So, that's it for NaNo 4. Might actually edit this one, it's the best I've done so far. So my NaNos so far are:
1. Sky - A dystopian story that spent more time than most outside of the sheltered compound.
2. The Devil Next Door - A goofy comedy, the first half was mostly spoofing The Divine Comedy, whereas the second half was a bit more general (also less good).
3. The Lifetree - Forest-y fantasy about the tree that created the world trying to retake it (A theme I revisited without realizing it in this novel).
4. Smiling Jack - A pseudo-Victorian fantasy about a variety of things such as assassination, loneliness, adventure, obsession with the past, and glowy mushrooms!
Here's the entirety of the last chapter, should mostly make sense out of context. As usual, unedited:
Chapter XXVII. Clock Tower
Roland felt the clock tower approaching. He knew he was going to hit it. He braced for impact.
Roland fell straight through the roof and into the ballroom, currently empty. He landed flat on his face, groaning.
After a moment, Roland stood up. He breathed deeply. There was an image in his head. Fading. A garden? A kind woman? A sense of loss. He put it out of his mind and looked around. He was in the ballroom where the Baroness had been killed. There was still a blood stain on the ground, still a hole in the window. And in the corner, there was a figure curled up.
Roland approached. “Hello?” He said.
the figure jumped up, drawing a dagger that was out of its side. And ROland recognized it.
“You?!” Roland said, “The assassin? What are you doing here?”
“Stay back!” The assassin shouted, “Stay back or I’ll kill you!”
“Wait a second,” Roland said, holding his hands in the air. “I’m not here to capture you or anything. I’m... well, it’s a long story, but I’m not here for you.”
The assin sighed and limply dropped the dagger on the ground. “Why did I do it?” He said, on the verge of sobbing. “Why why why?”
“You feel bad about assassinating the Baroness?”
“Oh yes! Of course!”
“Why? What’s your story, exactly?”
The assassin sighed. “My name is Jason Caulder. I lived in Greenden. I used to. As far as Halfmen go, I’m fairly Human looking. I was able to pass myself off as an ugly regular Human. I worked, I lived. I didn’t have much, but I wa happy. IT was a good life. But one day, somehow! somehow the Inquisition found out I wasn’t human. They captured me, questioned me as a spy, and then kicked me into the forest. That’s when he came to me...”
“Yes. He took advantage of my feelings of betrayal. Told me how to get back at the city for abandoning me. Kill the Baroness using some tools he would fetch me. I was blind! Blind! Oh how could I do it? it wasn’t the Baroness’ fault. So much death because of me. I started all of this.”
Roland sighed. “Look, Jason? It wasn;t your fault. Jack was clever. He manipulated you.”
“Yeah, he’s... He’s dead. For good.”
“So the city is saved?”
“For now, at least.”
“Oh thank you. With the knowledge that my mistake did not doom this city, but still... So much death.” Jason leaned down and picked up the dagger.
“Wait a second,” Roland said, “You’re not-”
“There is no way I can ever atone for what I did. And there is no way I can live with that knowledge. Thank you for saving the city, human. Do not be too hard on the Halfmen. It wasn’t their fault.” Jason plunged the dagger into his throat and then slumped to the ground.
“No!” Roland said. He grabbed Jason’s body as it fell. “Hey, come on, you didn’t have to do that.” He pulled the dagger out of Jason’s throat, but it just made more blood come. “come on, you didn’t have to do that. You didn’t... It’s okay... Come on, come on. You’ll be fine... You’ll be fine...” Roland trailed off, biting his lip.
After a moment, Roland stood up quietly. He picked up Jason’s body and headed down the clock tower.
Roland left the ground floor of the clock tower. People stared at him as he silently carried Jason’s body out.
He walked to the edge of the city. Behind him, Roland heard footsteps.
He turned to see the two Inquisitors who had captured him a week ago.
“What do you think you’re doing?” The woman said.
“I’m burying the body of the assassin,” Roland said, “He killed himself.”
“Sorry, we can’t let you do that,” the man said, “That body is property of the city.”
“WE’re going to have to take it from you,” the woman said.
“Try me,” Roland said. His skin began to crackle with sparks and fire kicked up around his feet.
“Ah,” The man said, “...Right. You do realize that that is aunotherize Arcana, right? We, uh, we’re not going to take you in right now.” He glanced nervously between Roland and his partner, “But you will be hearing from us. There will be a fine.”
Roland said nothing. He turned and walked into the forest.
Roland walked through the forest for a while. Finally, he came to a clearing. A circle with many wilting, translucent mushrooms around the outside. He placed Jason’s body down and began to dig.
It was hard work, but Roland didn’t want to use magic. He didn’t know how long it took, barely registered time passing, but eventually he had dug a grave large enough. He lifted the body and placed it gently into the grave and then filled it back in. He looked around for something he could use to mark the grave. A short distance away, he noticed the only mushroom in the area that hadn’t seemed to wilt. It was still glowing pleasantly. Roland carefulyl uprooted it and planted it into the head of Jason’s grave. Then he stood above it with bowed head for a moment before turning and walking back towards the city.
Roland reached the city. He thought for a moment about where to go. A hovel? The weapons shop? The clock tower? No, he should...
Roland walked to Benedict’s house and knocked on the door. He heard the knock echoing into the house. One two three... One two three...
Just when Roland was about to turn to leave, the door opened and Rolanfd turned back
“Roland!” Abigael shouted, running out of the door and hugging him. “Father! Roland’s back!” She called back into the house. Before too long, Benedict thundered out of the house.
“Roland, ym boy!” Bendecit shouted, clapping him on the back, “Where have you been?”
“It’s a long story,” Roland said a little sadly, “I fell through the void. And then I met the assassin. He was sorry for what he’d done. And then he killed himself. I buried him.”
“Oh,” Abigael said, her eyes downcast.
“How did you get out of the void?” Roland said to Abigael.
“It was odd,” Abigael said, “I saw a woman protecting me from the dark spirits in the void. She was surrounded by animals. It seemed she wanted to reward me for something. I guess seeing me through the void was that reward.”
Roland smiled. “So what’s for dinner? It sure smells good.”
“Come in and ifnd out, my boy!” Benedict said.
Abigael, Benedict, and Roland entered the house. Before the door closed, Roland took a last look over at the clock tower. He could have sworn he saw a figure climbing up the side... Probably just his imagination.
The door shut.