Today I am sharing with you the current opening scene, the first of Chapter 1. If you've read some of my older drafts, you'll see this is quite a different opening for many reasons. And if you've read my older drafts or not, I would really like--no, I CRAVE--your feedback.
Much love and thanks!
Glacia reached out and grabbed it tight. Not a bit of speed was lost as she slung herself around, making the sharp turn into the alley way in a split second. The hope that a few quick turns would shake off her pursuer still gripped her mind. She leapt gracefully over a pile of crates and rounded another corner. In a desperate attempt to boost her speed, she threw her bag from her shoulder. She couldn’t hear it land over the sound of her breath. Her chest was beginning to burn.
The alleyways were darker than the streets, which was simultaneously comforting and unsettling. Glacia hoped that the shadows would be enough to hide her. She almost laughed, then, when her next turn dumped her into a dead end. Of course it did, she thought, stomping a foot. She put her hands on her hips and breathed deeply. There was hardly anything else to do now; she could sense her pursuer catching up.
Now she was alone, in the dark, and the only way out was up. Clinching her teeth, she looked up to the red sky, barely visible between the towering black buildings.
As a last resort, she would take it. Normally, Glacia liked to avoid drawing such attention to herself. Taking flight in the middle of the city was highly frowned upon by decent folk. But, well, desperate times.
With a conceding sigh, she turned around to face the way she had come. Her eyes saw no one, but she knew better than to think there was no one there. She had learned long ago to trust her other senses far above her eyes.
She closed her eyes and did her best to focus. Yeah. He was there, just around the corner.
“Why are you following me?” she asked, leaning slightly to the left in an attempt to see her stalker.
She was met with silence.
“I’m not afraid of you.” She chuckled it a little. “I know that sounds like a silly thing to say, but I actually mean it. Just leave me alone. I don’t want to have to fight you.”
And that was the truth. He didn’t stand a chance. And she would hate herself for anything she had to do to him. She knew very well what her running away had looked like, but she had done it to protect him, not herself.
It was then that Glacia realized, with a comforting sense of pride, that this was the first time in many years that she was truly glad of her abilities. In the children’s home, they had always been a source of stress and pain. But here, alone in the streets, things were different. Not better, not worse, just refreshingly different.
Won’t be long until alone and in the streets is normal, Glacia thought with a weight settling on her shoulders. At sixteen, her schooling was over and her place in the familiar walls of the Dastarium Children’s Home was coming to a quick end.
A cool evening breeze rushed through the small space between the buildings and her breath instantly felt lighter. Her chest didn’t ache quite so much. She wiggled her fingers on one hand and felt them tingle with cold. She smiled. It was the first time her powers had made her do that.
She waited for something to happen next, but still her stalker was silent.
Then a realization shook her countenance: What if he wasn’t a stranger at all? What if he was just a complete idiot? Her stomach flipped and her breath once again grew short.
Her pursuer still did not move.
She exhaled, pursing her lips to the side. That was quite enough of that. There was no way it was Baeou. Besides, she would be able to recognize his glimmer of life energy when she closed her eyes.
She lifted up a hand, palm forward, and took a deep breath. “I’m warning you,” she stated. She was irritated at how nonthreatening she sounded. Tightening her jaw, she clinched her fingers inward and the air around her began to cool. The air was moist enough that it quickly began to crystallize. Ice crystals lined her fingers, and in the air just above her open hand, she pulled the freezing moisture together until a large spike began to form. She didn’t try to make it large or especially sharp. It was only a warning shot, after all.
It fell into her hand once it grew heavy and she threw it toward the corner of the alleyway. It struck the edge of the building and exploded out, falling onto the dirty street and melting quickly. She nodded with a sense of satisfaction. It wasn’t a harmful thing to do, and yet it was enough to warn her stalker that she wasn’t just some drund. She had powers and she wasn’t afraid to use them.
You’re not afraid to use them, she repeated to herself.
Then, she heard a coughing laugh. The nerve…Was he laughing at her? Fists tight, she marched toward the end of the alley.
Turning the corner, she stopped as her eyes fell on him. His back was resting against the side of the building. In one hand he was holding Glacia’s bag. She quickly assessed that she did not, in fact, know him at all.
He coughed, a slack smile still on his face. “That’s your big show, Icechild?”
She felt her insides burn with fury and, without thinking, threw her fist at him. He caught it in his hand. She tried to pull away, but his grip on her hand was tight. He only held it for a second and then let go.
She stumbled back slightly, surprised at his quick reflexes. Glacia had spent this entire affair thinking that he was underestimating her, when it might have really been the other way around. In an attempt to hold onto a bit of her pride, she did not pull her arm back, but simply opened her hand, trying to relax her jaw enough to speak. “Can I have my bag back?” she said as politely, yet impatiently as possible.
To her surprise, he handed it to her without the slightest hesitation. His face did not alter. He appeared fazed by neither her attempt to attack him nor her change in attitude.
She raised an eyebrow at him as she tossed the bag over her shoulder. He was very dark-skinned and his hair was almost black. Against the shadowed building, he might have been nearly invisible if not for the brilliant orange-striped markings down each of his cheeks. And upon closer inspection, his brilliant orange eyes stood out like stars against the night. His clothes were loose, but he seemed to be extremely thin underneath them, thinner than one should be, Glacia couldn’t help but think.
“Thank you,” she muttered at last.
“Don’t be careless,” he replied. “Why in the tides would you just throw your crap on the ground?”
She opened her mouth to reply, but with a fire alight in her stomach, she found herself completely lost for words. Finally, she stuttered something resembling, “You’re just generally unimpressed, aren’t you?”
“Only by things that are unimpressive.”
Glacia’s face burned. “I am not—”
“You don’t have to,” he spat, holding up a hand as if to stop her. “Save it. I didn’t come looking for you because you were dull.”
Glacia had never been so intrigued by someone while also wanting to punch them in the face. “Well, at least you admit to stalking me. What is that all about, huh?”
The orange-striped stranger looked at her and appeared to be searching for an answer. But he sighed heavily and looked away. “Never mind.”
“Do we know one another?” she asked, almost demanded, reaching for some reason—any reason—that he would have followed her and then proceeded to insult her.
He shifted his weight. “It’s your Light,” he said. Then he stuffed his hands into his pockets and turned to walk away.
“My what?” Glacia called after him. He did not turn back. “Hey! You! Stripy! Come back here!”
“Forget it,” he said. Then lifted up into the air as casually as breathing and flew out of sight.
Glacia grumbled to herself. He wasn’t going to get away that easily. Oh, tides, no. “You don’t get to act like a complete weirdo and just vanish!” she shouted. He was certainly too far away to hear her. “Not with me.”
She held tight to her bag and took off running in the same direction he had gone.