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The Word Wars experiment seems to have been a success, even after we had to abandon the pub following the arrival of a very loud stag party.  Not that we didn’t enjoy watching them drink beer in their attractive pink Easter bunny suits, but it wasn’t conducive to the blood and mayhem I was engaged in at the time.  Perils of writing in public (or at least in pubs).

My count ended up at 3,500 words.  Not the words I was expecting to write, as the plot took two completely unexpected diversions that I suspect will only add to the final word count.  But they were mighty entertaining diversions all the same.

My friend made a good start to her YA novel, writing the first 2,700 words.  She tells me I have to shout out my word count every ten minutes so she can try and keep up.  I think she did an excellent job, as she was starting from scratch and I was already mired in the middle of my story.  We’re hoping to reconvene next weekend for another go, but in the meantime, I’d like to try to keep up the momentum.

We discovered that you need a quiet pub or cafe, a bottomless pot of coffee, and a couple of handy plug sockets for a four-hour session.  It also helped us to take a 15 minute walk about halfway through to clear out some of the cobwebs and discuss what we were up to and how we were getting on.  It helps to have a writing partner who writes well in the same conditions as you; if you can only right with heavy metal blaring and she has to remove the clock from the room because the ticking is too loud, you might not get on too well together.  And if all the two of you do is chat rather than work, you might be better off working separately.  This was the first time my friend and I had written together, but it seemed to go well.  (She didn’t get on my nerves, and I hope I didn’t get on hers! 😉 )

And this is (some of) what I did on my April afternoon.  Enjoy.

 

****

“Something’s happening down there.”

“Are you sure?”  There were flickers in the shadows, but it could be the reflections of clouds scudding across the face of the sun.

She did something to me, when she carved this demon mark on my skin.  It burns, Spark.  It burns around Dweller.  It’s burning now.”

He looked down, half expecting to see the mark glowing through her shirt.  “What should I do?”

“Kayall!”

They were pouring into the street now, a mob, a black tide that roiled and fought.  A few demons running ahead of the pack, shepherding the horde.  The few people who had ventured onto the street fled for their homes.

“What do they want?”  Carousel asked as Kayall clambered up into the rafters to join them, brushing dust and crumbly pigeon droppings from the velvet patches on his shoulders.  “They’re not after Spark again, are they?”

“No,” Spark said.  The pack had a different feel.  Before they had moved with purpose, straight as arrows, besieging Brymnar’s house and refusing to be distracted from their desire to be close to him.  This was a rabble.

“Where the hells are the City Watch?” Kayall demanded.  “I know Allorise has them in her pocket, but I would have thought there were a few –”

Carousel pointed.  From the far end of the street, a squadron from the Watch approached.  Some mounted, some on foot, forming a line across the street, a living barrier, pressing forward, hoping to drive the demons back.  The demons, more interested in looting the bakers at the end of the street, paid them no attention.  There seemed a pitiful number of Watchmen, and their pikes looked like twigs in their hands.

Kayall ducked his head so Auster could look out.  “The odds don’t look good,” he remarked.

“Then don’t you think we should even them up a bit?”  Auster grinned.

“I think it’s our civic duty.  Spark, Caro, you take this window.  Auster and I will take the next one.  Let’s see if we can pick off a few of Allo Carey’s little pets before they eat the last good Watch company in the city!”

He swung down from the window, and Auster followed, passing up a bow and a bundle of arrows to Spark.  They were simple bolts of steel, but they could bring down a grown man.  Or, Spark hoped, a small demon.

The horde had ripped open the front of the shop now.  The speed they worked was terrifying.  Bread and pastries spilled across the road, and four of the creatures had hauled out a set of shelves and were using them to beat in the shutters of the tavern opposite, while from the upper window the landlady screamed at them to stop, raining curses and saucepans down on their heads with equal venom.

Carousel sighted down her bow.  “Keep coming this way, you scaly bastards,” Spark heard her mutter.  He wished he had her courage, but his hands were slipping on the bolt as he tried to load it and he felt sick.  Maybe he should use magic instead.

No magic.  Kayall’s voice spoke directly inside his head.  You might as well send up a flare to let them know where you are.

“What?  How did you –?”

Doesn’t matter.  Watch the girl, kid.

Carousel loosed a shot.  It fell short of the mark, bouncing off the cobbles and thudding into a nearby door.  She cursed, and groped for another, but the moment was enough.  It attracted the demon’s attention, and now they noticed the slow advance of the watch.

“Caro!”

“Sorry!”

By some miracle Spark had his own bow loaded, and now he knew the range they had, but it was too late to be careful.  The assault on the tavern was abandoned.  The howl rose from a hundred throats, as the demon mob charged the thin white line of the City Watch, and the Watch charged to meet them.

****

Apologies for any first-draft errors – that’s what editing is for!

 

 

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