Thursday, November 02, 2006

Abandon beat chocolate

chocolate_chunks.jpgI used this list of words to drive the second scene in my NaNo novel this month. (I'm up to "incense" so far. I'll post what I come up with at the end of the day.) (Yes, there are 2 s's and no x.) Though not important, it's weird that I don't know where the list came from. It was tacked onto the bottom of a bunch of characters Kat and I came up with back in September. The mind is failing!

Use them in a story or write individual sentences for each.
vicious/viscous (Pick one. I had written down viscious which is an amalgamation of the two ;-)

1 comment:

Joyce Fetteroll said...

Here's the two scenes of the NaNoWriMo novel I wrote from the list of 26 words from last Thursday's writing prompt. Since this was the first introduction of all the characters the words could drive the scene and they took it in interesting directions. The cantankerous senior citizens came out more angry than cantankerous I think ;-) but I like how Kam turned out. :-)

abandon, beat, chocolate, demonic, examine, fix, garnet, habit, incense, jealousy, knife, liar, mew, necklace, ooze, pearl, quit, ransom, scavenger, smuggle, teacher, uneven, viscous, whitewash, year, zeal

“Abandon that hand,” Florista said over Mood’s shoulder gazing at the cards in her friend’s hand through thick lenses. “You never win with that card.”

“Well I can’t now, can I?” Mood growled but continued to play.

“’Course you can, sweetie, you can still beat me,” Birdie chirped with pleasure at Florista’s loose lips and Mood’s stubbornness then nibbled at one of the chocolate bits in the large pile before her being used as counters, which was why she lost even when she won. She rarely had enough counters by the end of the game.

The two elderly women faced each other in their accustomed seats next to the bright front window in the Torchwood Tavern that gave them enough light to see their games. They’d needed to chase off a couple of young mothers and their infants who had dared to take the table they’d held every afternoon for the past fifty two years. Florista hovered at Mood’s shoulder since her hemorrhoids were acting up and Junior Jamyard, the only male of their party, who joined them once or twice a week, snoozed in his seat after having lost several games.

Torchwood’s had been around for two hundred years and the owner and cook was at least that old. Everyone called him Torchwood but no one was sure if that was his name or just a carry over from the tavern. Unfortunate about his teeth but he made a nutmeg custard pastry that was worth killing for and the coffee had just enough fortification to get them through the afternoon.

Birdie wriggled her butt in the chair that had either conformed to her shape over the years or she to it. So Mood had a Demonic Dream, did she? Mood always complained that the Demonic Dream cursed her hand even though she refused to remove it from her deck. Birdie examined her own hand for cards that could counter a Demonic Dream. Evanescent Encounter? Hunkering Hoard? Melancholy Moocher? No, either the Chained Chastity or the Voracious Vortex would fix Mood.

Mood laid down a Bramble Burn powered up with two chips which sent up a rush of flame. Birdie countered with a bare Evanescent which, though not normally powerful, foamed and quenched the fire. Birdie laid down the Hoard and powered it up with three chips. Mood laid down a Pulchritudinous Pilfer. Birdie gasped and automatically clutched her cards though it wouldn’t do any good.

“Ant spit. Ant spit. Ant spit,” Birdie chanted as the cards wriggled in her fingers.

“What, are your knees still skinned?” Mood cackled. She hadn’t heard that chant since she was eight.

“Maybe,” Florista put in. “Heard she and Hogberth were going at it in the laundry room.”

Mood barked a laugh.

Birdie nudged the Moocher card but it clung to the others and the Voracious Vortex popped out to land on the table as Birdie choked back a curse. Well she still had the Chastity card and -- she drew one from her deck -- a Quiescent Quelling. She shrugged.

Mood sucked in her breath as she played the Vortex which opened to suck down a screaming Hoard and the chips with it. They appeared in her piles when Mood put the card in her stash. Mood then laid down the Demonic Dream that conjured a different vision for each person. Birdie countered with the Chastity card and a smirk. Birdie reached for them then realized the Demonic Dream was still active.

Mood cackled a laugh. “Needs to counter my dream, not yours!”

“Yours is always Embily’s husband!”

Mood sputtered.

“Florista told me.”

Mood swung around and glared at Florista behind her. “We were just chatting!”

Mood turned back and smiled. “Well it isn’t any more.”

“What is it?” Florista asked.

“Yeah, right, like I’d tell you.”

Mood played her two last cards and won Birdie’s in quick succession.

“Corpusculent crap,” Birdie said.

“Another game?” Mood asked, smiling pleasantly, revealing a dark gap behind her prominent canines.

“Not without my Vortex,” Birdie said.

Mood gathered up her cards and chips and slipped them into the once garnet bag, that had grown darker with age and grime. She patted them from habit as though they’d been a good child and slipped them into her shoulder bag.

Mood sniffed. “What’s that smell? It’s like sheep shit.”

Just then Torchwood burst from the kitchen, like a massive wild boar, charging towards the table at the window. Customers and servers squealed and scurried from his path, clearing a way for him.

“Jamyard!” Torchwood boomed.

Jamyard jerked awake with a squeak, shoving himself as far back in his chair as he could.

In Torchwood’s wake scurried his tiny wife, Pugsi, chanting “Honeyhoneyhoneyhoneyhoneyhoney ...” ineffectually.

Torchwood halted at the table and slammed his knuckles down on the heavy oak planks. The table protested with creaks and groans. His red rimmed dark eyes bored into Jamyard. His breath huffed between tusks curving up towards his flat nose that pumped like bellows. His normally maroon skin seemed to blaze with red anger.

Pugsi clamped her dark red hands about his arm. “Sweetiesweetiesweetie ...”

“Jamyard!” he bellowed in a controlled voice. “What do you smell?”

Jamyard swallowed. “Uh ....” But he was barely breathing let alone smelling.

“Incense,” Mood hissed from the corner of her mouth.

“Incen -- Oh, yeah. Uh.”

“I will not have that smell in my restaurant. It gets into the food. It disrupts the palate. It interferes with preparation and the dining. You will get rid of it immediately.”

“Yes. Right. Right away.” Jamyard scooted his chair back as his stick-like body ratcheted upward in arthritic jerks. He looked as though one good bellow from Torchwood would splinter him.’

“I have told you.” Torchwood leaned closer. “And told you.” He leaned even closer as the table groaned again. “And told you to keep the funerals away from my restaurant.”

“Yes, yes, I’ll check into it.”

“You’ve said that before so it doesn’t mean much any more does it?”

“No. Yes. I mean it should mean something. I’ll check on it.” Jamyard edged toward the door with Mood, Birdie and Florista in a nervous knot trailing him. Torchwood’s red-rimmed gaze blazed at them all the way out the door and past the big window.

“A little smelly incense ... Fifty two years we’ve been coming there,” Mood gasped trotting after Jamyard whose long stick legs were setting a brutal pace. “You’d think he’d have a bit more patience with you.”

“Yeah, it’s not like it happens more than once or twice a year,” Birdie said, breath coming in small quick gasps. “It’s not like we’re armpit deep in Nequil. What’s the big deal?”

“I dunno,” Florista piped in. “I was eating when the smell hit and it made the custard taste like shit.”

“Like you know what shit tastes like,” Mood snapped at her.

Florista gasped and halted. “My pastry! I left it behind!”

Mood grabbed her arm and hurried her along. She didn’t want to miss the show.

Head down, Jamyard strode down the sidewalk, turned the corner onto the main street and they not only could see the source of the smell but hear it too.

Draped in varying shades of fluttering red, the color of life to honor the life that had just ended, a procession of several dozen creatures, high stepping in slow motion, made its way down the middle of the street. In the middle of the procession was a four wheeled cart draped in white and multicolored feathers plucked from the grievers. Each clutched either a tall stick of bells that they rapped with each step or a pan of incense, the source of the smell that had set Torchwood off. If someone squinted at them, they looked like a solemn parade of long legged wading birds.

In the wake of the procession, people of various shapes and sizes and species, covered their faces with hands and scarves and sleeves and waved the air, trying to escape the smell of the incense.

Jamyard fumbled in his pockets and pulled out several packets of matchsticks. Shoving the matches at the girls as he shoved them in the direction of the parade, they fumbled at the matches to keep from dropping them, he said, “Here, go down to the corner and relight their incense.” Giving them a final shove, Jamyard grabbed the knit fuschia wrap from Florista’s shoulders -- eliciting a squeak from her and another shove from him -- to drape it around his own.

Jamyard hurried over to the parade to fall into slow step next to them. “Please forgive me,” Jamyard said, reaching towards the cone of incense in the pan and pinching the top. He grunted with surprised pain at the intense heat. “I’m so sorry, there are ordinances preventing incense on this section of the street.” He dropped his pace, letting the another Nequil catch up to him so he could do the same with the next pan of incense. “I do apologize,” he said laced with a grimace of pain. There was a rasp of low chatter that the spread through the line as he worked his way backward but only one snap of disapproval and that from his daughter, Rodsy, on the sidewalk at the end of the procession.

“What are you doing, Father?” she hissed at him.

“I’ve told you repeatedly to route the Nequil down Pendant Road.” Jamyard rubbed his fingers together, already feeling the blisters forming.

“And I’ve told you repeatedly that Flobbish retaliates for a month by delaying orders and sending over poor quality merchandise. What good is that when the Nequil gather for a week after the funeral. They need to be fed.” She crossed her arms across her chest, threatening to wrinkle the precise lines of her crisp red robe worn over darker red pants that made her look entirely professional.

“Not if you pay her well enough. You’re being cheap. Accept that we don’t make any money on the Nequil funerals. That’s the way it’s always been. We make up for it at the wake.”

“It only needs to be that way so you can sit in Torchwood's playing games all afternoon. Either you’re running the business or you’re not. And you can’t run the business from Torchwood’s.” She hissed again. “So if you don’t mind, I have business to attend to.” She turned on her heel and followed the Nequil, keeping pace on the sidewalk next to them.

Her words stabbed like a knife into his pride but indignity straightened Jamyard’s bony spine and thrust out his sharp jaw. What good was owning a business if you couldn’t run it in the way that pleased you? She was just jealous because she didn’t know how to relax. Ungrateful whelp.

It figured there would be a Nequil funeral on his day off. The problem was the Nequil refused to have their bodies tampered with after death and a dead Nequil body would smell worse than their incense in less than half a day, so for them funeral and incineration happened within hours of death. In contrast the wake afterwards could last for days or a week.

Keeping enough distance between them that she couldn’t continue the argument, Jamyard followed his daughter. When she reached Mood, Florista and Birdie her glare blamed them for the disruption but their return glare was powerful enough to deflect it. The three women stood in the wake of the procession a litter of feathers and matches at their feet, all looking a bit green from the barnyard powerful incense drifting back at them.

“Well, I’m going home.” Birdie picked up a feather and stuck it in her hair.

Jamyard snatched it out. “Don’t be rude. Or at least save your rudeness until they’ve turned the corner.” Jamyard checked his daughter halfway down the block to make sure she hadn’t seen.

Mood’s gaze had locked onto a store further down the street as she watched Windstrike, her daughter-in-law -- ex-daughter-in-law -- enter the swordsmith’s shop, with her very odd child at her side. Windstrike. What a ridiculous name for a daughter-in-law. “Yeah. I’ll see you tomorrow. I have some errands to run.”

“Liar,” Birdie said, her sharp eyes having seen what Mood saw.

Mood skewered her with a blue squint and pressed lips. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Mood left her friends and crossed the street, amidst a swirl of feathers and fading shit smell. Approaching the swordsmith’s storefront, Mood peered in, but the window was so packed with weapons that it was impossible to see anything inside.

“Mood! I thought I saw you through the Nequil procession. Look, Mew, it’s Gemma.”

Windstrike squatted down and looked back inside the shop. She was a solid woman with large hands. What had once been a passably pretty face was scarred and a piece of one ear was missing. Unlike a normal person, she didn’t even try to hide it, in fact she pulled her black hair back into a tail and dangled an uncut blue gem from what was left of her lobe. How did one go about losing part of an ear lobe? It seemed to Mood that anything that would remove an ear lobe would as likely remove a head.

Windstirke held out her arm and Mew, her son, Mood’s grandson, stepped out onto the sidewalk. He stared at her with her son’s dark rimmed pale blue eyes from beneath her son’s wild fuzz of hair that was been white on her son and red on his son. The boy had dotted his hair with yellow and pink ribbons and daisies. Mood knew the boy had done it for his mother was definitely not a ribbon and flower person. There was even a daisy chain necklace of flowers about his neck. He was six and as far as Mood knew had never spoken.

“Are you leaving?” Mood asked.

“Just for a few days. There’s a money bags oozing gold who wants to travel from Northpost to Southwork. A generous ooze of it will fill the pockets of a dozen of us to park our butts on the back of padfoots and look fierce.”

Mood supposed the scars and missing lobe enhanced that image though it seemed to her that an unscarred swordsman implied greater skill.

“And the boy?”

“He’ll stay with my sister.”

“If you want, I’ll watch him,” Mood blurted out. It was often on the tip of her tongue to offer, but she never said it. The child made her nervous but he was her grandson and the only offspring of her son.

Windstrike met Mew’s gaze. Mew looked back at Mood. Something had been communicated but Mood couldn’t tell how. “All right then,” Windstrike said brightly, her hand resting on Mew’s shoulders. “I’ll drop him off early tomorrow on my way out.”

Mood nodded as Mew stared at her.


“Green Goddess, what is that smell?” Cazzi asked rubbing a clawed hand over her scaled ox-dragon nose. With a shiver of embarrassed panic she sniffed beneath her arm pits and breathed a sigh of relief. Then she eyed her lunch companion.

“Not me!” Kam said, taking a generous bite of a vegetable roll as the ox dragon jeweler and ex-warrior florist shared a late lunch in the back room of the jeweler’s. “It’s coming from outside.”

“Well, then.” Cazzi picked up a pearl from a black velvet tray and examined it with her large green eye that was more refined than a jeweler’s loupe. Though her fingers looked too large to be useful for a jeweler, they were remarkably skilled.

“Quit it. Lunch time, Cazzi, lunchtime,” Kam said.

The ox-dragon put down the pearl reluctantly and picked up the half chicken. She popped it in her mouth and chewed with a crunch of bones and squelch of juicy flesh.

“That was part of the ransom paid for Lord Mangrove,” Cazzi said around a mouthful.

“Oh?” Kam remarked, somewhat intrigued.

“The ransom paid for Lord Mangrove,” Cazzi said slower and more carefully.

Kam looked puzzled then said “Oh! Where did it come from? How’d you get it?”

“Good questions!”

“How do you know?”

“May I?” Cazzi asked, pointing at the pearl with mock seriousness.

“Sure, just for a moment.”

Cazzi picked it up and turned it to reveal faint black marks. “Even your human eyes should be able to see that.”

Kam squinted. “Looks like some kind of scavenger bird. Odd thing to put on a pearl.”

“Exactly. Which is why I knew it was part of the ransom. It’s a Dusky Degringe.” Cazzi paused looking at Kam significantly.

Kam shook his head.

“Ah, your culture is being carried on the wings of the degringe straight to the depths of hell.”

“Don’t judge the state of cultural learning by me! If it didn’t have to do with fighting then the family didn’t value it. Go ahead. You be my teacher. I take it the degringe has something to do with death.”

“Messenger of death. Carries word that a soul is approaching the gates to the afterlife.”

“Ah! Actually I do know that! We called them Death Messengers.”

“Then I rescind my scoff. The Degringe is part of the Mangrove family crest. Which is why I knew it was part of the ransom. There was a necklace containing seven of them. I have one. I picked it up from some smugglers.”

“Smugglers! Since when are you dealing with smugglers?”

“SInce they bring me intriguing items like this.” Cazzi placed the pearl squarely in the center of the black velvet.

“Flexible morals are as good as no morals,” Kam said taking a bit of his vegetable roll and watching the ox dragon from the corner of his eye.

“They say that those with no morals are the most critical of those with morals.”

“I’ve never heard that.”

“Perhaps because it didn’t have to do with fighting. Or because you don’t hang around ox dragon philosophers much.”

“Maybe it only applies to ox dragons.”

“You think?”

“And maybe escapees from oppressive warrior clans whose conscience pricks them on occasion. So what’s it mean? The pearl?”

“Probably nothing more than the obvious. It’s been nearly ten years. The necklace would have been broken up to make it easier to sell. The bits wandered about until one pearl fell into the hands of smugglers and was brought back into the country. Just ironic that it should return to where it began.”

“Or like a vortex sucking it all back.”


Kam crumpled up the wrapper from his vegetable roll and tossed it into the trash across the room with perfect accuracy as he rose. “Well, I should get back and open shop up again. What will you do with it?”

“Ponder on its journey. Can’t very well sell it, can I?”

“Not sure I’d be able to keep it. It feels cursed. I mean Lord Mangrove died, didn’t he?”

“Ox dragons are immune to curses.”

“Then do with it as you please. Maybe you can collect the full set.”

The ox dragon hummed as Kam left through the side door of the jeweler’s shop that opened into the alley between their buildings. He felt a connection with the ox dragon and thought she felt the same both of them being exiles from their people. Well, technically, in his case it was a self-imposed exile.

Crossing the uneven paving stones that had heaved with last winter’s frost Kam unlocked the side door to enter his flower shop. The heady mixture of scents enveloped him and filled him with life and death. Winding through the back room, littered with the detritus of the morning’s arrangings, Kam entered the front room where he unlocked the door and removed the Back Momentarily sign.

As he stepped back to swing the door inward his foot clung to the floor for a moment. Looking down there was a puddle of viscous fluid oozing beneath the door.

“Sewage scum.” Why hadn’t he remembered this was the week? And why hadn’t the deterrents worked?

Kam jerked the door open fully. As he stepped out, he caught from the corner of his eye a rope of fluid dripping and leapt onto the sidewalk with an athletic twist to avoid it. Looking upward he saw what he already knew would be there: two horats hanging from the eaves mating.

“You puking toad lickers!” He growled up at the grunting fleshy fliers who could go at it for hours. The metal deterrents guaranteed to discourage horats that he had attached to the eaves just a month ago before their mating season lay on the sidewalk amidst the ooze from their copulation.

“You butt sucking offal eaters.”

“You do swear most creatively.”

Kam gasped and turned to face Windstrike standing with her son on the sidewalk smiling at him. “Oh! Thank you. I think. I mean ...” Kam swallowed. His heart pounded and he could feel his arm pits grow moist. A breeze caught a tendril of her black hair and draped it across her slightly crooked nose from a badly set break. She scraped it away with strong fingers calloused by sword work. Each time he encountered her he was more certain there was no more beautiful woman in all the world.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to distract you.”

“That’s okay. I mean you didn’t. I mean you did but it’s better than looking at humping horats.” She was better than humping horats? Great Gazul just strike me dead and put me out of my misery, Kam thought.

“They are a nuisance.”

“Yes. And nothing deters them. They seem to like my eaves especially. Every three months. One month it was twice.”

She smiled. “Perhaps this spot was a ritual mating ground for horat before the town was built.”

“Maybe. Um.” His brain raced to find something to say to her.

“Or maybe it’s the flowers.”

“Oh! I hadn’t thought of that.” Kam looked up at the grunting, twilling, writhing mass of flesh hanging by their toes from the beams supporting the roof. “Maybe I should just give up and have the door moved off to one side.”

“Or some kind of umbrella or canopy over the door to deflect the, um, juiciness.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that either. That might work. It would certainly be cheaper.”

Windstrike smiled again and made a move as if to move on but Kam said, “Wait. Wait right there.” He leapt over the puddle again and dashed inside to scan the loose flowers in buckets of water. Spotting a sturdy variety of small flowers, he grabbed several and scooted back out through the door. Kam squatted down before Mew. “Here. I’ve noticed you like flowers as much as I do.”

Fastening Kam with his direct gaze Mew fisted their stiff stems and clutched the pink flowers to his chest.

“Thank you, Kam, you’re always very sweet to him.”

Her words sent a warm shiver through him. “His a sweet kid.” An odd one, admittedly, but he sensed no meanness in the child. Sometimes Kam almost felt like the boy was looking inside of him, studying him. Despite his secrets, it didn't bother him. In fact it seemed cleansing somehow that someone could see who he was and not draw away. Kam knew he was just projecting his needs onto the poor child which wasn’t fair and yet it was comforting to imagine.

“Thank you, Kam. We should get going. I have to leave in the morning.”

“You have a job?”

“Some guard work. I should be back in a few days.”

“Does Mew have a place to stay? He could stay with me. He might enjoy the flowers.”

“He’s chosen to stay with his gemm-- his grandma. But thank you for offering. Perhaps he might like that, to spend some time in your shop.”

“That would be great, anytime, sometime when you get back.”

She smiled again and moved on down the sidewalk. He watched her disappear into the clusters of people shopping as the horat slime plopped at his feet.

“You should invite her to dinner.”

For the second time that day, Kam turned with a startled gasp. Cazzi lounged against the doorway of her shop.

“I can’t. I shouldn’t have offered to watch Mew. I got carried away.”

“Your loss.”

“Yes, it is,” Kam said sadly looking down the sidewalk after Windstrike, then up at the horat as a distraction.

Cazzi regretted her bluntness. “If you want help whitewashing the front when they’re done, just give a shout.”

“Thanks,” Kam said, gazing up at the already yellowing stains on the front of the building. “I’d appreciate it. In fact, I might paint it pink. And yellow. And blue,” he said with sudden zeal. It would be putting his mark on the place, indicating his intent to stay. It shouldn’t feel like a place to escape to but a place to live. And he’d have to figure out a way to protect the paint and the stoop from the horat. If flowers enhanced their coupling, well that was part of what he sold and it would be hypocritical to be upset with them.