Going into the “swamp” and letting my characters fight monsters and each other is a section of the story I’ve started in each version and got stuck on each time. It’s very close to working now.
This excerpt shows more of the tension (and, I hope, character) of the competing captains and their prince.
Prince Torbjorn looked right, in the direction of the forbidden swamp. “I’ve always wondered what was really there.”
[He has an exchange with one of his father’s officers]
The prince went pale then, but Tykone couldn’t be sure if it were from fear or anger.
“We’ll split up,” Prince Torbjorn declared, turning his horse toward them and gesturing over his shoulder to the shadow that was the swamp edge. “You two take the eastern path while I take the west. We will work toward the center.”
“You shouldn’t be alone sire!” blurted Tykone while at the same time Rickard asked quietly, “Are you sure that is wise?”
“On with you both, blast it! I can take care of myself. Do you really think there’s anything in that forest stronger than me?” At that moment it seemed hard to believe.
“The great lindorm came out of that swamp, sire.” Tykone barely dared to whisper it.
“And you just told me he is no more,” retorted the prince. “I will meet you in the middle. With any luck one of us will have found my brother.” He redirected the horse so savagely that Tykone couldn’t believe it didn’t break the creature’s neck. He and Rickard sat spellbound as their prince galloped away from them.
Tykone swallowed several times before whispering, “You know him better than I. Do you think we should follow him?”
Rickard snorted. “I suppose I should say yes, as I wish you dead, but I’d then have to enter the swamp alone. And I won’t think myself a coward to say I don’t have the heart for that.”
And, yes, I’ll say it before anyone else: I know it’s just a first draft. The purpose here (if there is one) is to give a corner of the work I’m chipping at.
ETA: In my latest work session I decided this belongs in the “other” story. My working titles are Linnea’s Journey and Runa’s Journey, Linnea’s being the main story that everything else has grown from.
This having another story to slough the extra into is very good for morale. It says all the puttering I’ve been doing is for more than merely my “author world.”