Stories on the edge of familiarity

The New Beginning for Hidden in Sealskin (part 1)

I said I’d be sharing something from one of my stories today, and here it is, the brand-new beginning to Hidden in Sealskin. It takes place some years prior to the rest of the novel, and it marks… well… you’ll see exactly why it’s such an important event in Adren’s life as you read it.

Since the whole thing is just under 3,000 words, I’m not going to be sharing it all at once, thus the whole part 1 thing in the title. But I’ll be sharing 500-700 words of it at a time (depending on where a good break is), once a week until it’s done. I hope you enjoy it. :)

Also, for the unfun people on the internet who do douchey things:

All the words following, just like everything I’ve written on this website are copyrighted to me, Thea van Diepen, all rights reserved. The copyright for this particular post begins this year, 2014, and will go on for freaking decades, in accordance to the copyright laws of Canada, unless I decide to end the copyright earlier. Since I haven’t decided that, do not reproduce this post, especially the words following this announcement, without my express written permission. Also, if you’re one of those unfun people who do the douchey things that make this kind of announcement necessary, you are not at all welcome on this website and might as well just leave right now. Thank you, and good night.

And now: Hidden in Sealskin, and the prologue that people had better read when the book gets published because this here is important stuff, guys. For the whole series. Seriously, why would you ever skip a prologue? Anyways. Here it is:

Pider shoved Adren against the wall, hands at either side of her head, pressed so hard against the stone she could see the muscles in his arms straining. She angled her head so as to see out of the alleyway, but Pider shook his head and grunted. He bent his head low over hers.

Even with that smallest of glimpses, Adren had been able to make out the lamplighter on her way through the evening fog and the trail of lights behind her. Adren opened her mouth to ask why they were hiding from the woman, but Pider pressed her mouth closed. He swallowed, Adam’s apple bobbing, then again with another swallow. Adren couldn’t make sense of it. There was no need for fear, and yet she could see that the tendons in Pider’s neck strained against his skin. His breath came in shallow spurts, and his body shook, though that had lessened after his second swallow.

Pider raised his eyebrows, looking directly at Adren, and lessened the pressure of his fingers on her lips. She nodded.

He let her go and stepped back, angling his head away from the street.

Adren raised an eyebrow.

Pider lowered both of his, shaking his head even more emphatically than before, and then he mimed lifting up a hood. At first, Adren narrowed her eyes, confused, but then she remembered. Her hair. She put her hood over her head, taking care to tuck any stray locks back where they wouldn’t be seen. Hands in his pockets, Pider adopted a casual stance. As the lamplighter lit the streetlight nearest them, Pider’s eyes flicked in her direction, his hands lumping into fists beneath the fabric of his pants. His pupils were dilated, more so than Adren had expected even from the darkness of the alley. The lamplighter passed them without a pause in her stride and lit the next lamp. Pider’s shoulders slumped, most of the tension gone out of them. They both waited, his head tilted in the lamplighter’s direction, eyes anxious, and Adren watching him. Why was he so scared?

Before long, Pider checked the street, nodded at Adren, and they crossed it, entering the alley on the other side. They continued on their way, walking on the wet cobblestone, the roofs of houses still dripping from that evening’s rain. The air pressed around them, damp not only with the fog, but also the promise of more rain. Pider’s gait had quickened since the crossing, and his back become a little more hunched over. Much as Adren wanted to ask for an explanation, she took nearly two steps for each one of his, and had to work so hard to keep up that she had no breath left to speak.

The alley took a sudden snakelike twist, but Adren kept close to Pider. She had little experience with human communities and so, without his help, would have become lost in only a few moments, especially now that it had become dark. The only problem at this moment was her hood, which narrowed her peripheral vision more than was comfortable, so she lowered it again and let her hair fall ghostlike behind her.

As soon as Adren could make out the light spilling from the next crossing, Pider stopped to open the gate of a high wooden fence. Adren tried to peer through the chinks, but the posts pressed together too tightly, and she could not see beyond them. Hinges creaked as Pider opened the gate, beckoning to Adren, his eyes searching the way they had come. She passed through into a small, unkempt yard, the grass like hair in need of a good brushing. Pider walked by her and up to the door. He knocked, four quick beats, then a pause, then two beats. The door opened, a hatchet faced man behind it, who stood aside as Pider and Adren entered.

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