This is the FIRST DRAFT of the novel, flaws and all, that I am writing for National Novel Writing Month 2020. Please refer to these posts to see the entire creation of this, from scratch, should you desire. Comments will be closed as of January 1, 2021. For any comments prior to that, please… be kind. This is a first draft! It’s just meant to help inspire anyone to write anything, whether good or bad.

The wind caught a wisp of clouds and strung them across the sky like a brush stroke. It swept across the grassy mounds that surrounded Vaeda Moltenbrook, who sat like a speck in the middle of the field and listened to the wind exhale a sigh of relief. He looked around, watched the tails of the dandelions break free from their homes and dance into the open, carefree about the destination.

Vaeda took a breath of his own and repeated the gesture of the wind. The sky had a particularly dark shade of blue today, he noticed. The grass and the weeds were browning, dying from the winter’s runoff and the spring’s nourishment. This summer looked hot, dryer than most, and one Vaeda would have rather skipped, if given the choice.

He looked around, admired the way the hills rolled across the horizon, and thought about how minuscule his presence looked in this sea of grass. Did the hills notice him, too? Could the dirt beneath him feel the weight of his body as he sat on it?

His eyes drifted downward, and he looked at the silted soil beneath him. He placed a hand on a small mound, careful to remain gentle, should the ground truly feel his presence, and closed his fingers around a grip of sand. The granules moved into his hand with no argument; in fact, they all but shifted and molded themselves to fit around the makeup of his fingers.

Vaeda raised his hand to examine the sand, and little spectacles flew off into the breeze to join the dandelion’s freedom as he brought his hand closer.

“What have you seen throughout your life?” he whispered to the largest rock in his hand. He considered the life cycle of the granite that ground away throughout the years to create all of the sand beneath the grass, how the granules among the earth couldn’t even hope to touch the number of stars amongst the heavens.

Vaeda released the sand and cross-crossed his hands as he clapped away the remnants that clung to his hand.

Satisfied, he moved from his seated position, placed his feet flat underneath him, and used the strength of his core, the balance within him, to stand without the use of his hands.

He looked down at his feet.

“And what have you seen throughout your life?” he asked them. 

These feet were responsible for his first step. They were there to teach him how to stand and carried him throughout his life. He frowned as he considered his negligence toward them. They were quite dirty, and the toenails could certainly use a trim. He wondered if the soles of his feet were as offended by their scent as his nose was of it, but that didn’t seem right.

He’d never ignored the wonts of personal hygiene before. That didn’t seem right.

Vaeda tilted his head to the other side.

What’s wrong, here?

He blinked, and the darkness that came over his sight seemed firmer, a more virulent void that called out to him as though it trapped his body…

He gasped, and as his body jerked backward, his eyes shut in the world full of sunlight, wrapped in vivid colors and full of life, but as they shut in that world, they opened in another.

And that one was full of darkness.

He caught his balance before he fell to the ground completely and blinked a few times. This time, as his eyelids met, flashes of light met the briefness of the blink, but when he opened them back up, he couldn’t see a thing.


Vaeda looked around, but couldn’t make out a thing. No clouds in the sky. No hills rolling around him, or hardly a thing at all.

“Where am I?” he said aloud to no one but himself, as his words repeated back to him. “Hello?”

Nothing but the echo of his own voice.

He put out a hand and took a step. When he didn’t trip or stumble, he took another one. When he closed his eyes, the vision in his mind changed into something that represented a cave. He furrowed his brow. Where had this come from?

With his eyes still closed, he moved toward the closest rocky formation that he saw in his mind, and when he reached out a hand to touch it, he retracted it just as quickly when he felt the smoothly sharp edges.

He opened his eyes again, hand still outstretched, and went to touch the rocky outcropping again. When he found it still there, he jumped back again. Eyes closed again, he moved his head around to get more of a feel for the location. Eyes open once more, he couldn’t see a single thing.

What is happening to me…?

“Is anybody there?” he called out again, hopeful still that someone — not something — responded.

He shuddered as he moved his thoughts further inward and tried to examine his memories. He couldn’t, for the life of him, remember where he’d been moments ago. He couldn’t make sense of that field in his mind, whether it was real or something he’d envisioned to help him escape from this cave. 

This cave…

He moved around again, hands out and steady, footfalls careful and calculated. As he approached another outcropping, the palms of his hands began to vibrate, and little waves of energy announced its presence before Vaeda touched it.

He closed his eyes again, and saw the massive rock that stood before him.

When he returned to the world of darkness, the vibrations of the rock increased. If he weren’t mistaken, he would have said he could feel its very essence. His lack of eyesight in whatever world he remained trapped in only heightened the energies of the landscape around him.

“I don’t understand,” he said, his words once again repeated back to him by what he now knew to be the cave’s walls.

He kept his hands on the stalagmite and returned everything to his breath.

What can you tell me?

The vibrations of the rock increased, and without any words spoken, Vaeda knew he’d been here for a long period of time.

He gasped again and removed his hands from the rock.

That couldn’t be right.

Minutes ago, he was out in the middle of a field, enjoying the smell of the daisies and watching the wind carry the clouds across the sky.

He hadn’t been here longer than five minutes.

And yet, frustratingly enough, he couldn’t remember anything from five minutes before.

Part of him felt as though he had simply “just been born” out in that field, that he’d never actually existed before that.

That couldn’t be right, could it?

And yet, he couldn’t remember.

Kadiux, the world he knew he belonged to, had spoken to him from its core. It told him he had been here for years.

Why don’t I believe that?

He looked around again, closed his eyes, and understood the general layout of where he was. Although seemingly in a cave, there were many veins to travel along in here. There was no idea of “getting lost,” for everything connected back to itself at one point or another.

All he had to do was remain calm.

With a deep breath, he reminded himself that there were times that could be easier said than done. Although it may have been more convenient, somehow, to move about this mess with his eyes closed, something deeper told him not to trust that completely. Perhaps it was something meant as a guideline more than an actual map.

He moved slowly, hands raised, and waited to feel the vibrations around him. If those didn’t exist, he might have thought he’d gotten lost in an actual void. He couldn’t hear any more than he could see, apart from the echo of his own words or whatever visions his inner mind tried to show him.

A soft vibration from his left urged him to move right, but a vibration from in front of him told him that way wasn’t any better. He stepped closer to the wall in front of him and felt about until he found the pathway hidden within it, despite the small zigzag he had to go through to find the opening.

He walked further along the hallway, whatever that meant, and continued to call out in hopes someone else may be there to help him.

Someone else who may be just as confused as to how they got there, too.

“Can anybody help me?” he called, over and again to no avail.

The energies of the walls around him grew stronger as he walked, even if they were at a distance.

He searched within his mind again and tried to latch onto a memory. There wasn’t any point choosing a particular one. Since it didn’t seem plausible that one existed at all, he supposed any would do.

But, wander as he did, he could not remember a single thing. His vision didn’t improve, nor did he hear anything but the echos of his own pleas for hours as he walked around, trying to find something that could represent some semblance of an answer.

“I don’t understand,” he moaned again after he’d lost count of the miles he’d walked. “How did I get here?”

More than anything, he wished he could remember the gap of time between being in the field and being within this darkness. He didn’t want to believe that nothing more than a dream, but he didn’t know what to think. Perhaps, if he’d been able to remember at least something, he could find an answer.

And yet, all he knew to do, inherently within his soul, was to reconnect with the breath. To continue forward in search of the answers, in search of truth, and in search of his meaning.

He knew it was all in there somewhere.

A faint draft brushed against his face, and Vaeda stopped moving. The sign of the wind indicated an opening somewhere. If he could use it to gain any sense of direction, he’d be able to map out this cave for real, instead of fearfully trusting his inner mind at random.

He met the wind head on, hopeful that he’d eventually stumble upon the source of it.

“Can anybody help me?” he called, his voice nearing the edges of a scream in his desperation to get some help.

“Keep your voice down, mate.”

Vaeda stopped again, ears strained. He still couldn’t see anything, but as the vibrations of the cave grew stronger, the edges of their boundaries etched themselves into his vision.

“Who’s there?” Vaeda asked.

Movement from behind him, and he tensed as he turned toward it. He couldn’t make out the vibrations of whomever spoke, just yet. He closed his eyes, but even his inner mind couldn’t see what stood before him. Despite all that, and ignoring the gruffness in the voice that spoke, Vaeda knew that whoever it belonged to could be trusted.

“There’s no need to fear, Vaeda. My name is Go’Ranashu.”

“How do you know my name?”

Go’Ranashu chuckled, and for a moment, Vaeda thought he recognized it.

“There is much for us both to learn, Vaeda.”

After a moment of silent debate, Vaeda asked, “And have you been trapped here for years, too?”

The vibrations of Go’Ranashu came to life in a blink, and even through the darkness, Vaeda could see the smile he produced.

He could also sense the smile came from a being other than a human.

“What are you?” asked Vaeda.

“So much distrust in your voice,” said Go’Ranashu. “Do you think I am here to bring you harm?”

Vaeda shook his head, a reflex he’d never thought about until he wondered if his counterpart could see him.

“Can you… see anything?” Vaeda asked, hopeful Go’Ranashu didn’t scold him for his inquisitiveness again.

“No,” said Go’Ranashu. “That, I think, would be a common problem inside of a cave.”

There was a moment’s pause before Vaeda asked, “And where is this cave?”

Go’Ranashu chuckled again. “There are many questions you and I both share, friend. The one thing I have learned so far? This cave has many secrets, and I doubt if we’ll ever learn them all.”

He paused, and Vaeda made out the vibrations of his arm moving in a circular motion that indicated a wave. “Follow me. Maybe we can figure out one or two of them together.”

Read Chapter Two Part One.

Read the whole first draft.


  1. Well, that is quite a beginning and I’m definitely invested to see where this is going. I need to know where Vaeda is, how he got there – is he human…or something else? Where is this world that is he from?? Looking forward to this journey!

    • Andrew J Stillman

      Thank you so much! Glad to hear you enjoyed it 🙂 I’m looking forward to this journey, too. If it translates to paper how it plays out in my head I think it should be a fun one! Thanks for giving my writing style, flaws and all, a read <3.

  2. I need to know what kind of creature Go’Ranashu is immediately. I’ve been so curious about him ever since you got excited naming him.

  3. As usual, I am hooked and want to know where this is leading.

  4. So detailed! It’s like you can feel the sand!

    • Andrew J Stillman

      Awww thanks!! I try haha. I’m not even reading these before I put them up so I’m glad to know the detail is working!

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