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Saturday, 30 April 2011

Episode 3 - Through the glass


Progress Report (not really relevant, if you're just here for the story, please skip to 'read more' at the bottom of the page ;) )

Here's the next part, which comes immediately after episode 2 (since now I know where to start with it all it's a bit easier to be more coherent, for the time being). Sorry this had some delay. I was nearly finished last weekend, and then my computer shut down suddenly and the whole Svart file had DISAPPEARED... That's like a writer's worst nightmare. Strangely, once I got over the shock and saw clearly, I realized it wasn't that bad and I got to see my personal calamity as a blessing in disguise. I was really spinning the chapter out too long, getting carried away and just basically messing everything up, so being forced to start over entirely was the best thing that could happen - I don't really have the heart to 'kill my darlings', I guess my comuter felt sorry and decided to do it for me. That part did get better, I think, more concise (which isn't really my thing, unfortunately, I could take some classes on brevity). AND, it's also a case of Serendipity (always wanted to use that word) since thanks to Bagle's handy tips on file recovery (thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!), I found a back-up of 9 out of 12 pages of a book I was working on just before I joined Blogger. The file got corrupted very badly, so I couldn't open it and I still haven't been able to gather up the strength to start over, since it would never be the same and  didn't feel it needed improvement like Svart did. So it just sucked. But now I have the crucial parts back and can pick up where I left off anytime :). I'd post some of it, but it's in Dutch, so, sorry...

And after that, I got sick and I was exhausted for a couple of days after school work, so I couldn't find the strength to write, specially since it meant starting over from scratch (luckily I'd already posted the first chapter, so I at least had a backup of that one). Instead, I did quite some fairy research, some useful stuff turned up which I hope to integrated in future parts (though most of it was suitable for Macy's world rather than Alice's and some of me just confused me or confronted me with my own lack of originality where I thought I WAS being original, which sucks).

Anyway, here is part 2 and part 3 is also done - it on the short side through, 2,5 pages - I'll schedule it for some time next week. Probably Wednesday. I do have to say I'm not entirely okay with this part and the next one yet, but there sort of a rough outline, a first draft. I'm just trying to get from point A to B as fast as possible and then I'll see from there when I'm done so I can rewrite it in the end. Oh, and the titles are pretty random now. The themes they refer to aren't always there yet or emphasized enough. I may call the novel '(The) Nightingale. Chronicles of a revolution' or something like that.

On a more cheerful note, I noticed that readership for the blod - followers but especially page views - have rocketed *dances around like a retard yelling 'whoohoo!'*, so I just want to give a big welcome to all of you who are a new and another big thank you for sticking with me despite all the craziness and irregularity lately to all the regulars. I really appreciate having you guys here giving me advice, I really really really do. I know I haven't been responding to all comments, but I will in due time. Circumstances are making it hard enough to keep up with posting the best I can, so I kind of have to 'eliminate' everything else.

/delay. Onto the story...




Through the glass
Alice stormed out of the room, through the hall and into the elevator. Throwing her hood back, she rested her forehead against the cool metal wall, desperate for air. It was even harder than she thought it would be.
She clung to the frame and stumbled out, rushed into the courtyard garden and leaned against the stem of a tree for support, lifting her face up to feel the warm sunlight on her skin, enjoying the soft caress of the breeze toying with her hair. From the first floor of the sky scraper, she supervised the entrance below from the balcony and watched the messengers dash off towards the Light Fairy High Court. She had selected the gifts of honey and finest chocolate herself. Fairies fancied that sort of thing. People in the streets scurried by, oblivious of the peril they were in.
Something stirred behind her, she could hear leaves rushing as someone crept closer, then calm, even footsteps on the limestone. She knew who it was without even looking and focused back on the world below. He stopped, waiting patiently for her to say something.
“It seems so wrong not to tell them.”She spoke softly over her shoulder. “Who knows what will befall them tomorrow. They should at least know.” She turned to look at him with bright, burning eyes.
He sighed. “It is the council’s decision. They know best.”
She turned around, her voice thick. “Do they?”
“You should trust them.”
“What if they cannot get the invasion under control before the Svarts hit the city? Who will protect them then?”
“Have some faith.”
She turned away, staring down at a scene that had long gone by. “I lost my faith years ago.” She looked up at the sky, a deep sadness in her eyes.
“Mylady?” A young lad with a face covered heavily in acne walked in on them and wrung his hands nervously, one of the cadets.
She mustered her most benevolent smile and waited. “Yes?”
“You’re wanted in the basement. The messengers have returned.”
“Already?”
“They were elf-summoned on the way to the court.”
Alice and her uncle exchanged a glance. Both of them had had a similar experience in the  past where the elves wanting something from them grew a little impatient with human speed and used their magic to lift them from the shackles of time and drag them to the court in a dizzying vortex. It was highly unpleasant and left a mortal dizzy, disoriented and nauseous for days.
“I see. I’ll go at once.” The boy took off, clumsily salaaming backwards to the door, tripping over his own feet.
She nodded at her uncle and made off with a sigh. It was much too quick, this could not be good.
Downstairs she found a group of five of the council gathered around the three pale travellers, hanging limp and flushed in their chairs sipping water from their glasses with tiny nips.
She grimaced at them sympathetically.
“The Ljósálfar aren’t coming.” Chairman said immediately, not able to hide the bitter concern in his voice.
“What? Do they wish not to follow up on our charter? We agreed on mutual protection.”
“They bear us no ill will, mylady.” One of the male messengers was quick to intersect, quickly tightening his lips to swallow the upcoming sickness away. “They have a war of their own to wage against the Dark Elves. A clan of the Svarts has attacked a Light Fairy sanctuary and stolen their sacred fire. Without it they cannot survive. The whole of Alfheim is mobilizing to get it back and will then come to our aid as soon as possible.”
“How soon?” Alice asked suspiciously.
“As soon as the eclipse is over, they will send a proper army unit for relief and once their Phoenix’s fire has been restored safely, they will send us the rest. We will just have to find a way to hold out till then.”
“They deeply apologise.” A young female messenger added. It was unusual to send female diplomats to the elves. Or cute ones, regardless of sex. They had the odd habit of insisting on keeping some of them for a while. And an elf’s perception of time much differed from a human’s, so did their interpretation of ‘a while’.
“I suppose it can’t be helped.” Lord Riley muttered, pulling the strands of his hair. “We all know elf allegiance and scores run deep. We just didn’t foresee the Dark Ones attacking two enemy races at once. They sure have grown cunning.”
“Indeed. And frankly we have not, to have let it get to this.” Treadmill sneered, grabbing himself a glass of red wine. “We’re in serious trouble.”
“Do you think we could reason with the Svarts? You know, bargain ourselves a way out of this with them?” Lady Seymour tried.
“There is no reasoning with those brutes. They’d have your head on a stake and send it back to us, then laugh about it and kill us all anyway, plundering whatever they may want along the way.” Treadmill countered.
“Besides, what could we possibly offer them? If there was something they wanted bad enough to even consider a deal, they may as well come and take it in war tomorrow.” Lady Murdock contemplated.
“Either way, we’re on our own.” Chairman replied. “Thank you for your swift return.” He said to the vale-uniformed herald trio.
“We are sorry we did not return with greater news.” The woman answered.
“We are glad to have you back at all.” They left, unsteady in their steps and the Chairman turned to the members of the council. “I suggest we all get to our tasks and get everything ready. It will be a long, nerve-wrecking couple of days.”
“Yes, chairman.” They replied with a nod and flitted out the door.
The sun was already setting by the time Alice walked out the door. She looked up at the sky scraper of glass in concrete, laced with hidden iron wherever architecturally possible as a safety precaution against the Sidhe, light as well as dark. No one would ever suspect anything but an office building of some sort seated here, let alone the base of an ancient order of templar knights.
She sighed and got her bike out of the storage. She was running late. After all, her cover-up life was filled with obligations as well, regardless of the crisis the world was in. For a large part her fate rested on her ability to assume a normal teenager’s life and hide behind that facade, as did the rest of the order.
She cycled through the busy streets, the cooling air soothing her feverish skin. There was an unusual amount of traffic. The roads were still jammed at this late hour, one heavy transporter van after another. She slanted through the crowd. What a day and it would only get worse.
“Hey mum, hey dad.” She said as soon as she got through the door and hurried up the stairs to her room. “Running late, gotta run.”
She scrambled through her closet for something appropriate to wear. It was her friend’s birthday party and the lot of them were going out to celebrate. She could simply not afford another no-show with them.
“How was your day at school, honey?” Her mother asked. Alice froze instantly holding up a cocktail dress she’d got as a gift once and thought over it.
“Fine. Like usual.” She muttered, straining to sound disinterested and even.
“Nothing... special happen?” Her mother walked in and handed her some freshly washed clothes, which she eagerly accepted and stashed away.
“Nah, not really.” She lied, thinking of how the day was pretty much a proclamation of the impending end of the world.
“Alright then. Don’t be home too late, okay, sweetheart?”
“Sure, mum.”
Her tall, auburn-haired mother smiled gently and walked out. She could hear her humming down the hall.
She exhaled strongly and sunk down against the closet, rubbing her forehead. Even though she’d been forced to do it ever since she’d been discovered to have The Gift and was brought into the Order for training, she never quite got used to lying to her family. And she had to. Neither of her parents was among the blessed and if her sister was, it had not surfaced yet. Selective breeding was not perfect; even after so many generations, The Gift sometimes skipped a few.
With a mournful glance at the alarm clock by her bed, she scrambled back up. No time to lose. She plucked the simple yet dreadfully elegant-wrought black cocktail dress back off the bed and put it on, flinging her day clothes over a chair.
With a critical eye she viewed her reflexion and rearranged the brim. Maybe if she pulled it like that? She bit her lip. The dress was a little on the short side, too short perhaps? She grimaced at the girl in the mirror. It seemed so surreal to her to have to worry herself with such trivial matters at a time like this. It would just have to do. She snatched her purse and stormed out.
“I’m going!” She yelled, closing the door behind her and was back on her bike. Don’t think about it, she kept telling herself over and over, but she was strung as tight as a wire regardless. “It’ll all be okay.” She whispered. Maybe if she’d say it often enough, she’d end up believing.
She stood at the corner, the beat of the music intruding on her quiet mulling and took a moment to steady herself, breathing in and out deeply and reminding herself to keep doing that before she forged a broad smile as if it had been stapled there and plunged forward, waving enthusiastically at her friends loitering in front of the club.
“Hey, guys. Sorry I’m a little late, got caught up at school. Detention.” She lied, partly.
“Who, you? What on earth could you have done?”
“Nothing much, just a slight misunderstanding, don’t worry about it. It’s your birthday girl!” She said to the rosy-cheeked girl wearing a tiara.
The girl beamed. “Damn right!”
The merry group swayed in through the crowd, Alice last, anxiously looking left and right and ill at ease.
Today, she would pretend everything was normal and all that mattered in the world was that next party. Tomorrow, they would fight, they would kill and they would die.


See episode 2 (previous part) or episode 1 (chronologically much later in the story than 2 and 3, yeah, it's complicated...)

4 comments:

  1. OK, now you've got my attention. I think that this holds real promise. You've done a good job of wring separate styles for the different 'locations.'
    I'm eagerly awaiting more.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Drachma,

    Nice to see you! Good to know you’re interested, now I’m kind of afraid to disappoint... :)

    I’m really trying to get the separate styles thing under control. It was one of the main reasons or picking up again with writing short stories this year, because each has a different setting, a different context and different players, which requires style variation between them.

    The long term goal would be to use style variation appropriately in a novel, because before I was being very clumsy and unsystematic in that, not sure where/with whom to use which style and how to work it out.

    I’m really trying to make an effort here. Especially since while going for my master’s degree in western literature, I had to read texts by Auerbach and Curtius and if I’m not mistaken the former attributed Dante’s greatness (talk about ambition on my part, ey) to an ingenious mixture of styles where appropriate while before styles had been fixed with the genre used.

    That idea has always very much intrigued me, but it seemed very much over my head. I really hope I can push through and finish Svart, rather than break off somewhere midway because I’m not ready yet (again).

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm with Drachma on the style change, it's well executed. I'm curious to see how the style will alter once again when you get to dealing with the Svart.

    My only concern was this sentence: "Both of them had had a similar experience in the best where they elves waiting something from them grew a little impatient with human speed..."

    Seems a couple of words may have been mistyped or accidentally rearranged somehow. I still got the gist of what was being said but it took a couple read-throughs :)

    Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Diego,

    it's very encouraging to have you both so positive. And I noticed the sentence and fixed it in the word file, but since my internet connection decided to take the night off, I haven't changed the post yet. That sort of thing happens when I type stories out quickly. And since I usually have my computer shutting down several times while writing - and sometimes have to start all over - it isn't always easy to spot anomalies like those. Kind of embarrassing.

    I'll go and fix it now, thanks for pointing it out (I'm pretty sure I would've forgotten all about it)!

    ReplyDelete

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