25 Days of Writing – Day 22

Day 22: Today is the end of an era in your character’s life. How do they feel about this? What is happening today? Write a scene of your character on this day.

——

Trey stood unsteadily in the center of the tournament grounds. He gazed sadly over the bodies of the dead, lain neatly in two rows, one to each side of him. Each of these people, men and women, had died to protect him, the King, and the nation of Herongarde.

The bodies of the dead lined a path toward one last body, lain on a raised platform before him. His father lay there, having sacrificed his life to find peace and freedom for Herongarde, and to preserve the country over which Trey now reigned.

Trey raised his eyes and scanned the crowd gathered here. Hundreds of people covered the hill slopes, stood on walls, and sat in trees to observe the proceedings. The people of Herongarde mourned the loss of good King Anthony.

He looked to his side at his mother. She stood looking on stoically, her face emotionless aside from the tears streaming down her cheeks. Trey’s heart ached for her. She and Anthony were to enjoy their remaining years in peace – a peace shattered by the renewed attack of Falgarth.

He swayed, nearly falling. He felt a hand grip his other arm, supporting him. He glanced to see Hanna holding him, a look of deep concern on her face. Hands touched his shoulders as well. Markus stood behind him, ready to catch him, should he fall.

Trey nodded, and they began to walk forward. Trey gazed down on each face as he passed. He knew them all, though some touched him more than others. Elsbeth, who captured the heart of the confirmed bachelor, Dean. She was a good woman and an asset to the nation. Trey bent and touched her face.

He moved on. Three women and five men – five Mark-bearers – dead by the steel of Falgarth.

Trey paused lastly at the body of Kevin. Anthony’s oldest friend, ever the skeptic, but he loved his King and his country. He fought fiercely for justice and the defense of the codes of Herongarde. Few Mark-bearers had more experience. He would be missed.

A few more steps brought him alongside the body of his father, King Anthony. He took his father’s hand and dropped to his knees. Trey leaned his head upon his father’s shoulder.

“I know not if I can do this, Father. Please guide me.”

All was silent.

Trey felt a hand on his back. His mother knelt beside him, holding him. He leaned upon her and allowed his emotions to flow. He shook with tears for a few minutes.

Slowly, he regained himself. He rose, with the help of Hanna and Markus, who remained close by.

He looked at his mother, who returned his gaze. “We must continue,” he muttered.

“Yes, my son. We move on.”

Trey drew a deep breath and nodded. They walked back to the platform where they had started their walk, upon which Trey stood and faced the crowd. He held up his hands.

“Let it be known this day that not one of these fine warriors gave their lives in vain. These are noble men and women of our nation. Their sacrifice will be remembered evermore and we shall celebrate their gift to us.”

Trey drew his sword and held it aloft. “Herongarde lives on!”

Every sword, staff, rake, or cane possessed by those who observed rose up. A great shout filled the air. Cheering. Trey was King. And the people loved their King.

 

25 Days of Writing – Day 20

Day 20: Your character is in a new place. What brought them there? Why are they there? How are they reacting to this change of scenery? Write a scene of your character in this new place.

——

A light shown in his eyes. Trey forced his eyes shut from the onslaught, and tried to turn his head when that failed. His head wouldn’t move and the light came again, this time in the other eye. He thought the sun was behaving strangely.

Voices were surrounding him. He didn’t quite understand what was being said. It sounded like orders and instructions. He tried to speak by something was in his mouth and throat. He reached toward his face and quickly found his arm restrained.

People touching him. He tried to pull his arm away again but it was held fast. Something was around his neck and face. A pillory? He couldn’t move. A light moved over and past him. No. He was moving.

There was a bump and pain shot through him. He tried to cry out. Nothing. He began to recognize pain in his body. Everywhere.

Someone touched his hair and said something soothing that he didn’t understand. He opened his eyes and saw a masked woman bending over him. She was speaking the soothing syllables. His eyes rolled and he saw himself surrounded by people in masks and thin blue robes.

Another bump. He shut his eyes.

The motion stopped and the discussion rose. Trey opened his eyes again and saw the robed men in discussion with others dressed in solid black. Nods were exchanged and he was moving again. The men in black were left behind and there was another bump.

Brilliant light blinded Trey. He squeezed his eyes shut. He felt himself going light and the noise of discussion quieted. He was lifted up.

The hissing sound repeated, over and over. Trey found it comforting until he started to wonder what it was. He heard footsteps and the gentle humming of a woman. She was speaking to him. He’d heard that accent before.

Hanna? He wanted to speak, but still something remained in his mouth and throat. He tried to reach up, but found that his arms were restrained. He fluttered his eyes open, but closed them in the uncomfortable brightness.

The hissing sound continued.

Trey felt his arms being touched. “Let’s see how you’re doing,” said the woman. It wasn’t Hanna’s voice, but it was her accent. He tried to open his eyes again, blinking in the brightness.

The woman didn’t see that he was awake and watching her. She lifted the blankets off his body and looked at the multiple bandaged wounds on his body. She seemed to be a nurse-maid of some sort, dressed in a brightly patterned tunic and… hose?

He could barely see the bandages she was attending to. Whatever was in his mouth was blocking his view. He again tried to reach for his face. The nurse-maid saw him moving and looked up at him.

“Well, look who’s awake!” she smiled.

Trey pulled again against the restraints on his arms.

“It’s OK. It’s OK. Shh-hh-hh,” said the nurse-maid, stroking his hair.

He felt panic creeping in. He struggled weakly to free his arms.

“Shh-hh-hh,” said the nurse-maid again. “Let’s get a doctor in here.”

In moments, the room was filled with people, and Trey felt full-blown panic set in. Several people were now leaning on him to keep him still.

“Easy. Easy!” said a man who had entered. The man looked at the nurse-maid, and nodded. “Let’s get him to relax.” The woman did something, and Trey felt his body grow numb.

The hissing sound continued.

25 Days of Writing – Day 19

Day 19: Today is a day that will change your character’s life forever. What course of events occurs? How does your character react? Write a scene from this day.

——

Trey stood as his mother fussed about his gowns. He stared at her, watching her, without quite registering what was happening. It was all like a dream to him.

“Trey?” his mother asked.

He blinked and looked at her. “Hm?”

She smiled at him. “Where are you right now, son?”

“I don’t know, Mother. I feel lost.”

“This nation is ready for its new King, aye,” she smiled softly at him. “And your father and I are ready to enjoy our waning years ignorant of politics.” She winked at him.

“Aye, you deserve thus, Mother.” He puffed his cheeks. “But am I ready?”

“You are more fit than you ever have been, Trey.”

Trey gazed upon her with a smile. She looked radiant and happy. He was glad to see joy on her face. He bent and kissed her softly on the cheek. “I shall not disappoint you, Mother.”

“You could never disappoint me,” she said softly as she stroked his cheek. “I am proud of you.”

Sunlight streamed in through the stained glass windows and poured over the people gathered in the chapel. Despite being crowded with noble men and women, and being surrounded by heavily armored bearers of the Mark, the room was completely silent.

Trey was aware of his own breathing. He heard his heart beating. He looked at the older man who stood in front of him. The King – his father – Anthony of Herongarde, looked upon him warmly. Slowly, Anthony removed the ornate crown from atop his own head and carefully set it upon Trey’s. A look of sadness passed across Anthony’s face as he stepped back, then softness and love.

“You now are sovereign King of Herongarde, Trey of Herongarde, my son. And now, I serve you.” Anthony bowed to Trey, a gesture that Trey returned gently.

The crown felt heavy to him. His head and shoulders now bore the responsibility of direction and protection of an entire nation. He wondered if he could do it.

Anthony presented Trey to the crowd. All stood and cheered, but Trey didn’t hear it. He looked around at the joyous faces. His brothers of the Mark were cheering. He knew they would support him. He would have to ask a lot of them.

Then his eyes fell to Hanna. She smiled back warmly, tears fresh on her face. He felt a smile parting his own lips, and suddenly he felt strong. She would be beside him. He would ask more of her than anyone else, but he knew she would ever be at his side. He loved her.

He looked over at his mother and father, now no longer reigning King and Queen of Herongarde. Their relationship had survived the death of two sons and brutal wars. Here they stood now, embracing each other and gazing with pride on their last living son. This is what he would strive for.

Trey looked back to Hanna. Yes, with her, he could do it.

Trey grinned broadly, nodding as he looked around at the beaming faces.

Suddenly, he thrust his fist into the air. “Herongarde forever!” he shouted.

His fist was joined by a hundred others in the chapel, then by thousands from those gathered outside the walls. “Herongarde!” shouted the people. His people. He was King.

25 Days of Writing – Day 18

Day 18: Your character has a conversation with an influential person in their life. It can be a parent, a teacher, a mentor, anyone your character looks up to. Why are they having the conversation? Write the scene.

——

“Markus! You—,” cried Trey.

“Why suddenly concern yourself so with that woman, aye?” returned Markus. “What in God’s name was she doing on the battlefield?”

“Markus, please.”

“What fool are you for this? Think you that she is a proper warrior?”

“Her orders—.”

“Orders, aye? In what fevered delusion did you deliver such an order?”

“I made not the order, Markus.”

“No woman has business on the battlefield! Your bodily desires are best served in your chambers!”

“I never!”

“I truly pray that her presence did not result in the unnecessary death of our own men, aye.”

“Uncle! Surely I would be dead were it not for her actions!” cried Trey.

“Iain could have shielded you.”

“Hanna is a better swordsman.”

“How can she be better, aye? A woman?!”

“Uncle, please! Hear me! Her orders.”

“What orders!” yelled Markus.

“You know,” said Trey. “Don’t you?”

The men stared at each other, breathing hard from the angry exchange, trying hopelessly to read each other’s thoughts.

“What order?” asked Markus more calmly.

Trey looked around, checking for curious bystanders.

“We must talk, Uncle,” Trey said trying to regain his composure. “We must speak privately.” Trey put a hand to Markus’ shoulder and pointing down the hall toward the King’s Hall.

They entered, and Trey shut the door behind them. Markus turned abruptly.

“Now you’ll explain? Why was she with you?” Markus carefully pronounced each word of the last sentence.

“Uncle,” said Trey, making great effort to remain calm. “You recall the order given her by His Majesty?”

“Of course! She was to attend to your injuries, then serve with the other Ladies.”

“Is that all you know?”

“What more is there to know, Trey?”

“Surely, His Majesty told you.”

“Told me what?” Markus was growing impatient.

Trey drew a breath and straightened up. He didn’t know how to say what needed to be said, so he decided to just spit it out. He looked Markus in the eyes. “Neither His Majesty, nor I, nor Lord Gilbert was confident that Balayn would adequately protect me.”

Markus sighed. “Yes, I felt the same,” Markus replied, feeling shame that his own son would be considered untrustworthy. “But you were fit, aye?”

“No.”

Markus frowned and regarded his nephew. “No?”

Trey shook his head. “Though I may be fit now, it took many weeks to recover well enough.”

Markus looked away, examining the tapestries that hung in the hall.

“I am surprised that His Majesty did not share this with you,” said Trey softly.

“What order was she given?”

“She was tested for skill with the sword,” said Trey. Markus looked back at him shocked. “It was decided that she should remain close to me, and defend me — with sword, if need be.”

“Her?!”

“She has a talent, but had no training. I—.” Trey hesitated. “I have provided her some training since. She’s a fair fighter.”

“Training?!”

“By order, Uncle. Only by order of the King himself.”

Markus looked away. He began to walk around the room.

“Uncle, please. The decision was difficult to make, but seemed the best in the interest of our nation. That, and we did not wish to insult the honor of Lord Balayn, nor your own. Perhaps this is why my father has not told you.”

“So she is your protector?”

“Yes.”

“Then why do you act as though you love her?”

Trey was stymied, momentarily. “Wha—, I do love her.”

Markus turned to Trey, raising an eyebrow.

“These are unrelated things, Uncle.”

“Unrelated?”

“I have grown to love her, these months. But her duty has been to protect me, and that is what she has done.”

“Jason told me of the attack near Maldok.”

“Yes, and she killed many last night. In my defense, of course. I owe her my life!”

“And how do you know you love her?”

Trey paused. He drew a breath and closed his eyes. “I love her,” he stated. “I wept when I thought her dead. I wept when I thought I’d not see her again.” He sighed. “And when I found she had survived, I thought I could fly.”

Markus smiled.

“I fear for her now, Uncle. Where could she be? She was with me. Right beside me! But she was injured.” Trey looked around the room. “And now she’s disappeared and no one cares!”

“Jason has expressed concern,” remarked Markus. “Does he know of this order?”

“No, Uncle. Jason knows not. Of course, he is aware that Hanna is not helpless with a sword.”

Markus nodded. “Your father would not approve of this – er — relationship.”

“I would be dead without her, Uncle. I assure you.”

“Aye, Trey. Your loss would be terrible. Then I pray she is found. But you must not forget your duties to Herongarde, Trey.”

“Yes, Uncle. I know.” Trey looked at the banner of Herongarde hanging over the head table. “I swore to her I would ever remember my duty and my place in Herongarde. She would refuse my love otherwise.”

“You have professed your love to her?”

“Aye, Uncle. And I will honor her convictions. But, please God, let her live!” Trey’s eyes were moist with tears.

Markus smiled warmly at Trey, approaching him then embracing him. “Here is the man I knew once. Our future King.” He gripped Treys shoulders and looked him in the eye. “I will pray for her safety, and will advocate for you to your father. But you must be strong and remember your duties, aye?”

Trey smiled and nodded wearily. The men embraced again. Then with a heavy slap on the back, Markus reminded Trey that they had duties yet this day. They left the King’s Hall, both happier, returning to a world of war and chaos.

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Today is April 26, 2012. As it happens, it’s Poem in your Pocket Day.

So I wrote a poem. I wasn’t sure what to write about, so I looked for a prompt on-line. I found one here: Write an ode to the first thing you look at.

I looked at my cat Niko. Niko usually has his tongue hanging out of his mouth. He’s kind of a disaster, after having lived for many years as a feral cat.

Niko looks dapper.

Here’s my poem:

Ode to a Drooling Cat

How do you sleep, your face flat down,
Or jammed into a sack?

How do you lay in such repose,
Without wrecking your back?

How do you rise, your back end first,
Unwinding like a spool?

Oh! How you make me laugh with joy,
Each time I see you drool!

100-Word Story (more or less)

April 9, 2012 was the 100th day of 2012. To celebrate, April 9 was National 100-word story day. I wrote one, and posted it on the 100-Word Story Facebook page.

Here’s my entry – a vignette from that one book I’m working on:

He looked out over the tournament grounds. All was silent. No evidence remained of what had taken place there. Her cries of frustration still rang in his ears, though she no longer was there. The only part of her remaining was the bit of lace he held between his fingers. He looked back at the castle walls. This was his home. It should be her home, too. Instead, it was her prison. He looked at the fabric in his hand. No, this had to be her home, and he was intent to make it so.

Costume Challenge: Decisions and Shopping List

I’m not sure why I’ve decided to do this. Lord knows I’m not exactly overflowing with extra time! Oh well! It’s coming up on Renaissance Festival season, and I want some new costumes. And just in time comes this challenge:

The Second Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

The contest calls for me making three costume layers (underwear to outerwear) and some accessory. I’m trying to decide how to approach this. Strangely, the problem isn’t really what I should make, but for whom shall I make it? I’m thinking I’m gonna make something for the husband in this case. Last year’s costumes were more Medieval than Renaissance, but we can re-use those for another trip to the Faire. And this time, we have a workable costume for the boy as well!

Over the winter, I was inspired to make some more Renaissance-y costumes for myself, so I’m set more or less. My costumes aren’t *exactly* what one might have worn during the Renaissance, but they’re close enough.

Costumes for the man, it is!

So, for the man, I first need to make a shirt [Item 1]. I’ve actually made him one before, but for the contest I must 1) make everything from scratch, and 2) make something a little more Renaissance. This new shirt will need an upright collar, and maybe some embroidery.

I’ll probably also want to make him some hose – joined hose [Item 2], that is. I made hose last year, too, but not joined hose. I love telling the husband that he’ll have to wear hose. It makes him cringe.

Then a doublet [Item 3]. Not surprizingly, he has one of those too. But the one he’s got is sleeveless and collarless. This time, I’ll go with sleeves and an upright collar, and maybe poofy shoulders. Yeah, he’ll like that.

I need to make slops [Item 4]. It took me a while to figure out what ‘slops’ were. If they’d’ve just said ‘poofy pants’ I would have gotten it.

Then I need something to put over that, a cloak or cape. A cloak [Item 5] will do, methinks.

Finally, I need an accessory. So, I need to think of a man’s accessory. Probably it’ll have to be a hat [Item 6] of some sort.

Well then let’s lay it out.

[Item 1] – shirt: the costuming book I have calls for 3.75 yards of 45 inch wide linen. Linen is *really* expensive, so that’s not going to happen. But there’s some linen-look fabrics that I can buy. This is probably the simplest piece I’ll be making.

[Item 2] – joined hose: Wow. This pattern calls for 2.5 yards of 50 in wide wool plus 2.5 yards of 50 inch wide cotton or linen. Wool is also expensive. Might have to improvise there. Cotton will be cheap.

[Item 3] – doublet: Now we’re getting complicated. Wings and tabs and points and ahmahgahd!! All right, but we can do this! This pattern calls for 2.75 yards each (at 45 inches wide) of calico, top fabric, and lining. Let’s see here. What’s gonna give…

[Item 4] – slops: Crap. Panic is setting in. This is complicated. Panes? WTF? All right, I can do this. Everything should be 45 inch wide fabric: 4.5 yards of calico, 1.25 yards of top fabric and lining for the panes, 0.75 yards of top fabric for the lining, 0.75 yards of top fabric for the canions (whatever they are), And then some lining (1.5 yards) and wadding (1.3 yards).

[Item 5] – cloak: Well, my one book has nothing on cloaks, but that’s OK. I’ll fret about that later.

[Item 6] – a hat: This is another thing that will wait a while.

So the contest actually begins on April 15th, but I can at least purchase all the fabrics I need before then. Maybe I’ll have a better idea of how exactly I’ll accomplish this after I get the fabric.

Anyway, here’s to sewing!

On Introspection and Writing

This last year has brought a lot of change into my life. Call it a mid-life crisis if you want, but certainly I am changed over who (or where) I was last year.

In April of last year one of the most significant events of my life occurred. That was when my son received the diagnosis of PDD-NOS. What’s that, you ask? In a nutshell, it means that the boy has autism (or is autistic, or whatever is politically correct). He’s a high-functioning autistic, but does not quite fit the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome.

Anyway, what’s important here is that this diagnosis, while disappointing and sometimes difficult to cope with did help me accept that my child’s strange behavior is not due to any failure of my own. My parenting is fine. The boy is just different. I hadn’t realized it, but the feeling that the boy’s ‘differentness’ was somehow my fault had been weighing so heavily on me that it affected everything. I was depressed. I gained weight. I faltered at work. I faltered at home, with my marriage, and everything. I felt like a failure all the way around.

Everything changed with the boy’s diagnosis. I did go through an initial stage of mourning: the boy would never be the person that I had originally thought he might be. But once I got past that, things improved.

I suddenly dropped fifteen pounds of weight. I just quit eating as much. Apparently, I am a comfort-eater. Yeah, I am. Yum. Candy. This then turned into me beginning a regular fitness program. At this point, I have lost nearly thirty pounds, and am fitter than I was even as an undergraduate athlete.

My relationship with my husband also improved. Sure we still have some rocky moments, but that’s natural. We celebrated ten years of marriage last year. And we still like each other. That’s pretty good.

Somehow, the boy’s diagnosis enabled me to allow myself to take time for my own interests. I discovered that I really like sewing, and have now made for myself, my husband, and the boy several costumes with at 14th century flair. I’m working on new costumes for the Ren-Faire circuit this summer.

What’s perhaps the most substantial revelation I’ve gotten in the last year is that I actually like to write. Yeah, who new. I’ve hated writing for years, or so I’ve thought. The truth is, I hate technical writing. It’s stale and stunted. It’s all posturing and jargon. (And I’m not the only one who’s realized this!) It’s not my natural mode of communication.

Last November, I joined the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and started, for the first time ever, to write and share with others one of the many stories I’ve had drifting around in my head. Well, I easily met the 50k word goal of NaNoWriMo, but the book was (and still is) hardly complete. With this writing, I discovered that I absolutely loved writing. Just not technical writing.

Well, I’m still working on the book (Knights of Herongarde), and still costuming, and feel great for it. Recently, a blog post inspired me to do more writing. It seems that there is a call for scientists to start making their work accessible to others, and blogging seems to be the best way to do this. So, I’ve started adding blog posts about my research. I hope that readers here have enjoyed them. There will be more.

I’m about to embark on another project that will involve a lot of writing. Writing in my preferred style, not the stunted, formal style of technical journals. It was suggested to me while in California that there does not exist a popular-press book on the basics of geology. Given my preferred style of writing, I might be the person to prepare such a book.

There are books on the geology of specific places, but nothing like “Geology for the masses,” semi-technical books that a person could grab and take with them anywhere where rocks are exposed and get something useful from it. Well there are a few out there, most notably one in the “For Dummies” series. Many are geared toward children, and far too many (the prettiest and glossiest and the ones that are on top of the Google search for “Geology book”) are creation science books touting the 6,000 year-old Earth. *gasp*

This is in marked contrast to books on dinosaurs, for example, where you can choose from any number of great titles, written at a level accessible to both children and adults, all written by prominent authors and scholars. These books mix technical jargon with pretty pictures and fantastic facts that attract scholars at all levels. I myself have several of these books on my own shelves and refer to them when teaching about dinosaurs in my own classes.

So why don’t such books exist for the science of geology? Maybe because it is a very broad topic? Maybe because most geologists don’t consider promoting their science to the general populace necessary? Maybe because the average person thinks that there’s not much to geology, so a whole book devoted to it would be pointless.

Well, that last person is missing out on a fantastic science. A lot of people are. So I’ve decided to take on this project. And I think my personal style of writing and the use of this blog lend themselves to the greater project. My goals in doing this work are the same as they are when I teach “Introduction to the Geological Sciences”:

1) To leave the reader/student with basic knowledge that *wherever* they go, whether rocks are exposed or not, there will always be something geological for them to recognize and enjoy.

2) To turn the reader/student into an informed citizen. Far too often, geology is given short-shrift in the media, and the average person is entirely unaware that within geology are important answers to questions related to climate change or other environmental disasters (like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or last year’s earthquake in Japan). My goal is to demonstrate the relevance, so that when policy decisions must be made, people can choose appropriately.

The ‘book’ will be written section by section, topic by topic, where each section is sufficient for a single blog post. In the end, the book will be put together by stitching each of the sections together in the correct order.

This accomplishes two things. One, it lets me take my time writing the book. I can write a section or two a week, but a whole book in a year is a little daunting. Two, by using the blog it allows some peer review and more importantly, open access, which is a huge topic in the sciences these days. Read about it. Maybe I’ll blog about it. Eventually.

 

25 Days of Writing – Day 17

Day 17: Your character has fallen in love. With who? Is it serious? Are they in a relationship with this person? How did they meet? Write a scene of your character either contemplating this significant other or directly interacting with them.

——

Trey was overwhelmed. Each of his arms was gripped by at least two men. His sword was wrenched from his fingers. A blow came from behind and he dropped to his knees. His arms were pulled back painfully. He bent forward, trying to fold over and protect his exposed belly. The mail coif covering his head was torn off. It caught his ear and he felt his flesh tearing. A huge fist then gripped his hair and yanked him backward. He was forced onto his back, with his legs still bent beneath him. He felt his thigh muscles stretching. Firey agony radiated from the older stabbing wound to his leg.

He cried out, as he continued to struggle. He managed to twist his legs out from under his body, but was immediately restrained once he tried to push up with them. The weight of at least one man crashed down across his knees.

Trey cried out again. He heard the men laughing. He tried to pull his arms free and felt the sole of heavy boots crush his hands. Bones broke. He stopped fighting. Stillness surrounded him.

From afar, he heard the sounds of a sword fight, and the grunts of the opponents grappling in mortal battle. One of the fighters was a woman. It was Hanna. He could tell from her voice that she was struggling. He heard her cry out. Her opponent’s sword had met its mark. A couple more clangs of steel on steel and she screamed. There was a distant thud of a body falling. There was silence.

She was dead. Trey screamed for her. “Hanna!—” He was cut off by a sharp kick to the neck. He remained still for a moment, regaining his senses.

“And good riddance,” commented one of his attackers.

“His sword, my Lord,” another voice.

“A man of the Mark, aye? Is this true?”

Trey felt his hands being crushed further by heavy boots. The sleeve of his right arm was pushed up and his flesh twisted to expose the tattooed Mark on his forearm.

“Aye, indeed.”

Trey felt a boot stomping down on his hair. It pulled painfully. A slap came across his cheek. His eyes snapped open. A filthy grizzled old warrior bent over him, sneering. “Mark-bearer, aye? See? You are nothing.”

Trey renewed his efforts to escape the grasp of these men, but it was futile. He couldn’t move. Trey cried out in frustration and shut his eyes once more. He listened as the men moved around him, discussing his fate. His mind wandered to Hanna. He realized he was crying.

Hanna was gone. Really gone. She didn’t believe in the afterlife, so she was gone forever. Trey found himself praying. He prayed to God; he prayed to Rosaline. Please, take her in and keep her safe.

A kick in the ribs brought him back to his situation. The men stood over him and laughed. Trey’s eyes rolled. He would be dead soon as well. He must pray for his own deliverance.

But his mind traveled to Hanna again. He realized that he had wronged her. He treated her so badly. She had never done anything but care for him and he treated her like a dog. He had forced this situation upon her, and she had died. It was his fault. That was two women he had killed. Another cry escaped his lips.

Oh, to have the chance to make it right! She had trusted him. He had killed her. His tears flowed freely. He knew now that he had loved her for a while – maybe since the moment they had met. It all made sense to him now. He had held her that whole night after she killed the man of Falgarth and had discovered the plans for this battle. Of course! Why else would he have held her so? He had ignored his feelings, though. He blatantly refused to love her. He lied to himself and he treated her like garbage. He was worse to her than ever after that. Maybe.

He did give her that necklace, and the coins she needed for a new dress. His desire to do those things had surprised him. The clues were all there, but he denied them.

And now she was gone. He wanted her safe. He regretted dragging her into this war. But she served her duty. Valiantly. And she was dead. He killed her.

He prayed again. He prayed that he would see her in the afterlife. That she and Rose would know each other and be friends.

Suddenly, he could not breathe. A great weight was upon his chest. His eyes snapped open. The old warrior stood over him, with one foot firmly in the middle of Trey’s chest. The man held Trey’s own weapon, dangling it over Trey’s face.

“Too fine a weapon for the likes of you, boy,” grumbled the man. Then he laughed. The others around him laughed as well.

“Tis fitting that your own weapon shall be the one to kill you, aye?” laughed the man further.

Trey groaned and tried once again to pull away. It was to no avail.

“Let’s see here,” growled the man. He pressed the tip of Trey’s sword to Trey’s cheek. “Who do you belong to?” The man cut into Trey’s flesh, starting to carve out the letter ‘F.’ Trey jerked his head to the side. The blade cut his cheek to his ear.

“Damn!” exclaimed the man. “Hold him!”

Trey’s head was turned and held in place by a younger, brutish warrior. The old warrior began to carve into Trey’s other cheek. Trey lurched, and the blade slipped again, this time not just cutting into his own flesh, but into that of the man holding his head. A minor victory.

The old warrior pressed more of his weight onto Trey’s chest. Trey found he couldn’t breathe. The tip of the blade was pressed against Trey’s throat, just under his chin. “You die anyway boy,” the man growled.

Trey squeezed his eyes shut. He felt the blade digging into his neck. He knew that it was sharp enough that if the man simply let the weight of the sword press on his neck it would pierce his throat. He was dead.

His head swam. He searched for prayers but thought of Hanna. Please God!

“Please, don’t,” an angelic voice said. Trey cried loudly. In his mind he begged for swift passage into the next life.

“Please don’t kill him. I love him,” said the angel.

Those words echoed in his ears. He recognized the voice. It was Hanna. He was relieved. The weight on his chest lifted. He knew he was dead. But she was with him, and he was happy.

25 Days of Writing – Day 16

Day 16: Your character is going on a trip. Where to? Who with, if anyone? Why are they going on a trip? Write a scene of them either getting ready or departing on their journey.

——

Trey walked into Hanna’s chamber. Lord Dean sat with her, staring confused at the needle and thread he held in his hand. Hanna wore a weary smile. Trey felt his heart warm. It was good to see her smile. She looked up, noticing him in the doorway. She continued to smile, but behind her expression was pain. Trey smiled back, softly.

“Aye! Lord Trey!” exclaimed Dean. “Come you to relieve me of this struggle?” Dean held up the sewing he was attempting to do.

Hanna glanced over at Dean. “Real men can sew,” she muttered with a slight smile, then turned her attention to her own hands.

“Aye?!” roared Dean. “Then I am not a man!” He laughed loudly and was joined by Trey.

“We are only men by your graces, my darling,” said Trey. His smile faded. He bored heavy news.

“Aye Dean, I do bring you respite from your stitching,” Trey said. “His Majesty sends us to Taryn. We depart in the morning.”

“Taryn, my Lord?” asked Dean.

“Aye, Dean. Lady Marta has passed. Lord Donnal retires his seat to his eldest son and requests to spend his remaining days here in Herongarde serving his King. We travel to Taryn to deliver Donnal safely to his new home.”

Trey turned his gaze to Hanna. She was looking up at him, gaping in shock. “You must leave?” she whimpered.

Trey sighed. “His Majesty’s order is that I, Dean, Orrin, and Balayn travel to Taryn on the morrow and return as quickly as possible.”

Hanna looked away, tears filling her eyes.

Trey sat beside Hanna. “His Majesty also instructs,” Trey spoke softly into her ear, “that you should travel with us.”

Hanna turned and looked at him. “He does not make an order. It is your choice,” continued Trey. “However, should you travel with us, His Majesty does order that you carry your weapon, and serve Herongarde as you have in the past – with steel if needed.”

Hanna looked at Trey in silence. She was uncertain how to respond.

Dean moved awkwardly. He realized that he should probably leave. Hanna and Trey seemed quite oblivious to his presence. He stood and set the sewing he was holding onto the table. “My Lord. Hanna,” he said politely as he prepared to leave.

Trey looked up. “Aye Dean. Prepare for the journey.”

Dean bowed and left.

Trey turned his attention back to Hanna. She sat hunched over, with her face buried in her hands. “My darling?” he said to her. “It is with heavy heart that His Majesty gives this order.”

Hanna nodded.

“Lord Donnal is Rose’s Father, Hanna. We are kin.”

“I know, my Lord,” Hanna muttered.

“I would have you with me.”

Hanna sighed, and nodded again, turning to look at him. “Then I will travel with you, my Lord.”

Trey smiled faintly. “Please, my love. Call me Trey.”

“It has been a trial.”

“I know, love.” Trey paused. “You— You will travel with us?”

“Aye,” said Hanna “I will.”

Trey smiled, more broadly this time.

“My love,” whispered Hanna as Trey wrapped her in his arms. They sat in that embrace for a long time, sitting in silence, breathing in the scent of the other.

Shuffling in the hallway broke the silence. Their embrace broke and they straightened up to look at each other. Trey kissed Hanna softly on the lips.

Balayn cleared his throat. He was standing in the doorway. Trey looked up. “My Lord Balayn,” Trey greeted.

“Lord Trey. Hanna,” greeted Balayn in return. There was silence as the men looked at each other.

“Balayn,” said Trey, “Hanna will travel with us to Taryn.”

Balayn, bowed slightly and smiled. “Excellent, my Lord. We will enjoy her company.”

Trey nodded.

“I come to ask for how long of a journey I shall collect provisions? Also, I suppose, I might as how we might arrange camp?” asked Balayn.

“Ah, aye,” said Trey, still sitting with one arm around Hanna. “We will make haste on our travel there. I believe we can make the journey with only one night spent camping – though it would be wise to bring provision for two nights.” Trey turned and looked upon Hanna. “For sleeping, well I know not. Perhaps it best to conserve heat and all share a single tent.”

Hanna shrugged. She had spent many nights camped out, sharing bedding with Trey and Jason or Karrick, and most recently with the King himself. It didn’t bother her too much – as long as the men weren’t bothered.

Balayn nodded. “Aye. T’would seem most reasonable. I have spoken with Lord Orrin, but not Lord Dean.”

“I have informed Lord Dean of his duties myself,” said Trey.

“Excellent. Then we leave at first light, my Lord?”

“As soon as we can, Balayn.”

“Then I shall attend to the preparations, my Lord.”

“As should I,” said Trey. “And you, too,” Trey said to Hanna.

Balayn bowed. “My Lord,” he said, then he left.

Once again Trey turned his attention to Hanna. “Then gather your things, my dear.”

“I fear I may be ill prepared for cold weather,” Hanna said softly.

“Speak of this to my mother,” Trey said. “Surely, she can offer help.”

Hanna rose, then squatted beside the bed, reaching beneath it. “I guess I’ll need this,” she muttered as she withdrew her sword, in its scabbard attached to its belt, from under the bed.

“Aye, Hanna, you will need that,” said Trey. “I would that you would hang it proudly, rather than hide it shamefully.”

Hanna looked at the sword, drawing it partially from the scabbard. “I despise this thing,” she muttered. “And yet, I continue to bear it. It is like a sad addiction.” She sighed.

Trey stood up beside her. “You are a swordsman – er, swords-woman, I guess – but you are good and should bear this weapon proudly.”

Hanna shrugged. “Maybe one day.” Hanna set the sword on the table beside her sewing and scratched her head, looking at the disarray in her chamber. “What a mess,” she grumbled.

Trey came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders, leaning forward to speak into her ear. “Gather your things. Speak to Mother about preparations for the cold. Provisions will be gathered by Lord Balayn. You need not worry about that, aye?”

Hanna looked up at him over her shoulder, smiling slightly. “OK.”

“And polish that sword,” Trey said. “We will meet to ensure all is in order this night before we rest, aye?”

“Aye, my Lord.”

Trey frowned. Hanna smiled. “My love,” she said. “My Trey.”

Trey smiled. “My darling.” He kissed her then bowed deeply. He turned smartly and left, with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. She would come with them. He was happy.