Weekend Writing Warriors ~ My Brother’s Guest

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in short excerpts of ten, or maybe a few more lines.

I’m sharing from my current WIP, tentatively titled Snow, a romantic gay fantasy inspired by the classic tale of Snow White. In this scene, our hero, Prince Gabriel, is meeting the mysterious Lady Baltan for the first time. As many of you have picked up on, there’s more to the Lady than meets the eye. You can read last weeks’s snippet here, if you like.

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“I’m afraid I have nowhere else to go.  My husband’s brother—” Lady Baltan broke off and looked over her shoulder toward the window.  Her pale cheeks turned rosy. Gabriel couldn’t tell if it was the blush of anger or embarrassment, for her features remained placid.

“No need to explain yourself to me. You’re my brother’s guest and therefore mine as well.”

“Thank you, Prince Gabriel. I have no desire to burden you with my petty woes on the very day of your return.  Clearly, you’ve come to your mother’s rooms for a moment of privacy, so I will leave you to it.” She curtsied again and moved to the door, book still clutched tightly to her body.  

That’s the official ten. Here’s a bit more of the scene:

Gabriel couldn’t help himself.

“Do you enjoy poetry, Lady Baltan?” he asked.

“Why, yes. I….oh, I see.” She laughed, a pleasant trill that did not reach her eyes. She looked down at the book in her arms as if she’d forgotten she held it. “I hadn’t meant to take it, just to read a few passages to calm my nerves.” She held out the book in both hands as she walked toward him. “I’d much rather spend my time in a book than surrounded by so many important lords and ladies. That must strike you as very silly.”  She glanced up at him from beneath dark lashes, and Gabriel was struck by how youthful her face appeared, with a smattering of faint freckles across her nose, and how old her eyes. Dark eyes, heavy with knowledge.

***

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Blurb in progress for Snow:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years, hoping for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

Don’t forget to visit all the other great writers at www.wewriwa.blogspot.com!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ Lady Baltan

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. Good to be back after missing a week. I’m not quite sure why that happened; probably because everyday is still Blursday around here and I forgot until the signup deadline had passed. But life is shaping up and so is the plot, so …

Onward! Today I get to introduce a favorite-to-write character of mine, the mysterious lady in red from Snow, my current work-in-progress.

***

The woman bowed her head again. She had a regal bearing, and Gabriel guessed she must be a relative of one of the visiting lords. Her black hair was swept up in elaborate braids, knotted at the base of a long and elegant neck. Her nearly perfect white skin set off her dark eyes. She wore a scarlet gown with bell sleeves and a sweeping skirt that must have made traversing the many narrow stairways of Rosenthal difficult. But she was dressed for the feast, obviously. Dark jewels glittered on her fingers.

“Begging your pardon,” she said.  “I had hoped we would be introduced properly, by King Tristan.  I am Gwyneth, widow of Lord Baltan.”

That’s the official ten. Here’s a bit more:

Gabriel rummaged through his memory for the name Baltan and came up with nothing.

“Well met, Lady Baltan. You must have travelled a long way.”

“I did, your lordship. I came to request the aid of the queen but alas, she died before I could reach Rosenthal.  Your brother, King Tristan, kindly took me in.”

Gabriel moved farther into the room and glanced at the large leather bound tome in Lady Baltan’s arms. He recognized it as a book of poetry, one of his mother’s favorites.  An unreasonable irritation pricked at him, but he stifled it. It was wrong to expect his mother’s rooms to be preserved as a shrine. She never would have wanted that.

“You’ve been here since the queen’s death?” he asked.  He walked to the hearth, which was cold.  He couldn’t remember ever seeing it unlit, even in the depths of summer.

***

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Blurb in progress for Snow:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years, hoping for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

Don’t forget to visit all the other great writers at www.wewriwa.blogspot.com!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Sacred Realm

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and last night, I listened to live music outdoors and even did a little dancing, for the first time in over a year. Here’s to signs of life returning to your world, wherever you are.

I’m sharing from my work-in-progress, a gay fantasy inspired by the tale of Snow White. In this scene, Prince Gabriel is visiting his mother’s old chambers before heading down to the grand feast hall, looking for a little peace and comfort. Instead he discovers…

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He slowed his pace as he approached his mother’s door. His heart ached as he thought of opening it to an empty room.  How many times had he raced there, eager to throw himself into the arms of his indulgent mother? How many times had he approached with trepidation due to some trouble he’d fallen into, only to be laughed at and congratulated for being adventurous? How many fairy tales and ancient wisdoms had he collected at his mother’s feet, curled up in front of the hearth as she embroidered and rambled on, almost as if he wasn’t there at all as she became lost in memories of her own childhood?

He touched the door with his fingertips, gently and took a deep breath.

“I miss you terribly,” he whispered, and pushed the door open.

The large wood-paneled sitting room was exactly as he remembered it, except for one thing. A strange young woman in red stood in the center of it, a book in her hands.  She startled at the sound of the door creaking open.

That’s the official ten. Here’s a bit more:

“Oh, I’m sorry! Pardon me!” Gabriel exclaimed. “I had not expected these rooms to be occupied.”

The woman gave him a sharp look, and then as she took in the crown and the scarlet crest, quickly rearranged her features into a soft smile and downcast eyes, closing the book and pressing it to her ribcage, arms folded across it.

“No, it is I who should apologize, Prince Gabriel.” She performed a perfect curtsey.  “These are not my rooms. I come here on occasion to draw comfort from the memory of the queen.  Please forgive my intrusion into what must be, for you, a sacred realm.”

“That’s quite all right,” Gabriel said, although he felt the opposite. It was not all right to have a stranger rummaging through the queen’s personal items.  “You have me at a disadvantage.”

***

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Blurb in progress for Snow:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years, hoping for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

Don’t forget to visit all the other great writers at www.wewriwa.blogspot.com!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Man of Action

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. I’m sorry I missed last week. I had computer issues, and now I return to find WordPress has once again “improved” its interface. Why is it improvements always seem more like irritations than anything actually helpful? Could it be my old brain doesn’t like change? Nah…

So on the snippet. I’m back to sharing from my fairy tale revisited, a reimagining of the Snow White story with a male character in the title role. Last week, Prince Gabriel returned to his family’s castle for the first time in three years, during the autumn Festival of the Hunter’s Moon.

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The moment Gabriel slid from Tempest’s back in the castle courtyard, his servant pounced.

“Sire! You are due in the great hall in mere moments! Your boots are full of mud and your clothing is inappropriate!” In his panic, Webster impetuously reached out and plucked a twig of holly from Gabriel’s hair.

“I see you’ve recovered from your bee sting,” Gabriel said as he handed Tempest’s reins to a stable boy. Other servants swarmed around them to gather Gabriel’s packs from the horse. “Old Aldous hasn’t lost his touch.”

“Oh, yes, nothing a healing poultice and a brandy couldn’t cure. Although the healer you knew is no longer here. Retired. Gone to live in a cave or whatever it is old alchemists do.”

That’s the traditional Ten. Here’s a bit more for your reading pleasure:

Webster cleared his throat and stared at the cobblestones. “I’m sorry to have abandoned you at such an inconvenient time.”

“Nonsense, Webster. You would have hated tramping through the muck after game anyway.”  Gabriel brushed the remaining petals from his sleeve, disappointed to learn another trusted member of his mother’s court was gone, but determined not to dwell on it.  “I thought I’d remain dressed as I am. Gives me more the appearance of a man of action, does it not?” He ran his fingers through his hair and found another twig, this one still attached to a leaf.

Webster gaped at him in abject horror. The servant himself had donned his finest blue tunic with silver trim and tied his long brown hair back in a tidy bun. He looked more like a worried old woman than ever. Gabriel smiled and Webster let out a breath of relief.

“Oh, sire, you had me—ha, ha—naturally, you wouldn’t—you were joking, weren’t you?”

“I was, but I’m only submitting myself to your tortures because I have to make a speech.” 

***

© Olgasyrova | Dreamstime.com

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Blurb for Snow (working title):

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

***

Don’t forget to check out the other snippets at Weekend Writing Warriors!

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ Hunter’s Moon

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. When last I shared from today’s story, the pandemic was young and I was still rather enjoying my new found free time (end of the world as we knew it notwithstanding). I confidently set aside this manuscript in order to finish and publish Wild, sure that I’d soon return and get the former done in time for a winter release. Well, flash forward ONE YEAR. The pandemic is quite old and tiresome, my free time has withered on the twin vines of anxiety and despondency, and Snow has sat untouched all this time. This week, I opened it up, brushed aside the digital and mental cobwebs and guess what? It doesn’t totally suck. I like these characters, and this story, and gosh darn it, I’m going to finish it.

This week’s snippet is from Chapter Three, with our hero Prince Gabriel returning to his home for the first time in three years, along with the hunting party he encountered on the road to the royal residence. If you’d like to catch up, you can read past excerpts under the obsessions category Snow. If you want to start at the beginning, scroll down to the bottom of the posts.

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The townsfolk of Emmerich didn’t seem to notice the lack of an impressive stag or elk on display when the hunting party paraded through the gates. They also did not seem bothered by the steady drizzle or the cold that permeated even the thickest cloak.

True, most of them had been celebrating the Festival of the Hunter’s Moon since midday and were bolstered by generous quantities of mead and mulled wine, which Gabriel could smell brewing in every square they passed through. Lanterns burned brightly and fires danced in open pits. Minstrels played lively tunes, young men pranced about with antlers tied to their heads, and young women screamed and pretended to be frightened.

The people were in a gay mood, and to Gabriel’s surprise, some even called his name and tossed flowers to him as he rode by. Actually, many of them did, so many that Tempest’s mane was soon bedecked with the yellow and red fauna of autumn. Gabriel repeatedly brushed petals from his cloak as he waved at blushing clusters of girls radiant in their festival finery.

No one threw flowers at Tristan, who rode at the head of the party. Those still sober enough to have the wits backed away from his huge black horse and bowed low.  The people had always thrown flowers to their mother, Gabriel recalled, and dampened his smile. He hoped Tristan was too tired and inebriated to notice the difference in their reception.

***

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Blurb-in-progress for Snow (working title), a reimagined fairy tale:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel returns home for the first time in three years. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, the new king, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

****

Weekend Writing Warriors is a blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences.  Click the link to check out the other writers participating today.  It’s a great way to discover your next favorite book.

Weekend Writing Warriors ~ A Steep Price

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences or less. I hope you’re all doing well in these strange times. As an introvert, a writer, and a natural hermit, I must say this stay at home business is rather working out for me, but I feel for my extrovert friends. Someday we shall gather again and make merry, but until then, we have blog hops, zoom meetings, and books. Thank the gods for books!

Believe it or not, I’ve finally reached the end of this chapter and will be moving on to other things. But fear not, I’m making great progress on Snow now that I can set my own schedule and write as much as I darn well please.  Last week, (which you can read here) Gabriel was hit hard by the affects of working magic and Gavin Falkner, the last man he’d expect to do such a thing, offered his support.

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For one brief moment, Gabriel experienced a fantasy of leaning into Falkner and allowing the man to support him.  He shrugged off the weak notion and blinked away the encroaching mental fog. “I’m fine, he said, and dug deep into his reserves to pull free of Falkner’s hand.

He made it back to the meadow where the horses were without falling on his face and was relieved to hear excited chatter about the great white stag and the blessing of the gods.  As he put his foot in the stirrup and swung onto Tempest’s back, he considered for the first time that Tristan might be right, in a fashion. Maybe the forest gods had indeed favored him— not Tristan, but Gabriel, the one who had stopped the killing of the divine emissary. Immediately, his mother’s voice interrupted this line of thought, warning him against hubris.  When the gods meddle in the affairs of humans, she’d always said, trouble is never far behind. Their gifts come with a steep price.

***

© Jakub Krechowicz | Dreamstime.com

Blurb-in-progress for Snow, a reimagined fairy tale:

Following the death of his mother the Queen, Prince Gabriel is called home by his brother, now King. Gabriel hopes for a reconciliation with his estranged brother, but all is not well at Castle Rosenthal. King Tristan has fallen under the sway of a mysterious noble woman with a dark past, and all along the border of the Black Forest, magical denizens are on the move. Gabriel begins to fear for his life. Is the handsome huntsman in on a plot to assassinate him, or is there an even darker, more evil power afoot? A forced flight into the Black Forest may expose ancient magic at work, if Gabriel can survive long enough to uncover it.

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Weekend Writing Warriors is a blog hop where writers from a wide variety of genres share from their work in excerpts of ten sentences or less.  Click the link to check out the other writers participating today.  It’s a great way to discover your next favorite book.