This week, I’m joining the work-in progress blog hop. Christine Reyes tagged me. Here’s the bio from her website:
Christine Reyes is a Los Angeles based writer who’s a sucker for the outcasts, the underdogs and the unsung heroes. She’s convinced that she was born in the wrong century; she was meant for a world where interstellar travel is as ho-hum as a trip to the supermarket. To make up for this obvious error, she plans to write as many sci fi stories as she possibly can in her lifetime.
You can find her post here.
We’re making a detour from Iola’s early days in the temple to double back to her first encounter with temple life, way back before we initially meet her in Scrapplings. Although Scrapplings is already published, the Anamat series as a whole is still in progress. The series follows Iola and her friends through into their early adulthood as god-like dragons fade away and their civilization crumbles.
A priestess stood in the temple doorway, orange robes flowing like clouds in the sunset. She laid her hands on the head of a man half-kneeling before her. She was probably older than Iola’s mother, but she was graceful and tall, her clear eyes observing everything around her.
“I’ll have your horse brought around,” she said to the man. She subtly gestured for Iola to sit on a bench near the gate.
Iola tried not to stare. If he had a horse, that meant he was a prince, or an important official. She’d only seen one horse, and that at a distance, on the trip to the market the year before. The villagers had turned away from it and muttered warding charms – horses were from foreign lands, a recent fashion among the princes and their guardsmen. They were not the dragons’ own. The horse’s hooves clumped onto the road. Iola focused her gaze on a niche in the wall to stop herself from running to look. She heard the man mount and ride away towards Teganum keep.
The sound of flowing water echoed from deeper inside the temple, reminding her again that she was very thirsty. There was a priestess who passed through her hamlet every year, on her way to see the chief in the next village. When she came, people brought offerings, or hid in their cottages if they had nothing to give. Iola hadn’t ever been able to see much of her through the little space between the roof and the wall, but one year she thought she had seen the priestess looking back up at her. Of course, she had probably had imagined it. If they didn’t want her in her own hamlet, why would the elegant priestess even glance at her?
Finally, the orange-robed priestess returned from the inner parts of the temple. “What brings you to us?” she asked Iola.
“I… I heard I could stay here tonight. I’m told I’m going to Anamat.”
The priestess nodded, suppressing a laugh. “You are young to join the temples yet. Are you sure you don’t want to go back home, to wait until you’re older?” the priestess asked.
“Oh. But I couldn’t, couldn’t possibly. They said…” Iola’s thoughts trailed off. Her mother had obviously thought it was past time that she went – she wouldn’t know how to go back, even if she could face it. It might be easier to get to Anamat. Her old home was a long way away already, thanks to Tegana. “I think they wanted me to leave last year, from my village.”
“I see.” The priestess frowned. “Have you eaten today?”
“No, honored one, I don’t think I have.”
“Where did you come from?”
“Over that way, the village part-way up the mountainside, by the forest.” Iola gestured vaguely towards the northwest, beyond the keep. Probably all such places were all the same to an important person like the priestess, and as far as Iola knew, her village didn’t even have a name.
The priestess eyed her skeptically. “No matter,” she muttered. “You’re the first one this year from over that direction. Come on along.”
She led Iola through a passageway inside the outer wall and to the back courtyard, the one with the gates that led out towards the dragon’s cave-gate in the forest.
“You can sleep in the shed over there,” the priestess said. “You may join us for the meal tonight. There’s water in the cistern if you need it now.” She looked Iola over again. “We’ll find you a waterskin for your journey. It’s some distance between springs along the Anamat road.”
“Do you… Does Tegana come here often?” Iola asked as she looked around the courtyard.
The priestess chuckled. “No, dear, not in a long time. We take our offerings to her at the gate. There was a time, long ago, in the legends…” The priestess looked wistful for a moment, then hurried away, leaving Iola alone, listening to the clatter of cooking.
Victoria Goddard is next up on the tour.
Victoria Goddard is a fantasy novelist, gardener, and occasional academic. She has a PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto, walked across the length of England in 2013, and currently works in a bookshop. Victoria is currently working on Stargazy Pie, the first book of Greenwing & Dart, a series about magic, manners, and secret societies in what used to be considered the dullest town in Northwest Oriole until Jemis Greenwing came back from university.
You’ll be able to find her post at her blog, http://roseandphoenix.wordpress.com/
This blog tour seems to have branched. Pauline Ross also posted today at http://paulinemross.co.uk/index.php/2015/03/the-work-in-progress-blog-tour-the-mines-of-asharim/