The Graft Prologue 4–Voalt

A long-overdue part 4 of a fantasy pirate novel-in-progress. The first three parts can be found on Remington‘s, Denizen‘s, and Fahd‘s pages.

“Denizen, you rotten cutthroat!” Kaly yelled from under the pirate. Her voice was only slightly muffled by the floor. “Get off of me or I’ll–”

“Or you’ll what?” Denizen snarled. “Throw a cantrip at me?” He glanced at Adheera, but the other female only stared with wide eyes; she did not approach. He returned his attention to the healer beneath his knee. “I could crush you before you breathed another word if you raised your blade again.”

Kaly stilled. Denizen knew she could still fight, if she must; he’d sparred with her often enough over the years, and watched her do tricks he could never match. And he hadn’t attempted to injure her; he had her pinned, nothing more.

But most of her magics were focused on healing, not battle. And even she had lacked the skill to heal the last three people who had gotten him this angry.

“Let me up,” she said again, her voice shaking more than it should have. “Please.”

Denizen narrowed his eyes, but he finally decided her weakness was not an act. He shifted his weight to release her as he placed himself between the baby and the two women.

Kaly pushed herself to her knees, and there she remained for several minutes. “Denizen, look at his eyes,” she insisted.

Denizen ignored the command. He ran the talons of one hand, lightly, through the baby’s creamy brown fur, still slick and darkened from the birthing and the interrupted bath. He snatched a towel up and began to caress the baby’s long fox-like ears, clearly inherited from the mage, until those ears could stand upright on their own, and then he began to dry the rest of the child.

“His eyes, Denizen,” Kaly repeated.

Denizen grunted. “They’re red,” he finally replied. “So what? I’ve had crewmates with red eyes before.”

“Not like that, you haven’t,” Kaly said. “Not that shade. Those are the eyes of the blood moon. The demon’s moon.” She watched the pirate carefully. “He must be sent back to them. You cannot hope to control him; demons turn on their masters.”

Denizen flinched at the words, so like the councilor’s own.

“What if we could tame him?” Adheera asked.

Kaly and Denizen stared at the other woman.

“Tame?” Kaly echoed.

“If he is demon spawn–” Adheera began.

“Who said anything about their spawn?” Denizen growled.

Adheera waved off the interruption. “Demon marked, then.” She bent over to peer at the baby’s eyes, but Denizen snatched him up and snarled at her before she could touch the infant.

Adheera didn’t even blink. “He would be linked to their magics, yes?”

“Yes,” Kaly replied. “Which is why he must be destroyed–”

“But don’t you see? We can use that!” Adheera’s eyes glittered. “Such links go both ways. Perhaps we cannot control the demons, but the child could.” She hesitated. “With proper training, of course.”

Sure we could,” Denizen muttered. He rolled his eyes.

Kaly frowned. “Impossible,” she said. “I am a healer, Adheera, and no one else about has strong enough magics–”

“I have,” Adheera replied. She strode past Denizen without giving him, or the infant, another glance, and fetched a book from Kaly’s shelves. “I don’t have your healing magics, Kalyptos,” she continued, flipping through the book as she spoke, “but my master has trained me in binding demons.”

Kaly scowled and opened her mouth. “But—”

Adheera looked up from the book and stared the healer down.

Kaly’s eyes lost their focus under that glare. She opened her mouth again as her head started bobbing up and down….

“No,” Denizen hissed.

Kaly blinked. She looked over to see Denizen cradle the child in his arms, sheltered from the women, shielded from their sight. Her eyes became focused again as he watched her.

“He needs my training,” Adheera protested, transferring her glare to the pirate. “Else he’ll never be more than their tool, their weapon to strike whoever strays too close. You cannot protect something like that!”

“You’d make him your tool, then?” Denizen laughed. Adheera’s eyes widened before narrowing again. “No. My crew rescued his parents; I delivered them to the healer.” He glared at Kaly. “I’ll take responsibility for him.”

“You’re not serious,” Kaly said.

“I am,” Denizen replied. “The demons will never have him.”

“If you are so certain…” Kaly gestured at the pages Adheera had opened. She turned back to Denizen. “Name him. Let us bind this power before they can use it.”

“I–” Denizen hesitated.

There was no choice. If the child was nameless, he was vulnerable. The demons could take him, no matter what the pirate had vowed.

But names had power. Any name would not only bind the so-called demon who had marked the child, it would bind the child, as well. The boy could not escape being someone’s tool.

“I cannot read that script,” Denizen said, to buy a little time. He looked away before more than a handful of letters, scattered across the page, had burned into his mind.

He shuddered at the sensation.

“Typical pirate,” Kaly muttered. “Adheera–”

“Voalt,” Denizen quickly said. Random letters, he reasoned. No meaning, but what he’ll make of it. Nothing to bind him. That should be safe… He took a deep breath. Shouldn’t it? “His name is Voalt.”

The town gathered that night to send the deceased on their way. They laid the bodies together in a rowboat, and filled the boat with offerings of grog, or coin and small treasures.

The procession went on all night, as other ships pulled in to port, and their crews learned the tale and left their own offerings to the dead.

Finally, when the sun’s first rays touched the sky, Fahd stepped forward and knelt in front of the deceased pair. “I pray that your gods will forgive us,” he muttered to the bodies, “strangers who do not know your ways, and cannot spare a better ship for your journey.”

He raised his voice. “We come,” he said to the crowd behind him, “many peoples, from many lands, to honor these strangers as our own. We knew them only days, and they knew us not at all. But in their deaths, they were as our own. No matter the troubles that led to their fate, we pray, each to our own fashion, that they reach Fiddler’s Green, or whatever land they call their final home.”

A gentle murmur flowed through the crowd.

At Denizen’s nod, Fahd took a torch and lit the funeral boat before pushing it out to sea.

The pyre grew high as the boat floated out of sight.

After the funeral, Denizen’s crew prepared to return to their ship as quickly as etiquette allowed.

Denizen waited until the land was out of sight before sticking his head into the brig. “You can come out now.”

Jericho climbed out. “I still say I should have gone with you.”

“Among that crowd?” Denizen snorted. “Not a chance. No telling if any of them worked for that councilor of yours.”

The young man’s face paled.

“Maybe not all pirates are the villains we’re made out to be,” Fahd added, “but enough are. You can’t afford to let on that you’ve survived. Not yet.”

“I feel like…like I dishonored them by hiding,” Jericho insisted. He dropped his voice to a whisper. “Like I disrespected the Goddess.”

Fahd placed a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “You show them greater honor,” he said, “by surviving. You will show your goddess greater respect by telling your people what happened.”

Jericho stared at the desert man for several moments. Then his shoulders slumped, and he sighed. “I can’t do that, sir.”

“Why not?” Denizen asked.

“You didn’t kill him, did you, sir?”

“I was tempted,” Denizen admitted. “But your navies leave well enough alone when we only rob people. I’ve no wish to invite their wrath if your mages find us murderers. Not for the likes of him.”

“But I can’t go back home, not if he survived. I’d never have a chance to tell anyone. I’d be dead the moment I set foot on the island. Or he’ll go after my girls. Or I–”

Fahd snarled. “You’ll shirk your duties to your goddess, is what you mean.”

Jericho flinched. “I have always accepted my duties,” he insisted, “if they are within my abilities.”

“Aye, and who’s to say they’re not?” Fahd replied. “Can you gauge your skills better than an experienced pirate? Or better than your goddess?”

“You’re wasting your breath, Fahd,” Denizen growled. “We’ll just drop him off at the next port.”

“But–but, sir—” Jericho tried to protest.

Denizen shook his head. “No. I’ll not have any freeloaders on my ship. You can fend for yourself; you choose not to.”

“I can learn,” Jericho insisted. “I can help, you know I can! I’ve proven my worth in the storm. Your people can teach me to fight.”

Fahd snorted. “Why? What’s the use of learning if you never use it?”

“I will!” Jericho snapped. “If I have to. When I go back…” He blinked. “Back to…Ierne…. ”

Denizen and Fahd exchanged glances. Then Fahd started laughing.

Denizen grinned. “Welcome to the crew, signer,” he said.

The entire crew congratulated the stunned youth for several hours before Fahd could get Denizen alone again. The desert man handed over a crystal medallion, cut to the shape of a leaf.

Denizen peered at the medallion closely. “Wasn’t the mage wearing this?” he finally asked.

Fahd nodded. “I took it for the boy’s inheritance,” he replied, “along with a few other trinkets.”

“You took it.” Denizen lifted an eyebrow. “From the mage.”

“Aye, sir. And well that I did.” Fahd growled deep in his throat like the cat he was named for. “A mage’s belongings should be destroyed on his death, or passed to one who would use it well. Not left with his corpse for anyone to find.”

Denizen shrugged. “We’re not responsible for every fool grave robber out there–”

“Aye, but when the thief robs us of our offerings, I wonder at his intent,” Fahd replied.

Denizen scowled. “Our offerings? What do you mean?”

“I kept watch all night; I saw what was left. But when I prayed over them, every stone we’d left was gone!”

Denizen’s scowl became a stare. “What of the other ships’ offerings?”

Fahd shook his head. “From our crew, only.”

“The other ships left more than we could ever give,” Denizen said. He frowned. “Why would someone go to that trouble, to only rob from us?”

“Perhaps the thief did not know they were offerings,” Fahd muttered. “The mage came from our ship. Perhaps the thief thought they belonged to the dead.”

Denizen’s eyes grew wide. “Who would be fool enough to steal from a mage?” He shuddered. “Especially from his funeral trappings.”

“Who indeed, but another mage?” Fahd snarled. “And who else could do it under my watch?”

Several minutes passed before Denizen broke the silence. “I think it will be a while before we return to that port.”

And with that, we have the end of the prologue and the end of the free sample of this novel-in-progress.
Writing samples from other stories may appear on this and other free sites, but the full novel must wait until it’s been published and available for sale… unless of course you’d like to help me along on Patreon?

Readers, do you like what you see? Do you want to read more?
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This entry can also be found on deviantArt on my secondary account.
It may also find its way (eventually) to my FictionPress account.

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My First Writer’s Workshop: Planning Stages

I got accepted into Hogwarts!


I mean, I got accepted to the Barrowman Writing Workshop!

Never underestimate my willingness to act silly on camera. 😉
Is it sad that I had planned to do just such a video if I was selected, pratfall and all, from the day I applied for the workshop? That’s right, I wanted to do something this silly to celebrate being selected about a month before I’d find out whether I had anything to celebrate.
Meh. Sign of having a warped sense of humor, maybe.

Speaking of planning things out in advance, this workshop will be my first major trip for a few years now… and my first major trip without my parents ever. So there’s definitely a bit of work to go into making sure I’m ready and raring to go. The trip is still more than a month off, but some of that planning ought to be done now…. not because of time limits, but because of not putting it off until I’ve forgotten to do it.

Case in point:

  1. Paying for the workshop (okay, this one actually does have a time limit). The acceptance letter (received on Wednesday) said that details for payment would come along soon, and I got aforementioned details yesterday while I was at work. I might want to hold off until Monday to actually make that payment though, just in case I have to tell the credit card company that yes I really am spending my money this way. But paying now or paying when the credit card company is open, I expect this should be my first priority.
  2. Likewise, researching and paying for air fare. Honestly I’d rather head that way by motorcycle, but… I don’t have that much time off from work, the bike is almost as old as I am, and again, I’m doing the trip without my parents. One of these days, maybe, but not for my first trip to California.
  3. Buy a new swimsuit. The one I currently use for aqua aerobics has seen better days and is due to be replaced soon anyway.
  4. Decide what all I want or need to take with me (that list will show up in a moment).
  5. Back on the airfare front, buy a bag or bags to pack my stuff in. We kinda don’t have spare backpacks anymore (finally cleaned those out of my closet months ago) so I’ll need to find something that’s big enough for whatever I’m packing in points 3 and 4, but will meet whatever requirements the airline has for carry-on. If I can get by with stuffing all of my stuff into a single backpack and just keeping that with me, I will. This is not an extended stay, so carry-on rules depending, there’s really no need for enough luggage to have to put up with the conveyor belt.
  6. Wait. Wait. And wait some more. Soon enough it will be time to leave. But keep getting other work done in the meantime. Up to and including: the traditional job from which I earn the income necessary to pay for all of this, and the novel from which the excerpt for my application came.
    1. Speaking of which, I need to update the entries on my Patreon.
    2. Get the (name-change) intro for my travel/motorcycle channel done! I have every intention of posting video, or at least photo slideshows, of this trip to YouTube, and the sooner I have the intro/outro in place the sooner I can post such things without having to deal with the backlog I have on my computer now.

Anyway, the stuff I’m likely to need to pack, in no particular order:

  • Swimsuit
  • A set of (cool) pajamas. California in May, so I’m thinking tank top and shorts.
  • Four days’ worth of socks, underwear, and bras.
  • Four day’s worth of outer wear–shorts and some nice-looking shirts of course.
  • Four days’ worth of medications. (Allergies and migraines. 😦 )
  • Computer
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Camera(s).
  • Cell phone.
  • Assorted chargers for all electronic devices. (This mostly means a handful of USB cords with varying tips, plus a wall plug-in capable of taking USB.)
  • Sandals.
  • Plus any extras in case of the unexpected.
  • Money! Nothing of my plans this time around involve going anywhere except the workshop itself–I simply don’t feel like taking a taxi or shuttle to explore the surrounding area (like the motorcycle, I’ll be leaving that for another trip) and my only other form of transportation will be on foot, but there is still the possibility of unexpected expenses… or unexpected opportunities to see stuff outside of the workshop.

There are a couple of things I’d like to take as well–my copy of Hollow Earth (still need Carole’s autograph!) and a wood carving I’d planned on giving John and Carole as a gift (which I hadn’t even started on, still need to find the picture I was going to use as a pattern), but these will take up a lot more space–the book is even bigger than the computer!–so they will most likely have to wait for another time.
Not to mention I’m going to the workshop as a writer, not as a “fan,” so asking for Carole’s autograph might be a little tacky for the purpose.

Tools used (Amazon affiliate links included:
Logitech C920 Webcam
Plush Red Talking Dalek (clipped to my belt loop if you missed him on the video). His name is Bob.

This post originally appeared on my travel-themed site, Tamie’s Travels.

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NaNo 2017 Day 20

I won! I won! I won the NaNo!

Well, sort of. I did meet the word count requirement and validate my work.

But on the other hand…. remember the “notes, notes, notes”….. Yeah, haven’t done much editing with those.

I finished up the epilogue (but not the content between it and the demon hunt).
Then I copied my notes into the NaNo document under the assumption that they’d only give me maybe a couple thousand more words and I’d have to make a post about how all word count progress from here on out would have to be new content, but….

Apparently not.

I still need new content–those notes can’t stay as notes forever. I still need to Finish. A. Draft. But as far as word count goes, I was pretty close before copying the notes over; the way I figure it, this gives me more room (and more time) to edit without focusing on the word count.

So, with that in mind, I will still attempt to finish this story before month’s end (wish me luck!) but unless/until that happens I will not be making any more posts on my progress. Nope–any future posts on this particular story will either be as I upload chapters to Patreon or (gods forbid!) I rebel next year and work on the exact same story. Again.

And the word count….
As reported my MS Word: 50208
As reported by NaNoWriMo’s validation tool: 50137

Fellow NaNoers, how goes the word count?

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NaNo 2017 Day 19

And we’re into the home stretch!

Well, I am, anyway. Some of y’all are probably matching pace with the daily goals, and some of you overachievers have probably met the word count goal a long time ago!

But even my case the “home stretch” isn’t related to word count. No, it’s simply that I’m nearing the end of my current draft and soon will have nothing to edit.

Case in point…. my latest bit of content added/edited is Voalt being dragged along on his first demon hunt. Or so everyone seems to believe.
Much of the scene, insofar as the current draft is concerned, is only in the form of notes on what I wish to adapt from one of my very old fanfics. There is some actual dialogue, narrative, and assorted stream-of-consciousness specific to the novel’s version of events, but mostly it’s notes. Notes, notes, notes, all from my quasi-outline written the first time I started NaNo with this particular plot bunny, way back in 2011.

And the report card reports:
Daily goal: 1667 words
Day’s count: 1942
Total goal: 316697
Total count: 41340
ETW: At this rate, you will finish on Nov 23.

Fellow NaNoers, how goes the word count?

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NaNo 2017 Day 18

The novel is getting there….!

For Day 18 the added/edited content is simply Voalt learning the ropes of his new unwanted home and having to investigate some of the flaws in the Wanderer’s research.

I fully intend to give better tidbits once I’m ready to start posting things on Patreon…. 😉 Right now I’m torn between giving actual tidbits so as to not make the content look boring and why would you want to read that, and being vague so as to not give away too much before I do start posting to Patreon. Though I’ve probably given away far more information than that in years past with this exact same novel.

And the report card reports:
Daily goal: 1667 words
Day’s count: 1877
Total goal: 30000
Total count: 39398
ETW: At this rate, you will finish on Nov. 23 (Still?)

Fellow NaNo-ers, how goes the writing?

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NaNo 2017 Day 17

How far can a dog run into the woods?

Halfway; after that he’d be running out.


Technically I should’ve posted that riddle for day 16’s report, but whatever. 😉 Anywho, we are more than halfway into this year’s Nation Novel Writing Month, which means we are on our way out of the month. But are we halfway through our word count goals and/or drafts?

In my case, word count most emphatically yes. (You can see I’ve been more than “halfway” through the 50,000 word requirement for several days now.)
But as far as the draft itself…? Well, until I actually finish the draft I won’t really know for sure how far in I’ve gotten; I’d actually like to say I’ve got far more than half of it to be done. I just can’t see this story as being only 50,000 words, but who knows?

Anyway, content-wise….
As usual this year’s NaNo is rebelling by editing older content (and hopefully, eventually adding new). With that I have gotten to the scene in which the demon summoner and the Wanderer trade blows–figuratively speaking–over the ownership of young pirate Voalt, and the youth eventually makes his way to the new home he never wanted.

And in terms of word count, the report card reports:
Daily goal: 1667 words
Day’s count: 2260
Total goal: 28333
Total count: 37521
ETW: At this rate, you will finish on Nov 23.

Fellow NaNoers, how goes the word count?

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NaNo 2017 Day 16

I almost did it again. First thing in the morning, not after I’ve spent a couple hours browsing websites (instead of writing) and only remembering to post when I need to start getting ready for work.

Bad author, bad! No cookie for you!


Anyway, somewhere along the lines I got mixed up on things like the word count and, in particular, which part of the content I’ve edited/written on which day. My spreadsheet/report card has the correct information each day, but what I reported for day 15’s content was… not.

So, to repeat:

Content-wise, edits are up to the scene in which main character Voalt (yes, that’s his name) and company attempt to escape the Wanderer. But being imprisoned on an island lair full of strange creatures loyal to your captor makes for a difficult escape.

And the report card reports:
Daily goal: 1667 words
Day’s count: 2213
Total goal: 26667
Total count: 35261
ETW: At this rate, you will finish on Nov 23.

How much more editing of old content and adding of buffer days do I need to change that ETW…. even if just by a day?
And how much further before I can/must start actually adding new content in order to keep the word count going?
How much further before I actually finish this draft? Think I’ll manage it during NaNo this time around? I sure hope so!

In other news, my copy of MS Office 2016 just arrived so I’ll get that installed… when I’m not trying to get ready for work. Then maybe I can get the app set up properly on my phone and be able to use the same version of the file on each device; I use DropBox to sync everything, after all, so it’s not like I need to worry about Microsoft’s ability to keep my files up to date.
Unfortunately, if I remember how the mobile app works last time I tried to use it, this means I’ll have to save my files by default as docX instead of the compatible-with-more-devices “legacy” doc format… which means I won’t be using my parents’ computer to work on them. But I do have that tablet and the keyboard folio, maybe I ought to start using that more often?

Fellow NaNo-ers, how goes the word count?

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NaNo 2017 Day 15

Okay, no, now I’m caught up on the “post my novel’s progress the next day” schtick.
With my work schedule I really oughta be doing these posts in the morning–since the posts are reporting on the previous day’s word count, anyway–not waiting until I get home and hoping I remember before I head for bed.

Speaking of which, best to finish up this post so I can get some sleep before my next shift.

Content-wise, edits are up to the scene in which main character Voalt (yes, that’s his name) and company attempt to escape the Wanderer. But being imprisoned on an island lair full of strange creatures loyal to your captor makes for a difficult escape.

And in terms of word count, the report card reports:
Daily goal: 1667 words
Day’s count: 1967
Total goal: 25000
Total count: 33048
ETW: At this rate, you will finish on Nov 23.

Got a nice big buffer going there, but the estimated time to win doesn’t seem to be shifting just yet. So the question remains, given that I’m rebelling by editing an older work, am I going to actually finish the draft before NaNo ends…? Only time will tell.

Fellow NaNoers, how goes the word count?

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NaNo 2017 Day 14

Caught up on the daily update….


But for how long, this time? We shall see….

Anyway, like I said in the previous post, I don’t rightly remember which additions/edits belong to which day, content-wise.

do know, however, that some of the content in this day’s writing, beyond meeting an old enemy, is inspired by characters written out a year or so ago for the “Writing Superheros” class I took back then on edX. While much of this novel is fantasy in nature and doesn’t necessarily fit directly within the superhero genre (although the likes of Doctor Strange do use magic, so it might fit in a certain subgenre if I tried to force it), I decided to adapt one of the characters (not any of the major players) from this story into the “hero” I needed for that class…. and a villain plucked right out of one of my Doctor Who fanfics became the villain, as I wrote my “hero’s” origin story.
The scene in question, alas, falls somewhere between pure notes and stream of consciousness and doesn’t strictly belong in this part of the novel, so further editing is obviously required. But edit I shall, and the scene’s time is coming soon.

And the report card reports:
Daily goal: 1667 words
Day’s count: 2439
Total goal: 23333
Total count: 31081
ETW: At this rate, you will finish on Nov 23.

Fellow NaNoers, how goes the word count?

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NaNo 2017 Day 13

Ah, yet again I have missed the daily update!

And I’ve forgotten what I’ve done for the day, content-wise… other than the crew met the Wanderer, and then met an old enemy from eight years past.

But the report card reports….
Daily goal: 1667 words
Day’s count: 2215
Total goal: 21667
Total count: 28642
ETW: At this rate, you will finish on Nov 23.

Fellow NaNoers, how goes the progress?

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