The picture is a Painter-reworked photo. The photo was really bad, but it made an intersting piece to work with. That's Willow by the window.
Writing work these days is falling into odd little patterns. I do some writing on A Plague of Rats every day. Some days I write quite a bit, and other days it goes slower. APOR doesn't want to be rushed. I'm at 24,000 words -- probably a quarter of the way through the story -- and enjoying every bit of it so far.
Since I started APOR on my birthday, I've been working on it for almost a month now. Some people who know me well will be shocked to find I am not even averaging 1000 words a day on it. I'm a bit shocked myself.
I have been working on other things as well, of course. Most of it has been nonfiction -- despite swearing that after last year I was not going to write more for a while. But it called to me, a seductive little voice that said I should try to write up something new for Holly's store. I asked her about it. She thought it a good idea. So I've working on a short book on writing short stories. It's going along pretty well, too. But also slowly. I guess I'm just in the mood for nice, sedate writing.
But back to APOR.... I'm really happy with some of the material, especially for a first draft. So here's a bit of it -- where my main character has his first real look at some others from the story. This is first draft, so be aware that there will be odd words, strange lines, and probably things repeated as well.
"All Gods save us. It's the Dragon Clans!" A man shouted and pointed down the trail to the east.
The man was right. Koya could already see the high poles and fluttering banners of Dragon Clan people -- a dozen different banners, in fact, in bright reds, greens, blues and yellows. He could see the dust rising on the trail, but for a moment he still couldn't see the people --
Though some claimed the dragon clans weren't people at all, and never would be, no matter what magic had made of them. He'd heard it had been an ancient curse of a mage that took away their dragon forms and made them human. Some said it was the work of the Gods. He'd heard the Dragon Clans even claimed they had done it themselves, to fit better into the changing world where humans were becoming far more prevalent than magical beings of any sort.
If the last were true, it hadn't worked.
The first line approached -- tall, thin people, and oddly colorful. Hair, looking more akin to feathers, rose up in bright arrays on each head -- blue here, gold there, a striking emerald green on one in the middle. She -- yes, she, he could tell the genders were as well defined as with humans -- stood at least two feet taller than him, even without the shock of hair that rose like a crest above her narrow face. She wore close fitting clothing that appeared to be knitted armor -- it fit her like a woolen shirt, but sparkled like silver and gold. They wore weapons, too -- swords longer than any he'd ever seen, but then they had the longer bodies -- and arms -- to use them.
And they all carried the famous -- or infamous -- Dragon Clan bows as well. Koya had heard that each bow had a personality and that no two were alike -- and the last, at least, appeared to be true. He saw the curve of each had a different design and runes, and he thought he discerned some with the shapes of animal or even tiny human heads carved into the upper limb. They were longer than any human could likely draw -- and the power behind those long pulls could put an arrow straight through a wooden wall.
And through a human, of course.
He did note the fletching for each person matched the color of the hair for the person carrying those arrows. Odd that no one had mentioned that in the past, but he filed it away, intending to add it to some notes back at the temple, where they favored such little tidbits of knowledge.
Everyone else around him had run back to the cover of the building. Koya only stepped back to the relative cover of a tall, old oak tree where he could watch the procession move through the road, plainly heading from their eastern lands beyond the mountains and probably off to the capital in the southwest. He'd heard such processions took place every few years, and counted himself lucky to be here when one went through.
Koya watched, entranced as they drew nearer, the group of about fifty dragon clan in the lead. They followed the path up the slight incline which brought them even with him before it turned westward again.
And as they came up... heads turned in his direction and the group slowed. It caught him so much by surprise that he hadn't even the mind to step behind the tree.
But Emerald gave him a nod and he returned it -- magic calling to magic, he realized. It was the same thing that had drawn him to the temple, though he had never been to the south. She had not stopped, and he saw, as she moved on past, how her head seemed to turn at an unnatural angle to look back at him -- long neck, more flexibility.
The others glanced his way but never slowed now that the lead group had started moving faster again. He saw a blur of colors go past -- blues, greens, reds -- some with parti-colored hair. Those had longer hair, as well, and tied back behind their necks. He couldn't be certain if they were male or female, but they always carried the banners. They had drummers as well -- a group in the middle that pounded out a beat that so perfectly matched the marching of the feet that he couldn't be certain which mimicked the other.
It was a fascinating spectacle, and he felt gifted by the gods to have seen it. The sight made him remember the world outside himself again, and even outside the realm of man. It broadened a world that had become very small in the Temple.
He was glad to be here.
Although the other humans in the little village plainly didn't feel the same since he suddenly found himself utterly alone in the yard outside the tavern. He didn't see another human anywhere on the streets, in fact, and even the dogs had run for cover.
He was about to step back when the second group came by.
He hadn't seen them behind the taller people of the dragon clan, but now the creatures came into view, some of them running on all fours, some striding alone like humans -- but they looked nothing even remotely human. The scaled bodies, long-reptilian heads and clawed hands and feet plainly showed their lizard ancestry. Glossy black, long necked and squared mouths -- they reminded him of the small black monitor lizards of home.
But wrong... they were just wrong, and the sight of them sent the kind of chill through him that most people seemed to get at the sight of Dragon Clan people. He even took a stumbling step backward --
The movement drew every Lessling head turning in his direction. Yellow eyes narrowed and brown slit tongues danced out into the air before the long snouts. Hisses rose all among the group and they slowed, a couple already moving out of the line toward him.
He lifted a hand, ready to defend himself, and thinking they were in for a major incident not matter what happened now --
Emerald suddenly arrived and gave a set of barking, hissing orders that no human mouth could have made. Lesslings fell back into place with a start and the entire group began to move faster. She waited there, her back to him, until the last of the creatures had passed. He could see how the crown of green hair grew longer in the back, and seemed so fine that the slightest breeze sent it fluttering. Her shoulders, set in a steady straight line, showed fine bones leading down to thin arms. Standing just before him, the top of his head barely reached her neck.
The Lesslings went past, their voices still hissing, yellow eyes still darting his way. He didn't move.
As they turned again toward the west, he felt a little sigh of relief escape him, though he bit it back when Emerald turned his way.
"Never show weakness, human. It is our way to go for the weak and injured."
She glanced at the cane in his hand, then back into his face. Her green eyes seemed too bright and the face too narrow, and for a moment he felt like a mouse standing before a hawk.
She bowed her head and he bowed is again, all perfectly civilized as she turned and hurried to catch up with her group and then passing the Lesslings by with long legged strides that quickly took her back to the front of the line.