I’ve been pretty busy lately, what with having an extended leave from work. It’s been a rough few weeks, but given my veins pump ink half the time, I’ve been writing more and more.
Between proofing Of Salt and Wine (50 pages left!), I’ve been working on an autobiographical-type book on Scrivener–decided to break the program in–while pushing forward with my Nautilus high fantasy novel. A short excerpt of what I wrote earlier today:
(Background info: Barr’da took Nautilu from her home when her parents gave her up to be hanged with the crew of Barr’da’s ship. Barr’da’s got a rap sheet of inciting violence in another country (what with waking up a trapped elder god before she left), slapping around royalty, eluding the peacekeepers, and with a girl on the ship that shouldn’t be there, has a lot to answer for.
Nautilu wants adventure, dreams of her adult self (literally), and is currently in the armpit of a prophecy she doesn’t know exists. After this very short, curt trial, all hell will break loose. This trial is, literally, two years in the making. It’s been the biggest hurdle of mine to put it to paper (and give it justice). I’m literally at the doors now, and it feels amazing. Anywho, excerpt:
Dawn came. Older women—and one man—bathed Nautilu, naked, in a hot stone bath. They scrubbed her hair and skin, scrubbed her feet but avoided her hands. When she emerged, they rubbed oil into her arms and legs and neck, and put a soft cream on her face. She was perfumed under her arms with a plant her father used in stewing meat. She scrubbed her teeth with a sea sponge and chewed on minto afterward.
Barr’da dressed her in her Sanguine clothes, creamed threads soft and comfortable beneath, and green outer shell stiff but flexible in the right places. She had similar dress to the rest of Trekk’s clothing, though instead of pants she wore a skirt. She wondered if Barr’da had a skirt, too, or else simply wore pants.
“Your travel clothes are already stowed,” Barr’da whispered, perfumed and regal-looking in the early sun-light. Her head recently shaved, it shined like polished horse hooves.
Then two women walked up, armed to the teeth in steel and silver, and cuffed the two in thin, wrist-chafing cloth.
And they were made to march through town with almost twenty others.
Nautilu felt grateful the whole town seemed to be sleeping off the effects of the night before; hardly anyone looked outside their doors at the crier’s passing. Some even threw things out their windows, like food or broken pottery. Or pottery broken soon after. The streets were a mess of discarded wood, food, drink, and even a few passed-out Sanguine. A woman’s shirt hung off one of the marble statues as she passed it, the morphed man’s spear like a clothes drier after a rain.
The march was short—although Nautilu’s fresh-bought sucker-leather shoes hurt her feet already. They stopped at a low wall nearly four blocks later, the two men before it nodded at the crier, and the short congregation entered stone walls.
Within sat a garden of exotic plants and scents, all manner of insects and birds flitting about, and Nautilu only had the opportunity to see one of the broad-petaled red flowers from her dream before she marched through a silver-gilded wooden door three times taller than the wall that protected it.
They were forced to stand, sixth from the front of the line, and the doors behind them closed and locked. Barr’da said nothing but stood, straight-backed, shoulders behind her, chest out. She looked every bit a regal ship captain as anyone Nautilu’d ever seen. Her cheekbones high. Her eyes fierce and strong and grey, staring ahead like an armed military guard.
The others around her weren’t so composed. Two ahead, a young boy about her age couldn’t stand still, and he acted as if he were about to fall asleep—or his head was too large for his body, one or the other—and whenever he talked his nose shifted as if he had an abusive smith for a father. She glanced behind and saw a none-too-sober pair of roughnecks, one scratching the hair on the back of his dirty hands with blue-stained teeth, the other with impeccable clothing wrapped around broad shoulders—an oddity for the Sanguine—and squinting, piercing eyes beneath hair that looked as if it had never been dirty in its life. He then vomited into a potted plant beside him. Most of those gathered looked in varying degrees of intoxicated, few had clothing that matched top to bottom, and one even only wore one sandal. Other than her and Barr’da, there was only one other woman in the lineup, and she seemed the most composed of the lot. She wore shiny white hair like a skullcap down to a missing earlobe, scars traced about her neck in a crisscross pattern similar to what the grapes grew on at home, and the most beautiful nose Nautilu had ever seen. Her teeth were straight and perfect. She had empty scabbards lining her waist.
“Half of these were picked up last night. Just like the elders to try them on the morning after Siphangelous cast himself from the lot of the living.”
“What do they expect?” a sorrowful-looking man ahead of them asked.
“Your crime?” Barr’da asked.
“Tried to take a bread stall to my lady-to-be. She asked for bread, but I thought it’d do better to get me beside her.” He looked at his empty, bound hands, and cried a moment before continuing. “Tumbled down the road, all of it, when it spilled over.” He frowned. His face looked like a loaf of bread turned sideways. “I know what got you landed here. Anyone else where your slave came from?”
“Watch how you talk to me, man,” Barr’da growled, not moving from her stance. “Or else your blank stare and empty pockets will be the least of your lover’s worries.”