Yesterday I loaded pages into a purple folder and delivered the first half of Act I to my Chief Reader. Lotus is cranking along! As I dig in to the last few scenes of the first act, I’ll do my best to share things that aren’t too spoilery 🙂
Here’s a teaser from the past week’s rough drafts…
Arthur stared deep into Gabsir’s eyes, showing him a deep sadness—but something else Gabsir couldn’t yet recognize or understand. With a sigh and a shake of his head, Arthur replied, “Nothing could make this easier.”
As the brewmaster and his second walked through the brewery, a dry, thick, bitter sweetness took over the air. From Arthur’s office, you could still notice it, but the scent was weaker there, back near the accounting offices, the marketing and publicity folks, the sales offices. But through the hallways connecting the administration offices to the heart of the brewery, the scent grew stronger, becoming not so much an aroma but another state of matter: solid, liquid, gas, plasma—and brewing.
At its heart, Gabsir reflected, brewing was a practical alchemy that transformed sunshine into joy. The sun helped the barley grow, and the hearty grass could grow all over the world, in places where wheat withered, from the fields of the USA to the high valleys of Tibet. Once harvested and the grains separated out, the barley began a process called malting. First the barley was wet enough so that the seeds were tricked into germinating. Then the grains were dried, stopping the sprouting process and redirecting them from one destiny—more stalks of barley—to another: beer.
Some of the barley for GPS had an even different fate. Instead of being malted, it was roasted. Browned and blackened, the bitter notes and dark color made it the heart of GPS. But in the beer, what could have been astringent and harsh became something else: refreshing, strengthening, emboldening.
Roasted barley. It was part of the heart of GPS, Gabsir knew, but it wasn’t the secret.
The narrow hallway ended at a choice: left, right, or across. Opening on to an open space, the floor ended and down below, the heart of the brewery bustled. To either side, catwalks went around the space, gleaming white from the tile walls. But Gabsir followed his leader’s choice: the catwalk that crossed the dozens of meters between where Arthur and Gabsir now stood, and the opposite side of the space.
As they crossed, Arthur stared at the men and equipment below. Large gleaming tanks shone silver-gray and rose from the floor like mountains. The two-meter wide cylinders rose to a height of ten meters, then tapered to a point at the bottom. Flowing across, between, and all around, pipes connected the tanks and kettles like arteries and veins. Steam hissed from a pipe as a brewer adjusted a temperature setting on the mash tun, an open pot large enough to be a small swimming pot. Inside, malted and roasted barley was soaking in hot water like the world’s largest cup of tea, converting the barley’s starches into sugars that yeast could eventually eat and create alcohol. In another part of the room, Gabsir could see where the the thick, dark, sugary liquid from an earlier mash had been separated from the grains and transferred into a large pot for boiling. The transformation of barley to liquid wort, then wort to beer, was underway.
Lotus is the codename for the fourth Rucksack Universe travel fantasy book, coming 2015. Join the adventure with the first 3 books, available now »