january 4th, 2021
I've been super busy and didn't have time to write a new short story on top of the writing I was already doing. So, instead, here's a small chunk of a super rough first draft of book one!
God hung in the sky, moonlight forming a halo around Its wings. Urto gazed up at the Moth through the round window at the back of the chapel. How the sands raged when God flapped those mighty wings. He was lucky—all of Eunsop was—to live within the bounds of a teardrop.
Candlelight flickered and danced against the walls of the chapel, sending impish little shadows crawling across the modest drapery and aging wooden benches. In the sky, the moon dipped just behind God’s head; midnight. Urto began to blow out the candles, saving only one to accompany him into the catacombs below.
Hooded members of the Order lined both walls of the cramped stone hall, vials of teeth hanging from their belts. Urto absently fingered his own vial. It would need replenishing soon. Perhaps the tributes could help him with that.
“Urto!” Rhaz came barreling around the corner, his hood down and revealing long brown hair streaming behind him. “One of the tributes escaped,” he said between heavy breaths. “The urchin girl from town.”
Urto looked over his disheveled second. Rhaz was never the most devout, but he was trustworthy.
“We will have to do without,” Urto said plainly. “The ritual will continue as scheduled. The girl can’t get far. We will find her in the morning.”
“And if she runs? Really runs?”
“Then the desert will take her.”
The ritual did indeed go as planned. Aside from one missing tribute, whose lost resources Urto took from his own stores. Even so, his vials were replenished and his blood ran strong once again.
“Burn the bodies,” Urto instructed a guard whose name he had not yet learned. He’d have to rectify that soon—any weakness could lead to a breach in security, like the girl who had escaped—but his mind was elsewhere.
“Tell me, Rhaz,” he said as soon as the two were alone together. “How did the urchin girl escape?”
“She’s a Bleeder,” Rhaz said.
“We didn’t search her well enough, then,” Urto said. “Surely somebody would have found her stash.”
“She, er…” Rhaz shifted his weight between his legs, not quite settling on either, and turned around to look at the seat where the girl had been constrained. “She used her own.”
“Of course she did, that’s—”
“No,” Rhaz said. “Her own.”
Urto felt cold. She had only been a teenager, yet was willing—and, for that matter, able—to spill her own blood to escape. To break her own bones.
“Find her,” Urto demanded. “Find her tonight. Find her parents. Hell, find their parents. I will not suffer a Bleeder outside of this Order.”
Rhaz nodded. “I will send someone immediately.” The boy was probably happy to get away from the scene. When had the last wild Bleeder been seen anywhere near Eunsop? The bloodlines were supposed to be controlled. Urto once again let his hand wander to the vial of teeth at his side, a plan forming in his mind.