07/16/15
Artwork by Rhys Griffiths. The Madness of Valatriste (Working title) follows chracters traveling from a Spanish-style society to a French-style society.

Where Am I? (And an Excerpt to Prove it)

Artwork by Rhys Griffiths. The Madness of Valatriste (working title) follows characters traveling from a Spanish-style society to a French-style society.

Yeah, my deepest apologies for not blogging consistently for the last … oh… lifetime. But it’s particularly bad lately because I’m working on a completely new book. And that new book is (likely) the first in a series. I thought I would post a microblog about what I’m writing, and paste an excerpt to prove that I’m writing it.

The book has a working title of “The Madness of Valatriste.” I don’t want to talk too much about the plot because I’m still writing it, but it takes place on a planet far far away, and that sort of thing. Our main character is named Tercero, and he lives on the continent of Lucerie, in the kingdom of Leoncio. He’s a bit conflicted, a great swordsman, a robber, and quite humorous. Oh, and he’s mad. Yeah, the crazy kind, not the angry sort.

There are other characters. A woman who believes she can see the future. A despondent soldier tracking down a demon. An autistic swordsman. A greedy (but kind) noblewoman. A ruthless duke with a Napoleon complex. There’s action and humor and love and scheming. There’s war and tragedy and lust and feats of genius. It’s quite a lot to pack into one book, and it’s taking me a long time to write. Hopefully it will be one of my best works. Just to tease you guys a little, there’s a quick (and unedited) excerpt below. As always, I truly appreciate your support and encouragement. You have been my strength while I type away in the dusty corners of the night.

Unedited Excerpt from The Madness of Valatriste (working title)
This is one of the more lighthearted scenes in the book. The protaganist, Tercero, is sitting on the driver’s box of a carriage. An older man is sitting beside him, and the rest of his crew in inside the carriage.

***

The riders were moving slowly through the darkened landscape, a leisurely lope along the Alturian grasslands.

“Perhaps our problems with money have been alleviated ,” Tercero said. “They are bound to have coin. Might be enough to get us to Valatriste.”

Ermenguille cocked his head to one side. “But…they won’t just give us their coins.”

“Of course they will.” Tercero reached through the open front quarter [of the carriage] and drew the powder pistol from Septymo’s bandolier. “We just have to be persuasive.”

“Oi!” Septymo shouted. “We have rules!”

Ermenguille rubbed at his neck, stared from the riders to the powder pistol. “You… you don’t mean to rob them? We don’t even know who they are!”

“I am not sure you have a thorough understanding of robbery.” Tercero cackled and whipped the reins. The thrill of the hunt was upon him. “If you know your victims, it is called borrowing. Yah! Septymo, may I borrow the powder-pistol?”

“Before!” Septymo bounced against the quarter-light on his left as the horses broke into a canter. He turned with a scowl. “You have to ask before you take it!”

“Not now brother!’ Tercero replied. “We have people not to meet!”

The two riders stopped and turned their horses so they could face the carriage. They were several hundred paces ahead. Large specks in the ring shadows. One of them glittered with steel. Armor.

“If that’s Corsaline plate, this will be the best robbery ever!” 

“Corsaline plate?” Septymo stared out the front window and donned the leather doctor’s mask. He handed one to Tercero.

“Slow down!” Duardo shouted. “The princess is bouncing around like a die in a cup!”

The armored man was clad in steel, from head to toe—breastplate, cuisses, greaves, spaulders. Everything. He held a spear in one hand and the reins of a towering grey charger in the other.

“A full suit of armor?” Tercero took off the ring-crown and slung the mask over his head. “I think that man robbed a museum.”

“Can I get into the carriage before you bring doom upon all of us?” Ermenguille asked. “That might be a partrol!”

“Not likely,” Tercero replied.

A staff was strapped to the other rider’s back. Five concentric rings had been mounted on the end, facing outward.

“That’s a priest!” Ermenguille said. “We can’t rob a priest!”

“Of course we can,” Tercero replied, his voice muffled in the leather mask. “Priests are the worst thieves of them all. Think of the mountains of silver they have stolen from their flocks.”

“They do not steal!” Ermenguille replied.

“Oh, but they do, old man.” Tercero said. “Guilt is their pistol and eternal damnation their gunstone. At least when I rob, I have the decency to call it robbery.” He looked back into the carriage. “Duardo, Estillete, put your masks on. We are hunting a priest! This will be the best robbery ever!”

“Why do we need the masks?” Duardo replied. “We’re hours from Belinthia, and we’re leaving Leoncio.”

Tercero slowed the Tiburcians when they were within twenty yards of the two men and sprang to the ground before the animals had stopped.

“Well met, travelers!” he called, the gun hidden behind his back.

The priest rode forward until he was a few paces away. He looked at the doctor’s mask and spoke with a thick Corsaline accent. “Is there plague nearby?”

“I always assume there is plague everywhere,” Tercero replied.

“A peculiar philosophy.” The priest replied.

“It helps. I have only died from plague twice.”

The priest laughed and walked forward to within point-blank pistol range. “The Gods hate Tremarians. And so do I. But I suppose I must pray for your souls anyway. I am Patris D’elan.”

Tercero raised the powder-pistol. “Keep your prayers, Patris. Our souls need gold.”

The priest let out a long breath. “You see? This is precisely why the gods hate Tremarians. Sir Dacion, send these poor souls to the Slave Ring.”

The man in armor flipped the visor down on his close-helm, lowered the spear. “I’ll send them to the Nether, instead, Patris.”

The priest shrugged. “Let the Gods decide. Now be a lad and make these men bleed.”

Tercero pirouetted, hands over his head, then snapped his arm forward again, scowling, trying desperately to think of something clever to say. “I killed ten men yesterday, before supper!” he shouted. “And I am about to eat lunch!”

The knight spun his horse and trotted a dozen paces away, then wheeled the animal around again, reins tight and high.

The carriage bounced as Septymo, Duardo and Estillette hopped out.

“You’re about to eat lunch?” Duardo shook his head, the long beak on the mask swaying from side to side. “That doesn’t even make sense”

“Why is that man wearing a full suit of armor?” Septymo asked.

“I think you are missing a more important question,” Tercero replied.

Duardo shrugged. “Why is that armored man charging us?”

Tercero shook his head. “No. What should my new strike cry be?” He aimed the pistol carefully at the knight, then pressed the firing bar with his middle finger. “Andeloo!”

The hammer sprung forward, flint struck steel with a click and a spark. But there was no explosion of sulfur and saltpeter. No cord of smoke tracing a line to the knight.

“Septymo?”

“I didn’t like it,” he replied. “Still awkward.”

“The gun, Septymo! The gun!”

“It’s not loaded.”

“Obviously it’s not…oh, for …” Tercero tossed the gun to the side and drew his sword, realized it was his master’s broken blade and sighed. “This is the worst robbery ever”