Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009 – Winner!

Michael Salsbury Winner logoIt's November 29, 2009, and I've just completed over 50,000 words toward a fantasy novel I've tentatively titled "Rogue Mage". Having reached 50,000 words before the end of November, I'm now a 2009 NaNoWriMo Winner!

The novel I've been furiously writing this month is set in a medieval fantasy world, very loosely based on medieval England. It focuses on two characters, Felicia Rothban and Aaron Blackwell.

Felicia, in her youth, was a very stunning woman. She was also somewhat shallow, and used her looks to seduce men who were handsome, powerful, and/or rich. Felicia was also quite crazy about flowers. While having a relationship with a powerful mage (wizard, magic user, etc.), Felicia's window box full of flowers began to die. The mage, Eldren, cast a couple of spells that brought her beloved flowers back to health. He then went off to battle, and the flowers died. When he returned from battle, Felicia was mourning the death of her flowers. She begged, pleaded, and finally seduced him into teaching her enough magic to keep the flowers alive.

Eldren took quite a risk doing this. In the Realm, all magic users must belong to the Mage's Guild. The Guild is a powerful organization chartered by the king, to recruit, train, and police magic users. They do not tolerate people outside the Guild practicing any sort of magic. The punishment for teaching magic to a non-Guild-member is death. The punishment for knowing magic outside the Guild is death. Eldren makes Felicia well aware of the risk they are both taking. Apart from the spells he knows for keeping plants healthy, the only magic Eldren shares with Felicia is a spell to heal injury to human beings. This he taught her to help keep her alive.

Felicia later left Eldren for someone more wealthy and powerful, a Lord Clemmons. Clemmons was a married man, but promised to marry Felicia when he ended the relationship with his wife. He bought Felicia a small cottage in a remote farming village and asked her to wait there for his return. Years passed with no word from Clemmons. Felicia was destitute and had no way back to Capitol City, where she'd spent most of her life. She had no skills, and her beauty was beginning to fade. All she had was the magic she'd been taught. She made the best of her situation in the small farming village she'd been left in. She told the farmers she could heal their sick crops, but was a bit vague on how. They accepted her help, because she got good results and helped increase their yields. They believed she was probably a mage but she had never admitted this.

Aaron Blackwell was a young man who had grown up in this small farming village named Agrinnia. He was a smart boy, but not very coordinated or muscular. This put him at a marked disadvantage for farm work, and he was frequently bullied and ridiculed because of his physical weakness. However, Aaron's father got him a job at the scrivener's where he worked. Aaron spent his days copying books, contracts, and other documents for the scrivener's customers. One day, on his way to lunch, two farm boys carry the struggling Aaron into an alley and rob him, beating him severely in the process. He stumbles into the nearby inn and collapses at a table.

Felicia walks in and sees Aaron's state. She takes pity on him and casts a spell to heal him. When he sees her pull a scroll from a case she carries, he recognizes it as looking a lot like something he had been copying at work. He realizes the woman is a mage and the book he is currently copying must be a spellbook. He then finds a way to get a spell out of the heavily-protected shop where he works - by memorizing it. He writes it down outside the shop and starts to study it. It's written in a language he can't understand and uses symbols that mean nothing to him. While he's looking over the paper, Felicia comes into the inn. She comes over to ask how he's feeling, and sees the spell. She turns white and tells him he must hide it immediately. He asks why. She explains that if he's seen in possession of this paper by a Guild mage, they will most likely kill him.

Later, Felicia realizes that the best way for her to get out of town is to learn more magic. Aaron has access to a lot of it, and it's clear he's been getting bullied on a fairly regular basis his whole life. In exchange for the spells he can provide, she agrees to teach him how to use them. Unfortunately, because Felicia received only the most minimal training herself, they aren't able to understand many of the spells they collect. They have to try them out and see what they do in order to determine their value. In time, they become friends and lovers.

One day, Felicia is asked by a local farm boy to help with a sick crop. She follows the boy to their farm. While walking through a barn, the boy turns and attacks her, attempting to force himself on her. She fights back, but he is too strong for her. She remembers a fear spell Aaron stole for them, and casts it on the boy. He runs out of the barn, across a field. He trips and hits his head on the stone wall around a well. She kicks him out of anger, after verifying that he's still alive. She leaves. The boy later dies and his parents believe Felicia has murdered him. The national police force, known as the Realm Patrol, investigates. They determine the boy's death was indeed an accident but bruises on his body match the shoes worn by Felicia. They charge her with assault and imprison her.

In prison, Felicia is visited by Eldren, the mage who taught her to cast spells. She tells him her story, including the use of the fear spell. He asks where she learned that, since he didn't teach her. She tells him she sometimes buys spells from people who find them in a dead mage's belongings. He doesn't tell her, but he's not satisfied with that explanation. He happens to be the mage who invented the fear spell and only a few others (whom he taught personally) know it. He sends an apprentice to investigate, under the guise of having a spellbook copied. Aaron copies an interesting-looking spell from this book and gives it to Felicia. She tries it out, and ends up causing a giant, brightly glowing ball of energy to appear over the forest near her home. The apprentice now knows there is a problem and returns to his master.

Eldren and three other mages return to Agrinnia. They pull Aaron from the scrivener's shop and take him to Felicia's home. They confront her with evidence they've collected. She tells them she's been trading spells to Aaron in exchange for romantic favors, and that he knows nothing of what he's been copying for her apart from recognizing the general look of written spells. She also points out that it was Eldren who taught her magic. The mages kill Eldren first, for violating Guild law, then kill Felicia. Aaron is allowed to live after they try to determine if he knows any magic. He finds out they got him fired. He now has no source of income and no Felicia. However, he has inherited her home. He sells it, and decides to go to Capitol City to join the Mage's Guild, hoping to destroy it from within.

He's admitted to the Guild and assigned to a master mage named Elric. Elric begins teaching Aaron magic, and takes him on a mission into a neighboring country. There, they need to find a way to neutralize the magic used by the local population, to pave the way for their king to invade the country.

As my 50,000th word hit, they were in the other country, posing as businessmen who hoped to make money there. They realized they would need enough month to be able to pass as wealthy businessmen, which neither had. Aaron had spent his inheritance getting to Capitol City, bribing his way into the Guild, and reaching Elric. Elric had a bit of money, but not enough to pass for a businessman. He tells Aaron the answer is to rob a secure bank in the village they're passing through...

That's where the story stands as of the moment... I expect to finish it some time in December, then clean it up a bit. When I think it's at least "tolerable" to read, I'm planning to publish it as a PDF and make it available here for people to download and read. Right now, it's incredibly rough. NaNoWriMo focuses on writing speed rather than writing quality, so my novel contains a lot of wrong turns and foreshadowing for things that I intended to write into the story and never did. If you were to read it in its current form, you'd most likely come to the conclusion that I absolutely stink as a writer... and I wouldn't blame you. All I really have here is a very rough draft for a part of a novel, not an entire novel and certainly not a good, polished one.

In any case, NaNoWriMo was a fun experience and I look forward to participating in it again in 2010.

About the Author

Michael Salsbury / Author & Editor

In his day job, Michael Salsbury helps administer over 1,800 Windows desktop computers for a Central Ohio non-profit. When he's not working, he's writing, blogging, podcasting, home brewing, or playing "warm furniture" to his two Bengal cats.


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