Wednesday, November 3, 2020
Welcome to my sanctuary. Come on in and we’ll bask in one another’s positive “light” and spirits.
I haven’t gotten started with the edits for the first book-serial volume of Dead of Winter, but I did say that it would be here in winter, and this is still fall. So maybe I can find my writing mojo for National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) — that’d be November. Uh-huh… November has already started. Mojo, where arrrreee you? Yeah, still no luck with that.
Meanwhile, I have a snippet from Dead of Winter for you. My story has a wide cast of varied characters, but the heroine is a twelve year old girl, Emlyn. The snippet below is early in the story, in the cold place her world has become. Her rigid country is only one of the cultures I built in this world with many nations, traditions, styles of dress, societies — and magic. I hope you enjoy this little visit to the world I built. We join Emlyn as her weird dreams begin.
From Dead of Winter
The First Dream – Winter Is Coming
It was neither light nor dark, though there was a strange half-light. The dim shapes of furniture seemed familiar as Emlyn looked around the room. She went to the window, but could not see anything beyond it other than gray darkness.
Goosebumps pricked her arms. She took the shawl she was required to use to cover her hair and wrapped it around her shoulders. She felt like she should know this room; and it disturbed her that she could not place it. Worse she felt that she should remember not liking it.
She turned to go to the door and leave, but a musical tone pierced her ears, surging in volume, but then dissipating. As the tone died she thought she heard a voice. Emlyn shook her head, trying to clear it. She moved toward the door, and the sound blended with the rustle of her skirts, but she was sure she heard it again. She froze, listening, with her hand reaching for the doorknob.
“Winter is coming.”
Emlyn tilted her head. Had she heard correctly? Then it came again more clearly, but still little more than the sound of dry leaves, “Winter is coming!”
She turned toward the sound, but saw nothing more than the oddly familiar room. Then suddenly he was there, across the room.
He was a stranger to Emlyn, yet she felt that she knew him, even though she couldn’t see his face clearly. Shadow seemed to cling to him even more than it did to the rest of the room.
“Did you hear that? Was it you who spoke?” she asked.
He seemed to rush closer to her, though his feet didn’t move. She drew back.
“No,” he replied, “but it’s true. Winter is coming. The Winter. The Winter of the ages. I know those fools have tried to stifle knowledge, but don’t tell me you haven’t at least learned about that. You of all people should know about the Winter.”
It was plain that she didn’t know what he meant, and that seemed to make him angry. Her hands gripped her shawl tightly. Suddenly afraid, Emlyn didn’t know how to respond.
The voice came again, louder, “Winter is coming.”
She blinked and he was only inches away from her.
Emlyn awoke with a start and sat up in her bed. She let out a relieved breath. She was safe in her little room. Then she heard it in his voice.
“Winter is coming.”
He stood at the foot of her bed. Emlyn thought the dream must be clinging to her, and she rubbed her eyes. He was still there. She blinked hard. He moved toward her and sat on the side of the bed. As she felt the bed shift with his weight. She screamed.
Her cry roused the household. Afanen, her sister, was there first, and then her father and brother-in-law crowded into the tiny room, demanding to know what the trouble was.
“There was a man,” she said before she could stop herself.
Their expressions were first astonished and then scandalized. Emlyn tried to take the words back by saying, “It was a dream. Just a nightmare.”
Her sister cut her off and exclaimed, “I had gotten up and was on my way back to bed when I heard her – mumbling in her sleep about winter. She kept saying that winter is coming.”
Afanen wore a bemused smirk that suggested Emlyn was just a silly girl and not to be taken seriously. She had told people often enough that there was something odd; something wrong about Emlyn.
“If she’s dreaming of men in her room, then it’s time she had a husband,” Dewydd, her brother-in-law said, barely hiding his leer.
“It was just a dream,” Emlyn defended herself.
Her sister and brother-in-law left the room to go back to bed, whispering to each other. She heard her sister giggle as the door to their room closed.
Afon, Emlyn’s father sat down on the bed, on the same place where he had sat. Emlyn cringed, wondering if somehow her father would be able to tell that someone; or maybe some thing had just sat there. Afon had gone pale, and she thought his voice shook a little.
“Winter, you say?” he looked intently at her as he asked. “Winter is coming? As if it was more than just winter?”
“Well yes, that’s how it was in the dream,” Emlyn told him.
However, her father sat looking at her coldly. He seemed to appraise her, trying to determine her honesty, as if he had caught her in some mischief. He stood abruptly.
“Where have you heard of this?” he demanded as she looked up at him in confusion. “It’s not allowed for this to be taught. This is blasphemy! Where have you heard it? Have you eavesdropped on the elders when they meet?”
“It was only a dream,” Emlyn stammered, “a nightmare. Why are you angry? I don’t understand. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Copyright © 2010 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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