Work in Progress: The Lady and the Sword, Week Six

My word counter broke.  I went to go and grab the code so I could update it, and discovered that the site where the image originates is gone. I’ve been using that word count code for practically my entire novel writing career.

Time for a change, I suppose.

The Lady and the Sword
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 2

26953 / 100000 (26.95%)

Official a quarter of a novel, and things are coming along nicely. This past week was a little slow, because of Spring Break, but we go back to school tomorrow, and my wordcount will go back up accordingly.

My brain tried to feed me a new plotbunny this week, and I’ve been successful in telling it to knock that off, I’m busy. But I’m going to have to file that one, once I can figure out what the story is. All I have are a couple of characters, a watercat named Melody and a firemouse named Trinket.

Yes, I had those two first, if you’re interested.

In other news, I found out this week that I’ll be a guest at Necronomicon in Tampa in October. I’m looking forward to that — I’m always been meaning to get to that convention, but it’s never worked out.

Right. let’s have an excerpt:

“What did you do?” Mystere asked as Douglas came out into the sitting room. “Are you coming up with original spells?”

“I needed to get Margaret into bed. Which meant undressing her without waking her. So, I made her float.” Douglas dragged the other chair over to face Mystere. “Now, it’s your turn. Strip. I want to see how badly you’re hurt.”

“Very nice. Very smooth usage of power, as well. And yet you still insist you’re a piss-poor mage?” Mystere sipped his brandy slowly. “Never mind me. I’ll be fine, Doogie.”

“Yael,” Douglas growled. “Take your damned clothes off.”

Mystere looked at him, and grinned. “Oh, Doogie. You have a way with your lovers, don’t you?” He drank some more brandy, then stood up and took his topcoat off. “Part of my problem is that I’ve forgotten, I think, how to deal with multiple opponents. It’s been a very long time since I’ve done so magically.” He took off his waistcoat, then tossed down his braces and starting undoing the buttons on his shirt. “I haven’t looked myself, to be honest,” he said as the shirt joined his waistcoat. “I haven’t had the privacy.”

“Where have you been sleeping, then?” Douglas asked. “Or have you not been?”

Mystere smiled slightly. “I’ve been running on my old habits, I’m afraid,” he said. “I know you don’t approve.”

“It’s unnatural, to go without sleep for days at a time,” Douglas said. “I know you can, but you always pay for it later. You have to sleep.”

“I think I’m paying for it now,” Mystere said with a groan. He sat down and took off his boots, then rose once more and shoved his trousers down. “To the skin, Doogie?”

“Yes, I want to see how badly you’re hurt. Once I’m done, if you want to get clean, there’s a nice standing shower. I’ve heard of them, but this is the first I’ve tried, and I like it. I want one for the townhouse,” Douglas said. “And there’s a good, deep tub.”

“I might take you up on the both of those.” A few minutes later, Mystere was stripped naked, and Douglas could see how much weight he’d lost, which only made the bruises and welts that crossed his skin that much more prominent. He winced as Mystere turned in a slow circle.

“Yael, you look as if you lost a fight with a train!”

“Honestly, Doogie, I feel that way.” Mystere looked down at himself. “It was a mistake to come here alone.”

Douglas rose. He rested his hand gently on Mystere’s shoulder and peered at the worst of the welts, parallel stripes that looked like the marks of a whip. “Why did you?” he asked. “Why leave us behind?”

Mystere sighed. “I had two reasons, really. The first was because I thought it would be good for you both to have some privacy. What I told you in Aachen. You deserved to have something of a honeymoon.”

“Which we have had, when we weren’t worrying about you,” Douglas said. He ran a gently finger over a bruise, saw Mystere wince. “Does it hurt to breathe or laugh?”

“I’ve not been doing much laughing since I left you. And no. I think it’s a deep bruise only. No broken ribs.”

“No, but perhaps bruised ones. We’ll treat it the same. What was the other reason?”

Mystere turned to face him, and Douglas straightened. “I needed time,” Mystere said softly. “To absorb this. I wasn’t ready. Honestly, I don’t know how I could have been ready. I was surprised enough, to find you. Having the both of you return to me, it was something I’d never even considered. And to find out that you could regain your memories, that you should remember our first lives together, and our first love, as I do? That was… I needed some time to believe that. I made a horrible mistake in leaving you. I’m sorry.”

Douglas sighed. “It’s done. I accept the apology, and I forgive you. You had good reasons.” He looked Mystere up and down, then leaned down and kissed him gently. “You’re far too thin. You haven’t been sleeping. You haven’t been eating, either. Have you?”

“Not so you would notice,” Mystere admitted. “I’ve gone practically feral. I’ll have that shower. Then perhaps a soak. Could you order up a light supper for me, do you think? You know what I prefer.”

“Of course. I’ll ring while you’re in the bath. Enough for all of us — we haven’t eaten either.” He rose and held out his arm. “Come on. I don’t want you to fall again.”

Mystere scowled at him. “I won’t. I overexerted myself with the portal. That’s all.”

“Sounds to me as if you’ve been doing that since you got here. Not sleeping, not eating. Living in the clothes you left us wearing. I should burn those. You shouldn’t have left us, Yael.”

“No, I shouldn’t have,” Mystere agreed. “I need you. I need you both. And I missed you both.”

Douglas escorted Mystere into the bath, where Mystere coughed. “That’s a standing shower? It looks like a cage.”

“The water comes at you from all sides,” Douglas said. “And from above. Did you decide anything?”

“What?” Mystere looked up from where he was looking at the knobs in the shower enclosure. “Decide anything about what?”

“You went away so you could settle your brain on what had happened. Any insights on why this is happening now?”

Mystere nodded slowly. “Show me how to use this. Is the water cold?”

“Warm,” Douglas answered. “Stand inside.”

Mystere arched an eyebrow, then moved into the shower enclosure. Douglas started the water running, setting the temperature. Then he pulled the curtain around so that Mystere was hidden from view. “Now turn that middle knob.”

There was a squeak, then a yelp as Mystere was doused with water from all directions. “Can I make the water warmer?” he called.

“Turn the left hand knob.”

A moment later, Douglas heard a sigh. “Oh, there’s something to this after all. Yes. I did.” The curtain twitched, and Mystere peered out. “I’m of two minds.”

“Well?” Douglas asked. Mystere disappeared back into the shower.

“First? I don’t care why. What I told you in Aachen? That’s still true. I have you both back in my life, and I don’t care for the reasons.”

“And what’s the second?” Douglas asked.

“The second,” Mystere repeated. There was a long silence. “The second has me terrified to my bones.”

“Yael?”

“For a thousand years, there’s been no need for a Warden. For a thousand years, whatever the Wardens were created to guard the world from has been gone. Now, it’s back. And now…” He looked out from the curtain again. “Now whatever it is, it’s coming, and it’s coming very soon. There can be no other reason.”

“Reason?” Douglas asked. “Reason for what?”

“Normally, I’d find the Wardens when they reached maturity, and I’d train them from the beginning, from the time that their gifts awoke. From their infancy, as it were. There was time. There was always time, because there were always older Wardens to guard while I trained the young. Now… something is coming, and there’s no time to train a new Warden from infancy. Something is coming, and the threat of it is enough for the Almighty to drag from their well-deserved rest in Paradise two of the finest Wardens I have ever trained, and have them reborn with their memories obscured but intact.” The water turned off, and Mystere opened the curtain. “That, Doogie, is what terrifies me.”

What do you think?

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