Monday October 25th, 2010

The exercise:

There are seven days remaining until NaNoWriMo hits me square in the face, so I've decided to do a little countdown here on the blog.

The plan? To have one of the characters (well, their title at least) from my planned novel be the prompt for each of the next seven days. Some days I'll use the prompt to write a background scene involving the actual character (as I did today), other days my writing will have nothing to do with the novel.

So let us begin with: the king.

In other news, I helped our carpenter build and install our new basement door today. It was good times.


"Your highness," the doctor called from the doorway, "the queen would like to speak with you."

King Owen looked up from the map sprawled across his writing desk and stared at the weary, overworked man who had spoken. The doctor would not meet his gaze.

"Is this it then?" the king asked, a slight hitch the sole betrayer of his inner turmoil.

"Please, come quickly," was the only reply the doctor was willing to offer.

The king stood slowly, took a moment to collect himself, then joined the man in the hallway. They moved in silence the short distance to his wife's resting room, as a heavy darkness began to settle on Owen's shoulders. As the men reached the doorway Bethany, the queen's favorite attendant, came hurrying out in tears. When she saw her king she fled in the opposite direction without uttering an intelligible word.

Owen watched her escape for a moment before blinking his eyes clear of tears. He entered the room and approached the four poster bed, where he found his wife lying beneath deep purple blankets. She looked too pale, too thin. Too close to the end.

"Owen, my love," she whispered, the words still filled with fondness. "I fear that I don't have much time left to me."

"Elena, do not say such things."

"It is only the truth. You must be strong. For the crown. For the people. But most of all, for our daughter."

"I cannot raise her without you! I cannot teach her to be a proper princess, I will ruin her future -"

"Hush, my husband. You will make me proud, I know it." Elena paused to catch her breath and to rally her strength for her final words. "Treat her well but do not spoil her. Teach her the ways of the kingdom. Give her space to be a normal child. And, when the time comes... let her marry for love."


Greg said...

Heh, I've been tracking the days to NaNoWriMo as well! I think this may be like last year again -- I'll sign up anyway and just hope I can find enough time to get through it. If I don't change my mind about the story I'm going to write....
Glad to hear you've got a door on your basement now!
Are you writing a fairy-tale of some description then? It's an intriguing background snippet whatever you're writing though; lots of emotion in that one short piece.

Well, whereas normally I just go with whatever you prompt, today I'm going to go with the spirit of your prompt and write a little background for one of my characters for NaNoWriMo :)

The King
Daniel King stood in front of the mirror checking the line of his tunic. It bunched very slightly about his waist, ruched up by his utility belt. He sighed, and loosened the belt, pulling and patting the green tunic straight, and then carefully refastened the belt, buckling it one notch less this time. Finally satisfied, he moved on to checking his leggings.
"Cap, they're starting to stop screaming!" His PA, Micropop, appeared at the doorway to Daniel's changing room looking to be near to be tears.
"Micropop," said Daniel with a tiny amount of reproach in his voice. "There are fourteen children on that school bus, and statistically the ones most likely to die first are the one in the wheelchair, because he can't swim; the girl with the low IQ; and the one with the broken arm. Society will be improved by their loss."
Micropop hung his head. He'd heard his boss enumerate these kinds of statistical analyses so many times now that they were just so much noise; a meaningless litany excusing the man the papers called Captain Coldheart from having to work too hard.
"I can't hear the pretty girl screaming any more," he said.
"And how can you tell a pretty girl's screams from an ugly one's?"
Daniel, Captain Coldheart raised a plucked eyebrow. "That's enough conversation though, I have a school bus to rescue!"
As he walked past Micropop to the balcony, Micropop flinched. Captain Coldheart didn't notice. Reaching the balcony, he leapt off, soaring quickly upwards and then accelerating towards the river and the sinking bus, while Micropop sat down and made a note of how many lives Captain Coldheart had considered insignificant this time.

Zhongming said...

Marc – I thought that’s brilliant – I can almost picture a real king and queen right in front of me :)

Greg – great story! It’s equally brilliant :)


Prince Charles, self introduction with a respectful bow before the king.

King Arthur with a bright smile on his face - said “please rise”. You did your country proud, son. What do you want in return for such a wonderful work done?

I want nothing – I didn’t do it for fame, money or status. I just do what I think it is best for our people. It’s what I should do as a prince. It is not in my position to ask for more. I already have everything I ever needed.

Apparently, Prince Charles made an appearance and managed to get them to sign the peace treaty. It was the king’s dream. All he ever wanted was for the war to stop. He loved and cared about his people and for that reason, he decided to cease fire. He had quite a hard time looking for a suitable solution to stop over powering them. He always had guilt in his face whenever his side won against another country. After all, he still prefers to talk them into peace and start to educate them in various ways.

When the blood spills on the ground, he takes in every moment of that into his thoughts. He couldn’t sleep at night even if he’s real tired. The moment he closes his eyes, those image that appear before him is exactly like a live video recording. It hurts so much more than being on the Warfield itself.

morganna said...

"She's mad, I know it." The despairing whisper echoed against the cold stones. "The jester lost his head today, the little girl hers tomorrow. Will I be next?" The King of Hearts moaned softly. He had loved his queen, though they had not married for love. But now, he feared her, as the whole palace feared her. He rose softly from bed and groped under the pillow for his dagger. No more. He could take no more. He would end it here and now. He opened his door and turned towards his queen's room.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

@ 'Loo and Greg: best of luck to both of you in your NaNo endeavors! I'd do it as well, except November always ends up, without question, being one of the busiest months for me. I think the stars are aligned such that NaNo is impossible for me. I'll do it some year, though... but not this year.

- - - - - - - - - -
The King

She'd heard about The King, as they called him. They told her stories about this shadow, knowing not if it was human or animal--no one could ever tell, no one ever got a good enough look to see--and warning her about what became of those like her who had seen it.

"Somebody tried to go exploring that old abandoned theater downtown, and when they came out his hair was shocked white as snow, and his eyes looked about a hundred years older."

"I heard The King lurks in the old archives, guarding its secrets and imparting them to no one. Once you go down you don't ever come back up."

She shook her head as she pulled down the fire escape ladder, the metal cold on her half-gloved fingers. Whether she shook her head as to scold the nervous gossipers or to clear her head of such talk, she wasn't sure. She wasn't scared. She'd done this before.

What was there to worry about?
- - - - - - - - - -
My mind's hinting that there's more to come of this, I just don't have time to let it think on it too much at present.

(@ Greg: By the way, interesting hero you've got going there... I've heard of the byronic hero, but I think you could say you've got an ironic hero here. If this is a premise of your NaNo story I'm curious as to how it'll work)

Watermark said...

Great reading there! I kept getting a different mental image each time. Very descriptive, well done everyone :) Did I mention that yesterday's exercise was just so much fun!! Really enjoyed it and enjoyed reading the continuations even more :)

I must say I found today's prompt a bit tricky for me - so it came out sounding quite stilted and extremely comic! I thought I'd post it anyway..

@Marc & @Greg: good luck on the NaNoWriMo - I'm going to try my hand at it this year - it'll be quite a challenge for me but hopefully loads of fun!!
The King

The king looked up and indicated to Phineas with this head. Words were not necessary. Phineas knew that it was his duty and knew exactly what he had to do. The responsibility and trust that had just been thrust upon him was overwhelming but he had no choice.

“I will not fail you, your majesty.”

The king placed his hands on Phineas’ shoulders, “I know you won’t. My son,” the king smiled softly to himself, “you have always been the one with strength. You will succeed if only you, believe in yourself.” The king looked up at Phineas and barely above a whisper said, “That’s why I chose you out of all the toad slayers.”

The task that lay ahead of him was no easy feat. He had to go through the Valley of Toads, find the Book of Charm and bring it back to the king before dawn. Only then would the spell be broken and the princess be released from the curse. He knew the challenges that lay before him but he had been trained well.

Marc said...

Greg - there's a short synopsis on my NaNo profile, but yeah, that's the general idea.

Captain Coldheart seems like a real fun character to write. Which always helps, when one is pressed for writing time :)

Zhongming - I quite like the sort of king you're describing there. Good stuff!

Morganna - that was excellent! Wonderful take on the prompt :)

g2 - perhaps when you're free from school you'll be able to manage it. I know I would never have been able to while I was still studying. Well, not without my grades suffering.

Wonderful details today, and I too would like to see you continue that.

Watermark - glad you had fun yesterday! And that's awesome you're giving NaNo a shot. We'll have our own little support group on the blog :D

"That's why I chose you out of all the toad slayers" actually made me laugh out loud. Even with your warning of silliness ahead, I was not expecting that at all :)

summerfield said...

ah, he's early again. marc, this nanowrimo thing sounds interesting. 50,000 words. in thirty days. how does this happen? i suppose you've got to have a plot line or something to guide you, n'est-ce pas? interesting. i just might register and join in, as a lark.

amazing takes on the prompt, guys. they leave me with the thought: what happens next? arrrgh! i want more! i want more!

so i tried to rise to the challenge albeit late. so my take on "the king", you can find here:

pardon, i yet have to learn how to do that link thingie. thanks.

Heather said...

What I have learned from the blog today:

1. Still full of great writing!
2. NaNoWriMo is spreading quite quickly. I'm happy to join the cheering squad since I can't manage being on the playing field.
3. Marc was early again, but that is okay. I guess.
The two sisters sat next to each other, their hands rough from being repeatedly submerged in water over the last 30 years. Theirs was a hard trade, but more disheartening was the fact that it was fading in importance to the public. Less need for their sort of expertise meant for hands that didn't crack and bleed, but left the girls with much too much time to idle away.

It was this freedom from duty that lead them to watching the King. Albeit from afar, they were more knowledgeable about the man and his motives than his best courtiers and most trusted friends. Placing their heads together, they watched him through the small bubbling circle in their cauldron.

"This is the moment, Sabrina," came the gruff voice of the younger sister.

Sabrina answered, "It will all begin to unravel when she takes her last breath, Sarah."

"We'll watch the child then, Sabrina." The two, being inseparable since their birth continued with their shared prediction.

"She will rise as a Princess unlike any before her, Sarah."

"And with her rise will come a new age of mankind, Sabrina."

Together, the sisters made one last observation before grasping hands and mourning the passing of the queen and the times. "Our time unravels with the King."
I didn't start this with any real direction in mind. Just the idea of two sisters who spent their lives reading other's destinies or fates. And then I realized how easily it could tie into yours Marc. So I hope you don't mind I wrote a parallel piece!

Eddie said...

The King

He stared at his adversary with a slight trace of malice, which he tried very hard to conceal. "I must not let him know what I'm thinking", he reminded himself. To hide ones emotions. To become unpredictable. These were but a few keys to victory. They had been locked in combat for hours, though it felt like days. Even he, with all his concentration, was unable to hide the weariness in his eyes. For a brief moment, they wandered and he glanced at his king. Instantly, he was reminded of what he had sworn to protect. "You will not take my king", he yell internally. His eyes met the eyes of his adversary. Both had begun to sweat profusely, as the tension between them continued to build. Each, as determined as the other, remained unwavering. But, only one could succeed. One man's King would fall today. He took a deep breath to settle his nerves. Suddenly, everything became clear to him. It was as if with an exhale, the obstacles in his mind were cleared and he could now see a path to victory. He made his move. It was, indeed, daring. He grinned at his adversary, who never saw it coming, and said, "Checkmate."

Marc said...

Summerfield - ideally, it happens 1,667 words a day at a time :)

And you definitely should! It's great fun, and you'll be amazed by what you can accomplish in 30 days :)

I will check out your take shortly (or after dinner, whatever happens first).

Heather - I like to think of it as 'actually on time for once', rather than early :P

Mind? I think that's brilliant! What a wonderful idea, and so well done :)

Eddie - ah, a wonderful alternate take on the prompt! Nicely done, and it's good to see you around these parts again :)