Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Count Who Never Was - A NaNoWriMo Thing

While I was racing to write the first 50,000 words of the sequel to The Calling, I stopped and realised that this piece of story was too long. It's where Extreme Count Sessalian tells a story about his origins. I cut it out and rewrote it. That's an art that I haven't been very good at, but the result fit in much better.

Still, here's the original, because I still like it! Hope you do too. Sessalian is becoming one of my favourite new characters. And as for old Tylingale... have you ever met him in real life? I think I have.

Then Sessalian grinned. "I have just the thing. Little anecdote from way back, just after I'd fled my home city of Ea-Karitk. The revolution, you see. At least they called it a revolution, but to be true to fact, it was a conspiracy to tear down all law and order and seize control of what remained after the chaos. Still don't know exactly who was behind it. Half of my extended family was killed or imprisoned, and most of the rest must have fled, like me. But news reports accused some cousins of being involved in the conspiracy. I didn't believe it for a moment.
"My Procurer-Chief, a wise old syen we called Urix, escaped with me and had the Civilia Council's yacht warming up nicely on the apron. We boarded it just as the mob of rioters reached the dock.
"Ahh! I can still see the fires burning out of control across the garden-domes of Rejanus district when we lifted straight through the air-curtain and into the cold vacuum. We drifted like a falling leaf away from the city which was my home. Beyond was the grey-green planet which Ea-Karitk was orbiting at the time. I wept. It is a beautiful place, still, my city: Eight great domed forest-towns spinning majestically around a hub." He stopped and peered at his boots. "Funny thing, though. When we sold the yacht at Venyule a year later, the selling price amounted to exactly the back pay I was owed from the Rejanus Civilia office. Plus interest. I split it two ways with Urix.
"But the actual anecdote comes from just after that. I was feeling a bit low about everything as I skulked around the social scene on Venyule. Then I happened to bump into another exile, the cousin of my father's aunt, an old coot named Mendizza Tylingale. White hair like lightning bolts, staring eyes reddened by drink and lack of sleep, clothes disorderly, and speech like a bad actor who speaks loudly to make up for lack of talent. But we knew each other well enough for him to invite me to a dinner party in a rented ballroom. 'Many old friends,' he told me. I was delighted.
"Truth was, Tylingale was missing a wheel. Like a fusion drive starved of hydrogen. A bit simple. But a big heart. Somehow he'd got sucked into this thing without realising what it was all about.
"We joined the party, grabbed drinks and circulated for a while. I tried to ignore a few aggressive stares. One man asked Tylingale right out why he'd brought me along, as if I was from the enemy camp. Tylingale just gave the man a puzzled stared until he turned away.
"Then a big man began a speech from the front. At first I agreed. It was all about taking back what was ours, reclaiming Ea-Karitk for its true citizens, and so on. I thought it odd that he didn't moan and wail about the recent rioting and destruction. Then he made some scathing remarks about the recently-removed rulers and how we would do so much better without them. This was too much for me. I raised my voice - and I have quite a loud voice when I have a mind - to ask how the blazes he proposed to govern without the system of Counts and Countesses.
"Sudden sound of three hundred people sucking in their breath and holding it. Every eye drilled into me. Somebody muttered, 'Oh no, not him! Who invited Sess?'
"It suddenly occurred to me that I should take an unplanned vacation far, far away, beginning that instant. I had stumbled into a gathering of the conspirators who had destroyed my home and my family. But as I stared back at the crowd I recognised some faces. My cousin. My nephew. An official from the Rejanus Civilia office.
"Not being able to contain my outrage, I denounced each and every one of them in great depth and vivid detail, listing their crimes. Their faces were a portrait in shock, horror, then rage. I had just reached the peak of my ravings when dear old Mendizza Tylingale clapped his big, sweaty hand over my mouth and apologised most humbly - and most loudly - for me. 'This dear, dear man has had too much to drink. And surely that's no crime?' he trumpeted. On he rambled, making only a fractured kind of sense, until most were looking at him, and I backed away. Thankfully most of the people had still a great deal of the old Ea-Karitk in them and didn't touch me as I shuffled to the door. The man at the front was trying to interrupt old Tylingale, but to no avail. When I finally crept from the door, Tylingale reached the climax of his meandering but passionate monologue, and the whole ballroom erupted in applause.
"That was the day I vowed that I would devote my life to some noble cause, if it might possibly lead to justice for the crooks who stole our city away from us. It's been a few years of wandering, but here I am."
Ahh... I have a confession to make. I just checked the word count on this and the one I'm using so far - the second version is twice as long as the first! What can I do?

Now I remember. The other reason for rewriting it was that the action in this first draft - a whole culture getting violently overthrown - resembles other parts of the story too much and I wanted to make it different. Variety is the spice of life.

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