In celebration of the first draft being completed, here’s an excerpt (everything is subject to change, as this is a first draft. Note that, because all the words after the 70,000 word mark are spoilers, this comes from somewhere in the middle, and I am very much resisting giving any sort of context to it):
Out of bed, covers thrown back, door opened and into the tunnel. Empty behind her. Empty in front—
The tunnels empty save for a wolf.
Adren pulled her sleeping robe tighter around her.
“You know me.” The words were those of the wintry wind undulating into Kloreng from the outside, frost-blue with human lettering.
“Humans can’t change into wolves,” Adren said.
The wolf was Esh, standing before her. “Come,” she said, beckoning as she turned her inhuman eyes away and led Adren out of Kloreng.
It was all Adren could do, follow the werewolf. A string had attached itself to her bellybutton, a connection as deep and strong as the one to the unicorn.
But there was no unicorn in Adren’s mind; no one but herself. Nothing but the dark place and Esh leading her into sunlight disguised as moonlight.
Full moon. Silvery shadows all through the forest, through the green. Esh, furred and fanged, arms raised to the sky that was only ever night.
“You are like me,” she said to Adren, “You are like me.” And she worshipped the god below that place with strange howls.
“No,” Adren said, pulling back, robe held tight around her. As she turned, a body behind her, a person standing taller, even taller. A god standing, with eyes of piercing light, raven hair and raven wings down past its waist. Adren raised her arm to shield herself, but the god grabbed her by the wrist, twisting the arm back behind her.
“Look to me, look to me,” it said, its mouth a howling beast, its face Iraem in her illusion as saint. It, Iraem. “Who do you serve?”
The dark place was an upturned cup of obsidian that had never known sun. A screechingly etched, silver spiderweb of a crack appeared to pierce her hearing.
“You know what you could be,” said Esh as the god placed its hands on the cup. “Why do you fear it?”
The god drew its hands back, cup flying with them. Eyes of hot, white fire. Hemisphere of whispered words, hemisphere of old, sad sounds, hemisphere of power leaking out and a sun exploding Adren’s heart.
The forest burning in ghostly, white fire.