NaNoWriMo: Posted November 1, 2014 @3:08pm
The thing about Carosspid’s Poison is that it takes its victim slowly. It devours the body as the body moves – like quicksand. The faster the body metabolizes the poison, the faster the victim dies…like Parisa. The slower the body metabolizes the poison, the slower the victim dies…like Samir.
Parisa, unfortunately, was murdered first. The six year old girl was caught in the poison’s quicksand up to her neck before Nom even knew the child was inflicted with it. The herbalist only had time to manage the small child’s pain. The Lord Protector’s child was gone before the gods, the Divine, allotted Nom a breath to try and figure out a cure.
She needed staff.
“Samir,” Nom scolded Ethantine’s ruler as she slammed down a book’s split pages in front of him. It took the herbalist three days to match the bite found on Parisa to the dead bug to the insect’s identification. Like a honey bee, the Carosspid’s bite is suicidal. It wouldn’t attack unless it believed it needed to sacrifice itself to protect its mate. Nom pointed to the Carosspid bug’s image with a single, sharp manicured nail. The red hue, Ethantine’s House Colors, caught Samir’s attention more than the herbalist’s tone. “This insect lives in the far desert, far beyond even Lynthia’s borders. Parisa’s death wasn’t an accident.”
Samir, robed in the same clothes he had on when his child died three days prior, rubbed the flat of his palm over his bald head. What was left of his graying hair was normally shaved short, attended to on a daily basis, but not today. The Lord Protector of Ethantine rubbed his head then dropped it to the table, cradling his forehead with the crook of his arm. He was exhausted. He cried more than he slept; no one knew that except Nom. She’d been the only person he’d let into his wing of the Palace. Nom’s book remained ignored in front of him. He didn’t need to see the image. He recognized the bug. It was a familiar species in Reeseonia, Parisa’s homeland, where the mating pair were idolized for their commitment. Parisa’s death was his fault. Someone knew his secret. He moaned.
Nom sighed silently to herself.
At times, she forgot how cold she came across as when it came down to business. She didn’t think it was a fault. It was a good trait…for her…for an herbalist. It just was not how she wanted to present herself in this moment, to this man. She wasn’t even sure if she loved him or not. She just knew being cold wasn’t right for a man in mourning. Not this man. He just lost his daughter, even if she was adopted in exchange for assured peace. He loved the child like she was his own. He was all she ever knew. What would the Reeseonians say when they found out she was dead?
Nom pulled her hand away from the book. “Samir, I need assistants. This isn’t me telling you that I want them anymore. I’m telling you I need them.” Because Parisa was a warning, a sick and twisted warning. “I can’t research a cure and tend to a patient’s pain at the same time. I need help.”
“You won’t find them,” Samir argued, raising his head, “or if you do, finding them won’t be easy.”
“I don’t need easy. Nothing in my life has been easy. I just need help.”
“Take it.” The Lord Protector of Ethantine waved her off. She’d seen the signal before. Samir wasn’t tell her to leave; he was telling her to do whatever she needed to accomplish her task. Nom paused, resting her hand on a simple table chair that matched Samir’s, and scanned his harem. She didn’t know what else to call it. She remembered when this room was forbidden. The walls had been gold, an actual gold, with red accents. It had extravagant furnishings that surely engulfed anyone who sat down on them like the sofas that could have catered to more individuals than the room ever witnessed. She knew what they were for. But Samir transformed it after Parisa came home with him. The girl studied here. The room became a dry chamber. No extravagance, no frills. A table and books. To the point, that was the best way to describe it, Nom decided.
Nom looked over the room again. The walls were still gold and red. Parisa’s teddy bears still sat in a circle on the red Ethantinian rug, waiting for her return. The room wasn’t so dry after all. Samir noticed his herbalist’s stare. “Those were her students,” he told Nom, gesturing to the Reeseonian teddy bears. “She’d take her daily lesson then teach her teddy bears.”
Nom shut her eyes slowly, the heaviness of Parisa’s death clutched her chest slowly; shock was starting to melt away. I am an herbalist, Nom reminded herself. I deal with death; it is a part of the job. But this was different. This was a child. This was Samir’s child. I can’t support him when I am not even prepared for my own personal response.
Grief manifested itself in body language. Samir’s was taking its toll on her. She needed to remove herself from this room and get to work. “I’m going to my room,” she said, opening her eyes again. Samir’s face looked foreign to her – distant as he watched the motionless stuffed bears and yet happy as an invisible memory played out in front of him. “I want to start researching a cure. The Reeseonians must have a vaccine or an anti-venom. I’ll find it.”
Nom never shared her fear, that whoever murdered Parisa would come after Samir next. She hoped that fear would remain a secret, that she’d have created the answer, that she’d be ready for next time.
A velvety gust of warm wind soared pass Nom on the lanai and slowed just long enough to dance with her lantern’s fire. They flickered as they played together then the wind disappeared, leaving the fire and Nom with their work.
Nom usually loved working outside on the patio, but tonight’s work seemed overly tedious. She loved tending to her plants during the day. She did all her research on her sunbed and took breaks from it to walk to the lanai’s guardrail and look out over Ethantine. She didn’t know a single inhabitant that wasn’t in love with their city. They were a boisterous bunch that captured life regardless of the hour. Tonight they celebrated “Parisa their princess.” They chanted her name and sang the songs she loved to share with them. After a single night of silence, the Ethantinians would celebrate the girl until her body was laid to rest.
Only Parisa wasn’t really a princess at all. The Lord Protector of Ethantine was the highest promotion of the second born prince, but their offspring – even if Parisa could be considered such – were not grated a title. Still they men and women of Ethantine chose to adore her as one; the girl would have been thrilled.
Nom stretched on her bamboo sunbed for no other reason but to stimulate her mind. Her body felt restless. The pile of books stacked on the floor next to all of her potted plants would be meaningless – for the most part – until her figured out how to get her mind and body whole again. The image of Parisa’s first stumble – while playing a game of chase with her cat Smudgling – kept flashing in Nom’s mind, interrupting her sad attempt to work.
Nom stared out over Ethantine. I should have known something was wrong right then.
She shook her head.
No, I knew.
Nom felt the same twinge across her shoulders that she felt when Parisa fell. The same twinge. Instinct talking, the only way it knew how. Only I didn’t listen. Like a mother ignoring a child’s last words…
Nom bite down on her cheek, to feel the pain, then felt her body turn cold, emotionless. If she couldn’t research anything in-depth then she would scan her books for knowledge on how to process an anti-venom and mark pages for later. Nothing more specific…she just wanted the comfort in knowing that she could find possible answers, even if everything she found that night was wrong.
When the Divine Lord Chand’s moon passed over her head, marking the final hours of the night, Nom reached to her left, where on a small table rested a book, not much bigger than her hand. It was properly bound but with blank pages.
A red nail caught an edge of the book and slipped it over the ridge of the table, just enough that Nom didn’t have to struggle in the chair to attain it. She then slipped the pen that rested behind her ear through her long blonde curls. The first few pages of her notebook held comments, observations and annotations, reminders to herself about the nature of her gods – the Divine.
“Each of the Divine has a purpose, even if such purpose is not immediately presented to them.”
Nom flipped the pen around the fingers of her right hand – it made soft clicks as it hit each of her rings – then added a comment to her observation.
“When touched by a Divine, those on Atala will have a purpose presented to them as well,” she considered what her purpose was as she penned the quote her mentor always shared.
Then added, “What is mine?”
She measured the possibilities quickly, noting each thought in her book. Use my gift and heal people, save lives. Save Samir…love Samir? Create the anti-venom for Carosspid bites. Teach assistants…save assistants?
Did assistants need saving?
Nom half dropped, half tossed her pen into the middle seam of her notebook then snapped it shut. Her body’s muscles ached in protest as she forced herself out of the chaise lounge. She tossed the book down onto the cushioning and slapped the palm of her hand down the wrinkled green cloth of her pants that wore and flowed about her legs like a skirt.
She stopped at the lanai’s guardrail and watched Ethantine.
[KEEP LINE FOR SOME OTHER POINT] Nom sat at her desk in the study chamber. Somewhere under the pilings of books was a slab of rich, dark wood.
WORD COUNT: 1724
AUTHOR NOTES FROM DAY 1:
I’m not entirely certain what Point Of View (POV) I want to use in this book – not that that is a surprise to me because I commonly switch POV’s as I start my work. It frees me to play around with the draft in whatever manner I feel like. I find the lack of restriction helpful to get into character heads or to see the scene situations from various character viewpoints. I think it makes a more well-rounded final product.
I considered and am planning on the final product to be in the third person POV, similar to what I just wrote. I do plan on flipping into Nom’s first person POV at some point during NaNo as well as Safreen’s POV (Safreen plays a strong role in Aara, which is in the final edit phase. I’ve come to adore Safreen as a character. She is one of Nom’s future assistants and family members).
Today’s piece was rather fun. I had no idea where I really wanted to start with Nom. Some of her character’s story is glanced at in Aara, but nothing as far as backstory or who Nom really is, which bothered me because (as you will eventually come to find out) Nom’s character runs an underground railroad for the abused [women]. The heart of that story begins in Lynthia, Ethantine’s sister city, where women are deemed property (although not all are treated like property). Today I wanted to meet a set of characters used in Aara. It’s like I was given a stick figure and I’m now getting to painted on details. Love it!
Samir is Aara’s Uncle. Until today I knew three things about him:
1) He died, was murdered
2) He helped build The Waterfall in Lynthia with Aara’s father
3) He, along with Aara’s Father, figured out a way to bring peace to Lynthia, which includes Ethantine as its sister city.
Parisa has a strong tie to Javed in Aara – I don’t want to spill much more than that, but I loved realizing how to connect the two.
Nom is going to be interesting because I think I’ll have to rewrite portions of this work when all is said and done so that her character remains consistent through all the books. For now, I’m just letting her show up on the page in whatever way she wants. Of note, I honestly don’t know if Samir and Nom end up in a relationship or had a relationship yet. They haven’t told me.
FUN FACT? Ethantine is named after my boy (Ethan), and Reeseonia is named after my girl (Reese). I hope to have fun and add in a few shout-outs to who they is as a person in each of the cities. Parisa’s cat Smudling is named after our cat Smudge. I originally used family names as place holders when I needed to name something on the fly. Only, I discovered that most of the time I loved the names created so keep them. I am running out of names however.
Copyright ©2010-2014 by Kristine A. Strauss, Amara SuraShakta. All rights reserved.
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