Work in Progress: The Lady and the Sword, week 14

The end is near!

I’m halfway through the second to last chapter of The Lady and the Sword, so I’m calling it. Draft by the end of the week!

The Lady and the Sword
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 2

78653 / 85000 (92.53%)
I have to say, for the record, that I am never again writing a book that has a non-linear timeline. Margaret, Douglas and Mystere are linear — their timeline starts in book one, and will continue unbroken until book four. Roland, Olivier and Turpin are not linear — their timeline jumps, and it’s been interesting.  Especially since the Carolingian parts of The Lady and the Sword happen between the first two sections of Hidden Things. I keep having to go edit the scenes in book one to fit what happens in book two.  Thankfully, the Carolingian parts of Ashes and Light will happen directly before the final Carolingian section of Hidden Things.  I know that part of the story already, so most of the edits to book one have already happened.  (That being said, I just thought of something that needs tweaking.)

 

Okay, now for what may very well be the last excerpt:

***

Roland nodded. He looked up, seeing the torches on the walls of Pavia. “There are bathhouses in Pavia.”

“Probably, yes.”

“Think we could sneak into the city and visit one? I need a bath.” Roland glanced at Olivier, who was clearly trying not to laugh. “What?”

“Little things that I never understood about you before. Now that I know you better, they make perfect sense.” Olivier answered. “We can’t visit a bathhouse, but you can still bathe. The surgeons will probably insist on it. And I’ll help you shave, if you want.”

“What’s funny about bathing?”

Olivier looked around, then switched to silent conversation. “When you were telling me about running wild as a boy, you said that you remembered two things. You remembered being hungry and being dirty. Ever since I’ve met you, I’ve marveled at how much you can eat. You’re thin as an arrow, and you eat more than anyone I’ve ever seen. And you bathe more than my sister’s cats.”

Roland blinked. “I… I never connected them.”

“You probably wouldn’t. You’re inside it. You can’t see the whole of it.”

Roland looked away, trying to think of something else to say. “I… you have a sister? Who has cats?”

“Aude,” Olivier answered. “She’s six years younger than I am. And she has three cats.” He sighed. “At some point, I really should find her a husband.”

“Not me,” Roland answered quickly, and Olivier burst into laughter.

“If you’re certain?”

“I’m certain,” Roland said.

“Then not you,” Olivier agreed. “Although, I admit that I wouldn’t object to having you as a brother.”

Roland swallowed hard and smiled. “Thank you, Olivier.” He frowned looking down at the dirt as they walked. “I don’t know that I’m ever going to marry. A woman, I mean.”

“Do you even like women?”

Roland considered, then nodded. “I like everyone,” he said. “I prefer men, but I like women, too. I know Uncle wants me to marry at some point. I’m just… I don’t know. The idea is terrifying.” He looked around, then pitched his voice low. “Olivier, may I ask you a question?”

“Let’s get you bathed first.” Olivier stopped outside the bath tent and looked inside. “We’ve got it to ourselves. We can talk in private. Come on.”

“I’m going to need help,” Roland looked down at his left arm.

“I know. You don’t mind my help, do you?”

Roland smiled. “I’m glad of it.” He stayed quiet as Olivier helped him remove what remained of his clothes, helped him scrub dirt from his skin, listened to Olivier grumble over the multitude of scratches and bruises.

“You look like you fought with a thorn bush and lost,” Olivier said, wrapping a drying sheet around Roland’s waist.

“Sit down and I’ll comb your hair.”

“Thank you. And I think I did. With the thorn bush, I mean.” He sat down on a bench and closed his eyes as Olivier started working the comb through his hair. It felt just as good as when Turpin did it. “Olivier, may I ask that question now?”

The comb went still, then started again. “Of course.”

“You have sons— ”

The comb stopped again. “I don’t beat my children, Roland. I don’t hurt them. I don’t treat them the way Ganelon treats you.”

Roland turned around to face Olivier. “I wondered. I can’t see you ever hurting them. But you’re here, and not there. You’re not with them.”

“Even when I’m with them, I would never hurt them,” Olivier said. “Not my boys.” He frowned, then set the comb aside and straddled the bench, facing Roland. “Roland,” he said gently. “Not all fathers are like Ganelon. You’ve seen Charles with his children, haven’t you?”

Roland nodded. “Yes.”

“My sons, they mean the world to me. I would never hurt them. Charles is the same. Your father, your real father, I imagine he would have been like that.”

Roland shrugged his right shoulder, then winced. “I don’t know. I can’t know. And… that’s why I won’t marry, Olivier. I’m not going to do to any child what was done to me.”

“You wouldn’t,” Olivier said firmly. “Because you know what it’s like.”

Roland frowned. “Is it that easy?”

“Being a father isn’t easy, Roland.” Olivier smiled. “When they handed Aquilante to me the first time, I was terrified that I’d drop him! But I’d never change it.” He paused, then nodded. “The next time I go to Vienne, come with me. I want you to meet my boys. Meet Gismonda.”

Roland smiled slightly. “I’d like that.”

***

The other news this week happened over on Twitter. Months ago, I paid in to have the cover of Heart’s Master included in advertising at the Romance Times Convention, which was this past week. I’d forgotten all about the ad until I got an email from the president of my RWA chapter — my cover was one of two that had been deemed unfit for public consumption in the hotel, and had been censored.
Now, I wasn’t at RT, but Cecilia Tan was. So I texted her and told her what was going on. And, oh, what a can of worms that opened!
Things did resolve happily, however, and the ads were replaced by the next morning. I also had a lovely conversation with the general manager of the hotel, who fell all over himself apologizing for the mess. All’s well that ends well.
Upcoming plans — once this book is in the can, I’ll be proofreading The White Raven: Morrigan’s Heir so I can send that off to Circlet. Then I’ll proof this one and send it and the updated Hidden Things in to Forbidden Fiction (which just recently changed to Enspire Publishing).
And once those are in, I’ll spend the rest of the summer doing some worldbuilding for the Elemental thing. But for that, you’ll need to be following me over on Patreon.

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