In celebration of having all my files back in one place, I went wandering through some of my old, discarded story bits. Lo and behold, I discovered an alternate beginning I had written for Demon’s Heart about a billion drafts ago! The story originally started about ten days earlier than it does now, but for pacing and plotting reasons, I jumped the beginning forward for the later drafts. Take a peek!
Rustav made his way through the crowded streets of Markuum, the shouts of dockworkers and merchants falling heavily on his ears. Other inhabitants of the city skirted around him, either pretending he wasn’t there or shooting him furtive, disapproving glances as they passed. Nearly seventeen years of such behavior had dulled his awareness of it, and the boy had learned to appreciate being left alone. It was certainly better than the alternative.
Unfortunately, the alternative was sometimes unavoidable. Rustav could hear the heavy boots on cobblestones behind him, but he didn’t turn. It hurt less when they hit him from the back.
A rough hand grabbed his shoulder and yanked him around, shoving him against the wall of the one of Markuum’s many fish hawkers. It was Taver again, and no surprise; Rustav’s uncle Karstafel had just stolen a large load of merchandise from Taver’s father. Though Taver was a year younger and a few inches shorter, he was substantially broader than Rustav and well-liked in town.
Taver wrapped his fist around the front of Rustav’s shirt and pushed hard. Normally, the kid had more of a mouth than a fist, so Rustav nearly missed his chance to dodge the punch Taver threw at him. He jerked out of the way just in time, and Taver hit the wall.
“What’s the excuse today?” Rustav asked coolly, feigning ignorance.
“You know full well,” Taver said, a hint of desperation in his furious voice as he shook his hand. “Your blasted uncle—he’s ruining us!”
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