I’m getting back in the swing of things and there’s a good chance I can win Camp NaNoWriMo if I just stick with it! With two full weekends left to go and a whole bunch of daily outlines, I’ve got the plans and the time… now I just have to get the words on paper. *rolls up sleeves*
Read at your own risk/amusement: There will most likely be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, contradictions/retcons, uneven characterization and pacing.
Daily Wordcount: 1,752
Total Wordcount: 5,004 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)
Day 18 – Black, Two Sugars
“So we can’t go any further until we figure out why the easy answer of ‘just move you idiots’ isn’t an option?” The wolpertinger was eyeing the endless whiteboard where the Writer had been frantically scribbling notes. “Seems fair.”
“Sarcasm doesn’t help,” muttered the Writer as she tried to come up with a reason beyond ‘because magic’. “We’ve got a low magic colonial period world and for some reason they have to build a city right on top of a river monster.” She waved a marker at the board. “WHY.”
“Well, you build by town where there is something,” said the Muse. “River access, raw materials, intersection of trade routes, there has to be a reason why both the humans and the wolpertingers won’t move.”
“If you want to get recursive, why not have it be because the river monster is there?” The hare twiched an ear thoughtfully. “If the magic flowers bloom only when the river monster isn’t in the river… maybe something else happens when it is asleep.”
“But that’s back to magic as the reason,” the Writer objected. “I was trying not to use it for every darned plot point.” She frowned at the board. “But maybe it’s a lack of magic that causes– whatever it is that it causes.”
“You could always have the monster be a magic drain, sort of like the dragon in That Don’t Impress Me Much,” offered the Muse. “So they would live there because it was a low magic area, which means things would be a little more normal than everywhere else.”
“But this is a low magic world normally, so would they even notice?” The wolpertinger used his forepaws to scroll through the worldbuilding in search of something that would fit. “Hah, there we go,” he sat back on his haunches, quite pleased with himself. “This is a disenchant area! Think about it, all the things that they would enchant or that got contaminated by magic somehow– bring them here and the magic will drain away.”
“That would definitely make this place unique,” said the Writer thoughtfully. “Why would the wolpertingers want to live there though? Aren’t you magical constructs?”
“Yes, and that magic will drive us to find humans to bond with– but when we’re in the no magic zone we can ignore the compulsion and live like normal people.” He tucked his fox tail neatly around his paws.
“You’re a giant bunny, you aren’t ‘normal people’,” said the Muse.
“And you’re a figment of her imagination,” snapped the hare. “Now can we get on with the story?”
“We can’t do nothing,” Hexa insisted, to every family member who came in earshot of her sickbed. “Someone has to go out and get the flowers! What if this time is the time when it works and we don’t go?”
“What if that time has already come and gone?” Her mother asks. “What if you breaking your leg means that this isn’t the time? Besides, if we don’t do it this time, then someone else will do it the next time around.”
“If the city’s destroyed there won’t be anyone left to buy your lumber,” She pleaded with her older brother, trying to find something that will convince him to go. “The merchants won’t stop if there’s no river port, we’ll all have to move.”
“If they have to rebuild the city, they’ll need even more wood,” Einar pointed out. “And the barges will just stop down the river at Two Forks, it’s not that much further. If you want someone to hunt the flowers you’ll have to go yourself.”
It’s when she actually tries to go herself three days later and they have to rescue her from the late winter snows that Father has had enough.
“You can’t go, not with that leg.” He locks the leather cuffs to her good leg, losely chaining her to the bed with one of the old horse hobbles. This isn’t the first time she’s refused to wait until she was well and he’s betting what worked when she was young should work now. “You’re going to stay here until that heals and that’s final.”
The wolpertinger is pacing outside the house where they’ve trapped him. He wasn’t paying attention when they brought her back and they managed to keep him from getting in. Fur fluffed and feathers ruffled, he’s threatening to tear down the walls, but only Hexa can hear him ranting.
“But someone has to go!” She’s tired and in pain, but she’s stubborn, just like her mother and her mother’s mother. “I just didn’t build the crutches right, you have to let me try again–”
“No. I don’t.” He sighed and ran a hand through short graying hair. “Look, I understand this is important to you, but I’m not letting you go out there to die. There’s no way you can find anything in the mountains with that leg, rabbit or no rabbit.” He sat down on the corner of the bed. “I get that you think this is important, but it’s not worth dying for.”
“It is,” she said through frustrated hiccuping sobs, having reached her breaking point. “It really really is, why can’t you see that?” If they didn’t leave now, if someone didn’t leave now, it would be too late. The wolpertinger’s pull was sure of that.
“I will make him see that,” snarled the wolpertinger and Hexa could feel the magic drain out of her as the hare forced a mental connection to her father. It was against the laws, but they’d already broken so many laws as it was and Hexa didn’t want to stop him.
Her father went pale as the wolpertinger broke down the walls between their minds. The hare showed him everything that they had seen and done, everything that the Oracle had showed them, the truth of how important this really was.
And when he was done there was silence.
After a moment her father got up and left the room, leaving her alone and the wolpertinger still trapped outside.
“That really needs to be rewritten,” pointed out the Muse. “And yeah I know, I know– next draft, but I’m not sure the father’s characterization is right. At least not the way we know him here.”
“Also, I need a name,” said the wolpertinger. “I’m getting very tired of being referred to as my species, or parts of my species.”
“Point noted and your name is… Wilu for now.” The Writer made a note.
“…You’re naming me after the noise a chickenhawk makes. Seriously?” The wolpertinger was not amused.
“Just for now. Everyone is getting real names in the second draft– I don’t know any of you well enough yet to give you proper names that fit.” The Writer waved a hand at the seven siblings who were all named after numbers. “Just be glad you aren’t stuck with Mom and Dad.”
“About that…” said Father.
Mother found Father sitting out by the well, staring off into the snowy orchard. He’d been quiet when he left Hexa’s room and that wasn’t like him– even if he was having to do something he hated. So when he didn’t come back inside, she went out to find him.
She walked out and sat next to him on the cold stones, handing over a mug of hot coffee.
“So?” She waited patiently for an answer.
The winter was winding down, in another month the spring melts would start and the trees would all go green again. Right now they were just black branches against white snow and the muddy rows where they’d walked to tend them. The fungus that kept the wood suptle needed tending in the winter and the trunks were wrapped with burlap and damp wool to keep it alive.
“The wolpertinger– It showed me everything. Some sort of mind thing.” He stared down into the cup, watching the steam curl up into the late afternoon winds. “I thought I knew what life was like out there, but some of the things she’s been through… and done.” He took a deep steadying breath and looked up to meet her eyes. “I think we need to go look for the flowers.”
Mother sighed. “It could be lying to you.”
“I don’t think it can,” he looked back down at the mug. “I got to feel that– what it’s like growing up as a thing. Knowing that you aren’t real and can’t ever be real no matter how hard you try. They have so many rules built into them I don’t know how they stay sane.” He sipped the coffee and exhaled clouds of steam.
“All the more reason not to go into the mountains with it,” Mother pointed out. “But maybe it’s right and this is the time when the story ends.” She looked out at the mountains that marched alongside the river. “You’d think the prophecy would have mentioned us, but the Oracle loves being a pain in the ass.”
“It’s not your cousin’s fault she was picked for the temple.”
“She could have said no.” Mother grumped.
“I’m pretty sure that’s not how the gods work.”
“Mmm, well you’d better enjoy that coffee, we’ll probably spend a month in the woods chasing wild geese and we’re not going to be able to pack enough to last.” She stood and started back to the house, starting to build the list in her head of what they’d need to do next.
Father looked down at his cup with great sadness. “Stupid bunny.”
“We’re finally getting on the road!” The Writer did a small happy victory dance in her chair and colored in a few more days worth of word count.
“And you have no idea what we’re going to do once we’re on it,” pointed out Mother dryly as she conjured up a comfy chair from the mists. Her’s was a dark mahogany with amber patterns and a pile of quilting material off to the side.
Father had rescued his own chair from the edges of the mists where they had started disassembling it in his absence. He dusted off stray story ideas and settled in with a book, happy to wait things out.
“Eh, I’ll make it up when I get there.” The Writer refused to give up on her dance and some of the plot bunnies were joining in. “Behold, the Power Of Pantsing!”
Mother gave up and sat down to work on her quilt. It was going to be one of those stories…