Part Two of MERLIN’S SHADOW is now finished! And this marks 80% through the novel, which means only 20% remains for Part Three and the climax of the novel.
I am currently at a word count of 78,000 out of an expected 97,000 words
Each of my novels is broken into three parts, and I normally shoot for a 33%-33%-33% mix, but this novel has turned out to be 40%-40%-20% … more because I’m keeping the word count down and shortening part three than that I have lengthened the other two from the way I wrote MERLIN’S BLADE.
Why make Part Three smaller? Because I don’t want to belabor what could be a tedious central portion, and so the shorter length will make it go by fast and be more exciting for the reader.
So here’s an excerpt from the end of Part Two:
… Merlin soon found himself in delicious darkness where swirls of light scraped the dome of the black sky. Where uncounted days and nights passed, yet, strangely, the sun never rose to snuff out the stars that spun their winking heads. Below him the drifts of snow shone with thousands of gems, each laughing at Merlin’s frozen hands and wind-bitten face.
He trudged on through the snow, neither leaving footprints behind, nor finding any ahead. Hill after hill he climbed until he came to a broad glade of trees. Upon one of the branches swayed a cloth… red and ragged. He pulled it off, smelled it, and held it to his frozen cheek, but could not remember where he had seen it before. It had an opening, smallish-like, and he put his hand in as if it were a bag… thinking only to warm himself… and found three holes at the other end. It was a tunic. A small tunic with an opening for a young head, and two sleeves, finely stitched.
Merlin had last seen it on Arthur! Why was it here? He looked at it again, hoping to find some clue as to the mystery of its presence, but the red cloth broke into a cloud of fluttering moths, each bursting into droplets of blood that fell to the snow. The drops sprouted into lithe birch saplings, pushing upward like snakes. Thicker they grew until, twisting and curling, a square table was formed with four benches …
And here’s a little more, skipping ahead:
… Merlin felt suddenly tired, and found himself resting upon his own bench, looking in wonder at the bowls and trenchers that had magically appeared. They were filled with fluffy creams, delicate cakes, honey crystal confections, and the most succulent fruits he had ever imagined.
“Take, gentle son, and eat,” they said, “for these shall surely taste sweet.”
A great desire to devour these luxuries washed over him. All his life he had been denied such things…the opulence of the rich…the extravagance of those who ruled all, owned all, and yet worked not. All day long they sat on their couches of gold being fed such things and growing fat off the hard work of others.
And Merlin’s six months of deprivation made his desires all the stronger. It was maddening to wait even a moment more, so he lifted up his hand and stole a cake, dipped it in the cream, and brought it to his lips. He sighed as its creamy sweetness and crunchy essence coated his tongue, filled his cheeks, and sunk softly down his throat …
What is going on in this passage, you ask? That must remain a mystery until the novel is published (hopefully). Until then you will just have to content yourselves on the previous morsel.