5,001 words on the novel today. And on my birthday no less! Here's a snippet:
Spring term has just begun and already Perrin is overloaded with schoolwork. He’s been tested for Elements and Glamour and passed both with ease. Wouldn’t father be livid if he chose to study Glamour at University! University is still two years away, though; it seems like forever.
Perrin walks through the old school garden, tucked between the library and the upper dormitory, imagining life as a famed Glamourist. He would live in a hovel in the city and smoke cigarettes and fashion glamours in a studio during the day and drink wine and make love to dangerous women at night. He would hide his noble heritage the way Rimlaire had, only revealing his lordship on his deathbed.
Perrin sits on a stone bench and looks around; the garden is deserted. He’s bought cigarettes from one of the school cooks and is working out how to smoke them the way the men in the city do, with the wrist extended, tapping off the ash with a flick of the thumb.
There’s a shout by the garden gate and Silverdun tosses the cigarette as fast as he can into a camellia bush.
A boy comes running into the garden, smacking the gate hard against the wall, the sound reverberating in the enclosed space. Hard behind him are four other boys, chasing him.
The boy being chased runs toward Perrin and trips, falling down at Perrin’s feet. It’s Bir, the son of a tea guildsman from the Western Valley. His parents donated a fortune to the school to get him accepted, Perrin’s been told.
“Help,” pleads Bir. Then the boys are on him. They’re fifth years, all tough boys, and Perrin has no interest in getting involved.
The leader of Bir’s pursuers is Tremoin, the Baronet Dequasy, who is a pompous ass and, Perrin notes with satisfaction, utterly useless at Glamour. Tremoin gets Bir down on his back and straddles him, holding a fist up to strike.
“Go on, say it!” says Tremoin. “Just say it and I’ll let you go.”
“I won’t,” says Bir.
Tremoin looks up at Perrin, noticing him for the first time. “Oh, Perrin. Lovely seeing you. Were you aware that Bir is not only common, but an Arcadian as well?”
A spike of fear plants itself in Silverdun’s belly. “I was not aware of that, no.”
Bir struggles, but Tremoin is much larger than he is.
“As an experiment of sorts,” Tremoin continues, “I’ve asked him to openly deny his god to see if he’s struck by lightning, thus demonstrating whether Aba is a wrathful god or not.”
“I take it he’s refused,” says Perrin, trying to keep his voice steady.
“Natural philosophy does not appear to be an interest of his,” Tremoin observes.
Perrin hopes that Bir will do the smart thing and deny Aba, but Bir has chosen to be a martyr. He shouts, “I will not deny Aba, not for you, not for the Queen herself!” His voice echoes in the garden.
“A man of principle!” says Tremoin, pleased.
“Boys, let’s show Perrin here what we do to men of principle.”
After the spectacle is over, Perrin goes to the library and creates a casual rampart of schoolbooks around him. He takes pen and paper from his bag and writes his weekly letter.
“Dear mother,” he writes. “I watched a boy at school get beaten senseless today because he refused to deny your god. But all is well, I suppose, as Aba will no doubt forgive the boy that administered the beating, and Bir (this is the boy who was beaten) will get his reward in Arcadia, when She Who Will Come arrives clad in alabaster armor or satin robes or whatever it is she’s to arrive in.
“While this is all well and good, it no doubt comes as little comfort to Bir, who currently lies delirious the infirmary. Or perhaps it comes as all sorts of comfort. I must admit that I find it difficult to comprehend a god so overflowing with love who yet stands idly by while one of his adherents is getting his face smashed in.
“Please say hello to father for me, if you ever see him, and to Iala as well. You are, I assume, still taking orders from the laundry maid, so be sure to treat her with due respect when you pass along my salutations.
“I remain your devoted son,”
He signs the letter and stuffs it quickly into an envelope, not reading it over. He gathers his books, walks straight to the school office, and drops the letter in the post box.
And immediately regrets it.