Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Boar of Moray and the Pendragon face off in RAGING SEA Ch 8/Sc 1B #amwriting #Arthurverse

Graphic overlay (c)2015 by Kim Headlee.
As a writer of historically accurate fiction, especially when dealing with cultures vastly different than our own, I find it quite the tightrope act to balance that accuracy with creating characters with whom my audience can relate.

Case in point is the ancient Celtic culture, which by all reports was highly segregated along the gender divide, even to the point of living arrangements, and boys and girls being raised and trained separately. Had I portrayed the culture in those terms, I would have run the risk of depicting circumstances that today's reader might have found difficult to understand.

Instead I chose to use the "Brytoni" (British Celtic) culture as a vehicle to represent a society that in general is repressive of women, with certain notable exceptions, as a metaphor for the struggle women endure worldwide to this day.

Today's excerpt shows my two most notable exceptions in action, filtered through the perspective of Accolon, a man born and steeped in the male-centric traditions of his people and yet possessing the potential to rise above that hidebound thinking.

Previous excerpts of Raging Sea 
 Chapter 7: Sc 1 | Sc 2 | Sc 3 | Sc 4 | Sc 5a | Sc 5b |
Chapter 8: Sc 1a |

Raging Sea Chapter 8, Scene 1B
©2015 by Kim Headlee
All rights reserved.

An hour later, standing beside Urien’s immense chair on the dais of Dunadd’s hall as the Pendragon strode toward them with his mother and sister, Accolon had to force himself to keep his fists relaxed. Urien, to judge by the slow, rhythmic way his fingers were straightening and curling around the boar-headed knobs of his chair’s armrests, was fighting a similar battle—as were the Moray soldiers of Urien’s personal guard, arrayed at strategic points about the hall. The meeting with the Scotti contingent, a few minutes earlier, had progressed smoothly enough, and those men and their wives were being shown their quarters even now, but trust between former enemies was a hard prize to win in spite of what their leaders might wish.

Urien’s decision to permit the presence of his own mother, Lady Wreigdda, and the other Moray noblewomen for this meeting had to be helping to dispel some of the tension; fear-bred hostility was the last thing any man ever wanted to display in front of his woman.

Accolon hoped the women’s silent influence would prove to be enough.

“Chieftain Urien,” said Arthur’s mother with a short but graceful nod. The only reason her utterance didn’t cause all of Clan Moray fits of scandalized gasps was because everyone knew Ygraine was a chieftainess in her own right—and as such, she outranked her son, though he appeared to be burying whatever resentment he must feel regarding that vagary of his life’s circumstances. “We thank you—and your lady mother Wreigdda—for your most gracious invitation to your home.”

Wreigdda, standing foremost among the ladies clustered near the dais, her simple but elegant black gown embroidered with the Boar of Moray in gold thread but her plain widow’s headdress displaying a poignant reminder that she continued to mourn Dumarec, smiled and nodded her pleasure at Ygraine’s recognition.

Urien’s smile did not encompass his eyes. “You are ever well come to the Seat of Moray as a valued ally, Chieftainess Ygraine.” His gaze shifted and softened. “I thank you for this opportunity to strengthen our alliance through marriage to your daughter.”

Rising from the chair, Urien extended his hand, smile broadening. Morghe, her smile tinged with an emotion Accolon couldn’t quite identify and therefore didn’t trust, stepped forward to clasp it.

“And I’ll thank you to remember, Chieftain Urien,” Arthur said in a low, measured, dangerous tone, “whose protection Lady Morghe shall always enjoy, regardless of whom she marries.”

Ygraine shot Arthur a brief, annoyed glance. Morghe grinned.

Urien arched an eyebrow, giving the waist of his wife-to-be a squeeze, and she leaned into his embrace. “Ah, Lord Pendragon. A pleasure, as always.” The Chieftain of Clan Moray made a show of scanning the hall. “But it appears that you have forgotten to bring the woman you should be most concerned about protecting.” Of course Urien knew that Arthur had forgotten no one; the scouting report Accolon had read had been quite clear on that point, even though the chieftain’s orders had necessitated omission of the Scotti contingent should the report have fallen into other hands. Before anyone could react to Urien’s perceived threat, he ambled on with, “Where is Chieftainess Gyanhumara? Have you managed at last to saddle her at your hearth, where she belongs?”

Morghe’s grin widened.

“The Comitissa Britanniam,” Arthur said through clenched teeth, “is where she belongs: in the Add Valley at the base of Dunadd, setting up camp alongside her men.”

Ygraine touched Arthur’s arm, and his posture relaxed a little. “Gyanhumara appreciates your invitation too, Chieftain Urien,” she said. “But she did not wish to overburden your hospitality, what with so many . . . other guests lodged under your roof.”

Accolon didn’t miss Ygraine’s subtle emphasis; doubtless, Urien didn’t either.

“What my mother is too politic to ask, Urien, is why have you invited my former captors to be honored guests at our wedding?”

This time the hall did erupt into exclamations of scandal and shock—though Accolon couldn’t quite suppress the laugh that threatened to explode from the depths of his gut.

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