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30 Minutes of Writing:


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So, it is the month, again, where a lot of aspiring writers are working frantically on a piece for NaNoWriMo, and often struggling for time, so I decided to try out my hand at it for a little bit, around half-an-hour, and this is what I came up with. I'm extremely tired, and this was unfortunately quite rushed, but I'm quite happy with it, and I'd love to try continuing it for a novel I'm planning that stems from this. So, despite this perhaps being shoddy work, I'd love to know what you guys think of it as an opening to a novel and introduction to the protagonist, what you'd change, where I can improve, and just general critique. :') Thank you, and I hope you enjoy:



Varyn could tell there was blood, a lot of blood. That was all that he remembered. Swimming in blood, lying on bloody sheets, being bathed in it. That does strange things to a child. It opens doors within the mind, doors which should never be opened, and which, often, never close again.

So Varyn broke the hinges that held them closed…

He lay on the gravel beneath the smoking carriage, head crushed to the ground and hammering. Splinters of wood danced across his flesh for an age until the guards arrived. They almost missed him, eyes caught instead on the dying smoke and the other bodies sprawled on the path. A plank of wood pierced Varyn’s side, pinning him to the boggy ground, so he saw them through silent tears of pain.

Sir Makin rode up first to the bodies. A clump of them in blue plate were piled in the middle of the road, and beside them, Varyn’s mother and little Kelgy. They were the easiest to see, in their splattered robes of silk.

“Dear Ysera! This is the Queen’s carriage!” Her made-up face was plunged into the mud, but even from behind she was all-too recognisable.

Makin and his men dismounted quickly and rolled her over, with the respect that Varyn found was due. That respect did not stop them dropping her back to the ground when they saw her face. Welts and cuts pulsed red across the contours. The neighbouring king’s men had not left her pretty.

“God damnation. Gently!”

Hidden still, Varyn closed his eyes against the horror, letting the darkness behind the eyelids comfort him. A trickle of blood wound its way across them from a cut high on his cheek.

It was then that he knew they had found his brother, for there was a silence that spread across the men. He heard but the blissful hammering in his temple.

“Ysera damnation them all…” That was Makin’s voice, soft now. It would no doubt sadden the Guard Captain to find his queen and her youngest son slaughtered so close to home. The crossing from Kheris lands to the empire’s capital, Ashyn, was but a few leagues ahead.

There was a long stretch of time before the silence was broken. Varyn flicked his eyes back open, though his head pounded, to convince himself that they hadn’t disappeared.

“Hell…” a guard said, whom Varyn recognised as one of the lesser squadleaders.

Artech, perhaps?

“Hell…” He looked to have been checking the pile of guards for signs of life, but Varyn had already checked: there was none; the king’s band had done their job efficiently. Too efficiently, but brutally, almost like bandits. “All dead, sir. Jensen, Hammond, Krath—all dead.”

That was enough to break the captain from his silence. Makin, a former bandit, was used to such unwarranted slaughter. “The queen and prince Kelligan, put them on the spare horse, quick. Carefully! It’s bad enough as it is—“ He stopped dead. “Where’s Varyn? Where’s the crown prince?”

About time, Makin.

Varyn tried to call out, but he merely wheezed as he strained against the stake running into his side. It’d stopped hurting, fading from pain to a dull ache. That worried him.

“Makin, sir, I don’t think he’s here…”

“No,” Makin said, perhaps harder than he intended, “he has to be here. He has to be here somewhere.”

“He’s the crown prince of Kheris. They could’ve taken him hostage. Ysera knows I would have.”

From beneath the flattened wreckage of the carriage, Varyn saw Makin frown. “No, they’d have taken these two as well, alive or not; the queen would’ve been a pretty target for bandits.”

“So, This post has been reported for attempting to skirt the rules… He’s dead then.”

A passion burned within Varyn as he heard that. I’m not dead! Ysera, they think I’m dead.

He started to squirm, fighting the plank that speared him. He felt the raggedness in his breath as he struggled to crawl from under the carriage. The wood dug in as he pulled his body up out of the mud, sending another wave of pain across it.

And this time, he cried out. Screamed, even, voice a hoarse crack. The pain returned then, like a thousand hooks digging into his flesh. Fires burned all across his skin, where tiny, hot slithers of wood had embedded themselves. They had long since stopped smoking, as the morning had passed on since the ambush, but there was still a subtle warmth to them.

His groan drew attention. Makin rushed over to ruins of the carriage hastily, and several others of the guards who were in hearing distance followed suit.

“There’s someone alive!” Makin called, as he found Varyn. “Help me pull aside the wood. Now, quickly!”

Varyn breathed a sigh of relief as piles of scorched wood were swept aside around him. They crunched, cracking and splitting as they were flung onto the road, until, suddenly, most that remained of the cart was gone.

“It’s the prince, This post has been reported for attempting to skirt the rules!”

For a second, squadleader Artech looked unstable, almost teetering where he stood behind his captain. “Still alive in that?”

Voices rose up all around. “He’s deadly white. You sure he’s not dead?”

Only Varyn’s sudden spluttering cough, as Makin’s finger traced his arm for a pulse, silenced the whispers.

“Prince Varyn,” Makin said. “You look like hell.”

Despite himself, Varyn smiled. Pain flared in his side, but he fought it down for a few seconds. Skin—dried from the fan of the dead flames—tore and cracked, peeling away from his white canvas. “I would look at yourself, first, captain. An old man would do well to remember that.”

In that moment, it almost seemed like Makin would grin with relief. He normally did when Varyn escaped punishment in more controlled environments, but too much had happened on the road that morning, and now, with an afternoon of drying blood, only a grimace rose to his face. He knelt. “What happened here, Varyn?”

Varyn was suddenly aware of himself. Cold memories rose unbidden to the surface. He thought of the ambushers, King Sesrin’s men, in their suits of red plate, coming out of the eternal morning mist like wraiths. He could have sworn that they had seen him, but when he hid beneath the carriage as it burned, there was, pointedly, no mention.

Truly, he remembered lying in silence as his mother had been killed, then later, his brother, making no move to help. He’d sat and watched as the ambushers deliberated.

The wind had howled in his ears, chilling him, but not once disturbing the mist where Poor Kelgy knelt in the mud, surrounded. Even at ten, he was tall, taller, even, than Varyn himself, and Varyn prayed as salty tears formed, that he would stand up and fight.

But he didn’t.

He merely knelt there, quivering, angelic face confused and without hope, looking past the ambushers to where Varyn watched. There was betrayal on his face, but Varyn simply continued to stare. Salt burned on his cheeks.

“This is one we get t’ kill,” one of the brutes shouted, a grin spreading out. His sword banged against his shield, causing it to ring even in Varyn’s ears. It was the shield, not the sword, which drew Varyn’s attention, though. Red, with the golden rose on it, it was the Sesrin shield.

Oh, Celise, Varyn thought suddenly. Her face flashed before him. Sweet, sweet, Celise Sesrin.

She disappeared quickly, and Varyn was greeted again with the scene.

“We got ourselves a prince, lads,” the same brute observed. The grotesque grin widened in Varyn’s vision as the sword was thrust into little Kelgy’s back.


A sudden pain snapped Varyn back to reality. Makin’s voice was soft, but it jolted him nonetheless. As much as he could manage to move, he shook his head, finally deciding not to answer; it hurt too much.

“Take me to the Castle, captain,” he opted for, instead. The red crest burned in his mind, alongside mother and brother. To their image, he swore revenge on King Sesrin, whether he loved his daughter or not. “Take me home. I need to have this pulled out.”


Also, feel free to try out writing a scene in 30 minutes, and post it below, because I'd love to read it. That being said, do likewise with any piece.

Edited by Emperor
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