Happy Sunday! April is almost here and what comes with this special month? Camp NaNo, of course!
I wasn’t exactly planning on participating, but I’ve started this idea for a short story that takes place in my world Coran, and I thought this might be a good way for me to finish it. Deadlines definitely motivate me.
But what is this short story about? That’s what I am here to tell you! This will be a story I will pants. I have the idea for it but no outline. It takes place at first in the kingdom of Dolvar (see Map), specifically in the village of Rime and the main city Ballord.
The story follows a little girl named Maven who is living with her father Byron. Her father once worked for the king (I need to come up with a time for this and who was ruling then) and now years later, the king has need of an army once more. Maven is left in the care of her aunt, but her aunt doesn’t believe that Maven’s father will survive the battle the King of Dolvar wishes to have. So, being a woman who needs money and hates children, she decides to sell Maven. Maven gets wind of the arrangement and flees her aunt’s home. She spends the rest of the story looking for her father, and being a young Gifted child, her magical powers begin to awaken and she needs to learn how to control them.
I know, not the best summary, but that’s what this story will be about. I am super excited about writing this. I love this world and I love the fact that I can write snippets of it to share it with you! And it’s really nice writing a story that has nothing to do with the main series I’m currently writing. It’s refreshing.
My goal for the month is 30,000 words. But who knows, it might be less than that. We’ll see:)
I mentioned that I had already started, so as a treat, here is part of the first chapter.
The feathers were soft. Smooth.
He took her hand and guided her fingers over the raven’s head.
“There. That’s it.”
The raven squawked. She giggled in reply. “It’s so pretty, Pa.”
He hugged her around the waist, planting a kiss on the side of her head. “Yes, it is. But she wants to go home now. It’s time to let her go.”
Maven picked up the raven in his lap and gently placed it on the dock. The raven squawked again and then flew up on to the nearest pole. The ship’s bell rang out and the raven flew away.
“Where will it go, Pa?”
He took her hand and led her away from the dock. “Back to its family. Far in the mountains.”
She watched the bird as it soared through the air and over the masts of the ships.
“Are you cold, love?”
Maven check the wool cloth around her neck. It was too warm. She liked the cold, that crisp shudder from the wind that blew in the salty sea air. Nothing could ever smell so fresh.
“Are we going home, Pa?”
He stooped to pick her up. “Soon. First we need to visit your aunt.”
He laughed, the deep chuckle that she liked. “I know. It’s just for a few hours then we will catch the next wagon to Rime. Be a good girl for me?”
She laid her head in the crook of his neck. “If I must.”
Aunt Mierna didn’t like children. Maven knew this the moment her aunt held her for the first time when she was two because Aunt Mierna immediately put her in a basket of food scraps and went to wash her hands. This was her first memory. Aunt Mierna only ever laid a hand on her when she thought she was doing something bad, like dropping crumbs on the floor or touching her stuff. Maven learned very quickly to act invisible around her and Aunt Mierna learned to never acknowledge her.
She didn’t understand why her aunt hated her. Pa loved her. Why didn’t Aunt Mierna? She never said, even when Maven asked on the days Aunt Meirna was in a happy mood. Those days were rare. There was always that smelling water around. It stank worse than rotten fish.
Aunt Mierna lived on a street where all the houses were squished together. The neighbors were always loud, especially at night. Maven hated staying here.
Once inside, Pa put her back on the ground.
“That girl is very well capable of walking on her own two feet,” came the scratchy voice from the kitchen. They hadn’t even taken off their boots.
“Sister, it’s good to see you two.” Pa kissed Aunt Mierna on the cheek and then check the pot on the stove. “Smells delicious.”
“It better be. And don’t eat too much. This was made to last me the week.”
“Maven and I will share a bowl then.” He turned his soft eyes on her. “Go and wash up, love.”
She obeyed and went outside to the pail of water that caught the drips from the roof. After the dirt on her hands was scrubbed off, she went back inside but stopped at the threshold.
“But you can’t!” her aunt snapped. “He can’t do this.”
“He can do as he likes, he’s the king.”
“A foolish king. You haven’t been in his service since you met that whore.”
“Well, she was. And she left you with that defected child.”
“You know very well why I kept her. And don’t say that about her.”
“Really?” Her aunt huffed. “Aren’t you afraid? Or perhaps it’s already happened.”
“Mierna, please. She might hear.”
“I don’t care if the whole street hears me! Nobody cares anymore. But they should. Those . . . vermin are meant to be controlled. They shouldn’t run loose.”
Maven backed out of the doorway and returned to the bucket. Locks of her gold hair fell into the water as she peered at her reflection. Green eyes and button nose peered back. She often wondered if she looked like her mother. Pa told her she did. He even drew a picture of her. Pa was good at that, drawing pictures with coal on scraps of parchment he scavenged up.
“Maven!” Pa called from inside.
She tore away from the water and ran inside. The table was set. Her aunt was already eating. She took a seat next to Pa and silently ate the small portion of soup. It tasted horrible but it warmed her empty stomach. She couldn’t’ wait to get back home.
They caught the last wagon leaving Ballord. The sun just hovered over the tall peaks of the mountains. She didn’t mind the rough ride, even with one of the wheels being broken. She was just happy to leave the city.
They crossed the river and by the time the sun set, Rime came into view. It was a quiet place, full of people who knew everyone’s name. Pa paid the driver and then raced her all the way to their little cottage at the edge of the village. She won. She always won. Pa was always too slow and clumsy on his feet.
As he packed their things and stored some food away from Aunt Mierna, Maven plopped down on the fur skin and dug out Pa’s drawings from a basket he kept close by. There were drawings of trees, birds, the lake, and Ma.
“What’s this then?” Pa knelt down next to her and took the picture. He smiled but in a sad way she didn’t quite understand. “I think it’s about time that I drew you.”
She sat up on her knees. “Really?”
He smiled wide. “Go fetch some coals and I think we have some spare parchment somewhere.”
Maven dashed out of the cottage, all the way to the large fire that sometimes blazed in the middle of the town. She fell on her hands and knees, searching through the ash until her fingers curled around a lump of coal. After collecting a few more pieces, she raced back to the cottage. Pa was waiting. Once he sharpened the coal with his dagger, Maven sat perfectly still in front of him.
The parchment he marked on was different then the ones they found. This one as clean, almost white, and there was a bit of red wax on it.
“Pa, is that a letter?”
He turned the parchment over and frown at it. “Of sorts.” He flipped it back over and continued.
“What’s written on it?”
He didn’t want to tell her, she could see. He always bit his lip when he wanted to keep secrets from her.
“Tell me. Please?”
He sighed heavily. “They’re orders. From the king. We’re at war with Caledonia. They won’t send up food and there’s isn’t always enough fish in the seas for everyone. Remember when I told you I used to work in the king’s army?”
“You never leave, even if you want to. They find you and bring you back when soldiers are needed.”
“But you’re staying here, right?”
He held the drawing up to her. “There now, love. How do you like it?”
She took it from him. It was like looking into water. “Pa?”
He sighed again. “I must go.”
“Yes, love. I won’t be gone long. We’ll be raiding a few villages and then I will be back. I promise.”
The edges of the letter wrinkled as her fingers curled around it.
“You’ll . . . you’ll have to stay with your aunt until I return.”
“NO!” She dropped the drawing and fled.