Having only heard about it this year, I am attempting to write for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to have a 50,000 novel written by November 30th by midnight. Here I will be posting my progress in fragments each Sunday until November 30th where I will (hopefully) have a completed, final project. Most of these will be unrevised or only done by myself a few times if there are any errors grammatically, storytelling elements, or in any other way, then please feel free to give me some feedback! As long as it is constructive criticism and not senseless bashing for bashing’s sake, I am happy to listen to any advice you have to offer!
Here are the statistics so far:
Word Count: 1,947
“How long has it been since we’ve been able to get away from Newdell?” Flora asked. I was too busy gazing at the sunset over the open seas.
“Maerwynn? Are you listening to me? Maerwynn!?” She was hovering over my shoulder, but I didn’t bother to turn around.
“No. I’m trying to ignore you.” I replied. She sighed and leaned onto the rail of the ship.
“Do you know where Daniel is?” She questioned.
“Getting seasick somewhere.”
“Sounds about right.” She sighed. I glanced over to her,
“We performing again tonight?”
“No, not tonight.”
“Good.” She gave me an odd look. Her long, blonde hair was blowing in her face when she turned to speak.
“What’s the matter? I thought you liked performing.”
“I do…” I stared into the crystal clear water as I continued to speak, “It’s just as of late I feel… Forced. I don’t perform because I want to, I perform because I have to.” She pulled her bangs back behind her ear and looks back towards the horizon. A peak of land was just visible in the distance.
“We do have to. We’re traveling minstrels, after all!”
“But we do it because we love it!” She gave me a chipper smile. I tried to give her one in return, but it only lasted a few seconds.
“Besides, a new town will make all the difference. New scenery, new people– you’ll feel refreshed.” Flora smiled at me and pat me on the back. She took a step away from the railing.
“I’m going to go find Daniel. We should be arriving on Runeswick Isle soon.” She walked away and left me on my own. Thank goodness. I love Flora, but I just needed to be alone for a while. I gazed at the island as it drew nearer, a sense of dread in my mind. I never wanted to come to this place. I never wanted to leave my homeland, yet here we were. I wanted to speak up, but if Flora ever knew how I felt about how sick of this lifestyle I was, it would crush her.
I can’t take the traveling anymore, and to be honest, I never really liked it in the first place. It was incredibly boring, not to mention tedious and exhausting. What made it worse was knowing that we had to do it again the next day! Each day we’d travel anew, yet we’d never have a set destination. Flora would usually decide on a whim where we should head next. We had traveled the entirety of the continent of Newdell, excluding a few of the Elven or Dwarvish realms where humans were not permitted, and still that did not satisfy her. Now here we are, on a ship to an entirely new kingdom, and honestly, I couldn’t care less.
Even if the location was new and people were different, every day was the same thing. Wake up in the morning, perform for breakfast, travel a while, then break for lunch. Of course, we had to perform to pay for that as well. Then we would travel some more, either make camp or if we were lucky, stay at an inn. We’d sing and play for supper, then repeat the next day. All the little ones who come see us play always envy our lifestyle and say what they’d give to walk a day in our shoes. They have no idea what I’d give to trade for a place to call home.
Ever since I was a child this had been my life. I never knew my parents. I don’t know if they left me or died, but I’ve been on my own for as long as I can remember. I started in an orphanage, but I ran away when the conditions deteriorated. Kids had to fight each other for food, the caretakers were monsters; it was the best thing I could do. I ran away to the next town over, starving by the time of arrival. I saw some street performers alongside a cobblestone path, singing, and dancing. Not only was I impressed by their skill, but the fact that people were literally throwing money at them! I had learned some old folk songs at the orphanage, why couldn’t I try? That was when my life as a songstress began.
I was sure that people gave me their spare copper pieces because I was a child and they pitied me, but one person believed I had a true talent; Flora. It had been a year or so after I left that atrocity of an orphanage, and I was just barely getting by. I had enough to feed myself weekly, but that wasn’t enough for a girl who was all skin and bones. I stayed in that town, sleeping in the alleys where no one could find me, singing the same four songs I knew every day. That is until Flora came along. She heard me sing and approached me.
“That was very good!” She said. The first thing she ever spoke to me. I thought she was mocking me, so I muttered out “thanks” and continued on with my song. She sat down and continued to listen. By the end of my set, she applauded me. No one’s ever done that before. She told me I have talent, and that I should keep practicing. I nodded and said I would, hoping she would leave, but she kept on prying into my life. What was my name? Where did I come from? Where did I learn to sing? I wasn’t interested in talking to her at first, but I eventually opened up and told her everything. She genuinely seemed to care. The conversation went deep into the night, and eventually, she convinced me to join her in her travels. She was wandering around the continent of Newdell performing her own music. She played the flute and was looking for someone to accompany her. I guess that someone was me.
She didn’t stop with just me, though. A few years later, we ran into Daniel, who was in a similar situation as myself. He was older, though, and much better at performing. He was a skilled drummer at the age of thirteen and caught Flora’s attention immediately. His story played out similar to mine, except that he had a huge crush on Flora when we first met. That made his decision to come with us pretty easy. Ever since then, it’s been just the three of us, wandering the countries of Newdell, playing, eating, sleeping, repeating. I couldn’t ask for better companions to travel with, I look up to them as if they were my older siblings, but I just wish that we could have a normal life and be more like the other families.
I always see families that pass by as we perform. I’ve seen them as we walk past open windows. While we wade out in the cold, they sit together around the dinner table, passing around plates of steaming hot food, sharing a laugh or two. I’ve seen them as they rush out of the pouring rain, a father carrying his coat so that his sons wouldn’t get wet. They had a place to go to. A place to call home. That’s all I want. Somewhere with a nice warm bed and a nice, hot meal waiting for me when I get home. Somewhere I can go when I want to be alone or even when I want to be with my family. A place we can gather and share a laugh around the fireplace. A home worth giving me something to sing about again.
“We’ll be docking soon! Isn’t this exciting?” My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by this statement. Flora was back, now with Daniel by her side. He seemed rather pale and using all of his strength to keep from falling over. Flora took my hand, smiling brightly, and lead me towards the exit of the boat.
We stayed at a local inn that night but had only but a few cents by morning. I knew what this meant. At least I was able to sleep in a bed for once. It had been months since I last laid my head on a decent pillow.
Unfortunately, morning came around, and after we spent our last copper pieces on a measly breakfast, we headed towards the town plaza. Daniel began to beat on his drums while Flora whistled into her flute. My heart wasn’t into it, but I sang regardless. The townspeople tossed their money onto the floor before us, occasionally clapping as we ended one song and began the next.
I couldn’t help but notice in the middle of one of our songs a young man with a violin case standing by a tree. He saw us performing, then left with a look of sorrow on his face. I felt guilty. This was his place. He actually wanted to be here, yet here I was, singing a song that had no meaning to me. That feeling ate away at me for the rest of the evening.
We stayed at the same inn that night, but I could not sleep. I tossed and turned, still thinking about that man. Then it made me angry that I couldn’t sleep because I was in a bed for once, when would be the next time I would get to sleep on a soft, comfortable surface like this? Apparently not tonight!
I got up and tip-toed across the room, snagging the room key on the desk. I made my way downstairs to the tavern, perhaps a drink would calm me down. I sat at the bar and made my order of one ale. I took a sip when a man took the seat next to me.
“Hey, you’re that singer from before, huh?” He said. I was mid-drink when he spoke. I set down my pint and looked over to him. He was a tall, lanky fellow. Pretty average looking with blonde hair and a beige vest with a few stains here and there.
“Yeah, that was me.” I reluctantly replied. I continued to drink my ale.
“You seem awful thirsty, let me buy you another drink?” I set my glass down again, now mostly emptied.
“Nah, I’m good.” I kept my eyes ahead of me, knowing he was still staring at me. I hate it when guys do that.
“So how are you liking this ol’ town so far?”
“You see all the sites?”
“Really? Well while you’re here you should see…” He continued on, but I phased him out. I wasn’t interested in anything he had to say, but more importantly, I heard another conversation go on in the distance. Two girls sitting at the table behind us chatting.
“So are you going to the Prince’s ball?” One girl asked.
“I don’t know if I should…” The other replied. A party? That sounds fun.
“Why not? Every eligible woman in the kingdom has been invited!”
“I know, but I don’t know if I want to be picked as the Prince’s bride! That’s such a big decision to make!” So I guess the prince of Runeswick is looking for a wife. I guess I shouldn’t go then. Not that I’d get picked anyway, but still, I don’t want to look like I’m trying.
“Oh, think of it! Living in the palace, butlers and maids at your every beckon-whim–” …Keep talking.
“Oh, stop now, you know I wouldn’t marry for any of that fancy living!” I would! I jumped out of my seat and walked over to the two ladies.
“So sorry for interrupting, but I couldn’t help you talking about an upcoming ball?”