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.

Everyone slept. For Vaeda, that was the best time. He’d already lost track of how long he’d been “aware,” but he felt like sleep didn’t matter to him as it once did. He supposed it didn’t help any that anytime he closed his eyes, his mind transported him into a different world of awareness. He wasn’t sure if this world counted as something he experienced in his slumber. Eyes open made him feel rejuvenated, as though whatever time spent in eyes closed gave him the same benefits as found in his sleep.

He focused on the visions in his mind that became the slightest bit more clear the more he tried to figure them out. Once more, he found himself sitting in the field, surrounded by the faintest hint of a mountain range. A line of clouds brushed against the sky again and reminded him of the thoughts he tried to arrest. The ones that brisket away with the breeze, there long enough for the eyes to register, then gone in a breath.

Sitting here this time was different than the time before he’d come into his awareness. This field, wherever it was, had a familiarity to it that stretched deeper than the experience he’d had the other day. 

He stood. The wind’s draft issued a cold gust across his face, and he embraced it. 

A path stood before him, and he walked it. His physical body, still in the cave, stayed put. He allowed his mind to move forward into its visions, to explore what lay before him.

 Three steps in, and a familiar energy appeared before him, taking the shaped of a dark-furred beast with rounded horns that brought forth more judgment than the creature wielding them had hoped for. He could almost make out the full details of the face, with its protruded snout coming forward and its angry glare giving it a more fierce than its personality held.

Go’Ranashu walked toward him, although whether this was the mind of the real Go’Ranashu connecting with him or his inner mind allowing him to learn more about his new friend, he did not know. Those thoughts didn’t matter as much to him. What mattered to him was the feeling, the deep knowledge within him that told him to put his trust in this beast.

“Vaeda,” said Go’Ranashu with the slightest tilt of a head nod. “Welcome home.”

Vaeda looked around and watched the trees rustle through the breeze that continued to flow around them. “Home?” he asked. 

Go’Ranashu nodded. “Hardmoure, where we both place our roots.”

Besides Vaeda, Go’Ranashu, and the mountains, there wasn’t anything else here. He wasn’t all the way sure how this could have been considered a homeland when there wasn’t anybody or anything else living here.

“There’s no need to question yourself so,” said Go’Ranashu. “You know as well as I the thoughts inside of your head bear truth to them. You cannot see more than you are meant to, but that does not mean what you see is false.”

“I don’t understand,” said Vaeda. “Can you tell me anything about why we’re trapped in the Hollow?”

Go’Ranashu shook his head. “That is not an avenue which is up to me to determine. There are things you cannot understand at this time, Vaeda. You’re needed in the Hollow. Information outside of that fact should not be something you focus on.”

Vaeda shook his head. “I don’t accept that,” he said. “If you know about why I’m in the Hollow, why you’re there yourself or why there’s anybody else there, why can’t you tell me?”

Go’Ranashu turned away. “You would be wise to remember your patience, Vaeda,” he said, more to the breeze than to the person he spoke to. He turned back and made eye contact with Vaeda, who finally made out the golden flecks inside of the light brown eyes that studied him. “There are dangers within the Lanniswell Hollow you will have to protect yourself from.”

“I know this,” said Vaeda, whose patience certainly needed attention as it faded faster with Go’Ranashu’s circular thoughts. “What creatures? How do I fight them? What am I supposed to do?”

“The answer lies within you, Vaeda,” said Go’Ranashu, the patient tone in Vaeda’s mind matching the one he carried in the real life. “It always has, and we both know it. It is you that fears the truth. You must be comfortable, brave enough, to search within yourself.”

The image of the Go’Ranashu that stood in front of Vaeda vanished and left him alone again in the middle of the field.

Eyes open returned without Vaeda asking it to, and he found himself once again in the darkness of the cave. Silence met his ears, broken only by the sporadic breaths of the sleeping companies next to him.

One energy, the blue one he had come to trust so much, moved toward him and sat down.

“Go’Ranashu,” said Vaeda, as he sat next to him. “You do not sleep with the others?”

“That is a question you can also face toward yourself,” he said. “I do not think you have slept for the duration of time I’ve known you.”

Vaeda, who once again felt rejuvenated from whatever time he’d spent in his mind, debated which level of honest he should take in his response. Although he trusted Go’Ranashu, he still feared that being too open about the thoughts and visions in his mind. Until he learned how to trust them for himself, he didn’t trust himself to share it with anybody else.

“I sleep more than you think,” he said, choosing that as the safest option. 

“Perhaps, but not as much as you should, if you want to be successful in your mission.”

Vaeda wondered again if the Go’Ranashu in his mind was the real one, but chose again to keep that thought to himself. “My mission?” he said instead. “The one not even you think is right?”

A ripple went through the blue lighted energies that made up the beast sitting next to him. “I never said that,” he said, the first time he’d used the smallest hint of a defensive tone toward Vaeda. “You simply do not yet understand the inner workings of this cave. I know Runavan and I have shared this with you, but until you learn it for yourself, I hardly see a reason to keep reminding you. As it is, should there ever be someone who’d be successful in finding a way out of here, something tells me it would be you.”

Vaeda looked toward Go’Ranashu with a softened heart and a burning line of tears stinging the edges of his eyelids. “Why?” he asked. “You don’t know me any more than I you, so what about me makes me different? Why do you put your faith in me?”

Go’Ranashu didn’t respond immediately. “I trust, instead of giving you a full answer, I should respond with another question of my own, and that would be to once again repeat the question just asked of me. Your energies soften when I near, and you talk more openly to me than anybody else thus far. Why?”

Vaeda thought about it for a moment before he realized he hadn’t put that much thought into it. He didn’t know why he trusted Go’Ranashu any more or less than anybody else he’d met thus far, but he also thought it had something to do with the fact they both came from the same homeland. 

“It seems, as we share questions, we also share an inability to answer them,” said Go’Ranashu. “My best answer for you would be about the way you speak. Others speak with such aggression, with a force that almost demands people listen. Those who shout also tend to speak the most nonsense, but those who whisper tend to have the best thoughts and ideas.

“Outside of Cochava, you’re the only person I’ve met down here that had any type of hope in thoughts of finding a way out of here. She may think the same as you, but I still wouldn’t trust her to lead us out as I do with you.”

Although unable to completely pinpoint why, Vaeda felt a sudden sensation of pressure inside of his chest. He supposed it was one thing to have thoughts of helping others free themselves, but hearing someone verbally speak out hope in his thoughts made him fearful. He wouldn’t want to let any of them down, and with everything going on down here, he wasn’t as hopeful as he projected. The hope he verbalized was more to convince himself than anybody else.

But if there were others down here in the Hollow that would start to listen to his rambled thoughts of a hopeful escape, that meant he’d have to follow through with them. He’d actually have to find a way to hone in on the images in his mind enough to determine the truth from the falsities, particularly when it came to the map that eyes closed and eyes open couldn’t seem to agree on.

Still, the idea of thoughts and memories seemed almost as laughable as the idea of an escape. 

Don’t let go of your power.

Vaeda stood as quickly as the thought that had screamed in his head came. 

“What is amiss?” asked Go’Ranashu as he stood, too, and tensed. 

For a moment, Vaeda thought he’d heard the voice speak out loud. If that were the case, he didn’t think Go’Ranashu would have asked, so he accepted the idea that it had come in from his mind.

[What does that mean?] he asked, trying to speak back to the inner voice to see if it would bring forth some of the answers he sought.

Not everything here is as it seems. Trust your heart.

“Vaeda?” said Go’Ranashu.

Vaeda shook his head. “It’s nothing,” he said. “I thought I’d heard something moving off in the distance, but I was mistaken. My apologies for causing an discomfort.”

Read Chapter Three Part Two

Read Chapter Four Part Two

Read the whole story here.

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