Last night I made a late trip to the bathroom. While I’m in the bathroom, I see a scorpion coming toward me. Because it was late, I was barefoot. I have no weapons nearby except my cell phone. So I try to cautiously move away from the scorpion. I don’t have a lot of space to work with.
Normally bugs avoid you. The scorpion raises its pinchers and charges my foot.
I hop in the shower stall, shut the door, and call Gordon on my cell.
Gordon: Um, honey?
Me: There is a scorpion in the bathroom and I’m barefoot!
So, Sir Gordon appeared with a fly swatter, murdered the aggressive scorpion, and rescued me from the tower, I mean the shower stall.
What the hell, Texas? Is it because we didn’t have any scorpions inside the house this season?
Today we need to write like the wind and then we are probably going to go to Michaels, since I want a fall wreath and being disappointed by online offerings and shipping times, I will likely just make one.
The book is now 94,000 long. And not done yet. Not even close to done. Our agent wants the front of it trimmed significantly, so I’m waiting for those editorial notes. Apparently, it gets grippy but not right away and we need it to be “grab you by the throat” right away.
Honestly, I don’t know what will be happening to Maggie. The original plan was to selfpub, but we might shop it to publishers first. I’m not expecting fireworks there, since it’s an odd book, but we will see.
Meanwhile, I bring you a non-spoilery snippet.
We kept walking, making our way up a narrow winding street. This wasn’t the best part of town. Here and there, the walls were pitted, missing chunks where the mortar had crumbled, causing the stones to fall out. Some were badly patched with whatever was handy. The sturdy doors bore scars. People walked briskly, mostly dock workers, laborers, and a few characters that looked like they might brain you with something heavy for a chance to rifle through your pockets. They glanced at Reynald and kept to themselves.
We had made a wrong turn somewhere. The way to the docks didn’t seem nearly as rundown. We were still moving in the right direction, but the sooner we cleared this neighborhood, the better.
The unbroken line of three-story buildings on our left ended abruptly, and we came to an empty lot. There must have been a house there at some point, but now it was gone, and only the hole remained, like a spot where a missing tooth used to be.
Random refuse had accumulated in the corners of the lot. On the left, soot stained the ground – someone had made a fire. A draft swirling in the gaps between the houses brought the stench of excrement and urine.
In the middle of the lot, a massive statue rose. A huge beast, carved out of wood and sealed with resin, gripped a slab of stone with four enormous, clawed paws. Its body bulged with muscle, powerful and compact, promising sudden explosive power. Scales, as large as my hand, sheathed it, growing into a mane of blades on its thick neck, and their edges were razor-sharp. Its tail split into three long, flexible whips, studded with spur-like protrusions. Two colossal wings thrust out from its shoulders, covered in scales that resembled feathers, and tipped with bone spikes, like the teeth of a bear trap.
The creature’s head, lowered slightly toward us, was a meld of lion and dragon, with square, terrible jaws and a mouth bristling with fangs. Its eyes seemed to stare straight at me, alive with malevolent intelligence and rage.
Someone had thrown paint at it and smeared it with garbage. There were cuts and gouges on its legs. They had tried to destroy it, but all their efforts resulted only in scratches. The great beast stood undaunted.
“A dursan,” Reynald said next to me.
I realized I had stopped.
“This can’t possibly be to scale, can it?”
“I’ve seen bigger.”
Bigger? This thing was dragon size, and it looked like it existed to kill and rip apart.
“How could it possibly fly?”
“Magic,” Reynald said. “Its power isn’t limited to humans. Beasts use it as well. The dursan infest mountain ridges all across the continent. Do you know the story of Ralinbor’s Rebellion?”
“King Sauven’s cousin turned on him and marched onto Kair Toren with his army. He was killed, his rebellion was put down, his wife was brought to the capital in chains, tried, and executed, and his only son is rumored to have died in the fire set by the king’s knights.”
“Ralinbor had an affinity for the dursan. He tamed them, and he called on them in battle.”
The idea was horrifying. “How did he lose with those things on his side?”
“They have magic and they’re powerful, but they are still creatures of bone and blood. They can be killed. The Fatefire can cut one. So can the Rageglow.” Reynald shrugged. “Ralinbor of the Wilds didn’t lose his war on the battlefield. He lost it weeks before, when he failed to adequately equip his troops, neglected to put together a functioning supply chain, and chose the wrong place and time to engage his enemy. He counted too much on the dursan, but they are just animals. No matter how powerful a magical beast is, it’s no substitute for proper planning and strategy.”
We looked at the statue some more.
“Why is it here?”
“This statue was commissioned by Bors’ father, Sagred,” Reynald said. “He’d managed to kill one during the conflict, and he was very proud of it. He presented this monstrosity to Sauven on the first anniversary of the battle. ‘Behold the might enemy we vanquished.’”
“But Sauven didn’t want a reminder of his dead cousin, whom he used to consider his closest friend and brother,” I guessed.
“So Sagred Bors found out,” Reynald said. “Sauven didn’t deem it prudent to offend the Bors Family by setting it on fire, but he never wanted to lay eyes on it again. It was carted off and must’ve ended up here. I’ve never seen it before. I only heard the story. This was before my time.”
The dursan glared at us, scarred, covered in paint, reeking of garbage, and yet defiant. I had the strangest feeling. A kind of vague anxiety, as if I were looking at a sign of things to come.
“Let’s go home,” I said, and it sounded almost like a request.
“That would be best,” Reynald said.