Friday, August 27, 2010

"Word Painting" Blogfest Entry

Thank you to Dawn Embers for hosting this Word Paint Blogfest. Please visit her Blog to see all the other Blogfest participants.

This entry is from the second book in my current series of WIP's. The Neapolitan Empire has been offended and is retaliating by sending some vessels to wreak havoc on their enemies. I hope you enjoy.


            The next evening, after a full day of preparations and loading of supplies and munitions, Demas stood atop a platform nearly twenty hands high.  Below him, at attention, stood the captains and crews of the six Invisibles and a twenty trireme fleet.

            “Tonight, men, you embark on an important mission.  Let stealth be your shipmate, and cunning be your companion as you wage distress and suffering upon the Iolkosians and Samians!” Demas demanded.

            A dull rumble of spear handles tamping the ground filled the crisp, dusk air.

            “I am aware that I may be sending some of you to Hades’ doorstep over the coming days, however, the fleet that sails this night is but a sample of what shall await our guests when they most assuredly return our favor. The heart of but one of our marines beats as strong as that of five Iolkosians.”

            Spear thudding again drummed up and down the port.

            Waving his hands in the air to quiet his congregation, Demas continued, “I heard an old proverb once, one you would do well to keep in mind: Two lions paced hungrily atop a mountain bluff overlooking a group of antelope.  The one lion said to the other, ‘If we run down there as fast as we can, we are each guaranteed to get at least one or two of them.’  The second lion replied, ‘Nonsense! We are going to walk down there and get them all!’

            The men before Demas erupted into riot of thudding and the clanking of swords against shields accented by whistles and shouts.

            “For King and Empire!” Demas blared loudly into the deafening response.

            “King and Empire!” the mass roared in kind, before turning toward their respective ships.

            Demas watched as the crews of the six pentekonters and twenty triremes boarded their vessels set against a breathtaking, fiery horizon.  Helios’ chariot pushed low to the edge of the heavens, behind clouds it had set ablaze, illuminating from the rear.  The coral and fuchsia sky in the west reflected off the surface of the Aegean, turning it into a blinding mirror, before dissolving into a darkening lilac. Persimmon tendrils spun off, spidering into an indigo haze on the eastern side of the heavens.

            In one hour’s time, each of the twenty-six Neapolitan vessels had put to sea. Pulling out of the military harbor, one following the next, they passed one of the oldest lighthouse on the northwest corner of Thassos, then a small, torch lit fishing wharf of a small village from which a narrow, sandy road wound up into the countryside. Soon, the clear waters of the northern Aegean lapped against each hull.  The fleet of long oars sailed together for hours before splitting around Lemnos, three Invisibles and ten triremes toward each destination; Iolkos and Samos.  The mission over the coming days was simple; to wreak havoc, cause damage, anger and alarm, ensure that their flags were seen, inciting revenge filled hearts, then retreat and escape… in that order. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Weather" Blogfest Entry

 This is my "Weather" Blogfest Entry. Thank you so much for to Mia, Nick, and Amy over at "A Little Slice of Nothing" for hosting this blog.
The rules for the blogfest were to post a portion of your WIP that involve the weather as a "character" so to speak. so I dug through one of my many WIP's and found the selection below. This is from a story tentatively named "Mediterranean Merchant." Enjoy.

Fortunato’s merchant envoy had been sailing for three days when the seas began to roil in choppy peaks. In the distance, an angry hue of gray hung over the sky. Fortunato’s helmsman ran into the tent and spoke forcefully, “A terrible storm approaches. We’re on course to be enveloped by it!”

“Bah!” Fortunato scoffed. “I have been through many storms, disturbances of one sort or another. This one’s no different.”

“I think you should take a look.”

“Oh, all right,” Fortunato relented.  “Let’s have a look, shall we? Fortunato motioned for Matteo to join him.

When they emerged from the tent, the sky directly above the ship shone a bright blue with hardly a smudge of interruption. In the distance, however, a beast approached. The wind intensified, whipping the sails and flags. Even before they drew close to the monster, the waves pitched and fell with violent intentions.

“The gods are angered,” Matteo mumbled, almost inaudibly.

“What did you say?” Fortunato sneered.

“The Gods, I say,” Matteo repeated. “They are angered. Poseidon… Zeus…their fury shall soon be upon us…”

“Bah!” Fortunato dismissed.  “The gods, eh… who are these gods you speak of?  Everyone has gods of some sort or another. Should I fear your gods more than the Egyptian gods…?  More than the Roman or Indian gods…?

“Anger them not, Fortunato, for Zeus is everywhere… He sees everything.”

“Well, hear this: I spit in the face of this storm! And, I spit in the face of your gods.  If your gods were so powerful, there would be only ONE set of them, yes? But no, every city I call upon has their own set! To whom shall I pray, young Matteo? Not one of them has helped me to achieve my greatness. Not one! So forgive me if I don’t cower to your gods!”

Matteo watched the tirade from a safe distance, clear of stray thunderbolts. The reckless rhetoric was sure to be the merchant’s undoing, Matteo believed. Fortunato walked over and indeed spat over the side. An unnecessary gesture, Matteo thought. But then again, what did he know.  Fortunato was, after all, the merchant with four ships of cargo and crews headed for Corinth. Not he.

Closer… Closer the phalanx of storm clouds advanced, rolling like stampeding stallions across a vast plain. Before long, the dark canopy of sky had shrouded the four ships. Fortunato’s crewmembers on all of his ships were simultaneously instructed to lower all sails and secure all loose items. They were further instructed to take all of Fortunato’s most valuable belongings below deck to ride out the storm.  With sails down, the ship relied upon the arms and backs of the gargantuan rowers down below.  Soon, however, all efforts to row would be moot.

As the ships passed through a veritable wall of rain, those crewmembers unlucky enough to have been caught on the decks were pelted with an unyielding shower.  From below deck, it sounded like a thunderous concert of arrows barraged the ship.  Deafening. The crewmembers held fast to whatever they could grasp as the ships were pitched atop wave crests and plunged into unforgiving valleys of darkness. Every turbulent wave threatened to turn the ships on their sides. 

The fierce storm winds howled wickedly, encircling the defenseless fleet.  And, they proceeded to divide and conquer; first splitting the four ships into far reaching directions while rousing the waves into a churning fury.  King Aeolus’ unshackled herd of winds; Eurus from the east; Zephyrus from the west; Boreas from the north; and Notus from the south wreaked havoc like an army on the attack. The roiling cauldron of the sea pounded Fortunato’s ships like hammers to anvils, thrashing them into splinters.

Precious cargo was cast widely atop the unforgiving sea as all men swam frantically toward floating fragments of the ships that they, only minutes before, had stood within. Fortunato, effectively blinded by the driving rain and the angry swells, struggled to grab onto a nearby wooden plank.  An surge of energy spurred by fear for loss of life had not allowed him to reflect upon the gravity of the situation he now found himself grappling with.  But, grave it was.  His four ships… gone. His crews… gone. His cargo… gone. And, worse, a merchant with no cargo… was hardly a merchant.

Where was everyone, Fortunato wondered as he looked about?  The crew? The rowers? Had they all perished? And, the cargo? The cargo was certainly lost, he considered. Unaccustomed to circumstances over which he had no control, Fortunato fought for his very existence amidst the thrashing waves… alone in the vast Mediterranean.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Changes Blogfest Entry

  Thank you again for Elizabeth Mueller for hosting this "Changes" Blogfest. I have another entry over at my alter ego, Scott Noir's lair.

In this scene, from the second installment of the trilogy,  Caenus and Kalliste have both been changed by love.

Iolkosians filled the streets along the waterfront in celebration as the ships pulled into the inner harbor. Caenus, donning his royal raiment and Kalliste in her white silk robes with crimson trim, stepped into their wedding chariot again and paraded through the stone-paved streets, weaving through each of the grids. As the betrothed serpentined through the crowd, onlookers and well-wishers threw confetti and shouted blessings of prosperity, in some cases, impeding the horses’ progress. Caenus did not mind the frequent stops, however, because these were all his friends and family… and most importantly, Kalliste’s extended family now. In return, the happy couple waved warmly.
            Grasping Kalliste’s hand tightly, feeling the tingle of new love’s warmth emanating through her palm, Caenus reveled in the glory his new bride afforded him. He radiated from within, feeling sweetly suspended in a euphoric state, illuminated by the goddess who stood beside him.  His bride’s beauty stole his breath every time he turned to look at her along the ride.
            And for her part, Kalliste felt as if she had joined her mate of a previous life… as if the gods had somehow placed her back within the land of the living to once again experience all of life’s pleasures. She was not certain of how she could feel so strongly for someone she had known so briefly. From Corinth to this moment had been a whirlwind, sweeping all involved into a pleasant summer’s storm of pain-balanced pleasure.  For, the pain of being forced to marry someone unworthy of her heart’s blessings… and having that ordeal end tragically… only to then fall for the one who felled the man she was to wed… to then nearly perish, herself… and to find out that her truest love nearly perished as well… all the way to the immense pleasure that anticipation affords…  the sweet anticipation of marriage to her truest love… the pleasures of exploration both the night following the wedding and the day after… and the night yet to come… and many more nights to come… Caenus mirrored his bride’s emotions in so many ways, having experienced his own storm of sorts… having been right there beside his sweet girl for much of it all.
            Later in the evening, Helios’ chariot had driven its light below the western horizon as Mount Pelion shadowed the first night back in Iolkos.  After visiting the sanctuary within the palace to receive continued blessings from the gods, Caenus and Kalliste walked to the private bathhouse.
            Once the servants had heated the water sufficiently, Caenus banished them.  Kalliste sat on a marble bench a few feet away from the bath and began to remove her sandals. Caenus walked over and knelt in front of her.  He ran his fingers through her flame-red tresses, looking into her eyes and becoming lost once again… lost in the moment between divinity and mortality… lost in the moment between whether the mind registers pain or pleasure… lost in the moment between lightning and its accompanying thunder.
            He unpinned her chiton and slowly removed her silk robes, laying the finely constructed garments on the smooth marble beside her.  He then allowed her to disrobe him, his cloak hitting the floor in a heap. Hand-in-hand they descended the stairs into the in-ground bath.
            “How is it that I have been so blessed?” Kalliste cooed, running her hands over Caenus’ muscular shoulders and arms.
            “Are you the only one so blessed, my sweet?” Caenus responded, with a wink.

            “It is amazing, is it not? How the gods guided us together across this great pond we call the Aegean… how we fit together so tightly as puzzle pieces.  I press my heart against yours, chest-to-chest now… do they not beat in unison? Do you not feel that? How peculiar a sensation that is?”
            “Neither the muses nor the fates could ever have written the intertwining of our lives any better,” Caenus responded. “But, let us be careful not to squander this moment with the words created by mortals to describe this event conjured by the gods. For it is, you know… tonight, and every other night that I can embrace you, is a night afforded us by the gods.”