11 November 2012

NaNoWriMo update: Ketesh, city of sin

I've passed the 25,000 word mark and after a day of consternation with what has been now dubbed the 'conflagration of the inner editor', I am now back on track. I suspect the novel will require somewhat more than the 50,000 words required by NaNoWriMo, but then again the main objective is to write something and NaNoWriMo was little more than a catalyst for that. Let's hope it works out.

Here's another extract (again, first draft, unedited), regarding our protagonist's arrival to a city I've wanted to write about for some time, called Ketesh:

He first saw the city as a haze of light against the dark western sky. He had been walking at night for some time now, resting during the sun's apex and walking when the air was cooler and the chance of detection was lessened. Accompanied by little more than stars, had moved steadily north-west, with the Sichaalan highlands to his left and the wastelands of Kydonia to his right. He had passed a small town, Kekalakib, days before. the place was dreary, its people too concerns with their own woes to care about his troubles. he had resupplied and moved on, his body's thirst for umbra unsated.  If there was one place he knew he could stymie his body's unnatural craving, it was in Ketesh. 

He cleared a rise and saw the first sign of the city, the distant noise and the flicker of lights across the horizon, beyond a few more hill. The sun had disappeared some time ago and the sky had been in total darkness for little over an hour, yet still the city was alive. Indeed, of all the cities around the Inner Sea, Ketesh was the one most likely to gain vibrance following the sun's retreat beneath the threshold of night. 

He made his way to a road leading towards the city and followed it over a few more hills. unlike the lands he had wandered thorough over the past weeks, this region of Mharokk appeared more fertile, as though the city's exuberance had overflowed its walls and spilt onto the and itself, aloes of gigantic size dotted the landscape, with other more exotic plants memory and experience failed to name peppering the areas between. Patches of thick moss and lichen lay heavily on the strangely-shaped boulders of the region. Even under the moons-light he could see the cacophony of colour; reds, yellows, greens. this was a place unlike any other. Where elsewhere elyden died and spasmed her death throws, here she seemed to thrive. 

Before he was even over the last rise, the sounds of the city had become even more audible. the sounds of music and laughter drifted lazily on the still air. Shouting, screaming, singing, chanting. To his ears, accustomed to the sounds of silence and nature, the clamour was almost overbearing, the discord making him uncomfortable. He had been to Ketesh only once before, before its epicurean reputation had been warranted,  before the name Ketesh had even been bestowed upon it. what he knew of the place through experience was several centuries outdated. What he knew through hearsay was... hopefully exaggeration. 

Enjoying an independence made possible only though the fortuitous discovery of gold and soulstones beneath its oldest districts, Ketesh was a rare place indeed. Unconstrained by overlords, tyrants or conquerors, it had existed on that peninsula for many centuries, able to haggle its freedom from prospective conquerors. That fact had made the place a haven to those seeking freedom. exiles and outlaws were welcomed as long as they obeyed the place's rules. those persecuted by other nations' dogma and ideals were granted safe haven and asylum. Artisans and alchemists thrived there, as did those whose activities and pursuits their homes deemed to extreme. epicureans were slowly drawn there and a thriving sensate culture arose there, forming a nucleus that survived to that day. Any experience could be found in ketesh. Where the twin empires condemned the Firmament and its allies, Ketesh lauded them and granted them the same rights and freedoms that penumbrists, mystics, mythogigues and technarcanists enjoyed. boutique workshops and ateliers grew popular in the city's older lower wards, which gained renown across the Inner Sea for their niche arts and pioneering procedures. its harbours grew wealthy through both commerce and tourism, with patricians, nobles, exarchs and other wealthy figures from a dozen different nations travelled there savour its exotic cuisines and eclectic tastes. spices and herbs from far Tahab and tethysia were commonplace, as were the finest wines and spirits from the frozen north to the dark lands of Kharkharadontis, and beyond,. Truly it was a connoisseur's dream, and a sojourn to that place became know n as the grand excursion amongst fraternities of the rich and powerful. 

And that was not all for every pleasure of the flesh, every vice imaginable could be found there, if one knew where to look. halfbloods and otherworlders most exotic could be found there, willing to anything for the right coin. Drugs and vices unknown to the northern empire were commonplace there, with smoking dens and dreaming salons scattered throughout its upper-most wards, above the clamour of city life. 

it was a place both secular and religious, where non-believers were welcome to rub shoulders with zealots of a dozen different faiths and denominations. temples and shrines dedicated to extinct deities and alien divinities livened up street corners, with preachers and clerics of their many disparate orders blending in with what had to be one of the most diverse populations in the Inner Sea, if not the entirety of Elyden. 

If a body was looking for old myths and histories of ancient or extinct peoples, this was the place. 

Slaven paused and regarded the place, its high walls and higher towers and minarets beyond. the city was also known as the tiered city, not for its construction - truth be told, other than the lights and sounds that surrounded the city in a dizzying halo, there was little to mark the city as different to any  other, at least at that distance - but rather the levels of life. the simpler baser pleasures tended to fill the lower streets and the dungeons of regraded portions of the city; once streets but built over many times over the years, these regions were dark but for the sensory cacophony that filled them. workshops and ateliers abounded in such districts as did the simpler drinking halls and taverns. above, open to true skies and cleaner air, were the libraries, theatres, cafe's and sensoria of the city. above them, accessible only to the truly extraordinary and wealthy visitors, were the exclusive restaurants and private carnal temples. other places and groups - mystery cults, exclusive clubs, torture halls and hedonistic sects, where only the most extreme were welcome

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