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.

A week had passed. Although Vaeda couldn’t guarantee his accuracy in time keeping, he counted the seconds as they all walked through the caves under some sort of pretense that they would find a way out. They hadn’t found any other creatures, no Omitars of Veruxians, even humans of any sort. The topic of food didn’t come up again. Vaeda had found a way to do his business, and fought the desire for hunger any time it came.

Didn’t the others notice the strangeness in this? Did they not realize that they, too, had now gone days with nothing to eat nor drink? 

Vaeda hardly knew what anyone else thought, as no one ever thought it fitting to share their opinions aloud. No one apart from Go’Ranashu, that was, who made sure to have a conversation with Vaeda at least once a day as they wandered through the halls. Even if there wasn’t an immediate way out, Vaeda preferred this exploration over simply sitting in one spot and wondering if holding on to hope was worth it or not. At least movement helped stimulate the idea that the path would eventually lead them to freedom.

The cave, he’d learned, came with many wonders, and many paths that could lead to an immediate death outside of an altercation. As he had seen in his mind, the cliffs that fell into a potentially unfathomable abyss existed, and he had to remain as careful as the others as they walked down the narrow paths that came with the cliffy hillsides. Eyes closed didn’t give him much help this time, either, for the reverse had occurred, in that eyes closed told him the cave before him was flat and even. Eyes open, and reality, proved otherwise.

Today, after they’d finished their descent down whatever path they’d stumbled upon, they settled for the night, silent still as they all lay down to rest. There wasn’t any point in sharing stories, for none of them could remember any. The idea of conversation seemed just as futile and pointless.

As Vaeda curled up to try and rest his mind, eyes closed drifted high above him to the ceilings of the cave. His inner mind kept carrying him upward as it pushed its way through the earth and crawled along the inner pathways of the dirt until it reached the grassy surfaced. From there, it kept protruding into the air, as if to meet the birds in the sky and catch a glimpse of the view they claimed from above.

The view that held the city of Raelevarre, glinting in all of its glory. Buildings made of jewels and gold and any gem that could spark shone brightly against the flares of the sun as he looked around. 

His eyes fell on the palace, highest of them all, built into a rocky outcropping that rested at the mouth of the cave.

The mouth.

His eyes focused in on the entrance and he looked beneath him. They weren’t too far away from the entrance, by the look of things. If they continued heading east and met no interruptions, they might be able to make it.

He exhaled as he looked back upon the palace. There held the king. His captor. His raison de lemprisonnement, the bane of his very existence. If eyes closed were telling him the truth right now, showing him the way in actuality and not just some game he couldn’t figure out, he wondered how much he could learn.

He willed his mind to move forward closer toward the golden palace, toward the window that held the king. He couldn’t even remember what the king looked liked, or if he’d ever even seen him in the first place. 

Seeing him now revealed a primped and primed man, one who looked as though he’d frown at a crying child and call for the removal of its head if it didn’t desist. As Vaeda saw him in this moment, he studied the linings of his fingernails as one of his guardsmen spoke to him.

“They say he’s trying to lead them out,” he finished as Vaeda’s inner mind settled itself on the window frame looking in. He wondered if he could be seen, but no shadow was cast from behind him as he sat in the windowsill, and he didn’t see his physical body when he looked down, either. No, he was all eyes for this one.

Mmm,” said the king, who continued to examine his fingernails from the couch he sat upon. Two men fanned him while a women fed him from a platter full of cheese and crackers. Another man held a wine sack, but the glass he stood behind remained full. “And who is this prisoner?” he asked. “Why is his mind any stronger than the others?”

The soldiers — three of them — looked amongst each other as though uncertain as to who should be the one to speak. The one in the center, and the one who’d spoken first, decided to take the lead, but looked as though he would’ve rather it have been either of the other two instead.

“We… we don’t know, Your Holiness.”

This caught the kings attention, who promptly finished staring at his fingernails and moved his eyes toward the soldiers who cowered before him.

“You… don’t… know?” he spat, sitting up straighter and waving away the men and woman around him. Once they’d all dispersed and he was left alone with the soldiers, he continued, “How could you not know one of the prisoners in the Lanniswell Hollow? Aren’t there quite the meticulous records being held somewhere down in the court? There’s never been an anonymous prisoner before, what do you mean you don’t know?”

The fearful soldier looked to his comrades, hopeful at least one of them would come to his aid. The one on his left said, “We know, sir. We are all just as disgraced by this information as you. It is just that we —”

“I grow weary of this conversation,” said the king, who had gone back to looking at his nails. “Find this prisoner and kill them. Send me the records keeper after you’ve left. It seems I might benefit from putting some focus into the areas of weakness within my subjects.”

The soldiers looked amongst each other again, and when three seconds had passed and they still hadn’t moved, he sneered at them and said, “Well? What are you waiting for?”

“The prisoner is cloaked, sir,” said the third and final soldier. “We aren’t able to make out their location.”

The king shifted on the couch and leaned forward. He ran a thumb and forefinger along his jawline as he stroked his beard, took a breath, and said, “Allow me to get this straight, if you will. You allow an anonymous prisoner into the Lanniswell Hollow. One you cannot locate, yet know is there. You bring reports of this anonymous source leading another set of prisoners toward their freedom. Yet, if you cannot see this prisoner, nor have the ability to identify them, what good do you think this information is to me?” He stood. “You have wasted my time. If this prisoner exists, find them, and kill them. Send the record keeper to me and get out of my sight before I throw the three of you down into the Hollow as prisoners yourselves!”

The soldiers bowed, multiple times and continually on their way out of the room. Vaeda’s inner mind pulled back away from the window sill, hovered again with the birds over his spot in the cave, the lowered back beneath the ground until it reconnected with his physical body, still lying on his side on the cold cave’s floor, shivering as he returned to himself.

He opened his eyes once he’d reconnected and drank in the darkness. Up above, seeing the city had stirred a life within him he had almost forgotten.

And his experience in the king’s room had brought up a lot of questions he already had.

He didn’t want to allow himself to believe in the possibility that he may be the prisoner who didn’t belong, but something urged him to put merit into the thought. For him, it would at least explain his blackened energies as opposed to the bright and colorful ones found in everybody else. It would also explain his feeling that the awareness was newer than everybody else’s, as well as the feeling deep within him that told him, at least in his own walk of life, that this was wrong.

And yet, he still felt like he had some purpose down here, even if it were one he’d yet to uncover just yet. Having a purpose for being down here and having a reason for being put here were two different things, and as Vaeda rolled over and looked at the dim energies of his companions as they slept, he trusted that part of, if not all of, his reason for being here was to help them.

He thought back again to the king’s room, and his orders that sent the soldiers into the Hollow to find this hidden prisoner. Even if Vaeda couldn’t put much into the thought of that prisoner being him, there was enough belief in it that he sprung up, wide awake, and tensed.

He looked next to him and gently prodded the blue energies of Go’Ranashu to wake him up. He’d grown to trust Go’Ranashu enough, over the last few days, that he thought he could use the extra help here.

“Go’Ranashu!” he whispered, careful not to wake anybody else.

“Erfllacvur?” Go’Ranashu mumbled as he rolled over.

“Go’Ranashu, I think we might be in trouble,” he said, his whisper still managing to carry the hint of panic he tried to suppress.

“Trouble?” said Go’Ranashu, louder than Vaeda had hoped as he sat up.

Shh!” said Vaeda. “I’m not sure, but —”

“You go down that way,” came another voice, one from the soldiers that Vaeda had recognized. “I’ll take this path down here.”

“Who is that?” asked Go’Ranashu.

“Soldiers!” Vaeda whispered. “From the Raelevarrean court. I think they might be after us, come on!”

He pushed the others awake with the help of Go’Ranashu and, with the quick explanation of soldiers coming after them, the six of them sprinted further into the darkness.

Read Chapter Five Part Two

Read Chapter Six Part Two

Read the whole story here.

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