Comics pages: 0
Prose words: 5,470
Spent much of the day ironing out JSA scripts with Willingham (mostly correcting his many typos, misspellings, and poor grammar). After that, I figured it was time to spend some time apart from comics for the rest of the day so I hunkered down and started writing chapter one of the new novel.
Got a good start; it's a little exhilarating, actually, because while I know the basic structure of the first section, I'm not really sure how it's going to work out. In my comics work I plan every issue down to the smallest detail before I start writing, so shooting from the hip like this is kind of interesting. The down side of that is that I'm probably going to end up chopping giant swaths of this stuff, especially early on while I try to figure out what "fits" in the book and what doesn't. Regardless, I'm still on pace to have 50,000 words written by the end of the duel. How much of that will remain in the final product, I have no idea. Probably not 50,000.
Here's the opening. Will this be the actual opening of the novel? I have no idea:
Paet stepped forward silently and slit the sentry’s throat, lowering him gently to the ground with a hand on the man’s mouth to stifle a wet scream. The sentry’s body went limp, and Paet dragged him into an out-of-the-way corner, covering his face with the ridiculous hat that identified him as a soldier of the City Guard. The hat annoyed Paet, so he wiped the dagger clean on it before restoring the tiny knife to his boot.
The killing had left a trail of blood along the stone floor of the battlement, but there was nothing to be done about that now. Knives were messy, but anonymous. Spellwork left residues on the body that could be traced by a trained investigator, of which there were many in Marinal. The killing spells that Paet knew all bore markers of Seelie military thaumatics, and Paet was here to prevent an international incident, not start one.
Inspecting his fingers for traces of blood, Paet stood in the embrasure that had been the sentry’s post and looked down at the bench where he was to meet his target in just a few minutes. The sentries were changed only ever four hours – this one wouldn’t be missed until it was too late. The meeting wouldn’t be witnessed. Also, Paet presumed, if the meeting had been a trap there would probably have been more sentries than one, and a dull one at that.
Paet slipped down a staircase set into the inner fortification of the keep and exited into the courtyard just as the bells in the Arcadian cathedral across the bridge chimed the hour.
The bench was still empty.
Paet could not abide lateness. One of the few benefits of being in the military was that it tended toward punctuality. But civilians were lax in such matters. Paet’s plan, however, assumed a window of a quarter-hour in which his target might arrive. If the cathedral bells rang again before Doctor Fezhal appeared, Paet would simply turn around and board the next ship bound for the Seelie Kingdom. Some of Paet’s fellow soldiers back in the Intelligence Division complained no end about his intransigence when it came to planning operations. But then again, some of Paet’s fellow soldiers were dead and Paet was still drawing breath.
Paet wandered aimlessly through the courtyard, sniffing at flowers, feeling the sun on his face. He chanced a few casual glances at the city of Eridest looming large in the sky to the east, tethered at the trade moorings. Visitors to Marinal gawked at floating cities – locals did not. And Paet was not impersonating a visitor today.
The bench faced east, so when Paet sat he was able to marvel at Eridest less conspicuously. It was by no means the largest of the flying cites in the Unseelie Empire, but it was still an awe-inspiring feat of thaumatics and engineering. Paet dearly wished that he’d been able to set foot on the planks of the City of Mab prior to its destruction at the Battle of Sylvan. Eridest was a fine consolation prize, though.
As much as Paet might appreciate the aesthetics of the city, however, he knew better than to speak of such things around his fellows back in the Division. They wouldn’t have understood. Paet didn’t despise the Unseelie, or Empress Mab, or the millions of Unseelie citizens flitting about over the rocks and plains of their massive empire. He had no feelings about them one way or the other. They were simply the elements of his profession, and getting emotional about them seemed both distorting to reason and a waste of energy.
Eridest was a thing of great beauty, but he would destroy it with alacrity if so ordered.
For you Fae linguists out there, "Eridest" loosely translates as "Small World", from the High Fae Era/i (small) + Dest (ground,earth). And "Marinal" is a corruption of "Marinell", known in our world as a character from Spenser's Faerie Queen. In High Fae, "Marinal" also translates as "(the place of) personal gods", from ma (friend) + ri/ro (good) + nel (first, ordinal suffix). A "personal god" in the anteregnum was a kind of guardian angel, a child's "first friend." Fae linguists have traced the naming of the city back to the same origin as that of the Spenser character due to its maritime connection; transliterated into the Runic syllabary, the two words are spelled almost identically, hence the confusion.