Welcome back to another Worldbuilding Wednesday! I’m doing something different with these posts. I decided to write a story and blog how I do the worldbuilding as I go. Once I’ve finished the first draft, I’ll edit and proofread it and then publish it as normal for people to read. Onwards to the story!
So where did we leave off last week?
“You didn’t,” Ammad told her. “I just wanted to be sure that you understood that this is your place to relax. This is where the demands of your station are set aside. I wouldn’t want you to feel that you had to be on guard here, Piyari. The point of the slave quarters is that you have a place to retreat to relax.”
“Oh,” Piyari said again, this time with a shy little smile. She blinked the tears away and nodded. Her hands relaxed as she lowered them to waist height. “Master Ammad, may I ask a question?”
“Always,” Ammad said. “Questions are encouraged. Even the Duke would have been more than happy to answer any questions you had.”
Piyari shook her head no so urgently that Ammad grinned. She seemed to think that asking Duke Laughing Seal questions was the most impossible thing ever. The other slaves had set to work putting the room to rights, taking out pillows and blankets for the night’s sleep. Kosuke waved to Ammad and nodded to Piyari as he left with his assistant. He wasn’t sure that Piyari even noticed. She was very focused on Ammad’s face.
“What does ‘Piyari’ mean?” Piyari asked so earnestly that Ammad burst out laughing.
*grin* Oh yes, that’s where I left off. With Ammad doing his best not to show that he’s crushing and Piyari / Shizuka completely oblivious to the fact that everyone thinks that she’s beautiful.
It’s a bit of a cliché for a romance novel but it fits with Shizuka’s character. The one thing I don’t want to do is to portray her as a pushover. She really isn’t. There’s a lot to her that I haven’t been able to get into yet. That makes me think that I may need to make this into a novel despite my intentions to keep it to less than 25,000 words. We’ll see how the next 3-4 chapters go. I might be able to reach a satisfying conclusion by then but right now I’m just not sure.
That’s one of the problems I have with writing blind. I’m never 100% sure how long the story will be. And given that I tend to write long no matter what my intentions are at the beginning, it tends to lead me to writing more novels than I can handle at one time.
Oh well, back to the story so I can get closer to that mythical ending!
His laughter made Piyari bite her lip and quiver so Ammad got himself under control as quickly as he could. The other slaves smiled at the two of them, expressions amused and approving, so Ammad wasn’t worried that they’d fill Piyari’s head with nonsense. It was a rare thing to encounter a bitter or mean-spirited slave. Their majesties worked hard to ensure that everyone in the system was well adjusted and happy about their status and future.
“I do apologize, Piyari,” Ammad said once he got his laughter under control. “I had wanted to let Nabeela tell you since she gave you the nickname.”
“Please no,” Piyari begged. “Everyone reacts so strongly to the term. I am… worried, I must admit.”
“It means ‘pretty girl’,” Ammad said, his heart unable to resist the earnest expression on Piyari’s beautiful face. “Beautiful girl, lovely girl. She thought you were beautiful and gave you ‘Piyari’ as a nickname because of it. I think it’s quite appropriate, frankly.”
Piyari’s eyes went wider and wider as he explained. By the time he babbled the last bit, waving his hands to try to reassure her, Piyari had clutched her cheeks with both hands. She was as red as a beet before shaking her head no so violently that her hair flew around her cheeks.
“Iee!” Piyari exclaimed, almost shouted. Ammad stepped back and then forward again as Piyari’s eyes filled with tears. “Machigae!”
Ammad caught Piyari’s shoulder with one hand, hooking his finger under her chin with the other. It forced her to meet his eyes even though he felt bad now about telling her. Tears spilled over as Piyari’s bottom lip wobbled with emotion.
“Hush now,” Ammad said, hopefully firmly enough to calm her down but not harshly. She certainly didn’t need a scolding. “You are beautiful, Piyari. And the nickname appears to have been given in fondness.”
“Machigae,” Piyari repeated. “Mistake, this is a mistake. I am not beautiful, Master Ammad. I am not!”
“You’re very lovely and quite sweet,” Ammad disagreed. “Very competent, too, which we all need right now. Let Nabeela have her nickname. She would not have given it to you if she didn’t feel it was appropriate.”
Piyari brushed her tears away. She was still very red-faced but she did appear to be calming somewhat. He smiled at her, his heart thumping against his chest as Piyari nodded once and drew in a deep breath. She looked over at the other slaves who were watching them with concern.
“Everyone has heard it,” Piyari groaned as she dropped her face back into her hands.
“I’m afraid so,” Ammad laughed. “Truly, it does suit you.”
“I am not the beautiful one in my family!” Piyari exclaimed. She flung both arms out wide as if it should be obvious to everyone that a terrible mistake had been made. “I’m not! My younger sisters are both more attractive than me and none of us compare to our neighbor’s daughters. They are gorgeous. We are not.”
Ammad blinked at her as he tried to imagine a village where so many beautiful girls lived. “Where are you from? I think I need to visit to compare.”
Piyari squeaked and laughed helplessly, waving one finger at him to scold him for asking one of the forbidden questions. This time it was Ammad’s cheeks that burned. He’d never made that mistake before but then he’d never been confronted by Piyari. He really couldn’t imagine it.
“I apologize,” Ammad said, bowing deeply and formally to Piyari if only to hear her laugh harder. “But I do think I need to visit there once we are allowed to know where you are from. I cannot imagine a secret hidden village of beautiful women.”
“Apology accepted.” Piyari giggled. “Though it’s not a secret at all. We’re just off the main roads, is all.”
Her cheeks started going red again. The other slaves stared at them frankly now, the taller sitting at their kotatsu with his elbows on the table. The shorter had almost crawled under the kotatsu quilt. He set his head on his arms and smiled as if this was the most fun he’d had in a great while.
“Do… no, I cannot ask that,” Piyari said. Her cheeks flared bright red and she patted them gently.
“Yes, you can,” Ammad reassured her. “Whatever questions you have, you can always ask.”
She stared up at him as if trying to see straight through to his soul. Ammad stood tall, nodding confidently. No matter what the question was, he would do his best to answer it. Besides, he was fairly certain that she’d intended to ask whether Nabeela was interested romantically and that was an easy one. Of course she was. The cuddling at shown that.
Piyari nodded slowly, just once, and bit her lip. “Are you interested in me?”
And if that isn’t a perfect cliffhanger I don’t know one when I see it! *laughs* Especially since I’m at 2100 words for the chapter and it’s time for a point of view switch back to Piyari / Shizuka.
I do want to get into Piyari / Shizuka’s head right about now. I feel like it’s almost overdue. I don’t think I quite managed to show Ammad’s interest in Piyari. Well, I have. He’s obviously quite interested in her physically but the emotional component isn’t there in anywhere near the same way as with Nabeela.
That makes me think either I need another 10 chapters or so just to develop him further or I should go for the lesbian romance. And me being me, I’ll almost always go for the lesbian romance. There aren’t enough ladies in love out there, especially WOC couples.
So! I think I have my pairing for the story. It’s Nabeela/Shizuka officially as of right now. Unless something else comes up in the next chapter and beyond. Which it could. Lord knows, that’s happened to me before. *rueful smile*
At this moment I don’t think it will because there’s such a strong attraction on Nabeela’s part and Shizuka is far more comfortable with Nabeela than with Ammad. But we’ll see.
Either way, I think I’ll end this post for the week even though it’s a bit shorter than the others have been lately. Next time around I get to start with the response to the cliffhanger and Shizuka’s point of view. Thank you for reading!
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