Thursday, September 6, 2007

Friday Snippet, September 7, 2007

I have a weakness.

Sometimes when I read over old work, I get the fever to rewrite/finish/edit that piece of work instead of continuing with my current WIP. This is what happened to me last week when I posted the snippet about Nikky and Tasha. The story seized me in its grip again. When I looked up and drew breath, I'd written over 4,000 modified and new words.

So I have semi-new stuff to show you. This story, btw, was my first attempt to write a novel. I got about a third of the way through the novel before it got impossibly convoluted and with a large cast of characters. My inexperienced self didn't know what to do with it---but I may have just figured out what to do, what to cut, and where to go with it. Hopefully. (grimace)

Btw, Nikki is now Nikky, bearing in mind seanachi's problem with the spelling. I really don't know what I was thinking when I tacked an "i" instead of a "y" on the end. Probably just trying to be different, but that kind of difference is usually more distracting than innovative.

This material is first draft. Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks.

Brief synopsis to this point: A year after Nikky first meets Tasha Nepara. Nikky is fourteen now.

He raced through the streets of Lower Camdia, dodging street markets and their customers with the ease of long practice. His friends Tarn and Shell were hot on his heels. Shouts of anger from disturbed vendors and the occasional shout of excitement from youngsters roaming the streets followed them like a flag follows the wind.

The flash of colored wings caught Nikky’s attention. He halted before a display of stacked cages that contained brightly-colored and exotic birds. Nikky moved closer in fascination. What strange, faraway land had yielded these birds? He didn’t ever remember seeing any Camdian birds with red or blue feathers.

The birds, nervous at his proximity, screamed shrilly in tones that hurt the ear and shot around in the cages, making them dance, and causing the metal chains to jangle.

Shell stood beside Nikky, transfixed. “They’re beautiful,” she whispered.

Tarn came, puffing, and behind as usual. His stocky body had trouble keeping up with Nikky’s speed and Shell’s long-limbed slenderness, but he could wrestle both of them to the ground and endured their taunts with the innate calm of one who knows he is superior at something else.

“Wha—what—you—doing?” Tarn gasped out, holding his side.

The birds, nervous before, went wild at his noisy approach. They banged against the sides of the cages and colored feathers drifted through the air. One bright red one landed at Nikky’s feet. He leaned over and picked it up.

“Here, you! What are you up to!”

All three jerked around at the gruff voice. A large, swarthy man stood at the entrance to his temporary stall of light wood and canvas, black eyes boring into them. Nearby stood a man in the distinctive yellow robes of a Dafreet. The amazing sight of a magician out in the market like any common street vendor rooted Nikky’s feet to the ground.

“Get away from my birds!” the swarthy man said, yelling to be heard over the shrilling of the birds. “What are you trying to do, ruin my profit? I brought those birds all the way from Taolin to sell, not to be gawked at by the likes of you!”

The Dafreet turned his head. Nikky saw him flick his fingers, and the birds were immediately silenced. They still flapped and fluttered around the cages, but no sound emerged from them.

The birds’ owner stared in puzzlement, then turned his anger on Nikky and Shell and Tarn. “Get on out of here or I’ll have your heads!”

The three ran, clothes flying in tattered rags behind them. Nikky guided their steps toward the Waterfront and the docks. Trouble had undoubtedly found him again, Nikky reflected with some bitterness. The vendor would complain to Gerring, and Gerring would box his ears hard enough to make them ring. He could never do anything without Gerring finding out about it. His blond hair stood out like an army with banners in a town full of dark-haired people, and he could seldom hide his activities from his master. Besides, Gerring seemed to know every thought that went through his head at times.

His bare feet hit the seasoned boards of the Waterfront with a hollow thump. Two other sets of thumping noises announced Shell’s and Tarn’s arrival. Nikky slowed to a walk and his friends came up beside him.

“Did you see that?” Shell said in a hushed voice. “He made all those birds’ voices go away!”

“I heard they can do worse than that,” Tarn said in a doom-ridden voice. “Bilge told me once that Dafreets can make things as big as---as big as that ship out there disappear. Poof! It’s gone!”

Nikky and Shell followed his pointing finger to the two-master that rolled in the water several yards from the docks.

“Bilge is daft,” Nikky said, ignoring Tarn’s glare as his gaze took in the sights.

Every boat and ship imaginable lined the docks in all directions, floating in the green, murky waters of Bar Harbor. The wave-capped harbor waters slapped the pilings with a booming sound. Nikky looked out toward the sea. He could see the dark blot that was Silt Island, and if he strained his eyes, he could see the group of small islands due south of Silt Island.

“Look, you can see the Maze today,” he said. “If you want to see something that can really make ships disappear.”

Both Tarn and Shell looked, and Shell shuddered.

“I heard Gerring say that ghost ships haunt the Maze. Hundreds of ‘em have run aground there because of the currents,” Nikky said.

“I’ll bet you can find people’s bones all over those little islands,” Tarn said with relish.

“Tarn!” Shell protested. She rubbed at the goosebumps on her arms.

Even Nikky felt a thrill down his spine just thinking about that. He stared, and it seemed to him even the seabirds avoided the Maze. Farther on, he imagined that he could see the Southwest Passage that led to the safety of the open sea.

Nikky turned to face northwest where Tigana Island loomed in the section of Bar Harbor where a semi-circle of land thrust outward, creating a back eddy. Over the centuries, silt and debris had formed the island. He’d read that somewhere. Camdia’s Governor lived there. Nikky wondered what it would be like to have an entire island to yourself.


IanT said...

Another quick name catch: 'Tigana Island'. Tigana is the name of a (superb) book by Guy Gavriel Kay.

I love the idea of the Maze...

cherylp said...

Darn it! I wrote that long before GGK wrote his book. Not fair! (grin)

Gabriele C. said...

Those are three charming young rascals. :)

He could never do anything without Gerring finding out about it.

Dang, isn't that true? It so reminds me of some things. *grin*

Maggie said...

LOL, Yes the "y" helps clarify. I see a big difference between this and last weeks. Much improvement. I loved this description "but he could wrestle both of them to the ground and endured their taunts with the innate calm of one who knows he is superior at something else."

Tim King said...

Hi, Cheryl. Why are they running? Playing tag? Or racing? Something else?

This feels like a middle part to the story, a lull inbetween plot points.

I like the way it moves along. Never a dull moment.


Susan B. said...

I too loved that bit about the "stocky" kid knowing he was good at something else.

Ann said...

Very cool snippet. Very descriptive, love the Maze.

Jean said...

Ah, the things we did as kids that got us into trouble.

Nicely done.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Nice characterization and worldbuilding. You might punch it up with some real conflict.

Bri said...

What is so delightful about this snippet is the way you structure the world of the story. You don't overwhelm the reader with information and when you do present info, it's so subtle, I almost didn't notice it until I understood something because of a previous tidbit you'd dropped for us. I also love mention of the Maze and I hope you bring that into the story (it sounds so ominous in just a few brief lines) :D Great snippet!
I also liked his friends, btw.