Prologue Part 2

Here are the next 3 pages of the prologue.

Kortara opened the door and the passageway torchlight threw a swath of yellow across the dark cell floor. The occupant, a boy no older than his eleventh year, cringed away from both the light and the open door.

Reaching inside a pocket in his robe, Kortara procured a half loaf of bread, some wedges of cheese, and a round fruit of some kind. He smiled as the boy’s eyes widened, taking in the bounty before him. Slowly, the boy crept forward as Kortara held the food out toward him enticingly.

“Go ahead,” he said soothingly, “take it.”

According to Pevnir, a hard day’s ride had brought the boy to the capital yesterday morning. He had been living on the streets of Old Malbec, and the Order had discovered him after he had been caught picking pockets. The constable had considered the way the boy had so successfully swindled the good people of his town to be nothing short of the work of an Augira.  Of course, the Order had been obligated to take matters into their own hands, and, of course, the boy was probably innocent of all charges.  Well, all Auri-related charges.

Kortara stood in the doorway, feigning patience, while the smells of the cell accosted his nose.  The boy still stank like a street urchin, and Kortara resisted the urge to wipe his hands on his lavish robe. After a brief moment of indecision, the boy lunged for the food and began wolfing down the bread and cheese, watching Kortara with wide eyes.

“I thought you might be hungry,” Kortara said invitingly, knowing full well that he had ordered the boy to be given only water since his arrival. The boy kept chewing and nodded. Kortara waited patiently as the boy continued eating.

There was, after all, no hurry.

How long has it been since I’ve been able to access Auri, to feel that singular rush of power through my veins? Two hundred years? He sighed. Still, this one may finally have enough Augiri ability for me drain that I may actually be able to complete the Marks. The Nameless One knows that I have waited long enough, trapped as I am.

After years of madness, confined within the mind of a madman, Kortara had finally come up with a plan.  It was a wild idea, one that had no precedent.  The plan was simple.  As he had in his prior life, Kortara would drain the Auri of others to fuel his own power, but this time he would be trying to channel their Auri in an attempt to resurrect himself in this body, without the other personalities that also inhabited it.  It was a long shot, but Kortara had waited long enough for even a long shot to seem worthwhile.

The only problem was regis Dahven.  Where Kortara had been an Augira born with a strong ability to access Auri in not only himself, but in others, regis Dahven – this body he was confined to – had not a shred of Augiri heritage.  Dahven couldn’t access Auri if his life depended on it.  And that meant that Kortara couldn’t, either.  So although Kortara had been attempting to drain prisoners of their Auri throughout the past two years, none of his attempts had been successful.

At first, he’d picked prisoners at random for his rituals.  No one missed those in the Illuminated Dungeons, so Kortara had little concern about being caught.  After multiple failures, he had begun to wonder if bloodline might be the key to the puzzle.  Perhaps those with Augiri heritage held the key – if they possessed the ability to access Auri, maybe it would flow more easily from them to him.  So, Kortara had begun tasking Pevnir with finding prisoners with more promise.

Kortara pulled himself from his musings and eyed the amount of uneaten food in the boy’s hands.  Any minute now…

Suddenly, the boy’s eyes seemed to unfocus and he sat down abruptly. The remaining food tumbled from his hands and he slumped to the ground. In seconds, he was unconscious.

Kortara dusted off his robes and exited the cell.

“Pevnir,” Kortara said, “Please collect the body and bring him to the chamber. I will meet you there.” Without waiting to see if his orders were received, he strode briskly down the hall.

After walking even deeper into the underground labyrinth of passageways, Kortara stopped in front of the door that looked like the entrance to a Temple of Illumination. The stone was carved with artistic flair, scrollwork and imagery surrounding the doorway. This, however, was no Temple of Illumination. He slipped in quietly, soaking in the ambiance.

The chamber was a round room with a domed ceiling. The walls had shelves carved out of them and shadowed nooks and doorways. In the center was a large slab of stone surrounded by torches in metal holders. Although much of the chamber was dark, the stone table in the middle was well-lit. Kortara inhaled deeply, breathing in the earthy scents of candles, soil, and stone.

It was perfect.

This far underground, no sound leaked out from under the door of the chamber. The servants were banned from ever coming this far into the Illuminated Dungeons, and there were sentries loyal to his cause posted throughout the tunnels. Kortara tolerated no interruptions. He was drawn from his musings as the door opened and Pevnir entered, carrying the boy over his shoulder. Kortara stepped to the side as the guard passed and laid the boy on the stone table.

Kortara watched in silence as Pevnir arranged the boy on his back, legs straight, arms to his sides. Both men had done with many times before, and there was no reason to speak. Finished, Pevnir turned and, after bowing to his leader, made his way to the door.

Kortara did this part alone, and his followers understood.

He took a long knife off of a shelf to the left of the altar and slowly approached the unconscious boy. Kortara took a deep breath and called back knowledge that was centuries old. While his left hand held the knife, he used his free hand to draw a complex symbol in the air before him. He had memorized the lines and symbols that made up the Opening Marks, the symbols that allowed an Augira to access Auri.  In the dim lighting, Kortara imagined that he could see the Opening Marks shimmering in the air in front of his face, .

Once he finished, he slowly made two shallow cuts along the inside of each of the boy’s wrists. Then, he made matching cuts on his own wrists, letting the blood from the knife mixed with his own. Kortara focused all of his mental energy and pressed his right wrist against the boy’s right wrist, following with the left. It was crucial that his focus never waver; that was why he never allowed his followers to observe the ritual.

Prologue

At this point, I have reached almost 150 pages. Here’s a sneak peek at the first 3 pages of the rough draft. Maybe I’ll have to make like an old-fashioned serial and post some of the subsequent pages in a few days, and then the pages that follow, and so on and so forth…
Again, tabbing it all in and spacing it appropriately is a pain, so forgive the formatting. Please, please, please comment if you like, don’t like, or are indifferent to anything. Feedback is always appreciated!
Enjoy.

Regis Dahven, crowned ruler of all Alcostia, was not himself today after awakening from a midday nap.  This afternoon, he was none other than Suzerain Kortara, the infamous Augira responsible for taking untold numbers of lives and scarring the nation of Alcostia during the centuries-old events now known as Kortara’s Ruin.

Despite the overly-understanding, placating treatment he received from the regial steward upon waking up, Kortara was in a relatively good mood.  Although he hadn’t been himself in several days according to the lunar calendar hanging in his chambers, he had previously put plans in place that had undoubtedly been ready for at least a day.  He had dressed as hastily as possible and left his chambers to begin the walk down to the passages below the palace.  Specifically, he was headed toward the Illuminated Dungeons.

He hummed softly as he descended the stone steps that took him further and further underground.  Most of the cells that were beneath the regial palace in Malbec contained criminals who had been convicted of various crimes. The Illuminated Dungeons, located one level below, contained a completely different sort of criminal: those who had the potential to access Auri, the life force that existed within all living things.

At this point, most of the individuals housed in that portion of the dungeon were useless, of partial Augiri heritage. Most pure-blooded Augiri had been wiped out by the Order of Illumination over the last two hundred years. Augiri had become relics of the past; the Order hadn’t captured an actual Augira in almost twenty years.

Of course, that didn’t mean that the Dungeons were empty.  Suspected Augiri had to be brought to the capital and tried for their supposed crimes.  Even when they were truly guilty of nothing more than angering their neighbors, the Order of Illumination had a reputation to maintain.  They couldn’t very well let them go back home, spreading word of the Order’s mistake.  Instead, they were sentenced to life in prison, where the Order could keep a watchful eye on them.  The poor wretches in the dungeons were nothing more than unlucky souls.  They were as able to access Auri as a rock was.

Such a pity, Kortara thought.  There used to be so many of us.  Now I have little recourse but to pray to the Nameless One that this idea works and hope for the day that my followers provide me with more suitable…supplies.  One way or another, He always provides.  I am certain that there has to be at least one Augira somewhere in Alcostia, at least one!  And one is all I need.    

Kortara sighed as he walked, but he was not put off by the difficulty of his situation. There was simply no help for it.

He started humming again as he made his way through the maze-like passages, undisturbed by the dim torches lighting the walls and the dancing shadows. This was the one place in his entire palace where he felt like himself – at least, when he was himself. Here, in these musty corridors, he was in control once again.

Finally, the hall widened and doors began to appear on either side. Men in brown robes stood guard at two-door intervals, their swords at odds with their monk-like appearance. They seemed surprised to see him today, but they recovered enough to bow as he passed. He eventually stopped in front of a cell door on the right.  The man guarding this door kept his face neutral, showing no outward sign that Kortara was unexpected.

This, Kortara thought, is why you are my most elevated of disciples, Pevnir. 

The guard bowed.

“It is a pleasure to see you today…Regis Dahven” the guard said, looking questioningly at his leader as he said his name. Kortara smiled dryly. Of course, he understood the need for clarification.

This sort of thing happened when the regis wasn’t always who he appeared to be.

I suppose that it must be complicated for them, he thought, watching the wariness on the man’s face.  But really, they have no idea.  To have to share a body – a consciousness – with others…  Why, it is enough to make a man go mad!

He smiled at this irony, letting the silence hang for just long enough to make Pevnir nervous.  Finally, he took pity on the man.  I really shouldn’t toy with him…

“It is I, Pevnir,” Kortara said into the waiting silence. “I do hate being called by that fool’s name, but I suppose it cannot be helped.  I appreciate your diligence.  May the one who goes without a name reward you in the next life.”

The suzerain waited for the expected reply. Pevnir smiled, his composure slipping as he breathed a sigh of relief.

“As His will dictates,” the guard responded, adding “Exalted One. We await your coming and tremble at your might.” Pevnir bowed again, his eyes locked in a reverent gaze with the suzerain. He unhooked the keys from his waist and handed them over.

“How fares our guest this afternoon, Pevnir?” Kortara asked as he jiggled the key in the lock. Pevnir was one of his most loyal followers, and he believed in their cause with a fanatical exuberance.  Kortara trusted him with doing the best he could, but Pevnir was not Lucid.  There was no telling if frustration or his salvation lay on the other side of the door.  Despite the possibility of yet another disappointment, Kortara’s hands trembled with excitement.

“Fine, Kortara,” the man replied, “Druv was in the Hand who picked up the boy.  He really thinks that this one might be able to complete the Marks.  His bloodline isn’t pure, but Druv thought he had more Augira in him than the others.  Could it finally be enough?”

Kortara pursed his lips.

“I simply don’t know. I have never been reborn before, you see,” Kortara said with wry humor.  “Although I have faith that this will work eventually, I simply cannot hazard a guess until I try.”

Pevnir nodded.  “I will continue to pray to the Nameless One for you.”  He seemed self-conscious of this admission, as if he’d been too informal.  When he spoke again, his speech was slightly rushed.  “Everything’s as you requested, and we’ve set up the chamber for you. All is in readiness.”

“Perfect,” Kortara said as the last tumbler gave way. The lock clicked and opened. He paused before opening the door and looked at Pevnir. “I will need your help. After.”

“Of course,” Pevnir responded, bowing his head.

The Best Thing About Listening to Writing Podcasts

The nice thing about listening to a podcast done by actual, successful writers is that they really do make a difference in how I feel about my writing.

Sometimes, it just feels like it’s not good enough.

But then, Howard Taylor and Dan Wells come along on their podcast (Writing Excuses) and make me feel better. Nothing boosts my self-confidence more than hearing that Brandon Sanderson’s first drafts aren’t all that good either!

Transcript:
[Dan] This is one of the great things about being in a writing group with Brandon Sanderson. Because… you all love his books, I know, they’re great, I love them as well. I get to read his first drafts and they are just as awful as everyone else’s. It’s so great to see Way of Kings in its 5 inches of titanium binding or whatever and think, “He’s so good, and he’s so successful,” and then read the first draft of his next one and you’re like, “Really, dude?”
[Howard] As long as Brandon can’t be with us, we might as well tell stories about him. The… he and I were at the gym, and he was talking about the pitch for Way of Kings, pitching it to Tom Doherty. He described the pitch to me. A little part of my brain said, “Really? Really? You’re going to try and sell 10 books on that? Are you serious?”

What is ‘Augira’ About?

Now, some of you may be thinking, “I really appreciate the bits and pieces of the rough draft that Lauren keeps posting, but what is this Augira book really about?”

That, my friends, is an excellent question. I’ve written up the rough draft of the summary that goes on the back cover of a novel, so hopefully this gives you a better idea of the storyline.

Almost two hundred years ago, powerful mages known as “Augiri” battled for control over Alcostia and the surrounding nations. The most powerful was eventually defeated, but his reign of terror left Alcostia scarred and afraid. A religious order born from the ashes of this conflict tasked itself with the eradication of the Augiri.

Now, the Augiri are almost extinct and anyone even suspected of being an Augira is imprisoned for life – or worse. Without any warning, Renna Farralon is abruptly taken from her home, accused by the Order of Illumination of being an Augira, and transported to the capital for the trial that will determine her fate. Renna has no idea that she is at the heart of a prophecy that predicts the murder of the ruling monarch, Regis Dahven. Nor is she aware of the true madness that lurks within the regis, threatening not only her life, but the future of Alcostia.

The fate of the nation lies in the hands of Renna, a girl who might just be the last true Augira, Regis Dahven, a ruler with multiple personalities and raging paranoia, Shaed Torune, a religious leader suffering a crisis of faith, and Evie, a prophetic blind girl with an uncertain past. Their decisions have the power to destroy Alcostia – or to save it.

An Excerpt from Chapter 9

I’m jumping around in the story a bit with this excerpt.  This little piece of Augira comes from chapter 9. I really like how it turned out, so I decided to share it with you.

The formatting is all off, but adding in the appropriate tabs and removing unnecessary spacing would take forever, so it is what it is, for now.

To give you some background, Renna (one of the main point of view characters, not the same girl as the one in the excerpt from chapter 1) has been captured by the Order of Illumination, a militaristic religious organization that believes her to have used magic, which is illegal. They are taking her to the capital to await a trial, but have stopped for the night. During the stop, Renna was able to escape. However, the escape – and the whole, captured-and-expecting-to-be-sentenced-to-death thing – has been exhausting, and she becomes lost in an unfamiliar city, closing her eyes for just a moment…

“Well, now, Johnah,” a loud voice said, causing Renna to blearily open her eyes, “what’ve we got here?”

Everything hurt.  Her legs ached, her back felt stiff, and her neck had a shooting pain as she straightened it to bring her head up from its resting position on her chest.  Her mouth tasted bitter, and her eyes felt gummy and moist.  She blinked at the shapes that loomed over her.

Where am I? Renna thought, still clinging to the last vestiges of sleep.  The menace in a second voice was enough to wake her with a burst of fear.

“I dunno, Tonnny,” it replied in an amused tone that sent shivers down Renna’s back, “It looks to me like a lady takin’ a nap in the wrong part of town, wou’n’t you say?”

It all came rushing back, hitting Renna like a ton of bricks.  The capture.  The trip.  The cell.  The escape.  Then…oh, God…

Her head finally clear, she craned her neck up to face the two men who were standing much too close to where she was sitting.  She wanted to stand up quickly, surprise them, but, oh, the pain.  Her body screamed at the mere thought of such quick movement, but she had no choice.

“I’d say so, Johnah, that I would.  Johnah?”

“Yeah, Tonny?”

“What happens to little ladies like this’n when they stay too long in these parts, ‘specially late at night?”

“Now Tonny, ‘s not nice to talk of such things in front of a lady, y’know…”

Renna sprang up, her back to wall.

“O’ho!  Johnah!  Lookit that!”  The one called “Tonny” seemed even more amused now.

Renna tuned out her body’s agonized response and drew the nail from her braid.  She kept it hidden in her hand, ready should she need it.  Realistically, a woman with a nail was no match for two men, and Renna knew it.  She refused to think about the alternatives.

“I think we got us a fighter, Tonny, ‘s what I think,” Johnah replied.

“What do you want?” Renna snarled, trying to match their predatory gazes with a vicious one of her own.

The men look at one another and laughed.

“Well, now, girlie, what do we want?” Tonny asked in a faux-contemplative way.  “Now, there’s a question!”

The men were obviously thugs.  They were big, muscled men in clothes that were more concerned with allowing a range of movement and concealing weapons than fashion.  Renna could make out the outline of several knives of various sizes underneath their leggings, and their tunics no doubt concealed more.  Her biggest concern was the cudgels that each carried, their hands caressing the wooden bats in a threatening manner.

“I dunno ‘bout you, Tonny, but if we’re lookin’ at what I want, well, I could use some new knives,” Johnah said.  “An’ maybe a pair o’ waterproof boots.  I hate it when the bloodstains begin t’ turn the leather.”

“Oh yeah,” Tonny agreed, “And mayhap a belt for all my tools…”

Renna felt well and truly trapped.  As the men continued their sinister banter, she eyed the opening of the alley.  It was still quite dark, maybe a few hours after midnight, and the part of the street that she could see was deserted.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, she thought.  How could I have fallen asleep?  These men wouldn’t hesitate to do things that the Hand wouldn’t.  Lord, I’m an idiot, and I am surely going to die.  Light protect me!

Renna did the only thing she could think of.  She screamed.  Almost immediately, the thugs leapt on her, covering her mouth with filthy hands and striking her in the head with one of their cudgels.  The nail in her hand went flying.  Her vision swam and her ears rang.  Her bones seemed unable to support her, and she felt herself sliding down.

No!  It will not end this way!

Renna tried to blink to clear her blurry vision as she fought to retain consciousness, but her eyelids felt like they were lead weights.  She barely noticed Tonny and Johnah pawing at her, their first priority any valuables she might be carrying.  Renna felt like she was floating high in the air, not here with these men.

A voice suddenly echoed down the alley.

“Release the girl.  Immediately.”

She was back in her body for a moment, something about the voice tying her to the situation.

I can’t hold on much longer…I just…I just want to let go…I’m so tired…

The voice brooked no argument, but the thugs weren’t about to relinquish their prize without a fight.  Renna was twisted toward the dead end of the alley as Tonny dropped his hands, and she could just barely hear his taunts as the world spun upside down.

“The lady’s ours, mico.  Just walk away.”

Johnah tightened his grip on her, his hands bunching her tunic in his grip as he spun her back around.  Renna was dizzy, and she tasted blood in her mouth.  Had she been hit again?  Where did the blood come from?

So tired…

A thudding sound bounced around in Renna’s head, her ringing ears distorting it.  She tried lifting her head, but it was too heavy.  Why was it so heavy?  She could barely raise her eyelids enough to see Tonny crash into the wall, taking a punch from a man in a brown robe.  Suddenly, voices filled the alley, and Renna could just barely make out more brown-colored figures as she was dropped to the ground.

She couldn’t move, her hearing fading in and out.  The roaring in her ears drowned out most of the sounds that came intermittently, but she detachedly thought they sounded like fighting.

The last thing she heard was a familiar cold voice saying, “She deserves nothing short of the Light’s justice; I’ll not have her dying on my watch.  Take her back to the inn, and for the Lord’s sake, get her cleaned up.”

Then everything faded to black.

A Sneak Peek at Chapter One

Here’s a little taste of Chapter One – please keep in mind that this is a rough, rough draft and far from perfect.  Enjoy!  Feel free to comment and leave me your thoughts.

 

Chapter One

The captain of the outer wall regiment of the Regial Guard squinted into the glare of the setting sun, trying to make out the figure coming down the road toward him. Although Captain Nario was fairly certain that the Augiri of old were all but extinct, the disturbing stories about them were all he could think about as the ethereal-looking girl became visible against the glare.

He rubbed his eyes, hoping that the figure was a figment of his overtired mind. He’d taken a second shift today to cover for a guard who had caught some sort of coughing sickness, and his body and mind were running on his last bits of strength. When he brought his hands away from his face, the girl was still there, walking unwaveringly down the road toward him. She was alone. At this time of the evening, the road leading to the Regial Palace was usually empty. Normal people were eating supper in their homes by now.

Nario made the Sign of the Light over his heart and whispered a prayer to the Lord of the Light to protect him if it turned out that she was an Augira who had come to steal their souls. He fingered his sword hilt and turned to Manu, who was standing on the other side of the portcullis. Aside from the sentries far above on the outer wall, Manu was the only other guard on duty with him.

“Manu!” Nario said in an exaggerated whisper, “You see that?”

Manu scanned the road, brow furrowed. Then, he made the Sign over his heart and cursed.

“Shadows ‘n darkness!” Manu said, “That can’t be anythin’ but bad, captain. Are ‘Giri usin’ children these days?”

Manu’s right hand was on his sword, his left clutching his pendant depicting the Lord of the Light.

“I don’t know, Manu,” Nario replied, worriedly watching the girl as she continued toward them. “Does anyone save the Light himself know what Augiri are truly capable of?”

Neither man cared to continue the conversation; instead, they stood at their posts watching the road with hawk-like gazes, bodies taught with anxiety. Both had their swords at the ready.

Nario could tell when the guards atop the outer wall saw the girl by their muttered curses and sudden discomfited movements. Her course was unerringly in Nario’s direction. As the captain assigned to the outer gate, Nario was used to dealing with the various vagrants, lunatics, and beggars who attempted to enter the Regial Palace. However, this one made him more uneasy than any of the others he had had to deal with during his years at the post.

The closer she came, the more troubled Nario found himself. The girl couldn’t have been more than eleven years old, but she carried herself with the deliberate grace of one much older. Her skin was pale, so light as to be almost translucent, and her hair was the lightest shade of gold he had ever seen. She seemed to be walking with unusual slowness. As soon as he could clearly see her face, Nario realized that this was because the child was totally and completely blind. He stifled a shudder as those pale, unseeing eyes met his, cloudy irises so light a blue that they were almost colorless. He rubbed his thumb in a pattern along the ribbing of his sword hilt to help him focus.

Nario chided himself for his nervousness, but he could not shake thoughts of the heinous Augiri and their evil powers. It was said that an Augir or an Augira could steal a person’s life with little more than a hand gesture and a look. Nario tried to remember how their appearance had been described, but he could not.

Surely, he thought, they looked like this one, with her pale skin and unearthly eyes. And what kind of child acts like this, coming alone to the palace at dusk?

As she drew within a few steps of him, Nario’s fellows atop the wall above him tried to move further down without him noticing. He noticed.

Nario held his ground, snarling, “What business brings you to the Regial Palace?”

It wouldn’t do to appear shaken by this child, especially if she was an Augira, but Nario was embarrassed to realize that his hands were trembling ever so slightly. Nonetheless, he glared down at the girl, his right hand pulling his sword out of its hilt just enough to show a thin glimpse of the metal blade in an unspoken threat. The unearthly child just smiled calmly at him.

“I need to speak to Regis Dahven immediately,” she said. The girl’s voice was as delicate as her frame, and she spoke softly. Her words were cultured and sure. “I know how he is going to die.”

Nario couldn’t help but bark out a laugh in shock.

“What? What kind of a joke is this, child?” he asked, “The regis gets a lot of doomsayers and the like, you know.”

Nario heard a grunt from Manu, who was watching the exchange and ready to lend his sword should it be necessary. Nario cocked his head to the side and met her eyes, measuring her words. The girl sighed, but did not look surprised at his disbelief.

“I understand your skepticism,” she said, “but I’m afraid I truly am serious. I thought he should know. I really cannot tell you any more than that. I am willing to wait as long as it takes for Regis Dahven to understand how serious I am.”

Although she acted normally enough as she spoke, Nario knew better than to let his guard down even the tiniest bit. Everyone was aware of how wily Augiri were. He kept his muscles tensed, his hand never leaving his sword hilt.

Light, does she really believe what she’s saying? Nario wondered. What kind of twisted Auri would allow her to see the future? The only true way to know how a man’s going to die is to be the one doing the killing.

He had made the signal for one of the guards atop the wall to get a Hand of the Light – or at least a Lucid One – to the front gate as soon as he had seen those unearthly eyes. A Hand was comprised of at least five members of the Order of Illumination. Usually, they contained at least one Lucid One, a person with bi-colored eyes who was born with the innate ability to sense Auri in others. There weren’t many Lucid One’s these days, but most of them joined with the Order.  Being at the palace, there was a greater chance that a Lucid One would be summoned to assess the girl.

During the aftermath of Kortara’s Ruin, Lucid Ones were forced to join the Order to help in the hunt for and capture of Augiri. Over the past hundred years or so, the role of Lucid Ones had changed due to the decrease in the number of people born with much Auri, and it had been years since they were required to join the Order against their will. Lucid Ones were still relied upon to deal with these situations, but Nario felt confident that, even should the Light send a Hand without one, they would be far better at handling this disturbing girl than he.

At this point, all he needed to do was keep her from stealing his soul until they arrived.

“Then you will wait,” Nario said. He took a risk and added, “I’ve alerted the Order of Illumination of your presence, and a Hand should be arriving any minute now.”

There, Nario thought. Let her also understand that I am not without backup.

She nodded, but made no other movement. Nario found himself staring at her eyes, and he quickly looked away upon the realization. He was unnerved when he heard her laugh. The girl’s laughter was brittle, full of the bitter knowledge of life’s pain that a child her age should not know. He suddenly went cold all over, wondering what malevolent use of Auri had allowed her to know that he’d been staring, hands itching to trace the Sign over his chest again to protect against her abnormal abilities.

“I have no Auri, and I am no evil Augira” she stated plainly, as if reading his mind. “The sudden rustle of your uniform gave your behavior away. Besides, staring is not exactly an uncommon reaction when people see me. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.”

Nario met Manu’s gaze over her head, and both men grunted in response.

The palace road was devoid of passers-by, and, aside from Nario and Manu, the girl was alone out here. There were guards atop the wall, of course, but they were high enough up that it was easy to forget their presence. Nario might have felt more exposed, but the truth was that the palace housed the two most important men in the country, along with their loyal followers and guards.

None of whom took kindly to those who used Auri in any way.

Both the regis of Alcostia and Alcostia’s Light, the head of the Order of Illumination, called the Regial Palace their home. Since the founding of the Order, the Light had been expected to work closely with the regis; providing Alcostia’s Light with living and work quarters within the Regial Palace seemed the most efficient way to ensure this.

The Order of Illumination was the national religion of Alcostia, and they were a highly militarized group. The Order had been founded in the aftermath of Kortara’s Ruin, and took up the task of eliminating any potential Auri-related threats to Alcostia. Hands of the Light were charged with the capture of any San-Augiri or Augiri to protect the people from their evil Auri. No one wanted to repeat Kortara’s Ruin, so the Order had practically limitless resources.

Regis Dahven had just as much power as the Light, but he was not known for using it as justly. This Regis had wild mood swings that were infamous throughout Alcostia; depending on the day, a man convicted of a crime could receive a death sentence or a complete pardon. Either the Light or the regis could have the girl thrown into prison or killed without protest if she appeared to be a threat to Alcostia.

For someone who seemed as much an Augira as this girl, Nario thought, walking up to Regial Palace is beyond foolish – a death wish.

A Dose of Reality

Listening to podcasts (i.e. Writing Excuses) and reading author’s websites (i.e. Brandon Sanderson’s page, David Farland’s page) has been really helpful throughout the writing process.  It’s also been moderately depressing.

The truth is, writing is just a part of it.  I’m starting to look at publishers, thinking about online followers, and mulling over ebook possibilities.  There’s a lot to think about besides whether or not my fantasy novel can handle an antagonist with Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder).

Researching the business side of writing has also given me a better idea of the timeline.  Originally, I joked (okay, somewhat seriously) that I would be accepting a deal with a publisher by Christmas.  Well, that’s probably not going to happen.  A lot of the publishers that I’m planning to submit to take 4-6 months to get back to you once you land on their slush piles.

So, if I finish my rough draft of Augira by September 15th, that means I’ll be waiting (and working, blarg) until February before I start neurotically searching mailboxes both physical and digital for a response.  However, I’m not discouraged.

Sure, the process takes longer than I thought it might, but, hey, what better time to work on the sequel?

P.S.  I am 15% done with Augira‘s rough draft!  WOOHOO!  I’m starting to pick up speed, and I may actually finish before my deadline!

The Storyline For My Fantasy Genre Novel

To whet your appetites, the storyline (the short, one-sentence summary meant to capture my future agent’s interest) for my fantasy novel is:

 

In his relentless pursuit of magic and power, a deranged ruler collides with the person destined to destroy him.

 

It started out as the following line, but was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long (it’s supposed to be less than 20 words):

 

In a country where the practice of magic is punishable by death, where the land and the people who live there still bear the effects of hundred-year-old events, and where years of geographical separation have created division amongst the classes, the kidnapping of one gifted woman sets off a chain of events that has the power to destroy the nation – or to save it.