Challenge 6/10 (The Three Lands: Breached Boundaries #2) [Patreon fiction]


When danger arises, an enslaved princess must reconsider her decision to remain loyal.

Her father the King has enslaved her, ignored her suffering, and promised his throne to her cousin the Prince, whom she hates. Yet Serva, bastard daughter of the King of Daxis, still loves her father. She has passed up chances to escape from slavery because that would mean leaving her father under the dangerous influence of the Prince.

Now, six years after a meeting with a Koretian spy that still haunts her, Serva must choose how highly she values her father's life, for war is about to begin between Daxis and the neighboring land of Koretia. And the King of Daxis, it turns out, has a secret that is far more dangerous than the war.

"'No one must know that you're searching for her on my behalf.'"

All chapters in this novel. The first chapter is free.



A braver woman than I was would have gone up to the sleeping-chamber door to eavesdrop on what followed. But my mind had scurried ahead like a frightened animal to thoughts of Derek's arrival. I was also trying desperately to figure out how to reach the next nearest entrance to the hidden passage. And so, with my mind selfishly fixed on the question of my own safety, I slipped out into the corridor.

If Richard had been awaiting me there, that would have been the end of the song. Apparently, though, he had decided not to risk raising the King's anger by delaying his mission further. The corridors were empty but for the usual guards and the palace dwellers who were now drifting out of the Great Hall after dinner.

For the next two hours, I played Hunter and Hunted, dodging my way past dozens of people who might know me. In the process, I sighted several familiar figures: Eulalee, who had started down the corridor toward Rosetta's rooms but was stopped by a guard who had evidently been given orders to keep visitors out; Richard, passing within an arm's length of me but too absorbed in his thoughts to notice me; a flicker of motion I instinctively knew was Derek, and with whom I felt an odd kinship, since it seemed that he too was trying to avoid the guards' notice on this night. Finally I reached my goal: a large grate at the end of the corridor, my gateway to the hidden passage.

I scrambled immediately to the length of passage underneath Rosetta's sleeping chamber, but her chamber was silent now, and some whisper from the Spirit prevented me from immediately entering the chamber. Instead, I crawled my way hastily to the Prince's chamber. The first thing I heard there was the unusual sound of Derek's voice upraised.

NaNoWriMo 2018: Missed days are quota killers

Total NaNo wordage so far: 32,182. Total NaNo hours so far: 16.7.

Sunday the 18th. Wordage: 2576.

A bad night of Internet addiction, and it wasn't my fault this time; Leechblock wasn't doing what I told it to do. I think I know how to resolve the problem, but by the time I tore myself offline at 4 a.m. this morning, it was nearly twenty-four hours after I'd woken up. I was a wreck. I figured that, even with a decent amount of sleep, today would be a wash, writing-wise.

Speaking of the power of writing every day: My Muse has gotten so much in the habit this month of showing up for work when I wake up that he was there when I rose at 6 p.m: bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready with fic. I got a scene done from Part Three.

Monday the 19th. Wordage: 1577.

From my post to Leechblock's customer support (i.e. the gentleman who created the add-on):


It works it works it works it works!

Now I have three more hours in my day, that being the average amount of time I've been spending on compulsive surfing, every day now for (*checks calendar*) twenty-three years.

Three hours. Do you know what a difference that will make to my life?


Tuesday the 20th. Wordage: 0.

No wordage on Monday; I went to bed at 11 a.m. Monday and woke at the beginning of Tuesday. Darn it, November really is a bad month for me to do NaNo, what with me switching to my winter sleeping schedule.

Wednesday the 21st. Wordage: 1660.

I've been worrying for the last couple of days about a scene I needed to expand. All of the scenes in "Empty Dagger Hand" started as episodes, with the middle ones written in random order; then I shuffled those middle episodes around to make chronological sense. For the most part, this wasn't a problem, but in this particular case, I had a scene whose middle and ending fit the chronological spot I'd selected for it, but the beginning didn't make chronological sense, both from the point of view of character development and from the point of view of the political-events chronology I'd eventually established.

I finally decided that the best thing to do would be to amputate the beginning of the scene and send it back to an earlier point in the novel, then use that passage as the beginning of an entirely different scene.

I don't often do major surgery like this. Usually my revisions cover style, consistency, and fact-checking. That part is my responsibility. The actual storyline is the responsibility of my Muse, and he usually gets it right on his own, without any tampering from me. But in this case, because the chronology of events turned out to be different than my Muse had anticipated, I had to do a major shuffle. And what that felt like was me being a stagehand who suddenly walks onto stage in the middle of a performance, saying, "Just have to move a few props. Don't mind me."

Thursday the 22nd. Wordage: 2247.

Got my Thanksgiving Day wordage done. Now I'm off to spend the day with my apprentice.

Friday the 23rd. Wordage: 0.

Missed today. Woke up Thursday afternoon, got to bed at noon Friday, and woke up at dawn Saturday.

Clearly, the problem with my sleeping schedule is a more serious one than I'd realized.

Saturday the 24th. Wordage: 1261.

So it seems unlikely at this point that I'll make my NaNo quota, either in terms of wordage or of hours. The hours are the figure I'm paying most attention to at this point, and they're the most discouraging: I'm 7.3 hours behind what I should be at this point. I've missed seven days of NaNo, which shows that I'm writing for an average of one hour (= 1927 words, well above NaNo's daily wordage quota) on the days when I do work. I'm simply missing a lot of writing days due to my messed-up sleeping schedule, with me often staying awake for eighteen hours or more.

Something to keep in mind during the final week of NaNo.

Book review: "The Runaway Robot," by Lester del Rey (1965)

[From the SF Encyclopedia: "Some novels which appeared under his name in 1965-1968 were actually written, from del Rey's extensive outlines, by Paul W Fairman, beginning with The Runaway Robot."]

"Cute." "Sweet." "Lighthearted." It's amazing how many people reviewing this book haven't grasped that this is a slave story.

I don't know whether the author realized he was writing a chilling tale of what happens when another thinking species is treated as subhuman, but given that this book was published in 1965? I'm going to guess that the author knew what he was doing.

The subtext is not loud till the very end, when it trumpets itself. The knowledge just gradually creeps up on the reader that this sympathetic, bright, philosophical protagonist isn't allowed to make his own decisions, choose his own employer, or go to certain locations. I half expected the protagonist to encounter water fountains labelled "humans only." But this story is set in an earlier era, when robots are enslaved. And when the protagonist is in danger of being permanently separated from his boy companion, they independently decide they won't stand for this.

Frankly, I think the boy has the better end of the deal. The protagonist is unendingly generous. The same can't be said for the boy. Here's a sample conversation:


"I think it's a very good idea." Paul looked at me curiously. "It's the best idea you've ever had. Too good for a robot, don't you think?"

"Yes, but probably something you said to me suggested it."

"I suppose that's what happened."


If the protagonist had been female, we'd have a word for this type of conversation. When we consider that the boy has been the protagonist's master . . . Well. The author certainly didn't sugarcoat the relations between those two. About the only thing that can be said in the boy's favor is that he does rejoice in the protagonist's good fortune. Even so, I couldn't help hoping that the protagonist eventually wises up and seeks better companionship.

The protagonist is wonderful; the people around him are small-minded. The fun of the novel is in seeing how the protagonist fools everyone (or almost everyone; the next-to-last scene is a pleasant kicker), while never losing his generous nature. This is the appropriate point at which to use the word "sweet."

The Runaway Robot at Goodreads