My heart is melting. I feel like all the joys and wonders of the world are blending into this scrumptious, succulent, wondrous pool of “thing” in the mushy center of my brain. It’s like this juicy, delicious sensation… This mouth-wateringly sweet, heart-warmingly syrupy…

Okay, back up.

Eleven days ago today, I finished serialization of #MSPre on Jukepop. Immediately afterward, I started writing a brainstorm for the next draft, in accordance with my personal three-step story writing method (step 1: Brainstorm like a mofo). It’s going swimmingly; the document is now 15,000 words long and 4/7 of the next installation is ready to turn into a narrative at whim. My goal is to combine all previous drafts of Metal Shadow into one penultimate draft, and the goal is being met. Since there’s a LOT of variety in the previous documents, the current one is also shaping up to be a pure joyride. It’s thematically epic, the characters are deep and varied, it’s insightful, it’s clever, it’s hectic—and of course, it’s got fantasy action sequences on a whole ‘nother level.

As I’m here cranking out this brainstorm doc, I reach the fifth of the seven sagas I intend to set for release on Jukepop in 2014, which is pretty much copy/paste-worthy of a previous draft. Problem is, I can’t remember this draft because it’s fairly recent, like 2012 or so. So I literally have to find and copy/paste it.

I dig through my Google Drive directories searching for it, and…ladies and gentlemen…I hit the jackpot. Aaaall the old files of Metal Shadow, dating back to 2010 (although I started writing in November 2007, I deleted the old files) are now sitting comfortably in a neighboring tab, waiting for me to peruse. We’re talking character bios, details for the magic system, character weapons and relative character strength estimates, details on the world, the nations, their economies, their languages, their history. I mean, like, you know? This must be what a kid feels like in a candy store.

Among these files is chapter 1 from the most recent draft of the story. I pick it up and read it, and now I also intend to copy/paste this into the 2014 draft because it’s so darn good. I figured I’d share piece of it on here so you can all get a feel for what to expect with the main canon, as well as be wowed by it yourself. This was found in a folder labeled “Dec19-11”. None of the main characters actually make an appearance or even influence the scene, which is something I aim to do from time to time with Metal Shadow to give the world a bit of breadth.

Quick note: I’m debating with myself whether to get beta readers for the brainstorm document. It’s organized almost exactly like an outline so it’s readable. There’s a couple of story arcs that make me feel a bit uncertain as to the story’s direction due to their cerebral nature, so I’d reeeally like some feedback. Anyone out there wiling to skim a 15k word document written totally haphazardly which isn’t fully completed and offer honest feedback? 😛 Drop a comment.

Without further ado, the first scene from a previous draft of Metal Shadow Volume One: Element.

Chapter 1: A Boy and His Coffin

Dark clouds rolled over the colony of Deep Kuralle. Lights flickered on, beaming out from the faces of the colony’s uniquely-shaped buildings like bright little eyes, entire lines of them appearing along the sides of the scaffolds of unfinished structures. People shuffled through the lamplit cobblestone streets toward one gathering or another, taking their usual bustle indoors. A chilly wind pushed them along. Now and again the sky would growl and emit a flash of light, but they were only threats. The clamoring, laughing, bickering voices indoors took no heed.

Mothers not working late at their offices donned white aprons like suits of armor and set to work on ancient family recipes with a blacksmith’s tenacity. In the Busie household, young Peeze took to her mother’s side eagerly, equipped with a pink apron, a sassy step, and a laddle. Together they made magic. The grumpy old man they had tucked away upstairs was, for once, not grumpy at all; not after those lofty aromas began swimming out of the kitchen.

A youth skipping merrily down one of the few wide-open roads in the colony stopped as a nearby loudspeaker screeched on. “Outdoor night classes are cancelled for middleclassmen and lower,” a cool female voice said. “Indoor examinations are to be attended as scheduled.”

“Aw, crud,” said the youth. He turned and started making his way back to the dark silhouette of the building behind him–walking, not skipping. A man going in the opposite direction chuckled and ruffled the boy’s hair. A number of the students scattered around the colony echoed the boy’s disdain as they  glided mournfully toward the tall, dark, forbidding buildings the adults called academies. For the rest, there was only laughter and merrymaking. “No night classes tonight!” June Barbing shouted from the roof of his house, and the Yinnies and Kurtes’ next door gave him sound warnings not to do it again. “Pray for a wet morning!” he responded.

Everywhere, youths darted through the alleyways, journeying up floors of scaffolding to join friends for an afternoon gossip or appearing at large, almost festive gatherings for food and drink. Gray men sitting in corners with stout pipes wedged between their teeth either laughed or shouted at them. The coming storm meant nothing but a night of vigilance and labor for their ilk, and those who shouted hated the prospect as much as those who didn’t looked forward to it. Women just shouted. “Get me that pot, child.” “Pass me the vinegar, boy.” All without lifting an eye from their stew pots or kneaded dough. The young men stopped in mid-run and all but curtsied in compliance.

The Jinsie girls had seized the opportunity to put together their third movie night. They were screening all three parts of the “Hero Man” saga this time, at Chantael’s consideration. Haile texted and phoned and emailed and shouted across distances and sent off messengers in an attempt to get the word out while preparations were under way. Her five sisters either beamed at her or stared in shock, and in return she held her chin where her nose should’ve been. The academies had actually been good to her, which was more than could be said of other Jinsie girls: one expelled, another with child, and a third on the way to both. Haile’s efforts paied off. The opening sequence to the original Hero Man played on one Jinsie wide-screen display to one Jinsie living room packed well past capacity. “Look! In the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s–Hero Man!” A deafening round of applause.

Elsewhere, the lights were off, the windows were shut, and the Moelodie household of three had wrapped themselves up in thick blankets to watch their picture in comfort and quiet. Claudia lay between her mother and father like a snug sausage, her enamor at being the one to hold the popcorn bowl plain on her face. Mr. Moelodie, with his head propped up on one hand, repeated seemingly every other line in the movie with dramatic flair. Mrs. Moelodie frequently shifted her attentions from the film to her daughter’s sweet-smelling, just-washed hair and fair complexion, muttering things along the lines of, “Slow down on the popcorn, honey, you’ll ruin your figure.” The black and white images flashed on the compact monitor, filling up their compact apartment. Mr. Hubble burst into the room where his fellow Federation agents were holding a secret meeting and began babbling. “We’re blind, I tell you,” Mr. Moelodie echoed. “Blind, while they’ve got eyes in our pockets!”

Otherwise, the night continued in a typical fashion. The academies withheld their subjects into the late hours, upon when older brothers and sisters appeared to escort the subjects home. Graying men patrolled the streets while families nestled into their cozies. Finally, at an hour not long after midnight, the clouds followed through on their promise: with one deafening crack of a whip of thunder, curtains upon curtains of rain burst down onto the valley. A small wave of screaming bodies rushed out of the Jinsie household, disappeared into their residences, and it was a dark and stormy night.

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