The Trip – Prologue (rough draft)

Several years ago I finished the first draft of an original novel, The Trip. It was based in part from an old fan fiction I had written in 2002 using characters from Maritza Campos’ webcomic series College Roomies from Hell; back in ’02 I wrote up a horror story about an Ice Elemental that was going after campers. While I kept the monster and secondary characters I introduced in that story, the process of rewriting the two protagonists to be uniquely my own characters helped shape the story itself. One inherent problem with the revised story, however, was that I had two antagonists; the “monster” from the original fan fiction, and the Unseelie sidhe, Tynan, who would prove to be responsible for so much of what Ginny (the new primary protagonist of the novel) was going through.

After some thought I decided to try and integrate the two antagonists. It seemed far too obvious that Tynan would be behind the problems Daniel and Miriam faced when camping… but I did not just want to make the Elemental into a generic minion of the Unseelie. Thus the rewrite.

I’m including the first section of the revised prologue and the original. I welcome comments and questions on the story segments (and apologize that the revised segment doesn’t go further as I need to get up early tomorrow, which precludes staying up ’til 4 in the morning to continue the rewrite).

And now: The Trip

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Only a fool willingly worked for the Unseelie Court. Aneira brushed her white hair out of her eyes and glanced back at the shadow-cloaked sidhe following her. Two of his soldiers were behind him, part of the larger band of Unseelie that had entered her village three nights earlier. Only a fool worked willingly for the Unseelie Court; but with the safety of her village at stake, she would have been a fool to deny the sidhe prince’s demands.

The air was so cold that the sidhe’s breath crystallized and fell to the ground with each exhale. She was long used to it; indeed, the fires the Unseelie built while they camped during the short daylit hours were painful for her to be near, as with the rest of her kin. Still, she did not dare wander far from her “employers.” It was not safe to be out and about in the frozen lands during the day, not even for the snow fae. And while the sun had set an hour earlier, some of the nastier predators continued to hunt until the wee hours of the morning.

She had wondered why the sidhe even needed her at first; with his soldiers and glamour he could easily take down even the deadliest of prey. But he had left most of his soldiers at the town, holding it hostage for her good behavior and to encourage her to lead him to what he sought; an Ice Elemental. Aneira suppressed the urge to shake her head. It was madness to seek out the Elementals. They were unpredictable and all-but-impossible to kill.

Aneira was more than half tempted to lead him deep into the frigid wastes and abandon him to the gulon. Yet she stayed her hand. The sidhe had promised her that her children would suffer a slow painful death if she tried to betray him; even if she succeeded, she did not know how she could free her children from the sidhe’s soldiers.

Besides. He did not want to slay an Ice Elemental. He meant to capture it. He was surely mad… and would likely die the moment he tried to command one to do his bidding. The Elementals were contrary in nature, and delighted in freezing everything around them. All she had to do was lead him to what he desired, and let his own foolishness end him.

It would not be much further; Aneira could see the signs. The trees were all coated with a glaze of ice, while the air had an extra bite to it that even she felt. Ahead she could see a clearing in the pale light of the crescent moon. The moonlight sparkled off of the ground ahead. If the Elemental was not in the clearing, it was nearby.

She paused before the clearing; the air had grown noticeably colder, leaving even her breath to steam in the frigid air. She put up a hand in warning and the sidhe and his soldiers stopped without a sound. The moon slipped down past the trees, but the light did not fade. If anything, it grew brighter.

The light seemed to emanate from the center of the glade, a pale green glow that illuminated a swirl of mist that wafted through the clearing and to the far side of the glade. It twined around the trunk of a small tree and then seemed to press inward; there was a loud crack and the tree collapsed downward, sending shards of wood scattering through the glade.

“There is your Elemental, my lord. But I know of no magic that can control it,” she cautioned quietly, so not to attract the Elemental’s attention. “They are being of instinct, of action. You cannot bargain with them. You cannot bribe them or coerce them.”

“I do not need to control it. Just you,” he said, and she turned in panic. He held an opal in his hand; he spoke a Word that reverberated in her ears and light flared from the opal to fill her until she knew no more.

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Here’s the original start to The Trip:

It existed without form but with reason and purpose. It was ice and cold, the cold of the winds blowing in the blackest nights of the long Artic winters and the shadows on the face of the moon. All it knew was this elemental pureness… and of the others, like and yet unlike it. It was not unique, nor was it incredibly old. But it was curious, especially of the others. That proved to be its undoing.

The opening was small and unstable. That didn’t stop it from moving through to peer at the other side. It felt intense heat on the other side and quickly smothered the heat, causing ice to form along a circle on the ground – elemental earth, but muted, unlike the elementals it had encountered before. In fact, the earth was… polluted, a combination of earth, water, air, and even a touch of fire.

The Circle stopped the young Elemental and kept it in. It resisted in a way the young elemental had never encountered before. The Elders mentioned this before, wards… and then memory surfaced, of why the wards would exist. But by then it was too late. The opening vanished, trapping it in this strange alien world.

Outside two forms stood, beings with a darkened twisted life-glow. Impure. The Elders had mentioned these before as well… and the young elemental realized with a shiver of horror just what those two things were. Humans.

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