Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Adventures of Lisa and Watt, Chapter 2.1

Sorry about this post being closer to thursday than Wednesday. Give me a thre day weekend and i spend the next two weeks trying to remember what day of the week it is!

Ok, on to the story. This week's chunk is a re-posting from the last blog hop I participated in. If it looks familiar, that's why. I will say that I have done a few minor changes to it in the course of working on the story, but most of the changes involve me adding to the chapter, not rewriting the originally posted portion.


* * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 2

The troll sneezed and a wave of noise echoed through the valley like a peal of thunder, made more ominous by the fact the sky was a lovely, cloudless blue. Watt quickly ducked behind a large boulder and waited for the debris to clear—he had already learned the hard way not to stand in the open when the troll sneezed, lest he find himself covered in things best left unmentioned. Once he felt it was safe, he peered cautiously out from behind his shelter. The troll hadn’t moved. It was still sitting on a tree stump next to the only bridge across the River Tam that the spring rains hadn’t flooded out. Its presence effectively barred safe travel along Trader’s Road and cut off all commerce to Kernow.
“Tell me again,” he said with quiet dread, “Why, exactly are we doing this?”
“Because we want to eat,” came the reply form Lisa, the apprentice mage who had volunteered to accompany him on this damn fool mission. “Kampton hasn’t received any supplies in a fortnight, so there’s nothing to eat if you didn’t grow it yourself.”
“Yeah,” he said with a nod. “But why are we doing it?”
“Really, Watt,” she said with a huff. “You know why. The captain of the city guard said he had no need of another untrained soldier, but you were welcome to go try your hand at killing trolls.”
“And you volunteered to accompany me because your master kicked you out of his house after saying that he didn’t want to feed an apprentice that wasn’t any good,” Watt said, picking up the thread of her statement. “But why are we doing it, and not some gallant knight in shining armor or a fully trained wizard or something?”
“I’m a very good mage,” Lisa shot back hotly, ignoring the last few words and focusing on the easily debated portion. “I’m just not flashy, is all. I prefer to use one well-thought-out small magic rather than a huge spell that makes a lot of noise. It’s more efficient,” she added with a sniff.
“And about the small magic you promised,” Watt said. “What have you come up with? Or do you need me to get you even closer than this to figure out how to defeat that smelly lump of snot?”
“This is close enough,” she muttered. He turned and looked at her, just now realizing that she had been up to something while he kept an eye on their query.
“What are you doing?” he asked when he saw her grinding what looked like twigs and dirt into a handkerchief. He carefully peaked out to make sure the troll hadn’t moved since the last Earth-shattering sneeze—it hadn’t—before slipped back far enough to look over her shoulder.
“Spelling this cloth to ease his allergies,” she mumbled as she gathered the corners together into a pouch and shook the bundle vigorously.
“You’re making… a what? A white hankie of anti-doom? And I’m supposed to just walk up and offer it to the troll?” Watt asked incredulously.
“More or less,” she agreed cheerfully. Watt stared at the small blonde haired girl, flabbergasted, as she muttered a few magical phrases of gibberish before flinging the herbs out of the handkerchief with a dramatic flick of her wrist.
“There!” she said, handing the now dirty white hankie of anti-doom to him as if offering him the sword Excalibre.
He didn’t take it.
“Watt,” she said sternly.
“What?” he asked back, belatedly realizing how silly he sounded. Really, it wasn’t his fault that his name rhymed with ‘what.’
“Go give this cloth to the troll,” she said slowly, as if talking to a backwards child.
“Say I manage to get him to take your magic hankie,” he hedged, still not accepting the scrap of linen, “then what? The troll will still be blocking off access to the only passable bridge in the county. And it’ll probably still be sneezing since it’s a troll. Trolls don’t blow their noses, Lisa! It won’t even begin to understand what it’s supposed to do with the bloody thing!”
“Well, do you have a better idea?” she asked with a sneer.
“Yeah!” he huffed back at her. “Make me a potion of something that will turn him into stone when I dump it on him or something!”
“I’m sorry,” she snapped back. “I can’t do that kind of high magic. It would take a real wizard to do something like that and you haven’t got a wizard to help you. Just me, a level two apprentice mage.”
They sat there, crouched behind a boulder, glaring at each other while the troll sneezed and then sneezed again. As one, they realized that the second sneeze had sounded much closer than the first. Watt gulped nervously and peeked around the top of the boulder. The troll must have heard them bickering, because it had gotten up from its tree stump and was shambling their way, swinging its brutish head from side to side as it looked for them.
“Right then,” Watt said, reaching blindly behind him for the white hanky of anti-doom. “I need to find some way to get the troll to blow its nose.”
“Just get it onto the troll’s face so it covers his mouth and nose,” Lisa whispered as she shoved the hanky into his groping hand. “His breathing should be enough to get the spell into his sinus cavity, where it’ll go to work and end this bout of hay fever.”
“And then what?” he hissed. She shrugged once, looking terrified.
“I assume the troll will go on about his business once he’s not feeling so poorly. He doesn’t usually sit next to the bridge, after all.”
“Right,” Watt muttered. “Right, I’ll just slap the hanky over his nose and then somehow get him to retreat back under his bridge, where he belongs.”
“You might try tripping him when his face is covered with the hanky,” Lisa pointed out. “He looks pretty clumsy.”
Watt looked at her, realizing belatedly that she had moved up and was peering at the troll over the top of the boulder. She looked back at him and shrugged again.
“It can’t be that easy,” he said in awe. “If it were that easy, someone would have tried it by now.”
“Most people think big problems need bid solutions,” Lisa replied. “The fact is, that troll’s always been here, sleeping under that bridge and bothering nobody. We don’t need to get him to go away, just go back to sleep.”
“And since he’s sneezing, it’s probably just hay fever that woke him up,” Watt said back, finally seeing the brilliance of her plan. “White hanky of anti-doom, indeed!”
They grinned at each other and then ducked behind their impromptu shelter when the troll sneezed again.
“Here goes nothing,” Watt muttered before darting out from behind the boulder. “Oy! You, there!” he yelled at the troll.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Troll and The White Hanky of Anti-doom, chapter 1 part 2

Happy Wednesday, everyone! This week, we'll be meeting Lisa just as she meets WAtt for the first time. Like last week, I figured I'd give you a bit of an idea of what kind of clothes she would wear. Enjoy!

~ Rebecca


The Adventures of Lisa and Watt:

The Troll and the White Hanky of Anti-doom

Chapter 1, part 2

Lisa watched the large young man saunter away from the guard barracks, leaving the red-faced captain sputtering impotently. He was either very brave or very stupid, she thought. Or both. It wasn't unusual for young men to be brave in the face of their own stupidity.
Maybe not stupid after all, she reconsidered when he dropped his saucy grin as soon as he was out of sight of the barracks. She'd spent a good portion of her life in a household full of cock-sure fighting men who thought they were better than everyone else because they knew how to handle a blade. None of them would have dropped the swagger or the smirk like this young giant had. They would have worn them to their doom without ever realizing they were loosing. It also wasn't lost on her that he had almost a full battle kit, lacking only a battle horse and long sword, and it was neither new nor in ill repair. Had be been a complete fool, it would have been one or the other. Something told her that he may just be the ticket she was looking for to get out of this city before anyone realized she was there. She scrambled to catch up to him.
"Hello," she said after he ignored her walking beside him for several paces. He looked down at her—he was very tall and she wasn't, even compared to normal sized people—and nodded once, though he said nothing and didn't shorten his very long strides.
Lisa gulped when she got a good look at his face. He was older than she had assumed, twenty-five at least, and so perfectly featured that should would have called him beautiful rather than hansom. She had assumed he would be no older than her eighteen years because of his boyish features, but up close she could see the beginnings of crow's feet at the corners of his dark brown eyes.
It wasn't only his sweet features that made him look young at first glance, though. His short black hair stuck up in the very front and he had no whiskers. Up close, she could see the faint hints of his beard coming in, which meant he had shaved before presenting himself to the captain of the city guard. His face was uniformly tanned, telling her that he likely kept his chin clean shaven in the Norman fashion. The style had fallen out of favor after Longshank’s death, so she found it curious that a young Cornish man would follow the defunct fashion.
"Do you always keep your chin free of whiskers?" she asked and then cringed at the boldness of her question. She had always had a hard time not saying the first thing that popped into her head. He didn't seem to take offense, though, just glanced down at her again.
"I'm a blacksmith by training," he replied.
"I've known many smiths who wear a beard," she remarked off-handedly.
"And how many of those beards were patchy and scorched from flying slag?" he asked with a condescending frown.
"Um," she said, startled. "All of them, not that you mention it."
"I don't care to have parts of my body catching on fire, so I keep the whiskers shaved off."
"So why you are trying to soldier if you are a blacksmith?" she asked, genuinely curious now.
"Do I know you?" the young man asked, sounding annoyed.
"Not yet," she conceded. "But I hope to change that. My name's Lisa, by the way. What's yours?"
"Watt," he grunted.
"Yes, Watt."
"Fine, don't tell me then," she huffed. He shook his head, the smirk creeping across his full, sensual mouth. Her older sister Maud would be drooling by now if she caught sight of that mouth. Then she'd be trying to come up with ways to coax him into kissing her, Lisa mused. Maud had quite the roving eye, which had gotten her into several compromising situations in the past. Lisa was much more reserved when it came to the male persuasion, though she could definitely see the appeal of this one.
"My name is Watt," he said with wry amusement.
"Oh! Like Walter only shorter!" Lisa nodded once to herself, pleased to have remembered that interesting trait of the common folk. They almost never used the formal versions of their names. Sometimes they didn't have formal names at all. Their parents would give them the truncated version at birth. She herself wasn't formally named Lisa, but rather Lisette. Her childhood nurse had called her Lisa when she was too small to realize why it annoyed her mother, so that's what she had been calling herself since making a run for it several months ago.
"Yes, like Walter," the very tall young man said, shaking his head.
"Well, Walter, why are you trying to make a living as a soldier if you are trained as a blacksmith?"
"Like Walter, but not actually Walter," he corrected. "My name is Watt, and I'm a third son of a village blacksmith, which means there's nothing for me to inherit other than the skills me da could teach. Given the choice between marrying my way into an established smithy or working in someone else's, most likely my brother's once he inherits, I chose to soldier, instead."
"That's not all that different from my situation," Lisa said with false casualness. "I have some talent with magic but my family wanted me to marry a man three times my age and spend my days popping out babies and keeping his house. So I left home to find myself a master mage to apprentice myself to."
"That's nice," Watt observed laconically, clearly not interested in her story. It wasn't a lie, though, even if it wasn't exactly the whole truth.
"This morning, my master turned me out," she continued doggedly. "He said he wasn't making enough money off my skills to pay for my room and board. He tossed back what was left of the coin I'd paid for my apprenticeship and told me to find some other career to study."
"I take it you aren't very good, then," Watt said as he looked around the market square.
"I'm very good at somethings," she shot back huffily. "For instance, I can tell you that you won't find anyone selling provisions. There's no food to be had. That's the real reason I was turned out. And by the sounds of it, that's the real reason Captain Jarack turned you away, too."
"Part of it, anyway," Watt said, sparing her a quick frown. "That didn't exactly require skill, only a bit of observation. There are no merchants selling their wears in the market square."
"You'd be surprised how much the efficient application of magic relies on keen observation," she shot back at him.
"No, I wouldn't," he said in a wry voice. "Most things in life turn out better if you are paying attention. Is there a point to your rambling story?"
"The point I was trying to make is that we both seem to have the same problem, no readily available work. The answer to that problem is clear," Lisa said. "We need to get across the river, which is being troubled by a troll. I can't cross with just my magic and you can't vanquish the troll by yourself."
"So what are you suggesting?" he asked, though it was clear he knew what her point was.
"You get me close enough to the troll to see what the situation is and I'll give you a spell that will enable you to defeat it."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Troll and The White Hanky of Anti-doom, Chapter 1 part 1

Sorry about the late post. I have been dealing with sever book hangover and totally forgot that it was Wednesday, and that I had some post I needed to do, and that I really needed to stop moping. So seriously, yeah. That new Green Rider book my Kristen Britain is awesome in a slightly tradgec way. Anyway, the story.

Anyway, here's the first part of chapter one. It's too long to post all of chapter 1 in one blog post. With luck, I'll have a cover for it next week. In the mean time, I have included a picture of a typical medieval man-at-arms to give you an idea of what Watt 's armor looked like. Not exactly, but more or less. Enjoy!


Chapter 1, Part 1

This was the first day of his life as a hero, Watt thought as he made his way through the city market. He had his father's helm and mail, a very nice coat of plate to wear over it that he'd claimed from the body of a horse thief, a halberd he'd made himself, and a writ of recommendation from his father's overlord to get him through the door. In a matter of minutes, he'd present it to the captain of the Kampton City Guard, and then he wouldn't be the third son of a village blacksmith any longer. He'd be a real man-at-arms, serving in a real militia, living in a real city. Why, it wouldn't surprise him if he found himself knighted by the end of the year. Yes, his future was looking bright indeed.
The market was bustling with people, all of them noisy and moving like they had important places to go, so it took Watt several minutes to realize that he wasn't seeing anyone actually buying or selling anything. How odd, he thought. What kind of market didn't have merchants? Maybe this square wasn't the market, he rationalized. He'd never been to a city, after all. Maybe city markets were someplace other that the central square like they were in small hamlets. He shrugged off the thought and turned into the building marked "guard barracks".
"Name and business," the disinterested guard at the watch desk said in a nasal voice.
"Ah, my name is Watt, from South Umptonshire Village," he replied, turning the last bit into a question. The older man just stared at him, probably because he could care less where Watt hailed from. He flushed and hurried on, "My father's overlord sent me here with a writ of recommendation so I could joint the city guard."
"Captain!" the board guardsman bellowed over his shoulder, causing Watt jump at the unexpectedness of it. "We got us another bumpkin wanting a job!"
"Bumpkin?" Watt repeated, aghast. Granted, he didn't have any real military experience, just what he'd gained from helping out at his father's overlord's keep, but he was pretty sure bellowing at one's commanding officer wasn't very professional. Or appropriate. The lout hadn't even glanced at the writ that was being offered for his inspection.
"What of it?" a belligerent voice replied from a room behind the watch desk. "Send 'im away. I got no rations to feed another useless mouth and no patience to train up another bumpkin into something I do have a use for!"
"I wasn't aware that simply being from a smaller hamlet marked me an inexperienced bumpkin," Watt said darkly. "In fact, I have brought a recommendation from my previous lord to prove my worth, if only you'd look at it."
The sound of a wood chair protesting at being dragged over flagstone floors had both him and the insulant guard cringing. A moment later, the biggest, meanest, dirtiest man Watt had ever laid eyes on squeezed through the door of the back office. Watt eyed the man apprehensively for a moment before realizing the filthy state of the guard captain's clothes was not due to sloth but rather battle grime. He also realized that the big man didn't look hungover, but rather very tired, as if he'd not found his bed since the day before at least.
"Well then," the captain said once he'd gotten his considerable bulk into the front room. "Let's see these papers you're going on about."
Watt gulped as he handed the writ he'd been so very proud of a moment ago over. As the grizzled old warrior looked them over, Watt looked the captain over. That was one seriously huge man, bigger than even his father, who'd been blacksmithing since he was old enough to hold the tongs. Watt himself was a fairly large man, too, since he'd also been wielding the tongs since he was old enough to hold them.
The captain dwarfed them both in hight alone, but the man was also fat. Not the blubbery kind of fat lazy people managed to accumulate, either. He was swathed in the kind of hard fat that old warriors developed after decades of harsh living. His father always said that old warriors got that way because they'd learned to eat whenever they could, which translated into extra girth in peace times and extra armor during war. Judging by the state of him, the captain wasn't experiencing a period of peace right now.
“Any reason you just handed me yer mum’s shopping list, boy?” the captain growled after a moment. Watt just looked at him stunned for a moment, before narrowing his eyes. The captain wasn’t looking at him, only starring at the writ like he found it quite unusual.
“I take it you cannot read?” Watt said cautiously. Most people couldn’t, he knew, and those who managed to attain a high rank in life without learning tended to be very touchy about it.
“I can read,” the captain said, finally raising his appraising gaze to Watt. “And now I know you can, too. The captain slapped the papers back into Watt's chest. "You're not completely inexperienced and you have yer letters, but I still don't have the extra rations to feed you and you still need training in how to be a guard rather than a part time sheep chaser. I’m sorry lad, but I cannot use you."
"You do look as though you are in need of some men-at-arms, if you don't mind me saying so," Watt said defensively. He really didn't want to have to go back home and admit defeat. He'd made a bit of an ass of himself about making his own way in the world when his father had tried to marry him off to the daughter of a son-less smith a few villages over. If he couldn't find work here, he was doomed to marry Bertha, who was a good fifteen years older than him, and he knew it.
"You are not a man-at-arms, though, boy," the captain sneered. "You are a semi-educated bumpkin who chased a few petty criminals and now thinks to pass that off as something greater."
There were a dozen things Watt thought to say to that, but he voiced none of them. It wouldn't matter one way or another how witty his reply might be, the captain wasn't going to listen. He pursed his lips and nodded, saying nothing. It was something he'd seen his father do when confronted with irrationally hostile people, and it seemed to him that Father always came off looking better for simply pursing his lips, nodding, and walking away.
"And another thing, whelp," the giant said as Watt turned his back. He paused and simply waited, not turning back for fear the old warrior would realize he was bluffing. "Good luck finding work on this side of the river," the man continued. "There's not enough food to be had since the spring squalls swelled the rivers and washed out all the bridges except Troll's Gate."
"And woke the troll," muttered the desk guard mulishly. Watt frowned and turned his head to look at the two men. They were completely serious, he realized.
"I realize that a simple bumpkin like me has no where near your vast experience," he said slowly, realizing his snarky reply was a mistake but unable to stop himself. "Only, it seems to me that rolling in the mud with a troll isn't likely to vanquish it. But what do I know of such things. I'm nothing more than a part time sheep chaser trying to pass myself off as something greater." He faced forward and walked as calmly as he could out of the guardhouse and back out to the street beyond.
"If you're so bloody talented, why don't you go do something about the troll!" the captain roared at Watt's retreating back. Watt tossed a smirk back over his shoulder though he didn't feel the least bit superior at the moment.
"It seems I'll have to since there's no work on this side of the river no way to the other side without passing your friend."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Look, shinies!

Look, Shinies! Who wants a chance to win a mini iPad loaded up with lots of great audio books?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Anyone Up For A Blog Serial?

I promised it a month ago. And then I said by the end of April. We are now a week into May and "The Troll and The Which Hanky of Anti-doom" is still not self-pub'd. I do have a reason, even if it's not a good excuse: I couldn't decide if I should release the mere 15,000 word shorty that I started out with, or if I should release all of it. Because Lisa and Watt were not done whispering in my ear about their adventures!

After several weeks of dithering, I have decided to release it one chapter at a time as a blog serial. I have a good ten chapters spanning one whole story line about the troll and another storyline I'm tentatively calling "The Legend of The Oakman." Once I have all of the Troll and the white Hanky of Anti-doom up on the blog, I'll release it in one volume and work my way on through whatever adventures Lisa and Watt decide to have from there. This will also give me time to figure out what to do about a cover.

Here's how I'll do it. I'll post each new chapter on Wednesdays, starting today, as a regular blog post and label it both as a Lisa and Watt adventure and I'll also mark each story bit as belonging to what story. I'm also going to make a page that will link directly to the chapters so you can read them in chronological order. How does that sound? Good? Excellent. Here's the prolog:

* * * * * * * * * *

The White Hankie of Anti-Doom

A word or two from the author:

I will solemnly admit to playing loosy-goosey with my Norman-Britton history in this story. For those who are bothered by such things, I am sorry. It’s my story and if I want the Welsh and Scotts beat Longshanks, I can do that. This, by the way, is set in Cornwall towards the end of the 13th century. Some of the names and places are not accurate because I changed them to suit my own needs. I hope you enjoy it anyway.


Sir Cuthbert de Grey was sitting in for Baron Amesbury during the regularly scheduled Wednesday public audience, which would be how he found himself listening to a great, fat, red-faced merchant babble about unpassable bridges and spoiled food stuffs. His lord was currently in the capitol, answering an equally insistent summons from Robert Plantagenet, Prince of Cornwall, who happened to be the baron’s overlord and also half-great nephew once removed to the late Edward Longshanks.
The last five years had not been overly comfortable for the remaining Normans after William Wallace beat Longshanks at Falkirk and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd successfully ambushed and killed the hated king during his hasty retreat from the Scotland.  Whereas most Normans had been killed or run off their lands, Robert of Cornwall had hung on to most of his through sheer tenacity and meanness. Baron Amesbury and his men were in Cornwall by invitation of Robert to replace one of the nobles killed defending his territory. Thanks to Robert, they still had a place to belong rather than being driven into the sea like most of their brethren had been. So when Robert of Cornwall summoned his lords, they responded with haste.
This of course left Sir Cuthbert listening to merchants’ demands that he rebuild flooded out roads and bridges at once so they could get their goods to market before they all rotted.
“Correct me if I am wrong,” Sir Cuthbert said, interrupting a particularly vivid description of the smell of rotting rutabagas, “but Troll’s Gate Bridge is still passable, yes?”
“It’s still standing, yes,” the merchant muttered begrudgingly. “But it’s not passable. The trolls’ woke up and no one can get across it. All the other bridges are flooded out or completely washed away, and so are most of the river roads.”
“Then it would seem to me that the way to remedy this situation would be to take care of the troll, yes? That would open at least one route into the Lower Peninsula and allow trade to resume whilst we wait for the spring run off to abate.”
“Aye, that would work, Sir Cuthbert. But the Kampton City Guard has been trying to do something about the troll this past fortnight. We seen them running attacks against the beast from the safety of the northern bank, but every sally failed.”
“I shall see what I can do about this monster, then,” Cuthbert said, dismissing the merchant with a wave of his hand. At last, something to do other than listen to idle men whine about their idle problems, he thought to himself as the merchant waddled off. Trolls were by far more palatable, if somewhat more difficult.