I’ve reached 70,000 words (I’m actually up to 74K now – I should get 75K by tomorrow), so I think it’s time for some more snippets. These come exclusively from the chapters I’ve written since I did the last snippets. I’m really happy with the way the story’s going so far. It’s become way more complex than I first thought with plenty of twists and turns and new characters and heartbreaking bits. Nathan’s finally on the way to striking up his revolution, but it’s going to be a long, hard road that ends in disaster. I’m so not looking forward to writing the end of this book (because of the sadness, and also because, well, it’s the end – of course, I’ll have two more books to explore everyone’s characters, but the first book is always the most special. Also, I’m now thinking that there could be more books coming. I’ll have to wait and see how it works out). Here are the snippets…
“You can’t stop me from coming,” she said. “I can do what I please and what I want to do is help my family.” Her tone was triumphant and Nathan knew she thought she had him cornered. But he’d taken the precaution of talking to Aaron about how this might come up later and Aaron had said he’d speak to the other men and tell them in vague terms about the the dangerousness of the mission. They wouldn’t physically keep Lily from going, but they’d try their best in other ways.
He said nothing to her triumphant words which obviously put a seed of doubt in her mind. “I’m leaving in a couple days,” he said, “and I don’t want to leave this way.” It was at those words that her angry, icy facade broke down a little. Only a little, but enough to show Nathan that she would care if he never came back. His heart thrilled a little at that, but he didn’t let it show. She was probably just thinking of him as a good friend.
She said nothing and walked away, her fast, hard steps showing she was still angry but would stay. Of that Nathan was confident. ~Chapter 9
The next sound she heard was laughter coming from behind the gauze. It was low, deep, and rich, just like Lord Abbadon’s speaking voice. She didn’t know what scared her more – his laugh, or his silence. There’s was something evil about both, not to mention his normal talking. “You have spirit,” he finally said, “good quality for a queen.” He paused for a moment and when he spoke again, his voice had changed to something dark and ominous. “But don’t cross me again.”
“Yes, Lord Abbadon.” She breathed an inward sigh of relief. It looked as though she’d escaped this time.
“In answer to your little question, I will give you a question of my own. Who do you think rules this world? The whole world.”
“The-the queen?” Lily said. She wasn’t sure of anything, but that was all she could think of.
He gave another laugh. “No. It is I. I hold all the power in my hands. I could strike the queen from her throne at this moment just as easily as I could kill you right now. I control the queen, the continents, and the entire world. No one….no one has as much power as I do.” His voice was full of delight as he spoke, but it sent a chill through Lily. She did want to be queen, more than anything else in the world, but if she accepted his offer, what would she be getting herself into?
“You see,” he continued, “I don’t want to be hidden away anymore. I want a queen I can work with to better the world. Just the two of us. It will be perfect. You will take the throne, I will advise you, and no one will be the wiser. You will accept.” His voice was hard and commanding now. This Lord Abbadon was a force to be reckoned with and Lily knew she would accept. He knew it too.
“Yes,” she whispered. “I will accept.” ~Chapter 9
Cursed wound. It made everything so much more difficult. The women were still far enough away for him to attempt an escape. He was very close to the woods so he thought it would be easy. It wasn’t. The first time he tried to get to his hands and knees for crawling, he nearly passed out from the pain. It was only the thought of safety and treatment and revenge that kept him going. There. He was on his hands and knees. If he kept perfectly still, the broken bone gave him no pain, but couldn’t keep still. He had to move and move fast, probably faster than he ever had in his life if he wanted to survive.
The first crawling step was agony and it got worse as it went along but he gritted his teeth and kept going. If he stopped now, he’d stop forever and that would hardly do. The woods were only a few metres away, but it seemed like miles to cross before he reached their safety. His arms were trembling in with pain and exhaustion and he panted hard as he kept crawling at a near snail’s pace. He could feel blood flowing out of his knees as they were torn up by the slight underbrush that he moved through and dried blood covered almost one half of his face. He could feel it but had no idea where it came from.
At least his neck wasn’t really bleeding and there were no bones sticking out. That was a small relief but he was in such rough shape, he almost gave up then and there as he mentally catalogued his wounds. But he was only a couple of yards away from the beginnings of the woods now so he grimly pressed on.
He made it.
He dragged himself a little bit further and then flopped down on his back and stared up at the trees towering over him. He felt cold and damp seeping into his shirt and chilling his back, but he didn’t move. Let the cold numb him. It would make the next leg of the journey easier, that is, if ‘easy’ had been in his vocabulary at the moment. He decided to sleep for a bit if he could to gain strength and give his broken collarbone a little bit of rest, although it wouldn’t really make much difference. ~Chapter 10
They been going for what seemed like hours and Nathan had started straining his fever glazed eyes for the oasis Helen had tied the horses to before. Dusk was falling and he didn’t want to miss the patch of grass and ride Archie into the sharp stones. And he didn’t even know exactly where he was – all the desert looked alike for miles around. He felt defeated and unexpected tears welled up. He thought of God, the Person Benjamin had talked about. Did he really exist? And if he did, would he care about Nathan’s troubles?
“Oh, God,” his heart cried out, “help me find the oasis before it gets too dark. I need to rest and so does Archie. Please.”
He slumped against Archie’s strong neck and let the tears come. It was hopeless. They were going to fail. They wouldn’t be able to rest at the oasis, he wouldn’t be able to see enough to lead Archie through the sharp stones like he planned to. He would die here in the desert, alone except for a horse, forgotten by all who had once known him. Abandoned by the one Person who he thought could have saved him.
That was what hurt the most.
He stayed against Archie’s side, his eyes closed, almost falling off the horse. Only the thought of all the pain that would come if he did so kept him hanging on, and the thought would probably go away soon enough. He didn’t care about anything anymore.
What did it all matter anymore?
Nothing. ~Chapter 10
Aaron turned and saw him. “Dylan,” he said. His voice was calm, and not choked up. “What is it?”
“We need to talk.”
“Okay. Sure. What’s on your mind?”
Dylan fidgeted around and then figured the best way would be to blurt it out right away and get it over with. “Where were you today?”
Aaron didn’t look guilty or even surprised at the question. “I took Nathan to the tunnels. We met with the group – I should’ve told you, but I just…forgot.” He seemed a little embarrassed, and Dylan knew exactly why. Irritation filled him.
“You were afraid I’d tell on you.”
Aaron hesitated for a moment and then nodded.
“Who do you think I am? Some kind of sneak thief?”
“No, no, of course not.” Aaron said the words, but they didn’t ring true.
“Whatever,” Dylan said. This wasn’t going the way he’d thought it would, but he didn’t care. He was too angry to care. He slammed his fist against the hard rock wall and then pulled it back, wincing. That was a foolish, babyish gesture. He should have known better. Aaron watched him mildly, and Dylan struck out at him, instead of the wall. “And why do you keep ignoring me? You’re always going off with-with Nathan.” He spat the word out as if it were a curse.
“I-” Aaron began, but Dylan didn’t give him a chance to continue.
“Don’t try to deny it. That’s what you’ve been doing. What’s so important?” He realized he was shouting and tried to curb his tone, even though it was too late. Everyone was staring at him and Aaron already. A hush had settled over the room. He noticed Benjamin looking at him quietly and felt a hot rush of shame fill him.
Aaron stood up, his eyes full of fire now, although his stance was calm – as was his voice when he spoke. “I haven’t been ignoring you.” Again, his words didn’t ring true.
“That’s exactly what you’ve been doing,” Dylan said, his voice several times louder than Aaron’s had been. He knew he was making a spectacle of himself, but he didn’t care. Let them stare, let Benjamin look on with his quiet dignity, let them sneer if they liked, but he was going to say what needed to be said. “Ever since that Bordage boy came in here, there’s been nothing but trouble among us.”
Aaron said nothing, just stared at him, stoney-eyed. Dylan felt quelled under his gaze, but quickly rallied. Aaron couldn’t make him feel ashamed. He was the one doing wrong, and Dylan believed he knew it. Aaron kept staring at him, and frustration was building inside him, and-
His fist came out and Aaron fell to the floor, his cheek red and bleeding. He got up warily, holding his hand to his injured face. He kept his eyes on Dylan, and he felt anger building inside him. He would’ve hit Aaron again, had not a voice called his name. “Dylan! Stop. Please.” It was Esther. His upraised hand dropped to his side, and once again shame filled him. He had hit his best friend. How on earth could he have done such a thing? ~Chapter 12
Laii felt a flutter go through her. “So you’ve confirmed he’s alive.”
“Of course. He said he stayed in the forest near the battlefield until he was recovered and then came to us, since we were the closest.”
“I see.” Laii could hardly keep the smile of her face. Her boy was all right and he was coming home. And he had survived. That was the most important thing. Of course, there would be punishment for escaping the prison, but since the queen he had attempted to kill was already dead, there would not be too big of a fuss. “You’ll arrange for his return, then?”
“You want him back?”
“Yes,” Laii said, her voice hesitant. Why wouldn’t they want him back?
“He has expressed a desire to stay here. Says there’s no new boys at your facility and he wants to train ours. I said I’d make a call to your facility and see if that would be all right.” The woman’s voice was hard, and it was directed at Laii, not Nathan. “I want him to stay here,” she said. “He seems capable and we’ve had a dearth of good trainers recently which, as I’m sure you know, isn’t good.”
“I see,” Laii repeated.
“You’ll agree to this,” Amelba said. It was a statement, not a question. “I’m sure we need him much more than you do.”
Laii swallowed and then regretted it, hoping it hadn’t been heard and taken for a sign of nervousness. Except she was nervous. “That’s fine,” she finally said, lying through her teeth. It wasn’t fine. It was terribly wrong. She couldn’t understand Nathan. How did he know there were very few boys here and that they had an overflow of trainers at the moment? She said goodbye and set the phone down on her desk.
She held her head in her hands and tried to make sense of it all. ~Chapter 12
Now to escape, and then to the caves.
At that instant, an alarm went off.
The sound sent chills through Nathan. “No,” he muttered. “We don’t have time for this.” Then, out loud. “We’re leaving. NOW!” Everyone took off at a run, following Nathan and trusting him to lead them to safety. Even in the face of danger, he felt outrageously happy that they trusted him. It was one of the best feelings in the world. And then he was running in earnest.
The babies were being joggled around considerably, but then didn’t wake up, much less cry. The shadowy corridor then were running down suddenly flooded with light. Shouts and running feet were heard. They kept going. If they stopped, or even looked back to assess the situation, they’d be captured for sure. If they kept going, they had a chance. Nathan wasn’t sure the facility even knew what was happening. They probably didn’t know someone was trying to break out, they just knew there was a disruption.
Just a little more…a little more…and then they’d be to the facility door. It was always guarded by guard women, but they all had weapons and knew Defensive Arts. It would be difficult with the babies – Nathan’s arm was already tiring – but doable. They had to do it.
They reached the door. Only two guard women were standing there, and surprise was plain on their faces. They had doubtless heard the alarms, but this was beyond their imagination. Nathan knew it looked crazy. Thirty young men running crazily toward them, each carrying a sleeping baby with a duffel bag bouncing on each back. Well, if they wanted crazy, he’d give them crazy. “Charge through!” he shouted.
They charged. The two guard women were helpless under the surge of power coming toward them and they fled. Nathan fumbled with the lock on the door and then the were free, running past the startled guards on the outside, running straight and true. It was the best feeling he had ever had. The wind in his lungs, running hard and fast away from the terrible place of death and destruction and broken dreams.
It was time to make a change in the world and he would be the one to do it. ~Chapter 13
“I guess this is goodbye for a while,” Aaron said.
Nathan nodded. He wanted to tell his friend not to worry, that they’d meet soon again when he had more babies, but he didn’t know if they would meet again. So he said, “Are you sure it’s not too much of a strain on you and your friends to keep coming back and forth?”
“Of course not,” Aaron said. “I’m only using boys from our community, so we don’t have to summon a lot of people from other continents whenever we go out. The elders have given permission – even Ben was for it. And even if it was hard, we’d still do it. Who said rebellion was easy?”
“It’s not,” Nathan said, more to himself than Aaron. “It’s hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I thought I knew exactly how it would work, but it’s not even close. Just the escape…seeing the children’s ward again…it brought up all my old nightmares. I can’t shake those images off. I don’t know why I take it so hard, but I do. It’s wrong. I know it’s wrong and I’m going to stop it.”
“Anything else?” Aaron asked, his voice telling Nathan that he knew there was something else. None of Nathan’s men – or the Existents, for that matter – where especially nearby, so Nathan nodded.
“My men are difficult. Very difficult. With the exception of a couple, they all follow one of their own and look to him for direction. There can’t be two leaders. At least not two leaders that are constantly going against each other.”
Aaron nodded, understanding. Nathan put his head in his hands. “I don’t know what to do. I really don’t. I thought I was ready to lead this rebellion, but if I can’t even sort out the troubles between my own men, how can I fix the world’s?”
“Take it one step at a time,” Aaron said, laying a hand on Nathan’s shoulder. “Fix the problems with your men, no matter how long it takes. Time spent like that isn’t a waste, no matter what you think. And then you can focus on fighting other battles. It’s the only way.”
“You sound so sure,” Nathan said.
“I am. I have the same problems, to a lesser degree.”
Aaron sighed heavily. “It’s hard to explain but, yes, it has to do with him. Hey, I really should get going now. It’s getting late.” ~Chapter 13
“I thought you said we needed to move fast,” Jeremy said, challenge once again in his voice.
“We do. But it’s no use attacking without the proper supplies and a good battle plan.”
“When exactly?” Jeremy pressed. He seemed to want to be in control of the whole situation, so Nathan hesitated before giving him the answer. However, it wouldn’t hurt to have everyone know it so they could prepare themselves mentally as well as physically.
“One week.” It would be tight, but it was all Nathan had. That one week would have to do the duty of a whole month, or maybe even two. Bring the boys together as one smooth working unit, get weapons, horses, and a good amount of supplies.
Difficult, but when had Nathan Bordage ever taken the easy way?
And, as Aaron had said, revolution was hard. ~Chapter 13