As part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Apt613 contributor and NaNoWriMo 2019 participant Christina Bondi spoke with fellow participants before and after a month of writing. Here is an excerpt from Alex Thomas’ Lycan’s Grace (Revisited).
Carts full of junk crowded the tight laneways. There was the tremendous noise of too many people crammed into one place, all yelling over each another. Carts slammed together, tinkers haggled, people called to each other from pane-less windows in the looming buildings above. And the worst of it all was the smoke and the smell of cramped civilization. The smog and dust were terrible here. She had pulled her scarf up around her face. Not just to hide that she was Curran and avoid the attention of thieves, but to try and filter the dust and vile fumes from the air. She wished she had some kind of mask but that wasn’t something she could get away with asking her mother for. The Ammal quarter reeked of bad air, sweat, refuse, and bodily waste. Far enough in, it was also extremely humid. Air at the top of Stalagm’s mountain was dry but sparse. Here, Kavreen felt strangled by the dense air, even if she did feel invigorated by the excitement of it all.
Most of all, Kavreen was thrilled by the people. Terrible, messy, bitter, angry people but they had the most beautiful faces. She wished she could draw them all. So many Animals, some of which she’d only seen in books from childhood. The stories of the First Four, the sacred Lycans who saved civilization with their great Revelations, were illustrated in beautiful children’s books. The Ammal were like a bizarre dark side of that. Instead of rich coats and beautiful robes, they were mangy and in rags. But there were some of the same animals from those old myths and storybooks.
There were people with the features, fur, and tails of so many animals. Dogs, foxes, great cats… Kavreen spied a deer, with tiny antlers sprouting from her forehead. They were all human shaped enough, but they were covered in fur and more rarely, feathers. The Lycans that she had seen weren’t nearly as stunning. They usually only had a few animal features, and prided themselves on looking human with just a twist to remind you who they really were. From what her mother had told her, those with the most control could look as much like an animal or human as they wanted. With all that choice, Kavreen wasn’t sure why they’d choose to look so mundane when they could embody such glorious creatures. She thought it might have something to do with piety, not wanting to look too much like the First Ones. But maybe also with not wanting to look unclean, or be mistaken for an Ammal.