Sunday, November 25, 2012

Updated Stats, 11/25

Made it to 70k! The official count as of this evening is 70,078 words. Also, chapter nine (which is actually chapter eleven - more on that at a later date) is almost done. :-)

Chapter Six, the Missing Scene

I went back over some of my older posts, and realized I had already put up most of chapter six back in June. Today's post is one of the missing scenes, and it takes place immediately after the battle scene found here, and before the scene found here. I also have 2 missing scenes needed in chapter six that I still haven't written - just notes on what needs to go there. At the time, I got a bad case of writers' block, so I just decided to skip ahead to the next chapter in order to keep my momentum. It worked, but I will eventually need to go back and write those scenes.

* * *

It took them eight days to walk from the battle site back to Fanyamar. Balfrith would drag Eldamir’s litter for the first few hours in the morning, then Lofdar would take over for a few hours into the afternoon, and finally Balfrith would finish up the day. This freed Lofdar to ensure they were on the correct path when they started out in the morning and as they finished up the day’s travel. When Lofdar was dragging the litter, he would call out directional corrections to Balfrith as needed, using some sense of the sun’s position overhead, the way the shadows fell among the trees, and, Balfrith could only assume, some sort of magic - how else could he navigate the wild forest with no obvious path, no map of landmarks, and no clear view of the sky?

Eldamir slept day and night for several days. Lofdar didn’t seem concerned about it, although Balfrith had seen Men fall into similar deep slumbers and never awaken. But Lofdar insisted that Eldamir needed the rest, and that he would awaken when he was ready. Practically immortal, indeed, thought Balfrith. And then he remembered Belanor - but not invulnerable.

Lofdar changed Eldamir’s bandages morning and evening, wiping the wound clean with the same clear liquor that he’d used on the first day, and then covering it with a bit of clean dry cloth. As Lofdar had predicted, it neither bled nor festered - to Balfrith’s surprise and relief. And Eldamir slept on.

They were a day from the city, late in the afternoon, when Eldamir finally awakened. He opened his eyes and raised his head, saying, “Balfrith? Where are we?”

Balfrith, who had just taken over the litter from Lofdar an hour before, turned his head at the sound of his friend’s voice, and then dropped the litter when he realized Eldamir was awake.

“Ouch!” grumbled Eldamir, as he bounced on the soft earth.

Balfrith, too excited to even notice, shouted out ahead of them, “Lofdar, come quick! Eldamir is awake!”

Lofdar came jogging back to them, and smiled when he saw Eldamir. “Good to see you awake finally, Eldamir,” he said. “I was beginning to think you would sleep all the way home.”

“Oh, we’re not there yet? In that case, wake me when we get there,” Eldamir said, smiling faintly.

Ignoring the jest, Lofdar knelt by Eldamir to check his wound. He reached down and peeled back the bandage, to reveal the stitched gash, the flesh around it still an angry red, but there was no sign of bleeding or suppuration.

Eldamir winced as the bandage was pulled back, but he looked down to see it too. Lofdar said, “It is mending well, as I expected it would, but you need to rest for another week, and even after you start moving around, you won’t be able to do any hard work for some time. Your recovery will not be a fast one - but you will recover.”

“My thanks, Lofdar. Apparently I was injured worse than I had first thought. The pain was not great, and I fought on even after the goblin gave me that little cut.” Then, looking around, he asked, “Where are Glendir and the others?”

Lofdar answered, “Glendir and Sambir have gone north and south to find the nearest Guardians, and tell them what happened. They will need to cover our gap as we return to Fanyamar.”

Eldamir nodded, but then looked around and asked, “And Belanor - is he with us?”

Lofdar was silent. Finally Balfrith said, “Belanor fell to goblin arrows. Glendir and Sambir stayed back to bury him.” Eldamir’s face hardened, and he said nothing, but the look in his eyes was filled with mixed anger and sorrow.

Lofdar said, “Eldamir, drink this, then close your eyes and rest. There will be time to give you the full tale later. For now, we must keep moving. Your healing will come faster in your own bed, rather than this rough litter.” He held his flask of liquor to Eldamir’s lips, letting him take a small swallow. Then he stood up, looking around and taking his bearings. “Balfrith, are you ready to follow?”

“Aye, let’s go,” he said, standing. He turned to grasp the poles of Eldamir’s litter, lifting it up so that he was ready to begin dragging it again. Eldamir was asleep before Balfrith took his first step.

Current Story Stats, Sunday 11/25/2012

Current word count: 67,418.
Words written since the start of NaNo: about 21,000
Current chapter: 9

I'm planning to hit 70,000 words by the end of today. Since it's a Sunday and I don't really have any plans other than writing, this is eminently achievable.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Current Story Statistics, Sunday 11/18/2012

Current word count: 64,000.
Words written since the start of NaNo: about 18,000
Current chapter: 8a
Expected total word count: 150,000+
Expected number of chapters: 22+

Chapter Five, Sample #4

The Geekwif and I had a lovely vacation weekend last week. We traveled to Houston, TX, USA to visit some old friends, and went with them to the Conroe Renaissance Festival. This Ren Fest is somewhat bigger than the one in MN, which we have been to many times. Anyway, that's the reason I didn't post anything last week (and in fact forgot to even mention I was going offline for a few days).

Now, on to the story sample. This is another scene in which Balfrith is confronted with an aspect of the Elefdar which he cannot understand. As with his first glimmerings of understanding about how long they can live, and what that must be like, he finally begins to get some small understanding of just how magical the Elefdar are. Magic isn't something they create, or wield. Magic is what the Elefdar are.

* * *

Year’s End caught Balfrith by surprise. The first he heard of its approach was in casual conversation with some of his Elefdar peers, as they mentioned the coming holy day, and the giving of gifts. He held his tongue at that time, but later when he met up with Eldamir, he asked what day they were talking about. They sat on a large shoulder of rock nestled in an open glade in the forest, about a third of the way up the mountain, with a beautiful view down upon the city and the surrounding country.

Eldamir, laughing, replied, “Balfrith, surely you jest. Do Men not celebrate the Long Night, and the coming of the dawn?”

Balfrith had to think a moment, muttering to himself, “The Long Night…?” before it dawned upon him, and his countenance changed as he exclaimed, “Oh, you mean Year’s End Day? Of course we celebrate that, it’s one of our most important holy days, perhaps the most important of all.” And then he looked about at the lush forest, draped in the bright colors of autumn. The temperatures had only recently begun to turn cooler, as far as Balfrith could remember of recent days. “But surely that cannot be what they were talking about? For it is only autumn, and we have months to go before the solstice.”

Eldamir cocked an eyebrow at him, and replied, “Balfrith, how long do you think you have sojourned among the Elefdar? How many moons have passed us by since the spring-time when you entered Fanyamar?”

Balfrith paused, thinking, but he hadn’t really kept track of the passing months, and had no guess. He shrugged and said, “I don’t know, but it can’t be close to Year’s End. Look about you, Eldamir, at the fall colors. We haven’t even seen our first snow yet.”

Eldamir paused this time, and responded more slowly. “Balfrith, I tell you we are four days from the Long Night. And I testify that I have not seen winter’s snows in the city of Fanyamar, or in any part of our surrounding domain, my entire life. For the power of my people keeps winter’s bitter chill at bay, just as it also wards the summer’s burning heat. Outside, beyond our borders, the weather does as it will year round. And our Guardians must prepare themselves for whatever the seasons may hold, as they range to and fro throughout the land. But here, we are at peace, and worry not over cold or heat.”

Balfrith was stunned, and sat in silence for a while. Finally he asked, “Is this … your ability to keep out the worst weather … is it Elefdar magic?”

Eldamir laughed, and said, “As always, when you speak of magic, Balfrith, I have no idea what you are talking about. You speak as if power is something apart from us, outside of us, something to be wielded like a blade or manipulated like clay. Perhaps it is this way with Men, but with the Elefdar, there is no magic. It is who and what we are, neither more nor less. We are protected from the elements because we want to be.”

Balfrith stood up on the stone and looked about him at the trees, the land, the mountain, and the sky, amazed at what he’d just been told - amazed at what his own eyes were telling him. “That simple,” he said. Finally, all he could do was sit back down. He had no reason to believe that the Elefdar, and Eldamir in particular, were trying to deceive him, therefore it must be true - no matter how inexplicable. This was not the first Elefdar mystery to confront him, nor, he was certain, would it be the last.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chapter Five, Sample #3

Now we begin Balfrith's five years of training with the Elefdar, and I wanted to write a few simple scenes showing the kinds of training he underwent.

* * *

“Obdar!” Again. The sword-master said it flatly, but loud enough for all to hear. Balfrith wiped dirt from his face and got up from the ground, dusting himself off and retrieving his practice sword. The hard wood was dense enough to have the proper weight of the real thing, and was counter-weighted with a brass pommel - the only piece of metal on it - to give the correct balance.

His opponent, another young Elefdar like Eldamir - even younger, he thought - stood a few paces away at the edge of the sparring circle, bouncing slightly on his toes, waiting for him to signal ready. Balfrith nodded to him, and they both brought up their guard.

“Firsad!” Begin.

They weren’t really sparring, which is part of what drove Balfrith crazy. They were practicing forms, but instead of doing them solo as he was used to, each student was paired up with another, and their particular forms were meant to complement one another. When one attacked, the other blocked or dodged or parried. When the defensive actor riposted, the attacker went on the defense. And so it went, back and forth. As long as each student did their forms correctly - which was to say, perfectly - the attacks and defenses would be timed such that no one got hit, and no one got hurt. If someone made a mistake, then an attack or a riposte would get through their defense, and they would be struck. Balfrith had many bruises to prove the old saying, “Practice makes perfect”.

And his short temper was beginning to show once again, for in the previous bout he had mis-timed an attack, got off-balance, and then been struck by his partner’s riposte. Frustrated at his failure again, he lashed out foolishly and angrily, not following the form, and was struck again, causing him to stumble and fall.

It also didn’t help that the Elefdar way of the sword was quite different from that of Men, at least the Nûmidëan style that he’d learned from his father. Rather than using sword and shield, the Elefdar used a single blade, somewhat longer than normal, with an extended grip for two hands. Balfrith had once seen the two-handed swords carried by the king’s ceremonial guard, but those were bulky and decorative pieces meant only for show, not real combat. This was something completely different, and he was having a hard time of it.

It wasn’t even the same as a dueling style, for among Men they would duel shield-less but with a narrow one-handed blade, with strong side facing and weak side away, keeping a narrow profile towards their opponent. The Elefdar used the sword two-handed almost exclusively, and thus fought facing their opponent full on. It made Balfrith feel unprotected, with no shield and facing forward like that, his broad (well, somewhat broad anyway) chest open to a simple thrust. [*** It might be better to take the above two paragraphs and write them as an introductory training session for Balfrith. His instructor would teach him the basics of the sword, while Balfrith asked questions and made mental notes of the differences between Elefdar fighting style and that of Men. ***]

He struggled with that fear now, as he circled left following the form and counted the steps before his first defensive move. Even knowing that his opponent - my partner, he corrected himself - was locked into the complementary form and wouldn’t touch him as long as they remained in step, he fought the fear of being struck yet again. Taking a deep breath, he forced down those thoughts and strove to focus only on the movements and timing of the form.

Step left… step left… parry high, parry low, blade-tip forward and thrust… the timing flowed perfectly, his partner attacking on cue and Balfrith blocking as he took his steps, then defending when Balfrith counter-attacked, everything in order and flowing smoothly along. He lost himself in the movements, conscious thought ceasing, replaced only with rhythm and pattern. And finally, after agonizing minutes keeping his mind focused solely on the timing and movements of the form, they were complete. Balfrith found himself bowing to his partner, and turning to bow to their instructor, as his mind unbent itself from the pattern of movements and conscious thought returned.

“Blid!” said their instructor - Good. Balfrith breathed a sigh of relief. This was the first positive response he’d received - of course it was also the first time he’d been able to get through the entire form without making a mistake. Both facts brought him a flush of satisfaction and pride at the accomplishment, as he sat down at the edge of the practice ring while two more students stepped in and began their forms.