I’m going to be leaving my latest novel draft to sit for a while, but a good number of people cheered me along so I thought I’d toss out a small snippet in case anyone is interested in reading it.
Be warned: It’s rough, this is not my greatest work, and possibly not even a good example1. Also it shows at least one quirk of my early drafts that may be a deal breaker for some folks.. When I’m writing along and I come across a character2 that I’ve yet to name, I just pick a word3 and place it in brackets ([ ]). I do this because I’ve found stopping to decide on a name can kill my momentum deader than dead. Also, as I have developed rather strict language rules for this world I can’t just pull something out of thin air. So even though the second guard is a major character throughout the novel, so far I know him only as [Driver], because when he showed up, that’s what he was doing.
So, if after all that you still want to read it, I hope you enjoy it.
I chose this scene for two reasons. First, it’s a bit less rough because this is the scene I ran through the Effective Viewpoint Clinic back in February. Second, it contains both of the POV characters. That being said it’s still rough, and I can’t say for sure if it will even appear in the final version, let alone in this form.
Layreal stopped within five steps of the door leading to the courtyard as it’s familiar knock sounded throughout the manor. Although she couldn’t see him, she recognized [Butler]’s footfalls as he descended the stairs. She slipped behind one of the tall floor to ceiling curtains before he could catch sight of her. [Butler] was too nosey by half, and would ask too many questions.
The knock repeated.
“All right, I’m coming.” [Butler] sounded put out, which was understandable with all the pressure her father was putting the staff under. Layreal saw him through the small slit between the curtains. He reached out and flung the door open. “Yes?”
Two members of His Majesty’s Royal Guard stood at the door. Behind them a third man held a large wooden box.
“This box is for Lord [lord],” one of the guards said in an accent Layreal did not recognize. This man was old enough that Layreal immediately categorized him as being of her parent’s generation, although he was obviously younger than her father. As he spoke his eyes weren’t on [Butler], but looking past him, as if they were trying to take in every last detail of the manor.
“[Butler], is that my box?” Her father’s voice boomed as usual. Layrael couldn’t see him from where she stood, but she could see the nervous look on [butler]’s face. Father was not happy.
“Oh, yes master. I do believe it is.”
“Damn it man I told you to bring it to me at once.”
“They’ve only just arrived, sir.”
“Really, If I hadn’t heard the door I’d probably still be waiting for them come snowfall.”
“No sir,” [Butler]’s voice quavered. “I swear I was just about to.”
Layreal stifled a giggle. Her father’s temper could be amusing when it wasn’t directed at her, which it seldom was. She was too smart for that.
“Just go away before I run you off. You haven’t even invited our guests inside.”
For a moment [Butler] appeared distracted, his eyes moist. He tried to speak but tripped over his own tongue before managing, “Very good, master,” and slinking off like a beaten dog.
When her father stepped into view Layreal pressed herself against the wall, wishing she could pass right through.
He addressed the two guards, gesturing for them to enter. “Well, come inside, please.” He waved a hand dismissively in the direction [Butler] had departed. “Sorry about all that. I suppose I’ll have to handle the introductions myself. I’m Lord [Lord]. Welcome to [whatever] Manor.”
“Thank you, Lord [lord]”, said the elder guard. “I’m Patalon [PFamilyName], of [village], and this is [Driver] [DFamilyName] of, well, [Metrop], I suppose.”
Layreal tried to think if she’d ever noticed the younger guard before. He was about her age, a bit older, but she couldn’t remember ever seeing him before.
“Very good. Very good. And this must be it.” He reached and took the box from the man standing behind the two guards. “Took long enough to arrive.”
Layreal wondered what could be so important in the box. He usually let everyone know when he was expecting something important to arrive. Had she been so wrapped up in her own problems that she missed it? She didn’t think so.
“If you two would follow me, I’d appreciate you witnessing me locking it up,” he father said, and then disappeared from view.
The look on the younger guard’s face showed amusement. Guard Patalon leant in and whispered something to him. [Driver] nodded and his face sobered.
The guards now stepped out of Layreal’s view, leaving her to watch the courier. A plain looking young man, probably in need of a good bath. He looked confused, obviously hoping for some hand out in thanks for making the delivery. He cleared his throat. A pitiful sound.
“What is it?” Her father’s voice made Layreal jump. He was right in front of her on the other side of the curtain now. “Oh, you. [Butler] will you see to…” He paused. “Where’s he gone to?”
This was her chance. Layreal slipped silently along the wall, away from the door. Hoping the three men would all be looking the other way at the courier she took a deep breath, and stepped out from the curtains.
No one seemed to notice her arrival. “Father, I’ll see to it he’s given a meal with the servants for his trouble.”
“Oh, Layreal. Thank you my girl. These two guards are [Driver] and Filon.”
“Patalon, sir,” the elder Guard corrected, looking almost hurt.
Layreal couldn’t help but grin.
“Oh, so sorry. I’m a bit… Anyway, this is my daughter, Layreal.”
Layreal curtsied low, using it to collect herself and lose the grin. When she rose she was surprised to see Guard Patalon eyeing her with some suspicion. His eyes darted to the curtains, and back to her.
Did he know?
Layreal decided to go before she could find out. “Come on then,” she said, speaking to the courier. He smiled at her and together they walked out the door.
She closed it behind them, leaving her father behind with the two guards. Let Guard Patalon puzzle over her mysterious appearance. She’d probably never see the man again.