So I’ve been working on creating a world for a fantasy novel, I’ve got the bones and muscle of this place created and now I need to get to the meat and actually write. I used to be in a writing group and miss the feedback and writing tips I used to get so bear with me.
I will also be posting the music I was listening to, so that when I go back and edit later I can try to use the songs to get back in that headspace.
Music- Philip Wesley- Dark Night Of The Soul and Dan Gibson – Cool Forest Rain
The corners of the room were cast into deep shadows, the glass lantern creating a warm pool of light over a round table in the center of the room. A design had been etched into the glass, twining clover and fat striped bees on two sides and a geometric honeycomb design on the other two. The design had been created just for the tavern, by a glass-wright friend of the owners. The Bee’s Bonnet tavern had four of these above the bar and two outside the doors to welcome guests. Although it was early evening and the public room below was certainly full of patrons, very little sound filtered up the stairs to the living quarters above. The owner of the Bonnet, Vittoria, had married the master carpenter who’d designed and overseen the building of the place. It was well insulated above for dampening the sound of rowdy patrons late into the night.
The three figures sitting at the dining table were silent for a long while, the light of the single flame wavering and flickering across their faces. Marten, a slim and narrow faced man of average height steepled his fingers before his thin lips and tapped his thumbs against his chin thoughtfully. His light brown hair shone beneath the lamp and caught hints of gold and brown in a glowing nimbus around his head. One hand was heavily bandaged, blood staining the white linen wrap with a wide reddish brown streak across the palm. His heavy black coat hung on a peg by the door, and the rest of his clothing was much the same. His black linen trousers were reinforced at the knees with stiff leather, and his tunic was the same at the elbows and shoulders. The weight of a knife in a plain sheath and wrapped in more of the stiff leather at the hilt seemed heavier than ever as he rubbed the plain pommel absently. He wasn’t much of one for sighing but he felt one rise in his throat anyway and swallowed it back down.
A small sharp knife in one hand and a block of wood in the other his brother made almost no sound as he carved; the sharp flat blade shaved curls of wood from the block that fell away into a small pile growing on the table. Three finished knobs rested by his elbow, meant for the front of a set of drawers. They were elaborate, and other tinier carving implements stood ready at his elbow to incise the finer details into the design. His heavy dark brows knitted beneath a tightly curled mop of hair. Marten’s aquiline nose was mirrored in Malcolm’s face, although it suited the carver better with his broad wholesome countenance. He had a full lower lip that some had said made him look romantic for all that he was not particularly handsome. Though he was nearly 7 years younger, he was much taller and broader in the shoulder than his brother; but both shared the same blue-gray eyes.
“This is certainly the oddest story you’ve told me.” The woodcarver intoned in a wry voice. “And I’ve been hearing your wild tales since I was old enough to understand what you had to do to get me my apprenticeship and keep us both fed.
“I’m sure there have been stranger tales, most of them even true.” the paler man answered blandly, unlacing his fingers and running his unbandaged hand down his face. “ Either way this one is the unvarnished truth. I’ve had more difficult jobs,” He winced as Vittoria smacked his injured arm with the back of her hand. Her dark face fairly glowed with annoyance. “You know what I mean Vi!” he said defensively. “I was going to say that this one was one of the hard ones alright?”
“Then stop being so… so blasé about it.” she huffed. Her handsome face was tear streaked. “If I had known the sort of things you get up to before I married your brother I might not have.” she added. Then betrayed that remark by leaning into her husband’s side for comfort. He lay down his knife and wrapped an arm around her shoulder for a moment.
Marten’s eye caught upon the cuff of his shirt sleeve and he winced. Three drops of dried blood had stained it. Undoing the buttons, he rolled both sleeves to his elbow to hide it. His mind drifted back to the morning. So few choices and none of them particularly good ones. Thoughts and emotions ticked away in his brain, with none of them showing on his face; his expression was carefully schooled to an unassuming attentiveness as his brother picked up his tools and continued his work. The sound of the blade slicing through the paper thin layers of wood made a subtle sound that reminded him of his childhood in some obscure fashion. He couldn’t remember his father ever carving wood, but much of the idyllic parts of his childhood were hazy and insubstantial in the face of the harder times.
Vittoria had seemingly calmed, her head pillowed on her arms. She looked up at Marten with an accusing gaze, obviously she wasn’t done with him, “And why would you take that kind of job in the first place?” she hissed in a low voice heavy with emotion. “What in the world possessed you Marten?!” her hands clenched where they lay before her, ocher painted nails leaving small crescent marks across her dusky palms Vittoria’s dark eyes snapped at them beneath curved brows; dark auburn curls spilling across high cheekbones a few shades darker than fresh cinnamon. Her sensuous plum colored mouth was set in a tremulous scowl. Ordinarily Marten’s sister in law had very little to say about the occupation and life choices of her husband’s brother. If she had been in fact scandalized he thought she would have mentioned it before. It was not as if he or her husband had hidden it from her; both had known that secrets were better kept from the public rather than family because secrets hidden from kin usually ended by blowing up in one’s face.
She stood and turned her back on her brother-in-law, stalked across the room and twitched the curtain slightly to look out into the rain-shrouded evening. After a moment she turned back and began to pace, her slippered feet slapping against the smooth polished floor made no sound at all as she reached the carpet beneath the table, then quietly padded back the other way.
“If I hadn’t, they would have found someone else to do it and killed me to keep their plans a secret.” He whispered back calmly. “Not to mention that they had already paid the Keeper his half of the fee.” he muttered mostly to himself. He shook his head and the annoyance that bloomed on his face slipped away like a mask to be replaced by his usual grim resolve. “If I had said ‘No I will not do this thing’ like some fellow in a tale who turns away from his dark past and joins up with the noble hero; there is no doubt they would have killed me then and there and the target would still have been killed and some guard would be made a captain and be hailed as a tragic hero right now, having exacted vengeance upon the foul killer.” He couldn’t keep his mouth from twisting in a sneer. It would be like some dreadful storyteller’s idea of a good ending for an assassin. “I could just see it too, cried at the corners by the boys who hawked newspapers and his face illustrated badly to make him ever more a villain on every front page.” He balled his hand into a fist and hid his wince as his wound reopened and bled afresh.
“With the duke dead and his wife pregnant with a legitimate heir I am really not certain how she is going to keep herself from looking like the villain.” Marten muttered, once again lacing his fingers before his mouth. The smell of blood under his nose, while not unfamiliar, unsettled him for some reason. He tapped his bottom lip gently. “Everyone knew that Tian was not a legitimate heir, and bless Duke Argenne for never pretending she was.”
Malcolm sighed, placing wood and carving knife softly on the table, the drawer pull unfinished but taking form from the oaken blank. “Yes. Everyone knew. The highborn folk up on the hill have all been walking softly and talking even softer since her father died. Landless sons were all ready to throw themselves at poor Duchess Petra as soon her year of mourning for her husband was well over.”
Vittoria snorted, “Oh now they’ll have to wait another year or more until she is out of mourning for the little girl as well, unless she decides to be very brave and declare her mourning for both of them over at the same time next year.”
Malcolm caught his wife around the waist as she stalked by him on her distressed circuit of the room and tugged her onto his knee. He reached up a calloused hand and began rubbing her back in small soothing circles. Tears gleamed wetly on her cheeks as she buried her face in his weather tanned neck.
“I just thought that Petra would be satisfied with getting her married off as soon as she came of age, maybe treating her babe a little better when she comes but no one expects a mother to…” Vittoria shook her head and pulled away from Malcolm’s shoulder. Her eyes fell on Marten, “To hire an assassin to kill her husband’s child? What kind of person can do something like that? It isn’t as though he was unfaithful to her, their marriage negotiations were barely underway when Tian had her first birthday.” She pressed her lips together and pulled away from Malcolm. “I need to check on the girls.” she said flatly, pulling up her apron to swipe the tears from her face. The two men sat in silence as the rain pattering against the windows intensified, sheets of water lashing the building furiously. Beneath their feet they heard a murmur of voices as conversation became louder to be heard over the storm.
“What are you planning to do about this now?” Malcolm asked as he took up his task once more. He glanced at his brother. The room seemed to have grown darker with the absence of his wife, and the shadows wrapped themselves around the younger man as he scratched the stubble on his cheeks with his uninjured hand. “There are long term plans you need to consider, very long term,” he muttered. The soft sound of the tool slicing through the oak was inaudible with the rain beating down on the roof.
Marten gave a soft chuckle, but there was no amusement in his expression. “Yes, well…” he trailed off slightly. He looked towards the door Vittoria had closed behind her. He thought he could hear her speaking softly, perhaps even singing a lullaby, but it could have been his imagination.
The assassin shook himself. “I have to go,” he said quietly, “I’ll be back in the time for breakfast.” Neither man mentioned him returning to his apartments tonight. He pulled his black tunic over his head and tightened the laces. His coat was still slightly damp but warm enough.
“Don’t be careless,” said Malcolm, pausing in his work. He watched a ghost of a smile flicker across his brother’s face before it was smoothed away
“Am I ever?” he asked, somewhat amused.
“Until today I’d have said no,” he answered, frustration edging into his voice.
With a soft laugh Marten slipped out the door and downstairs.