I am officially a winner!
It has been a long month of writing and I am happy to be done with NaNoWriMo. I think if I were to do it again I would spend a solid month of outlining before diving into the 1,667 words a day commitment. I did a decent amount of outlining before NaNoWriMo began but not enough to fill in the foggy areas in my story. So I struggled trying to write those parts since I didn’t have much time to do anymore outlining throughout NaNoWriMo. But I somehow did it and I want to thank everyone who has been following these blog posts and all the people who have taken an interest in The Hoarding Series.
As promised, here are two consecutive chapters from my first draft of The Three Witches. The chapters have not been edited or tampered with. What you read is what randomly popped out of my head in the moment. They are my favorite chapters so far and I hope you enjoy them!
The Three Witches, the second book in The Hoarding Series.
Synopsis: Emilia, a bastard daughter of King Clydus Dane, wants nothing more than to inherit her father’s throne to claim her rightful status over her younger brother, Carthel. But when her father announces to the realm that Carthel is to be his successor, Emilia must find a way to claim the throne for herself, even if it means going against her younger brother.
Emilia’s red hair flowed behind her back as she crossed the swaying bridge over the canyon. The sun was beating down heavy on her fair skin. The sweat trickled down her forehead as she pulled on the reigns behind her as her horse whimpered and looked down with large eyes at the dark pit below.
“Come on Bellow! We are more than half way there. Don’t be a baby,” she said to the horse as if he could understand her. The horse stared at her with wide eyes as if she had three heads. “There will be a nice big red juicy apple waiting for you on the other side if you behave,” she said teasingly.
The word apple got Bellow’s attention. He let out a happy neighing sound and picked up his pace.
“Woh! Careful now!” Emilia let go of his reigns and grabbed hold of the side railings as the bridge swayed violently from side to side. “Settle down or else you are going to get us both killed!”
Emilia picked Bellow’s reigns back up and they continued their way across the bridge.
On the other side of the canyon, she saw lines of people emptying their Captor Packs into the endless pit below. She saw bones and pieces of rotten flesh, dead branches, old artifacts, books, chairs, doors, and other random things shoot out of all the people’s Captors. None of the objects ever made a sound at the bottom of the pit. It was as if it didn’t have an end.
Further in the distance, she saw the giant temple with the statue of Zalus’ palms rising high up to the sky on top of the beautiful architecture. The hot sun sent a glare shining from a top of it. People were busily walking up and down the grand stone steps either coming or going from worshiping Zalus.
“Good boy!” Emilia said when they finally made it across the bridge. She dug her hand into her pocket and pulled out a fresh red apple. Bellow jumped up and down with joy at the sight of the red circle. She lifted the apple up towards Bellow’s mouth and he took it all in one big gulp. “You are disgusting, Bellow,” Emilia laughed as she wiped the slobber off her hand on his brown mane. “Quickly now! Before we are seen!”
They snuck into the forest ahead of them while everyone was busily emptying their Captor Packs, paying no attention to her or her horse. The sun was beginning to set over the forest but she still had plenty of daylight left as she walked deeper and deeper into it. The trees were a magnificent green and the leaves and branches sang above her as they swayed in the wind. Birds whistled from every branch and squirrels scurried up and down tree trunks. Bellow’s hooves made crunching sounds behind her, snapping scattered sticks and twigs.
After walking for nearly an hour, the trees opened up to a beautiful meadow. There was a mixture of blue, white, yellow, and red flowers for what seemed like miles. A large tree hung over the meadow on a green hill in the center. The silhouette of a boy was sitting with his back against the tree.
Emilia smiled. “Come on Bellow!” She trudged her way through the thick flowers as butterflies flew up around her. She giggled as they landed on her arms and shoulders. Bellow looked at the butterflies as if they were evil predators.
“Well, look who finally decides to show up,” said the boy who was biting on a stem.
“I would have been here sooner if someone wasn’t being a big baby,” she turned and rolled her eyes at Bellow but only laughed when she saw he was covered head to toe in butterflies.
“I like his new outfit. Very stylish Bellow,” the boy said to the colorful horse as he walked over and petted his back.
Emilia giggled as the butterflies flew away. “I seem to recall, Hick, that you have a gift for me today?” She held out her hand.
“Never one to forget, are you Emilia?” he rolled his eyes at her and dug his hand into his pocket but did not take it out. “But first…close your eyes.”
Emilia shut her eyes. “Don’t try anything funny! I will have Bellow bite you all the way across this meadow.” She waited with her hand out in the darkness. She felt something light and tingly fall into her palm.
“Okay, open your eyes!” Hick said excitingly.
When Emilia looked down, she saw the most beautiful necklace she had ever seen. It had a mixture of silver and diamonds that traveled down to a pear-shaped garnet that was a bright sunset red.
She placed a hand on her chest, taken aback from the gift. “Hick…I don’t know what to say! Where did you—”
“No need to ask questions. Here…” he picked up the necklace from her palm and walked behind her. He gently wrapped it around her neck.
As he was putting it on her, Emilia felt Hick’s breath lightly brush her neck. She felt the pressure of his muscles underneath his shirt touch her back and side. She wanted to turn and jump on him right then and there but she somehow resisted.
“It matches your eyes and hair,” Hick said after he was done putting on the necklace.
Emilia looked down at the stone. She pulled a piece of her hair and placed it next to the red stone. “It really does match it. Hick…I don’t know how to repay you!”
“Oh I can think of a few ways…” he said sarcastically, giving her a nudge with his shoulder.
Emilia hit him. “Don’t be an ass!” She looked back down at the stone. “Hick…I can’t…”
“Sure you can! All you need to do is—”
“No Hick!” she hit him again. “I meant I can’t accept this!”
“Why not? It was meant for you!”
“If my father sees this, he will know I was with you. He will find you and throw you in the dungeons if he finds out we were together again.” She turned away from him, tears starting to flow down her cheeks. “I can’t lose you!”
“Are you going to let that old man control your entire life?” Hick placed his hands high up on her shoulders and started to massage her neck.
“He’s my father. I have to listen to him, Hick,” she said as she closed her eyes and imagined his hands traveling farther down her body.
She turned and looked at his big brown eyes. She lifted her hand to his face and traced his thick jawline. “But one day, after my father is gone, I will be the queen of Bellow Hill and I will be able to marry whomever I choose.” She smiled up at him, giving him a serious look. “And I choose you…Hick.” She kissed him on his lips. The stubble on his chin prickled her skin. It was the feeling she longed for every day she was not with him. She liked how it felt against her soft lips and her sensitive skin.
“Queen Emilia Dane,” Hick recited as he got down on one knee. “I have been a bad servant to thee, my grace. How will I be punished on thine day?”
Emilia giggled. “Stop being such a fool!” She slapped him playfully on the shoulder. She brought him closer to her body as they fell down to the green grass below the tree.
Bellow neighed and looked away. Emilia and Hick both laughed at the horse’s reaction.
“Why can’t every day be like this, Hick?” Emilia asked as she turned her face back to look at him as he laid a hand across her chest.
“If every day were like this, than we would have no days to look forward to,” he kissed her hair.
Emilia sighed. “I just wish father would accept you.”
“It’s not easy to accept a street rat.”
“You are not a street rat!” she sat up and turned towards him. “Stop calling yourself that!”
“What would you call me then, Emilia?” he asked her. The mood suddenly changed. “My parents are dead and I live each day like it could be my last. I don’t have a home to sleep in nor a brother or sister to laugh with when I’m alone. All I have is you.”
“And you will always have me, Hick! Always.” She brushed his brown hair back behind his ears and kissed him. “I don’t have a mother either. Father refuses to tell me anything about her. Sometimes I feel like she is still out there though, watching over me…”
She groaned and stood up, facing the castle on the hill in the distance. The mountains loomed high above the sky behind it like a painting. “It isn’t fair,” she said, still looking out at the castle.
“What isn’t fair, my love?” Hick stood up behind her, rubbing her crossed arms.
“That my father is just as imperfect as us but he acts like he is perfect. He doesn’t see past the ugliness in people even though his heart is black too.”
“Maybe it is because he doesn’t want to accept his past. He is afraid of it.” Hick gathered her red hair in his hand and pulled it to the side so he could kiss her neck. “I feel bad for those who are afraid of their past.”
“Maybe…maybe he is afraid,” she closed her eyes again, imagining him kissing her lower and lower.
A bear was wobbling peacefully back and forth up ahead, maybe forty to fifty feet. It was hard to tell from hiding in the bushes but it looked to be a black male and was three times the size of any normal man. Each step the bear took, the muscles in his legs hardened and showed the frightening definition. His claws were long and sharp like knives that could rip a man’s chest open with a single swipe.
John took a step closer to get a better look from behind the bush.
His heart jumped in his chest as the bear’s head shot up from a deer it had been busily eating.
“Don’t move a muscle,” Carthel whispered next to him.
They were about thirty feet away now. The bush in front of them gave them good coverage so the bear could not see them. But even though he couldn’t see John and Carthel, he knew they were there.
John gripped his Captor tighter, his black gloved fingers lightly brushing against the trigger.
“Now?” John asked Carthel, keeping his voice low as he talked through his helmet.
“Hold on. Let’s wait until he begins eating again,” Carthel whispered back.
The bear continued to stare off into the forest. The hair that was standing up on his back was slowly beginning to collapse back into place. The bear lowered his guard and continued eating his prized deer, ripping off a fresh piece of muscle.
“Okay,” Carthel turned to look at John. John noticed the sweat that was dripping through Carthel’s yellow suit. He raised his Captor, readying it. “Three…two…one!”
Carthel spun out of the covering of the bush and charged forward at the bear. John followed close behind. They both fired their Captors towards the target but the bear was too quick and they missed. He jumped out of the way as the Captor fire exploded against the deer, spraying blood into the air.
The bear backed away, seeing who disturbed his meal. Once he saw Carthel, he stood up on both his hind legs and let out a menacing roar before charging forward towards Carthel. The bear closed the thirty foot distance in about two giant strides.
The giant black bear swiped his huge paws at Carthel, sending him flying into a tree. The bear ignored John and continued to attack Carthel. The black beast dug his claws deep into Carthel’s suit and he let out a scream of pain as the bear leaned forward with his jaw open. But Carthel raised his Captor in the air and stuck it between the bear’s massive teeth, pushing him back. The bear backed away and swung his paw at the weapon, sending it flying from Carthel’s hands as the tube that attached it to the Captor Pack snapped.
John charged forward, firing his Captor at the bear’s back but only grazing the skin. The bear let out a howl of pain and turned his attention towards him.
Oh no, John thought as the bear tumbled forward as spit flew from his opened mouth. John took a few quick steps back but he stumbled to the ground.
The bear was upon him, tossing him around as if he was a toy. John felt the claws digging through his suit into his skin. John’s Captor went flying from his hands.
When the bear was done toying with him, he rose up on his hind legs, raising his muscular arm to the sky.
John saw his Captor lying not too far off to the side. He stretched his arm desperately towards his Captor but fell short by inches. When he saw the bear’s claws come flying downwards, he shielded his face as if that would protect him.
The bear fell hard onto John’s body. He heard and felt the pressure of a razor sharp tooth grinding into his helmet. It felt like every bone in his body was crushed. He let out a groan of pain but the wrestling and fighting had stopped. Now he had a big lump of brown fur lying on top of him.
Carthel ran over and tried to help him roll the bear off his body. It took them five tries before John could finally breathe again.
John rolled over and saw a steaming hole in the bear’s stomach.
“Well that sure as didn’t go as planned,” John said as he attempted to stand up on his shaking legs.
“I told you to cover me!” Carthel walked over and gave John his hand. John took it.
“Counting down from three does not give me any indication of covering you. Look at this,” John looked at Carthel’s yellow suit that was covered in blood. “What a mess. Are you okay?”
Carthel took off his helmet. The sweat dripped from his brown tangled hair. His beard was matted down. “Yes, yes. I will be fine. The bear luckily didn’t dig his claws that deep. Just scratches.”
“You’re lucky to still be alive! Next time, let’s just stick to deer. Or any other animal that won’t try and eat us.” John took off his helmet and looked at the dead bear. His giant pink tongue hung out of its mouth and laid gently on the ground. “I kind of feel bad for the guy.”
“Don’t be getting all light hearted on me now. We still need to finish the job,” Carthel signaled to his Captor and then to the bear.
“You take this one. You were the one who killed it,” John insisted.
“If it wasn’t for you, that bear would have ripped my head off. This one is yours,” Carthel said. “You need it more than me anyway. Your one and five birthday is coming up. You have a reputation to live up to!” Carthel patted John on the back.
“There hasn’t been a sorceress in years, nor has there been any earthquakes. I don’t think being related to Palor the Great will change any of that. Why is your father still making us do this stupid ceremony every full moon year?” John asked his friend.
“My father still believes there is a lost soul still out there latched onto some body of mother nature. He wants to free the sorceress, marry her and start the sorcerer blood line flowing again. But who knows…he has been going crazy ever since my mother died.” Carthel turned his gaze back towards the bear. “Are you going to finish this or not?” he asked impatiently.
“Alright, alright.” John raised his Captor, holding his finger on the bottom button as he pointed it at the bear’s dead body. There was a deep low humming sound as a light began to form at the tip of the Captor. The ground began to shake beneath John’s feet.
The light shot out and encompassed the bear’s body. The light was as bright, if not brighter, than the sun. Both John and Carthel had to close their eyes and look away. When the light cleared, the bear was gone. The pack on John’s back began to make some noise that sounded like the rumbling of an empty stomach.
Carthel patted John on the back again. “Let’s get back to the castle before it gets too dark. You need to rest up for your big day tomorrow! Everyone is going to gather around to see the descendant of Palor the Great place his hands on the stone!”
“Don’t remind me,” John moaned, thinking about everything else he would rather do than go to the ceremony tomorrow.
They walked through the darkening forest, twisting and turning through trees as the sun continued to set. John was able to catch glimpses of the mountains in the distance. The tallest white peaks went so high up that they were lost amongst the clouds. The forest soon opened up to a meadow.
“Hey, do you see that up ahead?” Carthel stopped and pointed a finger to the center of the meadow.
John followed his finger and saw two people in the center and a horse not too far off grazing in the green grass.
“Unbelievable!” Carthel dropped his helmet and charged forward across the meadow, stomping over innocent flowers as they sagged to the ground after he passed.
John picked up his helmet and ran after his friend. “Carthel! Carthel…wait!” John ran into the flowers that brushed against his waist as he tried to catch up to him. “Carthel—”
“You lying son of a bitch!” Carthel yelled out when he reached the patch of grass in the center below a tree. “Don’t move, Emilia!” He pointed a finger at his sister. “Stay right where you are! That includes you too, boy.” He yelled out to the frightened girl and boy who were busily spending some alone time together under the tree. The horse behind them stood up in alarm.
“Carthel!” John tried to yell out again when he broke free from the flowers. He placed his hand on his friend’s shoulder to try and get him to listen. But Carthel shrugged it away.
“Didn’t father tell you to stay away from this street rat!?” Carthel took his sister by the arm and dragged her away from the boy.
“Carthel! Get off of me!” His sister kicked and screamed as Carthel dragged her back.
Carthel turned to the boy.
“Look…I don’t want any trouble,” the half-naked boy said, placing his hands out cautiously in front of him as if he was taming a horse.
Carthel closed the distance and punched the boy square in the face. He went flying backwards and when he lifted his head, blood was dripping from his nose.
“NO! HICK!” Emilia yelled as she rushed at Carthel, hitting him with her fists. “LEAVE HIM ALONE!” she screamed as she continued to punch and kick him.
Carthel turned and threw Emilia to the ground. “Stay there!” he ordered her.
He turned his attention back to the bleeding boy. Carthel stood over him, pointing a finger in his bloody face. “Now you listen close, Hick. I am feeling generous today.” Carthel grasped the back of Hick’s neck and pulled him forward. “If my father were here, he would have you fed to the sphere. But I am not going to do that to ya. No. I am just going to simply tell you to stay away from my sister. And next time I see you anywhere near her or the castle…I will finish you my—”
Carthel turned around to look at his shaking sister, his hand still holding tightly onto Hick’s neck.
“Emilia! I said to stay where you are!” Carthel yelled at her.
But Emilia did not listen. She stood up and her face darkened as the wind began to pick up around them, blowing the flowers in dangerous angles in the meadow. There was a loud whistling sound as the branches from the tree began to sway sporadically above their heads. Emilia’s horse jumped left and right and neighed in fear. The sky began to darken around them as clouds covered the last bit of sunlight of the day.
“LEAVE HIM ALONE!” she yelled, her voice echoing throughout the meadow. Her eyes glowed a deep, deep red.
John began to walk around cautiously towards Carthel. “I think we should get out of here.”
Carthel let go of the boy’s neck. “Stay away!” He said one last time as he and John left through the meadow.
As they traveled back to the forest, John noticed that the wind had died down, the flowers were standing up right, and the sky was a tad brighter.