Lately, I’ve been working on the massive storyline to my trilogy of novels that I expect to write when I graduate. So this isn’t a typical blog from me. This is what I call a “writing” blog as opposed to my usual mess of anthropology, religion, sociology, folklore, psychology that I traditionally have written about.
The last few weeks as I work through my summer courses, my overall plot has been working itself out in my head. The hardest thing about writing is where to start, and a few days ago, I found my starting place. What you will find below are the first three pages of the Prologue to The Myth of Nature, entitled “Playing the Game”. It’s by no means finished! But, it’s a starting spot, and I feel like it is a much better place than the one I started at last year. Hell, even my writing style has changed somewhat in a year’s time since I last started working on my first novel during the summer. For the few of you who saw the prototype, this is nothing like it. I chose a different direction to start my story. For those of you who are unfamiliar with my novel concept, I work primarily in the Fantasy genre for creative writing. If you aren’t much of a fantasy fan, feel free to skip.
Playing the Game, Prologue to Book I: The Myth of Nature
The man and woman sat in the middle of the large, well appointed room. He leaned forward, staring at the playing board while she, in her way, lounged carelessly in her tall backed chair. From time to time she glanced around the room at the stuffed heads of strange animals, the few paintings on the walls of watercolor flowers, and the floor to ceiling book shelves. It was a very nice room, even if it were a bit cold, and the roaring fireplace was doing all it could to hold back the chill from where they sat several feet away. Her eyes kept going back to a particularly ugly stuffed head: purple skin and one large bulbous eye in the midst of the creature’s head, and row after row of jagged teeth set into a mouth with a permanent grin. This head, set above the fireplace, was directly above the place where her game partner sat and it was hard not to make comparisons between the two, though he was decidedly more handsome.
They had not spoken in a few minutes; He had a way of being silent when playing the game, perhaps fearing that if he said too much she might divine his game plan and beat him for once. The object of the game wasn’t to win though, since she never did, it was merely a tradition that they held every few weeks to get together and talk. The game was a method of passing the time. Finally, she stopped looking about her and focused her attention on the game board in front of her, moving a piece forward a few steps and sitting back triumphantly.
“That isn’t going to win the game for you,” he said in his airy baritone. He didn’t even look up, but instead moved a piece of his own forward to meet hers.
“I thought the object wasn’t to win,” she replied, tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulder and leveling him with a gaze. He still had not looked up. He bent over the board, carefully examining the pieces and open spots, pretending to be absorbed. She had seen it before. He was merely stalling for time. He had something on his mind, but wasn’t yet sure how to approach it. She would wait patiently.
“Sometimes, it is about winning, but this time, not so much.” He moved a tall piece up and over four spaces, and knocked her just-moved piece off the alternating squares of color. Finally he looked up at her, his dark brown eyes catching hers. “How long have we been playing this game?” he asked.
“Too long,” she said. “I never have cared much for it. It’s all so predictable.” She waved her hands dismissively, but knew he wasn’t buying it. They had been playing this game for ages, practically every visit she could recall. All important matters revolved around the game. This game was as much about lies and deceit as it was about strategy, and in her mind she was a fearless player. She settled into the ornately carved overstuffed chair in which she sat and crossed her legs, taking care to smooth the dark dress she wore over her long, shapely calves. He seemed not to notice. His expression seemed thoughtful, deep.
“What if I told you that I saw something…new,” he said. “Something we’ve never seen before.”
“A new species?” She asked. “Or is it a new place? I’ve always loved seeing new places.” She looked forward to the appearance of new things in the world, it was a sign she took to heart that all was well, a kind of reassurance. The power of the Source continued to make new creatures, new places. It was like clockwork. She simply couldn’t understand why he’d get excited over something new, when they had seen thousands of new things in their time. She moved a piece forward from the front lines, still pretending to be interested in the game, but waiting for his explanation all the same.
“Neither,” he said quickly. He caught her eyes again, briefly, before moving another of his pieces forward as well. “A mistake, more like.”
“Mistake? What kind of mistake?” She immediately forgot the pretense and leaned forward, drumming her fingertips upon the oak table. Something new was one thing, but a mistake? A mistake was a serious issue. In all her time she had never seen a mistake. For a moment, she pondered the consequences attached to a mistake, the implications it could have. This had always been his favorite past-time: looking for one flaw in the plan, one slip that could be exploited. “Are you sure?” She pressed.
For the first time today, he faced her fully. “I’m positive of it,” he said. “I saw it entirely by chance, day before yesterday. This could be what we have been waiting for. I’ll know more soon enough, the events have already been set in motion.” His ovular face with heavily hooded eyes always looked sleepy. He leaned his head on his hand and watched her reaction.
She let out a long sigh. “Events are in motion already?” she said. “I had gotten quite used to this place.” Again, she looked around the room, but this time more fondly. She was suddenly aware of the fleetingness of time. All thoughts of the game and this new thing were swept from her mind at the mention of events beginning again. She would have to take back up her mantle and get back to work.
His wry smile lifted one corner of his mouth, almost in a sneer. “You’ve become complacent,” he said. “I thought this is what you lived for?”
“Maybe once,” she relented. “It’s become repetitive with years. It’s the same story, over and over without variation.”
“That, I think, is about to change.” He deftly moved his crown piece onto the game board knocking two of her lower pieces off.
“How can it change?” she demanded. “You know the rules as well as I. Things follow a set path, always.”
“No, my dear, not always. There have been other variations, as you are aware.” He pushed his chair back and stretched his legs beneath the massive table. “This time, however, I think an end may be in sight.”
“What is this new thing you have found? How can it change the rules?”
“It remains to be seen, but you of all people should know that rules can be bent, broken even, if enough pressure is applied to them. Did you think he would rule forever? Forever is a very long time for someone as careless as he has been.”
“Time is unimportant,” she added heatedly. “All we’ve ever had is time.”
“Your move,” he said to her. She raised her eyebrows in surprise, and then looked at the game board. After all the years of playing this game with him, she had learned a few tricks. The most important trick, she knew, was to wait for him to make a mistake. He rarely, if ever, made mistakes playing the game. She surveyed the board and examined her options. Her finger landed lightly on her own crown piece, but just as deftly flitted to a more minor piece that was expendable. Seeing an opportunity, she moved three spaces forward and one to the left, knocking his Priest off the map.
“Check,” she said with a smile. He frowned in concentration at her, and then at the fallen Priest.
“Nicely done, where did you learn that trick?” he inquired of her. She made no response, but continued to smile at her own cleverness. “Foolish, really.” He said, and moved his crown piece forward to dismount her Knight.
“Ah ah” she said, and tapped the board with her crimson fingernail. He looked where she tapped and saw that he couldn’t move his piece, another of hers was blocking him. He moved his Crown back to its original position and smiled at her.
“So distracted,” she said with a hint of amusement. “Has this new thing really got your wits in a knot? It’s like you’ve found another play-thing and can’t be without it.” He really was distracted if he hadn’t seen that simple ambush she put in for him on the board. She knew that the only thing to do in this instance was to exploit his lack of attention. He deserved it after all these years and all these games. You didn’t play for as long as they did and not learn something about how it was done.