I’ve been working really hard on getting book 1 of the series straightened out. I went a little ham on writing and just went everywhere my heart felt like taking the characters. However, I whittled down the first part to a reasonable size and it has a plot.
I gave it to a beta reader and will find out soon if it’s at least engaging.
Started working on book 2, but it wasn’t working and I realized just yesterday that my focus character was wrong. So now I’ve gotta change it all again. Oh well.
Soulless Prince Scene 1
Wax dripped on his fingers as he hurried to seal his letter. Hissing in pain, Dunn shook his hand as he rushed from the tent he shared with the other priests. A cloud of miasma swirled out of his way like hanging dust, wafting and shifting in the air as he jogged through the crowded battlefield camp. Barely seeing it in time, Dunn hopped over a pile of human excrement. By Jorhnak’s Wrath! Dunn cursed under his breath. People were absolutely disgusting sometimes. At least dump it at the edge of camp instead of in the road!
At least today, the miasma wasn’t nearly as thick near the ground. He caught sight of the courier as the man started jogging to head back to Lockton.
Panicked, Dunn pushed to a dead run to catch up. If he didn’t get his letter out now, Jerome wouldn’t be back for a whole month.
“Jero, wait!” Dunn called.
Jerome turned and grinned, expression visible in the light of the lantern he had hanging from a pole off his backpack. “I knew I could hurry you up if I pretended to leave.”
“You shit,” Dunn accused breathlessly as he slid to a stop in the powder-fine dust that coated the packed ground. He shoved his letter toward the man with a scowl.
The torches at the edge of the camp did little to illuminate the area. A swirl of miasma curled around them, briefly blocking the view of the tents. Only the echoes of men moving about in the darkness kept Dunn grounded. He didn’t know how Jerome could stand running back and forth between Grafton and Lockton by himself. The demon hordes had gotten worse over the last few months. They’d been fighting more ghouls than ever before. Ghouls were born from dead children, which meant either there had been a huge pack of them roaming around the wastes for a while, or a calamity had overcome some faraway, unknown city.
“You’re looking better this month. I thought for sure you were gonna keel over last time I was here.”
Dunn shook his head. “I don’t know what they’ve got against me. If it weren’t for Mathew and the knights, I’d have starved to death.”
Jerome laughed, “Fast Hands helped you?”
Dunn grinned. The miasma swirled around them, and he glanced to the side, having seen what he thought was movement. He watched a second and determined it was nothing but miasma curling between the husks of ancient buildings. The hollow windows stared back, their uniform shape and even spacing a forlorn reminder that the world had fallen to ruin. Grafton had once been an ancient city. Only a handful of buildings remained. It was now occupied by tents and soldiers. Most of the demon hordes came from the western wastes. Grafton had been set up as a line of defense against them. There were a couple thousand soldiers here, hundreds more people who were just there to help take care of the camp. The population was larger than any of the allied cities of Krematon, Lockton, or Harthton.
The mass of nearly a thousand humans acted as bait for the demons, drawing them to this spot where they could be annihilated, thus protecting the other cities. For some reason, demons were drawn to people. No one knew why, though Dunn had his theories.
“How much longer you got?” Jerome asked as he opened his satchel. He shoved Dunn’s letter in with the rest of the packed missives. His question brought Dunn back to the present.
Looking toward the black sky as he counted how many letters he’d received from Willow. “Four more months.” Dunn had served seven of his eleven-month sentence. He had been sent to the tent city of Grafton as punishment after he’d pointed out High Priest Tanner’s flaws as a human. She had been looking for an excuse to punish him and he’d finally given her one. His brilliance as a Healer hadn’t been enough to save him this time. She hated him with a passion for reasons he didn’t understand. Jade always said it was because Dunn was prettier than her.
Jerome hmmed. “You excited?” Buckling his bag closed again, he shoved long greasy strands of hair out of his face once more.
“I would certainly rather be anywhere but here.” Dunn adjusted the tail of his own dark hair, realizing it had gotten loose when he’d broken into a run. “But I do need to apologize to Willow in person.” He sighed. “That’s going to be a task, for sure.” He would’ve offered Jerome the opportunity for a hot bath before he left, but he knew the man would refuse. He couldn’t help but smile at the idea of apologizing to Willow, though. They’d been in the temple together since they were children. They’d been lovers half their lives. He wasn’t always the best at making her feel appreciated, but he did love her with every fiber of his being, and he would find a way to make it up to her.
“Why?” Jerome asked.
“You’ve seen her,” Dunn pointed out. “I bet she’s been pissed every time you give her mail.”
Jerome laughed. “That she has! Though I’m not sure if she’s pissed about receiving your letters or if it’s the baby.”
“Baby?” Dunn asked. Confused, he stared at Jerome.
Jerome stared at him in return for a long moment. “She’s about ready to burst, looks like. I don’t know how you two are going to hide a baby at the clinic, though.”
“What?” Dunn asked.
“What? What do you mean what?” Jerome asked, grabbing Dunn’s shoulder as he stepped closer in concern. “Did you… not know?”
“Demons!” someone in the camp shouted.