Although this year, my novel is only about halfway complete, at 50,000 words, making it more likely to be a real book when it is finally completed. I will probably take a break from it, like last year, and then pick it up again to finish for real. Or maybe I'll write the next half next NaNoWriMo. Who knows?
Here's your last excerpt:
Kevin rose from the bench and briskly wiped the crumbs off his hands. “Come on, guys,” he said, pulling on his gear. “Let’s get moving so we don’t have to climb the mountain in the dark.”
They complied, and after everyone was suited up they started along the road, heading past the village. Joshua continued looking above the treeline, hoping to see the mountain. He was disappointed.
A few miles beyond the town, the trees began to thin out, making it easier to see. Joshua was starting to get anxious about reaching Mount Chanhassen, when he noticed a bigger break in the trees. As they approached it, they all stopped dead in their tracks.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Kevin grumbled. “This is their idea of a mountain?” Standing in front of them was a hill. It was covered in lush vegetation, and couldn’t have risen in elevation more than a few hundred feet.
“Well,” Joshua said cautiously, “Silas did say it was the tallest rock out here. And there’s definitely nothing else bigger.”
“No wonder he said all paths to the top were safe,” Kevin replied, disgusted. “It’s just a hill!”
Jason started to snicker. “It sounds like you guys were making a mountain out of a molehill!” he cried, dissolving completely into full-blown laughter. He bent in half, clutching his stomach and wiping tears from his eyes. Joshua elbowed him and he toppled over, still laughing like a hyena. Joshua left him lying on the forest floor and turned right off the path to head toward the so-called Mount Chanhassen. The others followed him. Natalie had a hard time getting Jason to his feet, but eventually he recovered enough to get up. He pulled leaves out of his curly hair as they walked up the hill.
“Do you think we’ll reach the top before it gets dark?” Jason asked them. Joshua could hear the laughter straining to escape his friend, so he ignored him and kept walking.
“Do you need any help?” he asked Danae, hoping the gentle incline wouldn’t be too much of a challenge for her.
She shook her head. “No, I think I can manage,” she said, smirking.
It took less than a half-hour to get to the top of the hill. They dropped their gear and looked around. Instead of being able to see the entire kingdom, as Joshua had envisioned, they could only see the tops of trees. It was easy to see that Silas was quite right: there was nothing else this tall for miles. Kevin cleared some rocks out of the way with his foot and began setting up the tent. It was a pretty simple affair, just a metal frame draped with a canvas that was anchored to the ground. Joshua gave him a hand, and they finished in minutes.
“Well, we made it to the top of the mountain, the tent is up, and there are hours to go until the blue fire shows up,” Kevin said. He rested his hands on his hips and surveyed the tent, looking pleased with his handiwork. “What do you guys want to do now?” he asked.
Danae sighed. “I should probably take a nap. Even if it wasn’t a hike up a mountain, that walk still tired me out,” she said. Kevin and Joshua piled up the quilts inside the tent so she could lie down comfortably. “Wake me up when it starts to get dark,” she instructed them sternly. “I don’t want to miss any blue fire.” She crawled into the tent, shutting the flap behind her.
“Speaking of fire,” Kevin said, “we should probably get to work on building ours so we can cook dinner.” He got to work, rummaging around the bag with the firelighter. “Go find some wood,” he told Natalie and Jason, who obediently set off down the hill to the forest, hand in hand.”
“You shouldn’t have asked them to go get wood alone,” Joshua commented, sitting down next to Kevin on the hard ground. “They’ll be gone for ages.”
Kevin let out a snort of laughter. “I don’t care. If I have to hear Jason make another joke about the mountain, I’ll beat him with a canteen.” Joshua laughed too. “Why don’t you go look around for places where the clue might be?” Kevin suggested, all business again. “Even if we won’t be able to read it until the blue fire show, at least we can get an idea of where to look for it.”