Here by popular demand are some more snippets from my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel, Heartseeker.
…Seriously, I wasn’t planning on a Part 2 post. That first post of snippets was all y’all were going to get. 😉 Your
quests requests have been heard!
(All pictures are from my Heartseeker board on Pinterest, except the cover, and therefore do not belong to me etc.)
The boy drew his knees up to his chin and folded his arms around his legs, watching the Bard; knowledge-questing eyes and ears ready to hear even beyond the words the Bard spoke.
The fire flickered and shadows danced about the dell, and the very trees seemed to be lowering their branches to listen as the Bard’s voice started to weave a tale in the darkness under the stars for his captivated audience of the single boy who had asked for a story.
“Once upon a time . . .” the Bard began.
Princess Evanna stood very still, taking this in. “But… why then do you lock yourself away?”
Prince Haldon looked away again. “I am heartless now, and so if I go out in the world I am sure to do more harm than good in it. That is why I do not come down.”
“Then you cannot be truly heartless, for a heartless man would not care if he caused harm.”
“You know nothing of the matter,” Prince Haldon growled from the shadows.
Trillum got things done, though, and before Evanna knew what had happened or could protest, he had effectively gotten the next fellow down from Sir Kern and Sir Dagget kicked out of his chair and relocated further down the table so that Evanna could sit while she talked with the knights.
“Would you care to sit, my lady?” Trillum asked.
“Well . . . thank you, but you did not need to do that,” Princess Evanna said, sitting in the chair he had cleared.
Trillum said nothing but merely bowed slightly and went to stand behind Sir Dagget again.
“What a perfect morning to start an adventure!” Sir Kern said with a merry twinkle in his eye. “Pleasant and fair; just right to get underway in the right frame of mind. Do you not think so, my lady?”
Before Princess Evanna could answer, Sir Dagget grunted and said, “It will rain tonight.”
“Ah, fighting talk is it, now?” Sir Kern laughed. “If we were not traveling in the company of ladies, I should have my sword out now and beat you soundly in a fight within five minutes.”
“Only if I accepted,” Sir Dagget said mildly. “More likely I should decide it was not worth degrading my noble sword in a fight with you, and should have Trillum take the fight for me and best you within a mere two minutes. Is that not right, lad?” He glanced behind at his white-haired squire, who had spoken not a word since they had started.
Trillum smiled a little, and only said, “Perhaps. But I should not wish to harm Sir Kern’s dignity.”
“This whole business gets worse and worse!” Sir Kern said. “Atop of the remark about my lack of wisdom, now it is presumed that I could not hold my own against a mere squire.”
Then he wheeled his horse around and paused facing the rest of the Shadow Folk, who had withdrawn a short ways in caution. The knight pulled his helmet off, and although he was facing away from Princess Evanna, she could see a head of dark golden hair, so that for a moment she thought it might be Reldin. But the voice was not right for the bard.
“You know me!” the knight said in a loud and rather angry sounding voice to all the Shadow Folk who stood as if gathering for another attack, but had drawn back a little more when he pulled his helmet off. “Now be gone this very moment, before I slay the rest of you!”
“Might I know your name?” she asked, for it was tiring to think of him always as “the strange knight”.
He looked down at her with his grey-blue eyes from his horse for a moment, expressionless, and finally said, “I am called Sir Durand.” He paused, before dipping his head and adding, “My lady.” He shook his dark golden hair out of his eyes and glanced around once more, scanning the area. “Now gather your people and let us be gone from here.”
“But broken or not, it is far better to have a heart than to not care. He was so… cold. And I think that coldness touches other people, and goes deep inside him so that everything he does is cold, even if he does not want it to be (for so he says, but I am not so sure).”
Prince Haldon had been very cold, as if touched with ice; it was not a cruel cold, only an indifferent one and just… frozen. Now that she had said that aloud, she realized: she wanted to bring warmth back to him. It was as if he had locked himself in a castle of ice and did not want to be freed from it because he had once been burned by warmth. She too had been burned, but she did not want the cold of the ice to replace the feeling of natural warmth.
“That is only a myth, my good captain,” Sir Durand said.
Princess Evanna looked over and found that he had been leaning against the rail behind her, apparently listening to her conversation with the captain.
“And what do you mean by that, sir knight?” the captain asked.
“I mean that it is not true.”
“Then you might have said it that way, for many myths are true.”
“Perhaps; but not this one.”
“And how do you know that, sir knight?”
“Because, my good captain, I know that it is not possible.”
The captain smiled a mysterious smile, a spark of good humor in his eye. “I have long since learned that there is nothing that is impossible.”
Reldin meanwhile had taken up his harp of dark polished wood that gleamed in the flickering light of the fire, and began softly playing on the strings, his fingers coaxing out silver notes to fill the hollow. Princess Evanna hoped it would not wake Sir Durand, but it did not seem to.
She closed her eyes and listened.
The bard did not sing, but only played a melody Princess Evanna had not heard before, that was both fast and slow, beautiful and wild, but filled her soul with calmness. It made her think of the golden place of light with flowers.
A wind rustled through the leaves overhead, stirring the branches. Princess Evanna opened her eyes and looked up, and saw the boughs of the trees she could just see above in the firelight, moving in the wind a little. Reldin too looked up, and glanced around at the forest in the dark outside the light, but continued playing the melody without looking at the strings as his fingers moved deftly over them.
Then Reldin began to sing, but they were words that Princess Evanna did not know, words that had no meaning to her in the language she knew, but at the same time held somehow more meaning than anything she had ever heard said in words she understood. It made the song still more wild and beautiful and calm.
She did not care that she did not understand it, she only wanted to listen to it forever, for it seemed to be made of light and warmth; the very feel she had been trying to express when she was speaking with Sir Durand about warmth of heart and coldness of heartlessness.