I started and finished chapter 10 today. 2,052 pages.
It was extremely stressful, and the darkest thing I’ve written so far. And I’ve written a scene where a drug-addled father breaks his 8 year old daughters arm, stuffs her full of painkillers, and takes her to a drug deal before heading to the hospital.
Not for this novel. But, still. That’s pretty dark.
Also, this and chapter 9 are full of really awesome plot points. So I’m a little hesitant to post them…
So, how about a short taste?
This is the ending of chapter 10. I haven’t started 11, and will leave that for another day. But just know, this chapter has left my stomach in knots. I’m so stressed about what’s about to happen!
And I’m writing it!
The room shuddered as the lift reached its destination. It was back, bringing an intense dread with it. If Val had been frightened in the dark, under the desk, she was terrified now. They sat crouched between the bookshelves, doing their best to hide. Between the shelves they had a good view of the center of the room and the concealed door. Val pulled her gloves on, more out of a craving for familiarity than need. She looked over at Ethan, where he sat beside her, looking through the shelf. His face was hard, determined not to show fear.
Val held her breath as the tremors stopped and a faint hiss announced the opening of the wall. She peered through the shelf, and had to clamp a hand over her mouth to keep from screaming.
Five tall figures in brown robes exited the lift. Their faces were hidden beneath their hoods, but Val didn’t want to see them. They fanned out, with one Elder stepping forward, seeming in charge.
“You think to hide from us?” The lead Elder asked after a moment. His voice, though quiet, seemed to fill the room.
Val dropped down, not wanting to look at the Elders any longer, but Ethan continued, staring down the creatures.
“There is only one exit from the Library, child.” The Elder sounded smug. “And we are its key.”
Val watched Ethan’s face, using it to gauge any movements. Ethan licked his lips once, and glanced down at her. When their eyes met, she felt a cold fear grip her heart.
“What are you thinking?” she mouthed.
“You are running out of time, interloper,” came the voice. It seemed to weave through the bookcases, over her body and into her ears.
“Ethan?” She hissed. Trying to be as quiet as possible.
He shoved the book into her hands. “Stay hidden,” he told her, his voice so low she almost couldn’t hear him.
“What are you doing?”
“No matter what,” he said. “Don’t let them find you.” He took her head in his hands, the calloused skin, rough but not unpleasant, and then pressed his lips against hers.
In that moment Val’s world spun. She could feel his rough hands against her hair, holding her tight. She could feel the heat from his body as he pressed closer to her. And above all she could feel the soft warmth of his lips, so unlike the rest of him. There was that smell again. His smell. Of sun drenched salt and turbulent winds. She fell into his kiss, suddenly understanding every mixed feeling she’d had. All of it made sense as their lips danced together. And then she felt cold air as he ducked away to confront their enemy.
Val reached for him, but he was already gone. She sat, crouched behind the bookcases, too afraid to look. A terrible scraping sound filled the entire room. The air was thick with it, and it chilled Val to the very core. Though she’d never heard it, she knew what it was. Taking a deep breath to steel herself, Val looked out between the shelves at the center of the room.
Ethan stood, his back facing her. Before him were the things of nightmares. Haunting, towering, swathed in the brown robes of their order. Ethan, straight backed and proud, stared down the five Elders of the Iron Fleet.
And they were laughing at him.