You might notice, dear reader, a new item down yonder in the left column. Gone is the progress meter for the completed (and being agent-shopped) The Shards of Heaven. In its place is the progress meter for the just-begun sequel to that novel in the Angels of Earth series: The Gate of Hell. Outlining is complete to my comfort, so last night I pounded out the first third of the Prologue.
It will surely change, but here’s a first draft of the opening paragraphs for the book:
The night the Republic finally came to an end, thirteen-year-old Cleopatra Selene fell asleep in her room while waiting for the emperor’s son. Not for the first time she dreamed she was ten again, sitting on the cold stone bench of a Roman prison cell, her head against Alexander Helios’ shoulder, pretending to sleep. The yellow light of an Italian dawn was just beginning to stream in through a barred window high on the outside wall, taunting them with unreachable warmth.
Helios shifted his shoulder beneath the weight of her head. “Wake up, Selene,” her twin whispered.
Selene didn’t move her head. “I am awake.”
“Did you sleep?”
She let the air out of her lungs, then yawned it back in again and regretted the instinct: the air was thick with humid smells of mold and mildew and human despair. She coughed off a gag.
“Me neither,” he said.
Through the window came the voices of the gathered crowds: jubilant cries of celebration at the festivities of the Roman Triumph, mixed with angry shouts for the death of the traitorous Egyptian royalty that Octavian had brought back from Alexandria, the children of Antony and Cleopatra.
Selene felt their hatred run like cold fingers up her spine. Before she could shiver she lifted her head from her brother’s shoulder and stood, rubbing at her numb arms. The roiling mass of emotion outside had been building for more than two days, but today it came to a final climax. Today was the end.