That would be the "Demon Liberation Front", which may get a new, improved name in the second draft. Meanwhile, I'm at 43.5K and taking a break. I'm figuring on 2K a day for the next 3 days. All 3 of my kids are now asking me "Are you writing yet? Why aren't you working on your novel?" Yeah. I did tell them to "encourage" me. Ha ha ha ha!
I've downloaded a few more songs to add to my writing soundtrack. But I still hate the actual bit where you have to, you know, sit there and write (type) words in the actual story. (The songs are nice, but gibberish as far as I'm concerned. I have enough trouble trying to understand Cantonese, much less sung Cantonese. I rely on subtitles a lot for someone who's basically illiterate.) (It's supposed to inspire me to write my novel wuxia style...the best I've been able to manage is to think of some cliched Chinese dialogue now and then and kinda sorta translate it.) (Though if I "win" NaNo, I'm going to buy that "Dark Tales" DVD I've been watching on youtube.)
Here's another excerpt:
Dawa climbed out the other side and unloaded her folding stall from the back of the van, setting up her "AUTHENTIC BLESSING SPICE! VIRTUE GUARANTEED!" shop next to Yiping.
But even as they started chatting to their prospective customers, an outcry arose at the edge of the crowd. As quickly as they had gathered, they were gone.
"What? What's going on?" Yiping couldn't follow the hurried, excited yells of the villagers.
Dawa frowned. "A demon hunter, they said. Here?"
"Really? Let's go see!" Yiping slung his small camera around his neck, locked the van again and tugged at Dawa's hand. "What does a demon hunter look like?"
Dawa held back. "It depends. I wonder why they're here?" It must be a coincidence, she thought. No one had any reason to suspect her. Still, she was wary of attracting the attention of a demon hunter.
"Go and we'll find out," said Yiping.
Dawa sighed and nodded. She made sure to lag behind him as they made their way to the other end of the village, and this time found themselves at the back edge of the gawping crowd rather than front and center as the main attraction.
The demon hunter was a man. He rode in at a leisurely walk astride one of the rugged hill ponies. He was dressed in leather and furs, with a whip coiled at his side and a short sword in a scabbard hanging from the saddle. He wore a wide-brimmed straw hat which shaded his eyes but did not hide the oval tattoo on his face.
"What's that mark under his left eye?" whispered Yiping.
"They call it a 'Buddha's Tear.' It means he's a demon himself."
"Really!" Yiping studied the man with even more interest.
"Shhh," warned Dawa. She suppressed an impulse to duck down and hide behind Yiping.
She needn't have worried. The villagers around her were pointing and chattering with far less restraint than Yiping. Only when Yiping lifted his camera and took a picture did the demon hunter's head turn, sharply, at the sound of the click. Even so, after one assessing look, he paid them no further heed.
"Where is the one called 'Old Man Gyalt'?" asked the demon hunter, pitching his voice to be heard over the crowd.
Another wave of speculation rippled through the villagers.
"Old Man Gyalt?" "Did he send for a demon hunter?" "I didn't know he was demon plagued!"
"No, he's fine, I saw him just yesterday." "But his goat. Tell him about the goat." "Shut up, it's not for the likes of us to tell him anything." "Is there really a demon?"
But enough of them said, "Old Man Gyalt lives over there," and pointed the way for the demon hunter. He nodded and urged his pony towards the outskirts of the village, as directed, picking his way carefully through the horde of bystanders.
Gyalt's house was a run-down affair, a two story farm cottage much like the others in the valley. A white plaster wall surrounded his yard, which was just beginning to fill with rows of pea plants, radishes, and leafy cabbages. The demon hunter dismounted at the front gate, muttering a command to his pony.
"Is there really a demon here?" The foremost villager looked over the hunter's shoulder at the house.
"What else am I here for?" said the demon hunter irritably. Two wooden dogs, guardian figures, flanked the gate. The demon hunter scowled and pointed at them. "See? Iron nails through the eyes."
The villager's eyes went round. "You're right! Hey everybody, take a look at this! How come we never noticed before?"
Another one pointed a chin at the house, "But the prayer flags...wouldn't they cry out if there was a demon inside?"
"Stay back," the demon hunter grunted. He pushed through the front gate and stood on the raised dirt path that cut through the vegetable garden to the door of the house. He lifted his head to survey the lines of colorful squares strung up from the roof to a pole in the ground. Then, without apparent transition, he held a whip in his right hand. It uncurled with a crack, the end licking towards the flags and returning to the demon hunter with a pale orange cloth caught in its coil. He took the flag with his left hand and held it to his face, tasted it. "It's been brined."
"Brined!" Everyone knew what that meant, except for Yiping, who made it a question.
"Soaked in salt water," Dawa explained in Chinese, keeping her voice down. The language already made them too conspicuous. "The salt breaks the binding on the spirits. Without a spirit in it, the flag won't give any warning even if a demon is near."
The demon hunter opened his hand, letting the cloth fall. He stared at the the house for a moment. There was no sound or motion inside. No smoke came out the chimney.
"Where /is/ his goat?" muttered one of the villagers in front of Dawa. "Has anyone seen the goat?"
The demon hunter cracked his whip once more, this time in empty air, then called out loudly, "Old Man Gyalt! It's no use hiding, Old Man Gyalt! If you have the guts, come out and face me!"
The demon hunter called a third time, "Old Man Gyalt!"
This time the front door creaked open. A stooped figure stood in the frame, hobbled out. As old as his name suggested, the man was stooped and withered, blinking in the sunlight with an arm over his face to shade his eyes. He hawked and spat on the dirt outside his door.
Then he said in a voice thin with age, "Here I am. What do you want?"
The demon hunter said coldly, "Steal a goat, steal a man. You know why I'm here."
The old man hobbled a few steps closer, then stopped. He straightened his back, dropped his arm to his side. "So. I thought I got them all, but one of the spirits escaped."
"Escaped, yes, and brought its message to the Muruk Gar Tower of Silence. I was sent for."
The old man pointed at the demon hunter. "You. I know that mark on your face."
"I tell you, I was sent. The mark is veiled. Don't bother trying to read it."
"I don't need to read it to know you've sold out your own kind."
"Enough!" The whip flew out again, this time coiling around the old man's torso, pinning his arms to his sides.
Old Man Gyalt, or the demon in his body, offered no resistance. He allowed himself to be jerked forward, falling to his knees in front of the demon hunter. He shook his head. "You know I'm right."
"I know you're a murderer." The demon hunter, still holding the whip in his right hand, used his left hand to draw his short sword from the sheath on his back. With one swift motion, he plunged the blade up into the old man's throat, all the way through the neck.
The old man twitched and gurgled, but the whip held him fast.
The demon hunter muttered an incantation under his breath.
"What's he doing?" whispered Yiping to Dawa, not taking his eyes from the scene he watched through the viewfinder of his camera. Click.
"It's a spell to extract the demon's name," said Dawa. "I hope the hunter doesn't mind you taking his picture."
"Why would he mind? This is all perfectly legal here, isn't it?"
"Yes, but you know that doesn't mean he wants pictures." She put a hand on Yiping's arm.
Reluctantly, he lowered the camera. "All right."
Minutes later: "He's dead?" "He's dead." Question and answer flew through the crowd. "Then why is he still standing there?"
The demon hunter was still standing there, as if in a stupor. Then he jerked his sword free, simultaneously loosening his whip and coiling it back into his hand. The corpse flopped to the ground. The demon hunter spoke aloud into the blank air, "Why didn't he fight? I thought he'd fight me for his life."
"Come on! Time to go," said Dawa. She tightened her grip on Yiping's arm and pulled him away with her, threading a way through the crowd. she broke into a jog, and didn't stop until they were back at their van. She rested there with her head on her arms.
"Dawa? What's wrong?" Yiping held her around the shoulders. "You're shaking."
"Sorry," said Dawa, her voice muffled through her arms. "It's just seeing that..."
"I know," said Yiping. "I didn't expect it to be like that. And it was strange. Neither of them looked like demons to me. They looked like humans."
At this, Dawa whirled, reversing their positions to grab Yiping by the wrists. "Of course they do. /I/ look human, don't I?"
"Yes, but..." Yiping looked at her blankly. "What are you saying?"
"My father was a demon. That was the scandal, not only that my mother had a lover. The Guru Achamo told me. /I'm/ illegal, here. And someday maybe some demon hunter will track me down and slaughter me in the middle of the street, with no judge, no trial."