I’m behind already (only at 4,000 words the morning of day 4) but I will get caught up and I will finish this draft (I’m hoping actually for 60,000 words) by the end of November! This year I will be a winner! Tomorrow I’ll share my makeshift cover for Mark of the Red Wolves (though it’s real cover IS already designed and paid for) and its (for now) blurb. For today, however, I share its opening paragraphs!
The Enchanted Forest stood eerily still at this moment between dusk and dawn. In the years since the Magical Reformation, stories were told among other beings about this particular span of time, the minutes when the sun took the moon’s place, the seconds when the stars were there but barely visible, and the instant the mist clung to the earth before disappearing entirely. Humans, elves, mages, and pixies alike whispered about it being the safe hour, the hour no beasts roamed the wood and they could pass through safely, without fear of becoming one of them. Of course, Ruby knew the reason for the foreboding tale, and she knew it to be true.
The last of the wolves’ howls had trailed away and now one would hardly know they’d spent the past twelve or so hours prowling and seeking, ‘protecting’ as Big said. “We are the Protectors, wolf 5,” he’d spat at her. Never would he use the names they gave themselves as they tried to remember their pasts. He wanted them to forget their beingness and become only the wolves he could use for his own means. “You ought to be proud to be one of us. Now eat and rest.” Ruby had eaten, but rather than rest, she waited for every last one of Big’s pack to drift off to sleep, shifting form one by one, Big the last of them since he’d been beast the longest, the first.
Ruby shuddered, shifting herself, and sat trembling, arms around her knees, holding on as if fearful if she didn’t she’d change back. She waited for her nausea to pass. There was a new wolf, burnt red fur like the others, coiled in the corner. She thanked the fairies it hadn’t been her doing. The memory of Lex changing him, however, still haunted her. Every time they attacked a being and took them for part of Big’s army Ruby’s heart hurt. She wanted no part of this anymore. She didn’t even care if they never got their magic back, and she didn’t want to be part of Big’s war to regain it. Maybe there’d been a good and logical reason their magic had been taken away at the time of the last war, the war that resulted in the reformation. Seeing how vicious and selfish Big was, she could imagine him with magic, misusing it, she understood the danger of a magical beast like him.
There was one thing Ruby wanted back, however. Something else they’d all lost after The Magical Reformation, and she was determined to get it back no matter what it took. Ruby rose without disturbing her sweet friend Ming who lay at her feet, his black hair draping across his forehead. Even in sleep, his face looked troubled. She would find a way to free them both from their lifelong bond to this pack. She felt for the ruby at her throat, the one with the inscription she held dear, and slipped her satchel over her shoulder, hiding it under the hooded crimson cloak she slid into, pulling its hood up over her head to hide the Mark as she stole away into the wood.