Time for an update (thank you, @Zkribbler! ). Day 9 total: 15,848 words Day 10 total: 17,551 words Day 11 total: 19,262 words Day 12 total: 21,025 words Day 13 total: 22,739 words Day 14 total: 24,481 words Day 15 total: 26,309 words Par for Day 15 is 25,005 words. I'm still ahead, even allowing for the fact that my characters do talk to each other. I'm managing at least 1700 words/day, occasionally gusting to over 1800. That's a reasonably comfortable pace, although I had to really step it up on the nights when I was distracted by a 2-hour episode of Survivor and my usual Friday night Downton Abbey indulgence. Over the past several days (RL, not game time), Sir Michael has taught one-and-a-fraction classes of aspiring young soldiers, and was interrupted during the second one by a note from his father, Duke Stefan. As instructed, Michael dismisses the class and when he meets with his father, that's when he learns that the king is dead and his best friends have been blamed for it. Michael's father has ordered him to get out of the palace, go home to the ducal residence, be prepared to flee the kingdom if necessary... because he is friends with the men accused of the king's murder. Duke Stefan is not unreasonably afraid that his son and heir might be questioned under torture, so getting him out of the Queen's reach is what's going on at this point. Michael, for his part, is torn between obeying his father and desperately wanting to track his friends down and help them. But he concludes that his father is right, that loyalty to his own family has to come first. As he prepares to leave, there comes a knock at the door to the family quarters in the palace... And it's bad news. Michael is floored when he's told that his best friend's father and brother are dead, and that his friend's whereabouts are currently unknown - but a damning 'wanted dead or alive' poster has been circulating around the court and the capital city. At this point in the story, the readers know that Sir Randall has been captured and is undergoing torture (in the game he was rescued by his brother, but in this version, the brother was killed, and no rescue is coming). But Michael, his father, and the rest of the Council of Dukes and the common people don't know that. Some of the Queen's people at court were in on the assassination plot, although only a few know everything that's going on. Duke Stefan still wants his son to get out of the palace, out of the city, and prepare to get out of the kingdom. The stakes just got a hell of a lot higher for everybody. This section is a little awkward to write. Michael's father already knows who the dead king's rightful heir is, but can't let on that it's one of the men who has been accused of killing the king. One of the reasons for writing this alternate version is to get inside the heads of some of the minor characters and the characters I invented. Depending on which character I follow at this point - Michael or his father - the story becomes different, with a different emphasis. At this point Duke Stefan is both lying outright and lying by omission, and frustrated as hell because the 30-year plot to put the king's grandson on the throne has not only gone sideways, but in every other direction as well. But this is stuff that Michael doesn't know yet and won't find out for another year or so (game time) and will be somewhat pissed off with his father when he does find out. For that matter, so will the king's heir, who at this point has no idea at all of his true lineage. Following the character of Sir Michael isn't what I had originally planned to do with this particular NaNoWriMo. I had a whole list of about half a dozen other parts of the story planned, but when November 1 rolled around, Sir Michael Westmore just stepped up from my subconscious, tapped me on my writer's shoulder, and said, "Hey, my turn. You created me a year ago, and over that time I went from an extra, unnamed soldier to one of the major characters. I have a story to tell, so tell it." And here we are.