On Writing, Quotables

The 777 Challenge (or Wheelbarrows and Heroines)

I have been very kindly unofficially tagged for the 777 Challenge by proverbs31teen. Thank you, and I accept!

The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress.

I have three WIP currently, however, I pick Our Intrepid Heroine: The Mystery of Blackthorne Forest to be subjected to the 777 treatment. (Our Intrepid Heroine: The Mystery of Blackthorne Forest is a working title, by the way. It could easily also be Our Intrepid Heroine: I Blame the Carrot or Our Intrepid Heroine: Wheelbarrows are Hazardous to Big Toes).

— — —

[Note: I did not include the wheelbarrows in the list of probable reasons for her fearfulness. When one makes a list, one usually rounds it into three rather than an even four, but if a true list was made, then I would include the wheelbarrows. If there had been fifteen, or even twenty, then they would serve only as a comical prop in the scene. However, there was twenty-nine of them. Twenty is comical. Twenty-nine is sinister.]

She decided to call out to the listeners and pray that they were friendly souls. Preferably with ready food and warm beds to spare. And a pillow for her weary head. She’d like that.

— — —

As I was unofficially tagged, than I unofficially tag whoever wishes to unofficially do this tag. Unofficially. (I may be using that word too much).

“You keep using that word … “

At present, I am working [suspiciously guilty coughing fit] on the final book of TDWH trilogy, and am attempting to knuckle down and edit the first two properly.

Dragons, kidnapping and adventure, how I love you. But bad spelling and typos, whilst often amusing, are not so dearly loved …

On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

He is swearing an oath to be warm

April’s Chatterbox is here once more and the topic is Resurrection (in this case – a resurrection of hope and of fear. A big thank you for Rachel for hosting again). This month I have chosen to write of The Many Trials of a Blacksmith and the character of one Gufflocks Thomas, former advisor to a slain king.

 — — —

The chamber is cold.

The black iron spirals across the white stone walls and he remembers a time when they weren’t there and the stone was crisp and without shadows.

But he also remembers the blood.

One night – that was all it took.

One night and red spattered the walls, coating it with dripping specks which shone dark by candle light.

He remembers the gurgled cries and cut-off screams.

He remembers the monster who strode in, whose armour was dark and sword was already crimson. One short laugh at the room and at the lords and the councillors in their white nightshirts and thick robes now torn and bloodied by the seeking blades.

One short laugh and fear rose up and consumed him. Choking him like a clinging vine.

Fifteen years and the fear has died – beaten down with sparse food and prison bars and an apathy that clings like the damp does the dungeon walls.

But here he is now – standing where it all began and all ended and he attempts to force down the memories which rise up before him and paint the walls red once more.

He turns his mind away from these thoughts and dwells upon a faded image – fifteen years have worn away the edges and dulled the face so that only the clear, ringing laugh is remembered with clarity.

But then he remembers the loss and turns from thoughts of her as well.

“Did you know – I distinctively remember meeting you for the first time in this room.”

He starts and turns and there, standing by the open door is him. He isn’t wearing armour, isn’t holding a sword. In fact, he is attired in a deep purple tunic, light yellow hose and brown boots with a thin circlet of silver atop of his dark head.

Nothing could be further from the monster of that night, long ago.

Except for one thing.

His eyes.

And fear is resurrected. Or perhaps it was there all along – slumbering in a deep sleep like a dragon awaiting its awakening in the distant caverns of his mind.

As he meets the Duke’s gaze, he realizes that it doesn’t matter if the man is wearing armour and surrounded by bloodshed or standing in a clean room arrayed in immaculate purple – his eyes stay the same; cold as a winter’s night.

And he shivers from the cold of his gaze and wishes for a tinkling laugh which always seemed to melt every chill and warm him from every icy day.

And then the Duke is speaking and he is offered a choice. And the owner of the tinkling laugh is placed within his grasp and he sees her image, resurrected and alive in his mind’s eye and he chooses.

He may become a traitor to his country, a betrayer of his friend. But he is so very cold – he has been for fifteen years – and he has longed for an age and shivered in a tiny cell for an hundred lifetimes while her warmth fades from his heart.

And now a blazing fire could be his and he will do anything – anything at all, to sit by it and bask in its flickering blaze.

And so he closes his eyes and sees his wife once more. He gazes at her in hope and opens his lips and promises to be a traitor.

But in his mind he isn’t making a vow to doom a country.

He is swearing an oath to be warm.

A little while more, my love …

https://i2.wp.com/media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/5f/20/78/5f20781a3ff3876ce6a113c0c7af267f.jpg
via pinterest

 

Life, On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith, Unlikely

Of smiles, winking water, flesh-eating sows and branded memories

https://i1.wp.com/media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/ee/99/68/ee996807dd5c8c7047f76a52aa82cf12.jpgAnother month has gone by. I think I’ve finally resigned myself to the simple fact that a year is a short thing, and not as long as it first appears or indeed, ought to be. But still, we can fit plenty of living into it, plenty of love and plenty of laughter (all beginning with ‘l’!) and also, you’ll never guess but … we can squeeze plenty of writing in too. Which doesn’t begin with an l. But then writing uses letters so I suppose it sort of fits.

And despite the often gloomy weather and rain, the sun still peeks through and God is good, always. And also … it is awfully nice to write with the rain pattering against the window. (And if there isn’t any rain to be pattering or storming … have you heard of RainyMood?)

Anyway – below are some bits ‘n’ bobs from March.

– – –

A small smile was attempted, but it ended in a dismal failure; for lips that smile must turn up at the tips and not downwards like a fast sinking rock dropped in a pool of water.

– Unlikely

Staying by the stream I look up at the sky; the sun is low yet, and a soft haze of mist still covers the valley below. I let one hand drift in the stream and hold it just below the surface, feeling the numbing cold trickle between my fingers and watching the sunrays play with the water, causing it to twinkle and wink merrily back at me.

– The Dragons We Hunt

With an unsure glance at Bernice he decided to lay the deer on the table, indoors and out of sight and smell of the scavenging, lolloping pig. Bloody Bernice, they ought to have called her. The Flesh Eating Sow.

– The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

The scene would be forever etched in his memory, branded with all the ferocity of a red-hot iron. The tangled branches of overhanging trees straining over the path, the brown grasses which gave way to the forest, the brightly coloured uniforms of the Captain’s men, the limp body of his brother; awaiting his enemies with all the resistance of a newly born lamb.

– The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

Characters, Unlikely

… she wrote a mirror and stared at her reflection.

Whew! February is over. Now things have slowed down and … goodness gracious! Is it Chatterbox again?

Yes … yes it is. The subject this month is Mirrors. This time, instead of Robert, I’ve written of Peronell Malkyn of Unlikely.

I rather enjoyed writing this, and will not apologise for its length.

A mirror. Just because.

– – – –

The library was empty – Scribe Destrian and his assistants had long since retired for the night. The sole light was a candle, standing on a little desk and casting out its weak beams to the room around, touching with a feeble flicker the high bookshelves which towered forever upwards, the ends of their height hidden in a blanket of darkness; like mountain peaks obscured by cloud.

The only noise was the scratch of a quill upon parchment and the soft breathing of a figure hunched over the writing desk.

Her brow was furrowed and her nose was scrunched as she attempted to write.

It’s all very busy here, one could read (if one was in the line of deciphering scrawled and blotched writing) though I’m like a ghost. Walking the halls with soundless footsteps.

I don’t miss you – the line was written with brutal honesty – as you only ever teased me. But as your younger sister it is my duty to wonder how you fare, I’m trying to do my duty you see, even though our sister has firmly taken most opportunities out of my hands. I can’t say that I resent her, for surely I made a mess of giving the farewell cup at your parting.

She frowned – why give an opening for teasing? A line was drawn through the offending words.

The King is in good health, she wrote helpfully, and so is our brother, the Crown Prince. These too were crossed out with a thick black line (and a droplet of ink which escaped the writer’s best efforts). Of course Linus would know if the Royal Family were suffering any harmful malady; it was foolish to write the obvious.

Sometimes, she wrote with the air of one giving a precious confidence, I think that the Creator made a dreadful mistake – here she bit her lip; did one spell mistake with a ‘c’? The word’s last two letters were given a small inkblot so the meaning was clear but the spelling was not – and should have given the King and our late Mother another prince. A prince who could ride into battle and bravely uphold the honour of our country with the sword.

As it is, she wrote with lips set in a firm line, I am entirely useless. A frown creased her brow; it was not pleasant to describe oneself with such a morbid word.

I am entirely unable – was written instead – to do such a thing. Nor am I suited to be the Mistress of the Palace; a station which our sister so admirably fills.

My Lord Tomas has suggested that reading does not benefit anyone except myself – reading a tale of heroic deeds is not the same as going – here, ‘going’ was heavily underlined – and doing the heroic deeds oneself. Though how a maiden with no knowledge of swordplay can defeat (with a sword) a fearsome foe is yet to be seen.

I don’t know what to do – save be a ghost, of course. I’ve perfected that. You, my dear brother, can do heroic things. Our brother will one day be a king and our sister will always be the shining, gentle Beauty of our country.

The Creator knows what He wants me to be. I hope, truly I do, that it isn’t to be a ghost. I wish He would show me … but until then – would you mind awfully slaying an evil enemy in my name?

I remain your devoted sister.

But her hand hesitated in signing her name. Carefully she reread what she had written and began to cross out words. Lines. Sentences.

It seemed too close – a reflection of herself written in black ink upon a cream page. Too real, too raw.

The silence weighed heavily.

She sat there – in that large room with its multitude of books, tales, stories – utterly alone.

The letter was heavily lined now – everything save the opening greeting was crossed through and she felt almost breathless. She would not send it to Linus, for she knew that if he peeked between the lines and lifting them, looked underneath – he would see her.

Like a mirror that had its image frozen.

She didn’t like mirrors.

Characters, On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

Memories in a Cloudless Night

It’s Chatterbox again, but this time the topic is ‘Criticism’. Once again I really enjoyed this exercise and present, without further adieu … Robert, of The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

—-

He lay on his back, wrapped up in his thin cloak.

The sound of the waves, the scent of the sea, and the sight of the stars filled his senses, and yet instead of bathing in the wonder of a still and cloudless night, his mind pressed in upon him.

Phantom shouts and shadowed sights filled his ears and eyes.

He heard the overseer once more: “Move faster!”

He saw the mocking look. “Good enough” – a heartbeat of hope, crushed with the next words – “for a cripple.”

Memories – how they surged.

A log fell in the fire. Sparks flew high in the air.

Leon snored and Garth mumbled in his sleep.

Memories – how they drew him back to years long past.

“We are weak.” It was George this time, appearing in front of him in the mist of time; that mouth curled in its ever scornful way. “No – it is not we … it is you.”

He remembered the twinge of pain those words had given him. Remembered the calm reply he had forced out of lips which longed to snarl – to bite back that it was the right way – the only way, you fool!

“Knave!” ‘twas Master Hughes, regarding him – his tardy apprentice – with narrowed eyes. “I looked for you this morn. Where have you been – loitering? Lazy cur.”

I was saving a child; giving a widow the life of her son, he ached to explain. But the words were never spoken – secrecy was more important than speech.

And then he remembered his youth; the farm, the dawn which came without fail and the brother who had long since past.

He remembered the quick look at the field – ploughed underneath a hot sun with little water to quench his thirst – “‘Bit wonky, Bert.”

A sharp breath and he was back; feeling the dampness of the sand beneath his cloak, hearing the crackle of the fire and the roll of the wave.

And then another memory rose into his mind – the crinkle of a page as he turned it, the old ink forming letters which meant so much: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

He rested in the words – floated in their peace; slept in their calm. The memories dispelled as if they were a suffocating mist and the words a burning sun.

In the morning – when Garth greeted him with a grunt and Leon asked how he slept, he would reply simply:

“Well.”