Shadow Prince: Chapter 22

shadowyman1bHave you had a chance to read chapter 22 of the BeastKing Chronicles? That’s right: It’s posted on FictionPress! ūüėĪ In “Shadow Prince,” Rome has a flashback to his childhood playmate Sare, which morphs into nightmare about Bre. You gain some insight into what kinds of memories and emotions Rome might have been blocking out in order to save Bre from Lord Alonza in chapters 14-15.

Mistress Healer decides she is ready to take Rome to see Bre. But is Bre ready to see Rome? Being locked in a pitch-black dungeon cell hasn’t really made her chatty. Even if she was expecting Rome (which, she’s not), this Rome would not be the one she would expect.

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The Power Cripple x2

If you didn’t see my Tweet… I posted chapter 21 on FictionPress last Sunday. Because both Rome and Mistress Healer are key in this chapter, I debated whether to name it “The Power Cripple” after Rome, or “The Silver Healer” because of Mistress Healer’s reintroduction through Rome’s eyes. In the end I named it “Power Cripple” because, used as a noun title, it could describe either Rome or (in a sense) Mistress Healer. If you’re scratching your head at saying Mistress Healer is crippled in the realm of Power, remember that she is notable among the temple wards (i.e. servants and maidens) for demonstrating political influence in lieu of magical Power.

lightning-bolts-with-laser-beamIn this chapter, Rome wakes up with temporary amnesia. He does somewhat recover from that, only to then find himself at a disadvantage of epic proportions: Powerless, within a Power fortress. Sure, Rome’s supernatural-enhanced body can take a pretty nasty beating. But Temple defenses were built to withstand the supernatural‚ÄĒspecifically his brand. Rome was able to enter, but his supernatural component was not. Saving Bre without it could prove impossible, guarded as she is in the depths of the temple.

envelope-with-letter-clipart-free-vector-letter-envelope-clip-art_114467_letter_envelope_clip_art_hightThis chapter is epic, in my mind, because remember: Rome and Mistress Healer have never met before. Flash back to the first few chapters of Book 1, when teenage Rome is exasperated because teenage Bre wants a personal emotional response from him before she is willing to give him the note. The note is from Mistress Healer. Rome and Mistress Healer were corresponding way back then. Rome definitely wanted those notes‚ÄĒwanted them badly enough to admit to embarrassing-for-him emotions toward Bre. But no way was he going to clue Bre in on the contents. If your memory while reading is especially good, you might even remember that Rome thinks something about the mating rituals of humans as he’s stashing one of the notes into a tree trunk (which seems to be his favorite type of spot to hide stuff).

Well, now you get to find out what Rome really thought about Mistress Healer’s writing.

silhouette-of-couple-2785805You also may remember that later in Book 1, as Rome and Bre are walking through the forest, Rome makes a case for why Mistress Healer would make a good suspect in collaboration with Pandora. It doesn’t make sense to him why Mistress Healer has taken such an interest in teaching things to Bre that serve no purpose to her employment other than to potentially get her killed. It makes more sense to him that she is someone who knows too much without reason, and therefore should not be trusted.

Needless to say, finally meeting the “infamous Mistress Healer” is quite an event for Rome. And when something is an event for Rome, he tends to make it a memorable event for everyone involved.

Aftermath: The Violent, the Jealous, and the Wounded

I’m back from the dead!

Well, okay, I wasn’t dead. I was working 2.5 jobs. And yes, I add that .5 on the end there, because one of my two jobs offered me overtime hours, which effectively doubled the hours I would normally be working there. So, it was like having 3 part-time jobs, or 1 almost-full-time job and one part-time. 7 hours in the morning, and 5 hours in the evening, with commutes in the middle and on either end…Yeah, it was brutal. Necessary, and ethical, but brutal.

But now I’m back down to 1 job (or 1.5, I suppose). And with my brain and body well on their way to being recharged with sleep and¬†reading and sanity, I’m stepping back into novel-writing.

Enough about me.¬†You’re dying for news of the story, right?

Yes, the story is still here. It’s taken a lot of twisting to get my head back in the game without altering the chronology, but it’s still intact. I’ve re-read much of my already-written material. And now I’m once again trying to create, and to move the story along.

It should strike you as no surprise that I will not be able to cram as many scenes as I would like to into chapter 17. I suppose I¬†could¬†have glazed over the aftermath of chapter 16’s trauma (both Rome and Bre being worse-for-wear). But I’ve already had at least one person complain (albeit kindly) about the change of pacing I used in chapter 16, rushing through events without psychological rambling, and where one person complains aloud there are likely more who agree who haven’t said anything.

So, aftermath in chapter 17, and plot movement in chapter 18. Unless you want a 16,000-word chapter that will take another month to be released. Yikes.

My debate in chapter 17 has been three-fold:

  1. Whether to pick up right where the story left off, or to start with a dream (since it follows the same stream of thought from where the story left off, and would serve as a memory refresher).
  2. How much interaction Rome and the “Wheat Girl” Showcase should have after Rome and Bre got back to their guest suite.
  3. Whether to herd Rome and Bre together to repair their relationship and/or take a big leap forward, or whether to leave a wrench in it until the next wave of plot tensions have exploded into light.

Intimacy between Rome and Bre, after Bre’s near-rape and Rome’s explicit demonstration of violence, has been a particular tough spot. Rome is neither passive nor Prince Charming, so he’s not particularly willing to bend. Bre has been forced every which way into dramatic and traumatic situations she had almost no control over. That doesn’t exactly create the kind of situation that would propel Religious, Self-Conscious Girl to initiate resolution talks with Violent, Horny, Drugged Beast-Man.

The resulting writing attempts have created split versions of what¬†could¬†happen, based on who takes the lead after Bre seeks out Rome. Because, let’s face it: The ball is well and thoroughly in Labriella’s court. Rome has started to open up, and Bre has put on the brakes and dodged out of the way. The question becomes what, exactly, is Bre’s problem with Rome that would keep her running away, and what is strong enough to pull her back to him when he has violated her ethics?

The answers might surprise you.

And the question right behind it is, If the relationship is salvageable, is sex still on the table? (No pun intended.)


To my most recent batch of reviewers (some of whom I have already replied to privately):

trueBibliophiliac: First, you crack me up! XD

Second, thank you for expressing your concern about the pacing. The rush-pacing in chapter 16 was intentional, so that you could feel the adrenaline and desperation of the characters when put into a time-sensitive situation, but also to simulate a sort of drug-induced blur in which events seemed to fly into one another without enough time or clarity of thought to think through proper reactions. However, I have made an attempt to even out the pacing in chapter 17, to give you (the readers) and the characters a chance to catch emotionally catch up.

And you’re right: The transition from chapter 15 to chapter 16 was rather abrupt. I initially wrote a few explanatory lead-in lines in the middle and end of Rome and Bre’s alone time together, at the end of chapter 15, but when I changed versions those lines no longer seemed to fit, so I excluded them. I supposed I could add those lines back in, if I continued on from Bre’s perspective after Rome blacked out. But at the time, I wasn’t sure where I was going with Rome’s blackout yet, so I thought it might¬†be better to figure it out in the middle of chapter 16, where I would know how it was going to affect Bre’s reactions. (Strange as it may sound, sometimes the characters teach¬†me¬†a thing or two through their reactions to the situations I put them in. I didn’t know Rome started to strip her at the end of chapter 15, until Bre started shying and flashing back in the atrium in chapter 16. Just like I didn’t know Bre had been “broken” to give up information about Rome [not just as punishment for sneaking out] until chapter 15 of volume 2. I didn’t know Rome had held a whip as a child, until Bre envisioned it. I only have the benefit of hindsight when I revise. It’s part of why I’m trying to write all of the books in this series before I try to publish the first one.)

Zlen: I am so glad you can still say that you want more of Rome! One of the dangers in having an antihero flip out and show some of their true colors is always the danger that it will be too far of an ethical leap, causing readers to reject the character, and therefore put down the story. If you are still with the story, and want more Rome, then I have succeeded! I hope I can keep you wanting more.

Nachiketa:¬†It’s not that the nobles with Power are dead. It’s that (unlike ancient times) the temple now controls those with Power‚ÄĒwhich predominantly means noblewomen. Noblemen with Power almost never pop up, let alone survive the political power struggles that ensue. You’re more likely to find a commoner with Power, which most people would consider to be an anomaly. Nobles are screened for Power, but it’s easier for a person of lower birth who’s not as power-hungry to slip through the cracks. So, when Lord Alonza figures out Bre is covering up the use of Power, he assumes the Power must be her own, undiscovered by the temple. Not in his wildest dreams would he imagine the rookie noblemen he’s been harassing, who’s lowest on the political totem pole, to actually be more Powerful than himself. If Alonza dies, Rome’s outed secret should die with him. One can only hope.¬†ūüėČ

More on this later, in-story (as you guessed) as more standoffs and quandaries arise.

Akiyume:¬†Wow, I’m so flattered (and glad) that you consider my story to be one of the best you’re reading! I¬†am¬†very passionate about developing my writing, although I think that is a more recent development. Character depth, however, has always been a major passion of mine. I am most drawn-in by character depth and complexity when I am reading, so it remains foremost in my mind while I am writing. I am, after all, writing the characters’ stories; it’s all about them.

I did initially intend for Bre to give in to Rome in the flower prep room‚ÄĒmostly because she physically could not help herself, being drugged and all. But it turned out she was too flustered to stay in one place. She might have gone along with it, if Rome hadn’t tried to strip her; I honestly couldn’t tell what turn that was going to take. But it just didn’t seem plausible that he wouldn’t try, and once he did try, it seemed obvious that it would be OOC for Bre (being so self-conscious and religion-steeped) to go along with it. And Rome, reacting largely to her undercurrents of acceptance, could force her to stay but couldn’t quite force her to accept the parts of him he hasn’t entirely accepted himself.

So, I sort of accidentally drove Bre away from Rome, when I intended for them to get closer. But, well, acceptance doesn’t happen in a day.¬†It can, however, get a boost, in chapters 17-18.

But, you’ve caught the heart of the book! The big question is: Can Bre accept Rome, just as he is? And if she can, how will that affect and/or change Rome?

XxsilenceisgoldenxX, and my 2 guest reviewers:¬†What high compliments! Thank you! I know my story¬†is¬†very different from many of the others on¬†FictionPress¬†these days, as¬†ElvenFaerie¬†said. I can’t help but be overjoyed that it sticks out in a good way! I can only hope that it will be a “gem” in the eyes of the publishing world as well.

I know the lapse in updates has been killer, but hang in there! As soon as I finish grafting versions of chapter 17 together, the posting of the chapter shouldn’t be long behind.

The Chase is On: Catch Her if You Can!

girlrunningtrophyIn case you didn’t get a notification in the last couple days, chapter 16 is now posted as “Catch Me If You Can“!¬†The hunt is on, and Bre is the highest prize in the noble game of Hide and Seek. If she wants to survive, she has to run fast enough and hide well enough to ensure Rome is the only one to get his hands on her. But noble lust isn’t the only obstacle in this game. Lord Alonza threw¬†in a cocktail twist, so now even wrong feels right. For the nobles, this isn’t so far from the norm. But for Rome and for Bre, being drugged in such a way might have devastating results. Even if Bre can keep her mind and body¬†anti-noble and (most importantly) anti-Alonza, the Rome that comes to save her might be unpredictable at best. At worst? Every bit as beastly as he claims to be.

This chapter is highly sexual in nature, and largely non-consensual. There are drugs in play, on top of the nobles’ corruption and Rome’s beast nature. Not to mention, the nature of the game itself is very immoral. Sensual scenes will be fast-paced and/or riddled with moral confusion, not warm and fluffy and safe. It’s necessary for things to move forward.¬†You have been forewarned.

You will, however, get that Rome vs. Alonza scene¬†many of you have been waiting for. Which (I warn you) is gorey, and morally ambiguous.¬†You may imagine how being present for¬†this scene could affect Rome and Bre’s relationship, seeing as Bre has been raised in a¬†temple environment which considers all life sacred.

I had to end this chapter sooner than I would have liked, because of the length. However, that might have turned out for the best, because it may make for a better transition point into the next plot twist. Yes, it¬†will be primarily a plot twist, not a romance twist. Certain concerns have rcompletethecircleemained untouched by the storyline for far too long, and I intend to circle back around to them. That circle is just about complete. If you’ve read Book 1, you’ve waited about 1,200 [novel] pages for this. (I’m studiously trying not¬†to think about what that means for revisions.) If you started with Book 2, a.k.a. the current story installment…let me know how you fare. Maybe consider flipping through the first several chapters of Book 1, if you can handle the slow pace. You’re all smart, so you should do fine putting the pieces together, even if you haven’t read Book 1; it’s not like it’s mandatory for understanding. But it’s kind of important to realizing the significance of Rome’s personal journey, as well as what it might mean for Bre’s past to finally catch up to her.

That’s all the hints you get, for now. ūüėõ