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[NaNo 2020] The Land After Miscreants (working title)



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Sat Nov 07, 2020 2:14 pm
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Day 7: In which I introduce another character who has become surprisingly fun to write.

Spoiler! :
Some of the tea had gotten on Dene’s clothes as well, so her accompanying handmaiden led her to their carriage to change. It was a large carriage, almost the size of a hut. Her parents had built it specifically with incidents like these in mind, for Dene was prone to falling in mud and the like. After much cajoling, they had finally let her walk around in breeches, with the hope of minimizing the problem.

So far, they had had no such luck.

Dene sat down and let her handmaiden unbutton her blouse. The handmaiden worked deftly, but caringly, soft arms weaving around and between her mistress’ limbs, retrieving an identical blue blouse from a pile of multicoloured fabrics, and like an expert court jester, slipped on the replacement, so it was as if nothing had happened.
All this, Dene ignored as she sat reading a letter.

It read:
Create some trouble for the interloper. Make it so your kind speak her name with disdain. If you do, we shall consider your request.

The Chief Guild Councillor William had been awfully vague, thought Dene. She looked at the small cabinets installed in her carriage. They were covered with colourful little flags, each with a party’s insignia upon them. She had a golden flag for the Lions, a green flag for the Witchfielders, and, of course, the black-and-grey flag of the Miscreants, with the wheatgrass insignia. When her breeches had been changed, she tucked William’s letter carefully into her pocket.

Her brand new fencing foil hung on the opposite wall of the carriage, glinting in the sun.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Sun Nov 08, 2020 3:56 pm
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Day 8: In which things appear to be coming together!

Spoiler! :
Inside, there was havoc. The light from the fireplace was beginning to dim, casting an eerie orange glow over the table, the faces of the nobles and of course over the eyes of one Dene Skyroot, who was sitting at the edge of her chair in eagerness.
Gerhard had long since set down Golzar’s seax. It had now been passed along the hands of every guest at least twice. With a strained expression, pale lips pressed tightly together, he turned to the giggling Tanya.
“Would you like to tell us a tale next, Tanya?” he said.
“Sure!” The tail of her dark hair bounced as she perked up. She cleared her throat. “My first memory is of eggshells. You see, I was born on a mountain peak in the Grey Graue range – hatched from an egg and raised on worms by overflying eagles . . . “
“Oi,” Richard slammed his hand on the table, obviously drunk. “You stole part of my story.”
“Only the bit about the eagles!”
The first man with the cosmetic armor turned to the second. “I do not suppose you believe that do you?” he said and yawned.
“No,” the second man replied. “The suspension of disbelief was lost a few stories ago.”
Gerhard shut his eyes. It was dastardly, he thought, for them to expect heroes, many of them practically child conscripts if you asked him, to dredge up personal stories for the nobles’ entertainment. At the same time, he did wish the Miscreants had just a pinch more self-control than they were currently displaying.
Then again, self-control had never really been something they had ever had, and Gerhard, in the glow of the embers, was only just learning to accept that.
“No, Tanya,” said Gerhard, stopping the girl for a brief moment. She turned her head to him, looking up as a puppy does to a beloved caretaker. Gerhard smiled.
“Why don’t you tell them about how you ended up in the party?”
Tanya clapped her hands together. “Ooh, that is a good one! So it all started when I stole a helmet from the armory . . . “
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Tue Nov 10, 2020 1:58 pm
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Day 9 and 10: Had a really busy day, so couldn't write much for day 9, but managed to write a wee bit more on day 10. I'm still behind, but hoping to catch up during the weekend!

Spoiler! :
She was sitting on the edge of the space the Miscreants had cleared in the front of their halls, on the edge where the flat stones blended into grass and dirt. Across from her, Golzar stood stretching. Her seax was nowhere to be seen. Instead, she brought out a large heavy-looking sword that did not seem right for her to carry.

"That weapon's nearly taller than her! Is she mad?" one of the nobles commented.

Golzar seemed entirely nonplussed, unusually, with her face unreadable, yet bright in the sunlight.

"Be careful, milady!" Annette clasped her hand between hers. "Be very careful!"

It was around this time that Dene actually looked her in the eye. She knew her handmaiden had rather nice eyes. The men in the manor would not stop talking about them, she remembered. But only now was she staring into them, they were dark, almost black, and shone.

"Yes, yes, of course." Dene did not think she would get herself killed, despite the change in weapon. She looked Golzar up and down, narrowing her eyes. For all of Dene's faults, she knew all to do with heroes and their work. Golzar would certainly be slowed down by that weapon, enough to justify missing Dene completely - which was not at all what she wanted.

Gerhard called for the beginning of the duel.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:18 pm
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Day 11: Yes! I've finally finished the first plot - tentatively called 'the Party House plot' - in this universe. The next one I'll be working out is 'The Outfit' and it'll pick up shortly after the end of Party House. Other stories in this setting, i think, might not be so linear though.

Here is my fave bit from today's writing:

Spoiler! :

"Is that . . . all you have to report to me?" The sound of her pen lifting from the parchment was loud in the ensuing silence. "No matters of statecraft? Trade? What of the reconstruction?"

The audience shook their heads.

"Well then. You are dismissed," said Lucretia. "Goddess conserve."

"Goddess conserve," they chorused, albeit awkwardly, for indeed the entire meeting had been awkward. They each assembled their belongings, or asked their servants to do it. Little favours and bribes were discreetly swept off the table and funneled into rich silk pouches to be saved for a more opportune - and private - time.

One of Lucretia’s personal handmaidens, a long-limbed, limber girl with black hair, shut the door behind the last noble to leave. With only her, the Queen and Raymond left in the room, Lucretia set down her pen, sighed and leaned back in the throne.

"Miriam," said Lucretia in a fonder tone. "Will you bring the Queen Mother in?"

"Yes, my lady," said Miriam and she went out through a veiled curtain behind the throne.

When she returned, she did so with an elderly woman in tow. Miriam helped the woman sit down at the foremost seat, closest to Lucretia.

"Raymond, you are dismissed as well," Lucretia intoned.

The Lord Steward's thing eyebrows hopped up on his face. "Hmm?"

"You are young enough to hear me, Raymond. You can go."

Lucretia resisted the urge to make a shooing gesture with her hand, and it was to her benefit, because finally, Raymond nodded his head and made his exit. His boots, foreign-made and inexplicably shining in the dim light, clicked briskly against the floor outside.



(Lucretia has become criminally fun to write, my goodness - so many surprises in this story.)
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:09 pm
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Day 12: Not a great day today for NaNo - just had too much on my mind and too little energy to work with. Still, got 58 words down for the beginning of 'The Outfit Plot', so that's something!

Spoiler! :

It was a bright and sunny day in the kingdom. Merchants were out on the road, driving carts and wagons of goods up from Witchfield into Lucrece. A new group was just now gathering, a troop of old women, who were bringing the harvest of corn with a group of serf labourers. At least, that was their intention.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:52 pm
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Day 13: In which the mood whiplash I'll have to contend with in this story widens further.

Spoiler! :

A partially-armoured figure appeared, riding at the spear tip of a v-shaped formation. Ariga dodged the francisca swiftly, wincing slightly as it pinged off the side of her horse's saddle. The shine of a seax in the blinding light caught her eye, and she reared the horse back as the opponent leader collided blades with her.

It was then the realisation struck both of them, harder than the sword.

"Golzar?" "Ariga - !"

They broke apart, then fell apart, and hurriedly signaled for their fellow heroes to come to heel.

"Just what on earth are you doing here?"

Golzar blinked at Ariga’s state of dress. “And what on earth are you wearing?”
--

It was tradition, Golzar came to know later with bitterness, for the Seafolk leader to dress in lime-green armour pieces in the days coming to the summer solstice. She recalled Ariga’s careless grin as William, once again, let her off with barely a scolding.

“Go easy on me, won’t you, Golz’?” Ariga had said, the crab helmet shining in her grasp. “It was a tough quest.”


(Just for context, the two parties don't recognise each other because Ariga's party is wearing all sorts of different colours and Golzar's party, though wearing similar colours, doesn't actually have a uniform.)
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:13 pm
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Day 14: Not a great day again, but I AM happy I managed to touch on Bryn's mineral collection.

Spoiler! :
“Does it really matter if the Seafolk run wild? Everyone knows the heroes are rogues and scoundrels,” they said from the cart where they were sitting, outside of the Guild Hall. They tossed their beloved lump of quartz in their palm.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Sun Nov 15, 2020 2:33 pm
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Day 15: Pretty happy with the wordcount progress today, though I am quite certain that my line of logic is deteriorating with each passing sentence, haha. Today I worked in a bit of Golzar's sort-of backstory. I'm thinking of incorporating this particular element of her life by weaving it in throughout The Outfit Plot, because it's relevant to Golzar's desire for control and for reining in the heroes a bit. Here's a little snippet:

Spoiler! :

Golzar had been a young girl then, working in her mother's smithy. Every morning she would help prepare custom-ordered weapons for delivery to the various soldiers and mercenaries that passed by the shop. They had one rule: they never sold to bandits, but Golzar remembered the time that rule was broken.

It had been the year of a poor harvest and they had needed food and drink. Her mother had sent her out to look for potential customers, the seedy, but well-paying sort that hung around in the taverns. Golzar had taken a couple of the village children along with her and they had gone to a small tavern by the name of Iola, and they had stood outside by the stairwell to wait for their target.

The men - or teenage boys, really - had had long lanky limbs and scratchy voices, muffled by the scarves they wore to protect themselves from the sand. Golzar noticed that they looked like thieves, but were lacking in weapons, and so she took the dagger that her mother had recently forged and presented it to them.

They followed her back to the shop immediately.

"How cheap is cheap?" the leader had asked.

"Depends," Golzar had said.

The leader, bending down as if to inspect the top of Golzar's head, but more likely because he did not know how to talk to short people and children, made a doubtful noise in the front of his throat. "Eh? And who can tell me?"

"That also depends," Golzar had replied.

The bandits ducked under the low stone roof of the smithy and went to see Golzar's mother.

"So you're the smithy selling cheap goods, eh?" said the leader.

"How cheap do you suppose cheap is?" Golzar's mother had said. She was a tired, grey-faced woman, but Golzar had never begrudged her for it. For the most part, she only remembered her as tired and grey-faced through the broken lenses of retrospect. At the time, her mother had been just as grey-faced as the rest of the grown-ups living in Besiv. That did not necessarily make her unhappy, as Golzar had learnt.

"I can sell you two knives for three gold. The more knives you get, I'll consider pushing it down."

In the end, the boys had left with five knives and Golzar with a beaming smile.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Mon Nov 16, 2020 4:05 pm
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Day 16: I may not be good at keeping up with the wordcount, but I am good at not feeling too terribly about it :D

Spoiler! :

She had stayed up all the night before, midnight on her eyelids, as she drafted her new decree. She needed the heroes themselves to agree to it, before it could be fulfilled anywhere in the kingdom. Miriam held the scroll in one of her pockets. Lucretia would not trust the Lord Steward with it, for no doubt in her mind, he would twist it and turn it to his own advantage.

No, Lucretia very much wanted her work to turn to her advantage instead.

Over the horizon, there came a swarm of colours. Lucretia squinted looking at them. "Suppose those are . . . the heroes?"

"I cannot tell, Your Grace," said Miriam quietly, in fear that people were listening. "They look like court fools, or street performers, the lot of them."

Lucretia hummed tonelessly in response. She stood on the steps, hands clasped together at her waist, like a watchtower at the edge of a violent sea, waiting for something to happen.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:40 pm
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Day 17: I tried to focus more on Bryn this story, so hopefully that's working out. I do think they are a challenging character to write because they're the only one who's not just some exaggerated aspect of my own personality xD. The natural lone wolf archetype is hard for me to write.

Spoiler! :

The Miscreants had been waiting for Golzar at Lucrece. Bryn ran a hand through their curled black hair, slicking it backwards as they observed the skyline. The Grey Graue mountain range was misty, forming a blanket on the horizon, but it was not so far off that Golzar would take more than an evening to traverse. Indeed, on horseback, she should have been faster. And yet she still had not come back.

Bryn sighed. They turned to the group of anxious Miscreants, all messy with their tunics askew and their cloaks tattered. Some of them were looking through the supplies in the carts, but otherwise, Bryn could tell Richard and the rest were growing antsy.

Truth be told, Bryn themselves was antsiest of all.

From behind them, a palace servant walked up. She dashed towards them, as if she'd been given the right to pull them out whenever she pleased, and told them that the parliament meeting would receive the heroes the next day, and that it would take place in the former palace armory.

Bryn nodded, frowning and had her sent away. This action was impropriety, for certain, and Bryn knew they might face the consequences for it later, but they could not care. If the servant sent some guards to chase Bryn out of the city, they could always wait at Witchfield and do quests there instead.

Such was the way of a hero.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Wed Nov 18, 2020 6:26 pm
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Day 18: Golzar is a very unpredictable character for me to write, but she's meant to be somewhat an unpredictable person in-universe, so I guess that makes sense.

Spoiler! :

Golzar beckoned them over to a stout stone bench where they could both sit down. She pulled one ankle over her knee, crossing her legs and leaned in.

"When the Queen herself asks you to play along with her little schemes, you don't say no."

"You can't expect me to believe that's what you're going for," said Bryn dubiously.

"No, but it is one good reason," said Golzar. They waited until most of the company was out of earshot, checking the trees for eavesdroppers, before continuing their conversation.

"Golz'," said Bryn. "You're trying to use this against her aren't you? Insane as usual."

Golzar feigned offense. "Use it against her? No. No, I've not thought that far."

"Don't tell me you genuinely think the uniforms are a good idea?"

"And if I do?" Golzar averted her gaze, looking thoughtfully between the bars of the palace gate.

Bryn frowned. They crossed their arms, huffing, the wrinkle of some deep-seated grievance flashing into their face like lightning. "You know what, this might be the first time I think William has a point."

They put a hand on Golzar's shoulder, face hovering above hers. "She's just trying to control us. What else do you imagine the uniforms are for? Before you know it you'll be agreeing to Lucretia dissolving the Council."

“You assume I don’t know that.” Golzar glared back at them. Then, she evened out her features, glancing quickly at where the rest of the Miscreants were already gathered, ready to depart. "We'll talk about this later," she said.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:52 am
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Day 19: I'm probably not going to make 50,000 by the end of the month, the way things are going (uni makes me busy!) but this is still more than I've written in a while, so I'm glad. Hopefully I'll keep up the habit after this :)

Spoiler! :

Priest Rose began to recite lines from the Script. Hers was a low, even-footed voice that, like an auditory lizard seemed to creep across the stone floors of the temple in the little vibrations. Rose had always been satisfied with her voice. Its timbre was appropriate for praising the Goddess, and if asked, she could likely go on for a day and a half performing the Script. Unbeknowst to her, it was unlikely either the Miscreants leader or the Queen would ever request that of her, but for now it was fitting of her to dream.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Fri Nov 20, 2020 5:24 pm
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Day 20: Unexpected action sequences? More likely than you think ;)

Spoiler! :

It was Bryn that saw the first volley of arrows coming. “Raiders!” they shouted, grabbing at the steer of the boat to pull it under the protection of a tree.

The other Miscreants struggled to follow suit. The river thrashed and pulled them ever downwards, ever closer to the archers.

“We have to dock! Right now!” Bryn shouted at those in their boat. In the meantime, Golzar urged the other two groups to go on ahead.

“They can’t fire far against the wind!” she said, standing on the prow of her boat. “We’ll stop where the trees are thicker!”

She and Bryn went in opposite directions, each unable to hear the other. When Bryn had docked, arrows whizzing overhead the thinner thicket of pine trees, they turned around to look for Golzar. “Damn it!”

They needed to get reinforcements, they thought. They left the Miscreants following them there and took off in the direction of the village.

Indeed, Golzar had been somewhat right about the arrows flying against the wind. Many of them were knocked off-course and fell, harmlessly along the sides of the river. The Miscreants raised their shields to deflect the ones that did fly close by.

Where Golzar docked, the trees had given way to large, canopied oaks, which trapped any arrows flying past, so the Miscreants could run past and effectively lose the archers.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Sat Nov 21, 2020 5:35 pm
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Day 21: At this point I'm basically scrapping the whole 1667 a day idea, lol. Uni is tough, and my attention span is secretly really short.

Spoiler! :
At last, she heard them. There was the sound of four horses, a small party for certain, moving towards her at a high speed. Golzar braced herself with her seax. She was glad she had disposed of the francisca early on in the fight, as she knew it would have slowed down her draw with its weight.

As the horses approached however, she noticed the golden blazon that one of the Lions' leaders typically wore and stopped.

She had almost stabbed the bastard, she thought.

"Bryn!" she turned and found her second-in-command riding behind one of the Lions.

“Where’s the raiders?” said Bryn.

Golzar pointed in their general direction. “I’ve sent our people on the way. I reckon the Wolves aren’t in big numbers.”

Otherwise, she thought, they would have clashed by now.

The Lions left Bryn with Golzar and sped on ahead to deal with the raiders.

“What were you thinking?” said Bryn. “It made their job so easy to spot you.”

Golzar gritted her teeth. She had not anticipated this would happen. She looked down at the glowing strands in the cloth, and she knew she had made a mistake. Then she took in a deep breath, and turned to where the Lions were routing the Grey Wolves.

“Well,” she said, forcing her lips into a sardonic grin. “Guess I’ll have to rework these then.”
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:02 pm
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Day 22: Not much to say here.

Spoiler! :

Down at the feet of the watchtowers, there were bales of hay. They were hard and white, brought over to act as building blocks more than to feed the horses with. Golzar was lying on one of these bales, hands behind her head, and frowning up at the pitch-black sky.

As Gerhard walked around the corner, she did not turn to look at him. "Seen any Goddesses crawling through paintings lately?" said Golzar, not without some spite and resentment.

When Gerhard kept quiet, she continued. “Certainly not. The story is clearly allegorical.”

Gerhard sat down on the hay opposite from Golzar, perching on the edge of it carefully. He cast a long lean shadow on the floor, much like that of a stork. When he spoke, his voice was slow, laden, quiet in the night silence. “I think this is the most time you’ve spent around clerics, since I’ve known you, that is.”

Golzar shrugged. “I used to spend much of my time around clerics. When I was in Besiv.”

“They’re quite different, no? Woodlands and Zenith,” said Gerhard. Zenith was something of a new word for the Eastern kingdom, and so it made Golzar scrunch up her face a bit before she realized what he was talking about.

“Sure. We don’t really see ourselves as the one . . . Zenith, so to speak. You come from a village, you stick to a village. Woodlands to us just looks fat.”

Gerhard barked a laugh.
    Here for the in-betweens and the left-behinds, the unconsidered,
    the out-of-this-world.

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