Wednesday, 23 September 2015

[Northspell 11] a friend of thieves

Irena dipped a hand into the bucket and scattered a handful of the dry sand. "I didn't do anything. At least...I was hungry, so I ate some berries. He said I was a thief, but I'm not a thief. A thief is..." she turned to look at Gia and Arkel, both of whom were staring at her. Gia had her fists on her hips, and Arkel had his arms folded.

"Did you pay?"

"You ARE a thief!"

Gia and Arkel spoke at the same time, Gia with her lip curled scornfully, and Arkel with something like delight in his voice.

Irena dropped the bucket, the sand spilling out onto the stone floor. "I'm not a thief, or a northwitch, or a gutter-rat or a...a... a chicken."

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

[Northspell 10] Not quite the very best thieves in all of Astia

Gia started to run as well, and Irena was forced into a trot to keep up, her bare feet stumbling in the sandy dirt. She turned a corner and ran straight into the back of Gia, who grabbed hold of her sleeve and pulled her down into a crouch behind some stacked bales of fabric. Just in front of them, the street surface dropped away, with only small wooden platforms and a shaky staircase filling the gap. Hundreds of feet below, the river was like a strip of ragged grey silk, flecked with white. The wooden slats of the staircase were old and worn, and the only handrail was a sagging rope attached at intervals to the wall with rusty metal fixings.

Irena scrambled back from the dizzying sight. "I'm not going down there on that! It doesn't look safe at all," she cried out.

Gia jumped on her, and shoved a hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. Arkel smirked, "Don't worry, we're not going down on the shakeway."

There was a rumbling sound, followed by creaking. He pointed up over his head, "We're going on THAT."

Above them, a last great bale of fabric was being loaded onto a large wooden platform. It began to descend, slowly at first, but gathering more speed as the momentum built up. Arkel got up from the ground and turned to grin at Irena. "Ready?"

Monday, 14 September 2015

[glory brats] moving day

(Gah. Think of this as the writer's equivalent of preliminary sketches. I have a terrible problem with editing as I write, and then taking half an hour to write one sentence, so with this I tried really hard to just let the words stay as they are, constantly chanting to myself: adverbs are shorthand for 'I will fix this in the re-draft, not now, I will fix this later, not now, Tell in the first draft, Show in the re-draft...' -- I'm just messing around with the characters and seeing how they work together for now. But I'm not even supposed to be working on this story; I'm meant to be writing the first draft of Northspell, which I actually have a full plot worked out for. *sigh* Anyway, my new challenge is 500 words a day, so here goes. Which character is your favourite? I'm feeling a bit like Tekla at the moment, to be honest...)

Sparrow kicked a tin can out of the way and watched it roll to the opposite wall. "We're gonna have to move. M'fed up tripping over your stuff, Zed."

Zed was behind the counter, instructing Adee on his latest project. "But I need it all!"

"Didn't say you had to get rid of it, did I? I said we need to move. Get a bigger place." Sparrow waved an arm at the mess. Blankets spilled out from Tekla's corner, now grudgingly shared with Emmy. Zed's scavenged cans, hooks, and bits of wire were scattered over every surface as he tried to spot just the right bit for Adee to add to the contraption. The only bit that could be described as tidy in any way was the food box, which Bee guarded jealously from the others. She spent ages running her fingers over and through the different compartments, reciting the names to herself in a singsong voice "...driedpeas and rosemary and gardenpotatoes and tinnedcherries and oatmeal..."

"What, what was that?" Tekla emerged from her blanket fort, pushing the sleeping lump that was Emmy out of the way.

"We're moving." Adee's voice was muffled as he did a forward roll out from behind the counter, "I'm moving, you're moving, we're all moving all the time!"

"We're moving." Sparrow said firmly.

Tekla groaned, "Don't want to move. I like it here." But she said the words automatically, because you couldn't just agree with everything that big sisters said.


The move was planned carefully. Sparrow took Zed out on a scouting mission, while Bee took over the task of packing, 'helped' by Adee, who was forced to stay inside by the sun. Adee gathered all their things on the floor, and Bee patiently dissected the haphazard piles into manageable bundles. The next task was to remove Tekla from her bed for long enough to shake and fold the blankets. Emmy retreated to the corner with a spoon and happily babbled away to her reflection, but Tekla hunched the blankets over her head and refused to budge.

Bee sighed and tried to find Tekla by patting the top of the blanket. It lunged forward and snapped, "Grrr, I'm a wild Outsider fighting dog and I'm going to bite you."

"No you're not," said Bee. "You're a four year old girl called Tekla."

Tekla peered out from under the blankets and made a face, "Now I'm baring my teeth at you. You're supposed to scream and run away," she added helpfully. "And then I can chase you."

"But I'm not scared of you," Bee said, drawing her hand back in confusion.

It was Tekla's turn to sigh. "It's a GAME, silly."


Sparrow and Zed returned full of enthusiasm for the new place.

"We need to leave soon, though, before it gets too dark. Oh good, you've got all our stuff."

Adee, Tekla and Emmy all had packs of decreasing sizes securely fastened to their backs. Bee had the canvas rucksack slung over both shoulders, and hugged her arms protectively around the food box. Sparrow eyed her doubtfully.  "Won't...won't you need your hands free to feel your way around?"