Hark the toll of the Moonlit Keep
And step wide from the path of that hoary gate
For Night’s Coachmen hath sounded the charge
And the Midnight Lords hath found their gait
Watchman, light your lantern and
Cry out ‘The day is done!”
For Night’s swift carriage rides the sky
Until the new dawn comes.
Men of courage and sweet babes
Toss in your beds with dreams of fright
For the black knell has sounded,
“Toll the Lords of Night!”
– Prayer of Dusk
She had prayed for wind and it had come, the black sails of the ship that bore her to Illusaur, pregnant with its force. She stood at the ship’s stern, her gaze fixed upon the western horizon where another ship followed in their wake, tiny but growing; gaining ever so slowly, closing the distance between them. The ship that pursued her was fast, faster than she had thought possible, and now it rode the very wind that had been sent to aid her.
She watched the flicker of its white sails with a mixture of marvel and disgust. The sun was making its descent down the western sky, and before it rose again, they would be upon her.
“Mistress.” A voice like oil sounded from behind her, and the black ranger looked over her shoulder. “My birds have returned with news.”
She looked at the crow-master, a tall and gaunt man of indeterminable age, cloaked and cowled in a cape of black rook feathers. A pair of rooks flitted from the ships rigging above, where a hundred more sat watching, and landed upon his soldiers. He had joined them in Cape Darion, knowing of her task and her destination, another servant of the master sent to aid her, and yet something about him unsettled her. She was uncertain of what it was; perhaps it was the ease at which he seemed to conduct himself in her presence. Where others stepped carefully around her, leaving her to her thoughts and speaking to her only when they must, he showed no hesitation, a boldness that bordered on insolence. Now those coal black eyes glinted at her, filled with mirth and knowing. He knew what she wanted to know, what she needed to know, but he would make her ask him. She relented, and gave an almost imperceptible nod, but that was enough for him.
He had stolen it from the hoard of Mithagron the Salamander, while the beast bathed in the blood of the mountain below. It was a small trinket by comparison to the great wealth that was amassed there, but one that would be immediately missed. Mithagron’s brood was all there was left of their kind in the world, the sole remnants of a once mighty species who had been driven into extinction, or worse, into the exile of the Burning Inferno with their Infernal mistress. It brought him some small sense of joy to think of their fate there, reduced to the moat-dwellers of the Infernal Keeps, while their masters warred over their desolate prison. Mithagron had escaped that fate; however, and his brood had grown strong in the deep places of the world. Luckily for Aelon, the great glutton had long ago eaten himself into his own prison, his vast bulk preventing him from leaving the tunnels of his mountain lair. Aelon would be far out of reach before the beast returned, and what he had taken was missed.
–Chronicles of Aelon: Tear of the Inferno
Yathban recalled The Master musing once of basilisks, when such creatures were coming out of the south, fleeing the Draecarion Revolution. He had reflected that basilisks had all the cunning and cruelty of dragons, but none of their charm. How right he had been, and now Yathban would add one more observation to that of his old Master’s, for it appeared they were equal in their greed as well...
–Legacy of Stone: The Flawed
The vast bulk of the story is finished, and revisions have begun. Its a daunting task of ruthlessly cutting huge swaths of text. The story is long, too long, and my goal is to get it down to roughly 150-170k words.
In addition to the trim, I am working on tightening up the plots. My primary focus right now is working on Saeus’ plot, and really making The Count a character that people will love to hate.
There are less than 20k words separating our main characters from their conclusion. At about 1500 words a day, we should have the first draft of book 1 done within the month. There are a few large holes in the story that still require filling, I have some ideas but they need fleshing out. The major revision I can already see on the horizon is that our starting location occupies too much of the book, while the arguably more important ending location is being forced into a relatively scant few chapters. I have some ideas on how to speed the first half of the book up, we’ll have to wait and see how they work out.
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