Tag – Part I Verduan of Nant – Chapter 3

And now we’re in unexplored territory! Chapter 3! Yeeha!

Read Tag…One More Time – Part I Verduan of Nant – Chapter 1.
Read Tag – Part I Verduan of Nant – Chapter 2.


Tag – Part I Verduan of Nant – Chapter 3

Patreo looked up from his herbs and mortar when Verduan finished his story. “Why come to me?”

Verduan peeked into Patreo’s mortar. He stared at the tools, medicines, powders, herbs, stones, phials, flasks, and decanters cluttering Patreo’s workbench. “Are you an herbalist, Father?”

Patreo chuckled. “Do you know Greek? Apothe¦ke¦? Storehouse? More storehouse than anything else.”

Verduan pointed to the three small mounds under the muslin. “What are those?”

“Are you always so inquisitive when seeking help, Verduan of Nant?”

“A little knowledge avoids much trouble, don’t you think?”

Patreo smiled. “I do.” He nodded towards the cloth. “Have you ever heard of Greek Fire?”

Verduan shook his head.

Patreo removed the cloth, took a pinch from the bluest pile, and placed it in front of Verduan. He took a smoldering ember from under one of the vessels on his workbench and touched the pinch. The pinch disappeared with a shshshing sound as a cloud of bluish smoke rose rapidly from where it lay. He took a pinch from the yellow pile, dabbed some water on it, and touched the ember to it.

It crackled and popped like fat-soaked tinder. A darker smoke rose and smelled of rotten eggs. Finally, the yellow pinch burned and floated. The water didn’t put it out.

Patreo returned the muslin cloth to its place.

“What about the gray pile?”

“It’s not ready yet. It may never be.” He opened the book on his workbench and pointed at the leather strip marking a passage there. “This book is a translation of a translation, the original language lost or forgotten. So I experiment and go slowly. No errors that way.” Patreo closed the book. “Any other questions, Verduan of Nant?”

Verduan sat back and shook his head.

“Then my question remains; why come to me?”

Verduan sipped his wine. “Our priest is new to us. We…some of us…we…”

“Nant has a new priest? I thought Father Verrett served Nant and the villages around.”

“Father Verrett served our village and others for more than fifty years. You knew him?”

“How long has the new priest been with you?”

Patreo squinted into the distance. “Knowledgeable on doctrine? Ecclesiastics? That him?”

Verduan shrugged. “It is not difficult to be more knowledgeable than simple farmers.”

“Even the inquisitive ones?”

“I’m sure Father Baillot wishes I asked fewer questions.”

“We sought someone…with a broader knowledge.” Verduan waited until Patreo looked him eye-to-eye. “A knoweldge of oak and ash as well as line and verse.”

“You traveled alone five hard days through woods and mountains, come to my door, and now wonder if my knowledge is greater than you care to know.”

“I traveled five hard days from Nant to Tomeka because in Nant I heard of a priest with knowledge of The Old Ways on this side of the Kashel. In each village along the way I asked if any knew of such a priest. That eventually got me to Catiorec where they mentioned a Father Patreo in Tomeka. Here I asked about you and they said you knew the ways of herbs and roots, metals and waters. Outside, the Burger on the cart said yes, this was Father Patreo’s cottage, and that you cured his son.”

“You are a tracker, Verduan of Nant?”

“A herdsman. With fields and orchards.”

“You are wise.”

“I am old.”

“Not so old to travel here alone in five days time!”

“I did not travel alone.” Verduan let go a piercing whistle and Patreo covered his ears at the sound. A great white and black shape leapt his gate and cleared the window in two bounds.

Patreo laughed. “A horse? No, a dog.” The dog lumbered over, lapped Patreo’s offered hand, and rested its head on Patreo’s lap. Patreo patted its head and scratched the heavily furred ears. “And who is this – ” he leaned over and looked between the dog’s legs ” – handsome fellow? Your familiar?”

Verduan patted his thigh. “Buco, here.”

The big dog sat licking Patreo hand.

“If he’s a familiar you’re the witch. He never takes to people like that. He’s still wary of Father Baillot and has known him a year at least. How did you get him to take to you so?”

“I heard you talk quietly outside. Once stilled the shying horse, the other before you entered. I guessed you had a companion and not a child. No one leaves a child unguarded in a new village and you don’t seem the type to take a child on the trek from Nant to here. Only a fool would drive a herd that far, so a dog, and its scent is fresh on your clothes, so it was close by. As for why it favors me…” Patreo chuckled. “I greased the back of my hand with pig tallow when you tippd back your wine.”

Verduan’s hand slapped the workbench and he bellowed with laughter. He drained his cup and rose. “Have I come to the wrong man, Father?”

Patreo motioned Verduan back onto the stool. He lifted a roped bucket. “Water from my own well. Boiled and cooled. May Buco drink?”

“Why boiled and cooled?”

“Something learned in my travels in Muslim lands. An easy precaution against dark spirits in the water.”

Verduan’s brow rose as he looked at the water in the bucket. “Thirsty, Buco?”

The dog wagged its tail. Patreo placed the water beside Verduan and the dog lapped. They both watched the dog drink its fill.

Patreo took his stool on the far side of his workbench. “Tell me, does this witch have a name?”

“We know her as Sullya. Sullya the Witch.”

Patreo frowned. “Sullya? My mother told stories of Sullya the Witch when I was a child, something to keep me quiet at night. This can’t be the same Sullya. She’d be ancient now.”

“Do witches truly die?”

“Is there more to your story?”

Verduan stared into his empty cup. “Is there more wine on your shelf?”

Patreo placed the pitcher on the workbench in front of Verduan who refilled his goblet. Buco pawed some straw together, circled, lay down, closed his eyes and slept.

Verduan smiled at his dog and continued his tale.


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Tag – Part I Verduan of Nant – Chapter 2

Here’s chapter two of the rewrite of the rewrite of the…

Read the original chapter 2.
Read Tag…One More Time – Part I Verduan of Nant – Chapter 1.


Tag – Part I Verduan of Nant – Chapter 2

Patreo motioned Verduan inside. Verduan’s eyes grew wide as he scanned Patreo’s workbench with its balms and salves and powders and distilling vessels placed within easy reach, his shelves of open and stoppered flasks, drying herbs, books; Patreo’s cottage held more of study than of sleep. His nose twitched at the pungent aires coming from Patreo’s mortar and pestle and he focused his attention there.

“What can I do for you, Verduan of Nant?”

“You are Father Patreo?”

“Patreo of Tomeka, yes. And anointed in the Occitan Order, yes.” Patreo waved a hand over his workbench. “Does this disturb you?”

“I expected an older man. This is your rectory?”

“This is my home. Where I study.”

“Where is your church?”

“I’m in disfavor with the bishopric.” Patreo kept his eyes on Verduan’s face. “At present.”

Verduan looked up and met Patreo’s gaze. He smiled weakly and swallowed.

Patreo motioned to a stool in front of his workbench. “Perhaps some wine after your long journey. It must have taken you, what, seven days to get here?”

Verduan sat mechanically. “Five.”

Patreo lifted a pitcher and poured wine into a goblet. He uncorked a flask on a shelf and dribbled some liquid into the goblet before handing it to Verduan.

The big man sipped. “Thank you.” He swallowed a mouthful. “Your wine is good. Sweet. Flowery. It’s taste is unfamiliar. What fruit bears this wine?” He downed a second mouthful.

“Poppy juice. To help you relax after your trip.” Patreo held the flask under Verduan’s nose. “What story hurries you from Nant to Tomeka in five days time?”

Verduan let his pack slide from his shoulders and lowered his staff to the hard planked floor. “My son. And his espoused. They are cursed for chopping off the hand of witch.”

Patreo took Verduan’s goblet, refilled it, and handed it to him. “Tell me more.”


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Tag…One More Time – Part I Verduan of Nant – Chapter 1

Okay.

I shared a couple of chapters of Tag, a work-in-progress, last month and you can read the backstory there.

Well…I got about 80 pages written and realized I was rushing the story, not letting it develop the way it needed to, so I started over.

And here’s the rewrite of the first chapter.

Do let me know what you think.

Before I rewrite it again.


Tag – Part I Verdant of Nant – Chapter 1

Father Patreo looked up from his workbench. Well-soled boots crunched dry earth as someone made their way to his small cottage. A book lay opened to Patreo’s side, the pages illuminated with strange beasts. He used a leather strip to mark his place and closed it. Gray, yellow, and ochre powders lay in separate, small piles on his workbench and he covered them with a white, muslin cloth.

He closed his eyes and focused on the footsteps.

Male. Heavy. Healthy heavy, not sickly heavy.

Patreo frowned. Most visitors to his cottage came sickly.

A horse clomped and cart wheels squeaked from the opposite direction. The footsteps, horse clomps, and squeaking cart wheels combined into a strange rhythm, music from an unknown land; step step clomp clomp squeak, step step clomp clomp squeak, step step clomp clomp squeak. It made an interesting contrasts to the birds singing in his gardens.

Patreo glanced at the sunlight coming in his far window. Baron Konstigian’s mistress would be by soon. She carried the Baron’s child and Konstigian wanted no bastards in his court. If she did not rid herself of the child, the Baron would slaughter her before the child quickened.

He shuffled his stool to a clear space on his workbench and winced at the screeching sound it made on the hard wood floor, pulled over his mortar and pestle, and reached for pennyroyal and fenugreek. He crushed the leaves and stems by hand into the bowl then ground them into a fine powder, the cupping of the mortar and the turning of the pestle familiar, comforting motions, like the stars and planets, the sun and moon in their orbits.


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Tag…Again… (chapter 2)

Remember The Witch [[Tag/The Apple/The Seed??]] and Tag?

Remember my mentioning it was working itself into a novella or novel?

Remember my asking for title suggestions?

I’m working on turning it into a novella. Perhaps even a novellette. Maybe a novelina. It could still end up a novel and I doubt it at present. So far it’s a mystery of some kind (not the length, the story).

The anticeding event (discussed in The Witch [[Tag/The Apple/The Seed??]]) is now told in backstory. I’m much happier with the story’s doing this time around and also recognize it’s not finished yet. One thing throwing me is how short each chapter is (at least in this writing), basically a single scene and nothing more. This chapter is an example.

Read Tag Chapter 1

And, as always, happy to have your input.


Tag – Chapter 2

The witch’s hand climbed the lone black oak’s trunk like a strangely shaped, five-legged insect. Cartilage, sinews, and ligaments trailed from the wrist where Eric’s axe severed it from the witch’s arm. A moment earlier it held Julia tight as the witch pulled Julia into the oak’s dark bole, her den, but the sudden rain weakened her and Eric struck. The hand fell against the tree and it climbed towards the bole.


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post. Protected posts in the My Work, Marketing, and StoryCrafting categories require a subscription (starting at 1$US/month) to access. Protected posts outside those categories require a General (free) membership.
Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone.
Want to learn more about why I use a subscription model? Read More ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes Enjoy!

Tag…Again… (chapter 1)

Remember The Witch [[Tag/The Apple/The Seed??]] and Tag?

Remember my mentioning it was working itself into a novella or novel?

Remember my asking for title suggestions?

I’m working on turning it into a novella. Perhaps even a novellette. Maybe a novelina. It could still end up a novel and I doubt it at present. So far it’s a mystery of some kind (not the length, the story).

The anticeding event (discussed in The Witch [[Tag/The Apple/The Seed??]]) is now told in backstory. I’m much happier with the story’s doing this time around and also recognize it’s not finished yet. One thing throwing me is how short each chapter is (at least in this writing), basically a single scene and nothing more.

We’ll see…

And, as always, happy to have your input.


Tag – Chapter 1

Father Patreo looked up from his small cottage’s workbench. Well-soled boots crunched dry earth as someone came up the lane to his cottage. Male. Heavy. Healthy heavy, not sickly heavy. Most visitors to his cottage came sickly. A horse clomped coming from the opposite direction closely followed by squeaking cart wheels.


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post. Protected posts in the My Work, Marketing, and StoryCrafting categories require a subscription (starting at 1$US/month) to access. Protected posts outside those categories require a General (free) membership.
Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone.
Want to learn more about why I use a subscription model? Read More ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes Enjoy!