Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 29 (draft)

Of all the strange things he’d had to do in his life, Mortimer thought, smuggling a naked werewolf up to his room so he could get her a change of clothes had to be somewhere in the top ten. 

She’d offered to shift back to wolf form for the trip upstairs, though he couldn’t tell whether that was more about her own comfort or stopping him from desperately trying not to look at her (he was well aware that werewolf norms around clothing were different, especially after the lecture she’d given him back in that alleyway, but it still felt wrong not to give her her privacy), which he’d have gratefully taken her up on – if it hadn’t been for the fact that, almost as soon as she’d suggested it, she’d pulled the kind of face which implied that doing so would likely be a very bad idea. 

So she’d stayed human-shaped (or, at least, two-legged – she was fairly insistent that even in that form she wasn’t a bloody human, thank you very much) and capable of operating doorknobs, which meant that the two of them had been able to make a fairly speedy journey through the servants’ quarters and up the back staircase which led almost directly to his room without encountering anyone in the process. 

And now she was sitting on his bed – still very much naked, he might add, which was still incredibly awkward – and trying to explain to him exactly what she’d overheard back in the city. 

Continue reading “Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 29 (draft)”

Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 28 (draft)

Viola didn’t know where she was. 

Or, more accurately, she knew exactly where she was. She just didn’t know where that was in relation to anything else. 

The bottom of the ravine had been surprisingly easy to navigate, even in full panicked flight, and she’d managed to make it fairly far along before her brain had caught up with her body and suggested, surprisingly calmly, that running headlong into who-knows-what might not be the only possible avenue of escape – and, furthermore, that if Caine was anything like the other Turned she’d heard stories about then running away in pretty much as straight a line as possible was probably the worst option when it came to trying to get away from him. 

Which, in turn, had slowed her down enough that she’d been able to notice the crack in the rocks some twenty feet ahead of her, just wide and tall enough to allow a werewolf in fourlegged form to squeeze her way through, and quite definitely not big enough to allow anything the size and shape of Caine to follow.  

And, when she’d squeezed through the crack and found herself on the other side in what seemed to be a surprisingly passable tunnel (and, notably, one which was wide enough for her to turn around in), it’d only seemed sensible to keep following it deeper into the mountain. After all, if Caine couldn’t get in, and she couldn’t get out until he’d left, it was that or hunker down just inside the entrance and hope against hope that he didn’t decide to wait her out. 

Which meant that now she was a fair way down a tunnel she’d not known existed before about five minutes ago, with no idea of where it led and no clue whether, if she turned around and headed back towards the exit, she’d find a Turned lying in wait for her. 

Ancestors, if you’re listening, now would be a very good time for another sign. Show me I’m on the right trail, at least. 

Nothing, which was probably fair – she’d been asking them for a lot recently, and they were well within their rights to point out that she should be figuring these things out on her own. 

Alright then. Stop and think. 

Continue reading “Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 28 (draft)”

New Year’s Writing Goals (2023)

So it’s been a hell of a year, huh? But in terms of writing – well, let’s see how I did this time around:

– Finish the current draft of Silver in the Ashes (Argentum in Aqua #2). Nope, but that’s alright – rather take it slow and steady than rush it and post chapters I’m not happy with.

– If I manage the above, post at least one chapter of Fire in the Sky (Argentum in Aqua #3) before the start of 2023. Again, nope, but see above.

– Make at least ten story submissions. Only five, because running LARP doesn’t leave much time for anything else… and also because I sold two stories! Which means I am officially ending this year as a published author, which more than makes up for anything else.

– Finish and post the next chapter of Seventh Son. Alas no. Sorry, poor hiatused project – maybe I’ll pick you back up after I’ve finished running the game in August.

Get at least 25,000 words done for NaNoWriMo 2022. And how! 50k done, even with running LARP and a mildly busted writing hand. Really bloody pleased with myself for that.

Finish, edit, and submit another short story. Done and done – and, not only that, it was one of the two stories I sold, and it sold to the first place I submitted it to.

I also wrote over 300,000 words this year, which is definitely not nothing! Managed to virtually attend the Nebulas, Flights of Foundry, and WorldCon again, as well as participating in a fair pile of Twitter writing games and similar to keep my brain ticking over.

All in all, a pretty damn solid year (and, again, now officially a published author and slowly building my eligibility for SFWA membership, so!)

And, without further ado:

2023 WRITING GOALS (which are pretty much entirely 2022’s goals all over again)

– Finish the current draft of Silver in the Ashes (Argentum in Aqua #2).

– If I manage the above, post at least one chapter of Fire in the Sky (Argentum in Aqua #3) before the start of 2024.

– Make at least ten story submissions.

– Finish and post the next chapter of Seventh Son.

– Win NaNoWriMo 2023.

– Sell another short story

– Write at least 10k for at least one Camp NaNo event

– Earn enough from writing to qualify for SFWA Associate Membership

Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 27 (draft)

The stable was warm, and dark, and blessedly free of any other people, which made it just about perfect as far as Mortimer was concerned. 

It was also very full – not as full as it’d been on the few times they’d had full hunts out here, of course, when all the stable blocks on the estate had been in use and the whole house’d been full of guests and servants – but full enough that doing the rounds and making sure that all the horses were fed and watered took him a fair bit longer than he’d been intending. 

He didn’t mind, though. He liked the stables, and reassuring himself that even Avebury’s horses had been well taken care of (though that’d likely be Thomas’ work rather than anything the Sinnlenst’d bothered to do) meant that he could at least say that he’d managed to do something of use with the day. 

“That’s not entirely fair, mind. Managed to move that damn cart, didn’t I? And get all the way up here in time to tell da what was going on – though most of that was you, wasn’t it?”

His mare bumped her nose inquisitively against his waistcoat, and he laughed and patted her, moving her head gently away. 

“I don’t have any treats for you, daft lass. And besides, if I gave you something, everyone else’d want some as well.”

He stroked his fingers down her nose, focusing on the warmth and texture of her hide under his gloved hand, and tried desperately to stop his brain turning over and over the events of the past twelve hours. He’d not done badly, all things considered, but the illogical part of his mind still couldn’t let go of the fact that he could have done more. 

Continue reading “Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 27 (draft)”

A Song for the Solstice

[Author’s note: This takes place pretty much exactly a year before the start of Blood on the Snow]

There were plenty of things Sabbat could’ve been doing with his solstice. 

Drinking, for one, since that was part and parcel of the way Sacaan celebrated the longest night, and booze was a damn sight cheaper than the kind of slap-up meal the toffs’d likely be sitting down to (though most of the places he could get halfway decent liquor would also serve him a decent enough meal to go along with it). Taking advantage of the fact that half the rest of the city would be getting drunk to lighten a few purses, for another – plenty of rich idiots who fancied touristing down in the slums, and fully half of them so plastered even the most cack-handed pickpocket’d be able to lighten them of everything they were carrying and then some. Hells, if he was feeling particularly inclined to violence, he could always roll one of the silver-spoon swaggerers who thought coming down Steepside every festival and kicking in a few beggars made them proper street thugs – though, unless there was a whole pack of them on the prowl, an honest barfight’d scratch that itch significantly better and with less chance for the Watch to get involved. 

Point was, there were any number of things he could’ve chosen to do with his evening. Which was, of course, why he was currently hanging one-handed off a gutter four storeys above the ground in one of the richest districts in the city, trying desperately to get a toe-hold on the icy stonework and swearing a mental blue streak at the owners of the house, the concept of solstice presents, and whatever bastard had decided that what the world really needed in the way of instruments was a godsdamn wooden fife with delusions of grandeur. 

He hadn’t had to steal the flute, of course. But Archer’d mentioned that he wanted one, back in a conversation during the heatwave, when there’d been nothing to do but talk, and apparently nobody in the city made anything near as good as the ones you could get back in Efir. And since he couldn’t go to Efir, and he’d be damned if he’d get Archer some shonky splintered piece of shit from one of the pawnshops down the way, the only logical course of action had been to work out who in the city had a flute which’d match the specifications that they’d not immediately miss, and then go and take it. 

Continue reading “A Song for the Solstice”

Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 26 (draft)

The pine forests smelt like home, and freedom. 

She’d ditched her clothes in an Order bolt-hole outside the gate – there were enough werewolves in the ranks of the Order that a set of spare gear showing up there wouldn’t be too out of the ordinary, and the fact that she’d stashed it neatly away in one of the specific places set aside for that would go a long way towards reassuring Amelia that she hadn’t been abducted or murdered – and the wind felt good as it streaked past her ears and ruffled the fur along her back. 

She was made for this, after all. All werewolves were, when you got right down to it – there were advantages to walking two-legged and having opposable thumbs, and nobody’d deny that fact, but there was nothing that beat the sheer joy and exaltation of running through a moonlit night with the wind in your fur and the snow under your paws and the pine branches latticing the sky above you. 

And I’m faster than that bastard’ll ever be like this. Not to mention the fact that he’s a Turned – they can’t even do that halfway-shift the vampires can, which means he’s limited to two legs. And in this snow, that’s going to slow him down even more than normal. 

She could smell the storm now, the air tight and fizzing with ozone. If she’d been two-legged, she’d have been looking for shelter – even werewolves avoided being caught on the mountain in twolegs form in this kind of weather if they could – but with four paws under her and a thick coat of fur to shield her from the worst of the wind and snow, she was more than happy to press on into the teeth of whatever awaited her further up the mountainside. 

Continue reading “Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 26 (draft)”

Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 25 (draft)

“What d’you mean y’can’t fuckin’ see?” Sabbat growled. It was a stupid question and he knew as much, but if Archer had just said what he was pretty fucking sure he’d just said, then they were both in a fuck of a lot more trouble than they’d been a few minutes ago. 

“Exactly what I said,” Archer replied, infuriatingly calmly. He raised one hand in front of his face, spreading his fingers in front of his eye. “I’m not exactly certain what happened, but I appear to be lacking rather more of my vision than I normally do. Which is to say that I can’t see. At all.” He took a deep breath, which sounded more than a little shaky around the edges, and went on, in that same infuriatingly detached tone. “You’re not affected in the same way, then?”

“Already told you I wasn’t.” Mostly because whatever’d knocked Archer flat on his arse seemed to have been solely targeting him. Or, worse, had left Sabbat alone because he was the one bonded to it. “Reckon whatever it was happened when I touched the fuckin’ box, so stands t’reason I din’t get got by it.”

Archer nodded, wiping his bleeding nose on his shirtsleeve with a casualness that made the hairs on the back of Sabbat’s neck stand on end. “I think it was a backlash of some kind, though I’ve not encountered anything quite that strong coming off a ritual which was supposed to be concluded.”

Sabbat’s nose was bleeding as well, though he’d given up trying to staunch it. Wasn’t as if his kit wasn’t consistently getting covered in blood at the moment anyhow. “That much blood says you’re right. Any idea what caused it, other’n the obvious?” And if I keep you talking, your eyesight’ll come back. Any second now. 

Continue reading “Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 25 (draft)”

A small NaNoWriMo related update

So you might remember that back on the 31st of October I made a post explaining why everything had been a wee bit quiet around here. You also might remember that in that post I said that I was going to have a bash at doing NaNoWriMo this year, and opined that this sounded a wee bit daft given the whole health situation.

Well…

The NaNoWriMo 2022 winner badge

So it turns out that I’m a stubborn bastard when I put my mind to it, and that I can in fact write 30k in a week if I want to (and I’ve got the time away from the dayjob).

I was aiming for 25,000. But then I hit that, and kept going, and then once I’d got to 30,000 there was more behind me than there was ahead of me. And then I hit 40,000 and at that point I was going to get to 50,000 if I had to pull an all-nighter to get there.

And… here we are.

The eagle-eyed among you might also have noticed that a pile of new chapter headers have appeared on the index page for Silver in the Ashes. Those chapters all exist thanks to this last month, and we’re not done with the story yet. So hang on tight – the ride’s only getting rougher for our heroic crew from hereon out.

Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 24 (draft)

If I wasn’t already sure Avebury was a bastard of the first order, that little scene on the staircase would have removed any lasting doubt, Mortimer thought, chasing a wayward potato to the edge of his plate and spearing it on the tines of his fork.

To be grudgingly fair to the Sinnlenst, being run headlong into would put anyone on edge. But that still didn’t excuse the sheer delight he’d taken in baiting the kid, especially given that Fest was very clearly not doing well (and how was that for another problem that he now had to solve, on top of everything else? Where was he even going to get fresh blood at this time of the evening?)

And what was all that about theft? Do I have to keep an eye to make sure the silverware doesn’t go missing?

Unlikely, that – Avebury’s people were richer than most, even if his parents had lost most of their wealth (and their lives) in the Revolution. No, if the Sinnlenst was after anything, it’d more likely be artefacts or texts that he couldn’t easily get elsewhere.

I wonder if I can persuade da to make him empty out his luggage before he heads back to the city. The last thing the Order needs is any of the research stored here getting into the Sinnlenst’s hands.

The odds of that request being granted were astronomically slim, mind. While more paranoid magicians were notorious for assuming any apprentices were potential thieves, Verist had spent years cultivating a reputation as a reasonable and level-headed researcher – he’d be hardly likely to throw that away on the offchance that one of his students might try something that wrongheaded.

Not to mention the fact that if he tried to get away with any even remotely useful artefacts the wards would fire before he’d taken more than a couple of steps outside.

Continue reading “Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 24 (draft)”

Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 23 (draft)

Why did I have to bring so many books? Fest groused, silently, as he dragged his trunk the last few feet to the open door of his room.

It had seemed like an excellent idea at the time – he was going to be away from the city for at least a month, so there’d be very little to distract him from finally making a dent in the collection of adventure novels he’d been building up since he’d arrived at university. What he’d failed to factor into this decision was that a whole trunk of full of novels (not to mention notebooks and assorted magical texts) was ridiculously heavy and awkward to manoeuvre, even for a vampire.

Almost there. Just have to get it inside the room, and then that’s the last of my belongings taken care of.

Avebury had brought almost as much kit, but, probably because he’d brought significantly fewer novels, he’d actually managed to get his possessions up to his room significantly faster – he was now lounging in the library downstairs, presumably looking through the books to find even more topics he could show Fest up on.

The joke’s on him. I actually brought my university texts, and I’m fairly bloody certain he didn’t.

Not that it was going to matter much if Avebury managed to charm his way into Verist’s good graces. The Archmage might be the most respected magician this side of the mountains, but at the end of the day he was still as fallible as anyone else – and, worse, didn’t know enough about who he was dealing with to see Avebury as anything other than what he appeared to be on the surface.

And, if that’s what we’re comparing, I’ll admit that I don’t exactly measure up.

Continue reading “Silver in the Ashes: Chapter 23 (draft)”