Impress; The Castle in the Story scene snippet

I’m using LibreOffice Impress (their version of PowerPoint) as a sort of virtual index cards for outlining. It’s working much better than I expected. I create them in Normal view, then click on the Slide Sorter tab to organize them. If anyone out there uses a notecard outline but hates the space they take up, I suggest giving this a try.

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A while back, I mentioned that I was revising The Castle in the Story. After outlining a bit, I realized I was going to have to redraft the first fifteen chapters. This morning, I wrote part of the first redrafted scene.

Now, please be aware that the scene excerpt below is subject to change, even to the point of being thrown out entirely. Also, because I wrote this just a little while ago, there are bound to be typos and errors, etc. Please forgive those.

Anyway, here it is. Short, but progress is being made. Hopefully, I’ll add several more pages by the end of today.


Maple kept her footsteps soft as she followed the swaggering merchant with the fat purse jangling in front of him toward the pleasure district. A fat priest of the High God talked with one of the more wealthy wives of the merchants of Refuge, both of them wearing clothes more light, airy, and suitable for late-summer than Maple’s elven cloak and both of them moved so that they were in her way. Not that they knew it. She hoped. If the man who had sold her the cloak was right, no one would be able to see her, as long as she kept the hood up.

But the streets of Refuge were narrow as well as dusty. And she wasn’t as thin as she had been when she was younger. Her lithe frame had a few more curves than she wanted. That was why it had to be today that she bought her freedom. There was no time left.

She gathered the cloak around her and somehow managed to ease her way between the priest and one of the misshapen walls of the mud brick building next to him.

The priest murmured flirtatious pleasantries that Maple heard as a vague hum. Her sights were still on the merchant, who had just turned into the street that would lead to the best known brothel in Refuge.
She had to get to him before he spent his money there. Anyone heading that way, dressed like he was in robes of purple and red with embroidered birds on the cuffs and hem, had to have some money behind him. Losing him, she would never have the chance to buy back her freedom.

The fat priest leaned toward the wealthy wife and Maple quickly left them behind, clutching the cloak tightly around her, terrified she’d be seen.

No risk. That’s what she’d thought when she’d bought it. She’d more than make up for the lost money before the deadline with a cloak like this.

But fewer merchants arrived and those who lived in Refuge weren’t easy marks. And good as she was at locks, she’d never really enjoyed breaking into someone’s house to steal. Not since Marrish the Mouse had been disembowled in the public square for it ten years ago.

So she’d stuck with pickpocketing, a lesser skill of hers, and look where it’d gotten her. Following a swaggering merchant to a place she might end up if she didn’t get to him before the whores did.
Running as best she could while holding the cloak so the hood didn’t fall and the sides didn’t flap open, she breathed a sigh of relief as the merchant stopped to talk to one of the whores that walked the streets. She hadn’t tested the cloak, too afraid one of the other members of the guild would tell Handlee. Elven cloaks were rare enough in the Southlands that he might want it for himself.

But she’d never been sure if the cloak worked, or if she was just a better pickpocket when she wore it, and it was with this in mind that she hurried past, letting go of the cloak long enough to reach out with knife and hand. With one swift cut, she relieved the merchant of his heavy burden and spun away, racing toward the streets that would lead to her hiding place.

He noticed, but didn’t see her. “Where–?”

She didn’t look behind her to see if he was following. There were no footsteps, no shouts.

And she realized, even in the middle of her jubilation, that that was odd.

Someone slammed into her, knocking her into a side alley. Before she knew what had happened, she was on the ground, a strong hand gripping her wrist, twisting her arm behind her back. She ground her teeth against the pain. She’d had worse. What concerned her was that she no longer felt the money bag in her hand.
Panicked at the loss, she struggled. “Give it back!”

“What isn’t yours? If I thought you’d face any justice in this city, I’d give you to the authorities.”




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