Now and then I hit a snag in the story that I just can’t get around, and it takes three or four or five or twenty different stabs at it to find the right approach. One of these snags came up recent-ish-ly; I knew that our heroes would have to rescue Evion’s father out of a dreamworld, but I didn’t know exactly how it was going to work. What follows is one of the unsuccessful attempts.
Evion led the way up the aft ladder, summoning a light in the cup of his hand; the darkness that had filled his father’s cabin swarmed thickly here as well, so that each upward step seemed to loom out of the void in succession, created for his purpose the moment he needed it. Well, and who’s to say it wasn’t? Valdrin’s writings were not entirely clear; only once or twice had he attempted entering another’s mind in this literal fashion, and never a mind under siege, as Evion’s father’s was.
In similar manner, the Pirate Ship Name‘s it took me forever to come up with a name for the ship; clearly, in this draft, I still hadn’t managed it deck appeared as his head cleared the hatchway, dark and utterly still, not a hint of life or movement. She might have been nothing but a deck, attached to nothing at all, floating on some motionless black ocean, beneath an equally black sky. Even the smells of the ship were absent, the salt of sea water, the wood and hemp and sailcloth, sailors’ sweat, the faint inescapable stench of the bilge, all missing. There was no proper word for it, but it was as though his nose were struck blind.
Aine came behind him, hesitantly. “How,” she asked, in a low voice, “are we supposed to find your father in this?”
Evion turned and cast her an amused look. “Warriors,” he said. “Give them a horde of screaming foes and they’re perfectly happy, but stick them in an eerie black void and suddenly they’re nothing but complaints.”
She stepped up to stand beside him, her hand curled round the hilt of her sword. “It reminds me of one of my dreams,” she said shortly. Her eyes darted here and there, her body turning to follow, as though she could pierce the darkness with will alone, when even the light he held cast a circle that barely encompassed the two of them.
Evion looked down at his shoes, grey and faded and murky as though underwater. “Not … one of the nice ones, I take it?”
“There are no nice ones.”
Her jaw was clenched, her gaze fixed in the middle distance. He stepped nearer and linked his arm with hers, and she jerked with surprise.
“Come on,” he said, and nodded to larboard. “We just have to keep looking.”
Her expression softened, though it was still not as who should say soft; she released her sword long enough to pat his hand, then gripped the hilt again. She caught him watching her, and managed a wry half-smile. “I don’t know what good it will do against dreams,” she said, “but I like to be prepared.”
“Quite reasonable,” he allowed. “Come, my lady. Let us go this way.”
“Dear sir,” she responded, with a ghost of a chuckle. “Lead on.”
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