Friday comes early: Friday Snippet from THE RUBY KEY

I still feel like absolute death on moldy toast. This is more flu than cold, I think, and it’s clobbering me hard.

But I’m up for the moment, and decided to go ahead and do the Friday Snippet early, then take the rest of the week off (or until such time as I actually feel like sitting up again).

So. This is from the revised version of THE RUBY KEY that went out to Lisa on Tuesday. A newly added bit, and something I really had fun with. It’s not any sort of action scene—it’s just a bit of description, but it’s where Genna sees the nightling “barrow” for the first time.

NOTICE: This material is copyrighted, uncopyedited late draft, probably buggy. Do not quote or repost anywhere or in any format. Thanks.

We reached a grand cavern after long walking; in our progress downward, we had passed dozens of passageways that led off from the spiral we traversed. I thought many nightlings might live in this one barrow—and then I got a good look at the cavern, and realized our little village had to sit within reach of one of the greatest and most powerful cities in all the world. And it was with the master of this city that vile Banris had made his bargain. I could only wonder where he had found the courage to bargain with such a creature. Or the courage to cheat him.

We continued to follow the nightling who had led us into this place, but we followed wordlessly. Creatures winged and taloned that had never flown in daylight flitted and soared through the tall arched corridors, chasing fishes of the air and other creatures that I could have only thought at home in water. Squat, wide-mouthed monsters in every imaginable color—and dressed in velvets and brocades of the most beautiful workmanship—spoke in bell voices to men and women tall as willows and twice as graceful who furled and unfurled huge, delicate butterfly wings behind them. Nightlings with skin green or gold, pale lilac, vivid orange, snow white, ebony black, yellow or pink or richest royal blue moved through those same corridors, talking and laughing, followed always, always by black-cloaked, black-hooded silent attendants.

Nor were the exotic creatures and the even more fantastic nightlings the only wonders. Gardens grew along the way, trees curving and swaying, their leaves of gold and copper and ruby red; sweet-scented bushes brushed us as we passed; and flowers in every imaginable color glowed from beds planted by a master gardener with a genius for beauty.

Some faint music called us forward, almost impossible to hear, yet enchanting nonetheless.

I know the quiet beauty of apple blossoms in spring. I love the sweet awkwardness of newborn kids and lambs, the comfort of a cushioned rocking chair, the serenity of a shake roof on a rainy night, and of sturdy stone walls and a fire on the hearth come winter. These are good things, but simple.

The beauty and magic of Arrienda were extravagant, shocking, breathtaking … exhausting. My mind could not take everything in, and I wished I could sneak away for a short while and hide my eyes.

I wondered if humans had ever even imagined the possibilities I saw as finished works. I thought that if I stayed in this place for one lifetime—or a dozen—I would never cease to wonder at the miracles that spread out before me.

But I could not let myself be seduced by beauty.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

12 comments… add one
  • JeriT Jul 27, 2007 @ 13:13

    This is gorgeous. Your voice has grown by leaps and bounds.

  • crystallyn Jul 27, 2007 @ 11:31

    Sorry for the double linky. Sigh more coffee needed.

    I really cannot wait to read this book! Gorgeous little snippet.

    Summer colds are the worst. I hope you feel better soon.

  • Bri Jul 27, 2007 @ 10:47

    I loved the descriptions – very melodic and just enough that I didn’t get lost in the language at all. Hope you feel better!

  • Joy Renee Jul 27, 2007 @ 4:04

    well, I’m most definitely seduced by this.

    hope you are feeling better.

    I hope I have your grace and grit if my turn ever comes for a serious deadline. I am stunned by the essence of what comes across in your posts of the past week.

  • shawna Jul 27, 2007 @ 2:31

    Oh, wow…

  • Ann Jul 26, 2007 @ 22:46

    Beautiful descriptions, especially seeing it through her reactions. Hope you feel better soon.

  • joelysue Jul 26, 2007 @ 22:13

    Seduced by beauty. I love it!

  • cherylp Jul 26, 2007 @ 21:07

    A beautifully descriptive passage that evokes the feeling of “other” very well. I _am_ looking forward to reading this!

  • Gabriele Jul 26, 2007 @ 18:59

    Breathtakingly beautiful.

    But I’m with Genna, in the long run apple blossoms may be more real than ethereal winged creatures in more colours I see letters in (I’m synaesthetic).

  • Nicole Jul 26, 2007 @ 16:00

    I want to be seduced by beauty. I need to relax a bit, and there seems to be few better ways.

    Have some nice time off – or try to. I just spend the beginning of the week sick. Feel better soon.

  • IanT Jul 26, 2007 @ 15:02

    Love the descriptions. I’m just rereading Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and the nightlings are very Sithi. 🙂

  • Jess Jul 26, 2007 @ 14:25

    -wistful- that sounds wonderful! I could really feel Genna’s response to the place even moreso than imagining the place itself… if that makes any sense?

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