She had been ill used when Jezi found her. He was blind even then, but his whiskers and nose served him well enough in the specialty he had chosen, and he wore a harness full of tools that he used with more skill than most sighted thieves and never went into a house that did not reveal some secrets worth stealing. But his time was running out. His paws shook more of late, and the winters felt colder than they had when he was young. And the scentscape that had once been as vibrant and flavourful as dinner at the Palace was becoming gray and tasteless. He needed an assistant.

He was in the witch’s little basement dwelling trying to decide which of a pair of bottled potions was worth more, and having a hard time of it, when he caught her scent.

There is a thing about crypsids that humans do not know. Their darkness has a scent. It is as invisible to human noses as sylph wings are to their eyes, but even an old rat could smell it well enough to identify this one as follows: darkling girl, young, hungry. About seven or eight years old. Lived in Shaltan for a season or so, but came from the highlands. Not afraid of him, for the scent would have been much stronger. Crypsid darkness makes them invisible to humans, but lights them up like beacons for most four-legged creatures. Luckily, these are not their worst enemies.

Her wings, he guessed, were about as long as crypsid wings get, and probably swept the floor. Crypsid wings are not large enough to fly with.

He pretended not to sense her, focussing on the bottles in front of him.

“The one on the left is deep bluish purple,” she whispered. “The other one is a sort of pale blue.”

He nodded, turning his head. “Thank you. Do you know what they do?”

She was silent, and he guessed that she had shaken her head. Then she remembered his eyes and said, “no.”

He tapped the glass that contained the blue potion and told her, “this one treats lameness. And this one...” the purple, “treats lameness.”

“They do the same thing?”

“They’re the same potion. It follows that they do the same thing.”

“So what’s the difference?”

“A few drops of arynge dye, and about twenty silver pieces. The purple is sold to the noble born, who think their health is worth more than that of the poor.”

“You talk funny,” she commented.

“I’m old.”

He had a feeling about her. Something told him that the young crypsid was exactly what he needed. But he had not survived for so long by trusting every little ragamuffin he met in a witch’s apartment, feelings or no feelings. He would test her extensively before he actually put any trust in her. Before the conversation went any further, he disappeared, knowing that if his feelings were worth trusting he would see her again before the month was over.

And, of course, he did.

I’m doing sketches to work out backstory and additional ideas for a book I’ve just started to cook. I’ve decided to post them as daylogs to give me some kind of incentive to write at least one a day - using my regular system I only get about two solid writing days per week. This way I'll at least be developing the material all the time. I also hope to get some feedback by doing this - if anybody feels like telling me “this character sucks, I just want him to die” or “that was a pretty good metaphor, you should keep that in the novel,” I’d like to hear it.

I know that these aren’t complete stories. I also know that some of the stuff above is terribly cliched. These are sketches. I’ve done a little rewriting but kept it to a minimum. Most of this stuff is not going to be in the novel. It’s mostly intended to get me thinking about aspects of the novel that aren’t covered in my basic plot outline (which is likely to change based on these sketches).

First of these went up at January 25, 2005.