A couple weeks late again, but hey, defying time boundaries and common sense is my speciality.

I was super psyhced to participate in Camp NaNo again in July. Back in April, I participated, and my project was plotting Loyalty Book II: Pursuit of No One. In July, I wrote it!

So. Allow me to bore you all to death with another one of my long, monotonous, overloaded recaps.

I followed my plot line while writing… ONLY TO FIND OUT I HAD DONE NO PLOT STRUCTURE.

But more on that further on.

I usually began writing past the midnight hour, so the timing and word count I wrote on which days are sometimes later.


Thank you Sarah for my BEAUTIFUL mock cover.

Day 1

Today: 20,090
Total: 20,090

THE 20K DAY.

(With snippets because nobody asked, everyone hates, but Madi loves).

I WROTE TWENTY THOUSAND WORDS IN TWENTY-TWO HOURS.

  I’m trembling by now as Rasako gently touches my arm and helps me away from the wall. “Ari,” he says softly. “Are you alright?”

I skipped lunch and dinner and wrote around the clock. IT WAS SO FUN OH MY WORD. My first-day goal was only 15k, but secretly, I wanted to get to 20k.

  Rasako smiles a little bit more. “You might want to sit down to hear this.”

I woke up at 4:20 and wrote from 4:30-6. I got 3k. I accidentally planned my shower time during the same time as someone else’s, so while waiting, I wrote another 2k before 7ish.

“That’s a fake. My life has been a fake — I’ve been lied to the entirety of it.”

IT WAS SO EXHILARATING! The first 5k was the most fun of the entire day. I just wrote straight out of my heart and had a ton of fun with my plot notes. I even added a part that I hadn’t plotted but that adds so much more depth to a certain betrayal and allowed me to write a super dramatic and sweet scene I’d always wanted to.

Guys, writing is incredible. I kinda want to cry when I think about how much I love it.

“Xiang-Su,” he greets me, looking at me through the dark hair that falls forward on his sweaty face.

  “Hi,” I say quietly.

  “I can’t believe you,” he says, shaking his head. The guards pull him back a little bit, but I’m not worried.

  “What can’t you believe?” I ask calmly.

  “Why — why — Rasako — he wanted to kill me.”

  “Correction,” I note. “He still wants to kill you.”

  Maruko rolls his eyes. “I’m sure he does. Why didn’t you let him?”

After my shower, I had some breakfast, then it was back to writing. I didn’t stop until 8ish PM, and I either didn’t have 15k yet or had just reached it. After eating a slice of pizza, a brownie, and taking a quick walk while eating them so I’d at least get some muscle movement XD, I went right back and wrote until I reached 20k at 2:35 AM.

I need to know he’s okay.

20k in 4:30 AM to 2:35 AM next day — not bad. Come November, I wanna beat my first day. I’m going to make it a tradition — the first day of both Camp NaNos and NaNo, I wanna beat my word count of the previous.

“Wow. That’s coming from you? Why’d you punch a man like that, then?”
  Hora angrily swings a fist toward his face — I get the feeling she does that whenever she’s angry — but Itsu catches her fist in his and responds calmly. “Tell me what you know about him.”
  Hora pulls her clenched fist away from his grip. “Don’t you dare tell me what to do, Itsuwari Hageshiku.”
  Itsu winces at his full name — I get the feeling he doesn’t like it — but takes it calmly. “I’m sorry, Hora. But you seem like you want my help.”
  “I don’t want your help!” Hora hisses at him.
  “Correction,” a young man with blonde hair standing next to them notes. “She needs your help.”
  Hora silences him with a steaming glare. The man backs up in fear and turns back to the other warriors standing around, and Hora turns back to Itsu. “I don’t want or need your help. I’m stuck with you because Keisuke thinks I need you but I promise you that I don’t. So let me do the work of breaking him, and don’t interfere with that I’m trying to do.”
  Itsu throws his hands in the air, exasperated. “You came to me and told me you couldn’t break him! I assumed that meant you wanted help?
  Hora is indignant. “I’ll never come to you for help,” she swears angrily. “Let me be.”

The last 2k was the hardest and I legit wrote out of pure insanity. I was literally falling asleep while I wrote a certain fight scene, so whatever my brain was coming up with in the moments right before sleep was what I wrote. AND IT’S ACTUALLY PRETTY AWESOME. I kept jerking myself awake and then slipping back to almost-sleep again, but I was NOT going to stop until 20K. And I got it.

Now, I can write from like, 1-7:30 AM. I could never fall asleep before two in the morning now.

Thanks a lot, Camp NaNo. 😂

  “Do Itsu and Hora get along well?”
  “He gets along with her better than anyone else,” she says.
  “What? They’re constantly arguing — and physically fighting. That’s getting along?”
  “For Hora, that is.”
“And he’s going to break if we threaten to kill the girl? Senko asks.
  “I can guarantee it.”
  Nigai is unsure. “What if he doesn’t?”
  “Then she dies.”
  “That’s necessary?” Nigai asks her disbelief.
  Hora calmly looks at him for a while. “No,” she finally answers, unperturbed. “But it’s what I do.”

Day 2

Today: 3,114
Total: 23,204

  Hora holds up her hand for me to stop talking, so I do. “Say no to everything I say, Ajinomoto.”
  “Why?” I ask.
  “Just do it.”
  “No.”
  “Excuse me?”
  “You said to say ‘no’ to everything you said.”
  Hora rolls her eyes. “First question: do you have a nose?”
  What a dumb question. “No.”
  “Good. Do you have hair?”
  “No.”
  “Last one,” Hora says. “Are you wearing shoes?”
  “No.”
  Hora nods, satisfied. “Okay, continue on with what you were saying.”
  I furrow my eyebrows. “Okay? The money is back at my manor. I didn’t hide it at all.”
  Hora sees through my lies and tells me so. “Liar. You’re just making that up to save her.”
  “How did you know that?” I ask curiously.
  “I know what you look like when you lie now,” she shrugs.
  “Yes, I’m making it up to save her,” I say. “In all honesty, I don’t know where the money is.”
  “Okay then,” Hora nods. “She dies.”

Day 3

Today: 0
Total: 23,204

I realized I had lost 1.5k of my writing here, so I stopped all writing immediately and tried to recover it. I had to wait on a few account things with my writing program Evernote and didn’t want to continue on and forget what I remembered from the 1.5k I lost in case I did indeed have to rewrite it.

Day 4

Today: 0
Total: 23,204

Continually waiting on results on if I could either upgrade to a paid Evernote account and get access to my note history.

Day 5

Today: 2010
Total: 25,214

I ended up having to rewrite what I wrote, but Danielle helped me brainstorm and I ended up writing it even longer and better. SQUEEEE THE BIRD SCENE IS SO CUTE. THANKS DANIELLE.

Everything that happens next happens in a flash. “Ari!” Rasako shouts as he runs to me and kneels beside me. Warriors search the room for the one who shot the gun, but no one finds him.

Hora releases pressure and pulls the tip of the dagger out of his chest before standing up. “I expect her to be dead within the next five minutes, or you will be.”
  Silent tears roll down my face as Senko sits up and groans in pain. There’s not a thing in the world I can do to save Yakana’s life.
  Itsu crouches down to Hora without a word and offers his hand to her. I think Hora may be peeking through her fingers, because she accepts his hand. He helps her to her feet, and Hora’s cheeks flame scarlet red in humiliation. She might be wanting to cry mortified tears. “I hate nature.”
  Itsu reaches up his hand and gently brushes his thumb across the bleeding scrapes slashed over Hora’s cheek. She winces at the touch of his hand, but she doesn’t push it away.
  I think she likes it.
I pull plastered blood-stained hair out of my face and see the devastation that lies ruin on the path.
We’ve lost so much time and money for Hinoki’s cause. I fall to my knees and cry.

Day 6

Today: 0
Total: 25,214

I just waited until after midnight to start writing as usual. 😉

Day 7

Today: 3,963
Total: 29,177

  “Hora Sakenomi — the bounty hunter hired to go after him,” she says, gasping for breath again and wincing as I finish cleaning her slit. “She’s terrible. I’ve never met anyone so horrible in my entire life.”
  I want to cry at her words. Hinoki is at her hands.
  Instead, I nod. “Why did she order for you to be killed?”
“Are you saying I’m sailing straight into suicide?” She asks, offended. “I wouldn’t ask for a ship and want to sail now if I didn’t believe I was going to make it. And unfortunately Hinoki has to make it too so he’d better stick with me.”

😂😂😂 Am I the only one who thinks this line is HILARIOUS? 😂

Sorry. I think I’m funny. I can’t tell you why this line in particular makes me laugh. That would spoil a lot.

Day 8

Today: 587
Total: 29,764

😂 Wow, that daily total is SAD. I actually think I wrote the below snippet on Day 7, but I forget. I’m not sure what I wrote on which day. So just bear with me.

 “Hora,” I say softly. “What happened to you?”
  Hora looks me up and down in offense as if she doesn’t believe who this is coming from. “Excuse me?” She demands.
  “You didn’t always used to be like this,” I tell her. “You’d never murder someone.”
  Offense and indignant fury flames across Hora’s face again as she hardens her constant, never-ending glare. “Would I?” She snaps in anger. “Sometimes, as a warrior, you have to kill people.”
  “Honorable warriors kill people if they absolutely have to. Only warriors that out of their mind murder people.”
  Hora steps back from me in deep offense and repulse. “Murdering people makes a statement.”
  “How many people have you even illegally killed?” I ask. “They say you’re a murderer.”
  Hora folds her arms. “About a thousand, give or take. And I don’t see the problem.”
  I nearly fall to the floor. Her words hit me like a hurricane. Nearly a thousand precious lives have been ended at her hands. I could count to a hundred and each number would be a name, a person, a soul, a life she’s ended — and then I could repeat it ten more times.
  This is not the Hora I knew.

Day 9

Today: 3,504
Total: 33,268

  “Wow,” Tidoke jeers at me. “Wow.”
  “What?!” I cry.
  “Using the cover of being in love with Hinoki and wanting to find him just as a chance to escape from tring to find the assassin… because you are the assassin.”
  “What? What?!” I cry desperately. “That’s not — that’s not true! And being in love with Hinoki — that’s absurd. I’m not in love with Hinoki!”
  Yimata laughs at me. “It’s so obvious. And a very convincing cover, might I add.”

“I want you to lead them. Please. You’ll do an amazing job.” A lonely tear traces its way down my cheek, and I swipe it away with the back of my hand. “When you find Hinoki, tell him I did everything I could to find him, too.”

  “I thought you told me you could sail!”
  “I can! We didn’t die, does that make you happy? I can’t control the ship’s lurching!”
  “Just get us back on the freaking course!” Hora shouts. “The sooner I get to Hokkaido, the sooner we get the location and money out of Hinoki and the sooner I get paid and the sooner he dies.”
  “Hora,” Itsu says, relapsing to his calm, mature tone. “Please calm down.”
  I hear the smack of a fist into skin and wince at about the same time Itsu probably is. “Get this ship back on course before I slam you against that side of the ship and thrust you backwards and overboard.”
  “Right,” Itsu mumbles to her. “I’m on it.”
😂 Idk why I find this hilarious.

Day 10

Today: 0
Total: 33,268

Waiting to write until the midnight hour BECAUSE IT’S MORE EVIL.

Kidding. During July, I took on a habit of 12-5 AM writing.

My poor friends thought I was going insane from sleep loss. But wanna know my amazing secret?

I SLEPT IN HEHEHE.

Oh dear. If I’m not insane from sleep loss… that means I’m just naturally insane.

Run for your life, guys.

Day 11

Today: 3,744
Total: 37,012

  “Look, man, it’s called a bribe,” she rolls her eyes. “You don’t tell a soul anyone who even looks like me passed through here.”
  The young man leans back forward. “It’s not a bribe without something in it for me.”
  Hora smiles. “You’re right.” She slides a small bag of yen onto the counter and toward him, keeping her hand on it. “This is what you get.”
  He raises an eyebrow as if reconsidering. “You realize bribing an officer of law — me, the marshal — is a pretty heavy offense, right?”
  Hora slips her hand to his collar and wrenches a grip on it. “You realize double-crossing me or refusing to accept my offer is a deathly offense, right?”
  The young man’s face pales. “Oh my –” he curses — “you’re not kidding.”
  “No. I’m not.”

*sniffs* Just wait until my precious little Hora baby gets — AHAHA I CAN’T TELL YOU. THAT WOULD RUIN LOYALTY BOOKS 4-5.

I don’t know what it is about the command not to smile that makes me want to smile so much.

Day 12

Today: 0
Total: 37,012

*waits patiently for after midnight*

Day 13

Today: 5,426
Total: 42,438

  I close my eyes. I won’t let this be the end. I haven’t prayed in that much of a while — but I remember my mother’s prayers. She was a courageous woman of faith and backed down to nothing. She saw a lot of miracles.
I want to see one, too.

And you thought there was no epic devil butt-kicking element to this intense novel.

  God’s not limited. He can use plenty of other ways to reach Hora.

Day 14

Today: 0
Total: 42,438

Actually, I do write before midnight. I just don’t stop writing until after midnight, and that’s when I update my count.

Day 15

Today: 7,043
Total: 49,481

  Nothing but anger shows in [his] dark eyes. “You don’t even remember his name,” he hisses between his gritted teeth. “Unbelievable.”

Hora’s jaw drops. “Itsuwari Hageshiku, you look me in the eye and say that to my face.”
  Itsu makes eyes contact with her again and opens his mouth, but he can’t seem to find the words. He closes his mouth again as Hora silences him with a glare of pure death.
  “That Haji missions means nothing.”
  Now I’m curious. “Haji mission?” I question. “What was that?” Hora curses at me in an order to shut up, but I don’t. “I want to know. You guys tried to take on Haji?”
  “Key word on try,” Itsu nods. “And Hora wasn’t allowed to take him on alone.”
  “Oh, shut up,” Hora hisses at him. “You’re so delusional.”
  “I clearly remember what Keisuke said the day I beat you.”
  Hora swings her fist toward his face to punch him, as his horse is right next to hers, but Itsu catches her fist in his hand and pulls her off her steed. She gasps as he lets go and she collides with the ground again, and Senko pulls his horse to a stop to avoid trampling her.
  “What the heck was that?!” Hora shrieks as she stands up. Itsu clenches his jaw as he continues riding, but Hora has sneaked up behind him and grabs him with a wrenching grip. She rips him off his horse and slams him to the ground, but Itsu grabs Hora’s wrist as he falls and pulls her down to the ground with him.
  Hora sits up but holds a fist in front of his face. “I wonder how Keisuke is going to react when he finds out his number four is dead.”
  “Number four? Number four to who?” He snorts.
  “Number four to number three — me,” she hisses. “Soon to be his number two. And when I am, I’m going to execute you.”

Hora is screaming, but her voice is heavily muffled by his hand that she continually tries to pull off of her face.

 “Hora.”
  Hora turns around to face Itsu, who has followed her. “What.”
  Itsu reaches up his hand again to wipe the blood from her cheek that he busted when he punched her. “I’m sorry.”
  Hora stares at him, not making a move. I can’t read her expressionless face.
  Itsu returns his hand to his side and offers his other hand to shake. “Neither of us is Keisuke’s right hand man right now. The only thing ahead of us is bringing Hinoki to him — can we focus on that?”

This scene was insanely fun to write. ALSO HITSU AWW 😄😄😄

  I shouldn’t be doing this.

^ Famous last words.

Day 16

Today: 2,171
Total: 51,652

  “Look,” Rasako says. “It’s a dead end. This is a dead pursuit of no one. Hinoki is gone.”

  Yakana giggles. “Excuse my warrior garb. I’m helping my friend on a mission to find her boyfriend.”
“Yakana!” I shriek. “Hinoki is not my –”
“He is,” Yakana nods. “He totally is.”
“What — how — how can you even think that?!”
Yakana smiles and winks at the foresters, and I groan. The older forester woman smiles back at Yakana. “Where did the boyfriend go?”
I moan. “He’s not my –”
“We’re not sure,” Yakana interrupts. “He was captured by bounty hunters and we’re out to find him.”
“Bounty hunters?” The older woman furrows her eyebrows in confusion.
Anata speaks up. “Bounty hunters. Someone who hunts someone down for money — sometimes it’s a good thing, like hunting down and turning in a criminal. And sometimes it’s cruel, like hunting down someone who owes your boss money.”
The older woman nods. “Oh my. Good luck finding the boyfriend.”
“He’s not my boyfriend!”
“Also,” Yakana adds. “We’re headed to the the bounty hunter’s boss right now.”
Anata nods. “Maybe you could point us in the right direction? It’s supposed to be right around here.”
The older woman looks as if she has never been so confused in her life. “There’s nothing around here for miles except a small town and village besides our forester villages. What bounty hunter headquarters could there be?”
Anata’s jaw drops. “We’re supposed to be getting closer and closer to it. How could it not be here?”
The forester woman shakes her head. “Honey, if a place like that even existed, it is nowhere near here. I am sorry.”
Rasako disagrees. “No. That’s not right. It has to be here.”
The woman shrugs. “The forest is my life. If a place like that was here, I would know about it.”
I’m dumbfounded and flabbergasted. It doesn’t — it doesn’t exist? No. No. It has to.
“Thank you, but we’re going to keep looking,” I nod to the woman with a smile.
She nods back. “Good luck finding your boyfriend!”
“He’s not my boyfriend!” I wail.
The oldest man next to the woman nods at me. “Would you all like to stay and have a meal or rest or something?” He asks.
“No thank you,” I say. “We’re going to continue on.”
“Of course. Good luck finding your not-boyfriend.”
I facepalm. “Thank you.”

😂😂😂😂

Sorry. I can’t help it.

Day 17

Today: 0
Total: 51,652

Nope. MIDNIGHT COMETH.

Day 18

Today: 3,039
Total: 54,691

  Hora scoffs. “Love is a lie.”
  “Hora,” I say gently. “Just because one man broke your heart doesn’t mean love is a lie.”
  Hora punches me in the face for saying this, but I’ve expected it. She curses at me in an order for me to shut up.
  But I don’t.
  “Is this about your ex-husband?”
  Hora punches me again. My skin busts open and blood spews onto the bark of the tree next to me. “Don’t you dare marry Ari Xiang-Su.” She begins to tremble, and her clenched fists grow white with pure anger. “Because if you cheat on her it will [italic]destroy[italic] her.”
AWWWWW MY PWECIOUS WITTLE HORA BABY! 😭😭😭
A little later in the scene…
“Oh, Hora.” I gently pull her into a hug as she sobs her heart out. She doesn’t really hug me back but cries as if she’s been holding the pain back for longer than anyone should.
And she doesn’t pull away.
“Hora… you know your husband cheating on you wasn’t your fault, right?”
Hora weeps on my shoulder.
ASDFGHJSDVGALAMHGWHATFL
  If only she knew.
  “You can change. You can. This isn’t who you are. This is who you’ve become. And if you’ve become something, you can un-become it.”
  Hora weeps more, but they’re mixed with tears of pure relief as if the burden she’s carried all these years is breaking.
  I hug her tighter, and she hugs me back. “There’s only the love of One who can heal all the pain. You’re so precious and loved to Him.”

Dost thou see one of the the devil butt-kicking elements now? Yeahhh. 😎 Fist bump me. 👊 Just wait for book 4 or 5, I’m telling you. IT ALL UNFOLDS.

Oh. I wrote this back on Day 8, but I should probably snippet it.

  “I never got to tell her how kind she was to me,” her voice grows quieter. “I never got to thank her for loving me even when I tasted of heartache and war.”
  “She could see past your front,” I say gently. “She saw what was there, underneath the shell. She sees what I see.”
  Hora numbly pulls her gaze up to meet mine and stares at me with her deep dark eyes. “What — what did she see?” She asks softly. “What do you see?”
  I swallow. “Someone desperate and dying inside for the love only One Person can give you.”

HEHEHE.

MY PWECIOUS WITTLE HORA BABY.

Day 19

Today: 8,373
Total: 63,064

So… my goal for book II was 130k. I failed. Miserably. I finished with 59k.

Okay, I know I promised a post about how I plotted my novel back in April because it looked cool with all the pretty plot notes.

BUT NEVER PLOT LIKE I DID. I REPEAT. NEVER! EVER! EVER! PLOT LIKE I DID. I MESSED EVERYTHING UP AND NOW I HAVE TO REPLOT AND RESTRUCTURE AND REVISE AND REWRITE AND CRY IN MISERY THE ENTIRE TIME.

Not saying don’t use a plot board. I do recommend using that. But that’s all I did. I didn’t do anything else.

SO NEVER PLOT LIKE ME, PLEASE.

I am now reading K.M. Weiland’s books on Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and 5 Secrets to Story Structure. *facepalms*

But I wanted to prove to myself that I could write 100k in a month, so I picked up a previous project — rewriting Loyalty Book I: To the Death.

Which, by the way, I’m completely replotting and restructuring so all the rewriting I did WAS FOR NOTHING.

The word count validator was nice, though. I had, like, 4k more than I thought. >:D

But here are snippets from the rest of the chapters of Pursuit of No One.

  Hora is scared out of her wits. She begins to tremble. “Ari — Ari Xiang-Su — after us this entire time? We can’t — we can’t fight her! She’s a nightmare!”
  Itsu joins the others in being scared to death. “Oh, Hora. Why is she after you?”
  “Government samurai!” Hora cries. “They’ve found out about –” if Hora could turn any paler, she does it now as the rest of the blood drains from her face. She looks as if she’d rather drop dead. “They’ve found out about –“
  “Your many murders,” Itsu finishes. “Now [italic]they’re[italic] the bounty hunters.”
  Hora trembles. This must be one of her worst nightmares coming to life, and here it is, hitting her out of nowhere.
I look at the woman standing in front. She has glossy, straight black hair layering onto and past her shoulders. She’s not tall, but she’s not that short. Her jaw contour is full and her stance is confident and ready to take me on.
  Her eyes, though. They’re something else. They’re darker than dark despite being contrasted with her light skin, and they’re glaring at me with a mix of hurt and hatred. They’re like an pool of emotion so deep one might drown if she stares at you for too long.
  No one has to tell me this is Hora Sakenomi — I just know. The way she stands in front of the others as if she’s ready to lead them in a final battle and her merciless aura sets her apart.

Yeah, description is… not one of my strong points. Btw — this is all first draft. I’m completely replotting and restructuring this next year. *sighs*

  I can no longer breathe as I begin to suffocate, and I recognize the murderous, hateful look in Rasako’s eyes. His face begins to smirk, and he’s feeling just like I do right as I kill someone.
  I’m going to die.
  But just as he closes my throat closed, my vision intensely flashes black and white, and the world whirls around me, someone throws himself at Rasako, pushing him off of me.
  I gasp in agony and desperation as I suck air back into my lungs through my throbbing throat, then weakly sit up to see Itsu and Rasako fighting.
  Itsu saved me?

Of course he did, Hora. Of course he did.

  I watch them walk off hand in hand, completely and totally in love with each other and elated to finally be together again. I keep watching them as they ascend a hill side-by-side back to their horses, feeling my heart pang as I realize I miss that love.
  I lower my head in misery and attempt to think about the last few days. Hinoki has been kinder to me than anyone else in the past few years and made me realize how much I needed my team — and that there’s still love inside my broken, bleeding heart.
  I kind of wish he loved me instead of Ari.
  He pulls himself to his feet with his own miserable groan of agony. “Xiang-Su and Ajinomoto are gone?”
  I nod slowly. Unfortunately, Hinoki Ajinomoto is gone. I wish he were here. I wish he’d hug me again.

AWWWW HORA YOU HAVE A CRUSH ON HINOKI! 😄😄😄😄

*squeals and dies* I can’t snippet you this next part. Where Itsu nurses Hora’s wounds. AND THEN THEY HUG AND IT’S JUST THE CUTEST — I JUST — CAN’T. You’re going to have to wait and be a beta reader.

IN 2018 MWAHAHAHA.

DUUUUDE I CAN’T EVEN SNIPPET YOU ANY OF CHAPTER 21 BECAUSE HINOKI AND ARI ADMIT… ahh sorry too many spoilers already. I CAN’T. BUT I’M DYING.

AND THEN HINOKI K–

This is what happens when a smug little Madison Lorfing fangirls over HER OWN STUFF smh.

But you do get the “killer” or my attempt at killer last line of the entire book.

  I don’t know now, nor do I know that I will be faced with the hardest decisions of my life regarding Code in the next few most confusing unclear months I’ll ever live to face.

Day 20

Today: 1,708
Total: 64,772

Onto rewriting To the Death… only to completely replot and restructure it and then totally rewrite it again in November! 🤦🏻‍♀️

  Hinoki finishes wrapping the cloth around my broken ankle and moves back up to me. “What does it look like I’m doing?” He smiles. “I’m honoring my word and saving your life.”
  “But I thought you already — this is the second ti–“
  “Shh,” he interrupts again, ignoring my curiosity. “Focus on breathing.” He’s right. Breathing through the pain helps a lot. “That’s it. Alright, let’s get you home.”
  I all of the sudden feel heat color my cheeks. I’m warrior. I’m on the top ten wanted dead or alive list in all of Japan, for crying out loud. My enemy is’t supposed to be saving my life for the third time today. I’m humiliated.
  But Hinoki scoops me up in his strong arms, and I relax a little. Then I sputter, “Hinoki — please — if they see you, they’ll think you’ve killed me or something and attack you and –“
  “What part of focus on breathing do you not understand?” Hinoki chides.
  I relent. Hinoki has it under control, and I don’t argue for the entire half mile he carries me. I rest my head against his arm. I’m in so much excruciating shock and pain, I don’t care about trying to figure things out anymore. I simply focus on breathing, and for a long time, I manage not to pass out.

Who remembers this scene, betas? 😄

This next little snippet of dialog is new, though —

  I nod. “Sensei Kira is going to train her hard.”
  “Of course,” Nyx shrugs again. “She trained us all hard.”
  “I mean — that innocent, beautiful little girl is going to end up ending innocent, beautiful lives.”
  That’s when Nyx rolls her eyes at me. “Ari, you just have a thing about murder Sensei Kira lets you back out of.”
  “Maybe,” I say, standing up out of bed and running a hand through my hair. “Or maybe I still have a conscience left.”
  The next few weeks prove to be full of trials and my burning hatred for Hinoki. Sensei Kira laughs at me and tells me as soon as she takes her eyes off of me I seem to break everything, and that reminds me of a mother’s care and concern. But then she grows serious and tells me that being wanted dead or alive is no simple matter. I have to watch myself.
  Of course, that’s all easy to do when you’re staying in the safe zone.
  Not as easy when Hinoki comes on the scene again.

BAM ARI. DROP THAT MIC. “Or maybe I still have a conscience left.” AWW YEAHH.

Day 21

Today: 1,608
Total: 66,452

  Hinoki considers this. “Whatever. We’ll go with your plan, but with a ton of revisions. Number one, I’m going in there with you lunatics. That’s a vital part of the mission and I don’t think I can trust you to stick to the plan.”
  “That makes two of us,” I snort. “I don’t trust you, either.”
  “But — listen,” Hinoki pleads, and his voice is different this time. “I need you to stick to the plan, Ari. Please. I’m revising it[italic]only to keep you safe[italic].”
  “What?” I ask softly.
  “You know you’re on the wanted list. If the thieves recognize you from the wanted posters, they’ll forget all about the land in an instant.”
  I swallow. He’s right. And he cares.

Day 22

Today: 5,243
Total: 71,695

  But to my relief, he doesn’t make a move to grab it. Instead, he leans over to me and whispers, “You put the key back where you found it and I’ll meet you downstairs. When you come down, bring your ninja with you.” His soft breath tickles my ear when he finishes speaking.

Hehe.

 “Listen here — Xiang-Su, is it?” Damian speaks up, walking towards me with his gun. “You’re wanted dead or alive, are you not?”
  “No,” I try my luck.
  “Liar. That was a rhetorical question. But I don’t care about killing as long as you’re willing it comply to our terms and surrender.”
  I stare at him long and hard with piercing eyes of fury. But I don’t have much of a choice if I want to keep my life.
  “Whatever,” I finally mutter.
  Damian grins and nods. “Good. Very, very good.” He jerks his head to the his brothers and Lynn, and they lower the guns.
  I lower my hands, anger burning inside. I don’t know what’s going to happen next.
  All I know is that I want Hinoki.
  Turns out, I don’t have to wonder my next-second fate for much longer. The last thing I see is a nod from Damian to the man in front of me. Before I have a chance to think, I’ve been pistol-whipped. The force knocks me to the ground, and I black out.

HEHE!

Day 23

Today: 0
Total: 71,695

Blah blah writing not counting up total ’til after midnight.

Day 24

Today: 6,415
Total: 78,110

  Lynn shrugs again, looking away. Her throat is tight as she answers, “I just don’t know, okay?
I don’t want to do this, but it doesn’t really seem like I have a choice.”
  “First samurai, now Ari Xiang-Su,” Oroka grumbles. “What next?”
  “Hora Sakenomi,” the second-in-command says, and everyone in the room winces.
  “Her? No, Aza. No. She’s barely twenty by now.”
  Aza persists. “So is Xiang-Su. This bounty hunter is rising in level. She’s good. Getting [italictoo[italic] good. We have to worry about her next.”
  Oroka shrugs. “Eh. I see what you’re saying. She could be the one after us eventually, if not next.”
  “She definitely will be in time, though,” Aza nods.
  Oroka smiles, looking around at his team of thieves around him. “We’re pretty valuable, friends. Apparently our capture is worth a lot.”
  He’s darn right it is. And I’m going to get him and all his companions turned in.
  While escaping.

DUN DUN DUN. The first mention of MY PWECIOUS WITTLE HORA BABY Hora Sakenomi in the entire book.

     I watch them walk off and refuse to face Hinoki. I’ve finally broken free from the ropes and I pull them off. I wish I could’ve done this earlier — then I could’ve escaped before Hinoki obtained custody of me. I ball the ropes in my clenched fists and then let them go, watching them drop to the ground.
“You don’t really want to go to prison, Ari,” Hinoki finally speaks up in the stillness of the night as we watch the others turn in.
“Maybe I do,” I retort.
“You don’t mean that.” Hinoki’s voice is soft and gentle now. “You don’t have any freedom or rights.”
Like I deserve any. “Well, it’s better than spending the rest of my life working for [italic]you[italic],” I haughtily shoot back.”
“Ari — it’s not going to take that long to earn your freedom. I promise.”
“Are you kidding?” My glare is still aimed away from him. “Of course it will. You don’t have that kind of money.”
“Oh?” Hinoki is offended now. “How do you know what I have and what I don’t?”
I whirl around to face him now with eyes of death. With a seething glare, I answer, “I know you don’t have a just bone in your body! You’re just a lowdown good for nothing sneak with the reliability of a crook. You’re a backwards backstabber with the guts of a coward and I hate you with all I have.”
Deep down, I don’t really believe any of it. But I’m too angry and humiliated to care. I have to work with Hinoki for who knows how long. This is my worst nightmare come to life.
I think I see the hurt in Hinoki’s eyes, but he doesn’t think any of it is true. Instead, he calmly asks, “What did you expect? I’m your enemy.”
“You’re dang right you are,” I retort in anger. “I never should have expected anything more.”

Day 25

Today: 7,047
Total: 85,157

Hinoki smirks even more. “Because I beat her up, of course. To a bloody pulp, as usual. Then slammed her behind bars. It was great.”
  I fight the urge to give a cry of anguish and crumple into a head of despair. Instead, I remain calm, retain my cool, and quickly jump in again. “But no one could keep me there. I escape sooner than anyone expected — no one expected me to escape at all, actually. Especially with my stitches.”
  Hinoki smiles to himself. “Then I had to save her life again, of course. She can’t last a day, it seems.”
  “Ooh!” Yakana exclaims. “Why? How’d you save her?”
  Hinoki better not say anything about our dance. I quickly reply, “Some random people wanted the money I was worth as an escape convict, so they tried to kill me and –“
  “And she would’ve died had I not been there,” Hinoki finishes.
  I roll my eyes, “You really think the sun just shines out of your behind or something, don’t you?”
  “That’s okay, silly. Even lessons learned the hard way are still lessons learned.”
  “Lessons learned?” I repeat, scoffing. “Seriously? Because unless I’m stupid, and I’m not, you could never be more wrong.”
  “Actually, you’re incredibly stupid. The most stupid person I’ve ever met in my entire life.” He laughs at me. “You got totally outsmarted by more than one gun the time we helped you steal back the papers from thieves… after I warned you of that possibility.”
  I’m blushing. I’m so embarrassed right now. But then I remember what Reyne told me about Hinoki after he knew I was captured.

Spoiler alert: He was so worried about her that he was going to go back and save her, but for the good of the lives of their team, they had to escape.

Also Hinoki nooo don’t be so mean to my pwecious wittle Ari baby you know you love her 😭😭😭

Day 26

Today: 7,131
Total: 92,288

     My vision begins to blur as I bleed out, and I can barely see Hinoki stand to his feet up off the lion. “Ari!” I hear Hinoki yell in panic, but his voice is vague at the back of my mind. I’m loosing too much blood. I can’t take it. The last thing I can comprehend is him slipping his arms under me and picking me up before I pass out of blood loss.
    When I can again comprehend what’s happening, I’m being laid in my bunk back in Room 12. I keep my eyes closed, and then I feel someone tenderly stroking my hair. My eyes flutter open, and Hinoki quickly pulls his hand back. “Ari,” he says. “You’re awake.”

HEHEHEHEHE

Day 27

Today: 7,779
Total: 100,067

The validator was not so nice this time around, so I had to write a little more and then I officially won.

I wrote the climax(ish, because I had NO PLOT STRUCTURE FOR BOOK I [and even book II] AND IT CAME WAY TOO EARLY or actually maybe it was a faux climax.) on the day I won, which was fun.

     “Meh,” he shrugs. “I’ll honor your request, though it doesn’t make much sense. Only because you’re my favorite warrior. Under the condition that Xiang-Su swears loyalty to me — I mean, to the goverment of Japan, of course.”
“I’m certain she will,” Hinoki answers.
My heart sinks. What? I’m grateful that Masatoshi will spare my life, but swear loyalty to the government alone? What about Warrior Code, punishable by death if broken? My loyalty is sworn to Sensei Kira alone.
“What will it be, Xiang-Su?” Masatoshi demands, speaking right to me. “Bow your knee to me — I mean, the government — or die a criminal?”
I can’t break Code. My allegiance resides with Sensei Kira.
But don’t I want to keep my life?
My eyes sweep from Hinoki to Masatoshi and back again. Hinoki’s gaze is begging me to bow my knee, and Masatoshi’s is just impatient and annoyed. I’m flustered and frustrated, knowing I have to make a decision and that I have to make it fast.
Who gets my loyalty?

Hotta Masatoshi was an actual advisor ruling Japan at the time. I make him very conceited here. 😂😂😂


I kept writing throughout July even after I won, but I didn’t document it.

THE END.

Okay.

Hm.

I don’t know what to say.

Did you actually read all that?

YOU’RE AMAZING.

Plans for the Loyalty series, if you’re interested:

I’m going to finish rewriting To the Death this month, then spend September and October replotting and restructuring it. In November, I’ll completely rewrite it with the new plot and structure.

Orginially I was going to rewrite books I and II this month and do plotting of book III in September-October, then write it in November, but it works out better for both my sanity and the quality of my novels to do it this way.

SO… SNIFF. NO BETA READERS FOR PURSUIT OF NO ONE UNTIL IT’S REMASTERED NEXT YEAR. I’M SORRY. I WANTED YOU GUYS TO READ IT, LIKE, NOW. But since I write insanely fast and my key to that is never stopping to fix typos, you wouldn’t be able to make any sense of it. At all. It’s better to just rewrite it with a better plot and structure (gotta add, like, 50k to make it reach its new goal, 110k), then have you read it.

But I’ll probably enlist betas for the new and improved To the Death after I’m done rewriting it this November (and if it takes longer, into December)! SQUEEE.

Did you participate in Camp? What do you think of Loyalty Book II: Pursuit of No One? Would you be interested in beta reading an all-new Loyalty Book I: To the Death coming soon? Signups coming later this year (or early the next) if you are!

Snippet me a favorite piece of your own writing below!

Love you guys! Praying for you!