Seven months. That’s how long I went without writing in a novel. I tried – I did things that involved writing, like revising – but writing in an actual novel just wouldn’t happen. I had ideas, I tried to start a few, but they wouldn’t come to me. The creative urge was somewhat satiated by art – but, while creating is creating, it isn’t all the same. Fortunately, several ideas I’ve been rolling around for nearly a year decided to come together when I threw up my hands and said, “You know what? I’m going to start writing a book and I don’t really care if it doesn’t work out. I need to be writing.” (When I’m not writing it’s like a Snickers commercial, only I’m the Hungry version. All the time.)
So I finally put fingers to keyboard and wrote two a prologue and two chapters. I may not have a title yet (unheard of) and I may not have all the piece fitting together just right, but it’s something. I hope you enjoy these snippets of what I’m fondly calling ‘The Book’ until I think of a better title.
(WHY is it so difficult to name a fantasy novel? WHY must all good titles be cliche thanks to YA overuse? WHY must fantasy novel titles sound pretentious? I have questions.)
Complexity looked at his bound hands again. “Are you a prisoner?”
“Almost, but not quite.” The quiet confidence in his smile seemed to contradict his next statement. “I’m a slave.”
Complexity glanced at the scarf-seller, who abruptly said, “Well, he doesn’t belong to me.”
“I belong to no one,” said the slave mildly.
“Isn’t that rather…the opposite of a slave?” asked Complexity.
Complexity watched them disappear in the crowd before she turned to the vendor and held out a silver. “I’ll take the blue scarf.”
The vendor raised both hands over his head. “Praise the Giver! But they’re a black each, not a silver, recall?”
“I recall, but I want two.”
“You could buy four scarves with a silver,” said the vendor patiently. “Don’t they teach you math at those magicky institutions?”
He smiled his crooked, smirking smile and asked, “What is your name?”
Complexity pulled her hood back up, allowing the shadow to obscure the tattoo on her forehead. “Complexity.”
“Intriguing name,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said, walking. He followed. “What’s yours?”
She turned to look at him. “Son? Like the sun in the sky, or a mother’s child?”
“A mother’s child.”
“Is there a story behind that?”
“There is,” he said. “I’ll even tell it to you, as soon as you tell me what you want.”
“I’m technically a secular canon,” she began, “but…”
He waited for a moment before prompting, “But?”
“Technically,” she said again.
“Don’t say ‘ah’ if you don’t actually know what I mean.”
“I can guess,” he suggested. “You possess the knowledge and skills of a canon, but you haven’t been officially canonized yet due to some unseen reason.”
“I failed the test,” she said flatly.
He had the good grace to wince.
“Three times,” she added.
“That,” he said, “is an accomplishment.”
“You must be the only slave in Dagasi who makes love with swords,” she remarked, picking a cherry from the bread.
His laughter sounded like a cat’s purr. “These are from before, during my time as a fighter.”
“That’s a very vague word, ‘fighter.’ Any particular kind of fighting?”
“No,” he said. “Any kind.”
“Are you very good with all weapons, then, or were you fighting farmers and small children?”
“How old are you?”
“And you’ve yet to find your name?”
“I’ve had many names,” he said, “but none were the ones I wanted.”
“Where’s the sigil?”
“The back of my neck.”
“Show me.” She rolled up her dark red sleeves and cracked her knuckles.
He stood up and pulled the length of his hair away from the nape of his neck. It wasn’t much of a sigil, Complexity thought as she peered up at it. A few crude lines inside a shaky square. “Yikes. This is terrible.”
“Thank you,” said Son.
“You’ve never done this before,” he said. It wasn’t a question, but he didn’t sound terribly worried about the fact.
“I’ve removed sigils before,” she said, but feeling he deserved some kind of comeback for his remark she added, “on rats.”
“Well then. This shouldn’t be too hard.”
Complexity held out both her hands and the lizard crawled into her cupped palms. “It’s about time you showed yourself,” she told him, stroking his back with the tip of her forefinger. “Thanks, Khavi.”
“He’s just lucky I found him before the Cardinal did. He’d probably have called in the Resolver to deal with the reptile problem.”
“The Resolver is a reptile problem,” said Complexity in a low voice, grinning.
Complexity looked down at the albino lizard in her palm. “This is Baz Akhoond.”
“He has a surname, does he?”
“He does. He’s named after one of the greatest Enchanters in all the land.”
“All the land.” Son’s mouth quirked. “This sounds like an old tale.”
Complexity rolled her eyes and placed Baz on her shoulder. “Very old. Lots of dragons.”
“Nothing like a dragon to spice up a story, old or otherwise.”
“I’ll check in on you tonight if I have time.”
“Thanks, mama Khavi.”
He shook his head and left the room, shutting the door quietly behind him.
“Nice fellow,” said Son.
Complexity glanced at the door and said fondly, “Once you get past the fact he’ll always know more than you about any given subject, he’s great.”