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

A good week, this. I can see the halfway point from here.

The Lady and the Sword
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 2

 I’ve jumped back in time again, so I’ve spent this week writing my favorite characters. The sheer amount of giddy enjoyment I get from Turpin, Roland and Olivier is probably illegal in my home state.

So here’s some of Turpin and Olivier. A few lines of this showed up in my Twitter feed this week.


He (Turpin) took his midday meal with Ganelon, who asked for him to take the time to discuss methods of more effective deployment for the scouting parties. That topic was never discussed — Ganelon spent the meat casting aspersions on his step-son, slandering Roland as a degenerate wastrel who was unworthy of the Archbishop’s tutelage, all the while promoting the virtues of his own son, Baudoin and all but insisting that Turpin cast Roland aside in favor of Baudoin. Turpin came away from the meal deeply disgusted, suffering with indigestion, and with the solid certainty that Ganelon would never see his step-son as anything more than a nuisance. Turpin made note to speak to Charles about his brother-in-law — perhaps there was a border province somewhere in Charles’ realm that would be a better use of Ganelon’s talents, or at least a place for him to spray his venom as far as possible from his intended victim. Someplace in Frisia, perhaps? No… no, Frisia was entirely too close to Aachen, and Turpin liked the villa at Aachen far too much.

He walked the perimeter of the camp, thinking of geography and borders, and how they might be able to convince the Pope that the mountains of the moon were within Charles’ realm, and were therefore a perfectly logical place to send Ganelon. He was mentally composing the letter when he reached his own tent, and almost tripped on Olivier.

“Oh!” Turpin stepped back and laughed. “Olivier, I apologize. I was thinking—”

“You were leagues away is what you were,” Olivier said. “What are you thinking about, to be paying no attention? That’s not like you.”

“Thinking about how we might go about annexing the mountains of the moon for Francia.”

Olivier blinked. “I… can you do that?”

“I’ve no idea,” Turpin admitted. “But I think it might be far enough away to send Ganelon.”

Olivier blinked again. Then he looked thoughtful. He frowned, then murmured, “Tartarus.”

“What?” Turpin gasped, suddenly colder than he’d been in a very long time. “What about Tartarus?”

“Hesiod said it would take nine days for an anvil that fell from Heaven to reach the Earth. And it would take nine more days to reach Tartarus. How fast does an anvil fall? Faster than a horse travels, I should think. Is that far enough?”

Turpin swallowed. “Far enough, certainly. But I’d not sentence anyone to Tartarus. Not even Ganelon.”

“Turpin?” Olivier sounded worried. “Are you all right? You’re very pale all of a sudden.”

“An ill wind,” Turpin answered. He looked around. “Where have you been all day?”

“Thinking. Trying to get my thoughts in order. What is it that Roland says? Chasing my next thought.” Olivier smiled slightly. “He was right, this morning. I’ve been being awful.”

“Come and dine with me,” Turpin said. “And we can talk about it. Have your thoughts given you a reason for your behavior?”

“I think I’m closer than I was,” Olivier admitted. “And if you hadn’t asked me, I’d have asked you. I already spoke to the cooks.”

Turpin nodded. “Then come inside. We’ll have something to drink, and we’ll talk. You haven’t told me about your family in ages.”

He led Olivier into the tent, going to the chest where he kept his personal stores of wine.

“Shouldn’t I be doing that?” Olivier asked.

“You should be sitting,” Turpin answered. “And tell me about how things are with Gismonda and the boys.” He picked up cups and took them and a flask to the table, sitting down facing Olivier. Olivier took the cup that Turpin offered and took a sip.

“They’re doing well. When we go back to Francia, I should go and visit them. She tells me that Aquilante is getting tall, that he’ll be a tall man when he’s grown.” He smiled. “He’ll be taller than me, I warrant.”

“Your father was tall, was he not?”

“He was,” Olivier agreed. “You met him, didn’t you?”

“Once or twice only,” Turpin said. He sipped his own wine. “Years back. You would have been a little boy. Aquilante’s age, I think.”

Olivier sniffed. “Master, how old are you? Really?”

Turpin chuckled. “Old enough that I’m not even certain myself. Old enough that I should know more than I do.”

“Do we ever know everything we should know?” Olivier asked.

“Oh, I like that question!” Turpin leaned back in his chair and took a drink. “That’s very good. One could argue that we never know all we should know, because how do we know what we don’t know?”

Olivier looked as if he wanted to answer. Then he stopped and frowned. “I think I haven’t had enough wine to answer that.”


There are times when the writing just flows from my fingertips. This has been that kind of week. Here’s hoping for another one — I’d like to see a completed draft by the end of June.

Let’s recap the words so far —

Nine weeks, 41, 743 words.
Average of 662.5 words a day. Call it 663 words. That’s low for me, but there was Spring Break in there.

It’s ten weeks until the end of June. 76 days. If I keep my numbers at 750 words a day or more, I’ll make that deadline.

In other news, I’m still thinking of that Elemental thing, but it’s back burner for a bit. I’m scribbling things down as I think of them, but it’s very low priority. Gee, I wonder why? (looks pointedly at the calendar….)


What do you think?

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