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Camp NaNo Week One

Hello friends!  Happy Fourth!  I'm exercising my freedom of speech by updating my blog, even if all my free internet speech is monitored.  (waves)  Hi NSA!

This week was the first week of Camp NaNoWriMo.  For this month, I've decided to post selections of what I write during the weeks.  I love you guys, but I'm writing enough adding words to my story and I wanted to put most of my effort towards that.  For this week, I've added 4,900 words!  My total word count according to Scriptito is 55,828.  Interestingly enough, when I validate on the Camp NaNo site, I have 58,066 words.  I'll take it!  This selection is unedited other than a spellcheck.  My notes to myself are left in.  I haven't read for consistency or flow, but that's what first drafts are for.
Resigning himself, Benae pulled away the curtain hanging in the corner and slid the bowl out from under the counter.  Another of the petals had broken off, but it was still a thing of beauty.
Keppo took on a keen look.  "Tell me what you did to get the finger piece to form a thing such as this."
"I dissolved some lifebed in hot wet and stirred it to a paste, then dropped in the finger.  This, bloom, I think a scout might call it, formed of its own accord.  It is fragile, but I think it also very, very dangerous."  He picked up a broken petal with a pair of tongs off the wall.  "I  guess this would be called a petal, then."
Keppo pursed her lips.  "Have you enough materials to repeat the process?"
Benae nodded.  "I anticipated that you might ask for this."  He set the petal back into the bowl carefully and slid a basket of hot rocks over on the bench top.  He took a few out and placed them in a bowl of wet until the wet began to bubble.  He removed the rocks and poured in a measure of lifebed, stirring until he was satisfied with the consistency of the paste.  He set the stirring rod on the bench top.  "Watch carefully, but stay well back."  He donned heavy forming gloves [say earlier] and picked up the petal with the tongs.  Holding it out over the bowl, he dropped it in.  Instantly, the reaction occurred as before.  Keppo clasped her hands together.  The paste in the bowl flashed sparkling white and blue in the glow of the lightfliers and the petals grew out of the center of the bowl, forming another flower.
Keppo began to pace, glancing up at the bowls of blue and white each time before she turned.  "We know it is a dangerous substance to neif, we know the reaction can be repeated -" She looked up quickly.  "Have you any more lifebed?"
Benae nodded.
Keppo was wide-eyed.  "What does it do to lifebed that has not been combined with wet?"
Benae picked up another petal with the tongs and dropped it into the large basket of lifebed on the floor.  "Nothing," he said without looking.  
Keppo sagged.  "Thank the Elders."
Benae nodded.  "I tested that myself."
"Is the reaction reversible?"
Benae shook his head.  "Not that I have been able to determine." He picked the petal up out of the basket with tongs and placed it back in one of the bowls.  "Mixing it with hot wet does nothing."
Keppo took a step towards the bowls.  "You said it is fragile.  Have you tried to grind one up?"
Benae furrowed his brow.  "No, but I doubt the result will differ."  He plucked an empty bowl from the opposite work bench and dropped a petal into it.  It made a clinking noise.  Still wearing the overgloves, he picked up a heavy stirring rod and raised it over the bowl.  "You might want to step back," he said to Keppo, who was leaning over his shoulder.  "We still are not sure exactly what happened to the mates here."  
Keppo smirked but stepped back.  
Benae raised an eyebrow.  "Unless you are and you are not saying?"
Keppo shook her head as Benae, back to her, began to crush the petal.  "No, the Reformery has been quiet with regard to what they have discovered."
Benae repeated the process with the hot rocks and the wet.  "This will be the last use of these, their heat is all used now," he said, dropping them back into the basket after the wet had begun to bubble.  He poured the glittering crumbs of the crushed petal into it and stirred.  The particles spun with the motion of the wet, but sank to the bottom of the bowl when he removed the stirring stick.  Benae blinked into the bowl.  "It looks like they do not dissolve, at least not at this temperature.  To get anything hotter I would have to go to the place of dissolution, and even then the temperature is not much hotter.  However, they are able to maintain the bubbling nearly perpetually, so it might make a difference."
Keppo pursed her lips in thought.  "Interesting to know, but not immediately useful.  What we would like to know, is what it does to a beast."
Benae scratched a ridge.  "Have you one in mind, then?"
She nodded.  "There is a yellow long-tooth that will not last to the next light, I'm having it brought here."
Benae made a strangled noise.  "Here?  That will attract the attention of every neif on the upper paths!"
Keppo shook her head.  "Not if it is the one that draws the cart that will pick up what you have ready for the builders."
Benae's eyes widened.  "And if it is transformed like my apprentice's parents?  I will lose all my business for fear that anything near me will spontaneously burst into to this!"  He gestured to the end of the bench where the bowls were.  
Keppo shrugged.  "And the elders could have you tossed into the place of dissolution for playing with a substance so dangerous.  You should be grateful that that risk is the most you would face.  Besides," she gestured to the bowls, "turning into that yourself if you make a mistake."  There was a noise outside the dwelling and Keppo smiled.  "Ready?"  
Benae glanced around the shop for some way to bring out a petal without drawing the attention of the corraler and the builder that would be outside.  He grabbed the stirring rod and placed a petal on it, then quickly lashed the petal to it with some fine cord.  The threading looked shoddy, but he only had a few moments.  He picked it up, it looked like a glowing blue knife with a very short blade and a very long handle.  "That is a bit awkward," he said, looking at it.  
A knock sounded at the doorway next door.  "Arka?" a voice called.
Benae glanced around.  There was no way to protect himself from the petal.  And he couldn't wear the forming over-gloves outside without drawing unwanted attention.  But perhaps... He set the petal-rod down and pulled off his forming over-gloves, tucking them in his belt.  "I will be with you shortly," he called.  Gingerly, he picked up the petal rod and slid it into one of the gloves at his belt.  He would be protected, but he would have to watch how he moved to ensure he didn't break off the petal accidentally.  And he would have to trade for a new pair of gloves, he didn't think he could stand to wear these ever again. [put later?] He shoved the bowls into the corner of the bench behind the curtain, gave Keppo a glare, and stepped out just as the builder craftsneif was about to walk in.
It was Rakee.  "Benae!  Can you never drag yourself away from your work?"
Benae put his face into order and smiled.  "Something like that.  Arka is away at the moment, I will retrieve what it is you need."  He lead the way into his dwelling.  "I believe what Arka was doing for you is here," he gestured to a shelf.  
Rakee nodded.  "Is Arka out with Delo?" he asked as he gathered the tools.  "They were at our dwelling earlier."
"Yes," Benae nodded quickly.  "I asked her to take him to the Outside so that he could gain some inspiration."  He pulled the curtain aside for Rakee as the builder brought out an armload of [whatever it is Arka made].  
Rakee raised an eyebrow.  "Care to help?  I have several more of these do load," he said as he dropped the armload into the cart.  
Benae nodded as he held the curtain aside for Rakee to re-enter the shop.  "Give me a moment."  He approached the four-legged longtooth at the head of the cart.  It's nose was pointed away from him, and its great rear left flank as as tall as himself.  "Hello, beast," he said softly.  
"Can I help you, friend?" the corraler driving the cart asked him.
Benae nearly jumped.  He had forgotten about the driver.  "Ha, hello!  I am fitting a new harness for a... for one of these for a corraler.  Mind if I take a look at this one?"
"Would it not be better to look at the beast you are making the harness for rather than any random one?"
Benae edged toward the beast under the gaze of the corraler.  "Probably, but this will only take a moment, and it is important to the design."  He turned quickly to the beast.
"Careful, friend!" the corraler said as he hopped down from the cart.  He leaned against the flank of the beast, putting himself between Benae and it.   The beast twitched, but stilled.  "You have to be careful with the beast, careful with how you speak to them, act around them," he stroked the flank next to him.
"Benae, are you going to just stand there?" Rakee asked, depositing another armload in the back of the cart.
"I just need to take a measurement while the beast is here.  I am making a harness and I need to check a measurement."
"Can you not wait until the cart is loaded?" Rakee asked, spreading his arms wide.
"I will get the rest, just give me a moment, please." Benae made a placating gesture.  
Rakee crossed his arms and shook his head.  "You are in need of several moments this light, brother of my mate.  Go on." He gestured towards the beast.
Facing the beast once more, Benae stretched in his memory for his orientation with the corralers.  There had been many fewer then, and fewer beasts, but he remembered one of them saying something about a place behind the forearm where they were especially sensitive.  He approached the forearm, but jumped back when the beast swung its head around to look at him.  Its eyes were glassy* and moisture leaked from its mouth where its teeth had once been.  Its nose twitched, inquiring as to his scent.
"Easy, easy," said the corraler to the beast, coming around behind Benae and taking the beasts head in his hands.  He stroked the top of the head and nodded to Benae.  "Go on, she's just nervous around neif being too close to her."  The corraller rubbed the top of his head against the forehead of the beast.
No pressure.  Both the corraler and Rakee were staring at him.  Cautious, careful, Benae took the petal-rod out of the glove at his belt and made a show of measuring the shoulder of the beast.  He brought the petal end of the rod in contact with the beast several times.  Nothing happened.  Stretching his memory again, he remembered that beasts consume things often, and it was important that they consume certain things, but not others.  "Might I measure in its mouth?" he asked the corraler.
The neif shrugged.  "You may try, though she is not likely to let you."
Benae shuffled towards the head of the beast.  Its delicate nose twitched once more, and its large circular ears swiveled towards him.  "Easy," the corraler said softly, petting the beast's neck.  "She's an old girl, she's seen many lights, too many probably. But I decided to let her take this one last trip out of the corrals before she's ended and utilized."
Benae's face was frozen in a smile.  Wonderful.  You are ending the existence of one he treats like an offspring.  He focused on the beasts head.  "How should I get it to open its mouth?"
"Just reach in and open them with your hands.  All her teeth are gone, so as long as you do not put your entire arm in her mouth, you should be fine."
Benae's smile stiffened further.  Keppo must be laughing her gloves off behind the curtain watching him squirm.  Dropping the petal-rod back into his glove at his belt, he carefully placed a hand on the nose of the beast.  It snorted and bucked its head, but quieted after a moment.  Carefully, he placed his other hand under the jaw of the beast.  Cringing as he gripped his fingers around each half of the mouth, he slowly pulled the mouth open.  The beast snorted and bucked again, but Benae held on until the beast stopped bucking and simply stepped from side to side as if it were anxious.  It didn't stop snorting, though, and the wind from its mouth was one of the most foul scents Benae had ever been bathed in.  The mouth had strange lumps around the edge where the teeth had been removed.  Grimacing, Benae kept the upper jaw propped up with one hand and grabbed the petal-rod with the other.  He had forgotten how grotesque the slab of flesh in the mouth of beasts could be.


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