little blonde girl who was currently shrieking his name. Continue reading

A Continuance: Conclusion of the Conclave

EDIT: Wait, DANGIT. I’ve been writing this in chunks and stringing them together in my master word document. I realized as I was re-reading through this that there is one very, very important chunk that was never edited in. Behold. There’s a few pages inserted in the middle here. Hope it make more sense now…

Unearthly silence across the table as eyes widened and all attention focused on either Gideon or Jocelyn herself.

She had turned an alarming shade of pale, nearly as translucent as her knuckles as she clutched the edge of the table. Her mouth opened quickly, but she swallowed her first attempt at a response. After a moment, Jocelyn spoke in a voice reminiscent of an early-winter lake; hard and smooth on the surface, but dangerously close to cracking: “What happened?”

“He was assassinated by the Hunters themselves.” Gideon replied, folding his hands before him, wishing there were a way he could preserve the woman’s dignity as he delivered this devastating blow. If there were, he could not fathom it. He spoke again in response to the next question that he knew would rise to her lips: “Jaster and I saw it with our own eyes. We came because we knew the attack was imminent, but not when. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived there was nothing we could do but drive them away.”

“How did you know about the assassination attempt in the first place?” Pontificus asked, his silvery brows drawn tight. Continue reading

Fall of Kings: The Assembly

(Definitely have been working on this over the past few days. I have a very large chunk that is about to connect with this scene, but I’m still fiddling with some lines. Ne’ertheless, I wanted to put something up and cut it where it seemed appropriate.)

Gideon took a moment to greet each member by name as they approached. He knew them well from Jaster’s descriptions brought back from his frequent visits to Barrow, and took a short moment to clasp hands with each as they approached. Sebastien, the Conclave’s chief, a broad man with blacksmith hands and a face well accustomed to laughter and troubles. Carrigan of Peak’s Pass, hair streaked with frost. Pontificus the Exegetic, his hands even now flecked with bits of ink. Rigel of Bandersnatch, sword at his side and an ever-present spring in his step. Lorelai the Tacit and Fair Mercedes of Ubique rounded out the group. Six of the eight members of the Conclave were present – but there was an extra that Jaster had never mentioned.

She was a Western woman with her vivid green hair wrapped in a charming gray scarf. Warm brown eyes and an otherwise pleasant face thinned by time and strife would not have made her distinguishable on the streets… Except he knew that face, those eyes, the few strands of emerald that slipped from beneath the grasp of her scarf.

To his credit, Gideon contained his surprise with the exception of staring at her fairly intently.

The chief of the conclave, Sebastien, noticing Gideon’s particular attention, addressed him quickly. “Gideon, I speak for us all when I say what an honor it is to meet you in person. May I introduce our Lady Jocelyn, formerly of the West, who has come down for a few days from headquarters in Castleguard. I trust that she will be welcome for this meeting?”

Gideon’s tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. “Forgive me, my lady – were you not formerly the princess of the West?”

She nodded, bristling slightly. “I was, until my foolish brother decided that speaking the truth was a banishable offense.” The irritation in her voice was so familiar – except Gideon was used to it being directed at him.

“I was not aware that you were now laboring for the Northern resistance.” Gideon replied, a wave of weariness washing over him as he realized what he would have to do.

“It’s not that unusual. What happens in this kingdom affects my kingdom as well. If you would prefer that I not be present for this…” Jocelyn replied, furrowing her brow at his withdrawal.

Shaking his head, Gideon sighed – a low, mournful noise like the wind in the night. “No, my lady. This concerns you more than anyone. Please, let us sit.”

They filed around the table, Gideon taking the seat with his back to the fire. His face was cast into shadows, firelight gleaming in his choppy silver hair.

To the Conclave, he was an enigma. The hue of his hair and his demeanor of fatigue implied age and maturity, yet he was a solidly built and tall for a Northerner, with footsteps soft as a cat. His voice was slightly muffled by the mantle, yet still came through as strong and even. He projected an image of agelessness and confidence, yet his conflicted expression put them on edge. If even their mysterious benefactor was troubled by this news…

Gideon leaned forwards, scanning the eyes of each member of the Conclave as he mentally strung his words together, speaking steadily and earnestly. “Thank you for gathering so quickly. I hold each of you in the highest regard for all your sacrifice all these years. I know that you only have heard of me through deed and reputation.

“You don’t know that I love this nation with every fibre of my being, and that I seek not to restore this land to its former glory but to improve upon that, and for that cause I would not only die but live, live long and hard and cruel because to me these people, this land is worth it. You don’t know who I am just yet, but I must ask you to trust me, and to judge me by all I’ve done these past few years.”

He was silent for a moment, allowing his message to sink in. “The news I bear is dark; its implications darker still. I believe we might be able to prevent the intended consequences, but we must act quickly, while there is still time.”

“What foul message do you bear, Gideon?” Sebastien asked cautiously, folding his great arms over his chest.

Gideon knew no gentler way to say it. “The King of the West is dead.”

Friendly Faces and Blackstone Halls

(Just because I seem to be doing a running thing here, here’s the next section of my NaNovel. It’s exceeded the bonds of November and is rampaging through 2013 already.)

They approached with whirl of cloak and flutter of mane, pursued by the terror that they were already too late. Gideon had enough presence of mind to draw his hood tight about his head and draw his mantle tight over the lower half of his face. Three days in the saddle left him with enough stubble to hint at the true colour of his hair – and that would draw attention unwanted even by their closest allies. Jaster rode forth ahead and as they approached the monastery gates, he called for an immediate audience with the abbot.

The guardian of the gate, dressed in humble robes of a friar, nodded gravely as he interpreted the code. He again dispatched two messangers; a young girl to ready the speaker to the Conclave, and a young boy to help the visitors with their horses and bring them inside.

Jaster snatched back his cloak from his head and shook loose his tangled red hair. The only ginger for one hundred miles quickly caught attention of the aide approaching him, who let out a cry of surprise.

“You must be Jaster! Why, what brings you to headquarters, and why like the usurpers’ hounds are on your heels?” The boy asked, gray eyes flashing with curiosity. Continue reading