Continuing on from where we left off last week — Bellica Agate and her regiment have arrived in Southland, where an army of “gypsies” has taken over the town. And yes, this is all first draft stuff, so there will probably be some grammatical errors.
It didn’t take long for someone to come out and meet them. A whole lot of someones, truth be told.
Their welcoming party consisted of fifteen people, all armed with spears or longbows. Damien to her right fidgeted, his hand twitching towards his sword; she held her hand out in a steadying gesture. The people greeting them were gypsies – Agate would have known even if they hadn’t been talking among themselves in Ixil. Their hair was dark, lustrous and curly; their teeth shone white against the dark brown hue of their skin, and their eyes ranged from a light hazel to the velvet brown of a deep pool of water on the forest floor.
The sight of them sent a pang of longing so sharp through Agate there was no way she could convince herself it was loathing, this time. Ever the perfect bellica, she kept her features composed and tried to ignore the feelings being stirred up at the sight of a people she’d lived with for so long in her youth.
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Welcome to Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. On the surface, it’s a web ring of authors who post snippets of their work for comment. In reality, it’s a close-knit group of friends and colleagues working together to support and encourage one another and promote the science fiction and fantasy genres.
I’m back, with a new snippet!
This is from The Jade Star of Athering, sequel to Bellica. It’s currently a work in progress. I expect to have it finished early next year.
They had taken their time on the trip south, and rode into town on the morning of the eighteenth. It looked deserted – a veritable ghost town. As Bellica Agate slowed her horse to a walk she felt a cold stone settle into her gut at the senses of her hometown. There was no sound of children playing, no smell of fresh bread baking, no laundry hung out to dry – she couldn’t even feel the heat of the day on her skin or taste the desert eucalyptus that grew in and around town year-round.
She held back a shiver and dismounted her horse, signaling for Damien to do the same. They’d look less of a threat.
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(If you want to read the first 11 chapters of Bellica you can do so here. My short fiction and poetry can be found here, and my Smoke and Shadows stories can be found here.)
So back when I was still traveling, and I believe it was when I was in Salem, OR, specifically, I set a goal for myself. An ultimatum, even. I told myself I was going to finish The Jade Star of Athering by April 28th. I was giving myself 10 days after my final exam (the 18th). I figured that I’d be able to power through it.
But then I visited my boyfriend on the way home and he had a cold. And I got that cold worse than he did, which seems vastly unfair, and slept for several days after my final. Which I’m actually still surprised I managed to complete, let alone show up for.
So now it is the 25th and I am no where near done with Jade Star. I’ve not even continued past where I got last month, before the show became The Thing That Ate Katje’s Life (In TECHNICOLOR!).
In three days, I’m supposed to be done with the first draft of a novel. The first draft of the sequel to Bellica. I want to release this thing this summer. I need to get on it.
*pictures inevitable mental breakdown if she tries to finish a novel in 3 days*
I think I’ll extend the “DO THIS BY THIS DATE OR YOU’RE DEAD” date. I’ll be kind to myself. It’s not November, after all.
I have until Cinco de Mayo. My parents’ wedding anniversary. May 5th to finish The Jade Star of Athering, first draft.
Hold me to that?
Here is the continuation to the last three weeks’ snippets (1, 2, 3) and the end of this chapter!
They didn’t, this time. He merely nodded and put his arm around her shoulders, and they walked in silence. Normally she wouldn’t allow such a display of affection in front of her women, but since leaving Atherton she felt as if some weight had been lifted from her, and that she was a different Agate. It was as if the very act of leaving, of heading back towards home, had instigated some change in her that was still working at all the small corners of her mind.
The very thought of it made her stomach clench in fear. For some reason, she felt this change would not stop working until she was destroyed completely.
Oh, Ixchel. What’s happening to me? she prayed fervently, but the Goddess gave her no answer.
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And if you like the snippets from The Jade Star of Athering, consider checking out the first book in the series, Bellica, available for the Kindle. Soon to be available on CreateSpace, too.
Continuing on in the same scene as the last two weeks’ snippets (1, 2), here we see a small conversation between Bellica Agate and her major, Damien. This is from The Jade Star of Athering, the sequel to Bellica.
“You didn’t mention why you were chosen for the mission,” he said gently when they were out of earshot. It was neither a reprimand nor a question.
“Need to know basis, Damien. I’m assuming this ‘Gypsy Queen,’ whoever she is, speaks Athee, or at least enough of it for us to be able to communicate. She gave a message to Melena, after all, and that girl does not know a word of Ixil.”
He raised his eyebrows and looked down at her. “Ixil? Is that the language you barely remember?”
Agate mentally kicked herself for letting it slip. “Yes,” she said, and waited for the flood of questions to come.
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We have the rest of the conversation first shown in snippet form here, for last week’s SFFSat.
Agate had already turned away to deal with the “I told you so” look on Damien’s face, but now she turned back. “Think hard about what you’re saying, soldier. I never make uninformed decisions.” Bethany stood her ground, but she looked abashed. She’d been in Agate’s regiment for twelve years. To think her bellica wouldn’t know her by now…. “Now sit down and shut up.”
Bethany saluted and sat back down beside Captain Shelley, who shook her head at her friend. Agate almost laughed, but it wouldn’t do – not in front of her women.
For those curious about what their mission is, here’s a brief explanation (I don’t have a short enough snippet to explain it).
Their mission is half-diplomacy, half-war — go to Southland and negotiate with the occupying army of invaders from the southern desert to get them to leave Athering. Not a job for a soft-skinned courtier, but not one for a hot-headed warrior — which makes Bethany worried she’ll jeopardize the mission. Agate has been chosen as the bellica for the job because she’s from Southland originally and speaks the language of the invading army — the “gypsy” tongue. She feels safer with her hot-headed Lieutenant in the mix than without.
And that’s quite enough revealing for today! 😉 Go read the other talented SFFSat authors HERE!
Tomorrow (Sunday), read a big spoileriffic snippet from JSOA and watch me fumble around trying to tag people without feeling like I’m intruding. Or something. *fumblefumble*
During a break on the march to Southland, Agate takes an opportunity to tell her women about their mission — and encounters some resistance.
While her women sat, scattered across the road in a rough semi-circle, chewing on their rations, she spoke clearly and quietly. No one said anything, for her women were loyal, and always showed the respect they knew she deserved.
“As the Queen said, this is a delicate situation. If there are any of you who feel you are not up to the task, tell me now.”
There was a small pause while the women looked around at each other, an assessing gaze on each face, and then – Agate had been expecting it – Bethany stood. “Ma’am,” she started, but didn’t get a chance to say “I feel I would jeopardize the mission” because Agate cut her off.
“Shut up, Bethany. You’re coming and that’s final.”
Bethany gaped like a fish out of water, then shut her mouth with clunk sound. “Ma’am,” she said tightly, through her teeth, “with all due respect I think that’s an uninformed decision.”
The Jade Star of Athering is the sequel to Bellica.
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A while ago I lost the notebook that held several handwritten chapters of The Jade Star of Athering, sequel to Bellica. (Yes, I’ve finally given in — it’s a sequel. I’m sure those of you who have read Bellica are happy to hear that. Though, strictly speaking, it could potentially be a stand-alone. I try not to give into the whole fantasy series thing; heavens forbid I start a huge series and die before I can finish it. Worst nightmare ever.)
Anyway, this week I finally put my nose to the grindstone to find the darn thing, and lo and behold! I did.
It was with my other notebooks. CRAZY I know.
So I sat down and wrote just under 8,000 words on it. I’m now caught up with what’s handwritten, and will be working on this book continuously in March. Despite my other obligations (school, work, sleep, the show). Yay to being a writer full-time but still having to do other things full time to pay the rent.
Coming soon: word count meters on the sidebar. They help keep me motivated, and keep you in the loop. If you want to be in the loop; I certainly don’t wish to force loop-living on anyone happily out of the loop.
This is an excerpt from The Jade Star of Athering, a sequel to Dead Transgressions set 10,000 years later and right after the events in Bellica.
Bellica Agate has been ordered to travel to Southland to negotiate with the army of Gypsies and their Queen that have laid siege to the province. She decides to pray at the temple before leaving.
Ixchel had no temples, no buildings of stone or wood; She did not even have a place in the services offered at the Temple. Agate doubted any of the priestesses even knew of Her.
In fact, no one in Athering knew of the Rainbow-Moon Goddess. Agate had learned that well as a child. So she’d kept her worship hidden, a secret – even let her wedding ceremony be a Paixemortienne one, as Damien had wished. It was best no one thought her crazy, or worse – a traitor.
At the end of her prayer she felt the faint flutter of butterfly wings against her forehead, and she looked up to see the insect that had greeted her. There was nothing but empty air. She smiled, knowing her Goddess spoke to her once again after many years of silence, and felt her spirits lifted slightly at the thought of going home.
Home, after all, was closer to Ixchel than Atherton or Harbourtown had ever been.
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