Showing posts with label NaNo WriMo 2011. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NaNo WriMo 2011. Show all posts

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Why I failed #NaNoWriMo 2011 (13,825 words)

I was cruising.  It was day 13 and I was already past 13,000 words keeping pace with my 1,000 words a day goal (note: NaNoWriMo officially encourages 1,400 words a day).  And then it all stopped.  I finished on day 14 with 13,835 words in the middle of what I feel was turning into a good story.

The main problem I had was that the time I was allotting to write was during my breaks at work (an hour lunch + two 15 minute breaks).  When work got a bit crazy I had to switch over to using up free time at home each night.  With a family (especially the 2 year old) and games like League of Legends and Battlefield 3 to play, I just couldn't focus on writing at home.  However, there were a couple other things that derailed me as well.

I really screwed up the geography of my world building.  The story is supposed to be taking place in the east, but I ended up calling the land mass the "western key".  Then the nation of Alb I put in the east only to later realize it made more sense for Alb to be in the midlands.  Which means I should of had the ruling Kingdom of the midlands in the east.  The only group I placed correctly it seems was the foreigners from the islands of the west.

At first this mix up didn't really bother me.  NaNoWriMo is about getting words on paper which can be edited and fixed up later.  Rewriting should be the second step to a story, not a part of the process of the first draft, so I pressed on with the bad geography in the idea that I'd clean it up in editing.  However, I ran into some problems with what I wanted to do with the story.  This forced me to think far too much about what I was writing each day and lead to the writers block that ended my NaNoWriMo attempt for 2011.

When the initial writers block set in, I looked into working on just editing my 13,000+ words and getting the geography together.  As I went through the text I started getting really good ideas and started adding in large sections and more descriptive language to previous chapters.  Before long the writers block collided with the changes I was making and I was finding myself creating gaps faster than I was filling them.  So instead of pushing into the second half of the month, I put the work down.

Oh and at some point I realized I really disliked some of the main characters names: Enlil and Orten specifically.  I literally picked the name Orten based on the NFL quarterback Kyle Orten.  And with Enlil, I am not even sure how you would pronounce it.  In Orten's case I have a new name picked out that I really like.  In Enlil's case I am aiming to change up the history of his nation of Alb which will result in some pretty unique names (moving it more towards the naming conventions of the Native Americans).

I still have plans to clean this story up.  It's a story I didn't outline, but I have had the general plot in my mind for some time.  It's a dark story, but a fun one in my opinion.  And it's all aimed at a pretty climatic ending.  I actually started on the story a while ago, but had only written a single chapter.  Even though I failed to hit the full month word count, I feel like NaNoWriMo was still a useful experience for me.  It did get me writing and it did force me to think about this story a bit more.  Even if I don't finish this story I should still be able to use the lessons learned for future story writing.

For anyone interested, here are all the posts tagged for my NaNoWriMo 2011 writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 14, 15, & 16: Pain

Yes, I am three days behind, but its all good :P

Chapter 14:  Pain

Gurley opened his eyes.  He was still alive.  At least he felt alive.  The old man’s face still burned in the back of his mind.  Shrake was not a man soon forgotten.  

Shrake had bragged to him how he counted success in limbs and appendages.  First with the fingers, then the hand itself.  Then the arm.  Most victims of Shrake and his Krakens did not make it to the arm, giving in once their hand had been removed piece by bloody piece.  Gurley had been lucky.  They started with his busted leg before going to his fingers.  Gurley figured that keeping him alive was of more importance than making him talk.  

Odd concoctions had kept him from passing out during the entire ordeal.  Sticks in his eyelids had forced him to watch the entirety of the event.  Pain was not descriptive enough for the torture of watching one’s own limb being removed.  Yet, the Krakens worked fast on the leg and once the stub had been bandaged and a poultice applied, Gurley seemingly felt better.  He actually felt good.  That is, until they started on his right hand’s middle finger.

Gurley had wondered if the entire castle could hear his screaming.  Shrake’s hooded bastards were more than willing to let his torturous ramblings filter out.  Warnings to the rest of the captives.  Were there captives?  Gurley had been in a feverish state when the castle was taken, so he was not sure of much aside from the fact the Thunderer now held the castle.

The flaying continued through a grizzly procession from finger to finger.  Gurley didn’t talk.  Pain combined with secrets hidden deep within Gurley to create a euphoria which permitted a mental escape.  Gurley took little satisfaction in the fact Orten was feeling all of this.  It was probably driving him crazy, wherever he was, and no doubt he was cursing Gurley’s name with every painful step he took.  

Gurley laughed at the idea that this would continue until the Krakens had removed the last bit of his skin and sent him into the underworld.  Orten would not be pleased with such a turn.  Not at all.  These bastards know nothing of what they were awakening. The thought comforted Gurley.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, Gurley really couldn’t decide, the Krakens stopped after the last finger detached from his right hand.  They left the thumb.  With each cut had come another question, met with the euphoric silence that had entrenched itself upon Gurley.  Was Shrake irritated?  It was hard to tell, but Gurley figured not many were able to not talk to Shrake.  The satisfaction sat like a cask of ale in Gurley’s gut, warming him on the thought of what awaited him when he awoke again.

However, in his dream-like state fear had started to creep upon Gurley.  His bandaged stub of a leg and the neat wrappings being dressed unto his hand were too well done.  The torture was excruciating, but it had stopped.  Sharke may have been irritated at the silence, but he hadn’t really shown it.  Then the realization caught up with Gurley.  This wasn’t for him.  It was for Orten.


The small skiff beached itself as the wave crashed onto the beach of the small island.  The storm had visibly weakened in the glances Orten had caught as he slipped in and out of consciousness.  The moon lit the area enough for Orten to drag himself out of the skiff and make his way into a cluster of trees.  His right hand throbbed as he clutched it to his chest.  He laid his head back and breathed a deep breath.  A burst of fire leaped from his chest and shadows danced down the beach.  Rain sizzled as it clattered off Orten’s skin.  He slipped back into the blackness with the thought of freedom ringing in his ears.  When day broke, it would be glorious.  The Flamerunner awakes.


Enlil had begun tracking time based on the meals served him and the shifting of the guards outside his door.   It was mid day when the washer boys brought by his cleaned doublet and captain’s vest.  To his surprise, his feathered officer’s cap was also returned.  He had not hesitated to change into the clean change of clothes.  The comfort was immediate.  If only he had a blade to clean the scruff of beard that had grown about his face.

The hard rap of a knuckle on the door broke his moment of escape.  He put his feathered hat on the table and walked to the door.  The toothless grin of one of the guards stared in at him through the tiny window.  “Dress up Captain.  We like a good show for an execution.”

Word count: 13,835

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 13: Revelations

Chapter 13: Revelations

The crimson star was emblazoned on the dirty white of his breastplate.  The guardsman stood alert and proud of his station.  Hard work and loyalty had earned his trusted place at the sides.  Loyalty that meant death if broken.  

His name was William, but as far as anyone knew he was You.  You there as fingers pointed.  You by the door as he stood by the door.  You seemed to fit him well.  He did not need a name.  William the guardsman was a silent, obedient man.

He had found himself situated inside the Thunderer’s main chambers this evening.  He knew this meant sensitive talk was going to be had.  Talk that only occurred in the confidence of trusted men.  Talk that also meant a chance of violence.  William had dressed the part; drab in understatement. He needed no ornament on the handle of his sword for the sharpened blade hiding within the sheath to do it’s business.  The daggers tucked in the small of his back stood backup.

It wasn’t long after he was positioned that the procession came in, lead by the women.  William took note of this.  It was unlike the Thunderer to play second fiddle.  William knew of the Fravashi, but had not had the privilege of meeting them.  Yet, there was no doubt who the women were.  They were followed, closely, by the Thunderer who took his customary seat at the head of the table.

Following the tall man came a shorter, older man covered draped and hidden within a blackened robe.  His demeanor was disconnected, uncaring.  William knew him well:  Shrake of the Krakens.  William did not care for his presence, but did not deny the value of the information he so often collected.  Still, the man disturbed him deeply.  Evil creature.

The next party to enter the room was that of an envoy from the King.  The crimson stars on bright white gave way to neatly cropped hair cuts and

The last group William did not know anything about, which meant he needed to find out everything in the short time it took them to get to their seats.  Their shorter height was the first clue they were not midlanders. Olive skin meant westerner, from the islands of the jade sea.  Odd dress-like garments covered their bodies, buttoned up the center with large wooden buttons.  Ornamental hair pieces adorned their hair, most with which appeared to collect in a hornlike structure at the back top of the head.  No visible weapons.  William didn’t relax.

A traditional meal of lamb and root vegetables was served.  Conversation flowed freely among the varied groups.  The foreigners spoke mixed dialect that stuck their home language of the island nation with that of the main lands.  The letter h seemed to present a challenge however.  William took note of this.  Either they had been on the main land for some time or they were attempting to play the part.

Midway through the meal, William noted one of the foreigners favoring a single side.  William did not let the alarm show in his face.  He waited for the shift in position to come with the guard opposite him.  As he crossed to the other side of the doorway, he discovered the reason for the favor.  The man’s hand appeared to be missing, replaced by a wad of bandages.  The wrappings looked fresh, possibly hiding something?  William didn’t venture to guess and stored the information in the forefront of his mind.

After the meal was finished, the envoy from the King did not wait to start addressing their concerns to the room at large.  They started in immediately with taxes from the new Alban holdings and provincial domain the Thunderer had taken on his travels down the eastern coast.  The Thunderer was visibly uninterested in the conversation, nodding agreeably with the majority of the statements.  

William noted Shrake peering out from his cavernous hood towards the foreigners.  At first it was little more than looks, but then William noted it moved to a savage monitoring.  William pieced it together when the man with the bandaged stump of an arm winced at Shrake’s stare.  William was disturbed by the revelation, but again showed no change in his stature or face.  

After the tax discussion ended, the King’s envoy excused itself from the table.  Their crimson clothes flowed out of the room, splitting the two guardsmen.  William counted their departure, four out the door.

The Thunderer broke the silence left by the envoy’s departure.  “Your boy there did a hell of a job.”  The Thunderer thumbed towards the man with the bandaged hand.  “Quite well considering the years he spent under the watch of good old Orten Ben Fareen here in this dump.  My apologies for his hand.”  The Thunderer paused as if waiting for acknowledgement of the apology.  He continued, “and of course for any disgraces from my men.  Clydas knew not of the arrangement and Shrake.  Well Shrake and the Krakens just do what is asked.”

The foreigners didn’t respond.  In turn they stood and bowed in the direction of the Thunderer and then again towards the Fravashi.  William counted off their paces to the door, thirteen.  He counted as the party left, four.  The Fravashi and Shrake remained with the Thunderer.

Once the door swung closed and the footsteps faded into the far hall, the six women spoke as one.  “The Flamerunner comes.”  The Thunderer eyed the women and then Shrake.  A nod from Shrake confirmed the statement.  “Let us make preparations then.  I suppose he will want that brother of his back.  Shrake I do hope your lovely boys left him in one piece.”

Word count: 13,038

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 12: Findings

Chapter 12: Findings

Thump, thump, thump.  The steady pounding of drums beat like the wings of a bird announcing the arrival of something.  Enlil did not care to guess at the identity of those arriving in the castle as the thumping echoed about the inner confines of his holding room.  His white doublet had been recently washed and felt brisk against his skin.  Leather chaps clung tightly to his legs.  Sandals replaced boots lost to the sucking sand of his prior prison on the beach.  He paced from wall to wall, thinking.

The Thunderer wanted something from him, something that was not apparent until after the successful siege of the castle.  At first Enlil had not caught onto this fact.  He awoke every day, groggier than the last.  His mouth would be parched dry as if he had spoken for hours.  Yet, he bared no recollection of any talking outside of a few crude jokes thrown at his gaolers.  

It was on the third day, or what he ascertained as the third day, that he discovered the powdery substance on his food.  Tact was taken to carefully place the substance where it mixed best with the liquids of the meal, clearly added after the meal had been prepared.  

On that third day some of the powder had managed to stay suspended; afloat on a pool of rendered fat among some chopped and roasted root vegetables.  Enlil opted not to partake of the vegetables that day and instead dumped them in a hidden alcove behind the high-backed chair.  

His keepers seemed none the wiser and when the Thunderer arrived that evening for questioning, the change was immediate as Enlil sat quietly opposite the taller man.  “You are very quiet this evening Captain,” the conversation had started.  The talk died quickly before the Thunderer saw himself out, whispering in the ear of one of the jailers on his way down the hall.  The door had swung shut before Enlil could make anything of the whispers.

The next day, Enlil hid his entire meal along with the previously discarded vegetables in a bundle of clothing passed to the washer boys.  However, that night when the Thunderer visited Enlil spoke openly.  Unsure of where previous conversations had wandered while he had been under the influence of the powdery substance, Enlil tried to be truthful enough to be believable.  It seemed to have worked as the pair discussed details about the Alban procedures at the camp, but the Thunderer clearly guided the conversation. Enlil felt that he filled in enough new information to deflect his ruse.

However, abruptly during the conversation, the  Thunderer announced he had business elsewhere and that “I will miss our conversations Captain.”  The door clicking shut behind the the man as he left sounded like the final hammer blow on the nail’s head of the coffin that was Enlil’s confinement.  Better here than the beach Enlil thought to himself.

Enlil ate his entire plate of food at each meal the next day.  On the next day he awoke clear headed and energetic.  It was clear the Thunderer had seen through his guise, but why not send the executioner to finish this?  Why spare him now after the treatment in the camp and on the beach?

Had he awoken with the grogginess associated with the powdery substance the thumping of the drums would have driven him mad.  His pacing continued from wall to wall, before he changed to the door and table.  The rhythmic flip flip of the sandals about his feet combined with the steady beat of the drums set his mind at ease.  

On a pass nearer the door he overheard the guards speaking.  On his first pass of the conversation he made out the word “women”.  The second pass revealed “dresses”.  By the third pass “storms” and “cursed” filtered through the small inset opening in upper half of the door.  This meant only one thing: the Fravashi had returned.


Clydas dragged Jacco down the steps by his tightly knit horn of hair.  Ornamental beads pattered in cascading hops down the stairs as the ornamental ties broke in the knot of hair.  The staircase had been found at the backside of Orten Fareen’s quarters, hidden cleanly behind the linen closet.  The biting sound of axe on wood sounded in the background as the men accompanying Clydas proceeded to disembowel the room.  Clydas was not pleased Jacco had chosen to hide this from him.

“Tis is all.”  Jacco pleaded with Clydas.  “I swear.” The whole situation had turned on Jacco. Gurley had not cooperated as he intended.  The man’s busted legs slowed had slowed him down.  Far to slow.  The siege was practically on the castle as they had arrived.  Jacco should have just killed the sorry excuse of a man right there and fled.  Yet, Jacco knew that would have been disastrous.  No, not disastrous.  It would have meant his death.  Better to let the foolish midlander that was so fond of being called the Thunderer meet the fate that lay at the hands of Gurley’s killer.

Jacco wondered if the Krakens had finished with Gurley yet as he eased himself into the corner nearest him.  He was careful to avoid putting weight on his right arm as his own time with the Krakens had left nothing but a knob of a wrist covered in bandages.  They were, if anything, thorough in their craft. He should have accepted the tainted food.

Jacco sighed a sigh of relief as Clydas lost interest in his misery in favor of the oaken drink casks lining the walls.  Stacked in rows three high, two deep, the entire room was filled with orderly rows.  Actually, he couldn’t quite believe it had been this many.  This was a lot to have been carried through that secret door in Orten’s room.  What was this stuff anyways?  It clearly wasn’t wine or ale.  Clydas was happy at the find, but Jacco knew it wasn’t the happiness of a drunkard.

Word count: 12,088

Friday, November 11, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 11: Holding

Chapter 11: Holding

Enlil sprinted through the open field as arrows skipped along the ground behind him.  He was covered in a thin layer of dust, dulling the freshly oiled sheen on his leather armor. He reached the small stone wall and cleared it in a single jump.  The adrenaline surged through his body and his voice came alive as he spoke to the small group gathered in the grove.  “The bloody cunts.  They brought the entire clan.”  He leaned against a nearby fruit tree and worked on catching his breath.  

It had only taken two days of searching the rugged hills to find what they had thought to be the remnants of the long hidden hill tribe known as the Black Crows.  It was suspected they had been coming out of the hilltops and raiding among the foothills and plains.  Sure enough, here they were invading the simple farmlands of a rightful citizen of Alb.  However, remnants wasn’t a proper description.  Enlil had spotted an entire tribe traveling together; women, children, and warriors.  Many warriors.

Enlil’s party had worked its way back down from a pair of twin hill tops that the  locals had grown fond of calling the “humps”.  The farmstead had taken hold near the creek that split the hills.  The Alb farmer and his woman had been hospitable the first night.  The second he seemed irritated when he learned of the presence of the Black Crows.  

Had it been Enlil’s decision, he would had let the farmer be and set a hard ride for the camp, but it was not Enlil’s decision to make.  His feathered sergeant, Caedmon, had ordered the men to hold fast deep in the grove out of site.  Enlil suspected he meant to gather more on the Crows as they passed and favored a slower journey back to the main force instead of a frenzied escape with or without the farmer in tow.  

Unfortunately, it hadn’t taken long for the Black Crows to prove the plan folly.  On the morning of the third day, a shout had come from the farmhouse.  Caedmon had sent Enlil and another unfeathered soldier, Turin, to investigate.  The two found the farmer split open from ear to ear on the back store room’s floor.  Knocked over foodstuffs trailed out of the room mixed among bloody foot prints.  

Turin was the first to follow the trail and catch site of the thieves cresting the far hedge row, black feathers streaming from their hair.  Turin agreed to head back into the grove while Enlil surveyed the stone house for the farmer’s lady friend.  The scream had definitely been that of the farmer.  Either the woman was dead as well, hidden elsewhere in the house, or she was deaf.  

His and Turin’s entrance into the house meant that they had cleared the main dwelling.  All that remained was the stable outside the low stone wall of the orchard.  Enlil closed the distance between the two buildings quick and silent enough.  A peak through the closest door revealed nothing.  A pig waddled in the corner while the plow horses whinnied at his sudden presence.  Hens pecked the ground as they passed in and out underneath the rough wood doors.

Enlil did not care much for the mystery of the missing woman.  She may have been carried off in the night or played an excellent game of hide and seek.  Yet, he knew Caedmon would question him, so he figured a look into the pasture down was warranted.  It was through the hedge row, so he would most likely get a glimpse of the retreating thieves.

He approached the hedge row with caution as he trotted down the path at a slight jog.  The first arrow whizzed by before he could react.  The second nearly caught him in the groin.  By the third arrow Enlil had begun his retreat.  The thieves hadn’t meant to escape at all.  They were going back to advise of clearing the house.  A line of Black Crow warriors popped up like rodents from a city sewer as Enlil looked over his shoulder.

The distinctive whooping cry known to the eastlanders as an order for battle among the hill tribes chased Enlil as he ran.  More arrows loosed in his direction as he made the wall.

At first the thrill of the moment drove a smile across Enlil’s face, but as Caedmon appeared from the thicket of trees Enlil knew something was wrong.  The Crows had already sent scouts into the grove and the blood streaked across the sleeves of Caedmon’s white sergeants doublet spoke silent confirmation of the danger they faced.  

The hefty nature of the fruit trees provided a natural barrier preventing the threat of arrow fire throughout the grove.  Caedmon’s band worked it’s way along the rows back to their horses.  Having finished the scout in silence had given them enough of a head start to mount up and choose a route for escape.

As soon as the mounted men broke through the long gap in the stone wall the air buzzed to life.  Arrow fire cascaded from all directions as the Crows revealed themselves.  Horses screamed and threw riders.  Enlil found himself as the lone rider as he watched as Caedmon’s horse crumpled.   He spurred his mount and made for creek knowing the creekside hills were his lone chance.

Enlil had only enough time to look back once.  The Crow warriors descended upon the downed men in a frenzy.  The fight was over before it started with only Caedmon able to bear his sword long enough to trade blows one for one.  Enlil turned back forward concentrating on his flight.  He needed to get back to the Alban camp.  

Cold water splashed up from the creek and the clip-clop of the horse’s hooves thundered upon the stone of the creek bed.  Enlil was shocked to realize the horse was racing on without him.  Pain caught up with the sensation of water grabbing at his armor.  He struggled to get to his knees as dark spots began to obscure his vision.  The blackness consumed him and he toppled, limp-bodied into the creek.

Enlil awoke with a grogginess reserved for the worst of nights of drinking.  He shot up hoping to keep his head above water.  However, Enlil realized he was back in the dark room somewhere hidden within Castle Black.  Memories of his previous captivity amongst the Black Crows flooded his mind.  He did not much like being a prisoner, but at least it was not a new experience.


Orten slumped in the small fishing skiff, it’s small sail fighting the edge winds of the storm.  The pain ate into Orten from all directions.  A sleep came over him as smoke trailed the boat. The skiff cut a course northward and entered the storm.  The storm responded with a whipping of wind and the attack of rain.  The waves grew and crashed into the skiff, yet it held course powered by the vary winds that worked to destroy it.

Word count: 11070

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 10: Brother

Chapter 10: Brother

“I am not his brother.” Gurley’s tortured speech bounded around the dank cellar walls.  “He would not want you calling me that.”  Orten did not treat him like a brother.  There was no point in admitting brotherhood.

“You are of the same mother are you not?”  The obscured light and shadows cast by the stone restraints prevented Gurley from identifying his questioner.   

“You do not understand.”  Gurely protested.  The question had seemed odd.

“Oh I think I do.” The man slipped his gauntlet off.  The strike was harder than the previous, but at this point Gurley did not notice.  He lay limp, strung like a puppet from the stone pillars below the grate in the ceiling.  He could hear the click of boots on the floor above.

His captor motioned in the shadows.  “Splay him open until he talks.”  A crowd of hooded figures crowded into the cellar.  “Slowly.”  As the speaker passed out the door way torchlight lit his face just enough for Gurley to make out a smirk on the man’s face.

You fool. You will get nothing. Gurley prepared himself as the cold smoothness of a blade pressed against his inner thigh.


Orten hated the feeling.  He had hated it as much that day outside the jailers yard so many years ago as he did now.  Pain; it was not something he was accustomed to.  He grasped his leg as the sensation cut into him.  He cursed his mortal form taking no solace in it’s nearby end.  It only troubled him slightly as he thought it over.  His path was set.

“Mister you aww right?” the little boy asked snapping Orten back to the fact he was standing on the beach on the outskirts of a small fishing hovel.  Smoke clouded around him and flames spurted from every crevice of his body.  His clothing no longer disguised the effects of being so far away from the castle.

Not long at all now. “A boat.”  Orten coughed.  He watched as the little boy pointed towards a row of skiffs.  Smoke trailed as he cut his way across the beach.  Looking up the coastline, he hurried himself as the outer edge of the storm blackened.  


Enlil could hear the screaming from down the hall.  He wondered where Govad was.  Was he alive?  Were these his screams that tormented this night?  He did not have time to linger on the question as the pounding headache wracked him again.  Wincing in pain he slumped in the chair before bunching into a ball.  

“We can do this all night Captain.”  The Thunderer sat behind a simple wooden desk adorned at the corners with raised pillars.   The chair back reached just enough with matching pillars to exceed the height of the man sitting there.  He spoke again. “It is very simple.  What did the Wind Lords charge of you at this camp.”

“Again, nothing.”  Enlil did not lie.  “The camp was fake.  A show.  That is how it was when I arrived.”  Enlil found it easier to speak to the facts without the looming threat of violence standing next to him.  It was apparent the Thunderer had a different interrogative style and motive than that of Clydas.  Enlil could not help but feel like he was suddenly needed, as if some key was locked away in his knowledge.  The only problem was he didn’t know what it was and therefore could not leverage it.

A meal was brought in as Enlil covered the details of his siege and his attempt to cut off the cliff-side supply line.  This seemed to intrigue the Thunderer momentarily as he inquired about the details of what was pulled over the castle walls.  As far as Enlil’s recollection, it had always looked mundane, food crates and barrels of drink.  

Enlil continued into the downfall of the camp after the bloody siege.  He hadn’t really thought about the aftermath much.  The camp had fallen into chaos quickly.  Quicker than even he had imagined.  He began to piece together a picture bigger than what he had paid attention to at the time.  The more he spoke to the Thunderer, the more he found the signs of something greater at work.

First there had been the delayed influx of new recruits, shortly followed by the first late gold shipment.  Then there were the paymaster visits and wage cuts.  Then the supply shipments disappearing without word, communication break downs to the southern most Albian strongholds.  What he had first assumed was punishment for his poor judgement started to feel suspicious.  It was clear from the force that the Thunderer brought upon Castle Black that it was important.  Yet, not important enough for a force from the midlands to contain until now.  Enlil had assumed this was due to the proximity.  Alb was directly north of the land bridge that Castle Black sat upon.  It only made sense for the Wind Lords to pledge troops to the cause.

More details sprang to mind as Enlil spoke with the Thunderer.  The conversation turned towards the arrival of the Fravashi and his unfortunate treatment at their hands.  The Thunderer had seemed amused at the situation though, which disheartened Enlil slightly.  Chewing ate a piece of boned meat, Enlil spoke about the storm.

“I was knocked out as it passed, but the bloody thing was beyond spectacular when it first anchored.  It felt like we were surrounded by solid walls of gray.  No one dared pass through the storm initially.  It took a day or so for the men to realize the Fravashi were gone and for the storm to break enough for travel.”  Enlil quite enjoyed the fruits that abounded a bowl that had been set before him.  He sipped again at the reddish liquid in the goblet he had been given.

“That is good for now captain.  I am going to take my leave for the night.”  The departure of the Thunderer had almost saddened him.  Enlil had started to enjoy the talk, but that enjoyment was cut short as the headache returned.  He faded back into his chair as the door clanked shut.  The solid click of the lock echoed through the room as darkness crowded in.  At least Enlil wasn’t hungry.  The screams continued.

Word count: 9897

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 9: Back to Castle Black

Chapter 9: Back to Castle Black

Gurley was surprised when Jacco cut his restraints.  He would have stood if his legs would cooperate, but pain still burned deep within his crippled leg which was now probably broken.  Yet, the feeling of a miniscule freedom of movement washed over him like the cool water of a mountain spring.  His momentary rejuvenation was interrupted by the sudden cracking sound of Jacco’s whip.  In the broken silence, a  stinging sensation across Gurley’s back.

“Get tup.” Jacco’s splintered speech rubbed Gurley’s anger.

“My leg.” Gurley tried not to plead.  “My leg you slant-eyed fucker.”

“You midlanders, always wit ta curses.”  Jacco strutted around Gurley as if he was a prized pig, prodding and examining him.  The look on Jacco’s face seemed to confirm Gurley’s complaint.  The word midlander stuck in Gurley’s mind.  He was tempted to reveal the fact that he was not from the midlands, or the east, or anywhere Jacco would know of, but the moment passed while Gurley reflected on the naivety of Jacco.  Why or how Orten withstood such stupidity was beyond Gurley.

“Tis is tow tis gonna work.”  Jacco went on to explain how Gurley was to act the part of a runaway slave that Jacco had been sent to retrieve.  As those within Castle Black probably did not know of Orten and the boys departure nothing would seem suspicious.  After all, Jacco had made a habit of coming and going unseen from the castle for years.  It would not be the first slave he had returned with.  Maybe the first male slave, but that was not of concern at the moment.  What worried Gurley was why Jacco wished to return to the castle.  Worse, why did he need him when he did return.


Enlil did not know quite what was transpiring.  The days and nights had spiraled about him in a patchwork of flashing colors and a web blurred talk.  He could sense things taking place but his mind lacked control of his physical self.  It was not long before he felt his mental state slipping into the void as well.

So when he opened his eyes and felt the cool roughness of wet beach sand clinging to his cheeks he did not question it.  He felt his fingers first, then his toes.  The directness of the midday sun forced him to squint.  The beach stretched about him in all directions.  He could tell immediately that he was a good distance from the camp as the cliff which Castle Black sat upon loomed over him like an angry god looking upon a damned sinner.  The sheer cliff face that had so tormented him stood clean of it’s normal ropes and pulleys.  He took mental victory of this fact.

However, when an itch came across his nose he realized he couldn’t raise his hand.  Terror struck him as he realized he had been buried up to his neck in the beach sand.  The tide was out, but Enlil knew that was the point. A slow and painful death at the hands of tide awaited him.  Enlil broke into a furious struggle which turned on him as he became further entrenched in the sucking mud.

A cacophony of metal and men brought his attention upwards.  He knew these sounds well from his many days as a soldier.  A siege had set upon the castle above him.  Ladders and orderly lines of men poured over the castle walls.  A crumbled tower could be seen collapsing in on itself.  

What Enlil saw next stunned him.  Thunder slammed through the area as bolts of lightning streaked into the castle.  Generous plumes and wisps of smoke rose from the inner walls, a new one appearing with every bolt.  The Thunderer.  Stories and children’s tales ran through his mind.  Years of service, dozens of bloody battles, and his time at the Academia.  Nothing compared to seeing the truth.  Had these great powers been kept secret from the nation of Alb?  What else had this midlands King held from the eastlanders?

Time passed slowly as a she-crab skittered across the sand before being consumed by the hungry waves.  Enlil had given up following the battle above as the sounds of men dieing trailed off and the sky grew silent.  Enlil surmised that the castle was taken.  Not even the finest cavalry in the land would have survived the force the Thunderer rained from the heavens.

The longer Enlil watched, the slower the waves seemed to encroach.  Death sat an eternity away choosing to punish him slowly.  Enlil slowed his breathing after realizing the harder he breathed the more the sand pinched.  Hope was fading, but his instincts failed to allow his body to quit.  

Enlil was on the verge of fading when the shadowy figures appeared at the range of his blurry vision.  It had seemed hours had passed since the crab, but the distance of the waves told him it had not been long.  

“Dig him up.”  The smooth voice cut through Enlil’s labored breathing.  It wasn’t long before Enlil could feel his body being escorted across the beach.  Wet sand faded into dry sand.  The late afternoon sun became hidden beneath a tent’s roof.  Slight comfort was found as he was propped into a padded chair, yet his vision had not fully returned.

“First the Fravashi and now that bastard Orten.”  Enlil could just make out the one speaking.  Golden brown hair stuck at ear level in knots of sweat.  “We have much more to discuss than I had thought Captain.  Our little ruse here seems to have escaped your minuscule understanding.  Years of planning wasted.”  The man paused.  “Do you know who I am?”  Another pause.  “What I am?”

“The Thunderer” It came out more of a question than an answer.

“Yes, Thunderer.  This is what you eastlanders call me in your stories. Stories no doubt until today you knew as nothing but fiction.  A man who calls upon the power of the gods to strike furious destruction from the heavens.”  The words flowed into Enlil.  “I am no story Captain.  I am the justice of the gods manifested in man.”

“My scouts saw no one leave the castle and only saw two men enter.  From the accounts of your paid man and smith, and those paltry fellows back in town who likened you more to a fart in the wind than a feathered Captain of the winded ranks, no one has left Castle Black in years.”  The Thunderer continued.  “I find it hard to believe a man as fat as Orten Fareen escaped unnoticed.”

“Not all is lost.  We have taken captives, two of interest above the others.  One of those being his brother.  When we have the garrison placed in the castle proper, you and I will be having a very long talk about things.  I suggest if you wish a better fate than the rest of your nation you start remembering some things.”

Word count: 8848

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 8: The Sentinels

Chapter 7: The Sentinels

Orten had found the Sentinels just outside the reach of the storm’s edge. The smooth marble pillars hovered above the tree tops and stood silent, uncaring of his approach. Each was evenly spaced from the next one in a line as far as the eye could see, a visible barrier to the lands of Reichland to the south. He knew he was at the right location when he saw the jagged stones that criss-crossed the top of the hill. A single Sentinel pillar popped over the tree tops and overshadowed the area. The sudden realization that it had been almost twenty years since his last visit hit Orten with a saddening relief.

The ride through the storm had worn on Orten and as he dismounted the signs of exhaustion draped him like a cloak. A crackling sounded as he stepped through the dry leaves and tied his massive mount to a nearby tree. The beast stood eerily silent. He propped himself against a nearby stone and eased himself down. Streams of water cascaded off his outer clothing as he removed it. The hiss of steam could be heard escaping into the air as his rear settled neatly into a newly created puddle that had taken resident in a crevice between two stones. Orten knew the farther he went the worse it would get. The rising smell of smoke closed in on him. He drifted off to sleep as he waited for the boys to come through the storm and meet him.


It wasn’t often the hunter moved north beyond the protection of the Sentinels unless something interesting was to be found. The presence of the six women on the other side of the border had definitely scratched at his curiosity. He followed them slowly as he worked his way through the underbrush. He watched as their dresses flapped in the wind and they pointed this way and that. They seemed visibly uncomfortable standing in the open, yet none of them spoke or voiced a complaint. No horses or other mounts followed them. The women were traveling by foot.

At first he had assumed the group was lost, traveling on the outskirts of the storm to the north in the vain hope of staying dry. It wasn’t obvious at first, but the more he observed of the women the more he realized they were actively searching for something. While the women were interesting, the hunter figured it was best that he did not become that which they searched for. Once they had gone from the immediate area, the hunter worked his way back through the Sentinels to the south.

However, out of the corner of his eye, his curiosity was peaked again. A plume of smoke rose from the top of a nearby hill at the edge of the forest with a peculiar stone outcropping. Again, it was on the other side of the Sentinels. The hunter worked his way to the trees and Sentinel overlooking the area. The source of the smoke stopped him from crossing the Sentinel line. The rancid smell of burning flesh attacked him as he surveyed the scene.

At first it was a single burnt skeletal carcass propped up like a child’s doll against the rocks. More remains could be seen scattered throughout the stones. The hunter couldn’t put a solid count on it, but several doomed souls had met their demise here. A darkened circle on the ground crept outwards as more of the forest floor caught and the fire spread. A wide-shouldered horse stood tied to the tree nearest the stones, seemingly unphased by the fire and corpses.

The hunter turned and broke into a sprint. He headed south, not looking back. Sentinels save me he prayed silently as his lungs sought to keep up with his rapid pace.


Orten caught a second wind as he passed another marble pillar. A mental click turned over in his head noting the number of Sentinels he had passed. He knew the momentary burst of energy that the boys had provided him would only allow him to maintain his guise for a short period and the blasted storm whores had cut him off from his horse. Which may have been for the better as on horseback his guise would not have worked at all. His speed afoot sufficed to see him safely away.

Orten knew he couldn’t head back into the storm, their storm. Heading south was not a viable path either. First, there were the Sentinels to cross and secondly there were the Reichland forces. Not that the Reichs were particularly of concern, but he did not need any delays. And it did not matter as the presence of the Sentinels deterred any further movement south. He couldn’t be sure why that was the case; passing the Sentinels may be inconsequential or it may be disastrous. Orten was not a gambler at this stage and lessons taught long ago echoed in his mind. Mother had always warned of the Sentinels. Your kind is not meant in the south she was fond of telling him.

So Orten worked eastward towards the sea. The storm visibly curved back north towards Castle Black and it was very likely a boat could be found amongst the numerous fishing villages along the coast. He looked down at his hands and for the first time realized that years of hiding his true self were near their end. Streaks of crackling fire began to burst from the pores of his skin with tiny wisps of smoke disappearing into the air around him. Not long at all he thought to himself.

Monday, November 07, 2011

And on the 7th day he rested, #nanowrimo

Ran out of juice today and didn't get more than a couple hundred words in which will roll over into tomorrow.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 5 & 6

Note: I didn't get a good chance to edit this as I typed it offline and while away from home, so my apologies for any incompleteness if I left off anywhere.
Chapter 5: The Guildsman
Rodhero was the first to notice the rider as he approached.  It did not take Enlil and Govad long to follow the smith’s gaze up the road.  Govad fanned out, away from Enlil, as he put his left hand upon his sword hilt. He did not draw his blade.  Enlil took the lead and raised his hand to wave the rider in. 
As the rider brought his horse to a stop he reached up and pulled back the hood of a rain-soaked cloak.  Beads of water trickled down the stitched seam, down the laces of his boots, onto the underside of his horse, and eventually raced towards the ground in alternating plops.  The distinctive crimson star upon the white of the band about the rider’s head revealed him as a King’s man.  A messenger no doubt.
“Captain.” The rider nodded.  “I seek the one in command here.  Is that you?”
“I suspect I still command.”  Enlil paused.  “At least the little bit that is left here.” Enlil swept his arm out to point at the destruction that lay about the camp to ensure the rider had noticed.  “Bit of a storm rolled through here a few days past.  Most of my men are back in Gray Court while we survey our losses.”  It wasn’t a complete lie.  The men were back in Gray Court or scattered to the winds.  Whether they were truly his men any longer or whether they ever had been his men was debatable.
“Vigor.” The rider pounded his chest and gave a salute as he procured a scroll of parchment from his undercoat.
“Mortalis.”  Enlil returned the salute, stating his half of the confirmation and acknowledging his station.  He took the ornate scroll from the rider.  A wax seal featuring a crimson star sealed the scroll shut.  Thumbing through the wax, he knew almost instantly that it was not a message, but a writ of passage and supply penned by the King’s own scribes.
“The Thunderer travels from the north by King’s command.   By dark his host will be through the storm.” The rider stopped and handed the scroll over to Enlil.  The rider looked over the miscellany of the camp.  “Where shall he be received?  He requests it be of distance from the latrines.”
Enlil motioned towards his command tent which seemed to be the lone solid structure left.  “Not much left standing.  May I ask his business?”
“That should suffice.” The rider failed to acknowledge Enlil’s question.
“If you can take a message back to your lord, I will draft one quickly.  I would like to prepare him for the state of the encampment here.”  Enlil motioned for Govad to get quill and parchment.  However, something in the reaction of the rider’s face told him it wasn’t necessary. 
“I provided the writ as courtesy.  Not that there is much this camp can surrender in the King’s name.”  The rider again looked over the camp.  He continued, “The host will set camp on the grounds as well.  I’m here to lay the groundwork and plan out the camp.  Do you have a guildsman among you?”  The irony of the question hit Enlil.  He had petitioned for a member of the Guild to oversee the camp months prior and been rebuffed at the request. 
“Rodhero there is probably the closest we have, but he’s a simple smith.  Not a right King’s man either.”  Enlil didn’t bother to point out Rodhero.  It was evident the rider understood Govad was a paid man, leaving Rodhero to be the only possible craftsman among the trio.
The rider dismounted and removed his cloak.  The notches on his sleeve and the bronze crossed hammers attached to his collar revealed his membership in the Guild.  “Rodhero” the rider shook the smith’s hand, “good to meet you.”
Rodhero stepped in and spared Enlil and Govad from the monotony of laying plans for the Thunderer’s arrival.  Rodhero and the Guildsman seemed to build immediate camaraderie as they labored over details and spent copious amounts of time drawing detailed maps on the few dry sheepskins that Rodhero had stashed away.   Chuckles could be heard as the two counted off paces near the former latrine pits which had all but washed away in the storm’s passing.
After observing the pair for a while, Enlil retreated to his tent motioning Govad to follow.  Once inside the tent, Enlil discarded the scroll and dug a cup out of the scattered items at the end of his table.    “Find me a drink.”  The words were depressed.
Govad found a cask of ale nestled near the bedside and worked the stopper out.  He poured it slowly into the glass that Enlil held.  Enlil tipped it back and with an audible gulp emptied the cup.  Govad did not hesitate to refill it.
Enlil took a little longer with the second cup.  Standing near the entrance of the tent, Enlil pulled back the flap and looked out again on the two men he had left out in the camp.  Rodhero and the Guildsman had moved on from the latrines and appeared to be evaluating the stability of the stockade walls that now hugged the earth. 
On his third cup now, Enlil watched through the folds of the tent as the sun began to set.  “We’re right fucked my western friend.”  Friend.  Govad did not much care for Enlil’s use of the word.  The crack of thunder howled in the distance as lightning raced across the interior of the formidable storm wall.
Gurley awoke to the rumbling sound of thunder and the smell of fresh horse dung.  Aches throttled him from every limb and muscle.  A distinct and sharp pain emanated from his bum leg.  He moaned as he lifted his head and found himself sprawled across the back of a horse.  A moment later the reality of the situation dawned on him.  His hands and feet were bound, tied crudely together with rope.  A brief moment of struggling convinced him of his predicament.
“Is funny story.”  The voice was familiar to Gurley, but the waning light of early dusk combined with his restraints prevented him from looking his captor in the face. “A funny little man fell down and no fat ben broter around to pick him up.”  Jacco.  Gurley’s heart sunk in his chest.  “Good ting Jacco was dare.” 

Chapter 6: The Prisoner
Gurley didn’t struggle as Jacco eased him off the horse.  The ground was a welcome relief to what had been an uncomfortable eternity on the back of Jacco’s stead.  Tears drew silver lines down his dusty cheeks as his face nestled into a nearby clump of grass.  The silhouette of Castle Black in the distance was barely visible as he looked through the blades of grass encompassing his face.  His eyes slid shut as sleep set upon him like a wave upon the beach.
The looming darkness at the bottom of the stairs did not scare Gurley.  There was a renewed spring in his step as he bound around the final corner in the stairwell.  He felt the darkness wash over and cover him.  “Orten.” He called into the shadows.  No response came.
He continued down the hallway as his eyes adjusted to the lack of light.  It didn’t take long before the underkeep’s features came alive to him in the darkness.    It was not often that his sibling chose to play games with him, let alone treat him a brother.  Even though mother had cautioned him to keep away from Orten, Gurley craved Orten’s attention.  He was convinced Orten was drawing him into a game of hide and seek and he was going to take advantage of the rare opportunity.  The crypt was a perfect place to play as long as the boys did not stray near where the prisoners were kept.  The guards did not care much for meddling children.
Gurley cleared the immediate area he was used to before continuing around the final corner before the hall that lead to the cell block.  He meticulously checked every nook and cranny up and down the hallway, each more painstakingly than the last.  Orten was nowhere to be found.
Taking silent footsteps Gurley approached the cell block entrance.  The ancient, heavy oaken door was held open by a stone that had been rolled over.  Curiosity took over and he looked further into the cavernous hall that held the various imprisonment cells.  The guards were nowhere to be found.  Their swords stood idle leaning against the table.  A discarded meal could be seen on the table as well.  Maybe there were no prisoners to watch?  Gurley took another step letting his eyes readjust in the presence of torch light.
What he saw next froze him in his tracks.  Orten sat cross legged outside of one of the far cells.  His voice echoed outwards through the entrance door.  He was talking to someone.  Mother would not be pleased with Orten.  Gurley took a step back, but fear struck him and before he could think he burst into a run.
He scrambled up the stairwell and back into the bright sunlight of mid afternoon.  His eyes could not adjust to the speed at which he exited the underground entrance and he was momentarily blinded.  Before he could see he slammed into the wagon that he knew was near the fence.  With hazy vision he struggled up into the cart and relied on his blind judgment to secure a foothold on the fence. 
He felt a pair of warm hands heft him from behind.  Without time to look he pulled himself upwards and he knew he was cresting the fence.  The hands suddenly changed the direction of their assistance and pulled him sharply backwards.  The screeching rip of cloth made way to the sickening sensation of torn flesh.  Bone grated along the metal of the fence.
Gurley screamed as dark crimson stains sprouted around the impaled fence post sticking through his upper thigh.  He floundered as his body lay stretched across the top of the fence.  He forced his eyes open and searched for his assailant half expecting to see find Orten running from the yard.  However, the yard sat idly by, not a soul in sight.  No one heard his screams.
Gurley awoke in a cold sweat clutching at his upper leg.  You bastard Orten, never where I need you.

Enlil looked to his left.  The sour look on Govad’s face told him everything he needed to know.  Bloody Thunderer is all he could think before another fist struck his face.  “I’ll ask you again Captain.  Where are the Fravashi.”  The brusque voice rang in Enlil’s ears as the man standing over him fixed his hand back into his ironed gauntlet. 
“They said…” Enlil spat blood and watched as it congealed in the dirt below his face.  “They said they came for the justice of the Thunderer.  They were not to be found after the storm.”  Enlil shook his head hoping for a moment of reprieve from the pain.  “My paid man here, the truest of trackers could not even find them.” 
“You are not a true King’s man.” This voice was different.  It came from a different direction than the man who had been striking him.  It was neither as harsh nor tormenting as his abusers.  This one had a soothing quality about it.  “No true man for that matter loses sight of the Fravashi.”  A thin grain of laughter coursed through the gathered crowd.
“Albs sir.” His abuser spoke up again.  “Not much more than pretty feathers.”
“Clydas let us not be inhospitable.  It is not often we find much company following a good storm.”  Clydas: Enlil took mental note of the name.  He had saved enough strength to lift his head and look this new speaker in the face.  Swept backward by the wind, the man’s hair shined with a dusty gold coloring.  It was neatly cropped below the tips of his ears.  Solid features highlighted his squared jawbone.  The handsome, powerful man stood at least a half stone taller than any other that Enlil could see.  “Captain, I suggest you start making some sense to Clydas.”
With a wave of his hand, the man disappeared back through the crowd.  Enlil’s head sagged down again, while his wrists continued to burn in the restraints that suspended him between two poles.  He could hear as Clydas slipped his gauntlet off again.

Word Count: 6730