Black Forest: Kingdoms Fall – Prologue

My book is done. Good thing, since I have a week until upload. Of course that won’t keep me from rewriting another five times before I put it out there.

If I owned a restaurant, I would probably rewrite the menu while customers were trying to order.

That’s why I demand a deadline.

If you read the Writing page, or my last post, you know that the novel I’m releasing next Tuesday is a re-imagining of the only book I have ever actually released upon the public (under my own name). This will be the only time I allow myself an extensive rewrite of a book I have already released, but I am glad I indulged the whim this time, because it really satisfied a desire that began several years ago.

As many of you know, I do screenplays. That has kind of been my thing as far as the writing I send out into the world, and, not long after I released the original version of this book, I started work on what would be my ideal screenplay. What I realized was, in my ideal screenplay, the story started earlier, the backstory was more in-depth, and, overall, it became a darker, grittier fairy tale. So, that’s what I wrote.

I am delighted with this version. I hope you will be.

Side note: Those of you who actually enjoy my crazed ramblings, morose sentimentality, and clueless thoughts on the universe, please do not fret. My posts have been back-to-back book-related because I have been f’in busy, but this blog shall never turn into a book-marketing blog. Once I get some time back in my life, I promise I will prove it by writing as much nonsense as ever.

But, for now, ahem, the Black Forest: Kingdoms Fall – Prologue

Once upon a time, there was a library on a hill, where the shelves filled with more madness than words. It was attached to a cottage, but the living space was crammed into the room left over, an afterthought to the books, the hand-carved writing desk, freshly-plucked quills, yellowing parchments, and oozing black inks.

The man who lived there had hair and eyes as black as the deepest night, and all his time spent indoors, hiding from the sun, hiding from the world, his skin was as translucent as gauze. He sacrificed little of his life to the spaces beyond the library, sleeping in spurts and forgetting to eat, so he was nearly as thin as the books he wrote.

His were powerful hands. He had discovered it as a boy. With his hands, he could give birth to life. Manipulate, destroy and resurrect it. Pleasure and torture thrived at his hands’ command. The power they possessed, it was stronger than the universe itself.

His hands would create his immortality. Through his work, the man knew, he would live forever.

It was on a night of temperamental weather, sleet and hail taking turns raking against the windows, so loud they pulled him from his short burst of sleep, that the dark man lifted his head from his desk, where he had proven more prone to sleep in recent weeks than his bed, and walked to the library’s center.

There stood a glass case, so reverently regarded it had the air of a sarcophagus.

This was where She lived. She was the one, the one for whom he would be most revered. Her name would be spoken in every land. In every tongue. On every tongue.

Sliding the heavy silver key he never let leave his neck into the lock, the man stilled for a moment, regarding the work. This would be the last of it, his final chapters, a happy ending for his greatest creation. She had been through Her most brutal trial. By fire indeed, he thought with a smile. Now, She was simply waiting for him, waiting for the happy ending promised to all his beloved characters.

Twisting the key, the man lifted the glass lid and pulled the leather-bound story from within, cradling it against his chest like a child. Desk clear but for his tools, he sat the tome gently before him and eased back the ribbon to the page on which he last left Her.

Jarring sight pulling him instantly from the relaxed state into which drink had put him, the man thought with a nervous laugh he must have been overly tired when he quit work on Her story the night before. There was no other explanation for the steps of the palace to be empty where the prince had stood, no reason for The Girl to be gone from where She was in the process of fleeing.

Turning back a page, the man’s heart calmed when he saw Her standing there, anxious green eyes risen to the clock as it struck midnight.

Flipping again to the page that demanded his attention, the man steadied his hand before picking up the quill and dipping into ebony ink. With assured strokes, he began the outline, watching the prince take form on the page. He would stand at Her back, calling for Her to stay. Perhaps, it would not be the same as the night before. Perhaps, it would be better.

Dipping the quill into the bowl of water, he wiped the tip clean, and gathered more black ink. Quill pausing over the parchment, he took great care in laying down the first stroke, shaping the contour of Her head just so, before lifting the quill to admire the delicate curve of Her face.

It was better, he thought.

Line fading, the man frowned, watching the ink lose its pigment, turning gray on the page until it disappeared completely. Pressing the quill back to the paper with greater force, the tip threatened the parchment as he retraced the curve, only to watch it again disappear, evaporating as if it was no more than a water spot.

Moving to a new position, he began an arm, long line imperfect as his hand shook upon the quill. Before he reached the end of one thin wrist, the top of Her arm faded once more.

Dipping desperately into ebony, the man dragged his hand across the page, ink falling without order upon the scene. The blots remained as they fell, but The Girl refused. Each time his hand attempted to put Her on the page – head, arm, hip, gold-clad foot – She vanished before him, as if She never existed.

Try and try again, the man fought the page until the sleet against the roof drove him to the edge of his mind, but no matter what he tried, words or image of Her, he could not get Her back.

His greatest creation had vanished.


Black Forest: Kingdoms Fall will be released next Tuesday, July 16, 2013.

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