I stated yesterday that after giving my first chapter a look over, I'd release it for the world to get a sneak peak. It's a short one, and will only be about 6 pages in a book (just over 1600 words). Hopefully it serves as enough of a preview to wet the appetite for now.
This book will also be my entry for NaNoWriMo. Starting today I'm going to be trying to hit 50,000 more words on top of the ~10,000 I've already done prior to today. This will be my third year attempting NNWM, which I've only completed once before. I hope to be able to pull it off, even if I'm busy with school in the mean time.
So without further ado, I present to you, gentle reader, the first Chapter of my upcoming novel, "Stories of Galria: Servant of Darkness":
Dougal ran his hand over the smooth wooden surface of the door, feeling the texture beneath his fingers. It was cool to the touch, suggesting that the hearth inside wasn't lit on that still, summer evening. The rain had only just let up, and the ground was still wet beneath his feet. The rain-slick soil gave easily under his weight and he had to be careful not to slip. It was taking far longer to inspect the door and find a way to crack the lock than the dwarf was hoping it would.
He pressed his ear against the wood and listened as he moved his lockpicks with expert precision. Any sudden movement and Dougal would snap them in half. Even though he was in a hurry, the dwarf needed to remain cool, calm, and collected. Only a novice would fail to get the door open, and he had fifty years of thieving under his belt, (which made him young by dwarven standards).
Dougal was young enough that he would still be considered handsome back in his homeland, the Republic of Olaraa. He could've had the pick of any lass in the kingdom, had the desires of the body been capable of pleasing him.
Dougal wanted something more. Much more.
There was a sudden click as the lock was disengaged, and he smiled beneath his thick beard. Dougal quickly packed up his tools in their gilded leather pouch and tucked that into his rucksack. There were no traps so far, which was a good sign for him. Dougal never liked dealing with the blasted things. While he was sure some thieves were flattered that their quarry would put in some effort to keep them out, he simply found it insulting that anybody thought a mere trap could keep him out.
Dougal kissed his fore and middle fingers and lightly touched the golden cross that hung from an equally golden chain around his neck. The dwarf uttered a short prayer, asking for Laren's guidance for this job, and hoped that as his patron deity, he would ensure his success. After all, the things that Dougal stole were for Him. The world belonged to Laren and His followers.
With one hand pressed against the door itself and the other slowly turning the handle, Dougal began to push the door open. It didn't creak, and he was grateful for that. He didn't expect anyone to be awake at such a late hour, but queer things tended to happen when the slightest noise sounded in the night.
All he needed was a small slit, a crack of space between the frame and the door itself so he could peer inside. There were vague shapes inside, but none of them moved, and they were posed awkwardly. He watched the shapes for a couple seconds to see if they would give in, but ended up concluding that they were simply statues or vases or plants of some kind. Dougal began to open the door wider, trying to get a look at the entry way into the manor, and as he gained a better field of view, he realized that everything was empty.
As the moonlight crept out from behind some rolling clouds, the room lit up as the light was caught by every shiny surface that it touched. Ornamental armor, swords, and jewels glittered, making the dwarf salivate. Almost everything in the room would be worth a fortune to the right buyer.
It was unfortunate that none of it would be able to be sold in Altair. As Dougal moved closer to inspect the objects that had caught his eye, he realized several of them had their artisan's symbols engraved somewhere on the item. No broker would buy anything of the sort in Altair, and there was no way the dwarf was going to carry everything to another city outside of the kingdom's reach, just to sell it. If he was going to do that, he needed to get a few high priced items, rather than a lot of junk.
Even if it was startlingly shiny and valuable junk.
Dougal tightened the belt he'd cinched tight around his black garments, and crept through the entry way towards the hallway at the other end. Nothing as valuable as what he was after would be in plain sight. It would be hidden, and hidden well. Only inside knowledge or a strength sense of where nobles kept their treasures would help him find what he sought.
As Dougal stepped near the door to enter the hall, something shimmered to his left. It was almost like the air were made of water, and it rippled as if a pebble cut its still surface. Before Dougal could even move to take a closer look at what he'd seen out of the corner of his eyes, he heard the sound of a sword being unsheathed. The cool metal of a blade was pressed against his neck.
The dwarf stopped suddenly, as if he were petrified. He kept his hands at his sides, near where his daggers were sheathed, but he didn't make a move to grab them. Any sudden movement could get him killed.
"Fancy sword you've got there," Dougal remarked. "Fine steel. Looks like you knicked the blade. Was that from decapitating my predecessors?"
"I'm not sure what you're doing here," the man said, his voice lyrical and high, like an elf's should be, "But I'm sure you'll explain that to me, hmm?" He adjusted the blade of his scimitar until the flat was against Dougal's chin, lifting his head.
"I heard your master was fond of the little people so I came to entertain him," Dougal shot him a grin as best his could, his yellowed teeth showing through his parted lips. "I hear he's a fan of satire."
"You aren't in a position to be making jokes," the elf hissed sternly.
"No, I suppose I'm not," Dougal said, almost disappointed. "Would your master prefer if I made jokes while I was on my knees, begging for mercy?"
The elf pressed the blade more firmly against his neck, and now Dougal could feel the slow trickle of blood rolling down his neck. "I would hate to soil my master's rugs with the blood of such low-class filth, but I suppose it's better than the alternative I'll face if I were to allow you to rummage through his manor."
"That's a pity, really. He has such feminine tastes. It could use a man's touch here and there to keep people from wondering about him."
The elf snarled as the scimitar began to slid across Dougal's neck, but then suddenly, it stopped.
The blade shook in his hand, and clattered from his grasp. Dougal caught it before it could hit the floor and make a ruckus. When the dwarf looked up over his shoulders, he saw a gnoll standing over the elf, holding the unconcious being up with one hand. The gnoll held a blackjack firmly in his grasp, and he tucked it back into a hoop on his belt.
"Why do you do those sorts of things?" the gnoll asked as he set the elf down. Dougal only came up to the gnoll's waist, and he had to crane his neck upwards to look him in the eyes. The gnoll had a shaggy mane of hair that stretched from the top of his head down his back. His face was concealed by a heavy green cowl drawn low over his face. A bow and quiver was slung over his shoulders, and at his hips, a short sword. He wore only a tunic and a pair of old leggings that had been cut at the knees to be more comfortable. The gnoll wore no footwear, and his claws clicked on the wooden floor when he moved.
"I just needed him to take his mind of everything but me so you could get behind him," Dougal replied as he set his bag down to fish out a length of rope. "Besides, it's enjoyable to watch a dog get upset when you insult its master."
"Some days I wonder why I stick around. That mouth of yours is likely to get us both in a lot of trouble one day," the gnoll said with a shake of his shaggy head.
Dougal began to restrain the guard's hands and feet using the rope. He laid the elf on his stomach and hogtied his arms and legs. He snickered as he worked. It was not a dignified pose for the elf to be in. He contemplated trying to find an apple to jam into his mouth but figured that'd simply look silly.
"You can leave any time you want, Jinn," Dougal remarked as he stood up. His back cracked when he did. All the hunching over and sneaking had done a number on his body over the years, and sometimes he felt thirty years older than he really was. He'd thought about quitting, but there were simply too many treasures he had yet to acquire.
"I rather like it here," Jinn told him. His large, round ears flicked and swiveled around as his gaze swept the manor. His nose twitched when he sniffed the air. "There's two or three more people here. Couldn't tell you where they are though."
Dougal dusted his hands off and replaced his backpack. "I guess they haven't tightened security around the manors yet. This should make things easy."
"I didn't see a servants' house or notice anyone moving about when I was scouting the place out. Are you sure that this lord is rich enough to have anything of value?"
The dwarf nodded his head. "Don't worry, Vi hasn't led us wrong yet. If she says the book is here, it's here."
"And if she's lying to us?"
Dougal shrugged. "Just means she isn't getting a cut of the profit." He reached up above Jinn's tail and gave him a push in the back, leading him towards the door. "Come on, let's get this job over with and settle down with a nice bottle of wine."