I posted a couple of weeks ago that, now that life has settled down a bit, I wanted to rewrite the Ethan Grimley stories and make them into one book. I’m doing this for two reasons. 1. I think it’ll make the story better, and I’m becoming more familiar with the world. 2. I had an idea for another book that wouldn’t work in a series about one character. Rewriting opens up the possibility for others to take the spotlight.
So far, the rewrite has gone well. I think the story has a lot more depth, and I think Ethan is easier to get to know. He’s still a twelve-year-old boy with all the stuff that comes with that, but he’s more real now. There’s also a lot more about Land’s End and the world of Grevared, things I think help bring it to life.
All that being said, below is a bit of the first chapter of the rewrite. It hasn’t been edited yet, so bear that in mind. I would love feedback.
Ethan Grimley Chapter One Snippet
The chimes of the Arcana Maximus echoed through the town of Land’s End. The sound rose and fell on the wind, a tinny, mechanical sound both soothing and painful. The large, wooden doors at the front of the school house burst open to spew forth boys and boys of all ages. Their shouts and laughter rivaled the noise of the bells as they tumbled into the open air after being cooped up in the classroom since morning.
“See you tomorrow!”
“Let’s go to the square!”
“Hey, Ethan!” Corbin Clearwater called.
Ethan Grimley, a boy of average height with shaggy brown hair and brilliant green eyes, stopped in mid-run and turned to face his friend. He waited while Corbin jogged to where he stood, school books in hand.
“Let’s go to the park with the others,” Corbin puffed. He was shorter than Ethan and had a pudgy face and curly black hair. His eyes glowed golden behind a pair of spectacles that had been mended too many times. “They’re getting a kickball game together.”
“They play every afternoon,” Ethan replied with a sigh. “And every day Boron’s team stomps us.” Ethan shook his head. “I don’t wanna play today.” He turned away then looked back at Corbin. “Besides, I promised Ma I’d help her with deliveries this evening.”
Corbin pushed his spectacles up on his nose and shifted his school books to the other hand. “Aw, come on, Ethan. Just for a little bit.” The boy’s round face brightened. “Besides, today may be the day we beat Boron.”
Ethan laughed and shook his head. “You’re dreaming, Corb. It ain’t gonna happen.”
Corbin fell into step beside Ethan as the two headed down the long path from the school house. The Arcana Maximus, with its pointed spires behind an impenetrable stone wall, loomed behind them, and gravel crunched under their feet. Birds twitted, and a breeze brought the smell of growing things to their noses.
Barracks for the guards and city constabulary lined the curving road, while the large estates of the well-to-do stretched toward the town wall. Ethan and Corbin stepped off the road to let a horse drawn cart pass, then they continued on their way toward the center of town.
“You coming to the festival this Sixthday?” Corbin asked, his voice full of anticipation.
Ethan shrugged. “Probably. My Pa works for the town government, so we have to attend all town festivals.”
“Is your Ma gonna have a booth?” Corbin gave a little hop at the thought. “She makes the best cookies of anyone in town.”
Ethan laughed. “I’m sure she will.” His shoulders slumped. “And she’ll probably have me manning it all day while she and Pa do other stuff.”
“I’d love for my Ma to have a bakery.”
Ethan shook his head. “Naw, you’d spend all your time making deliveries instead of playing kickball.” As they neared the park, Ethan stopped and turned to face his friend. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ve gotta go.”
They said their good-byes, and Ethan took off at a trot. He reached the town square and slowed to a walk. Stalls lined the area around the fountain, and their owners hawked everything from fabric from the Xaggarene Empire to books printed by the Academe in Jitradena. People milled here and there, some simply enjoying the day while others perused the wares being sold.
The smell of people and horses floated on the air, and the scent of people clogged Ethan’s nose. It was always like this on market day, the middle day of the week, and Ethan was anxious to get through the crowd and away from the commotion. He was restless, like too much energy had built up in his muscles, and he wondered if maybe a game of kickball would bleed some of it away. Still, though, he had promised his mother he’d help her out, and she didn’t take kindly to him breaking his promises. Besides, once he’d hauled a heavy basket or pushed a cart all over Land’s End, he’d be plenty tired.
Ethan paused as he passed the fountain. A crowd had gathered there, some looking angry while others appeared frightened. They were talking among themselves, and Ethan moved closer to see what was going on.
“I tell you, I saw it,” an old man said. “It was coming up the lane just as pretty as you please.”
“Oh, Goddard, give it a rest.” This from the old woman by his side. “You didn’t see anything but yer own imagination.”
Ethan stood, puzzled, as another man spoke up. “Then what’s killing the n’kitas? Tell me that. All three of mine were found dead this morning, the life sucked right outta them.”
“Mine, too,” a woman replied. Ethan knew her from his mother’s bakery and rolled his eyes. She was always going on about something, and his mother had said more than once that the woman needed a good physician.
“All of you, that’s enough.”
Ethan backed away as the constable pushed his way through the crowd to stand beside the fountain. As much as he wanted to know what was going on, he didn’t want to be caught in a crowd that could turn into a mob at any moment, and he didn’t want to think about what his Ma would do if he were caught in the middle of some bru-ha-ha.
“Listen to me,” the constable continued. “Several of you have reported that your n’kitas were found dead. Now, before you all go off thinkin’ it’s something strange, give us a little time to look into it. It only happened this morning, and we’ve all been working all day to get to the bottom of it.”
“That’s not keeping our animals safe,” a woman shouted.
“And I need mine for hunting.” This from the man who’d first spoken, a rotund fellow with a long, gray mustache and a balding head.
The constable held up his hands. “I hear you, I do. And I already said we were looking into it. But the best thing you can do right now is head on home for dinner and lock your n’kitas inside. We’ll be patrolling the streets double tonight in case there’s an animal loose in town.”
The crowd grumbled, but most of them turned away and headed toward their homes. Ethan, too, moved away from the fountain and wove his way between the buildings on the eastern side of the square toward his own home. A chill slithered up his spine at the thought of some unknown creature roaming the town, and he was less than happy at the thought of having to carry food along empty lanes alone. If there was an animal, wouldn’t it be attracted to the smell of the bread and desserts? And what could it be? He didn’t know of any animals that ‘sucked the life’ out of something. Even spitmollers, who could spit poison almost two feet, used their teeth to tear. He’d heard tales about demons who could do that, of course—this was Moirena—but demons hadn’t come to Land’s End in years. Even the travelers from the port tended to be more human.
These thoughts tumbled through Ethan’s mind as he opened the door to the bakery. The aroma of bread and cookies assailed his nose, and he paused in the doorway to simply breathe them in.
“Ethan, is that you?” Eva Grimley called from the kitchen.
“Yeah, Ma. It’s me.” Ethan bounded up the stairs that led to the family’s flat. He quickly dropped his school books on his bed and headed back downstairs. Eva was just coming from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron, when he stepped off the last stair.
“I just pulled some butternut cookies from the oven if you want to get a snack before you head out.”
Ethan’s heart leapt. Butternut cookies were his favorite, and there was nothing like having a hot one. “Sure, Ma. Thanks.” For a moment, he considered telling his mother what he had heard in the square, then he thought better of it. As much as he didn’t want to cross whatever might be out there, he feared his mother’s overprotectiveness more. If she thought he might be in danger, she’d never let him leave the house. Better to keep quiet, he decided. He was fast, after all. Maybe faster than whatever had killed the n’kitas.