A Wind So Fierce | Excerpt: Beginning of the Downfall
Posted January 11th, 2019 by maxi
in Erissa, Erilea, Westeros, The New York Institute, Roshar, Scadrial, New Chicago, Eye of the World, Metallica and Questeria
Author's Note: Well. I didn't expect to be posting much on here anymore. In fact, I've only been on here to read a few stories and also write the Ascendance NES (please join if you want! It'll be loads of fun). Apart from that, I hadn't anticipated posting on the NSP. Yet, here I am.
For those who don't know me, or knew me but forgot me, hey! I'm Max. I published one measly poetry book through KidPub Press (nevertheless, it started a huge part of my life) called Time to Rhyme, as well as the first two books of my science-fiction series, Future Wars: A New Arrival and Dark Journeys. I also wrote the first two books of the Empire of Ash Chronicles (The Dagger's Wrath and Lord of Night).
I also got around halfway through The Book of the Fallen, the third book in the series, before realising that I didn't have a full plot in mind or, more to the point, didn't know where I wanted the story to go. My characters were somewhat developed, I'd say, but the story wasn't rich enough and I wasn't devoting my full emotions to it. Don't get me wrong, I loved writing those books. And, to be honest, I'll probably rewrite them some time soon, but this book I'm focusing on... is different.
If you don't want to read all of this, you're free to skip it.
For some time now, I've been wanting to write a novel different to any I have before. I don't know what it was about me, but something changed. Not in me, but how I wanted to flourish out my writing, hone it, if you will. I would not change genres (mainly because fantasy and the unknowable is a huge influence in my life), but I did want to change my characters and their traits, personalities.
All of the characters in my previous books had been heroic. They would fend themselves and their nations, fight down bad guys and save the world. Of course, I love this, but I felt a need for change. I wanted my new characters to be angry, and to not hold back from that anger and use it to their will in order to fend themselves and their nations, fight down bad guys and save the world. I wanted their anger to be the source of their motivation. I wanted to show that those who have been burdened by a rough life and the shadow of the past don't have to hide behind anything. They can demonstrate their strength through anger, and show the world who they are.
Of course, this is NOT me endorsing what one of my characters did in this excerpt I'm going to share with you, but... I hope that we can all show a sliver of our anger in our lives.
Also, a little update on writing and the like: I am currently drafting A Wind So Fierce, which is more like a word vomit. I'm just getting words onto paper, which means that this excerpt is unedited, rough, dry, the barest of inks on the thinnest of papers. The title is a working title and I will probably not use it, but I just wanted to give it a name to tell people that I am working on something, because I am. I am not sure whether this will be a series or a trilogy, but I suspect the latter. I'm currently writing Chapter Six.
The reason why I'm not posting the whole book is because I want to publish it. I want to see this book on shelves, I want to edit and refine the crap out of this book because I can see myself writing these books for a job. I want to be an author; I have ever since I was 7. For the past 11 years, I've aspired to show my work through the written word. So that is what I am doing today. If you want to read a whole draft and perhaps be a beta reader, I'll send you it through email once I'm done, which might not be for a couple of months.
ANYWAY. Now that that's sorted, this is from Chapter Two, featuring Xandra, who is one of the angriest characters I have written and the rest are... Well, they're quite something. There's Xandra, Genya, Gabriel and Jun, but you don't meet Jun until either the end of book 1 or the start of book 2. I'm still figuring that one out.
I don't know what else to say, so... enjoy!
TRIGGER WARNING: Familial abuse, homophobia, violence, obscene swearing.
It was the silence that accompanied her these days after her mother’s unfortunate death. It was the silence that chased with her after she ran from home—though not temporarily. Although her father was Hell given form, he was the only thing tethering her to survival. And, finally, it was the silence that drove her mad.
She’d been so used to the quiet that, as if by choice, her friends were next to none but for Gabe.
Gabriel tended to be aggressive, confusing and a pain in her ass, but he was the source of her sanity. The one entity she knew would guide her home, for he was home.
Xandra’s expectations were for him to be hiding a secret deep within him, but his decision to join the Fabled was not it. From there, an afternoon mainly consisting of yelling soon faded into his change of subject in which he debated her own choice: to stay home with her father. He thought it a jest at first before she affirmed her decision.
Now her mind circled with thoughts like vultures hunting prey. If the Hour of the Prince had passed—which she was certain it had—then Gabriel would be at the head of the Hadrianeum, awaiting his documents to be presented in the audition room where he would perform menial, yet essential, duties to prove his worth.
A blush coloured her cheeks with embarrassment for her friend. How could he possibly manage his way past the Grand Hadrianeum and into the replacement scores of the Fabled?
The slam of the front door interrupted her worries, a sound that instantly replaced those worries with ice like fire and dread.
Hollow like a doll with his stuffing pulled out, Xandra rose from her chair and closed the trellis balcony doors behind her as she walked back into the house. The strong tang of stale ale invited itself into her nostrils, a tangle of alcohol and blurry vision drifting with it.
She exited her room and entered the main sitting room, where he collapsed onto an armchair covered by bearskin. The stench of him was as revolting as the garbage he left out on the streets each night. Xandra pulled herself closer, as if balancing her body on a tightrope, before coming adjacent with her father.
Aware of his unnecessary reason for his anger, Xandra tried not to approach him too closely—a beast injured was a beast unleashed. Nevertheless, she took the chair opposite him where, in between them, lay a wooden tabled carved by her woodmaster of a late mother. Xandra missed the days in which they’d be alone, cutting wood and carving it into some monolithic structure. That had been the beginning of the downfall.
“You’re home early,” Xandra murmured, remembering that he started to work night shifts along with multiple morning shifts throughout the week. The hand of the empire was a tough, calloused one when your workers were disobedient.
He grumbled incomprehensibly, an incoherent sound that left nonsense trailing behind.
“I thought you’d be home by lunch,” she continued. “Or at least the Hour of the—”
“Don’t stall what’s coming, girl.”
Chaotic fear went rampant in her heart, painting a picture of the frightened girl hiding in a cabinet, bringing back memories of an ancient age. She shook her head near indiscernibly, palms clammy, head bowed, shoulders sagging in a portrait of defeat. The bruises had begun to purple over the last few weeks that she could imagine her muscles atrophying and cried inwardly at the thought.
She glanced at him momentarily, a brief face-to-face that seemed to last a thousand spins of the celestial bodies. His eyes raked over her figure like twin daggers of flame that she could’ve sworn entered each orifice, like he were covering her flaws.
The tension in the air could cut through five armoured Fabled soldiers.
“You’re a fool if you thought I wouldn’t have caught word by now,” he whispered in a feral tone, eyes glittering with bloodlust. Suddenly, as if he’d been awakened from a slurring daze, all sense of disorientation vanished. “I know what you did. Your entanglements in the bedroom are no secret now.”
Kendra, Xandra thought. It must’ve been her.
Being the other participant in the bedroom, Xandra possessed a gut feeling that the zultan’s third mistress spilled word of the events that unspooled like wine from a glass. Kendra had been a worthy mistress—Xandra knew from firsthand experience—but, if her accusation proved true, then the woman wasn’t worthy of being a decent human. The first rules of deception lay in spreading the word… Kendra might’ve done just that.
“It is no different to a man,” she attempted to reason with him, lips rising in a sneer. “The parts may be different, but the passion is mutual.”
Disgust contorted her father’s face. He hissed, “Do you not understand the amount of pain you have caused to my reputation? All the nobles are going to laugh in my face now. I will summon no heirs, I will have no family. I am left with a woman who doesn’t know where her bits go!”
The words boomed from his mouth, leaving the room quaking and Xandra finally recoiling at the hurt displayed in his expressions. She rose from her sitting position, indifference blooming on her mouth in the form of a straight line. The room’s tension bristled as did the hairs on the back of her neck, terror crawling down her spine in jagged lines.
“I know who I am!” Tears spilled from her widened eyes. “I know that as well as I know my country! It is about time some changes were implemented into this nation, Father! You should know better—”
Tears sprang from her eyes and blood from her cut skin as her father planted a forceful hand to her cheek. She slammed into the ground, smacking her head upon a discarded mug of ale. Her vision turned shadowy and distinct as pain controlled Xandra’s body. A calloused hand forced her up on her feet before she went back down from another slap.
Her hair was in stringy tendrils as she endured the pain, slowly crawling towards the front door. Xandra peeked red from the corner of her vision. Her fingers dabbed at her lip and came back with the fresh blossoming of blood droplets. She tilted her head up at her father.
“This is what you did to my mother,” she cried out, her voice straining at the sound of the truth. “You killed her, you bastard! Killed her!”
A shadow passed over his face, as if deep in silent remembrance. “I did nothing of the sort, you sinner. Your mother did not die by my hands. She fed us both, nurtured you and told me everything I could know about raising you. Do you want to know why?”
Misperception clouded her sight as the tang of something deep and ancient warmed Xandra’s skin, an embrace much like the accompanying silence. Xandra stayed quiet, a concept that she thoroughly took place, something that she herself nurtured.
“You did it, you bitch,” her father whispered against the crook of her ear. “You killed my beautiful wife.” He stood up from where he knelt, raising his voice. “Yes, I punished her, but so should all women face when they deserve it. Yes, she took the brunt of my fist, but it was her punishment, as all women should endure. But don’t you remember what happened, Xandra? Don’t you remember that night you fucked it all up?”
“Mother!” Xandra screams, the word ripping from her lungs.
“No!” Mother cries aloud, taking the force of another forceful hit from her husband. Again. Again. Again. Repeatedly, the blows are coming like a thunderstorm, each boom echoing in the silence of the house.
The earth shakes beneath Xandra’s knees as she kneels there against the kitchen’s wooden planks, feeling the ground underfoot.
“You betrayed me, you bitch.” The sound of her father’s voice follows the trailing set of footsteps that come with it. The sound of blood splattering across the ground, the wet drips of it into the kitchen steel sink.
But it is deep within Xandra that she feels the source of some ancient becoming of herself. Some powerful, primitive and primal order that forces its way through her bones and shouts from her sinew carved and forged from the earth itself.
“I am one with rock, with stone, with dirt,” she hisses, the words slithering through gritted teeth.
Although she aims for her father, her mother is taken down in front of him. His body cradles her own, his arms wrapping around her in a tight, discomforting movement. The pain of the order races down Xandra’s veins, feeding her with strength she’d never known before. Memories come unbound by time through her as the energy unleashed from her fingertips, a becoming of earth and a purge of nature.
She closes her eyes and, when she opens them, there is more blood than before, her mother resting forevermore along the pools of red.
Xandra shook her head, spittle and blood flying from her skin in a chase from the mess that she’d become in a matter of minutes. Her memory was not a liar, but she couldn’t help but refuse to accept the truth. She knew that each vessel in Deridian was inhabited by some manifestation of an Element, but the confirmation of her Quaker origins was foolish. A daughter who had killed her mother, nevertheless accidental, didn’t deserve to have holy magic.
She crawled toward the door, closer to an unattainable freedom. An idea sprang free from the crevices of her mind, but the fact that her father was clever ceased her from attempting anything relatively close to it.
“You are a Quaker, Xandra,” her father said, a mirthless chuckle spilling from his tongue. She knew of her magical origin, but… But… “You’ve never deserved this. Ever since you killed her, you have been the reason why you are my prey.”
You are my prey.
“Your queer quirk to summon earth will bring chaos, girl, don’t you forget about that.” His lips tilted into the familiar sneer that she’d unleashed. His was venomous, though, tinged with misery and a sadness she’d never envisioned in her youth. “You will not get away with your foolish decision to betray my family like this. Your tangle in the sheets with that woman will be paid for with violence, I will see to the zultan himself about that.”
Your tangle in the sheets.
He didn’t rein these words in, instead letting them flow like a current. “You have sinned in the Volume of the Faithful. Our Benefactor will see to it that your wrongs have been righted. Our Benefactor will measure your sins with your good deeds and will see where you belong. Trust me, Xandra, if I had it my way, you’d have been dead at the time of your own mother’s death.”
You have sinned.
The words were simply that: words to the wind. Xandra raised her head triumphantly, a smile amidst the mess of blood and grime-slicked skin. The familiar stench of alcohol entered her nostrils, a factor that contributed to the dingy house of silence.
She pictured her mother standing in the corner, hands folded before her, encouraging her to stand up. The blurry, distinct vision of her prompted a coming wave of tears, but Xandra pushed them aside in a bout of courage and instead stood up where she lay. On stumbling, staggering feet, she faced her father, the shadow of an empire’s responsibilities on his shoulders.
“I am your prey, I did tangle in the sheets and I have sinned,” Xandra agreed, a confident smile on her lips. “But you have done far worse than I, Father. Your mere presence in Deridia fails to give purpose. You have no sense of belonging here, nor will you ever.”
Her father chortled, his long, tough fingers becoming a fist. “Don’t you dare consider having any power over me, your worthless runt. If it weren’t for me, you’d be dead!”
“I’d think over your words before you say them, Father,” she whispered.
Xandra raised her hands and allowed her fingertips gain access to the earth underfoot. Stone and rock in mind, in heart and soul, her heart yearned to beat to accompany the arrival of the reckoning to come. Fissures and cracks in the stone within the foundations of the house rumbled in their positions as she gathered steel and nerve and rhythm into her magic.
Her Element, as close as a friend as Gabriel was, called out to her in a susurrating voice. Xandra closed her eyes, enveloping her vision in darkness absolute save for a flickering light unbidden in the gloom. Amidst the shadows she sought out the source of that flame and gathered it into her innermost essence, a place she’d never ventured before.
And, with an arched brow from her father, she unleashed her Quaking ability. She sang to the world’s elements as stone rose from the ground and shrouded the house in shadow, jagged and rocky alike. Her father lunged for her, near-missing a blade-like stone impaling his torso. Her scream echoed, trilling like a songbird. Earth and rock and stone responded in a violent cataclysm of unholy nature.
The storm of earth itself finally stopped when the air grew too tense that it snapped. With a violent war cry, like that of a Fabled foot soldier charging into the killing field, Xandra summoned a sword forged from stone and dirt. The blade was two-foot-long and jagged, its pommel embedded with the head of a glimmering white crystal. The war cry ended abruptly as did her father’s movements when she plunged the sword through his stomach, emitting a gurgle.
Her father foamed at the mouth, blood rising to his lips in miniscule droplets, dribble alongside the corner of his mouth. He twitched momentarily before letting out a choking sound, his hands gripped at the blade slackening.
The realisation that she’d killed her father, the one and true shadow over her life, snapped her back to reality. The stone sword she’d summoned, along with the other rocky formations, vanished as she slowly depleted her magic into the air. A breeze carried it off, tendrils of her essence floating away until the time where she needed it most once more.
I'm not sure when I will be posting the next excerpt, but I don't think it will be as long or as revealing as this one. Thanks for reading!
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