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.
What am I doing? Vaeda asked himself as he followed Go’Ranashu further into the cave. It wasn’t like him to follow strangers down dark hallways, and he questioned his safety. Then again, he wasn’t all the way sure he knew that to be a true statement, either. He still wasn’t sure who he was, nor why he couldn’t make out one singular memory. For al the actually knew, maybe following strangers down dark hallways was something of a habit for him.
Maybe it’s what landed him in these caves in the first place.
“There’s nothing for you to fear,” said Go’Ranashu, in an almost uncomfortable way that made Vaeda think he read his mind. “At least not with me, anyway.”
Vaeda brushed away the fears and thoughts that told him to be skeptical. His inner voice fighting off every thought that told him not to question Go’Ranashu remained the most interesting aspect of this all, so far.
“Why should I trust you?” Vaeda asked as they walked.
The vibrations around Go’Ranashu stopped moving, and Vaeda knew he was meant to stop with them. The waves of energy made up the shape of an arm that raised up, and Vaeda’s eyes instinctively looked toward it.
“Touch it,” said Go’Ranashu.
Brows furrowed, Vaeda said, “What?”
The vibrational waves of energy rippled in a manner that indicated Go’Ranashu pushed his arm in Vaeda’s direction to encourage him. “Go ahead, touch it.”
Still confused, Vaeda put out his hand and almost gasped when it stroked a tuft of soft, silky fur.
Vaeda had to force himself to retract his hand, unsure now if Go’Ranashu was meant to be more friend or pet.
“If I start to talk about a place called Hardmoure,” said Go’Ranashu, “what would you say to that?”
A lump formed in Vaeda’s throat, although he wasn’t all the way sure why. The word struck something in him, that was certain. His memories, once again, failed him as he attempted to grab hold of one of them to act as the answer he needed.
“I would ask you to speak further,” said Vaeda.
“Hardmoure is the place where I come from,” said Go’Ranashu. “And it is a place I am certain you come from, as well.”
Vaeda crossed his arms, growing ever more aware of the natural, non verbal responses he issued that could no longer be seen. “And what makes you say that?”
The vibrations of energy around where Go’Ranashu’s shoulders should be moved upward as though he shrugged. “The way you talk, of course. I can hear it in your accent.”
Vaeda said nothing. Not because he was shy, but because he couldn’t think of anything to say. He hadn’t thought that something as little as his voice would give away his homeland, but if Go’Ranashu was right, perhaps he could get a few more answers about where he came from, as well.
“If we come from the same place,” said Vaeda as he ran a hand down his own, smooth arms, “why are my arms smooth, when yours are not?”
“And can two people not come from different walks of life from within the same location?”
Vaeda stayed silent again. Go’Ranashu was right, of course, and he was embarrassed that he hadn’t thought of it that way from the first place.
“It is not a problem that we are different,” Go’Ranashu continued. “I am from the Noverten clan in Hardmoure. I hesitate to say that aloud, for, depending on what you remember, that may not be the best word to use.”
Even without Go’Ranashu saying it, the first memory Vaeda latched on to crossed his mind and stayed there. He saw himself, as a child, walking down the street with a woman he could only assume was his mother. She felt familiar, even though he couldn’t name her. Little parts of her face were missing, and he couldn’t quite remember exactly what she looked like. He didn’t need her name or her complete features to feel her energy. Her warmth had cradled him before he walked amongst the earth, and her love stayed with him even when his memories failed him.
What he did see clearly was the other side of the street, where another young creature walked along with his mother. They, too, walked on two legs, but their feet were hooved instead of shoed. Their legs were not as straight, and their hands looked more like furry claws. Little horns, shofaric in shape, coiled outside of their heads, and their noses protruded out of their faces like little snouts. At first look, an animal Vaeda once called a bull, and another he referred to as a ram came to his mind, as though the two beasts had come together to create one of their own.
“Don’t be afraid of them,” Vaeda’s mother whispered as she caught his unwavering eyes staring across the street.
He didn’t need to ask what she meant. As the memory played out, as did its backstory, as the Vaeda in the present remembered the rumors of the Noverten and their violence. They only existed in Hardmoure, and although they were native to the land before men came to claim it as theirs, they had been ostracized ever since.
Vaeda, himself, hadn’t read too much into the history of that — or perhaps his mind just wouldn’t allow him to remember it yet — but knew he’d always disagreed. Any interaction he’d ever had with someone of the Noverten clan had always been pleasant, which remained true as he stood in this darkened cave with Go’Ranashu.
“The Noverten clan and all within it will always have a place in my home,” said Vaeda. He looked around, although, again, he knew Go’Ranashu could not see him. “If I ever find it again.”
The energy around Go’Ranashu brightened. “So, you remembered something?”
Vaeda nodded. “Do you struggle with your memory? Is there anything you are able grab hold of an examine in your mind?”
“Sometimes,” said Go’Ranashu after a period of silence. “It wasn’t always like that at first. I think I was more like you when I first starting becoming aware.”
“Aware?” said Vaeda, who had caught on to the shuddered tone Go’Ranashu used when he’d said the word himself. “What do you mean?”
The energies around Go’Ranashu shifted again, and his tone reeked of his discomfort as he said, “We all come to a time when we realize what we’ve forgotten. When we come into an awareness of the hell we are in, and the amount of time we have been there.”
Vaeda frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“How long do you think you have been here?”
The way he asked told Vaeda he didn’t want to hear the answer. Maybe he wouldn’t believe it, even if Go’Ranashu spoke truthfully.
“I think I have just woken up here,” answered Vaeda, opting to speak truthfully himself.
The slightest hint of a chuckle escaped Go’Ranashu, but not in a manner that seemed mocking or rude. It was almost sympathetic, like he felt bad for Vaeda’s ignorance.
“If only that were so,” he said.
Vaeda took in a shaky breath. “I was afraid you would say something like that.”
“Would you like to know the likely possibility?”
“Possibility? Do you not know how long I have been here, either?”
Go’Ranashu released the chuckle he’d tried to withhold into a complete and full laugh that echoed around the cave. Vaeda jumped at the volume of the laugh, then wondered if anyone else would even be around to catch offense.
“Friend, I couldn’t even answer that question for myself,” he said. “I have been ‘aware,’ now, for perhaps a year. Maybe two. Time is something that slips away within the mind, here. As to you, we have known each other for the same amount of time in each other’s minds. And by that, I mean that I believe we shared the memory you had that reminded you of my race of people.”
Vaeda nodded. “You were the youngling.”
“I was the youngling.”
They stood there in another moment of silence, still unable to see each other or anything around them. Vaeda’s mind tried to make sense of this all as it was. It was strange enough as it was to think he was in this cave at all, let alone to sit on the thought that many years may have gone by in between.
“And how do you know that you have been here longer than you’ve been ‘aware’?” asked Vaeda. “How do you know you did not simply wake up here one day, like I did just now? At that, how do you know I haven’t been here longer than arriving when I became ‘aware,’ myself, if you do not know how long I’ve been here, either?”
Vaeda could hear the accusations in his tone rising, and the vibrational energies around Go’Ranashu shifted and eased as they encouraged Vaeda to do the same. They both knew the edges of Vaeda’s panic weren’t because of Go’Ranashu himself, but the inability to take the information that acted as the truth at face value.
“There are many questions we share,” said Go’Ranashu again.
Vaeda kicked out his frustration on the ground. “Is there anything you can tell me? Where are we?”
“The Lanniswell Hollow,” whispered Go’Ranashu, and this name struck a cord within Vaeda the moment the words left Go’Ranashu’s lips.
“Underneath the city of Raelevarre?” asked Vaeda as the information came to him from somewhere deep within his psyche.
“Indeed,” Go’Ranashu growled, the first hint of the violent possibilities within his beastly nature. “Trapped in the bell of the devil himself.”
The memories clinked together within Vaeda’s mind as he continued to search his mind for things he already knew about the Lanniswell Hollow.
All details aside, the main thought that shouted out at him was that no one who ever came here ever saw what life above the ground looked like again.
“We are trapped beneath the city,” Vaeda repeated, more to solidify the reality to himself than to question it again. Raelevarre, capital city of Theduen, masked in its gold and exuberant wealth, pit of despair and embarrassment to the rest of the country that had to allow this city to act as their representation to all of Kadiux.
“Leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth, doesn’t it?” said Go’Ranashu. “To know everything going on up there, and to be trapped down here like slaves right underneath their feet?”
Vaeda frowned and looked at the ground.
*** I know this chapter is unfinished and I know I didn’t write yesterday. Slow start, if you see/watch the weekly vlogs you’ll see more, but it’ll pick up later in the week when I have more time. Plus, I mean… first draft. ***