Friday, January 14, 2022

Rough draft of The Seventh Clan

 I thought some readers might find this interesting. This is the very first draft of The Seventh Clan. The main character Perrin's character changed quite a bit since then, and there's a lot more detail and better writing. If you'd like to compare this with the final draft, you can read the first chapter (free) here.

Thick mist covered the camp, while the few campfires created beams that the mist distorted into fantastic shapes. Perrin crept through camp, concentrating on the sounds instead of the sights. Most of the soldiers were asleep in their tents and only a few voices remained to murmur ghostlike through the mist, seemingly without a source.  

Someone shuffled ahead. Perrin headed toward the sound. “Guardsman?” 

A torch flickered to life. “Who is it?” 

“It’s just me, Perrin. I’ve brought orders.” He hated how his voice squeaked. 

The soldier appeared, every inch a soldier, from the clean white sash that was all the uniform they had to the huge musket leaning against his arm. The barrel gleamed in the torchlight and Perrin wanted to touch it. 

“Well?” the man demanded. 

Perrin handed over a tightly bound scroll and stepped back while the guardsman read. They were nearly the same height. Maybe in a few months Perrin would be the one standing at guard while someone else brought him messages. 

The distant slapping of waves against the beach united with the creaking of tree branches in a night wind. The cool mist teased his exposed skin. Moon. 

Something was moving among the mist. Perrin squinted. A glimmer of light appeared and vanished again. “Over there!” he hissed, remembering just in time to keep his voice down. 

The guard peered in that direction. “I see nothing.” 

Perhaps the soldier’s eyes were tired, for Perrin could now make out dark shapes, gaps where mist ought to be. “They’re right there! People coming toward camp.” 

“Don’t believe everything you...” 

A crack broke the stillness. A hint of orange fire flashed. Perrin cried out. The gun had missed, but now more shots were being fired. “Get help!” the guard screamed at him. “Don’t stick around and watch.” 

“Yes, sir!”  

Perrin ran back toward camp. Hopefully they would hear the guns before he arrived. The guardsmen were shooting back now, but Perrin was not tempted to stop and watch. He’d seen Vangton oppression before, and heard those gunshots. He knew what damage they did. 

The camp was already in commotion. Perrin ran straight for the center tent. The flap opened before he reached it. General Niles stood in the opening. He was a short man for a legend, but Perrin wasn’t fooled. “General!” Perrin shouted. 

“How much do you know?” General Niles barked. 

“Unknown number of Vangton soldiers firing on our guardsmen, coming from the beaches to the northeast.” Perrin thought back, trying to remember any other details. “The sea is calm, but I heard nothing else.” 

“They’ll have come from the Starwood fleet outside of City.” General Niles turned to the aides around him and began barking orders. Perrin knew better than to get in the way. He backed to the side of the tent.  

A face peered out from underneath the canvas. “That you, Per?” 

Perrin stood straight. “I am on duty. Formality, please.” 

The voice scoffed, and then its owner slipped out from under the canvas. Gio stood up, sweeping the dust from his trousers. Perrin doubted it would do any good. Gio’s dirty hands would only get his clothes more dusty. “What’d you see?” 

“In the mist, very little,” Perrin answered. The general was still barking orders. Perrin tried to listen. The sounds of battle were becoming louder and more chaotic.  

“Do the Vangtons really have horns, do you think?” Gio asked. 

“Don’t be stupid!” Perrin exploded. “Our ancestors were Vangtons. If they had horns, so would we.” 

“Boys!”  

Perrin straightened again. General Niles was looking straight at him. “Yes, sir?” he and Gio asked in unison. 

“We’re evacuating camp. Get to the provisions tent and help pack up. If the fighting comes close, drop everything and run.” 

“Yes, sir,” the boys chimed. 

“Then go!” 

They ran. Perrin led the way to the provisions carts. Horses stamped their hooves. “Someday, we’ll be fighting,” Gio said. “Drop everything and run. Bah!” 

In the distance, someone screamed loud enough that even the gunshots seemed quiet. “I can wait,” Perrin said. 

“Coward.” 

“I am not!” 


You can find The Seventh Clan on kindle vella, or learn more about the series on The Spectra Books website.


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