Today you shall behold wonders.
You shall behold first-draft, unedited, totally fabulous excerpts from my NaNoWriMo novel.
You shall behold that there was great sarcasm in that last sentence. Although, I will only be including my favorite excerpts, so maybe there will be some fabulous bits in there…we’ll see.
So, quick review if you weren’t around, since I still haven’t made a page for Battle Song yet: Little Mermaid retelling where she trades her beauty instead of her voice, is trying to get an immortal soul, is fabulous at fighting, and there are two adorable princes.
Great. Let’s get to the excerpts, then!
Just be forewarned that they may be random and confusing…
“Have you seen the beauty of the ocean? Have you seen the rippling of the sand and the swaying of the seaweed? Have you seen the fish swimming past you in schools, close enough to touch? Have you seen the light streaming through the water and the bubbling of the currents? Have you seen the deep blue that grows so dark light cannot penetrate? These are sights that no human has ever seen. We come here to experience the beauty for a short time, even if it ends sooner than not.”
She [Alavar] bit her lip. I knew it even though I couldn’t see, because that’s what she did whenever she was worried about something. “There was a battle, and you were gone.”
“I…why did we attack them?”
“We didn’t. They attacked us.”
My heart froze as I thought of the implications. “But there wasn’t a storm.”
“That doesn’t matter anymore. Now all that matters is keeping us safe, which means staying together. We needed you there—Tarisah got hurt, badly.”
“Where is she?” I was suddenly frantic. Tarisah, my sister, hurt. I had to find her, had to apologize for not being there, for not protecting her. She was the third youngest, but she’d always been smaller than either I or Kariven. Always the weakest, always the one who needed to be protected, and I hadn’t been there to fight the other mers off.
“That’s not fair,” I said, as I followed Alavar out of the hut and into the blackened ocean. “They’re not supposed to do that. They’re not allowed to.”
She laughed softly, derisively. “You think that matters to them? Now, it doesn’t matter. We’ll have to be on the watch all the time, night and day, on all sides, waiting for attacks from anyone. You think our clan will survive? No. Not us. We lost all power and authority the day Mother died.”
“No, Alavar, you don’t get it. You don’t understand. You think I’m like you–you think I’m like everyone else! I try to be, but it just doesn’t work. I fooled you, but I can never fool myself. I hate fighting. I want to explore. I want to try new things. But you all expect me to be the same and I’m just not!”
She swam back from me slightly, as if my words had physically pushed her away. “What are you talking about?”
“I hate fighting. I never liked it. But I did it because everyone expected me to. I did it because it felt like my only option. And now, my only option is to stay here and be sentry because maybe then someone will trust me again and think I’m a normal mer instead of who I actually am.”
She didn’t say anything, so I kept talking. “You want to know why I spent so much time practicing how to fight? I did it because that’s what Mother and I always fought about. Maybe I thought that learning how to be a warrior would bring her back, but it never worked because she’s just seafoam and I’ll never get to see her again and tell her—” My voice broke suddenly, clogged up so much that I couldn’t speak. “Tell her how sorry I am.”
“She will share her magic with you, but for an exorbitant price, far more than one wants to pay. But she teases it out of you, hiding everything she can with half-truths. She’ll tell you she’s mended her ways, she’ll say that she only wants the best for you, but what she really wants is the best from you. It’s said she’ll steal your tail from you if you’re not paying attention.
“Down in the darkness of the deepness of the ocean she dwells, waiting for any unwary sea creature to come her way, into her grasp. Some are lured in by visionary sights; others choose to bargain. Only those who come knowing what they want manage to leave again at all, but you can never really escape.”
Her [the sea witch’s] voice became soft now, rippling through the water like how the wind caused ridges in the water and the sand. “I know what you want, Amrya, more than you do. I can see into you, to your deepest desire, the reason why you came here. Do you want to know why you are here?”
My heart was already broken; I had no idea why I would have come, so I uttered an emotionless “Yes.”
“You are here because you want to be human. You are here because you have to cling to something and that something is a soul. You want to last longer. Haven’t you thought to yourself that you wanted to be human? When Alavar laughed at that, you wanted to show her that she was wrong. She is, Amrya. There is more beauty up there that you will never see if you stay here your entire life, and all of it will last so much longer. There is no sea up there to decay the houses, nothing to wash away all the life you have known. The human world is so much more permanent than ours, and that is why you want to go.”
After I’d exhausted my spears for the fifth or sixth round, I went to go pick them up. I bent to grab one, and when I stood up, a man was standing there, holding out two of the spears I’d thrown to me. I squinted at him, at the light blond hair, the plain clothing, and then I remembered where I’d seen him before: talking to the prince on the riverbank the day of the fireworks.
“Thank you,” I said, after staring at him for a moment, and took the spears into my arms.
“What’s your name?” he asked, a glint of surprise in his blue eyes…blue just like Alavar’s.
“Amrya,” I replied, picking another spear off the ground, and waited for him to respond with his name, but he never did. Instead he grabbed the last spear, handed it to me, and walked back the thirty-or-so paces to where I had been throwing with me.
“Where did you learn to use a spear like that?” he asked.
I wasn’t sure how to answer. The way he asked it implied that this wasn’t how he normally saw spears being used…either that, or he thought it was impressive and also rare. Either way, saying anything specific might give something odd away. “My mother taught me.”
He looked at me even more oddly than before. “Your mother? So do all the women in your family do it?”
I nodded. “I have five older sisters.”
He looked at me in surprise again, and I wondered if he would ever look at me normally. “And they all can throw spears like that?”
I shrugged. “More or less.”
“What are your plans, then, for your future?” he [the king] pressed.
Before I had time to even think about answering, Aeren put his glass down on the table, a little harder than necessary. “Amrya has just been in a shipwreck that took the lives of her loved ones. Do you expect her to have an immediate plan for her future? She’ll figure everything out, I’m sure, but she needs time, not more stress than she already has.”
“Calm down, Aeren,” said the queen. “We’ll talk about this after dinner.”
Aeren still looked angry with his parents, but his spine, which had stiffened during his outburst, relaxed slightly.
I judged the situation cautiously. I was supposed to be nice to him [Rhys], to try to get him to fall in love with me, but I couldn’t help be a little bit annoyed with him. “You enjoyed that, didn’t you?”
“Playing with them. Lying to them.”
He raised an eyebrow and looked at me coolly. “I’m not the one who should be talking about lying.”
I looked away, at the dancing, but I didn’t really focus in on it. “What did you tell Aeren?”
“Why does it matter to you whether he believes you or not? I thought I was the one you were trying to impress. You’re just like all those other girls. You only want the crown prince in order for my money, or worse, to become queen. Or, alternately, you could be a spy from Althair who merely heard about the story of the mysterious girl who saved me from the ship.”
“I’m not a spy, and I’m not like the other girls.” I looked at him levelly and gathered the courage I had. “I told you the truth when I said I was the one who saved you. The only reason I told Aeren differently is because you didn’t believe me, so I knew he wouldn’t.”
Rhys returned the same gaze. “I don’t know whether I should trust you or not.”
We walked in silence for a long moment, both of us looking out at the ocean and the sunset as the light died and drifted into darkness. The palace glowed with faint, yellow light, and we headed toward it. “When are you planning to go back to Althair?” asked Aeren suddenly.
“I do not know yet. I’m not sure. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to go back.” No, I knew that. I was a human now, forever, and there wasn’t a way to go back. Either I would stay a human into the eternities, or I would turn into seafoam as soon as Rhys was married.
“You can stay as long as you need, of course. But my father is already impatient…he wants to know why you’re here. He thinks you’re a spy for Althair. A girl just happens to show up at the brink of war, claiming to be shipwrecked, just happening to be taken in by the royal family…he thinks it’s too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.” He looked at me and his eyes met mine. “You’re not a spy, are you?”
“No. I’m not a spy.” I might have lied about where I came from, but I was not a spy from Althair. It would have been a simple plan, though, had it been so.
“But if war did break out…you would be an Althairian in Sannave. My father doesn’t think that safe, especially because of your training in the spear.” His voice was unsure, and I could tell in his eyes that he wanted me to confirm.
“My heart lies in the ocean,” I whispered. “I have no desire to fight anyone.”
“I believe you.”
Alavar’s voice was more bitter than I’d expected. “Is it everything you’d imagined? Did you find what you were looking for, away from your family?”
“Not yet,” I said quietly, not wanting to confront her, not when I could still preserve our relationship. I didn’t want to lose her like I had Mother.
“I told you blood was stronger than anything else. You won’t find it. You”—her voice broke—“won’t find it and you’ll die.”
I reached out a hand, as if to hold hers, but she wouldn’t come any closer to shore. “I’m sorry, Alavar,” I said. “I really am.”
“If you were sorry, you wouldn’t have ever gone. You would have stayed with us, and this wouldn’t have happened.” She motioned to the stormy ocean, the clouds above that were threatening rain. “It’s chaos down there, Amrya. I don’t know what’s happening. I escaped here because this was the only place I could think of to go. I don’t know where anyone is or even if everyone is alive. The war began and there was singing, but so much of it. As if all the clans were singing, all of them are fighting now. I don’t know if it’ll ever die down, but I can’t find anyone.”
“Alavar…” I whispered, too shocked to say anything else. My breath was caught in my throat. It was hard to think, hard to think about what it was like down there in the darkness. “No.”
“You would’ve been able to fight them off. You would have saved us, at least kept us together. You could have made everything all right, but you weren’t there.” Her tone was as biting as the rain that had just started, splattering against me in tiny drops that stung against my skin. I was already wet, so I bent down and knelt in the water, where I could reach out and just touch the tips of Alavar’s fingers when she reached out her hand.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, and tears rolled down my cheeks just as the rain did. “I don’t know what to do.”
“There’s nothing you can do. You just stay there and try to get your prince to fall in love with you so that you can stay human forever. I…I don’t even know why I came.”
“Because you miss me?” It was more a question than a statement, one that I needed confirmation to.
I thought I saw tears in her eyes. “Because I miss you.”
Can you see why I love this novel so much? Okay, maybe you can’t. I mean, I didn’t even include any of the shippy parts with Aeren and Amrya and the fruit. (Which is great.) But even though I can’t say that all of it is that well-written (these are the best I could find), I love my characters and my plot so much, and maybe in this Spotlight you got to see a tiny piece of that.