My excerpt for today's WEP challenge post is 695 words, according to an online word counter. It's an excerpt from my novel NAUSICAA, which I have edited and whittled down, but which naturally I'm still nowhere near happy with. But it's the best I can do for now! Critique is welcome.
They sat at the edge of a dry riverbed, gazing out across the sandy expanse to the plains beyond. Overhead, the weak morning sun hung in a washed out blue sky, bathing them in its pale light.A breeze rustling through fallen leaves was all the sound that broke the silence.Nausicaa studied the bent trees far out on the plain, sticking up through hardened soil. They reminded her of herself and the other rebels--scorched, wizened, and stripped of all leaves, but not yet quite broken.They had spent the night out here, since manor rules prevented them from sharing a room, and neither had wanted to be alone. It was a beautiful night, with a fat, full moon illuminating the landscape. It had reminded Nausicaa of the artful backdrop in a video game she and her friends had played in high school. Gazing at it, she had fallen into a reverie about her past life, and for the first time in a long time, she had actually enjoyed reminiscing, instead of fixating on the present.Their night had passed in silence, a meditative vigil before the dawn. But now that the sun had risen, the urge to speak overwhelmed her.Studying the distant mountains, she said, “Part of me wants to run. Just run all the way to the horizon."Jonathan nodded his understanding.“But another part knows… I'd have to keep on running. Forever. And never look back."He watched her for a moment, saying nothing. Then he sighed and murmured, “We cannot run from this, can we?""No."In truth, they both knew that they would be running--backwards, not forwards. Their job in Persas was not done. The city still needed them to make one last stand. And that stand would be their last.Jonathan folded his hands. “Where will we aim first?”She answered, though he already knew the answer well enough. “We need to aim for the heart. We need…” She drew a deep breath and closed her eyes. “We need to kill them once and for all. Forget all the incidentals…all the limbs, so to speak. Cut off the head.”“No easy task, that,” he said. But he didn’t argue. “You and I alone…I’m not sure how far we’d get.” To her surprise, he sounded bleakly amused. She smiled and rested a hand on his arm.“We would have help,” she said. “We will call upon the Artemis.”“What?”“Not what. Who. Anna Vander. The Artemis, we called her. Did I ever tell you I saw her?”“Yes, you did,” he said. “In the prisons, wasn't it?”“Yes. She was like…like an apparition. But she spoke to me.” Shame filled Nausicaa, as it had done back then when she'd first heard the legend's warning. “Stay back…it isn’t safe,” the Artemis had said, as if even she knew that Nausicaa couldn’t take care of herself.But no, it hadn’t been that. It was more that the Artemis was accustomed to being legendary, and so naturally thought more highly of her own ability than of anyone else's. She had started young, while Nausicaa had spent her formative years confined indoors, never gaining experience on outside missions. There were fathoms between them in terms of experience. Still, it had stung to hear her own insecurities echoed back at her from such a mythic figure.“She is formidable,” Jonathan said. “But an excellent choice in ally.”“And perhaps…” Nausicaa lowered her gaze. “…Perhaps Actaeon will show up?”“I have no doubt that he will,” Jonathan said. “If he is able.”She didn't want to think about if he was not.What about Ganza? she mused. Will they be fighting? And if so…on which side? She sensed everything coming to a head, Persas’s fate waiting to be decided once and for all. And she felt a rush of exhilaration, a desperation to see it happen quickly. She had had enough of her city being held captive.It must be set free.“When do we leave?” Jonathan asked, another unnecessary question.“On the next train,” she answered, speaking words that would become famous in time.With those four words, Nausicaa sealed the fate of Persas.