Power’s Shadow: Chapter 13, Part 3





Chapter 13, Part 3

“I’m thinking that we may not have a choice.”

When Prince Dolan returned, he confirmed both Bonetapper’s report and Marta’s own suspicions—the pass was simply too narrow where they were to turn the wagons around until they reached the way station. “It’s against my better judgment, but I think we have to go on, and assess the situation at that point,” Marta said. “Unless you think we can back the wagons all the way to the border?”

Dolan nodded. “Not really, so I’m inclined to agree. All my men know to stay alert regardless, but especially so now.”

When he had rested for a bit Marta sent Bonetapper back up the pass, with instructions to scout but otherwise keep below the level of the cliff, as he had also reported that there were many nesting birds of all sorts established there who did not take kindly to ravens in their territories and were more than willing to demonstrate that opinion en masse.

“They’d do the same thing to any raptor in the area, I’d wager,” Marta said. “Such things do sometimes curtail Bonetapper’s freedom of movement.”

“So a goshawk wouldn’t have been any more useful,” Sela said.

“Rather less, considering the goshawk,” Marta said dryly. “At least Bonetapper generally does as he’s told.” Continue reading

Goodbye Old Friend, and Hello

November Sunset2Stumbled across this quote recently, attributed to Martin Tupper: “A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.” It struck me as rather sweet and innocuous, at first, but then I thought about it for a moment and realized something.

It’s complete nonsense.

Well, to be fair, almost complete nonsense. Unless you keep buying new editions every few years, odds are that the cover and words on the page aren’t going to change. You reread an old book that you read years ago, one that has been sitting patiently on your shelf for all those years, and odds are that the book, true enough, has not changed at all.

But there’s a pretty damned good chance that you have.

Take any book off the shelf that you first read years ago, one that moved you profoundly. Something that got you excited to turn the page, kept you reading past your bedtime when there was work/school the next day. Try reading it now and see if your experience is the same today as it was four or five or twenty years ago. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

So how did that go? Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 13, Part 2

Powers-Shadow-Rough-3Snakes, metaphorical and less so.





Chapter 13, Part 2


“Once we get inside, you’ll find out.”

The answer to why it was called the Snake Pass was indeed clear once they were well into the pass. Unlike a high mountain pass mapped along a route of least resistance, the Snake Pass followed a natural defile almost at ground level, but it was never a straight trail. It followed an undulating course like its namesake as it worked through the mountains. Sheer cliffs formed the walls reaching up several hundred feet, with the mountains on either side rising higher still. At its widest point, no more than two wagons could travel side by side, and it sometimes narrowed even further. As the day wore on, however, Marta and Sela were grateful to find that there were occasional side branches. They never reached very far into the mountains and none were even wide enough to accommodate a wagon, but they did make convenient and private places to answer nature’s call.

They rode until early afternoon, and down in the pass the shadows were already gathering.

“Snake Pass indeed,” Sela muttered.

Prince Dolan rode beside the wagon. He raised his voice a bit to be heard over the creaking of the wheels.

“It’s presumed that the pass was created by some great cataclysm in times past, but if so it’s not in anyone’s living memory. Look up there,” Dolan said, pointing ahead to where a giant boulder the size of a house had fallen off the cliffs only to become wedged perhaps thirty feet above the narrow road. “We’ll pass under several of those along the way. I know they’ve been there for centuries, but I always cringe. “

“What happens when a smaller one blocks the pass?”

“Stonecutters and masons are engaged from either side depending on where the block occurs. They break up and take anything that reaches the ground. They gain building materials and the path is kept clear.”

“I suppose one could invade either way through this, given enough time,” Marta said.

Sela looked doubtful. “I wouldn’t think so.”

“Why not?” Prince Dolan asked, though Marta had the feeling that the prince already knew the answer. Continue reading

In Which I Confess My Lack of Love for the Pen

WRITING 02I’m forever without a pen. The ink kind. I almost never seem to be carrying one when I need it. I have read that is simply not acceptable. Writers should always carry pens. What if inspiration suddenly hits? What if you need to make notes on a scene? What if…?

If inspiration really hits, I’ll remember it long enough to get to my keyboard. If I need to make notes about a scene, I make them in my head and likewise remember them long enough to get to a keyboard. If I don’t remember, then they’re better off forgotten if they’re so forgettable in the first place. I’ve made notes before, when I was away from the computer for days on end. Then when I got back I tried to read said notes. Carol looks over my shoulder. “Can you read that?” Me: “No, but I vaguely remember what it was about.”

I do have lousy penmanship, especially when the pen is trying to keep up with what my brain is telling me, and failing miserably. Which may be why I just don’t associate an ink pen or even a pencil with writing and never really have–it was only after I learned how to type that I was able to get serious about writing in the first place. So I don’t feel the need to carry an ink pen around. Which means, of course, that I never have one when I need one. Which is mostly to mark “not at this address” to the letters addressed to the student who had this PO box before I did, has been out of school for, oh, 10 years now, and still has mail being sent to this box.

I know pens are useful. I even know that there are still writers who compose in long hand and couldn’t work any other way. I do know that. I just don’t understand it. When I’m stalled and mulling, a pen is useless, and when I’m on fire, it can’t keep up. Yet I do really like and appreciate a fine pen. They look classy on a desk. Just don’t ask me to write with the darn thing.

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 13, Part 1


Chapter 13—Well Begun, Half Undone

“I’ve never been a monster, but I’ve had friends who were considered such. I don’t necessarily disagree with the assessment and nor would they, but I’ve always found that, in the body of every monster, there always beats a human heart.” – Seb of the Alerian Order

“All is prepared,” Prince Dolan said when he met Marta and Sela at the north gate of the city. Bonetapper rode serenely on Marta’s shoulder.

“All” appeared to be something of an understatement. There were two covered wagons packed to the brim, three horsemen aside from Prince Dolan himself, plus extra mounts and a pack train of four other horses led by another man.

“This seems a bit much,” Sela, now again dressed in her mailshirt and padded gambeson rather than court dress, said as she surveyed the caravan.

“Does it? Let me see…yes. As the escort is not at my discretion, that makes three armed men to equip and feed, plus the attendant to handle the pack horses who carry the extra fodder, plus our own supplies, plus a generous cargo of gifts for the monastery, as the monks are not likely to look kindly on our intrusion without the appropriate offerings—“

Sela held up her hand. “Enough. I see your point, Highness. I’m just used to traveling lighter.”

“For some journeys, ‘lighter’ does not mean ‘better.’ I judge this to be one such. If events prove me incorrect, please feel free to remind me of the fact.”

“I will take that under advisement,” Sela said, smiling.

“Lady Marta, I hate to ask, but I understand you can drive a wagon. Would you be willing to handle one of these? The escort and the mule train attendant will take turns manning the others.”

“Hmmm? Oh, certainly. I’d rather ride in the wagon anyway.”

“Pardon my saying, Lady, but you appear distracted this morning,” Prince Dolan said.

“Something’s on my mind,” Marta said. “But it won’t prevent me from keeping the wagon on the road.”

“Splendid. We’re ready then. Let’s get going.” Prince Dolan strode over to where one of the escorts held his mount and he climbed into the saddle.

“I’ll ride with you, Lady Marta. If you don’t mind. Never had the knack of horses,” Sela said.

“As you wish,” Marta said. “Though I’m sure Prince Dolan would be glad to instruct you.”

Sela blushed a little, and shook her head. “I do wish you wouldn’t do that.”

Marta frowned. “What did I do?”

Sela just sighed. “Never mind. Let’s be off.” Continue reading