Well, I’m not at 50k yet, but I’m picking up momentum. I wrote 3500 words yesterday, and am planning toward hitting that same number today, which will have me solidly crossing the 20k line. From there, it’ll be a long road to 50k, but shorter than it was from 10k, where I was just a couple days ago.
Things I’ve learned in the last few days? Mostly, that I suck at creating believable rituals that aren’t either trite, pedantic or offensive. As proof of this failing, and perhaps in an effort to get some constructive criticism around how I can make this better, I’m including an excerpt today from the ascension ritual description that I wrote yesterday. Today I’ll be writing the ritual itself, unless my brain spits out another, better, plan. One never knows with these things! As always, please keep in mind that that passage is virtually unedited, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, so believe that I am just as horrified at the quality of the writing as you are!
“So, can you guys finally tell me what to expect out of this ascension ceremony? Please?” I asked.
“Certainly,” Marco responded. Tyr rose and retrieved yet another of the ubiquitous large leather tomes, this one from a pile I hadn’t noticed, near the door to the reception area. He must have brought it up earlier and left it there until it was needed. Tyr handed me the book and Marco continued, “The ascension ceremony is detailed in it’s ancient long form in this book. We’ll be using a shorter more modern form tomorrow when we bind you to the pack. While there are many parts to the whole ceremony, the only part that you’ll be required to actively participate in is the binding itself. Seer Jothan Wilden will preside over the ceremony, as he did for Adelina when she became Theron. He will speak the words that will invoke the old magics, that will bind you, body and soul to the hearts and minds of all the wolves in all the packs, everywhere. The words he will speak cannot be spoken outside the circle of alphas, but you’ll find them inscribed in the book you hold. You should read them later this afternoon, so you understand the responsibility you’ll be asked to accept. When he has completed the reading, he’ll ask each of the alphas to accept you. This is merely a formality, like asking if anyone has any objections at a wedding. No one will speak up, all will accept you. If you fail them in some way once you become Theron, then they’ll just challenge you and kill you, and the champion that slays you will take your place.”
“Now there’s a cheery thought, thanks for that,” I snarked.
“Yes, well, it is the truth of things, painful as it may be to hear,” Marco responded, “now, where was I? Ah yes. Once they’ve all spoken their acceptance of you, the silver knife and chalice will be passed around the room. Each alpha will cut them self, usually on the palm or forearm, and bleed into the chalice. When the chalice is filled with blood from each of the alphas, the Seer will once again invoke the moon, and this time with all the elements as well. He’ll say a prayer over the blood and add in a sachet of ingredients whose combination is known only to him and his line. There will be a great peal of thunder and the sky will be split with lightning. You will be handed the chalice to drink it’s contents. You must drink it all down, without spilling a drop.”
“More blood? What is it with blood magic today?” I asked, mostly just to make the seneschal stop talking for a moment. This was a lot of information to digest at one time.
“Child, if you grow queasy at this tiny hint of blood, then perhaps it would be best for you to give up your heirship and go rogue, to live out your life among the humans, for it will not be long before one of the true alphas scents this fear and ends you,” Marco admonished.
“No, it’s not, I’m not actually queasy, I can handle the blood, this is just a lot of information to take in,” I hastened to clarify.
“Embry uses humor and sarcasm to cover her fear. It is not a fear of blood that she is struggling to overcome, but a fear of being thrust into this new roll and finding herself wanting. Would you not share that fear, had you found yourself in her position, at her age?” Tyr asked Marco with a glare.
“In truth, had I found myself in Embry’s position, I would have already run. The road she is stepping out on is rough and fraught with obstacles, but I believe that with you and I, plus her friends, by her side, we can navigate her through it. That is what her mother believed as well,” Marco said.
I made a mental note to ask Marco about these mysterious conversations he’d had with my mother about me, but this was not the time or place. “Thanks Tyr,” I said, shooting both him and Marco grateful smiles, “Marco, please, go on. What happens next in the ritual?” I asked.
“Drinking from the chalice is often the turning point of the ritual,” Marco continued as if he’d never been interrupted. “If we had access to the library, Tyr or I could show you the Seer’s diary of previous ascension rituals, which details the reaction of each of the previous Theron’s to drinking the contents. Some are able to walk away from the ritual as steady on their feet as you please, and immediately lead the alphas in the ceremonial first hunt. Some are sickened, falling to their knees or even passing out briefly, before rising to lead the hunt. It is believed that the severity of the reaction is in direct proportion to the level of attunement the Theron is able to achieve with the pack, and the strength of any new powers that reveal themselves. Adelina herself had the strongest reaction, passing out for several hours. I remember clearly having to carry her to her chamber, hoping she’d wake in time to hunt, and frantically planning for the hunt to be postponed until the following evening, should she not wake. In the end, she came to her senses mere hours before daybreak, and was able to lead the men out onto the hunting grounds herself, but it took all her strength to make it through that first hunt. Upon her return, she did not leave her rooms again for days.”
“And the pack does not see this reaction, passing out in front of them even, as weakness?” Rox asked, from her position across the room, stirring a vile smelling concoction Wellie had boiling over a Bunsen burner.
“No, quite the opposite actually. As it has been proven out over the years that the strongest Therons have had the strongest reactions, the pack has grown to respect this overt collapse as an omen of strength that is to come,” Marco answered. “Truly, our worst case scenario for Embry’s ascension would be for her to have no reaction at all. And before you suggest it, Mr. Scott, she cannot fake a reaction. For one this, the Seer would know immediately, being being a sensitive healer as well as a seer, and for another, what good would it do us for Embry to risk faking a reaction and then not gain any obvious new power. That would be a sure and certain way to usher her to her death. No, we will have to trust in the path Adelina has set us all upon, and believe in whatever it was that she saw in Embry all those years ago, when she refused the pack’s urging to beget another heir.”
“Yay, yet another thing to worry about,” I groused. Marco’s cell phone rang before he could do anything other than throw a sharp glance in my direction. He stepped out into the foyer to answer, and did not return immediately.
“Presumably that was Cook, calling to inform the seneschal that lunch has been delivered and is waiting at the bottom of the stairs,” Tyr surmised. “Shall we clear off the desk to make room for the food?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said. “Let me just leave out this pad and pen, we can work on my speech for tonight while we eat.”
Moments later Marco returned bearing two large shopping bags and a tray of drink cups with lids and straws. “Cook seems to have outdone himself on lunch. He mentioned on the phone that he was sure her ladyship would be hungry, after how she picked at her breakfast, and admonished me that even if her grief had washed away her hunger, I was to force some food into her gullet. How one forces one’s liege into anything is beyond me, but I thought to make you aware of the sentiment at least. It seems your supporters number beyond those within these four walls.” With that, he dumped the bags on my desk and held the tray around to everyone to grab a drink.
“What’s for eats?” Rox asked, eagerly, pawing through the bags herself before waiting on an answer. “Oooo… looks like fresh crusty rolls, with some of last night’s roast, all sliced up for sandwiches, she said, pulling out wrapped packages and smelling them deeply as she passed them around to all of us. Marco reached into the second bag and produced paper plates and napkins, passing each around to all of us as well. “Mmm, and this smells like some kind of cheese,” Rox said, pulling out yet another wrapped package and handing it off to Wellie. “Brie maybe?”
“Smells more like gouda to me. Trust a wolf to know her meats but not her cheeses,” Wellie said, laughing. “Oi Tyr, was there a cheese knife in that other bag, or are we meant to just rip this wedge into pieces with our bare hands?” he asked.