The Word Puzzle

Now, I know some of you have been instructing me to read MORE. I hate to disappoint, but I am still on A Game of Thrones, purely for the reason that it’s 700-odd pages long and I have been distracted and therefore not dedicated my entire day to reading it (shock, horror). I will, however, pledge to read EVERYONE’s recommendations as quickly as possible.

So, to my writing today. Yesterday I put my world together; continents (now reduced to simple countries when I ran out of ideas), peoples, religions and even what my peoples will look like. Thoroughly populated, my world now needs something happening…

So I played the Word Puzzle. Has anyone ever tried this? I printed off every single piece of fantasy writing I had ever done – from single sentences to my appalling teenage novel that I thought was amazing at the time. Then, I attacked…

Grab a pair of scissors, some glue and the scrapbook that you’re putting together (mine is a beautiful green and gold brocaded one that was £3 from Tiger in Basingstoke) and go for it. Some of it, I cringe at what I wrote, other bits I love it. In fact, I love one bit so much, that I kind of think it could be an opening! I am going to honour you all with this writing, and let you guys tear into it; be honest, and also I wonder – where could it go!?


In the city, the tavern was not one that would have been noticed by many. It was cramped between equally unremarkable buildings, down a shadowy street that elbowed itself between narrow roads and alleys. A sign hung above the door, paint peeling and hinges rusting from years of neglect. Rain dripped from the clogged gutter into the muddied street. The city was mostly paved or cobbled, but the smaller alleys had no surface, and when the rains came, the ground turned to ankle deep mud. The lamps that hung along the road, desperately trying to illuminate the gathering dark, stuttered in the breeze. The tavern sat in this gloom, carefully thrusting light from its narrow, smoky windows.

The cloaked figure brushed the shadows, and paused under the sign, glancing up at it – The Cork and Lantern. The door opened to allow a puddle of light to fall onto the figure’s feet, and a rush of heat and scent and noise rubbed itself against the dark. The person stepped inside, clods of mud falling off their boots onto the wooden floor. Raindrops sluiced from the cloak as the figure pulled back their hood, revealing a tall, broad male with dark hair tied back and stubble across his chin. The bartender glanced up and froze. The visitor flickered a smile. The rotund owner scuttled across, darting nervous eyes around the crowded room.

“Hello Belsmont,” the visitor announced in an undertone.

She at least had the decency to arrive around the back.”

“Ah, Belsmont, surely no one here would betray you.”

“Things have changed since you’ve been gone. No one can tell who is friend and who is enemy anymore. Here, come around to the kitchens, Aistren has food and mead waiting for you.”

Belsmont led the man around into the kitchens. Clattering noises assailed them. Barmaids sat on stools by the back door, smoking cigarettes – they were foreigners to the city, and the smoking was an unusual sight. The man regarded them for a moment, as Belsmont scuttled across to a young woman, whose brow was shining with sweat, and strands of hair had escaped her bun and were sticking to her temples.

“Aistren, please get a meal ready for our guest. Also, get a new barrel for him.”

Aistren glanced up at the man, who was still watching the blue-grey tendrils of smoke from the cigarettes. She narrowed her eyes, instantly suspicious. Feeling her gaze, the man looked across, and Aistren felt a jolt in her stomach at the sight of his eyes – one brown and one blue. A Cadellan with no slave band. Another one, after that woman.

“Another guest, Belsmont?” she snapped, turning away. “How do you expect me to run a kitchen whilst dealing with your guests?”

“Don’t ask questions,” he replied, more brusque than usual. “Just do it.”

Aistren flapped a hand at him and muttered the obligatory, “Yes, yes.”

“And our lady guest, where is she?”

“In the room you instructed for her to be in. Jan took the horse to the stable and made sure it was bedded down for the night.”

“If Jan could do the same with my horse.”

Aistren jumped and spun around. The man had approached them and was rolling an apple around on his palm. Aistren snatched the apple from him. The man pronounced it yan, with a thick Cadellan accent.


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