7 Days of Progress

More like 6 1/2 days if my finger-counting’s right.  It’s noon on Saturday, July 2.   Crossed the 35,000 frontier this morning.  May or may not get to 36,000 by tonight.  Yesterday didn’t make a lot of movement in wordage (some in the “notes”) because I drove into the city, bought some stuff at Dover, went over to pick up M- at the community college campus, and then drove home, and was somewhat wiped out by that (hot, “how to create a migraine from sun stabbing through dark glasses off the reflective parts of cars, especially those bulbous back windows).  However.

It’s about time you had a snippet.  Here’s a little background.  You recall that Pliuni, a city south along a trade route from Valdaire, situated between the Westmounts and the plateau of Andressat, is governed by “witwards.”   There are one hundred of them, at full strength, and as usual they are the moneyed folk.  Membership is not strictly hereditary (because money tends to slither out of families at times)  and despite the name “witward” implying that they have knowledge and judgment, they don’t always guard their own wits, which also vary a lot.  Pliuni is more “buttoned up” than Valdaire;  like many small cities’ societies, it can be extremely strict about extremely minor deviations from its rules.  Clothes, foods, eating utensils, etc, etc, etc: all the forms, but less attention to the substance.  Tedious nitpicking as a form of social intercourse.  Long ago, it was an outlying settlement from Horngard, the point at which Horngard’s trade met the much larger trade N/S from Valdaire down to the southern coastal cities and a few more inland (Cha and Sibili being prominent.)  Now, with the mountain realm in disarray for years, it’s under the influence of Andressat–grateful in one way, but resentful in another, because Andressat’s assistance with keeping the trade route moving smoothly through comes at a price, and the witwards would prefer to be all-powerful in their small way.

Aesil M’dierra, Golden Company’s commander, comes from a prominent (then) family in Pliuni; her father was a witward, killed in a previous war.  Her great-uncle Ilanz Balentos (of “Mercenary’s Honor”)  had his own merc company when she was very young; due to circumstances in a still-unfinished short piece, she served with him for some years before his death, and he left her his company and resources to start her own.   “Mercenary’s Honor” predates her entry into his company; the link there is via Kieri during his time as Aliam Halveric’s squire in Aarenis.   But I digress.  Every prominent family has less prominent–even impecunious–relatives, and many have struggles over inheritance.  The Balentos branch has never been as rich as the M’dierra branch, and though some of them shrugged and moved on, some of them were…resentful.  Especially at seeing what they thought of as Balentos property going to a M’dierra.    Two of her Balentos cousins have tried for years to finagle a right to her inheritance; they are not-wildly-successful traders and not overly honest in trade (or good enough wheeler-dealers to prosper in their dishonesty) and once again Aesil has been summoned to a trial in the witwards’ court to determine if she’s *really* entitled to her inheritance.  Not trusting the witwards to restore their claim, they then attempt to waylay her on the way to the trial, make her late, so her nonappearance will force the witwards to give judgment for them.  In the process of this, by (once again) hiring on the cheap, they caused more problems.  (If you’re going to hire bad guys, hire really competent bad guys who perform their task to the…um…hilt and are absolutely positively under all circumstances going to keep their mouths shut.)

Thanks to certain plot points you’ll discover in future, in this snippet Aesil is present in the court square in Pliuni, in front of the almost full complement of witwards, accompanied by a somewhat mysterious mounted man on a very unusual horse.  Aesil’s companion’s name is Camwyn (no surname) and he has no memory of his past.  Yes, *that* Camwyn.   King Mikeli of Tsaia’s younger brother.  Her cheapskate conniving cousins are also there, accompanied by their less-than-stellar bad guys. And as everyone discovers, Dragon is also involved: he flies in and perches on the arch above the western gate of Pliuni.   As anyone with a dragon in the conversation knows, trying to pull rank on a dragon is….not wise.


One of the cousins, the one in the dark blue robe over the brown tunic spoke up instead.  He pointed at one of the men and said “That’s Jors, and that’s Retts–”

“Each will give his own name.”  Dragon’s other forefoot closed around the stone it was on, and a piece as large as a human head cracked loose and fell, shattering on the pavement below.  All the witwards flinched, and the men to his heart side all shifted farther away from the arch. “Their real name,” Dragon added, spreading the toes of his forefeet showing claws a long as a man’s hand from wrist to fingertip.  The scars from them, on the rocks, looked a fingerlength deep.

The “servants”, in mismatched tunics of blue with equally mismatched brown sashes, looked back and forth,  and then, in a ragged cascade of panic, turned and ran.   Dragon opened that cave of fire, as Camwyn thought of it, and a white bolt of flame, roaring like forge-fire under the bellows, seared the running men, first to last.  A little pale ash blew along the black fire-polished cobbles, then settled.




27 thoughts on “7 Days of Progress

  1. Eek!!! Can’t wait for this to be finished – I’m so, so glad it’s happening for you, in the way the 3rd Vatta’s Peace novel didn’t. Maybe, of course, if this one works it will unlock the floodgates and the 3rd Vatta’s Peace novel will happen. But I’d rather have a Paksworld novel, any day!

  2. That sort of sparkling would give me a migraine too.

    Don’t mess with Dragon!

    I hope the book continues to flow.

    1. Unfortunately, yes. I wonder what the bandwith of a full brain-to-brain download would be besides cluttered with all the extraneous authorly comments to herself…

  3. Wonderful, I will enjoy learning more of Dragon. Aesil is also a character I’ve wanted to hear more from.

  4. So that is who the witwards are. I wondered. We heard the name just once, from Barra, when the recruits were still in Tsaia, marching south their first time. I’ve been rereading the several times Paks mentioned Pliuni in Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, but it was all hearsay to her.

    So, a free city with a narrow ruling clique, and presumably with factions within and without that clique. Free because between the Siers of Westland, the Counts of the Middle Marches and the Counts of the South Marches (before Siniava), none would let the others have it. Not to mention the Guild League wanting clear access to Horngard one way and Sibili the other. Only then there was no effective Count of the Middle Marches, and with Horngard paralysed by its own problems (problems partly engineered from outside maybe?), Westland alone was too weak to protect Pliuni from Siniava. Until getting Guild League backing in Siniava’s war, to attack Sibili from the north, by way of Pliuni, at the same time as Andressat attacked from the east by way of Cha. Phelan, Halveric and Clart with Andressat, M’dierra with Westland. M’dierra and her company having been exiles in Valdaire while SIniava dominated Pliuni? And did the liberation of her home city make her enemies there as well as friends? Plenty of back story to be revealed in your own good time. I will wait, with anticipation.

    (From the map, as well as Paks’ report, I make the Middle Marches to be east of Pliuni, with Andressat, Vonja and Foss beyond, and infer Westland to be somewhere north of Pliuni and west of Czardas.)

    1. Many interesting thoughts.
      “with Horngard paralysed by its own problems (problems partly engineered from outside maybe?)”
      Ever since I read the dialogue between Ferran Andressat and Aesil M’dierra in Crown of renewal, about the Curse of Camwyns Claw, I have wondered if Horngard was the place Aesil knew of where the curse had been used. The fading of the ruling line there seemed to fit in with the curse.

    2. Jenny, it is all too easy (for me) to blame all past mischief in that quarter of Aarenis on Siniava, through agents – and any that was a godsend to him, on Liart or Achrya.

      Middle Marches: this is Devlin, SD ch.22, UK Deed p258. “There was a count Somebody .. but he died… The Honeycat tries to claim it, as he claims everything else. I think when he took Pliuni, he captured the nephew, or married him to a daughter or niece. Or maybe that was another place”.

      1. Devlin got it mixed up…learned later who it really was. Siniava did kill the Count of Silwan, and Silwan’s heir married a daughter of Andressat (Count Andressat at the time, father of the Andressat men in the new book. When Siniava captured Pliuni, he hanged a lot of witwards from the arch over Pliuni’s west gate. One of them was Aesil M’dierra’s father. He operated on Machiavelli’s dictum that when you capture a city, you show strength by killing a bunch of people; he ignored Machiavelli’s explanation that then you can and should show yourself merciful as well. Siniava, like the unreformed pirate and his “rider”, just went on being cruel and domineering.

  5. Thank you for a snippet!! This will be cool.

    I delivered the other Vatta books to my kid yesterday, and tantalized him with a promise of Paks when he has time. He’s happy.

  6. I’m soooo looking forward to this story. I’ve wished we could find out what happens to Camwyn as he grows older, though I suspected the Dragon had him in mind for the empty throne. Beyond excited that we get to read about it. Glad your muse/nuerology is cooperating for you again!

    1. Thank you! I just finished (I hope!) writing for the day with 37,000+ now the count. It’s almost time to feed the horses, but still VERY hot (over 100F today) I may wait until 7:30 pm.

  7. Thanks for the snippet.
    Do the horses understand “weather delays” to the feeding schedule?
    Stay cool.

    1. They respond to sun time and clock time both. What I’ve been doing is add a hay feeding an hour or so before the night pellet/wormer/supplement feeding, to encourage them to drink…that goes out as soon as the temp drops below 100F. The “night feed” temp is distinctly cooler (not cool but often below 95F) and then they get the night hay when it’s dark or almost. They seem OK with this. Coats are shiny, etc.
      They spend most of the day standing under one tree or another. But the spring shift to later feeding–which I try to do in half-hour increments so it’s not suddenly 5 v. 7ish–is affected by our climate, which can throw a 105F day early on occasion.

  8. Whee! Fun snippet! Thanks!
    Also, so sorry to hear about the glare. I too have a problem with unwanted sunlight and glare while driving. So unpleasant!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the snippet! Thanks for letting me know. I think more attention should be paid to preventing driver-annoying glare on roads–there’s a place in Austin where at certain times of day a tall building shines *blinding* light you can’t avoid down a street. Etc. Cars in summer are best left dust-covered, not shiny-shiny. My opinion from having glare-sensitive eyes.

  9. Dragon! It (She?/He?) is such a attention grabber. Being all wise as it is. I still remember the surprise you’d written about having when Dragon first showed up. Now there is an ongoing, appropriately infrequent, role for Dragon.

    1. Interesting about dragons all being male. In Kings of the North page 470 when discussing Flessinathlin, Dragon says if she were a dragon and not Sinyi the world would be different and she would have been a most difficult dragonlet to bring to maturity, not only because of her sex. Arian says “Female dragons are less wise?” and Dragon refuses to discuss that

      1. Dragon takes refuge in being obscure. He could have just said “We’re all male” since he told ME that. Humph.This universe has two parthenogenic types: male dragons and female unicorns. Neither one will discuss reproduction with anyone else (nor with one another.) Both have existence beyond Paksworld. Waaaaaaay beyond. Take a look at the view from the JWST. That far beyond. Don’t ask me how. (All those lovely galaxies…who plays in those fields?)

  10. re-reading snippets… and thinking about who is / has played in the lovely galaxies far beyond our view. Teaching science in a Christian college is somewhat challenging because we are encouraged to discuss spiritual formation and development along with academics. Our new biology textbook (published by McGraw Hill) so not necessarily religious in any sense of the word has one sentence that discusses the difference in studying the natural world and those things that cannot be seen, touched, measured. Our first class this semester will be next Tuesday and I’m asking the students to consider Hebrews 11:3 as we discuss how to define if something is living. High Lord is truly amazing in all aspects.

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