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.
Vaeda sat at the top of a mountain amongst an untouched blanket of powdery snow. The flakes still fell from the darkened gray skies above him, guided in a flurry by the angry shriek of the wind.
Chaos ensued all around him, and yet, in the center of it all, he remained still. He thought of this for a moment, uncertain as to how any of this made sense. So much of him felt like, moments ago, everything was different. What had changed? The last time he’d reverted into eyes closed, everything around him was bright, vibrant, and lush. Where had this storm come from, and why couldn’t he feel anything?
Eyes open, and the darkness of the cave reminded him, yet again, of where he truly was. He couldn’t fathom the idea of the caves powers beginning their inner workings on him already.
“Are you all right?” asked Go’Ranashu, and Vaeda remembered that, moments ago, he had just eaten for the first time down in the Lanniswell Hollow. The taste of the blood returned to the tips of the buds on his tongue as he remembered, and his stomach settled from the meal. Now that he had eaten, he felt… different. Almost tinted, as though he would have been smarter to have avoided the food in the first place. His mind swam in a haze as he tried to regain focus, but eyes closed still had him sitting upon a blizzard-laced mountain top, unable to make sense of his surroundings.
“I am fine,” he announced, continuing his decision to keep as much of this to himself as possible, for now. Go’Ranashu continually gained his trust as they carried forward, but he was still not yet all the way sure that trust was full and complete just yet. “Suppose I didn’t realize how hungry I was, is all.”
“How was your first meal down in the Lanniswell Hollow?” asked Yaga, though the faint sneer in her voice further proved her lack of desire to show any real care in the answer. “I should hope you’d get used to it quick, for it’s only a matter of time until you get just as sick as Veruxian and Omitar and… human… as us.”
Vaeda scowled, sure that he’d put enough energy into it for Yaga to feel his distaste at her comment. “My first meal was splendid, thank you,” he said, even though he sort of lied because, in truth, it really wasn’t. In truth, he wished he hadn’t eaten, but now he just wasn’t all the way sure why he felt that way. Now that he’d eaten, his body told him he’d been stupid to have avoided the necessary nourishment as he had.
And yet a voice remained in the back of his mind, one that urged him to remain diligent in his quest to find their freedom. That same voice told him he’d be wise to avoid eating again, despite everything within his body that urged him to carry on.
“I’m glad to hear it,” said Go’Ranashu, oblivious to the missing truth in Vaeda’s words. “I grew steadily more worried about you, so I am happy you’ve put my mind at ease.
Vaeda nodded, unsure of how best to respond. If he chose the truth, he’d have to admit he had no intention of actually eating again, and would henceforth have to pretend. He supposed the shield of darkness provided by the cave was in his favor for that, but he couldn’t rely on that forever.
Choosing to issue a truthful statement without actually ushering out the full candor, Vaeda said, “I am happy there was something else to choose from apart from a fellow human. I won’t go so far as to say that I enjoy the taste of Veruxian, but it’ll do for now.”
And for good.
“I’d wager we could stay here for a few more days now,” said Runavan. “The Veruxians usually move in packs, and it won’t get back to the other clans until it’s time to switch hunting grounds.”
“We’ll only have the Omitars to worry about in the meantime,” said Surid. “I think we’re moving more into their quadrants, especially if we keep heading east.”
Vaeda opened his mouth to question how Surid could understand sense of direction down here without knowing how to find the way out when Cochava beat him to speaking as she said, “Omitars, Veruxians, and the good, old fashioned humans, of course. We haven’t seen any of the Raelevarrean soldiers down here in a while, so it’s only a matter of time before it’s another one of those raids.”
“The Raelevarrean soldiers?” Vaeda asked, his attention completely lost on how to figure out sense of direction. “What do they do down here?”
No one had an immediate response for him, and much to Vaeda’s chagrin, it was Yaga who answered. “They look for people who are trying to find a way out,” she said.
“And do what?”
Her red energies moved up and down to indicate her shoulders moved in a quick shrug. “Make sure they don’t get out.”
“And try to silence them from offering any hope to the thought,” said Go’Ranashu. “They are the reason that, over time, the residents of the Lanniswell Hollow lose any thought of getting out of here. It makes it that much harder to believe when the mere act of speaking it aloud issues a death warrant.”
“How do the soldiers know?” asked Vaeda as another sense of foreboding grew in the back of his mind. It certainly didn’t take much to figure out how wrongly things operated underneath the city, but Vaeda continued to grow more convinced that he was meant to be down here to do something about it. Although he might not have been able to answer why he was here, what heinous crime he had committed against the king or whatever else he may have done, he still believed, somewhere within the depth of his heart, that this all happened for a greater purpose.
That didn’t make any of the current circumstances any easier, to be sure, but he had to believe that little voice inside of him. He had to trust that, to some extent, this was not a mistake in the grandest scheme of the idea, even if it seemed to be as such in the present.
He just wished he knew what to do with all of this information. He knew he couldn’t trust anybody, still, and wanted to remain as consciously aware of his actions as possible in the meantime.