I did the thing! I reached over 50K in November and completed NaNoWriMo. I actually finished a few days early, on the 27th, but I wanted to see if I could write more. I reached a total of 52,688 words, which is pretty crazy since the last few months have been a struggle for me to write.
While I hit my monthly goal, this story is far from over. I’m not sure how many more words it’ll take to complete it, but I feel as if I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot yet to be explored both in regards to characters and the world-building, and right now, I’m just excited to see where the story takes me.
As I have described it on the NaNo site, this story is about “pirates and magic and a whole lot of butt kicking and heart crushing adventure.” As of right now, I haven’t introduced any pirates, but there is a lot of magic. Originally, I thought one of the characters had the potential to break everybody’s heart, but now I think a second character is going to do that as well. It’s going to be so fun.
Because I’m so excited about this story right now, here are a few snippets I wrote during November. Enjoy!
Once there was a boy who could create magic with his hands. He always helped others, no matter the cost to himself. No matter how much life energy or blood he spilled from his own veins. No matter the ache in his head and the pain in his chest.
Until one day, he gave too much.
“Harvey,” she said, “What important piece of advice have I told you over and over?”
Harvey, whose dark eyes were as fathomless of the fathoms below, didn’t blink at her, but his eyes flicked to the apple core in her hand. “Don’t interrupt you while you eat?”
Rip rolled her eyes and tossed the core toward the waters below. Some lucky fish would have a nice meal tonight, she thought. At least something near this cursed iceberg would.
“Don’t sneak up on me,” Rip said, lazily looking away from Harvey toward the shore. They weren’t due to arrive in Northern Point until sunrise, so she’d ordered the ship anchored just outside the docking parameters. No need to make a fuss with the port patrol and have them search the ship, on a whim, for any smuggled goods. Not that she, Captain Rip of the Andromeda, would ever have smuggled goods hidden in the belly of her beast.
“Or you just might find a knife stuck in your gut.” She lifted the knife so the point was mere inches from his nose before twirling it around on her fingers and sticking it back in its sheath at her hip.
Ryker always found fire to be the easiest to manipulate. It was hot and full of anger, matching the rush of his blood, the thoughts churning in his mind, the emotion wriggling in his gut. But fire wasn’t the element he clung to like a small child clung to the hem of his mother. It didn’t soothe the breaking of his soul or beckon the magic to come forward. Instead, Ryker preferred water.
The steady ebb and flow of the tides against the shore. The softness as it lapped the sand and the strength as it swarmed during a storm. Water was versatile, flexible, always moving and changing. It was strong and steady and calm and soothing. It cleansed and quenched. It [something].
Ryker’s mother has always said he had one foot on land and one foot in the sea and that it called to his the very bones in his body and the blood in his veins. He never understood what that meant until he’d found himself landlocked on Gray’s sideshow for months on end as they traveled to the cities that lay inland. The moment they had reached a portside city, he had rushed away from the caravans and thrown himself into the harbor, relishing the way the water seeped into his skin and clothes, drowning his bones.
Water had always been his favorite element to manipulate.
She squeezed herself into a ball, cradling her knees against her chest. She was covered in layers of gray–cold, alone, smeared. She wished Ryker was with her, even if it meant he was caged too, so he could pull her into his sheltered arms and hold her near his frantically beating chest.
Unlike the monsters… whose hearts were hollow and silent.
A catacomb of stillness.
Wren shivered and buried her face between her knees. She felt like the princess in a story about an ogre without a heart. Only instead of being trapped in a mountain castle, she was on a boat. Instead of an ogre, her wardens were some other kind of monster. If she could use her magic, she could find their hearts and restore them. It would be a happier ending than for the ogres in the fable.
But she wasn’t a princess and she couldn’t use her magic.
The ship rocked suddenly, dumping her to the side. Northern Point’s mountains were getting smaller and smaller. And Ryker was disappearing too.
She found no will to sit back up, lying in a heap on the hardwood floors instead. She closed her eyes, silencing the empty colors and the hope that someone would come for her. She tried to calm the roaring in her blood, like Ryker taught her too.
“Whenever you’re scared, Wren,” he had said in his breath colored with purple and stars, “just lay down and close your eyes and make a list of all the pretty things in the world. Then you’ll remember that everything will be fair again in the end.”
Wren let out a slow breath–pink feathers brushing over her–and she thought of the prettiest things left in the world: plants.
Blood lilies from Taegan.
Palm trees from Barrak.
Forsythia from [place].
She listed all the flowers she could remember. The ones she had seen with her own eyes as Gray’s sideshow traveled from territory to territory, island to island, port to port. Others she had seen for sale at markets or overheard travelers describing in their extravagant stories. She had read about plants from [Southern Isles] that glimmered in the moonlight, and Ryker had told her about the shrubs that bloomed with fountain tulips along the trickling streams of Taegan. She wanted to see, more than anything else, all the flowers of the world together, all those colors blending in a splash of brilliance.
Frost jasmines from Northern Point.
Fire willows from [place].
Kalina from [another place].
The eternal kokia cookei rumored to grow on a mystical island in the center of the five seas.
Wren continued her list, growing it as a long as the viper vines from [place], until the frosted sea rolled her to sleep.
“On Taegan, when a man loves a woman, he proposes to her in front of her whole family by offering a palm branch,” Ryker began, his voice soft. “If they accept, the man gives them a palm branch, which is then used in a palm oil that the woman bathes in the night before the wedding and weaves the stem into the crown of her hair on her wedding day. They both wear white to symbolize purity and walk upon the beach barefoot together as they approach where both families line the shoreline on either side of the Elder.
“Once there, the Elder binds their hands and they face the ocean, casting vows only the other can hear. Then they dip each other into the ocean waves, symbolizing a promise of dying to their old self and becoming new as one body.”
Rip said nothing, which surprised Ryker. He figured by now she would interrupt, but he allowed her to keep talking.
“Together, they sing a song with their families that talks of [god’s] love for the community. Last, they make a vow to honor the rituals and do their part for the island, putting community first and love second. The family sprinkles flower petals from the [plant] over the couple.”
Ryker paused, furrowing his brow and clenching his fist. “Only then can the man take his wife into their home and become one flesh. Ritual first, flesh second.”
He left his words to linger in the space between them. Not looking at her, not reaching for her, even though his fingers longed to hold her hand in his hands.