So there will be snark and worldbuilding and lots of spoilers and the process of rebuilding a novel from the bones of its former corpse.
50,000+ words (eventually) of Fun!
Total Wordcount: 12,009
Note: Wordcount totals no longer reflect the length of the posts as these were expanded on for clarity after the day was over.
There’s a ripple in the nothingness as the Writer walked back in from the shadows. The echoes of the living room were there, but this time there was no one else around. For a moment she thought about just walking out again, but she had the skeletons of yesterday’s word sprints to make sense of and at least that was easier to face than a blank page.
She summoned her comfy chair with a sigh, not bothering with the rest of the furniture. Pulling out her story notes she sat back in the chair and stared morosely at the mess of a story she was building.
After a long pause a Hound materialized out of the darkness and silently curled up by her feet.
“I don’t know how to make this work,” the Writer said. “Two paragraphs after I think I had a plot it all falls apart.”
“I can’t write the story for you,” said the dog without lifting his head. “That’s not how this works.”
“Can you at least, I dunno, give me a hint on how to salvage this?” the Writer asked, frustrated at her lack of progress. “The plot keeps getting hijacked, which I don’t mind, but everyone has the same personality. Whenever I try and introduce conflict people end up talking it out.” She pointed angrily at the Jon’s cell phone call from the hunting lodge. “There should have been a fight right there.”
“So retcon it, try again.” The Hound yawned, “I’ll hold down the fort.”
The Writer rolled her eyes, but picked up her pen.
To have a fight you need two people and the other half of the conflict isn’t there yet because…
So Owen was going to rescue the man in a cage because he’d been alerted to the fact that the man had been kidnapped. They were closing in on the general area to start with, but the sudden bonding of Jon gave Ven a nice new glowing anchor to aim towards. They still aren’t 100% sure of where the man is, but they can find him much easier now.
Personally Owen didn’t like the man very much, although he couldn’t quite put a finger on why other than the guy was a bit of an ass. But most people caught up in the Hinds and Hounds tended to be less than pleasant.
The man needed a name so… he was abruptly a Finn. Because the Writer has an addiction to short names. Reasons.
Finn needed rescuing and Owen and Ven were the closest pair to rescue them. Finn had no Hind because he’d been pack bonded to one (many human to one deer) and the other humans that had fled took the Hind with them.
Sadly the other humans died while fighting the old Huntsman and the pack and the Hind was injured enough that it retreated to the Veil instead of trying to find Finn. Without a Life anchor to pull from the Veil creatures heal more slowly and to be fair Finn really wasn’t up for healing much of anyone other than himself right now.
So the phone call can take place and then Owen and Ven can get there. Same thing, just slightly delayed and now there is also a pack of other Hounds to fight off.
Not quite sure how Owen is going to make it out alive anymore.
“I am getting really tired of all this nothing,” said Jon who had now followed Winjya randomly around the Veil for several days of Writer’s block. “I think I heard bits of our story over there,” he pointed into the vague direction of yesterday’s writing.
“Yes, but the important bits are this way,” said the Hound, nose to the ground. “We need the other Hounds and I’m tried of being the only dog with a name.”
“Considering you were all apparently planning on killing me back in the warehouse, can I vote for no?” Jon asked, still a little annoyed that his Magical Companion Animals were about as useful as a sword with no handle.
“Too late,” said Winjya happily and led Jon into the story.
Jon was still getting used to hearing music in his head. It was annoying– even if the music was apparently telepathic communication and not the gradual onset of insanity he’d thought it was.
He wasn’t sure he believed Hunter when she said the music would eventually turn into speech. The woodwinds, bell tones, and soft guitars held the hints of emotion that made the Hound’s moods and intent more obvious, but it was hardly proper communication.
So he was going to spend the rest of a what he was being told would be a very long life listening to four other people chattering in his head.
Winjya looked over at him with a annoyed whuff and then looked at Hunter who sighed.
“She said stop feeling sorry for yourself, it’s giving them a headache.” The Veil-lost Huntsman said. “Remember they can’t understand you either, give it time.”
“That’s all we have at this point,” said Jon bitterly. “I can’t get rid of them without dying.”
“Is that what they told you?” asked Hunter curiously, putting down her work to turn her attention to Jon.
“Yes?” Jon said, confused. “They said once the blood bonds are formed only the transitions into Death will break them. Aka dying.”
“True, in part,” she said. “But it’s the loss of the Life anchor that does it, not the actual death.”
“I don’t see how being Veil-lost is better than being dead,” Jon said dismissively. “I’d rather be dead than wandering forever in purgatory. Besides, if the bond is gone when you’re no longer alive how do you still have Dog?”
“I clung to him harder than I clung to Death,” she shrugged.
“That wasn’t very helpful in terms of the other Dogs,” Jon said after they had stepped away from the story again. “Although it was sort of useful in a general sense of world building.”
“I thought it smelled right,” Winjya sniffed the ground in frustration trying to find the trace of the trail that had lead her to the story snippit. ‘It was almost what I wanted.”
“So, try back this way?” Jon pointed in the direction of another hint of movement in the nothing. It wasn’t that far away in terms of the story direction, so he figured maybe they had just stopped too soon.
Winjya circled for a moment, sniffing, but then headed out in the direction Jon has suggested.
“Winjya,” said Hunter putting her hand on the tallest female Hound’s head. “She is the leader of this pack, as I imagine you have discovered for yourself.”
Jon muttered something unrepeatable and there was a jangling of discordant bells from Winjya.
“Athen,” Hunter said, pointing to the male that always seemed to be by Winjya’s side. There was a somewhat friendly trill of bass woodwinds and he wagged his tail ever so slightly.
“Tos,” Hunter gestured to the other male, who was keeping his distance and not at all pleased with the turn of events. There was what sounded like an oboe forefront in his song and Jon figured it fit his grumpy personality. Which earned him an earful of oboe and a growl.
“And this is Jenna,” she said pointing to the smaller female who had started the whole mess. Jenna was unrepentantly happy and the upbeat acoustic guitar riff accompanied the metronome of her tail against his leg.
“Well at least someone’s glad this happened,” said Jon who was feeling even more out of sync with reality. Ghost dogs that attacked you and dragged you into gun battles with crazy people and giant glowing deer just weren’t things that should exist.
Jenna gave him an understanding minor chord and jumped up to lick his face.
The Writer walked back into the nothingness, papers in hand but then stopped before she got to the comfy chair. The nameless Hound from earlier was gone again.
“You know what, no.” she said to no one in particular and just dropped her armful of notes onto the laptop desk. “Enough of this, I’m going for a walk.”
Of course saying you are going for a walk into the endless expanse of nothingness and actually going for a walk are two different things, so it took her a few minutes to work up the courage.
“This isn’t so bad,” she said as she wandered in what she hoped wasn’t circles. The nothingness was just as empty as it had been before, but in a friendlier way and the disquieting hints of things that weren’t quite sound seemed less ominous. It was horror-lite and while not partially inspiring, was a sight more interesting than the half-finished pages she’d been working on.
After a short bit she noticed she was being followed by a pair of eyes and a very faint outline of a Hound.
“Could you stop doing that,” she objected, “please?”
The Hound harrumphed but slowly coalesced into a slightly more solid blue outline of a dog. It kept pace beside her, not quite following, not quite leading. More that they happened to be going in the same direction. Which wasn’t very likely, but the Writer was going on an Important Writerly Walk and didn’t much care.
“So which one are you?” the Writer asked after a few minutes of companionable walking. It was just about impossible to tell the dogs apart, they were all decent examples of the breed having been built around an ideal and not reality.
“I’m not sure yet,” said the Hound amiably. “I don’t have all the pieces to me yet.”
“Well, we have Jon’s dogs and then Dog, but you don’t seem to be any of those.” said the Writer, thoughtfully.
“Nope, don’t appear to be,” the Hound nodded, dropping his nose from time to time to scent the ground as they walked.
“There aren’t any other Hounds in the story though,” the Writer have the Hound a look.
“Well, there weren’t,” said the Hound.
They walked on for a bit longer as the Writer tried to peace together who the new Hound might be. “Maybe you’re a DVD extra?” she said finally. “Someone I can worldbuild with, but that is only tangently related to the main story somehow?”
“Sounds reasonable,” said the Hound. “You are a few thousand words behind after all.” He looked out at the darkness. “I think I have story over this way, if you like.”
“Lead on MacGruff!”
“Pretty sure someone already did that joke.”