This has been an Interesting NaNo. It’s been a game of fall-behind (re: focus on art commissions + live life) and catch-up. Family came to visit (definitely a good thing) and my wrist injured itself (definitely a bad thing but I have no idea how it happened, thank you for asking). I’m down to the website assuring me I’ll finish by December Third, which means I can definitely reach 50k if I put my mind to it + my wrist continues to heal. But, amid the chaos, I have knocked out forty thousand words and I’m finally here to post some snippets (the whole thing is badly in need of editing, but it’s NaNo. You get the idea).
(obviously I don’t own luke goss, zach mcgowan, or tati gabrielle so please don’t assume I am claiming ownership of them
no matter how much I would like to)
“I’m curious,” said Kaz after a moment, crouching to pick up a six-inch stick from the ground. He studied the sharper end and continued, “Has your luck always been this bad, or were you saving it all up for me?”
“Don’t flatter yourself; I was saving it up for you and your brother.”
She had never met a werewolf face-to-face – she’d seen them, but only the city kind; the sort who wore business suits and ate at Chinese restaurants. They tended to wave their werewolf status around like a banner – look at me, I’m a badass! – but Shunkaha had none of that pretense, and Pen almost wanted to like him for it.
“The food in cans doesn’t go bad,” said the girl, looking up at Kaz and offering the can of baked beans to him. “My mom said so.”
“It’s been almost fifty years,” Pen pointed out, dubious.
“She is right,” said Kaz, frowning and taking the can from the girl. He turned it over in his hands, studying it for signs of tampering. “Canned food never gets old.”
She listened, her senses too alert still to let her sleep, as Kaz came back; she heard him drop the firewood and clear out a dirt ring for a fire. At least he didn’t swear while he did it, she thought groggily; he just worked in silence, but his movements managed to sound angry enough without his putting voice to them.
Pen looked to Kaz, but he folded his arms and watched with an expression somewhere between exasperation and curiosity. “You aren’t worried?” she asked, glancing at Zeke. He looked like he was enjoying it with a draconian kind of fierceness, although apparently neither of them had struck out at the other yet.
“Not yet,” said Kaz. “I imagine he might want some help before the end, but he won’t get any. Against the rules.”
She stared at him, incredulous. “You’re not going to help him even if he needs it?”
He glanced down at her with a flash of annoyance, but it quickly faded into faint humor as he turned his attention back to the ring. “Not my brother. Ander, his opponent. A large fellow, I grant you, but nowhere near as dedicated to the skill. He prefers to beat things to death.”
“And there’s no chance of him – I don’t know, beating Zeke to death?”
“Not really, no,” said Kaz.
“He’s a faerie.”
“Obviously. Unless people bred flying monkeys before the apocalypse and never bothered to write about it.”
“Even you must know that faeries and technology…” He laughed once, a hushed, angry syllable that died quickly. “Do not mix.”
“So you mutate things on purpose?”
“My kin are easily bored. Not much for entertainment down here during day hours.”
“Doesn’t it hurt them? Elves are faeries, too; even you guys.”
He looked back at her, a snarl forming although he knew she couldn’t see it. “Do you think we have not already suffered from its effects?”
“Where does this lead?”
“Keep your voice down.”
“I’ve never heard of that place. It sounds like fun.”
“Am I under the Wrath?” asked Kaz calmly, his hands folded in front of him as he waited, watching as they circled him as if he’d become their prey.
“No,” said Nor with distaste. “Not as of yet, that is. No Wrath; but lots of disappointment, plenty and more.”
“If I’m not under the Wrath, get out of my way.”
Nath laughed in Kaz’s ear. “You two think you aren’t parts of our Nest; think you’re above us like everyone out there. Always have, since you came sliding out of the black into the blacker covered in birthblood.”
“He’s right.” Nor put a hand on his hip and lifted the other, a four-inch blade gleaming from his grip. “You two can only slide by on favors so many times. You didn’t report back in; you missed the Offering time. No-one slights Mudda like that and gets away without a payback.”
“If I’m not under the Wrath,” repeated Kaz, curling his loathing of them around the words like a poisonous fume, “get out of my way.”