Would you believe me if I told you my current NaNoWriMo word count is 52, 794?
Wait, wait, wait, before you start congratulating me, you should probably know that I just introduced a new character 5,000 words ago, and while looking for a segment to share with you today I found another character I had introduced and then forgotten about that I need to work back in. So… Okay, yes, I have hit the 50K word target, but this story is a long, long way from being done.
Not that you really care as long as you keep getting glimpses of it, right?
Well, sorry to keep you waiting, here you go:
His dreams were more troubled than normal. Instead of the fire lifting him up it burned him. Rather than feeling in control and powerful, he was vulnerable, weak, and afraid. It was the fear that eventually woke him, and he struggled to remove himself from his tangled blankets. They strangled him and suffocated him. The fear from the dream carried over and he cried out.
Antyn finally managed to fling the covers away and he hurdled out of the bed. His breathing was rugged and hoarse. His body was chilled despite the sweat on his brow and cheeks. He wrapped his arms around himself to try and steady his nerves and calm his trembling. When he was in control again he looked askance at his bed.
“It was only a dream.”
He wondered if Hoyla had the power to send him dreams, and if she did, if she would send him one to make him feel small and insignificant again. Was The Casting sending him a message that there were still forces he should respect and fear if he valued his life? Was he supposed to take the nightmare as a sign to hedge his confidence, double check his plans, and not trump up his own contributions? Was it simpler than that, and Hoyla was getting revenge for the questions and attitude he continued to ply her with?
Or, was it really just a dream. He’d had nightmares most of his life so it wasn’t that far out of the ordinary that he would have one. But, he hadn’t had a bad dream since he’d left the magic school, since he’d made up his mind and come to terms with the fact that he would never be a wizard. The timing seemed strange. Why would he have one that night in particular?
He rubbed his eyes to wipe away the last dregs of sleep, and then went to throw some water in his face from the basin in the kitchen. The fear faded to the recesses of his mind and spying a new delivery he smiled, breaking the last grasp of the nightmare’s spell over him. He had things to do, he had a purpose, and he had an important skill. Antyn removed the items and placed them carefully on his work bench and once each item had been cataloged and checked off his request list he set to work mixing chemicals.
Day turned into night, and back into day. He took small breaks to eat and relieve himself, but otherwise he was fully engaged and hardly noticed the passage of time. Four walls meant four devices, four triggers, four timers, and the timers had to be perfectly set in unison so the individual bombs would work concordantly rather than against each other.
Time slipped and he had no idea how many days and nights had passed when the air shifting near the fireplace heralded Hoyla’s arrival. In her hand she held a satchel that was full to bursting. Too distracted by her arrival and his curiosity over what she’d brought with her, Antyn couldn’t focus on the intricate and delicate work he’d been engaged in, so he pushed away from the work bench and joined her near the hearth.
He’d allowed it to go cold as his mind had been too full of elements and compounds to notice the chill in the air, and as he took a seat, Hoyla cast the simple spell that caused fire to spring into the hearth, feeding on nothing but her magic and a steady supply of oxygen, “Axt zelab.”
Anytn was grateful for the warmth, and decided he would have to be more mindful in the future of making sure he took care of his body even as he nourished his mind and soul through his work. “What did you bring me?”