The Ebony Quill

Thoughts, reflections, and whimsies as I experience life

Excerpt from my Novel

So, I finally threw aside all my outlines and character sketches and sat down to wrote a couple of pages of the novel last night.  And lo and behold, it worked.  I wrote, and it felt good.  I would like to share a short excerpt from what I’ve written thus far, and I would appreciate any and all feedback, corrections, and constructive criticism.

Without further ado, may I present a taste of my novel…Untitled (no, that’s not really the title- I just don’t have one yet.) :

Arianna peered around the corner of the red adobe and brick building she was hiding behind.  The market was as busy as usual: colorful, open-air stalls lined both sides of the narrow dirt street, filled with everything from fruits and vegetables, trinkets and baubles, to clothing and weapons, twinkling in the late morning sun.  Merchants marched back and forth in front of their individual stalls, yelling out their wares and prices to the clusters of shoppers.  Camels and donkeys stubbornly resisted the tugs and reproaches of their owners, kicking up red dust and clouding the entire scene.  The scents of spices and food, the fragrances of perfumes, and the odors of livestock mingled in the thick, dry desert air.  On the walls of the buildings that rose behind the shops, visible now and then through the gaps in the stalls, were signs illustrating wanted criminals and the reward for their capture or information about their whereabouts: murderers, swindlers, and thieves of all sorts graced the ragged parchment, their features somewhat distorted by the artists.  One face recurred more often than any of the others: Arianna’s face.  She gazed at the signs, smiling proudly at one featuring herself.

“Wish they’d get my face right for once,” she muttered.  Admittedly, however, her likeness was better represented than the others on the wall; she knew a good number of them by name.

Arianna checked the market scene again before emerging from her hiding spot and weaving skillfully through caravans of livestock, dodging several women arguing over some vegetables in the middle of the path, to a large barrel on the other side.  Crouching behind it, she breathed heavily, catching her breath as she readjusted the covering over her mouth and nose; the piece of cloth was used less to protect her from the dust than to shield her from sharp and wary eyes that might identify her.  After a few seconds, she looked over the barrel, just in time to see a tiny boy running into his hiding place behind a similar-looking barrel.  He caught her eye and gave her a confident grin and a thumbs-up.  Arianna gave him a curt nod and retreated back into position behind the barrel.  She and Nathanial had successfully executed this same routine a hundred times without getting caught—although they had come dangerously close on more than one occasion—, and were incurring increasingly fewer cuts and scrapes in the process.  This time was different, however

The baron who ruled this part of the kingdom would be riding through town today to “see how his people were faring,” a thinly veiled guise for his real intention of gauging the citizens’ wealth so that he could increase taxes.  Arianna and Nathanial planned to rob him.  To be sure, Arianna had robbed many lower officials on her own, but this one called for some assistance; it would be tricky, but with the backdrop of a busy market, nobody would see a miniscule ragamuffin deftly cut the coin bag that regularly adorned the side of the baron’s large, white stallion.  Arianna wanted to be the one who did it, but Nathanial insisted that he was ready.  Hardly thirteen, he had trailed Arianna for several weeks on her missions undetected.  When she finally discovered him, she realized he would be a valuable partner, and they had been thieving together for over a year now.  Nathanial wanted to proudly present the coin pouch to his mother and younger siblings upon his return to their squalid living quarters in one of the city’s poorhouses.

The clattering of horses hooves—a foreign sound in the city center—sent Arianna’s senses on high alert.  It was time.

–So that’s the end of the excerpt!  Please let me know what you think!

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