I’ve always admired authors who can craft a novel interweaving several different characters’ stories into a single whole, giving each their own unique voice and personality. Most recently that’s been George RR Martin, though I admit to not having read the book yet, only watched the HBO miniseries Game Of Thrones when it was on earlier this year. The book immediately went on my TBR pile after that. I’ve heard really good things about Ken Scholes’ Lamentation series, which I also intend to try. A few other authors I read have done it to a lesser extent: Terry Pratchett, Diana Gabaldon, Cassandra Clare come to mind. It’s hard to pull off. I’ve never attempted it.
In the final moments of sleep this morning, just as my consciousness was beginning to rise to alertness, I caught a few portions of a dream. It was unusual in that it took place in scenes; and in each scene I was the central character but I was a different central character in each one. There were even moments of very clear dialogue. It very much had the feel of one of those many-POV books like A Game of Thrones. The first thing I did when I got up, after putting on the water to boil, was scribble down notes on each scene, including, as much as I could remember, the dialogue. I’m rather tempted to investigate these seeds of idea a little more; I’ve so far only ever written single-POV stories, and this would be an interesting challenge to grow myself as a writer. Something to mull over…
Slightly fleshed-out versions of the dream scenes:
The stone wall rose behind Maralee, shading out the stars and casting a long shadow in the full moon. It dug into her back where she pressed against it, cool even through the thin fabric. In the darkness she couldn’t see Garrin’s face, but she let her fingertips trace up the outside of his arms, across his neck, until they found the strong line of his jaw. His hands rested lightly on her hips, warm and reassuring.
“You ask a lot of me, Garrin,” she whispered.
“You know I wouldn’t ask if I had any other choice.” His voice was hushed to blend in with the rustle of the long vines that draped the wall, but she could sense the note of urgency in it.
“I know.” She slid her fingers behind his head and gently pulled it down so she could touch her forehead to his. “But what if I cannot give you this?”
“There is no other way.”
“There is no way now, either,” she said. “You know that. Not till after the gathering.”
“If we wait too long our opportunity will have passed.”
“If we don’t wait long enough, the opportunity will not come.”
He huffed softly through his nose and she tipped her head, touching her lips to his.
“I would if I could, Garrin,” she said without pulling away, her words weighted with regret. “You know that, you of all people. But what’s a woman to do, caught between two men: the one who sleeps beside her and the other who cuts deep between her legs to her heart?”
Jacob watched the ripples that shivered the surface of the water he held cupped in the palm of his left hand. His hand was trembling, but it wasn’t from excitement, which is what he should be feeling. It was from a deep sense of unease, the source of which he couldn’t quite put a finger on. It sat heavy in his chest, tight and uncomfortable, making him wish he hadn’t agreed to this journey. But the decision was made and it was too late to back out now.
Corbet stepped toward him holding a small, shallow bowl filled with coarse black powder. Jacob tried to hold his hand still, taking a deep breath to steady himself. Corbet took up a pinch between his fingers and reached out, slowly sprinkling the grains over the surface of the water. As they touched the liquid they floated for a moment and then dissolved, turning it cloudy.
Their two fellow travelers, young men about the same age, stepped forward then, their faces solemn. Each of them held out their right hand, the fingers curled tight and the thumb sticking up. They stared at their feet as Corbet began speaking.
“We call on you, O Arimet, to bless us with your seeing eyes; show to us now, this journey’s eve, what fates await us on the road.”
Corbet stretched out his hand and dipped his thumb into the inky water, followed quickly by the others. Jacob went last, touching the calloused pad to the surface with reluctance. Then the three others turned their hands and pressed their thumbs to their foreheads, just between their brows. The water left an indistinct dark smudge on their skin.
Jacob hesitated, just a moment but enough to cause Corbet to prompt him, one eyebrow raised. “Have you forgotten what to do?”
“No, I…” Jacob said, then closed his mouth. He stared at the floor as he raised his own thumb to his forehead and pressed it to his skin. He could feel it was slightly off-center, just over the corner of his left eye. He held his thumb there for longer than was necessary before peeling it away to reveal the mark it left behind, the interpretation of which would foreshadow what fortune or hardship they may expect to encounter on the road.
There was a collective inhalation from the other three as he dropped his hand and raised his head. There was a strange expression on Corbet’s face; fear or awe, Jacob couldn’t tell, but it seemed to confirm the unease that clenched at his gut.
His heart beat, loudly, several times before anyone spoke. Then Corbet said, barely more than a breath, “It’s the mark of the wanderer.”
It was the first time that Pryn had been allowed up here. Her father came here every day, of course; he had to be here for his job. But he’d never let Pryn accompany him. She wasn’t sure why, since she had yet to notice anything remotely dangerous about the place. He’d led her up, holding her small hand in one of his, until they’d reached the very top, and there he’d turned and sat, taking her onto his lap.
The view from here was breathtaking. Below them long, open expanses of green stretched far toward the horizon. They seemed to her as though they went on almost forever; and perhaps from her point of view they did, since while she sometimes walked them she had yet to reach the far end before having to turn around and head back for the day, had yet even to make it halfway. She’d been told there was nothing to see at the end anyway, but that clearly wasn’t true. Because from here she could see that there was indeed something beyond.
It looked like a plateau, bordered by thick evergreen trees but with a broad opening so she could see a tall, black gate divided it in two. Figures, men, she supposed, scurried about on her side of the fence, in itself a novelty given the constant and complete absence of people on the green, other than herself. She let out a gasp of delight as she recognized the royal standard being carried by a few of the people. She squinted, trying to make out what they were doing as they moved across the plateau. Perhaps dragging something? They were too far away to tell.
And behind the plateau, so distant as to be slightly misty, rose the dark, square towers of the city. She’d never been to the city; another place her father hadn’t ever let her go. The stories she’d heard of the people there, though, proud and arrogant, coarse and selfish, had always intrigued her, perhaps even scared her with an excited thrill.
“It’s amazing,” she said, turning her face to her father after several minutes of staring out at it all.
“Isn’t it?” he answered, putting his arms about her and giving her a light squeeze. “And some day, my dear, it shall all be yours.”
So many questions about these characters and what’s going on. Even in my dream I didn’t know the answers.