So I finished redoing my outline for Seize the Day. Had my trusty bff look it over. She approved it, said it felt stronger now, etc. And today? Today I felt inspired to work on the first chapter of it. 

It’s obviously still in rough-draft form, but with the outline as solid as it is, this rough draft will hopefully be spared a lot of my heavy rewriting. If I complete this draft, then move on to the draft for Surrender the Night (after redoing ITS outline, of course), and then eventually on to the draft for Gray Morning, I’ll be set. 

My hope is to work on getting another erotica short or two up for sale this week. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be writing, though. A friend on livejournal suggested I write a f/f piece. I’m sure there’s a niche for it, but I’m terrified of writing lesbian erotica. I’m much more comfortable writing about dicks. But I also want to try something new this week. So hm. 

Speaking of livejournal — that writing competition I’m in? This week, the gracious host is dropping 4 contestants. I’m at the very bottom of the poll. Considering getting dropped now means I’ll have juuuust missed the top 10, it makes me kinda sad. But eh, I’m playing with an alt, the popular pieces seriously make no sense to me, etc. Granted, a vast majority of us left behind have a great deal of technical skill, but so many fall flat on execution, to me. I’m not very impressed with the group that may end up being this mini-season’s top 10. 

But, I have written 1500 words today and reworked some additional 700 I had written before in order to obtain a coherent chapter one? If I can punch out 2-3 chapters a weekend from now on, that would be pretty glorious. The outline only has 28 chapters — and chapter 1 was actually chapters 1 and 2 on the outline combined. Oops?

Without further ado, the second half of Chapter One:

***

“Ah, Ryin. You’re here earlier than I expected,” his uncle Francis muttered, emerging from around a corner. He wore clothes unbecoming of an Emperor — if jeans and a t-shirt could be considered unbecoming. His hair reminded Ryin of the ash from the end of a cigarette — grey and black, some parts flecked with white. His age certainly showed in his hair.

It also showed in his movements, slow and purposeful, as if every move caused him pain. He sat down at a small table, gesturing for Ryin to do the same. Ryin strode across the room and took his seat, taking care to position himself so that he could still see the television screen — Jazz had appeared on the set, a slight frown on his face as he approached the podium. 

Ryin tore his eyes away from the screen, focusing them on his uncle’s face. “Your Guard was pretty fricken insistent that I come before Jazz’s speech started,” he muttered, leaning back in his seat some. 

Francis’s lips twitched. “I apologize for that,” he said, crossing his arms on top of the table. “I understand that Jasper is family, unlike them. I know you would have preferred to see his speech in person. It’s his first, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Ryin murmured. He strained his ears to ear Jazz’s voice over his uncle’s. It wavered, but only slightly as Jazz forced himself to stand even straighter. “His first televised one, anyway,” he continued, tapping his fingers on the table.

“They made a good choice with him, the NBLM,”. Francis said, turning to glance at the television. “How many years was it since I last saw Jasper?”

“Five,” Ryin answered, his throat tightening, threatening to close for good. He stopped his tapping, openly looking at the television screen himself. “Just after Mom and Dad were killed.” 

“Has it been that long?” Francis mused, his frown deepening. “They would have been proud of you both for joining the NBLM. They did love you both so much.”

“I know.” Ryin didn’t say anything else, instead continuing to focus his attention on Jazz’s speech. He had gained confidence, now, his voice ringing loud and clear. The crowd before him was obviously captivated, their cheers and shouts sometimes overtaking Jazz’s words. 

He didn’t want to think about his parents. Didn’t want to think of how Jazz reminded Ryin of his mother. How her voice used to ring out the same way Jazz’s did now. The confidence, the emotion. Ryin listened to the crescendo of Jazz’s voice, the cadence to his words. The way Jazz gave speeches reminded Ryin of the music by the same name, hence the nickname that long since replaced Jazz’s given name. His mother had never sounded quite this smooth, but her voice had been raspier, to begin with. 

Ryin had been so distracted by Jazz’s speech, he didn’t hear the next words issuing forth from his uncle’s mouth. He blinked, his brows furrowing together in confusion as he looked towards his uncle. “Say that again?” 

“I’m dying, Ryin,” Francis repeated, clearing his throat. The lines in his face seemed to deepen as he leaned forward. He ran his fingers through his hair. “My doctors diagnosed me with cancer. There isn’t much that can be done, at this point.”

Ryin choked on his own spit, sputtering for a moment before shaking his head. “That’s fucking impossible,” he managed, banging on his chest with an open hand. “You’re the Emperor. The best doctors in the Empire should be falling all over themselves to help you –”

“I’ve been seeing the best doctors the Empire has to offer for years, Ryin,” Francis stated, folding his hands on top of the table. His eyes never wavered from Ryin’s, his lips set in a grim line. “They advised me to inform my successor that the Empire will be theirs, which is what I am doing now, despite my better judgment telling me to wait a little longer.”

Ryin had barely finished wheezing for air when his heart stopped at Francis’s words. “My — my mother was next in line.”

His uncle nodded, that grim line deepening. He didn’t say anything as Ryin remembered how to breathe again, his heart hammering out a new rhythm in his chest. “I’m next in line,” Ryin breathed, his eyes growing wide. “I’m next in line! I — I don’t know how to run the Empire. Not to mention I’m a Natural Born, and –”

“You and Jasper are my only living relatives,” Francis muttered, waving his hand in a dismissive gesture. “– and Jasper is younger than you by a couple of years. The law is quite clear on the order of succession; your birth status is irrelevant.”

“My birth status is irrelevant?” Ryin laughed as he ignored the lump forming in his throat. “My birth status is irrelevant? Uncle, my mother and father were killed because they headed the NBLM — hell, the NBLM wouldn’t fucking exist if –”

Shots rang out, cutting off Ryin’s next words. He jumped, looking towards the television as his stomach plummeted and crashed through the floor. Jazz’s face no longer appeared on the screen, and the screams and shouts coming from the crowd deafening as members of the NBLM scrambled to retrieve his crumpled form behind the podium. Ryin watched, his stomach twisting and his throat filling with bile, as they dragged Jazz’s limp body away.

Ryin was on his feet, striding towards the door without a second thought. “That is why my birth status is perfectly relevant, Uncle,” he growled, turning to point at the screen. “How the fuck am I supposed to run an Empire when its people would have me killed just because of the way I was born?”

He didn’t wait for an answer as he slipped out of his uncle’s private chambers. A member of the Guard stood by the door, her hands clasped behind her back. “Take me to whichever hospital Jasper’s getting taken to,” he ordered, wishing his stomach would start churning. “He’s just been shot.”

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