Thursday, June 29, 2006

Another fragment

Doing edits on Chapter Six, I thought this passage came off pretty good:


At first, the road led more or less straight up through open land, until it reached the first and lowest of the forested ridges of Dimmeld. There it turned forth and back, through wood and round outcroppings, until the crest was overtopped. Then the road plunged, by turn and twist, into the first and shallowest of the valleys. Then it rose again, to turn and twist and plunge again, and again. Otheron’s patience grew thin as progress slowed. By noon only a few miles had been gained.

Otheron called another halt and rode angrily to the front of the column. He flew by the men of the vanguard, sitting in long lines on the curb on both sides of the road. The pace must quicken, he fumed as he rode, barely seeing or hearing the soldiers rise and cheer him as he passed. At the front the prince-general stalked the road, sending warriors scrambling to find Cenith, and before long the prince came trotting down the road. Otheron, seeing him, would not wait but hurried out to meet his brother. Though the two sat apart upon their horses, those nearest them could hear their heated words.

“Cenith,” Otheron started, ignoring the tired look on his brother’s face, “what is the matter? Galila tells me that you bade her keep the vanguard five hundred yards behind the scouts. You know we must make time, we must reach Corlen to meet Raev.” He raised his voice even further, “your scouts are moving too slowly.”

Cenith said nothing at first but took a long pull at his canteen. He gestured vaguely off to the side. “Do you see these woods, this terrain?” Otheron snorted derisively. “We cannot make the time you desire in this terrain. A horse cannot be ridden at speed on a slant, over boulders, and around the boles of trees so closely set.” Cenith now gestured with both arms, “we have to cover a wide swath of forest on both sides of the road. It cannot be properly done at the pace you have demanded.”

“It is not I but our father’s blood that demands this,” Otheron said more lightly, if not more patiently. Cenith reddened but said nothing. “You must do this.” Otheron turned his horse but added, over his shoulder, before leaving, “I will accept no excuses for failure.”

Cenith sat on his horse in the middle of the road, watching the receding back of the general who now rode slowly and chatted with the soldiers who greeted him. He looked at the sky, more than half worried about the roiling plumes of black smoke spanning the sky to the west. Eventually, he cast a last glance at the diminishing figure of Prince Otheron, then spun his horse around and went back to his duties.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Opening Scene

Here is the opening scene of RoseThorn:

Chapter One

It began with a boy skipping rocks from the bank of a sluggish river. Minding his family’s small flock, Finn brought the sheep to water at the edge of the River Idara. He should have been watching the sheep at the water’s edge, so that none of them strayed in danger of drowning. But, as such things are with boys, Finn tired soon of standing and watching, and so he started sending pebbles flying across the placid water.

Where the sheep gathered, bumping and bleating and pushing against each other to drink, the bank of the river was shallow and muddied by their trampling. On either side of this muddy shelf the bank rose to overhang the river by three or four feet. Tussocks of grass covered these banks to the edge of the water. On the left, twenty paces upriver from where the sheep watered, stood a small grove of abele trees, and there—midways under the shade of the trees—lay a little, pebbly strand perhaps ten or twelve feet in length. It was here that Finn stood, flinging his missiles.

For a boy of eight Finn threw with remarkable accuracy, usually he sent the pebbles skidding just where he wanted. And what he lacked in strength was made up in sheer energy. On the grassy bank behind him sat a dog, Shar. With one severe eye on her master, and an alert eye on the sheep, Shar rested in the shade. To her work was play and play, such as Finn was doing, was puzzling. But Finn knew that if any of the sheep strayed or danger came near, Shar would sound the alarm.

So, Finn could play for a while.

One after another, pebble after pebble flew across the river. Strings of ripples followed behind, three and four and five. Finn chewed on his lower lip, squinting as he gauged the river and his chances to get six skips and a new high mark. Four this time—but there were many more pebbles at hand.

Upstream, the abele trees marched to the edge of the riverbank. Three men could hardly stretch to touch their hands around the largest of these trees with smooth, pale grey bark. The trunks grew straight upwards for twenty yards or so, forking from there into several main branches and fanning out into a wide crown. The leaves, bright green on top and a pale, silver-green underneath, were dimming and curling at the edges with the change of the season. One old tree, its roots undercut by the eroding riverbank, had fallen into the stream, but the base of the trunk still lay on the lip of the bank. The angle of the overhanging bank and the trunk and branches of the abele made a shadowed eddy in the river.

Finn looked over his shoulder. Shar paced in a tight circle, yipping and flicking her nose back and forth between Finn and the sheep.

“Okay, okay,” he said, “coming.”

Finn reached down and grabbed a nice, flat stone. Time enough for one last throw and, this time, six skips for certain. With all his strength he flung the stone right at the angle beneath the fallen abele. It skipped once, twice, and with a thud stopped dead-plunk into the water.

At first Finn thought he had hit a branch—but it did not sound like rock on wood. It sounded softer. Curious, he climbed the bank and walked a bit upstream, squinting at the shadow under the tree trunk. Something dark floated in the water. Shar came to his side. He stood and walked toward the base of the tree, looking at the shadow on the water. Suddenly he stopped, wide-eyed. Shar growled lowly.

The stone had dislodged something caught against the far side of the trunk. As Finn watched, it slowly turned in the eddy. From where he stood near the base of the tree Finn could see now clearly the hand and arm of a man face down in the river. Then the eddy turned the body and slowly turned the man’s back into view. The shafts of two arrows protruded from between the man’s shoulder blades.

Finn ran to find his father.

Mathis Stonebow stood with dirt-crusted hands on his hips, surveying a small field of turnips and carrots, just harvested. He turned a critical eye at the sky. The harvest had not been to his liking and, though these plants had come in nicely enough, they had not grown as well as could be. This field lay on the edge of the farm, far from the river, and the crop could not be irrigated. Around the field grew a tight hedge of shrub-like trees to screen the wind, but water was the problem. He would talk to the village elders about calling for more rain next year but, still, he wondered why the old rites had not worked so well this season.

Mumbling about the vagaries of the weather, Mathis reached for his hayfork. The day before, with the farm wagon, he had dropped a rick of hay in every field. Now he would spread it to rot slowly under the winter snows. But a crashing sounded behind him, as if an animal were running panicked through the woods. He grabbed the hayfork and stepped calmly into the shadow of the hedge. Then Finn burst into the field.

Relieved, Mathis lowered the fork. “Finn! What are you about?”

The boy turned to his father, too out of breath at the moment to speak. He leaned over with his hands on his thighs.

“Are you harmed?” Mathis’s concern grew as he saw the frightened look on his son’s face. He bent down on one knee and grasped the boy by the shoulders. “Are you being chased?”

“There is—a man,” Finn gasped, “in the—the river.”

“What? A man, who?”

“A dead man,” he said, looking wide-eyed at his father.

Mathis stood and thought for a moment. “Show me this man.” Finn took a deep breath as if to begin running once more but his father dropped a heavy hand on his shoulder. “No son, we can walk. If he is dead, then he will wait. On the way you can tell me about this man.”

When they reached the river, they found Shar watching over the sheep. By some instinct she knew that there was no danger from the body in the river, but that the sheep needed watching. Shar came to Mathis when he whistled. He reached down and scratched behind her ears.

“Take them home, girl.” Mathis gave a different whistle and Shar moved off to round up the sheep and herd them back to the farm.

“Okay,” he said to Finn, “let us see what there is to see.”

But Finn hung back as his father approached the bank. Mathis crouched, peering into the angle beneath the tree. Suddenly he stood, walked a few paces back along the bank, and jumped down onto the pebble shoal. Still holding the hayfork Mathis waded into the water at the upper edge of the shoal. Then he bent and reached forward with the fork.

Mathis saw the body still caught on one last branch. He caught the hayfork in a fold of cloth and pulled the body to the beach. Any man, under any circumstances, deserved a decent burial. But this man died shot in the back with a pair of arrows. When and why he was slain, and by whom, were questions that had to be answered. Mathis turned the man onto his side. He was a soldier of Arras, a clansman from far to the northwest, and by the look of his light leather armor, a scout or messenger. But it was the arrows that drew Mathis’s gaze and caused a hollow fear to grow in the pit of his stomach.

“Finn, come here.”

The boy hesitated a moment and then stepped forward, slowly, to the verge of the bank. He found his father kneeling beside the man’s body, fingering the shaft and fletching of one of the arrows.

Without looking up, Mathis spoke deliberately, “you will have to run again. Go back to the house and tell Fordin to bring the team and the small wagon. Show him where I am. Tell your mother to pack some food and,” he hesitated, “and tell her to lay out my arms and gear.” He looked up at the boy, “hurry, son—and be careful.”

Friday, June 16, 2006

"I ache in my bones for revenge," he admitted, "yet, I know that it is useless."

"I hate him too," she answered, "though the betrayal for you was even more personal. He struck closer to your heart. But as much as I hate him, I love you more."

Caladon turned to Feah. In the dim light and scant heat of the embers he caught his breath at her silhouette. Tiny flickers of orange danced in her dark eyes. Those eyes filled his vision.

"That is why I stay," he said, stirring the fire, sending fireflies free into the night.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Last night I wrote the last word and typed the last period. 3+ years and 161,529 words later, it is done. Now come the edits and rewrites and the cutting. Fun, fun, fun. Prolly take 2 to 3 months and then I get to hunt for an agent. But, yah! I'm finished!

Edit: As I do the edits I will post snippets here. I guess I can shoot for a post once a week or so.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Only two chapters to go. With diligence I will finish the first draft in less than two weeks. It actually makes me a little sad and elated all at once.

Edit: one-half chapter to go. Hope to be done by end of this week!

Oh, and here is a small version of a cool picture of two of my main characters, Caladon and Feah. The large picture is linked on the sidebar.