Caught in the Act: WIPpet Wednesday

It’s WIPpet Wednesday again and New Zealand is still being blasted by icy winds. A good time to hunker down in front of the heater, crack open the WIP and share something that relates to today’s date and doesn’t contain spoilers. Not as easy as it sounds, but at least we get to use WIPpet maths – which is every bit as creative as the WIPpeteers themselves!

This week’s WIPpet is made up of 5 paragraphs (in honour of the 5th of June), from Chapter 9 of The Fall of the Kings. It is dedicated to all those who like to ‘people watch’. Bear in mind is it still very much a first draft.

In this scene the Sanctuary is getting dedicated and Marcus Verona will soon be crowned the newest of the twelve Kings of Gaelladorn. His wife Celeste is at the celebration waiting for the Kings (and Marcus) to arrive. She’s understandably nervous, and her aunt (Queen) Danaë tells her a great way to fill in time at these kinds of events is to watch the crowd and see what kinds of dramas play out (real or imagined). 

There were also a lot of smaller dramas being played out; fractious children jostling for position and people waving out to friends in the crowd.  Most interesting however were the people in charge of organising the event.  The elders in their ceremonial white robes hemmed with gold, glided around checking in with each other and mouthing indecipherable orders to the novices.  In contrast, the younger men, in plain brown tunics were in constant motion; running off on errands or arriving bearing pitchers, refreshments, folded messages and in one case a large wooden bench emerging out of the press of the crowd with all the finesse of a battering ram.

In the midst of all the action one of the elders caught Celeste’s eye.  He was small in stature, and although there was nothing striking in his appearance he seemed different from the others. After watching him for a while her best guess was that he was strangely self-contained – like he’d drawn a barrier around himself that no one wanted to cross. She thought he stood a little too still, and when he moved it was with great awareness of who and what surrounded him.  She had no idea what his story was, or how he might fit in at the Sanctuary?

Just as she was just thinking she didn’t have Danaë’s imaginative flair for the game, the elder turned and stared directly at her.

In the brief moment their eyes connected, a cold prickle ran up her spine and she felt a guilty flush rising on her cheeks –  as if she’d been caught doing something untoward.

Her gaze skidded away from his, reflexively searching for her children and suddenly concerned for their safety.  But they were where they were supposed to be: Nathan huddled up with his two cousins, heads together and no doubt plotting some mischief; and to her inexplicable relief Selina was still on the rug at her feet – her beautiful dress sprinkled with angel cake crumbs. She made a big show of scooping Salina up and brushing her clean, but it was a long while before Celeste’s heart stopped thudding and she risked looking up at the crowd again. The elder had gone, but the sour after-taste of fear stayed with her.

If you’d like to join in the WIPpet fun, jump over to K.L. Schwengel’s blog to find out all about it, or click on this linky to see what everyone’s else has been writing. Many thanks to Kathi for hosting!

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20 thoughts on “Caught in the Act: WIPpet Wednesday

  1. Oh I like this. I love people watching and this scene is vividly brought to life through Celeste’s eyes. And just who is the mysterious elder? I really like the way he plays on Celeste’s mind long after he’s gone, a ‘sour-aftertaste of fear’ indeed – I could really sense that through her reaction and need to search out her children and make sure they were ok.

  2. Love this line, “all the finesse of a battering ram” This is a great piece. I’m intrigued by the elder and his effect on Celeste. You’ve revealed a lot of her personality by showing us what she’s looking at, what interests her, and what bothers her.

    1. *points* kathils stole my comment and my favourite line! I’m telling!

      Brilliant first draft! Amazing details, and I don’t notice this clunkiness you speak of. I’m sure it’ll change with revisions (because hey, they always do), but I loved this as-is. 🙂

      1. You have to watch that kathils – she gets in quick and steals all the best comments. Although you know what they say about great minds!

        And thanks for liking it (and not noticing the clunkiness).

      2. What can I say, I’m psychic. Or possibly psycho. That’s still up for debate. 😉

        FWIW, I didn’t notice any clunkiness either. Reads extremely un-first draftedly.

  3. I can definitely sympathise with the people watching – I do it all the time. A great passage. I really felt Celeste’s unease and discomfort at meeting the eyes of that strange man. I have a feeling he’ll be integral to the plot later on…Am I wrong??

  4. Ick. Who is that guy? Is that the arch-villain? That invisible barrier bit just oozes warning.

    I love Celeste’s show of being concerned about crumbs on her kid to cover her discomfort. It’s such a mom thing to do.

    1. He is ick too. Not much to redeem him in this story. And it is the first time I’ve written a mother character before, nothing quite like art imitating life. Although I can’t say I’ve been eyeballed by an arch villain before – or been through many of the things poor Celeste is going to encounter. (Being married to a King isn’t all crowns and cupcakes).

  5. I love people watching! I often do it on the bus to and from work. I love the phrase “her gaze skidded away”, great imagery! Very intrigued by this elder now! Is he evil? Are he and Celeste somehow connected? Is he not actually important in the slightest (I doubt this is the case ;))?

    1. He is totally evil… horribly, nastily in all ways adjectively evil. And he will be causing havoc. I’m not quite sure what he saw in her – but he saw her and won’t easily forget her.

  6. Oh, finally got a chance to read this (wanted to be able to pay attention and not risk distraction). SO glad I did.. (I’m a huge fan of people watching).

    Poor Celeste… I love how you made it so easy to “be there with her”, Raewyn. Thanks for sharing

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