Power’s Shadow: Chapter 14, Part 4 – Conclusion

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This is the last section of Chapter 14, and the last of the serial posts. The book’s in first pass editing at the moment and I don’t want to put any more up until it’s in its final form. When editing is done I’ll be looking at the corrections/suggestions and start the rewrite. There are four more chapters and a short epilogue (about 100 more pages) beyond this, and right now the plan is to list the ebook version for as low as they’ll let me for a period of about two weeks before it goes up to its normal price, in case anyone here wants to finish the story. There will be a print edition, but that takes longer to put together.

 

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 14, Part 4 Conclusion

 

“I will break up the stone tomorrow,” Dena said. “After we give them enough time to get out of earshot. They may suspect that we’re here but there’s no point in emphasizing it.”

“I heartily agree,” Kel said. “But I wonder if the gentleman sitting on top of the rock watching us feels the same way?”

The figure was hooded and wearing a black robe, so Dena considered Kel’s assessment of the person as male to be somewhat uncertain. What wasn’t uncertain was the person’s face—what little Dena could see of it—was turned toward them. Dena considered shattering the rock beneath the figure, but thought perhaps such an action might be premature. Yet she kept her concentration on the First Law even as she spoke up.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Isn’t it customary for the one asking the questions to introduce themselves first?”

The voice was definitely male, if not especially deep. Yet it carried easily down to them. “My name is Dena. This is Kel. Who are you?” she repeated.

“You may call me Domar. I seem to remember having a friend with that name once, long ago…I think. The memory does play tricks as one gets older. Regardless, I’ve always like that name.”

Dena frowned. “What name do you call yourself?”

She still couldn’t see his face, but Dena had the distinct impression that he was smiling at her.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. ‘Domar’ will do, for the time being. So. What do you plan to do now?” Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 14, Part 3

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3Some loose ends are harder to tie than others.

 

 

Chapter 14, Part 3

“Oh, I never said I didn’t know who collapsed the overhang. I just said it didn’t matter. And it doesn’t…yet. I did, however, destroy the exit, yes.”

They found Prince Dolan and the other men resting from their efforts at the pit. He gave Marta an odd look.

“We heard what sounded like a rock slide. I’m glad to see you’re both all right.”

“We are. We found where the bandits were getting in, but the crevice has collapsed. A skilled mountaineer could still reach it from that direction, but no one else.”

Prince Dolan looked thoughtful. “Perhaps that is for the best.”

“I thought so too,” Marta said. “Are we ready to leave?”

“Almost.”

The three men kneeled by the pit and Dolan began to sing. Marta recognized the song as a hymn to Amatok. When he was finished the three of them went down to the stream to wash some of the dirt off. Marta and Sela waited by mouth of the cave until they returned. Their clothing was a bit worse for wear, but they appeared refreshed, if weary. After they had all climbed back down and rejoined the rest of their party there was still an hour or so of daylight left. Marta suggested they move on and no one objected, there being little interest in sleeping on the blood of the murdered pilgrims. They were not quite out of sight of the cliff cave when there was another rumbling, and a cloud of dust billowed out of the opening before it sank in on itself, leaving just the barest crevice to suggest where it had been.

First Law, Marta thought.

“Also likely for the best,” Marta said, as Prince Dolan looked back.

Dolan looked as if he was going to say something, thought better of it, and said something else. “No doubt you are right. Still, it’s a pity. It was a lovely spot.”

“Yes. Now it can remain that way. And perhaps those unfortunate pilgrims will find peace.” Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 14, Part 2

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3Since the schedule is being disrupted slightly I’ll go ahead and post the installment for Monday now. For the installment on the 25th I should be back on track.

Chapter 14, Part 2

 

Sela’s scowl could have curdled milk. “Now, if only we could say the same about you.”

Marta just shook her head. “Longfeather, I am going to do you one last favor—I am going to change you back into a goshawk until tomorrow morning. Use the time to travel to Goandel, and meet us there in about three days’ time. If you are not there I will assume that you have disobeyed me again and I will turn you into something that can’t cause trouble for anyone. Ever. Do I make myself clear?”

“Very clear,” Longfeather said. “But I thought you were already done with me.”

“I have thought of a use for you. It won’t change my decision, mind, but you are going to do something to repay at least a small amount of the harm you’ve caused, and what you would have caused by throwing your lot in with the people who put you in that cage.” Marta leaned close to the cage amd told Lonfeather what else was expected of him. He clearly was not happy about it, but Marta took no heed of that. “Now go.”

In a moment it was done. Longfeather hopped through the bars of the cage but instead of flying away immediately, he fluttered up to land on the top of the cage and turned to face Marta again.

“Before I go, I was entrusted with a message for you.”

“From whom?” Marta asked.

The goshawk that was Longfeather shrugged his wings. “I think ‘from what’ might be more accurate. She called herself Amaet, but I don’t think she was human. It was the way she appeared, glowing like a star, and then vanished that made me suspect.”

Marta held very still. “Oh? And what did Amaet say?”

“She said to tell you ‘I’m waiting.’ Those words exactly.”

“That was all?” Marta asked.

“Yes, mistress,” he said.

“Then away with you. And remember what I said.” Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Quick Update

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3A couple of quick notes. First of all, I had a pretty decent writing day yesterday, and at about 6PM last night I completed the first draft of Power’s Shadow.  One of the best parts of writing is being surprised, and a couple of things happened in the final chapter that I honestly wasn’t expecting. The implications for the next book are significant, but since I have a book in a completely different series that I have to finish before I even think about starting the next book in The Laws of Power series, I’m not going to worry about that yet.

The draft was just a couple of hundred words over 88,000. Not a doorstop, but a decent length. When someone asks me if I’m a “taker outer” or a “put-er inner” in revisios, I always say “yes.” I cut everything I can, but I rewrite and add just about as much. I tend to ramble a bit when I’m sorting out how a draft should go but a completed first draft tells me things that need expansions or explanations or clarifications, so I put in a lot too. In general, after cuts and additions, my first and final drafts usually work out about the same length. I’ll get on the rewrite as soon as First Reader is done with it, so it will be a few weeks before the ebook version is available. There will be a print version, but those always take longer.

As promised, I will finish posting Chapter 14 before the hiatus–or if it works out, just as the ebook is available–but I’m going to be out of pocket a little bit next week, so the Monday post may get delayed. I’ll get it back on schedule as soon as I can.

Finally, a big thank you to Charles de Lint for the kind words and to all the readers who picked up The Blood Red Scarf. Makes a working slob feel appreciated.

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 14, Part 1

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Chapter 14 – The Pilgrim Trail

 

“To begin a thing at all is the hard part, no matter what it is. To keep going is not, no matter how hard the going might be. This is a truth difficult to believe and harder still to remember, but no less true for that. ” – Black Kath’s Tally Book

 

“Was that really the best course of action?” Kel asked.

“Silence,” was Dena’s answer, and Kel had to accept that until she chose to give another, if in fact she ever did so. They had both dismounted to examine the huge berm of stone and rubble that blocked the Snake Pass. Worse, Marta and her companions were on the other side.

“I didn’t want Marta harmed so long as she was leading me to the Fifth Law,” she finally said.

“And Marta could not have done what you did?”

“Of course. So why didn’t she?” Dena asked.

“Perhaps she had another plan,” Kel said.

“The next time we’re together for tea and cakes, you can ask her,” Dena snapped. “For now I need to know what they’re doing.”

They led their horses back down the pass until they could move behind a bend that kept them out of sight in case anyone climbed the rockfall. Then Dena made Kel transform into a gull and he flew back down the pass. Dena waited with whatever patience she could muster until he finally returned and perched unsteadily on her should on webbed feet.

“There is one servant remaining to guard their supplies. They went into this cave on the side of the cliff where the overhang had been but they haven’t come out yet. If I try to go in, they’ll see me.”

“You think she doesn’t know I’m here, now?” Dena asked.

“Well…no, now that you mention it. She certainly knows that someone is nearby, if she didn’t before, which was rather my point when I first asked about the landslide. Though, to be fair, if she doesn’t already know that she has a shadow, she’s not the witch you think she is.”

“I’m not afraid of her,” Dena said. “I will see this through no matter what.”

“To be honest, I’m not sure whether that fact would matter to her even if she did know.”

Dena ignored that and sent Kel scouting back toward Conmyre to confirm that there was no one approaching from that direction. “We’ll camp here for tonight. Once Marta and her party have moved on, I can reduce the blockage enough to get us through, but I don’t dare risk it until then.”

“As you wish, mistress.”

They found an overhang where the softer stone had crumbled away, and it didn’t take long to clear enough space for the bedding. Kel, now human again, built a small fire and prepared a meal of hard bread and broth, then checked their provisions. “We have enough for a few days yet,” he said. “We’ll be fine as long as we’re not delayed too long.”

“I want to know what Marta could possibly be thinking now, exploring a cave when she should be traveling to wherever she’s going.”

“How do you know it’s not the cave?” Kel asked.

“Would she let herself be ambushed and almost killed if she had known about it? I do not know where she’s going, but I do know that cave wasn’t her destination.”

“And yet it presents itself, so she’s pursuing it, whatever that distraction may or may not represent to her.”

“She needs focus,” Dena said, pausing to soften a bit of bread in the last of her broth. “This is a waste of time.”

“And yet we’re following her,” Kel said. Continue reading