This is the first few paragraphs of the second book of the Moon and Sun series. My hope is that it will be mostly self-explanatory, and intriguing where it’s not immediately clear.
|NOTICE: This material is copyrighted, unedited raw first draft, probably buggy, possibly not even going to be in the final book. Do not quote or repost anywhere or in any format. Thanks.|
Chapter One—Down in the Deeps
“I do not know where we are,” I told Catri. I held out the map we’d been given, and she leaned over it, staring at the lines that were supposed to be corridors, and the numbers that were supposed to be levels.
She shrugged. “If we’re lost, what of it? You’re the girl who brought Doyati to Arrienda after a hundred years, and you helped kill that monster, and you helped free the slaves. If you ask for directions, the nightlings will probably throw a parade and carry you home on a litter.” She frowned into the dim, cavernous room that greeted us. “Though I don’t like this place,” she added.
I did not like it, either. Arrienda, the vast and layered underground city of the nightlings, had so far seemed warm and welcoming to us. Though she was being sarcastic, Catri wasn’t far from the truth when she mentioned parades and litters. The nightlings we dealt with daily showered us with every kindness.
Here, though, I saw taandu monsters talking with well-dressed nightling men; and, creatures I would have sworn were from the nightworlds watched us as we passed.
“You’re sure Yarri wanted us to meet her here?” Catri asked.
“Of course she didn’t. I’m lost. I haven’t seen a marker in ages, and…”
Something dripped on my shoulder. I jumped, and turned and looked up. Above me a tree root tangled its way through cracks in Arrienda’s beautiful stonework, and something from the root had dripped onto me. It was sticky, I discovered when I tried to brush it away. And sweet-smelling. Raw taandu sap, I realized, as I saw the cut that had been made in the root.
An ugly, squat, heavily muscled creature the colors of fungus under rocks waddled up to me and glared at me with fangs bared and eyes narrowed. “You want that, you have to pay for it,” it growled.
“The … the sap? I don’t want it.” I started backing away. But its tongue whipped out and licked the remainder of the sap from my shoulder with a sandpaper tongue.
“Don’t get in the way, then,” it said. “People who do want it pay good money to stand there. Human.”
Heads turned then, and everyone stared at us. The word “human” rippled through the well-dressed and the unsavory, through the talkers and the doers and the leaners-on-walls. Over the shoulder the sap-seller hadn’t licked, Catri whispered into my ear, “I think we need to be going.”
But the creatures of this level were moving toward us slowly. Menacingly. “Humans,” they muttered. “Humans. What are they doing here? Humans.” I did not sense a parade in the making, no matter Catri’s previous optimism. This felt more like the start of an execution.
Ok that critter just makes me cringe…
Lol, the pesky Backstory Sneak In. I have the same problem with historical facts the readers don’t know but the characters do and won’t explain to each other. 🙂
Cool beginning, great sense of place. I can’t wait to read more.
Something about the term “well-dressed nightling men” reminded me of the Feegash. If so, that is not a good omen. (Recognizing they are entirely different worlds, but bad things tend to resemble bad things in any world.)
Good way to end the clip — nice tension and uncertainty.
Nandini–You’re absolutely right about the As You Know Bob. I knew it when I was doing it, too, but was thinking “I have to bring people who didn’t read the first book up to speed.” And I picked a particularly graceless way to do it.
Well, I have never said my first drafts were smooth. 😀 The Bob won’t be in the second draft, though.
That little creature managed to make the word “human” sound like something you’d find under a rock. Cool beginning.
Not sure if a giggle is the right reaction to this bit, but the wit was definitely there! You really have the ability to carry the reader into a very foreign world instantly. I could see it all vividly before my inner eye.
I’m always amazed at the worldbuilding you do. The whole sap bit was brilliant. I can’t wait to read this in its entirety.
Those filthy, filthy humans!
‘creature the colors of fungus under rocks’
this line imparts a vivid image and i love the way it sounds as well.
Fantastic, immediately engaging and intriguing beginning. But I do have a couple of nitpicks:
1. The chapter title gives rather too much away, maybe because it isn’t particularly different-sounding from normal speech. At the very beginning, your characters are just LOST, and it’s a suprising escalation when things go so wrong just a few paragraphs later… after all, we first think they’re much-adored heroes. “Down in the Deep” warns me right off that I should expect things to go BOOM pretty soon.
2. “Youâ€™re the girl who brought Doyati to Arrienda after a hundred years, and you helped kill that monster, and you helped free the slaves.”
As you know, Bob, much? 😛 Sorry. I’m very nitpicky today. But it’s only because the rest of your snippet is so mindblowingly wesome that this even stands out.
*laughs* Good for the squat creature. And straight into unknown territory – the best place to start…
Charming creature, lol. And I bet it gets downward from there. 🙂
I’m fascinated with this world of nightlings and moonroads. Talk about starting off with a bang, too…