Woohoo! Words are coming, word-count is progressing, and this novelist is getting very tired! My characters have been through a lot of heartache in the past three weeks, but I am quite proud of them and how they are developing. And a couple days ago they actually helped me figure out the specific details of how their story will end! It will be hard to say goodbye to them once I finally finish their story.
I would like to share an excerpt with you, but first, here is my (very short) synopsis:
Like a medieval fairytale you’ve never heard, Alphyri is the story of two people who both want something they can never have. Alphonzo is a prince, and yet he is not free. Phyri is a peasant, who has a demanding promise keeping her from love – the one thing she longs for most. Strange traditions, hidden identities, and a manipulative King will entwine the course of their futures.
Alright, so this section is written from Phyri’s perspective, where she receives some very startling news. She’s gone through a lot of other things too, as this is in the last third of the book, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers!
Phyri was getting ready for bed when the knock came on her door. She assumed it was her maid coming to help her unbutton and unlace herself. “Come in,” she called, and continued fiddling with the buttons down her front. Her head felt fuzzy with a headache and she was getting impatient. Nothing had gone the way she wanted it to today.
“Phyri.” It was Alphonzo’s voice.
Phyri jumped and looked up quickly. She snatched up part of her bedspread to cover her half-open top. “What are you doing here?” she demanded.
Alphonzo looked just as startled as she felt. “I’m sorry to disturb you… I have urgent news to tell you that could not wait.” He motioned to her bedspread. “I will turn my back so you can finish.”
Phyri felt her head throb. She did not want to see Alphonzo again, not after the horrid argument she had had with him earlier. “I was getting ready for bed,” she said haughtily. “I am very tired and have a headache from our last conversation. I don’t want to talk to you any further, no matter what ‘urgent news’ you have for me.”
Alphonzo just stared at her, his forehead furrowed. He looked like he hadn’t even heard what she said.
“Well, don’t just stand there, leave!” Phyri ordered, extending one thin arm towards the door. Couldn’t the prince take a hint?
“Phyri, your grandmother… is dead.”
She stared at him, her eyes getting wider and wider. The room suddenly felt very cold. “What did you say?”
Alphonzo took a breath. “Your grandmother is dead, Phyri. I went to visit her today to see if she could clear up any of the confusion about your birth, but when I got there, she was on her deathbed.” He hesitated.
Phyri continued staring at him, though her eyes were lost and clouded. “My grandmother… has died?” Even saying it felt unnatural, like she was making up a story that could not be true.
Alphonzo lowered his eyes to the carpet under his feet. “I am sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, but you had to know. She will be buried tomorrow outside the city.”
Phyri spoke as if in a daze. “The king promised he would have someone take care of her…” She shook her head. “It can’t be! She was getting better when I left her!”
“I’m sorry, but she was still in your hut. It looked like there hadn’t been anyone in there since you left – the fire was cold and the food over it was spoiled. I doubt my father had any intention of taking care of her, no matter what he told you.” Alphonzo said.
“No, no, no! It can’t be! You’re just making this up to put your father in a bad light. I just know it!” She felt hysterical with the hurt inside her. “I can’t believe it! I won’t believe it!” She buried her face in her bedspread, feeling her temples pounding. Her whole head ached from her outburst.
Alphonzo made no move. “Phyri,” he said in a half-pleading, half-correcting tone.
Phyri raised her head out of her bedspread barrier. “Leave me alone!” she spat at Alphonzo. “I don’t want to hear anything else you could possibly say!”
She watched him recoil unconsciously from her sharp words, and then stiffen. He set his jaw, gave her one last glance, then exited the room. He pulled the door firmly behind him, with a slam that set Phyri’s head pounding even harder.
Phyri exhaled forcefully into the bedspread, heartlessly happy at how her lungs burned. She wanted to scream or yell or do something to get this heaviness out of her heart. For deep down she knew Alphonzo had been telling the truth. He was too sincere for malice, unless he had learned something from his father in the last week since she had interacted with him. He had always seemed sincere, even if sincerely wrong.
Phyri pulled her wrap on over her half-finished garment, too distressed to finish unbuttoning or to call for a maid. Maybe if she had been in the hut with her grandmother, watching her last dying breath, the tears would have come. She would have felt the grief. But here, in this lush palace, all she felt was heavy remorse.