Work in Progress: Ashes and Light, Week 1

Ashes and Light
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 3

7212 / 85000 (8.48%)
Not bad for a first week. I hadn’t realized that I was missing Margaret and Douglas until I dove back into their world. two chapters in, not sure how many more are to come.


There was also over 6K words written on Heir to the Firstborn, which is humming along nicely. I just dropped my first mountain on my MC. It’s a little one. There are bigger ones to come. (teehee — for mine is an evil writer laugh!)


I do have to say I’m enjoying having more time to write. And working on two projects at the same time isn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. Which is good, because I am really enjoying both projects, and I don’t want to have to put one aside to focus on the other. Now, having said that, I will probably put Heir on hold when I get my next set of edits in. Two projects at once is going well. Two projects and edits might be too much. We’ll see.


Now, I did the last couple of book tracking posts with excerpts.  So I should do excerpts for this one, too.  Here’s the beginning of chapter one of Ashes and Light:


Mid-August, and the Season was over for the year. The worst of the summer heat was passing, and the worst of the London crowds had retreated to country estates, not to be seen again in London until February. Not that Margaret cared much about the Season. She’d never been of that level of society, where social connections and rank were considered paramount. Being studied and judged, like a butterfly pinned to a card, made her deeply uncomfortable. Going to the theatre, or the Opera, to dinner parties or balls or any of the other normal evening diversions were, in her mind, poor choices when compared to staying at home and exploring what Douglas had called her belated morning-gift — the extensive library that he and Yael Mystere had accumulated over the years in the London townhouse that Margaret now shared with her husband.


The only thing better would have been if Mystere had been there to share it with them.


Margaret sighed and glanced up and down the street before crossing to the far side. It had been four months since they’d last seen Mystere. Four  months without any word, any signs that he lived. Knowing what she now knew about him, about Douglas, and the life that she’d once shared with them so many years ago, she doubted that he was dead. Especially since death was something that Mystere seemed to recover from remarkably well. But having him disappear like this had gone from puzzling to alarming to terrifying — where was he? He’d told them that the next sword — his own sword, Almace — was here in London. He’d sent them ahead, promised to follow them. But he hadn’t, and it had been four months.


Margaret stopped and resettled the long strap of her satchel on her shoulder. Usually, the duties of the lady of the house included paying calls in an afternoon, making the endless social rounds of forced niceties and simpering conversations about who was doing what with whom, and the shocking prices of whatever the delicacy of the moment might be. Douglas had introduced her to several of his colleagues at the hospital, and to their wives. She could very well call on them, if she was so inclined. But today was Friday, and many of those wives were assisting in their husband’s clinics today. It would hardly do to show up at their doors and expected to be entertained.


So, on Fridays, Margaret paid no social calls. Instead, she paid intellectual ones — visiting the Reading Room of the British Museum, searching through antique bookstores, trying to find any reference that she could on the Wardens. On the swords. On where Mystere could possibly have hidden Almace. The sword was in holy ground, Mystere had told them. It was a starting point, and one that had left Margaret dizzy with the discovery of just how many places within the borders of London could be considered holy ground. Still, she researched, and every false trail, every failed turn only strengthened her determination to tease loose the strands of the puzzle that Mystere had left them with. Caedda and his quest to possess all four swords was never far from her thoughts, making her work all that more urgent. Inside her satchel were copies of her notes, written in a amalgam of Old High German, Old Low Franconian, both East and West, Latin, Greek and Aramaic, which she had then forced through a filter of Pittman shorthand. Perhaps Mystere could have puzzled them out, but she was certain in her bones that no one else would be able to. And she wasn’t entirely certain that Mystere knew Pittman shorthand.


Those notes documented the locations of every square inch of holy ground that existed inside the boundaries of London of a thousand years before, collected from maps and tax records and entries in countless diaries. Every Friday, she added to that list — perhaps one, perhaps six, which she then added to the map that was locked away in the workroom that she shared with Douglas. And every Saturday, she and Douglas went searching, hunting for those locations, hoping against hope that this time, they would find Almace.


Four months of searching, and all for naught. There were no traces of Almace. And still, no traces of Yael Mystere.
She turned from Westmoreland Street onto Wheatley, and crossed the quiet street toward Wesley and home. As she turned the corner, she stopped.


There was someone sitting on the steps of the townhouse.


No. No, that wasn’t right. There was a small figure slumped on the steps of the townhouse. And even from this distance, she could see the growing stain beneath them.


Douglas, there’s someone bleeding out on the steps!

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