Well the revision process is now properly underway. Perhaps some of you more experienced authors out there can tell me how long this is likely to take. I currently have around 150k words and its taken me the best part of a week to do one chapter, albeit a lot of new writing in it. Hopefully I will have it finished by the time I fly off to the UK and Europe in September.
Following is my new-ish first chapter, involving some existing descriptions and ideas from what was originally later in the novel, but reworked around new dialogue and made more whimsical. By the way, I don’t intend to bombard you with every chapter from now on but I need to know that I am going in the correct direction (my good old anxiety issues kicking in LOL).
Cello and fiddle throbbed the Green House, tumultuous and passionate. The wizard Verdant PÃ¨lerin hummed along with the music as he tiptoed past dozing guards, pausing only to tut at their ineptitude. Well, that was a bit unfair. Eldritch magic guarded this place and the guardsâ€™ principal purpose was to protect him should the magic fail. They would not imagine for a moment that he would seek to escape their protection. But Verdant was a cantankerous and wilful old man and such are always a pain in the arse to those about them.
â€˜Speak to us. We can sense you,â€™ whispered the first tombstone as the old man passed it. The Green House and its din lay now at his back.
â€˜Shush you,â€™ scolded Verdant, worried some inadvertently attentive guard might notice.
â€˜Speak! Speak!â€™ chorused several other of the giant stones. They really were a nuisance.
â€˜Nothing to talk about,â€™ Verdant muttered back.
The tombstones protested, as tombstones are wont to do â€“ at least as these ancient ones are wont to do. Verdant kept up his pace through them. Numerous cemetary rabbits sprinted as he passed. Those damned bunnies and their burrowing made the ground around these stones hazardous.
â€˜What is happening in the worlds?â€™ rasped one voice. Verdant recognised it as one of the more reticent spirits.
â€˜Your worlds are long gone,â€™ the Pilot said as he passed the stone. The words sounded meaner than intended.
The voice spoke again from a few stones ahead.
â€˜Something is happening. I feel it.â€™ Other voices agreed.
â€˜You feel nothing. Youâ€™re dead.â€™ Perhaps that was mean.
Verdant made his way though the night in peace for another minute or so. But the dead do not enjoy their place and silence insults their sensibilities.
â€˜SoulThief struggles against his bonds.â€™
Verdant sighed, stopped, and turned to the nearest stone. Old and mottled, itâ€™s upper half had been shattered in some forgotten incident.
â€˜SoulThief always struggles,â€™ he asserted. â€˜There is nothing in it.â€™
Not surprisingly the tombstone gave little indication that it appreciated Verdantâ€™s words.
â€˜Something is up,â€™ it said.
Verdant sighed again, his eyes shutting as he did so and his body slumping slightly.
â€˜And what do you expect me to do about it?â€™
â€˜I thought so. Leave me be. Iâ€™ll come and chat tomorrow night.â€™
This said, the old man continued. There was some muttereing among the stones but no one bothered him any further.
Beyond the ancient graves Verdant passed through the rock giants and found the body he sought.
â€˜Your minders wonâ€™t be happy,â€™ the woman observed, sitting up. There was something chaotic and dangerous about her.
â€˜They have issues,â€™ Verdant replied, seating himself beside her on the hard earth.
â€˜That they do.â€™ He squirmed a bit, trying to get his bony buttocks comfortable. â€˜I donâ€™t know why you insist on this,â€™ he eventually said. Strewth had spent most of the last decade living outside among the stones and caverns of this minor chasm.
â€˜Yes you do.â€™
He nodded. â€˜Yes I do, but stillâ€¦â€™
â€˜But still.â€™ She was the closest to wistful that he could recall.
He lifted his head, looking up into the sky. Way above the cavern walls few stars were visible. They never were. This world existed at the fringe as did its people.
He felt her hand rest itself on his. It was callused, cold and full of subdued affection. The guilt was palpable. It would never go while they both lived. Perhaps not that long after all.
â€˜Something is bothering you, old man.â€™
Verdant lowered his gaze, but still would not look at her. She squeezed her fingers.
â€˜Iâ€™ve an infection.â€™
He felt her shrug. She did not understand. He continued.
â€˜I think I may be dying.â€™
She gasped, pulled him around to face her. Her expression was concerned granite.
â€˜Explain, old man.â€™
â€˜Not much to explain. No idea what it is. No idea how I got it. The lore is as ignorant as I. Itâ€™s corrupted those organs that generate my powers and is now spreading to the rest of my body.â€™
â€˜The silent death? I did not know that your people could be taken by that.â€™
He shook his head. â€˜Not cancer, though I can see similarities.â€™
â€˜The Wasting Red?â€™
Verdant raised a hand to her and forced a stern tone into his words. â€˜Iâ€™m in no mood for this guessing game. Itâ€™s nothing I know of.â€™
He could sense her heat. She would not be spoken to in such a manner by any but him, and even then did not like it.
â€˜Probably that filthy habit of yours. Anyway, it is not like you to give up so quicklyâ€™, Strewth growled. Rapproach.
He did not reply and she understood the message in that.
â€˜How long have you had this?â€™
â€˜A couple of months,â€™ he replied sullenly.
He knew that the warrioress would be angry. He was not wrong and let her rage at him for several minutes before raising his hand once more. Even then she did not quieten immediately. Strewth was a fiery so and so. That was part of the attraction. But it was always going to be a problem telling her that his time had come. And he had explored every avenue to resolve the issue before succumbing to the enevitable.
â€˜Youâ€™re a bastard,â€™ were the final words she spat at him. Thankfully in the darkness he was unable to fully appreciate her glare.
â€˜That I am,â€™ he agreed.
â€˜So what are you going to do?â€™
â€˜Bit of self pity perhaps,â€™ he said quietly.
â€˜Canâ€™t see it.â€™
â€˜No. Neither can I.â€™
â€˜No idea.â€™ He shrugged, and leaned against her. â€˜Less than a year.â€™
â€˜Have you consulted the Magi?â€™
He laughed without mirth. â€˜Shushtar has it too.â€™
He felt her stiffen. The Gnossian Magi were one of this worldâ€™s powers. But then so was Verdant.
Minutes passed and words melted into a slow dance of passion. The hardness of her body never failed to amaze him. He clung to her afterwards, knowing that she felt guilt and trying to wish it away for her. In a cavity in the nearby cliffs lay the ashes of her husband, slain a decade ago under his command. Perhaps he should feel guilt too, but he had led so many to death that guilt was a constant shadow easily ignored.
And, by damn, he enjoyed making love to her!