As Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences, Volume III of my trilogy The Precipice Dominions draws closer to its final edit Matt, the artist who carried out the evocative cover of Volume II Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel and Fire has started work on the latest volume for me. Here is Arketre, even with just a few simple lines of a sketch he has brought her character.
Hello everyone. Firstly I hope you are managing to cope as well as you can with all the trials and troubles in your world. They do seem to be very testing times.
Anyway, allow me to introduce myself to those of you not familiar with The Precipice Dominions stories, those being Of Patchwork Warriors; Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel, and Fire and the concluding work Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences. My name is Trelli, as I am an orphan of unknown parents the folk looking after me never did get around to giving me a surname and until recently it never bothered me much. However under the influence of adventure, consequential excitement and of course ever the present Ethereal, in a fit of exuberance I titled myself Trelyvana Waywanderer and folk did seem to find it easier to cope with. It must be one of those quirks, that people do like a bit of the grandiose, at least when you are expected to place your Sanity, Integrity and Life all at risk for the good of…. a lot of people.
I am here as representative of the three of us. That is myself and my very good friends Arketre Beritt and Karlyn Nahtinee . Although Karlyn says she should be known as Karlyn Beritt now, but Arketre says in view of the situation there is a case for her being named Arketre Nahtinee. And then the whole business gets very tangled, so I say folk should read the three books and decide for themselves. (I understand that last statement could be read as ‘Marketing’- which Merklin says……Oh dear now I am getting ahead of myself and digressing; bear with me and I’ll start again).
Due to the events subsequent to Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences Arketre and Karlyn are somewhat preoccupied with more pressing personal matters whereas since I am now in the heady world of politics it would seem to be a requirement to have (1) An Opinion on; (2) Advice to give about; and (3) The need to explain, everything you come across, which is where this, (I believe the term is) ‘Post’ originates.
I understand those of you who follow Roger’s blog will be aware the third volume is completed and awaiting a book cover. As I am very familiar with the frenetic pace at which he uses keyboards; which is very rarely in synchronicity with his thought processes and also his inclination to use very convoluted prose I thought it would be helpful to read back over the two previous volumes for errors in typing, transmissions, syntax and of course continuity, so I stole away a copy of each of the volumes and with feet up on my favourite sofa, a few small snacks and a large pot of herbal brew started off.
Oh dear, I thought. Although that maybe a bit of an exaggeration, more a case of ‘Hmmmm’. It’s not the errors in typing, apparently those seem to be something quite unavoidable unless you hire a team of at least five dedicated proof-readers and then there is the risk they can get into a fearful argument between themselves over punctuation and other rules of grammar, thus holding the whole business up.
No, the problem was, whereas he did get the general narrative correct, in a linear fashion, as it were, some of his details were quite incorrect.
For instance: When Arketre had her first conversation with Zweideutig and introduced us, while the discourse between the two went on Karlyn and I did not get into an undignified wrestling match which Arketre threatened to break up with a bucket of dirty water. We were simply having a spirited argument over my reading matter, how I had appropriated the said works and whether Karlyn had the right to go rummaging through my possessions, this was halted when Arketre in her best LifeGuard sergeant style required our opinions on a temporal displacement. I asked Roger how on The Good Lord God’s World he had decided his account was the correct version of events.
‘Well Karlyn told me-‘
‘Karlyn told you?’ I exclaimed ‘You’ll be believing one of those ridiculous YouTube or FaceBook accounts next!! I have told you before. Watch her eyes! If she blinks swiftly twice and her glance darts to the left, she’s up to mischief . Oh really Roger! You are a good sort, but you are too willing to listen to the words of the more lively folk,’
Then I had to take him to task about his assumption I had certain physical feelings for Wigran. He tried to defend himself by waffling about ‘subtext’ to which he was told in no uncertain terms to ask me about sub-texts as I had had to deal with them all, in the whole three volumes! Honestly, you would have thought someone of his age would have known better!!
Basically I have undertaken to guide him back through the account. For the reputations of everyone, be they good or bad, and to give full credit to those who played fleeting but important parts in the drama. As I understand it; historians in your world are doing this all the time; they write a book, new evidence turns up and every so often they write a new edition with some alteration or other. The basic story and the important elements, though, all remain the same.
I cannot comment on what he has written about the more private interludes Arketre and Karlyn shared. He has said they were written based on Arketre’s accounts and with her looming over his shoulder; he added this was most unnerving. She said he had left the best bits out, trying to type with his eyes shut was the most damn fool thing she had ever seen and if he had spent less time looking for references in a Thesaurus he would have got the thing done in half the time. Apparently there were other observations but he was not repeating them. And having found out what he had been writing Karlyn would not speak to him for days afterwards, which itself may have been to his advantage. In any case on this topic he has my sympathy. Personally I thought he has been most fayre in an adventurous wryly tasteful way on the subject of my own later experiences and so have forgiven him for being such a noddle over Wigran.
I am not very angry for it has been fun to read back over the adventures and he has been very sympathetic to us all but in matters of import, as these are to us, it is necessary to get the record straight.
I will keep you appraised of matters.
Best wishes to you all
Trelli (Silc)… or Trelyvana Waywanderer
Sometimes your have one volume with a very complicated plot which requires a foundation so the reader isn’t pestered with blank spaces which are filled in some stage down the narrative by one character suddenly breaking into a quite out of context explanation or the sudden desire to give a back story.
There again you may have embarked upon a multi-volume work and are up to your syntax and continuity in characters of various degrees of importance, plots, sub-plots and conflicts of interest. Whereas you may be living a portion of your life in this world you should not expect your readership to so and thus remember whether this character vital to Volume III had had a walk-on part in Volume I.
In these situations The Prologue is a useful device. If you are writing Fantasy…
… it is almost a necessity otherwise you do have characters indulging in long explanations to another character which in normal circumstances the latter would not require, being it is hoped familiar with the nuances of their own world. In this genre you will have enough of a problem fitting in those explanations or discoveries which are generally unknown without having to include a running commentary for the reader. Prologues set the scene. Many successful authors use this device. As did many before The Bard and contemporaneous with Shakespeare. For instance he has a Chorus in the opening Scenes of Henry V and in Romeo and Juliet and you should not quibble over the fact this is one person, it would only sound confusing to have a lot of folk saying the same thing. Thus, if you are paying attention you will have an idea of ‘what’s what’.
A prologue can take many forms, a piece of action or dialogue before the main narrative. Sometimes it can take the form of a potted portion of history, this type should be approached with caution, lest it morph into a style which would be better suited to a factual history book. I had this problem upon reaching Vol III of my Fantasy trilogy….
….. I was simply going to record because the overall plot was reflecting the many facetted aspects of conflicts political and military when more then two parties are involved. There was by then a great deal of detail swirling around and this begged a summary. So I tried a few ‘historical accounts’ by various anonymous writers and none worked (See above-History)
It then occurred to me, at least one character would be in a similar situation trying to make sense of everything. The natural choice was Arketre Beritt, being military and without particular ‘Ethereal’ Powers she would be short of the extra perceptions Karlyn & Trelli have, and since she was military would be wary as to where the next crisis might come from. Thus between us (I always work with the characters, they have a far better insight than I do) we put together an incident where she attempts to chart and list all the possible threats, influences and problems on the various horizons.
Aside from this prologue having an element of acerbic comedy, which is Arketre’s forte, it would also serve to show the reader just what a convoluted hoo-hah everything had become. This state of affairs being a visualisation of the tangle which became WWII, Vietnam in the 1950s-1970s, Iraq in the previous decade and any patch of European history between …..well any time …In short no one was every truly in control or genuinely working with each other. We decided italics would work best to illustrate when she was writing or maybe having particularly vivid (polite alternative) thoughts.
Thus Arketre and I give you…The Prologue (aside from the initial physical scene setting and Arketre’s brief look-back, left out as not truly pertinent to the post). The romantic ending is deliberately left in as that plays several very important parts in the narrative….No, not The Relationship in general, causes for banter, noble sacrifice, tensions and scenes of an intimate nature. You need the book to find out…
……. Late night in the town of Yermetz. The air chill, a reminder Spring was still young. A figure seated at a desk, candle flickering due to a draft whose source still evaded detection.
As satisfied as she was Beritt was not inclined to be complacent and expect things to go on this easy. There were wars brewing, wars happening, wars in places far away and wars right under your nose, most folk could not see those last sort of wars. Beritt was realistic enough to appreciate she could only see a fraction of them at any time, so all the more reason to make sure she would be alert to anything coming her way.
It was a simple task really. Sit down with a large sheet of parchment, in the centre draw three circles with their first names written therein, then around them draw more circles with the names of all the organisations and people she reckoned could affect them. Once this was accomplished draw lines from these others to Me, Kitlin and Trelli, then lines which would link each of the organisation or people to each other. It would be like drawing a map, on scouting missions, you just had to keep a clear head and be methodical.
She carefully inscribed their names, adding extra curves to the letters K-I-T-L-I-N.
Then those to watch out for. The LifeGuard were, naturally, her first choice, only she found herself writing under its big circle, smaller ones to hold the names ‘Centre of Command and Decision- Drygnest’, ‘Colonel Rachteg’ and ‘Captain Dekyria’, because all three had been in contact with her or once through Kitlin at differing times with differing messages or in the case of the amorphous first trying to incinerate her as an acceptable loss. She didn’t feel inclined to draw lines yet.
Next came ‘The Libratery’, she had once been a member; a humble Novice Devoted. Take into account Trelli had grown up in one of their orphanages and of late had been at their tuscatalian fortress Altoviani Settentrionali, working for them. Bear in mind, last year when seeking out Trelli, apparently Kitlin had annoyed a Surveyoress Coltello who Trelli reckoned was up to more than she seemed. Thus once more two separate circles under a bigger circle. The lines would certainly take some careful work. Then she remembered The Devoteds had Ragithyl sort of imprisoned or something. So she had to add his name, grunting to herself for he would cause a tangle.
She then wrote ‘Decoryx’ the land of Prince Atherlin. She had been based in his realm and Trelli came from there, and he seemed to be held in ‘Fond Regard’ with The LifeGuard. Not actually pressing into her space, but worth putting down because for her that was where everything had begun. This was going to be more involved than she had reckoned. Some lines would have to bend all the way around the parchment if they weren’t going to get in the way of others. Some might intersect, she would have to think of symbols to indicate what sort of intersection. She frowned, sipped cooling coffee.
‘Elinid’ came next. That was where Kitlin originally claimed she had come from. Trelli had ended up there for a short time, so had Ragithyl while Wigran part of Trelli’s earlier life and deeply involved in the original mess now worked for The Silcs, and when you mentioned The Silcs it seemed they were in contact with Captain Dekyria. Another long line which would have to curve. Now there were several more circles all in a little huddle as if they were keeping a secret from her….Oh yeah and the Silcs were probably involved with that Coltello girl……Frib!
And while she’d been thinking of Kitlin, Custodian Meradat loomed into her head, he was supposed to be of the Office of Custodians (or whatever they called themselves) but didn’t appear to get on with his seniors. Also neither he, his seniors nor The Libratery didn’t seem to pay any attention to the Official top of Religion The Ecclesiastes. She scowled at the thought of the fresh number of circles ,which in a fit of resentment at this intrusion into her military and civil world she placed in the far away bottom right corner of the parchment ensuring they kept out of her way until she was good and ready for them.
Of course she had to include Terasonia. Of late the land had loomed large in the three women’s lives, this led to her having to include separate items for the Four Grand Dukes, the new prince, More-Than-He-Seemed Zweideutig and The Terasonian Church. Hoping they were no longer her problem she placed them off to the far left in the middle. Her modest amount of satisfaction at this arrangement soured when she remembered Osavus Trelli’s lover. He would have to be included because you could never tell with love what might happen. Beritt was glad she did not know the name of the girl he was betrothed to.
And when you mentioned Terasonia, you had to mention The Shadow Lords; she put them next to the terasonian collection. She couldn’t really remember if there was more than one lot of Shadow Lords, she decided not to press the issue. Between that grouping and her, Kitlin and Trelli’s names she placed the evil The Zerstorung, got more confused and found she had had to put a separate entry for each group of them, being Air, Land and Deep. She glowered at the name Ragithyl for his previous involvement with at least two of them and cursed him for reminding her of at least of the Silcs being, possibly attached.
At this stage she sat back and huffed, then grimaced in spectacular proportions. Several of the circles seemed to want to be somewhere else. Maybe she should have put all the names on small bits of other parchment and shuffled them about on the larger piece. The ever growing numbers of groups and characters caused her to relate it to the patchwork of The Oakhostian Empire. At this thought she ground her teeth, she now had to make one entry for The Oakhostian as an empire and one for the Emperor Loosiderue because if you were a LifeGuard you didn’t think an Emperor as half as important as the whole. An image of the court and the princes came into her thoughts. Princes made her think of Henrich (The Useless) of Valeneg (her current location) and to his eastern borders, Prince Habgierig of Krenderenberg of whom Prince Atherlin of Decoryx had very unfavourable opinions. More circles. More lines. She shuddered at the notion of just how many little coded symbols at the intersections she would have to make. She forced down other names bubbling up, some from the winter’s activities around Terasonia and others due to the possibilities of ‘unpleasantness’ on Valeneg’s borders. Irritation invited her to vent its smouldering by her petulant drawing on the bottom central edge of a very untidy circular shape into which she inserted the phrase ‘Other wobblers and sheep-chasers of the Nobility’
This done she dropped her elbows onto the table and her chin into her clenched fists, glaring at the confusion of circles whose numbers and arrangements had there been any further additions these might have been set to form a mocking grin. She looked to ‘Kitlin’ for comfort and fond memories, only to remember her bride had mentioned that evasive fellow ‘Krongar’ in terms which had suggested his own entry and his presence of course reminded her of the danger of Karlyn’s Shadow Lord’s family. With a growl she found a place far from any other and attacked the parchment, the circle was bigger than that of Loosiderue’s for whom, presently she didn’t give a mouldy carrot. She savagely addressed the circle, got as far as ‘Krong-‘ and the tip of the quill snapped off.
In fact due to impact coupled with the snapping the word looked like ‘Kronpf’ which was a type of honeyed oat cake favoured in the most central regions of the Oakhostian and suggested she might be the clerke for a bakery cartel which had a ridiculously grandiose idea of marketing.
Cursing quills in general Beritt turned her anger into determination. She had spent precious bedtime on this, her investment would not be lost. She would not cut up the parchment into strips for use in the privy, something Trelli disapproved of, saying used parchment aside from being rough left ink stains on places you did not want ink stains. Also Beritt resolved she would not take the infernal work outside to tear into small bits, an act which might provide interest to the local cats out on nocturnal patrol. No, she could take up her charcoal stick and draw fribbing lines!
But first to inscribe in angry charcoal letters ‘Kitlin’s Fribbing Interfering Family’. To anyone else a rather enigmatic statement perched in the top left corner.
After sometime of trying straight lines, curved lines, lines which went into loops and lines which gleefully forced her to have them cross over each other and despite the invention of symbols still became confused as to their direction; after the appearance of lines, which on other occasions, possibly when drinking wine, might have been seen to form amusingly vulgar shapes Beritt broke the charcoal stick in two and threw it at the wall.
Obviously the whole business was not one suitable to sane folk. Folk who when attacked by someone simply hit back until that attacker either ran away or stopped moving. Folk who stood ‘here’ and if they had to go ‘there’ went in the least dangerous way. Folk who once in a while would like a very simple set of orders which had a start and a finish. Folk who had not been transferred and thence trained to work in one of the select LifeGuard units. Such as The Office of Expropriation’s Leopard Company, whose members after rigorous training and only having a casual acquaintance with sanity, went out to spy on suspect groups or burn down suspects groups’ habitations or slay as many members of the suspects groups as necessary and slip away, without anyone noticing; all the while not really caring who the groups were or why this group had been selected when a lunation ago the group had been considered allies.
No, she would not scrumple up, stamp on, nor tear up or even bite chunks out of the parchment, each urge briefly considered as feasible. She would roll the whole stupid mess up, tie a piece of string about it and place in her backpack for later use. Either as a point of reference, or if the need arose to symbolically wave under the nose of any senior officer who asked her for a report, or in very trying situations she would threaten (at some later stage) to insert up their backside if they dared asked her some damn fool question when she was otherwise engaged.
The lesson learned. She would simply have to stay alert for danger from all sorts of directions, trusting only in her friend the ever maturing Trelli and, smiling fondly in the direction of the bedroom door, her darling, funny, caring, wonderfully unpredictable Kitlin.
And she would go back to the easier task of studying the manual on infantry company tactics which she had found in The Translator Pastoral’s library. He had feigned surprise at it being there. She did not ask.
Stowing away the parchment roll in a less than tender manner, and disrobing she padded to the bed. She paused to smile fondly at her Kitlin. Maybe the girl was of Shadow Lord’s blood. So what? She was still a beautiful woman, and Beritt congratulated herself on having ensured the girl had finally discarded those concerns, dismissing the pleas made by folk they had encountered who claimed to be relatives. Yes, her Kitlin had spouted off some references to her heritage and expanded on that to those Shadow Lords soldiers but that had all been a bit of an act to scare them. Of late discussions on the subject often ended in Karlyn assuming the role of a haughty princess and Arketre Beritt in other guises, all play with one objective.
To fall into bed laughing. And then for loving to begin.
All hers, made formal by a patronising yet useful ceremony. Once more relishing the irony Beritt then as she often did when Karlyn had gone to bed earlier stood and enjoyed the sight.
Her love was in deep sleeping, arms wrapped around Beritt’s pillow. She gently eased the pillow from out of the embrace; there came a whimper of protest, which she stilled by taking the pillow’s place causing a murmur of delight and a sigh of satisfaction. As she settled in, her Kitlin’s long, lithe arms slipped around her accompanied by a sleepy kiss on the back of her head. Beritt managed to get the pillow back in place and falling into the rhythm of Karlyn’s breathing, joined her beloved in sleep. These nights she didn’t even need the candle still burning. Her Kitlin’s arms would keep the doubts and fears away..………..
End of Prologue……
If it has worked readers will now be prepared for the lot of tangle, and a fair idea as to the number of who are doing the tangling (or untangling)….
PS: Any long term followers and kind supporters/contributors to my posts and books are more than welcome to ask for a PDF version in advance of the official publication: All enquiries to email@example.com
Just for fun and experiment….. Warning about 3,000 words here.
This is an extract from my latest fantasy volume still under construction. Karlyn is one of three women involved in a complex many-sided struggle. Irreverent and idiosyncratic from an exotic heritage and born Lady Maighdean Ardea she is trying to shake free of this resulting in fractured memory and a dual identity. She has been captured by a faction of her ‘own folk’. I like working with Karlyn because she encourages quirky comic interludes. For those not familiar with previous volumes: ‘Whychie’ is her name for Trelli her best friend and ‘Flaxi’, is Arketre her lover, now wife (and who calls her ‘Kitlin’). When reading this much of it is from her perspective which explains some odd idioms…… and her secret power of being very, very annoying…(Stommigheid & ethereally makes reference to the evasive power used by some)
Karlyn was aware she was hurting; pains in all sorts of places, enough to make her not sure of at least half of her memory or why she was wherever she was. Someone had shot at her, with some weaponlike Flaxi used….Yer! Flaxi an’ there was Whychie, they were somewhere else though. Shifty Krongar had a part in it. As she bored through the sharp jabs and dull aches, other names and actions came into place. This place and The Why were still avoiding her though.
Since her limbs were held to the arms and legs of a not uncomfy chair and the room was quite ornately decorated in bright pastoral shades, which to her mind jarred a bit, she had to reckon she was captured, but not in a dungeon. She pushed into her memory for the right word, hoping it might shake loose some other recollection.
‘Detained. Yer. That was the word, she was detained’
There were four stiff faced guards in royal blue uniforms with gilded breastplates and helms. Now, she could remember something to do with them, too. Were they the ones wot had shot at her? Or just another part the same crew? They were ignoring her, probably under orders, not even looking at her. Since she hurt too much to move, she resolved to use some other weapon.
She said, and repeated, putting on her most sullen and determined face. Each exclamation hurt, and in turn made her crosser, which in turn hardened her will. She was going to keep this up, for as long as she cared, until someone got fed up of it.
She changed the pitch, higher, grating, increased the tempo. Paused, slumped long enough for them to think she’d stopped and then she started again. She kept on with variations, experimenting. She could detect a twitch from one and there was a distinct gripping of the weapony thing by another.
She pressed on.
One eventually broke.
‘We should inform the Officer of the Watch,’
‘We were under orders that she was to wait for a representative of the prince, at his behest alone,’
‘Owwwwwww! HHHHHoWWwwwWWWWW!. Ow-ow-ow-ow-OW!!’
‘I think her wits have gone,’ one said, sounding hopeful as if he had found a loophole to the orders.
‘Ow!…Ow-ow-ow!. Ow!Ow! Ow!. HHHOOOOOoooowwww!’
By then all four were peering at her.
‘Ow! Ow! Ow!’ she said, sounding very determined.
One, who she assumed by a gilded red epaulette was in charge, huffed.
‘Yes!’ he said obviously looking to convince himself ‘She is indeed bereft of wits and sense. The Officer of the Watch must be informed,’
One guard hurried off.
Karlyn now enjoying herself kept up the symphony. Actually this exercise of giving vent to anger, dispensing mischief and generally being a nuisance was very good for the pains, Flaxi would’ve called it ‘Thurrrapee’ or something.
An elderly fellow with a beard halfway down his chest, lovely head of white hair kept in place by a golden band, and all dressed in blue and crimson finery eventually entered along with a fellow with an even more golden helm than the others. Karlyn assumed the helmed one was the Officer of the Watch and the old goat some court official, neither she reckoned looked noble enough for her to speak with. She was pleased she could recognise absence of nobility. Some other threads of memory were coming back.
In the meantime though, she was feeling more of the humour of the situation and the attendant control of matter, therefore she continued with variations on the theme of ‘Ow’
The elderly fellow appeared to find this a most interesting circumstance and since she was tightly bound and no threat to him, he peered into her face studying her with all the intensity expected of a person scholarly in the subject of afflictions to the mind or soul. After a while due to the proximity of volume and pitch he was obliged to withdraw slightly.
‘The poor creature is quite unhinged,’ he told the officer, Karlyn detected a disapproving element in his voice, so raised the pitch to a most mournful tenor intending to bring sympathy to those of tenderish hearts ‘You and the Prince should have been more careful Captain,’
‘She was deemed dangerous Lord Surgeon,’ the officer replied stoutly, and had to repeat the phrase because Karlyn had increased the volume of her lamentations as he had begun to speak.
‘I daresay,’ retorted the elderly fellow ‘However as the prince’s senior court lord physician I feel objections are to be raised, if the prince wants to gain some benefit from her capture,’
At the next drawn out wail, the physician returned to Karlyn and with some delicacy and caution laid one hand on her shoulder.
‘Child? Can you hear me,’ he produced a phial of something like Flaxi would have done and wafted it under her nose, it smelt of gooseberries mixed with carnations, she thought that was a peculiar mix. Guessing anything so odd was supposed to calm her she played along, and stopped with the word, blinked and sniffed a lot.
‘Where am I?’ she pleaded with all the heart wrenching innocence of a lost child ‘My tummy ‘urts. Like someone kicked me in it,’ she whimpered ‘And why am I tiedid to a chair?’ more sniffing, becoming violent and very nasal indicating a threat of starting up the assault on the senses again. This caused one of the guards to flinch, another to look anxiously to the officer and the physician to pat her on the head, not something she usually cared for, but in that case she would make the exception.
With use judicious use of snuffling, blinking tears and a little whimpering complaint about her ‘tummy’, the latter requiring some translation the physician urged the freeing of her bonds. Karlyn’s returning memories of experiences indicated this would normally be the time when she would leap free and start thwacking folk. However being sore, quite weary and not sure where the frib she was and with who, thus wanting to find out wot was wot, she remained placid. She agreed she would like a drink of something mild and yes, if she could lie on that couch please an’ yes she would like something to dry her eyes and cease the dribbling from her nose that would be very nice, please.
The guards were quite unable to distance their attention from her. The woebegone individual before them did not configure with the portrait of the haughty warrior daughter of a lesser house trying its best to ascend the stairs of rank. There again she hardly appeared have those brutish traits associated with humans.
She was seated, bare feet curled up underneath with toes moving up and down in a slight, somewhat nearly charming manner. Each sip from the cup of lemon water, interspersed with a slight sniff. Now she had calmed down her eyes had a wide innocent and confused quality.
Which Karlyn had practised and finessed on her Flaxi to stop the soldier being so cross over some minor thing Karlyn had done and shouldn’t have.
Judging by the way the door was opened without a knock and butting into a guard then the entrance of two rather important looking fellows with fancy staffs and some wraith like female pretending to be a maiden while annoying the strings of a harp and everyone already in the room bowing to the knee. Here he was…
Sadalene of House Destinian, Prince of. She had a sort of memory of him, but it was all fuzzy on account of being knocked by them weapons.
He was tall, all graceful in his movements, maybe a bit too much, ‘cas he made Karlyn think he was about to do one of those complicated ballet dance moves and she could recall there was a precise power in those feet. Carried himself well too, that sword was a proper one and one hand resting on the pommel. She glanced to his footwear, soft indoor, he hadn’t been wearing those when they first met.
‘You kicked me in my tummy!’ she said taking the offensive.
Whereas everyone else, no doubt, out of habit and training was horrified as her obvious lack of respect, Sadalene studied her; she’d seen cats doing it like that before they pounced on something.
‘I wonder,’ he said tapping one long, slender finger on a perfect bow of an upper lip ‘Despite the apparent evidence,’ he leaned in ‘Where are you hiding Lady Maighdean Ardea? I really do need to speak with you and not this fabrication,’
Looking straight back into his eyes Karlyn could feel more of her memory seeping to the fore. Yes, he might look all graceful and very above it all, but he had kicked her, and it was the sort of kick you saw when someone had gone down in a tavern fight and was out, dirty. She pushed all her own noble stuff deep back down, because she had an instinct of what might coming, she began to bring up every recollection of thievery, burning down wicked places, battles, friendship with Whychery, and oh my all she’d done with Flaxi. All that noble stuff was long gone and not important anymore.
The act had been a swift and focused one, so much she appeared to be replying promptly to him.
‘Fab-re-ka-shun! Uh! No! I am Karlyn Nahtinee of Elinid. That’s who I am matey!’
‘I have witnesses you said otherwise,’
‘Yer, well you got me there. I was playin’ them. Giving them the scares, wasn’t I?’
‘You seem to be acquiring a more aggressive tone young woman,’
‘That’s ‘cas I ‘member you kicking me in the tummy!’ she screwed up her face. ‘You wobbler you, kicking someone when they’s down!’ she huffed into his face.
And in response there was the slight narrowing of the eyes, tightening of the lips, even though he tried to cover it all up with a superior sort of smile.
‘Very well Lady Maighdean Ardea. You wish to play this game, for some sort of childish amusement?’ he raised the index finger of his right hand, and one of the functionaries stepped to his side. ‘Lord Xenthon ask Lady Ionrach to attend please?’
Faces positively paled, glances were exchanged, and the physician was about to open his mouth in proest, one very hard stare from the prince and he stopped.
‘You were careless enough to let your guard down once and reveal the confirmation of The High King’s Intentions, now I would have more torn out of you and your part in this. Confirmation of the details I require,’
‘Shit. Here we go then. Face to face. Let’s just see wot’s wot,’
By the time the door had opened again Karlyn had prepared herself. She had brought out her most irreverent and sceptical, like the time when she was new to Elinid and some pompous translator from the snooty part of the City had tried to lecture her on knowing her place, and she’d deliberately wondered how an understanding of fish would be of and spiritual use .
While the frosty lady approached Karlyn prepared herself by skewing perceptions in a mocking way. When she thought about it, everyone was tall, or tallish and no one clumped about the place. You could’ve expected them all going to do that ballet thing. They just needed a whole orchestra of harps, flutes and stuff, a background of weedy excuses for trees and bowls of fruit to pass to each for frib’ knew why. Anyway back to the frosty lady. ‘She’ wore black, inscribed with twiddly silver threads. Karlyn supposed they were runes or phrases out of old languages. She made up meanings either silly ones or just downright crude. Then she saw one on left of the lower part of the dress which reminded her of what Whychie must have seen a lot of when visiting her boyfriend Osavus.
‘….most skilled in the arts of drawing out information through the mind,’
The prince was saying, perceiving by the rather distant expression the wretched girl was not paying much attention he added ‘By means most painful if necessary,’
‘As long as she doesn’t kick me in the tummy,’ Karlyn said behind a most magnificent sulk.
This was met with a grand princely gesture. As a result she had the water snatched away, was hauled off of the sofa and dropped into the chair to be restrained again.
‘I wanna go for a squirt,’ she announced. There was a brief discourse on translation. The prince was not for giving into this request.
‘Oh dear. You should have said earlier,’ he retorted, she thought it was good sarcasm.
‘I’ll soak yer chair,’ she warned.
‘I will take the risk,’ she thought this a credible response, he was getting wise, she’d have to be careful. She turned her attention to the approaching lady whoever, the angular features, heightened cheek bones almost to a knife edge, eyes heavy with piercing purpose, Karlyn wished she was smiling, smiling ones were always weedy, trying to prove something. This one didn’t have to.
Cool hands grasped Karlyn’s face holding it tight as any metal clasp, there was a pressure on her forehead, like they had a third hand and with it was pushing on her. The force was growing stronger, if you lost your notions of wot was wot you could get afraid the bones were going to crack. The frosty one spoke, actually a melodic, rather bedroomy voice. Commanding, a bit friendly like they wanted to help her out of this mess she’d got herself into.
‘Speak to me Lady Maighdean Ardea. The pretence cannot be sustained. No one can come for you. They have no indication where you are. Our servant Krongar has confounded his fellow humans, and we have our own skills to cover our intentions from our deluded own folk. Speak to me,’
There was a sudden stab of the type of pain you could get from being careless and getting thwacked on the noggin in a fight. Her vision filled up with bright lights, her stomach lurched.
‘Ow!’ just the once for continuity, while she concentrated on the memory of the time in the yard she’d stood up quickly and cracked her head on an open window; Flaxi had been there right away, holding her in her dizziness, soothing her with kisses to the pained area and then gently fussing over her to administer salve and soporifics. She’d been so lovely.
The Lady didn’t like that response at all. The pressure grew. Karlyn had the oddest sensation of things like small roots growing down into her mind, they were sharp slithery things, burrowing, crawling; could roots crawl? Now that was not nice, they would learn all sorts of embarrassing things.
Lady Ionrach observed the fog drift into her perception, quickly to be cleared so the memory was clear to perceive.
Two figures stood at the bottom of a tree, Lady Maighdean Ardea was in it, the wrong way up. One blonde and ruggedly dressed spoke in a curious drawl
‘Not that ah’d ever doubted Trelli’s word but jus’had to hear from y’ own lips Kitlin. Naw y’all explain; why y’ of all folk, are bein’ stuck upside down an’ danglin’ from a tree?’
‘Aww stop bein’ mean Flaxi and ‘elp me down!’
‘Confession being good fer the soul Kitlin,’
‘Ooooh you! Alright! So I said your brew of carrot wined tasted, err…weak. And slopped back ‘arf a bottle cause I was thirsty,’
‘An’ fergot ‘bout it packin’ a sneaky kick?’
‘Hmmp! So I got swiffied. An’ being uncertain on my legs tried to sneak upstairs by going through ethereally realms…then ended up here,’
‘An’ Trelli being your best friend of Stommigheid tracked you three myles out of town?’
The laughter echoed on.
They squeezed her face. She didn’t think that was part of their process. More a smidge of frustration. She bit her lip as the burrowing continued. The sensation of crawling, invading creatures was becoming stronger and finding ways to get beyond her feeling of irritation and seek out the places where her fears dwelt. Nasty, sneaky things, like creepy little demonic Zerstorung looking to play with her, in parts she did not want anyone to go, apart from Flaxi of course. Karlyn let the shudder break out, maybe the action would make The Lady think she was wearing Karlyn down, actually she was, Karlyn though from association with Flaxi had kept a few reserves.
The Lady Ionrach had managed to force herself through the one idiosyncratic memory, now she came upon another….
Silly laughing and puerile jests as three beings in mild intoxication of a more unsubtle brew engaged in some very crude game which used pieces of uniform sized card, blank on one face while the other had all manner of basic symbols. The process was quite incomprehensible, the wave of good fellowship though was somewhat distracting, instilling in one a hint of a pang of loneliness. Despite their lack of subtly and the more advanced skills and perceptions, nonetheless the trio were possessed of a shrewd cunning, born of a pack instinct. Those two humans might not be here in proximity; however they held a long reach in both the temporal and the emotional. And this wayward servant of The High King was fully aware of the potency both as a shield and a sword…….
Karlyn, by the way, is proud to be a warrior-pest
This post is something of a whimsey. Just to confirm this is not a marketing episode only resulting from the urge to share a little fiction lightness around the blogosphere.
These are extracts from’ Skirmishers of Lace, Steel and Fire’ Volume 2 of my Precipice Dominion Series.
There are three central characters, female Captain Arketre Beritt (soldier-LifeGuard), Custodian Karlyn Nahtinee (a talented but unknown quantity ) and Trelli (aka Trelyvana Waywanderer) unwilling recipient of a power known by various names and trying to come to terms with it. In Volume 1 (Of Patchwork Warriors) they bonded in various ways. They are friends (Karlyn thinks of Trelli on a BFF basis and also takes a role of a sort of elder sister) while Arketre and Karlyn are lovers (calling each other ‘Flaxi’ and ‘Kitlin’ respectively).
The narrative of Volume 2 is set against the backdrop of a war in the Princedom of Terasonia, resulting from an invasion by peoples from another realm not of this world.
These are lighter themed snippets involving Trelli and a local lord Osavus who share an ‘attraction’ which is now reaching a romantically expected result and the reactions of her friends.
(Note: ‘Yerguh’ is the colloquial term for the foul tasting ‘Arrestation Wine’, a concoction designed to prevent women LifeGuard from becoming pregnant)
Karlyn scampered along the walkway causally ducking the few missiles and resultant bits of stone flying off from impact to reach her lover currently taking shot at the foe.
‘Hey Flaxi. You enjoying this then?’
‘Gotta do what a LifeGuard has to do Kitlin,’
‘Yer, suppose so. Hey. Is that Whychie’s window?’
‘S’pulsing red ‘n blue innit?’
Beritt smothered a smirk
‘Probably at prayer. Y’ know how she is. Puts us to shame,’
‘Never seen no pulses before,’
‘Aww, we best leave her be. Probably some tuscatalian thing she got taught. C’mon give me a hand to seek out likely useful targets, Have you yet found Hulivera by the way?’
‘Nah, They got her hidden somewhere. Last I heard it was even thought she was with Zwiggle, them being in-laws and sharing the loss of a close-one. That would make sense,’
‘Hmm. We’ll have to find her sometime. If we get the chance that is,’
Having deftly changed the subject twice away from Trelli, Beritt grabbed Karlyn’s arm and led her off away from the view of Trelli’s location, winking over her shoulder as she did.
‘Y’all better have taken yore yerguh, sweetling,’
Cut to a later stage (OK I edited out the interesting bits for purposes of continuity of the theme of this post….so sue me!)
Having awoken in the afternoon and once more shared each other’s bodies they had long since dressed and had been staring out the window, holding hands.
‘They’re back,’ she had said with relief. My friends are back,’
‘I’ll be more nervous than ever about meeting them now,’ Osavus confessed.
‘Read this,’ she said a little mirthfully handing him a piece of paper which had suffered from being rolled up. ‘Do you remember Arketre pressing a small bag into my hand as you carried me away, for the second time? This was inside,’
‘My dear friend Trelli. Here are two twists worth of my famous head pain powders. Only take them when the pain is horrid and then only one a day. The yellow bag also includes two twists, these being of Yerguh, which judging by the handy-holding and big-eyed looks you and Osavus are sharing along with your pretend faintings you should partake of one as this is no time to be made unfortunate. Get your rollings while you can soldier. Your friend Arketre,’
‘I did not for the record,’ she said once he had finished ‘Pretend to faint,’ a heaviness of dignity entered her voice ‘I was feeling weak, at the time. Inside her officer performance Arketre is as villainous as any ordinary soldier,’
Osavus who was now not too sure of whether the captain had herded the pair together still found some humour there.
‘Yes, she’s not really suited to her rank, is she? But why is the custodian so hostile to me?’
Trelli waved a hand vaguely above her head.
‘Pooh! She’s a fine one to talk!’
‘Really? I’m surprised she has time to indulge in pleasant matters of people,’ he grinned ‘ Can you tell me who is the lucky man?’
‘Err…no,’ Trelli said all of a fluster ‘I…that is….’
‘Darling Trelli I won’t press you on your confidences,’
She puffed out relief
‘Oh well. There you are then,’ she smirked wickedly ‘Fine for all-grown up Karlyn. I think she might have decided I am some sort of younger sister to be protected,’ Trelli set wide eyes on Osavus ‘Do I need to be protected Osavus?’
They laughed and he was set to place his arms around her when there came an insistent tapping at her door.
‘Trelli? Y’all might be needed sweetling,’
Because the door flew open the entrance a dark haired shape looking back and addressing Arketre was of no surprise to Trelli
‘Wot you all so fussy ‘bout Flaxi. This is our Whychie we’re-‘
She stopped. Stared. Gawped. Eyes narrowed.
‘That bed is very messy!’ she accused.
Trelli hopped off of the window sill and stood in front of Karlyn.
‘Now you just stop there Karlyn Nahtinee and leave Osavus be,’ she stammered briefly seeking out the words ‘I chose this. I started the, eh proceedings,’
‘Like a good soldier,’ Arketre Beritt said, leaning against the wall arms folded ‘Got hers while the going was good,’ she eased up, reached to her back pocket and drew out her Drygnest book, adding ‘And why not ah say,’
‘Flaxi!’ Karlyn protested. ‘And you fibbed! Telling me Trelli was at prayer! You knew!’
‘I supplied Yerguh,’ Beritt continued
Karlyn struggled to find the right words and failing resorted to rounding on all three with a cry of.
‘Ooooh you soldiers, you!’
Osavus wisely, as a mere male had not intervened
Cut again…(The subsequent deleted extract is all plot and only makes true sense if reading the whole book)
‘C’mon then Kitlin. Let’s go and see. You best stay behind Trelli and plan whatever you have in mind,’
‘Intended to,’ she said hoping she sounded as if she already had half a plan and not a big space where panic bounced around, for something to do she addressed Osavus. ‘My love. You will be expected to be some place. Go,’
‘Sadly yes. But first my darling girl,’
He took hold of her and kissed her firmly.
‘I will return.’ He said before kissing her again.
Beritt shoved an open-mouthed Karlyn out of the door, who in turn voiced her cause
‘I was only gonna say I think ‘e might be suited to her after all,’
Just a whimsy of a post, that’s all.