NaNoWriMo Day 30

Today wasn’t really a writing day, since I actually finished my goal on the 28th. However, I wanted to make a post to celebrate completing another year of National Novel Writing Month! I was really unsure going into this one, as I’ve been very stressed about various things, not to mention I wasn’t writing very much daily before November arrived.

But here I am! Another 50k down! And in a new story with some new characters to explore! I had so much fun and I really appreciate those of you who peeked at the blog to see my progress throughout the month!

Bonus Excerpt:

“A visitor for me?” Was it a voice, or was it thunder? Blake clapped his hands over his ears, though some part of him knew it might be a sign of disrespect to try to block out that particular voice. He couldn’t help it. As the echoes rumbled around him, he looked up, his eyes wide and his body shaking.

He almost wished he hadn’t looked for the source of that voice, because he found it.

He was tucked up in the corner of the cavernous room overhead. The titan of air had pale grey skin marked here and there with darker grey, like the clouds on an overcast sky. Eyes the color of a clear day stared down at Blake, the pressure of that gaze like a physical weight. The corners upturned with some kind of amusement, and the slit pupils widened by degrees. Storm grey hair in a handsome swoop moved in an unseen breeze.

The titan didn’t have a humanoid lower half, but rather an unfathomably huge snake tail. Below his hips, grey coils that could stretch across what felt like a mile of sky bunched into the corner of the room. Blake couldn’t see where that tail ended.

The hands, each bigger than Blake’s whole body by several feet, pressed into the walls up there. The titan grinned, showing off fangs that matched the rest of his snakelike body. “A visitor indeed,” he all but purred. To Blake’s surprise, he spoke quieter than before. “It’s not easy to sneak your way into my humble house, not for you little folk below. I’m intrigued already.”

Blake really didn’t like the way that titan stared at him. There was a long pause in which he craned his neck back to stare up at him, coiled up in that high corner of the room, and he stared down at him, intrigued.

At length, the titan’s half-lidded eyes closed entirely. A tongue slipped out from between those lips, long and forked at the end. Blake shuddered at the brief sight, and the titan smirked as it disappeared once more.

“That’s fear all over you,” he noted playfully. “Why ever would a human, an accomplished mage in fact, be so afraid of big old me?”

NaNoWriMo Day 28

I am coasting in on the buffer I made sure to build up at the beginning of the month, and today I actually passed 50k! I plan to keep working on the story to finish out the month and get that achievement for updating every day of November, but the big goal is behind me!

Word Count: 747


Autumnus didn’t have all the details, and he doubted he’d be able to put as much together as Veranus could even if he did. She was one of the best he had. If her hunch was right and someone was trying to keep her distracted, time was of the essence.

It was a unique opportunity, however. One he couldn’t deny. “I assume you’re already working to lock down the cape.”

Veranus nodded. “I am working with their council to the full extent. The suspect is also secure here, though I think many of the mages here are not convinced of his guilt at this time.”

Autumnus sat back slightly and sighed. “It pains me to say it, but I think Amata’s guilt or innocence is secondary to your primary mission, if there is indeed a risk that you’re being played. We may be able to revisit his case later on, but for now, I think it would be best if he took the fall here, if only to move the investigation along. You will be in their good graces for solving their little mystery with all swiftness, and then you can move on to the next steps.”

Veranus didn’t blink. She barely even paused. “If I jail him for this crime, his chance for appeal won’t come up for a very long time. The violent nature of the murder assures a minimum of ten years.”

Autumnus glanced at the clock he kept hanging on the opposite wall. “So be it. You have my approval, and my secrecy. Thank you, Cassandra.”

NaNoWriMo Day 27

It was another travel day today for me. I am back home and very glad to be among my things (and I even planned ahead and put new sheets on my bed before I left). I did today’s writing while sitting around the Minneapolis airport, so there’s not as many as there could be, but I have built up a lot of buffer in the early parts of this month.

Word Count: 784


He was ready to grab fresh clothes from his box when he paused, staring down at his side. A familiar old marking greeted him, a faint orange burst that crackled across his side and up under his arm, and partially down his thigh.

Scars from cast spells could look a lot of different ways. Blake’s was unique to him, a permanent discoloration and slight toughening of the skin it covered. He traced a finger absently over one of the branches of the scar that angled over his belly.

Ai’Teli had cast the spell that left him with that scar. They hadn’t meant for it to strike him so hard, nor to have this effect on him. They’d been attempting to mix known spells for new results, well before either of them had learned such things in classes. They didn’t know how to control the magnitude of such a volatile mixed spell.

He didn’t even remember the pain. He remembered writhing on the ground in the courtyard where he and Ai’Teli had been practicing their sparring. He remembered a class of new students rushing over with their instructor to see what had happened. He remembered Ai’Teli in near tears as they hovered over him, apologizing over and over. The spell had hurt – but Blake didn’t remember what it felt like anymore.

He remembered Ai’Teli staying by his side in the infirmary as often as they could. He didn’t let them skip classes – even in good health, if he caught them trying to skip out on lectures he didn’t let them get away with it. But they came by whenever they could, even doing some of their homework at the foot of his bed. They collected notes from Blake’s classes and brought them to him so he wouldn’t waste away from boredom.

NaNoWriMo Day 22

I actually wrote all my words in one go today! That doesn’t always happen; sometimes I skip around in scenes as the whim takes me. Today I guess it was all about Blake and Ai’Teli again, I guess.

Word Count: 2123


Blake had opted for robes as his primary mage’s garb. A standard, for certain, he’d always opted for the classic look. Ai’Teli had always teased him for taking the easy way out. Blake usually countered that their choice, a wraparound skirt in bright colors with a shawl over their shoulders, came directly from the traditions on the islands they called home. They had taken their own easy way out. It always earned a laugh in their warm, firm voice.

Blake could swear he heard that laugh, like a distant echo, as he glanced past the garments hanging in the armoire for the shelves down at waist level instead. That was where his and Ai’Teli’s magical foci rested, waiting for when they’d be needed.

Blake took his wand first, a straight length of beech with one small offshoot near the end making it look like a Y. He also kept a pendant with a simple river stone wrapped up in wires, and a half glove made of miniscule chainmail. He tossed the foci onto his box of personal effects.

Before he closed the armoire, his gaze alighted on Ai’Teli’s side of the shelf.

Their foci were only two. A tuning fork and a takakata. The takakata was a length of string, only a few inches long, connected at both ends to a pair of small, dark brown gourds filled with sand and sealed off. It was an instrument used often on their home island, they’d always said. Even before the two of them had begun their work using a magical focus to make their spellcasting more efficient, they’d often shown Blake how the instrument worked: holding one of the small gourds in their hand while swinging the other around it back and forth. The sharp clacks combined with the rustling of the sand created a rhythmic sound that evoked motion. It was the perfect focus for the energetic Ai’Teli Norua.

NaNoWriMo Day 16

I’ve slowed down a little bit this week! I’m tired and work is an absolute monster these days. However, I’m still making decent progress! I’m still figuring out where I want to go with the whole murder mystery subplot, but y’know what this is first draft vibes baby!

Word Count: 1808


His focus stayed on the door out of the infirmary until the healer gently placed a hand on his cheek and turned his face to focus on her instead. “Eyelight,” she warned, before curling her hand into a loose fist with the heel facing him. A small light appeared there, aiming into his eyes.

Blake blinked once but tried to otherwise curb the reaction; he’d done these checkups before. The healer checked both of his eyes, though for what he couldn’t really say.

Once the spell winked out, she finally stopped her ministrations to place a hand on his shoulder. She was so gentle that Blake almost forgot about the manacles keeping him on the bed. “I understand you’re confused on top of everything else,” she said. “The dean and the rest of the council members thought it best to bring in some lawmen from the Order of Stewards. That’s what he meant about questioning. Some extra process to make sure we don’t miss any clues. You’re not in as much trouble as he acts.”

Blake glanced down at his wrists again. He didn’t move them. He didn’t need to; her gaze followed his and she sighed. “A precaution. We don’t know what happened, after all. If you were influenced by something, we can’t say the influence is gone yet.”

So that was it. Blake was a suspect, but not. He was presumed innocent, but not quite enough to walk free.

NaNoWriMo Day 13

Lucky number 13! Things are still going along at a good pace. I’m not fully sure yet how I want to get the next Big Thing to happen, but I’m getting close so I’ll have to figure that out fast! In the meantime, I did some work on the whole premise of Blake Amata’s part in the larger story. Went and hurt my own feelings, y’all.

Word Count: 2141


Blake had tunnel vision on Ai’teli’s face. They looked peaceful, perhaps a touch shocked, and it didn’t seem right. Something so awful happening to them shouldn’t leave such an understated expression on their face. A burst of rage crossed his face as the absurd thought that it must all be an elaborate fake, a prank on him to wake him early in the morning, crossed his mind.

A breathy sob choked out of him; still no voice accompanied it, but it was the best he could do. His vision blurred and his chest seized with the desire to scream and cry at the sight before him.

Someone else did it for him. Blake became vaguely aware of others standing in the doorway to his and Ai’Teli’s room. Other students, perhaps, who’d been awakened by the sound of frantic movement. He caught a glimpse of one young woman with unkempt hair and rumpled pajamas covering her mouth with both hands.

“You look at me,” insisted the man who still had a grip on his arm. He used the tip of his wand, pressed into Blake’s cheek, to direct him where to face his gaze. There was still rage, caution, confusion on the man’s face, and for a moment they just stared at each other. Blake searched desperately for answers in the lines of the older mage’s face, while in return he received a distrusting scowl, searching him for answers just the same.

The healer scoffed. “Get him out of here,” she insisted. “We don’t know what happened. Regardless, it cannot be good for him to be here.”

NaNoWriMo Day 8

Still going strong! I finished up an important scene with Blake today! Now I have to think about what part of the story I want to work on next, since I’ve been doing some of this stuff out of order. No time to lose this momentum!

Word count: 2133


“Someone went to fetch a healer from the infirmary,” someone said. It was a young voice. One of the younger students from the class Blake had interrupted with his theatrics.

He grimaced once more and tilted his head the best he could to eye the students still waiting nearby in a small, curious crowd. He’d been that green to the ways of magic before. He wasn’t sure whether or not seeing something like this, someone writhing in agony over a misfired spell, might have turned him off this career path altogether.

Not wanting to be the reason for anyone else to do so, he heaved a labored breath and shook his head. “Don’t let my dramatics stop your lessons,” he grit out. “Mistakes happen sometimes. I’m already starting to feel -”

-better. But he was already gone to the world, passed out cold on the stone.

NaNoWriMo Day 7

Things are still moving along at a really good pace! I’m having fun. Today it was all Blake Amata, a character who’s really coming together nicely considering this is the first time I’ve ever written about him. Along for the ride is his friend, Ai’Teli Norua. They’re a stinker and I love them.

Word Count: 2325


Blake pulled his tie free before deigning to give them a response. He tossed the dark grey garment onto his desk as the pair of them made their way to the door and beyond it to the hall. “Don’t you dare go dramatically giving up on me this early, Ai. If you’re going to drag me away from studies, it better be a good showing.”

Ai’Teli clapped him on the back, the impact sending Blake’s breath right out of his lungs in a quiet whuff. Ai’Teli wasn’t fazed at all by his resulting glare. “Oh, you bet it will,” they promised. Their voice, firm and weathered without sounding husky despite years of being a complete loudmouth, had taken on a mischievous and confident tone. As they walked, they brazenly cracked their knuckles. “I’ve been thinking about some of the stuff we’ve learned in Theory so far, actually.”

Blake frowned and paused in rolling up the sleeves of his button-up shirt. For a moment they only had the echoes of their footsteps following them through the halls of the dormitory, Blake’s shoes making a clear tap tap tap while Ai’Teli’s sandals shuffled along. Ai’Teli resolutely would not meet Blake’s gaze after dropping that bit of information.

“Ai, that sounds an awful lot to me like you’re trying to jump ahead to Experimental Casting.”

“Shh, don’t just say stuff like that out in the open!” Ai’Teli flapped a hand at him hurriedly and looked around. No one else had their dormitory doors open, and the halls were clear of any visible listeners. “Besides, it’s not like that really. Just thinking about how some of the instructors have a little extra flair on some of their spells. Nothing really changing the fundamentals of it -”

Blake cut them off with a quick slap to their well-toned arm with the back of his hand. “Don’t go messing with stuff like that,” he warned. “They bar that to students at our level for a reason, Ai.”

Ai’Teli made a show of sighing big and loud and exasperated. They rubbed at the back of their neck again, seeming to concede the point. “Aue, Amata. All the obstacles in my way to advance in this school, and I never thought it would be my own roommate. My dearest friend.”

Blake rolled his eyes at the dramatics. “It’s for our own good. I don’t want to have to send you back home and explain to your family that you turned yourself into a chicken.”

NaNoWriMo Day 6

Worked entirely in the POV of a different character this time! Blake Amata is new to me, and I’m still working out his character a bit. These early experiments with a character are always so fun! It lead to the words flowing pretty well today.

Word Count: 2236


It turned out, the symbols and diagrams they’d learned in the written portion of those early classes were far more simplified than Blake had anticipated. Here, in his third year of classes, he had to get into the bones of that early application he’d worked so hard to define.

Magic was a tool, almost a substance he could find in the world around him, and he had the power to move it in a myriad of predefined ways.

Now, he was attempting to learn, there were ways to map his own pathways. This was how mages created new spells of their own. Experimental Casting was barred to students until they passed Advanced Theory, and he slowly understood why.

Gods, was it boring, though. He blinked a few times to refocus his efforts, and hummed in frustration to realize he hadn’t retained a single word of the paragraph he’d been staring at for the last twenty minutes.