Before I begin, I’d like to apologise for being MIA lately. I discovered, or should I say, re-discovered that I write best first thing in the morning, when this ageing brain is still fresh.
As a result, social media has taken a back seat. But I’m happier than I’ve been for quite a while because the second book of Vokhtah is happening again. 🙂
So, what have I been up to? For starters, I went back and re-wrote the character of Death. Without meaning to, I’d made it too, um, nice. That’s the awful trap when writing about a race that’s varying degrees of sociopath.
Anyway, Death is now more like one of our corporate CEOs – not totally bad, but definitely driven by expediency rather than empathy.
In the following shortish excerpt, the Master Smith knows something that could get Death killed.
From Kahti, book 2 of Vokhtah – not quite gospel yet but very close. 🙂
Early the next day, Death made time to visit the storage caverns and pick up three small gourds of pippa juice. That night, it shared two of the gourds with its escort but drank only enough to wet its lips. Once the second gourd had been opened, it excused itself and retired to its pallet, leaving the Messengers to finish the pippa juice on their own. Face turned towards the wall, it listened as they laughed and joked, their voices gradually growing more raucous as their speech slurred.
At some point, the Messengers must have decided they could stand guard sitting down, because when Death eventually crept out to check on them, it found them both slumped against the wall, fast asleep.
Knowing firstlight could not be far off, Death quickly opened the last remaining gourd of pippa juice and poured a generous pinch of the yellow powder inside. A quick shake and it was done.
More relieved than it cared to admit, Death returned to its pallet and fell asleep with the gourd cradled in its arms. The next morning, it rose early and headed off to the forge, to fulfil its promise to the Healer from the South. As before, its escort stayed out in the passage, a safe distance from the noise and heat.
The old Smith accepted the gourd with pleasure and took a healthy swallow before promising to give the Healer’s chain a higher priority.
“Thanking,” Death said. “Healer being difficult and expecting Yellow to intervene!”
“Pah!” the old Smith cried, shaking its head in disbelief. “Healer being too long from Settlement!”
“Thinking so too,” Death replied as it watched the old iVokh take another long swallow. By the time it left, the gourd was empty. Smithing was thirsty work.
Death was in the feeding cavern a few days later when it heard two Healers at a nearby table gossiping about the death of the old Smith.
“Being sick?” one of the Healers asked as it opened the cage by its side and reached in for a fresh akaht.
“Ki, just old,” the other opined as it bit down on its own meal. “Although some saying not being well day before.”
“S’so? What happening?”
“Going to sleep and not rising.”
“A good death then.”
Over at the next table, Death silently agreed. It had always liked the old Smith, and was glad its end had been peaceful.
Have a great Tuesday, Australia! And good night to all those in the Northern Hemisphere. 🙂