I’m a pantster not a plotter, however there comes a time in any story when I have to take a step back, and really think about the wider ramifications of the story I am trying to tell. This usually involves thinking about the world as a whole.
What outside forces are at work? And how will they impinge on the lives of my main characters? In particular, how will history, culture and politics help or hinder their personal stories?
The following excerpt is something I’ve been working on for days. The scene will impact two of my main characters. One, the Apprentice/Kaati you already know. The other is a character I introduced in book 1, but only in passing. As such, the information in this scene is vital, so it needs to be clear. But I did not want to write just an info dump.
I’d really appreciate your feedback on whether I got the balance more or less right.
The Master of Acolytes was something of an anomaly amongst the higher ranked healers of the Guild because it had a powerful talent, but very little personal ambition. It did not attempt to curry favour with either the Yellows or the Blues, and tended to avoid Guild politics where possible.
Nonetheless, even this mild, self-effacing healer nurtured one, powerful ambition – it longed to be the healer who finally freed the Guild from the Traders forever.
The Master did not hate the Traders. It did not even object to sharing the Settlement with them, but it did fear another Great Unrest, and knew the Guild would never be truly safe while it was dependant on outsiders for any of its important needs. And Traders held a monopoly on two of the Guild’s most critical needs.
Ever since the time of the Rogue, the Traders had been the Guild’s only link with the outside world. Traders kept the Guild’s maps up-to-date, and the Trader Quartermaster made it possible for the Guild to know where and when its Triads were needed. In return the Guild offered the Traders shelter and food.
This symbiotic relationship had worked well until the Great Unrest had disrupted the Guild’s ability to service the needs of the eyries, and their Vokh. The Guild had acted quickly, yet even so, the Nine had promised to withdraw the Vokh’s protection of the Settlement if such a disturbance ever happened again.
That was when it had become obvious the Guild’s dependence on the Traders was a weakness, a dangerous weakness. Nonetheless, despite over two hundred years of trying, the Guild had not been able to breed even one healer-seneschal. The two talents could not seem to co-exist in the one body. Those Initiates with healing talents strong enough to survive the Quickening could not mind-speak, while those who could always died because they lacked the healing talents that should have kept them alive.
The Master of Acolytes was well aware of this long, long history of failure. It had personally nurtured six young candidates with the ability to mind-speak, and had watched five of them die during the Quickening. Yet despite these failures, it continued to believe the mix of talents was possible. It was convinced the answer lay in finding candidates who had the potential for both talents… before the Quickening.
All five failures had been first rate apprentices who should have made good healers, yet they had still died. And now there was just one hopeful left. It possessed a very strong talent for mind-speaking, however it was the young iVokh’s empathy that made it truly special. Even as a first year apprentice, it had shown a natural ‘knack’ for soothing fractious newborn that was unmatched by any of the other apprentices.
Of course, empathy alone did not guarantee the Quickening would trigger the full range of healer talents. Nonetheless, experience had shown that natural empathy was the best indicator of latent talents.
In an effort to release more of this latent potential, the Master had arranged for the sixth candidate to work with a powerful healer in a safe eyrie. Unfortunately Needlepoint had turned out to be anything but safe, and now no-one seemed to know whether the Triad, and its precious Acolyte, were still alive.
The only one who might know was the Yellow Councillor, but it was the least approachable, and most feared healer in the Guild.
The Master had never spoken to the Yellow, nor had it ever wanted to, but after almost two ti’m’akh of fearful waiting it could wait no longer. It had to find out if its life’s work was over.
Taking a deep, tremulous breath, the old healer raised its hand and knocked on the Yellow’s door.