I know, I know. I said I ran out of non-spoilery stuff.
That’s not a complete lie. Today’s snippet gives something away, but it’s not anything I’m particularly concerned with keeping a secret. If you’ve been following my WIPpet posts for a few months, you already know. But fair warning, okay? Stop here if you don’t want to know anything.
Because this week’s snippet isn’t from Aren or Rowan.
In honour of Halloween (yes, that’s my tenuous connection to the date), we have a Potioner poking through someone else’s supply store-room, trying to solve a problem to pass a test that’s REALLY important to her. It’s for Halloween because… well, you’ll see. Long one today. Sorry. I’ve been good and posted short snippets lately. :)
Insert first draft disclaimer here. This part of the scene might be cut, or at least cut down. If not, it’ll need work. I had fun writing it, though, and it says a lot about this character.
The room has already been described. Picture a storeroom with shelves covering every wall, and shelves forming aisles through the middle, all covered in jars, bottles, baskets, boxes, and STUFF. For this character, it’s like being a kid in a candy store, but far less fattening. Also a bit more stressful at this point…
I continued through the room, reaching places we hadn’t seen the day before. She had everything organized by type of ingredient—flowering plants in one area, whole and in parts. Reeds in another. Catalysts. Null items that would nonetheless help in certain instances. Sands, waters, metals, slabs of stone, chunks of wood. Within each section, items were shelved by the region they’d come from, and seemed to be set out roughly in order of how powerful the magic within them was before interference from us. Simple enough, if one knew what she was looking for. Less helpful for me, who hadn’t the first clue.
At the rear of the room I came upon the animal ingredients. I’d never liked using them, but sometimes it couldn’t be avoided if one wanted a specific and reliable result. Eye of newt always impressed folk when they heard we’d included it. I preferred salamander myself, though I found the fiery little buggers difficult to come by. Bundles of feathers covered one shelf, labeled with hanging tags: red parrot was new to me. Eagle. Robin. Harpy. Aeyer.
I shuddered at that last. I refused to ask people to consume anything remotely human, and the Aeyer were far too close. Besides, where would one get the ingredients save for from a dead body? And to desecrate those… no. Even the harpy deserved better.
I pulled the curtain back on another section and leaned closer to read the labels, gasped, and let the curtain fall. Several deep breaths later, I pulled it back again. One jar of eyeballs had been labelled “human,” the other “human- MU.” The dried and stacked strips of skin had to be the same. Vials of dark liquid didn’t invite closer scrutiny, and I didn’t dare look closer at the shapes floating in the bottles at the back. I moved on, hoping my answer didn’t lie there.
On a higher shelf I found several small jars of gold-tinted liquid labeled “mer tears.” I didn’t try to imagine how they’d acquired those. In my admittedly limited experience with merfolk, I hadn’t found them overly keen on giving them up.
At least there were no eyeballs on that shelf.
Focus. I passed by those shelves and searched higher. Dragon scales in a rainbow of hues, radiating protective power. Unicorn tail-hairs and horn shavings. Horrid. A unicorn never shed its horn. The only way to obtain that would be to kill the beast. I turned away, but the jar’s contents called to me. I couldn’t help looking back, reaching out, and opening the dark glass lid. This would help. A unicorn’s deep magic would [redacted for spoilers--it would solve several of her problems]. It was the absolute simplest solution, and I hadn’t thought of it before because I’d never had access to the ingredients.
It’s here anyway. If the unicorn is dead, it’s dead. Just use it. Make the potion.
I reached my fingers into the jar. Even before I touched the thick slices of nacre-like horn, they glowed softly. The scent of an autumn wood reached my nostrils, thick and rich with moss and mushroom and rotting leaves. Pleasant, to be sure, and I felt my mind relax into it. There was a wildness to the magic, carried on the scent of the wind. I closed my eyes and found myself racing along the crest of a mountain ridge in the moonlight. The world was at my feet, and all of its magic coursed through my veins…
I snapped the hinged lid of the jar closed, and the experience vanished with the scent. A tear slipped from my eye. I’d seen a unicorn’s memory, felt her magic, and known she wasn’t a part of the world anymore. Stupid, perhaps. Sentimental. And yet I set the jar back on the shelf.
There had to be another way.
Hey, look. That came out to eleven paragraphs. It’s the 29th. 9+2=11. MATH.
For more (and hopefully shorter, I SAID I WAS SORRY) WIPpet fun, click here. If you’d like to join in on your own blog, post a snippet from your work in progress that relates in some way to the day’s date. Share there, link back, and be sure to visit the others. If you’re like our host KL Schwengel, you’ll have to choose just one of your multitude of WIPs to share. If you’re like me… well, it’s easier to decide.
Is anyone even reading this far?
I know, it makes for a long post. And hey, let’s make it longer! I’m procrastinating, you see. I have this battle scene to write, and I kind of haven’t done that on this scale before, and… well, you know. Why do now what you can put off until after the blog post?
Word counts have been pretty good, except for yesterday, because battle scene:
Sunday: 0 (family day, migraine, good times)
This puts the manuscript over 108,000 words, and we’re not even climaxing yet.
Pretend I said that in a way that’s less creepy.
Beta reading is all finished up, and I don’t think anyone hates me. WOO! Listened to one writing podcast. Mostly, I’ve been wording with the words. And the wording has been swell. So… here’s hoping that next week’s update features a big, relieved announcement and me saying I’m back to pre-editor edits on Torn.
If you’re curious about what the heck ROW80 is, check it out here.
And… that’s it. No big conclusion. Sorry. I gotta go do some research.