Here is my first official Camp NaNoWriMo post! I'm not really sure what to expect from the month ahead, but I managed to produce a first pass of the prologue of Epidemi. Yes, dreams are tropey, but Shael needs to meet her spirit guide before she endures the Rite. You'll see. Maybe. Hopefully.
As spirit animals, foxes are associated with many concepts, but here are a few that I found online that seem to fit my intent:
Physical or mental responsiveness, increased awareness
Cunning; seeing through deception; call to be discerning
Ability to find your way around, to be swift in tricky sitations
Affinity with nocturnal activities and dream work
I also like to write about non-traditional characters that aren't often featured prominently in fictional literature today. I love the idea of an older silver-haired woman who's coy, mysterious, and full of energy and knowledge that she's bursting to share. In fact, I plan to include several mature, wise women in this story, as the society of the city of Maven is decidedly matriarchal.
My inspiration for the silver-haired woman: Molly Grue from The Last Unicorn
PROLOGUE (snippet; incomplete; includes writer notes)
Shael was having the dream again. It started on the harvest moon and had gradually begun visiting her more and more. Well, actually, a more accurate statement would be that the silver-haired woman with the silver-haired fox had begun to pay her more frequent visits.
The beginning was almost always the same. Despite the threat of the plague, Dream Shael found herself wandering into the lush forest just outside the high walls of Maven. She had never been and would never venture there in waking life; the danger for magic users was too great. Most of the folk of Maven offered her only a blank stare whenever Shael attempted to discuss her longing for exploration and adventure. All they could see what her responsibility to the Council; she was to begin her lifelong service in one week’s time, after all. As the Sixth of House Adrion, it was Shael’s time-honored (and so often coveted) responsibility to represent her house on the Council.
But the Council held no sway over her dreams.
The silver-haired woman never spoke with her mouth. As she ran, she had clasped Shael’s hand once – twice, now – and that touch had told her things on its own that words simply could not. Shael had felt the silver-haired woman’s heartbeat as if it was her own and smelled with the attentive nose of the silver-haired fox. The smells of the outside of the city walls were strange and dark; Shael recognized some of them from her visits to the greenhouses on Level One.
Shael did not know where she was going, but the silver-haired woman seemed to know the way. Each time she had the dream, Shael moved deeper and deeper into the forest. Sometimes new smells bombarded her, but the scenery and urgency were always the same.
But in this dream, the silver-haired woman and the silver-haired fox finally slowed their pace. Their speed dwindled until it was merely a trickle of a leisurely walk. It was then that the three travelers finally emerged from the forest into an open clearing filled with thin, waist-high plants. [Something here about the sun being blinding] Shael felt a pang in her heart because she did not know the plant’s name. It scraped gently against her skirts, clinging for a moment only before letting her pass. The silver-haired woman extended both of her arms so that they formed a perfectly horizontal line, as Shael had often seen birds do [reexamine sentence structure]. Then, the silver-haired woman laid her palms flat and lazily ran them along the tops of the long plants. The sun seemed to brighten in response to the serenity that this act brought to the hearth again. She liked to watch the fire dance, even after Madji warned her not to look too deeply into the flames.
Whenever Shael sought an explanation, Madji would begin a lecture about the dwindling time of restorative magics [or restorations] and her grandmother’s great-grandmother had learned of this unfortunate/inconvenient magical limitation during the Parting Wars. As powerful as the gifted ones may be, they were hopelessly ineffective against rocks and sticks during the dwindling time of their spells.
While Shael typically found Madji’s stories captivating – particularly those about the Lands Beyond [think of another name], she disliked doing things without supportive reasoning. Without an explanation from Madji, Shael continued to admire the dancing of the flames.
Copyright Alexandra Lucas 2015