Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Round Table is born in RAGING SEA Ch 7/Sc 1 #amwriting #Arthurverse

Graphic overlay (c)2015 by Kim Headlee.
Last month I reached a decision about my writing that has been uncharacteristically long in coming. Those who know me know that I am quick to analyze the facts and set upon a course of action. 

After much debate—mostly with myself—I have decided to release Raging Sea in novella-size sections to keep supplying fans of my work with fresh content while I continue to wrangle with Angusel and the other viewpoint characters into sharing the rest of their story with me. 

After a heckuva lot more internal debate, I have decided to release these installments solely on Kindle (and therefore also via Kindle Unlimited) until the full-length novel is ready for publication.

Part 1 of Raging Sea is subtitled Reckonings and will consist of the first six chapters of the parent novel, around 25K words. As with all my work, it will be professionally edited and will feature a fantastic cover by Natasha Brown of Fostering Success, one of BookBub's favorite resources for book cover design.

Beginning today, I will no longer include links to past blog posts for excerpts in chapters 1-6, though for a while longer you may still find them by searching The Maze for the keyword phrase "Raging Sea". Next week I will begin building a new "past excerpts" section, starting with today's post.

Speaking of today's post, I need to give some background about its title:

The vast majority of the 25,000 (give or take) adaptations of the Arthurian Legends throughout the centuries refer to the Round Table as a physical (if preposterously proportioned and constructed) piece of furniture. Those of you who are familiar with my earlier novels Dawnflight and Morning's Journey won't be surprised to see me redecorate "Camelot" with something other than a table. :D

Raging Sea Chapter 7, Scene 1
©2015 by Kim Headlee
All rights reserved.

THE PARADE VIEWING area at Caer Lugubalion was awash with color, the earthy, plain-spun robes and tunics and cloaks and caps of the clergy and common folk forming the vast majority, interspersed with ripples of the saffrons and woads and crimsons and purples sported by the wealthier visitors. Men and women selling meat, bread, and drink circulated among them like little eddies in the human current.

The crowd’s size appeared just as large to Gawain as that of Uncle Arthur’s wedding to Aunt Gyan, and it also included his parents and younger siblings, his aunt Morghe, his grandmother Chieftainess Ygraine, other Brytoni and Caledonian rulers and their families and retinues, high-ranking clergy members, and other worthies. He felt his chest swell with pride—and not just because he was now commanding Sixth Ala’s Fifth Turma.

His horse Arddwyn fidgeted as they awaited the signal that would start their part of the procession. He tightened his grip upon the reins and adjusted his cloak, as ordered prior to the parade’s commencement, to conceal the rest of his new uniform.

First the infantry cohorts had to finish marching onto the field, complete a circuit of the parade ground, and come to a halt encircling the perimeter, leaving an avenue for the day’s central attraction, bisected by a shorter avenue leading to the viewing platform. This would not be a typical parade, starting with the fact that Uncle Arthur and Aunt Gyan were not leading it. General Cai had led the infantry cohorts onto the parade ground while Arthur and Gyan waited at the end of the line with Uncle Peredur and the rest of the Horse Cohort. Gawain squinted to make out the gold-tipped crests—Gyan’s blue and Arthur’s red—of their parade helmets from his place with Sixth Ala, five alae behind where they sat mounted with the First.

Arddwyn snorted, wrestled with the bit again, and pawed the ground. Gawain calmed him with a whispered word and a pat, though he sympathized with his warhorse. Every soldier at the fortress had been drilling for—and grumbling about—this day for the past week, though he for one had been glad of the practice, since he would be part of the primary deviation from the traditional sequence of events.

The last infantry cohort marched to its place and halted. General Cai shouted the order for all units to face the long aisle; another deviation, since the troops usually faced the viewing platform.

First Ala’s signifer raised his unit’s banner, prompting the signifers of the remaining alae to do the same. A horn blew, the banners canted forward, and the Horse Cohort surged ahead. They guided their horses between the infantry units down the long aisle, and maneuvered them to face the platform before halting. By the time Gawain’s unit reached the aisle, he saw that Arthur, Gyan, and Peredur had already split from the Horse Cohort to ride partway down the bisecting aisle, and they were turned to watch the entrance of the rest of the horsemen. A fourth, Centurion Bohort, accompanied them carrying a furled blue banner. When the last ala—the Eighth—had completed its maneuvers and had halted, the four commanders wheeled their mounts to face the platform.

“On this day my sister, the Lady Morghe, departs for her wedding to Chieftain Urien of Clan Moray of Dalriada,” Arthur began, pitching his voice as though on a battlefield. This announcement prompted cheers from the crowd, and many heads swiveled toward Morghe where she sat on the viewing platform, though the soldiers remained stone-still as they’d been ordered to do from the first moment of the first day of drills. “In honor of this auspicious occasion, the Comitissa Britanniam has created a special cavalry unit.”

At Arthur’s nod, Gyan said in her Caledonian-accented but excellent Latin, “This unit contains the best horse warriors of the legion. By this time next year it will be a full ala, and the Pendragon and I will host annual cavalry competitions as needed to replace members. Since the unit’s first duty is to escort Lady Morghe and her party, Tribune Peredur mac Hymar, prefect of the Horse Cohort, will serve as temporary commander.” She gave her brother a brief smile.

Centurion Bohort raised the new unit’s standard: a dark blue dragon on a gold field.

“Comites Praetorii,” shouted Peredur, “front and center!”

Gawain bit the insides of his lips to prevent a grin from spreading across his face as he flung back his cloak and nudged Arddwyn out of formation, joining the other twoscore and two men riding at a slow canter around the Horse Cohort to the crowd’s sustained roar.

His inward grin died as he passed First Ala and saw Angusel mounted beside that unit’s commander, Centurion Cato. Angusel was wearing a bronze Phalera Draconis identical to Gawain’s, and for the identical reason. That disc might proclaim he and the whelp as being part of a military brotherhood more exclusive than the new squad with which Gawain was affiliated, but there was no way on this side of hell that he’d ever acknowledge such a kinship. Gawain steeled himself against the disgust that threatened to shudder through his soul; this day belonged to Gawain’s kin by blood and by marriage, and hatred deserved no place here.

From the corner of his eye he saw Angusel glance down and away, and Gawain felt his heart give a short, odd lurch.


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