Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tears in Beauty

For all my friends out there who are sick of me talking about how I'm not a crier, just bear with me for a second.

One of the things I always say when people start talking about sad parts in movies, or what made them cry, or the infamous 'feelz', I always have to say that I don't get feelz, and I cry very rarely during movies or books. Percy and I are known as the Robots because we never get emotional at the emotional parts in movies. At least, not as emotional. No feelz.

Then of course my siblings remind me about the ONE time I cried during a movie. Not just tearing up, legit tears streaking my cheeks, and that was during a certain scene in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Now, in my defense, I'm a semi-Trekkie. Original Series all the way for me. I'm a sucker for a good bromance, too. Brothers in Arms. So, Spock and Kirk. Gets me every time. Their friendship is gold.

More seriously, though, I finally got to thinking. What does make me cry? What gets to my heart? Recently I posted on my tumblr a song that caught my breath and held it. It was just....... beautiful. Such a simple poem, put to such a simple melody, yet expressing such vast and lovely insights. Love and loss and longing and faithfulness and friendship.... A little teardrop of beauty.

And then I realized that it is beauty that touches my heart. Things like a child's face lighting up when her father comes home, or unexpected forgiveness from a friend when you can't even forgive yourself, or a wife's inability to let go of her soldier so he can go off to war. All things born of love are beautiful. Honestly, one of the reasons I like a good death scene so much is because there is so much love in them. Be it the sorrow of those left behind, or the love that drove the sacrifice in the first place, there is so much love associated with loss, because if you didn't care it wouldn't be much of a loss, would it? And death, as horrible as it is, is only so horrible because it is a loss of life.

Which means life is beautiful, and beauty is love. And love... is everywhere.

A quiet family night around a fire.
Holding hands tightly, an unspoken "you're not alone."
A small child's fascination with the simple wonders of the world because to him, it's all so new.
Sunlight through the treetops dappling the grass with dancing light.
Laughter. True laughter, sincere and unexpected.
Rain on the rooftop and sliding down the windowpane in the house that's protecting you from the cold and the wet.

Try this: sit still, very still, wherever you are. Put yourself right in the moment, and look around you. Look, and listen, and breathe, and feel. There is beauty at your fingertips, try to find it. It's in the air, the warmth of your clothes, the roof over your head, the marvel of life in yourself and those around you. It's in color, in sight and sound, in touch.

Just take a moment to wonder at the world. It's a marvelous thing that goes so often overlooked. And in the times when beauty is so overwhelming, let the tears come. For a heart stirred by loveliness is beautiful, too.

Dia duit,

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Parkour Strikes Again

I found another video similar to the one I posted a while ago. This is an excellent visual example of why I love to write teams of characters instead of just one or two. Plus Parkour is just awesome. And the costumes.

Dia duit,

Monday, November 10, 2014

My MiniMo

Okay, technically it should be called a MiniWriMo, but MiniMo is more fun to say.

Okay, so this is what it is. But shhhh! It's a secret! Dana and I brainstormed a somewhat humorous retelling of Sleeping Beauty several months ago, and since I have absolutely no time to write a full length novel, I thought hey! I can make this a short story! And since I got Dana absolutely nothing for his birthday (cut me some slack, he was at basic training) I thought it would be a neat surprise welcome home present.

The main character's name is Alden. He's the youngest of four brothers, in a time long after fairytales. All the damsels have been rescued, all the dragons slain.... Or so they thought. Alden discovers an unfinished story in one of his Great Grandfather's old books, and along with it, a map, hidden in the binding. Soon he's sent on an adventure right from the old stories he loved so much, but it's going to take real courage and strength to succeed against odds that are anything but fictional.

I have a vague idea as to what the plot and theme are. I also am writing the entire thing out in a notebook. By hand. Which is.... interesting. My handwriting is also interesting. Heh.

However, I am about halfway through, I believe. I work on it every night. Writing by hand is actually fairly relaxing. While I wish I had a fancy notebook and pen, all I'm using is an old, half filled red meade notebook, and a cheapo Papermate pen. Black. Actually, the papermates are amazing. They write so smoothly. I really like them. Of course, I bought, like, a ten pack of them, and I'm down to one. Keeping track of pens is inexplicably difficult for me. I panic every time I can't immediately locate the one I have, now, because I'm positive it's going to go missing and I'll be stuck using some other inferior pen to write with. That will make me quite grumpy. A Grumpy Dragon, as Rosie called me the other day when I had to get up too early in the morning.

I'll be cheering on you NoMos. Hee hee. That is a very fun word. Go on, say it. It'll make you happier. And then go back to writing because you should probably be writing instead of reading this blog post.

(What is the actual plural for the participants in NaNoWriMo? Wrimos? Wrimers? NaNos?)

Dia duit,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Legend Post -- Persephone and the Pomegranate

 At the moment there is no schedule for Legend Day, but I got to thinking this morning about legends related to the Autumn seas, and of course the first one that came to mind was that of Hades and Persephone. Or Demeter and Persephone. However you want to angle it.

After doing some google research, it's clear there are several different versions of the legend. The story as a whole is fairly similar -- Hades kidnaps Persephone, Demeter pursues, and eventually the compromise consists of Persephone spending part of the year with Hades and part of the year with Demter, resulting in the yearly cycle of seasons. But the varying little nuances change the tone of the tale from one version to another.

For example, in some versions Persephone is a little girl, while in others she's a beautiful young woman. In some versions Hades is cold and selfish, while in others he's fallen in love with Persephone. Still further, it's Zeus who helps Hades lure Persephone into Hades' trap, and sometimes Persephone finds out she loves Hades in return, or alternately the six months she is forced to spend in the Underworld are pure misery for her. In one telling Persephone was the Goddess of the Underworld and there was no mention of Hades at all. (Obviously all this makes my writerly self quite intrigued, being the type to like to rewrite legends and fairytales.) All these differences ranged from ancient to more modern, the tale having been told and retold countless times. It is, I read, the oldest Greek myth, as well as one of the most popular.

One of the things that nagged me when I was looking over all the sites that talked about this story is the pomegranate. [i]Why[/i] a pomegranate? This was very poorly explained by most of the sources I found. Not that I claim to be any sort of researcher extraordinary... 

The tale goes that while Persephone is the captive of Hades, she refuses to eat or drink anything, out of defiance towards Hades as well as out of grief for missing her mother, Demeter, so much. Hades of course does his best to convince her otherwise, appearing each day --whether tenderly or harshly depends on the version -- to entice her with delectable morsels. He is a king, afterall. He has much wealth at his disposal. Eventually, right on the eve of being discovered and subsequently rescued, Persephone relents, and eats six seeds from a pomegranate. As a result she is bound to the Hades and the compromise of her spending a third of the month with Hades and two thirds with Demeter is instituted by Zeus.

So of course my reaction was, "wait, what?" How do we get from a light snack to inescapably tied to the Underworld? Obviously there's a bit of ancient culture I was missing. However, looking it up proved somewhat elusive.

At last, in some of the retellings, I found a few lines eluding to just the traditional symbolism I was looking for. Apparently, as decreed by the Fates, anyone who ate or drank in the Underworld was doomed to remain there eternally. Since Persephone only ate six (in some versions, three or four) seeds from the pomegranate, Zeus determined that she would only have to spend that amount of time in the Underworld, before being allowed to come back to the land of the living.

There was only one version of the legend in which Persephone ate the pomegranate seeds deliberately, and that was a more modern one. In all the others, whether Persephone had grown to love Hades or not, she was tricked into eating the little morsels that essentially sealed her marriage to the Ruler of the Underworld.

The most well known theme behind the story is one of the seasons. It's a story that, for the Greeks, explained the cycle of the seasons. When the leaves turn colors and slowly the earth falls asleep, Demeter is saying goodbye to her beloved daughter, and her sorrow turns the world to winter until Persephone, like the blooming flowers of Spring, is returned to her. Along with the cycle of seasons, it is speculated the legend also demonstrates other cycles. The cycle of a girl becoming a woman and leaving her mother to marry, of life and death, of love and loss, of innocence and wisdom.

It's an interesting legend to study, especially in light of all the wonderful retellings one could write using it. But that's the writer in me.

Go ahead. Google it. See what you find.

Dia duit,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Scribblings and FtGG Updates

Let's kick this off with a few scribbles!


He was a beautiful disaster.

This thought struck her one day after returning from work and finding her living room once again in complete disarray. It was as if a tornado had launched through the center of the room. He was like a tornado. Gale force, intense winds that left chaos in their wake. The couch pillows lay on the floor, the books scattered about the various end tables, dishes left where they’d been set, a blanket lying halfway off the armchair in a heap, and a towel on the floor next to the coffee table soaking up whatever had spilled into the carpet beneath it.

And there he was. Standing in the corner, amidst all of it. The window open, the gauzy curtains swaying in the breeze. His short hair stuck out at odd angles, evidence of a previous nap. The paint jacket she had gotten him last week lay neatly draped over the bouquet of silk flowers in the windowsill, while his white t-shirt now sported the brilliantly disorganized stains of his artistic endeavors, as did his arms, his neck, his chin, and, yes, one random spot of hair on the left side of his head.

At first it was utter exasperation that had enveloped her upon coming across this deplorable sight. How hard was it to simply clean up after oneself? How old was he, three? Was she his mother now? Did he have no sense of common decency?

That’s when the thought struck her. She couldn’t see his face because his back was to her, but she could see his concentration. He hadn’t even heard her come in. All his attention, his energy, his very soul, was absorbed in simple creation. In one hand the plate of paints, in the other a paintbrush, flicking back and forth from color to canvas with such unpredictable precision that all she could do was stare.

Before her eyes, the chaotic placement of strokes and slants and blots began to transform into faces. Figures, three of them, standing in a darkened meadow, surrounded by flowers, and the first few winking stars in the sky. Looking at it, she could sense the quiet sadness that laced the scene. She could feel it.

And all the sudden she was aware of two things simultaneously. First, him. He saw something in that empty, blank canvas, and he painted it. She got the sense that it was somehow part of him. A part that could only come out through his brush. Second, herself. It was an ache, almost. A void. Whatever he had, she didn’t. Her immaculate lifestyle left no room for imagination. Because, she realized… she had none. Standing here watching the chaos form into perfect imperfection on a simple, flat piece of white canvas, awed her. It was like magic. And she no longer noticed that it was sitting on one of her dining room chairs instead of the easel, which was leaning against the wall untouched, just like his painting jacket.


So there's one. It's completely random, the result of inspiration about a unique relationship between a woman and her younger brother and their completely opposite personalities. I have a story idea that goes along with it but I doubt it'll ever be written...

The next is based off a story world and storyline that Wynni and I freehand on skype.


  She sat by the bank of the stream, her back against a tree, and her sketchbook in her lap. Jesse paused. He had been planning to practice here, perhaps for the same reason Sylvae had chosen to come here and draw, but his forms were something he preferred to do alone.

  After a moment of internal debate, Jesse entered the little haven. He let his footsteps fall with gentle thuds to alert her to his approach. Her pointed ear shifted ever so slightly towards the sound, and she looked up.

  He offered a smile. “Mind if I join you?”

  Recognition softened her expression, and she straightened. “Indeed not.”

  Jesse seated himself cross legged near her. For a few moments he observed their surroundings. He’d sat with her many times before. It’d become quite a usual thing in the past month since they’d met, the only difference this time being the environment, and the fact that Sylvae didn’t seem to mind having him around as much anymore. At least, she didn’t get up and walk away as much as she used to. Which pleased him, he found. Since they’d met she’d been a complete mystery, and any time he managed to draw a reaction from her, he felt a small sense of triumph, especially if she smiled.

  The stream babbled by on a race with the chill fall breeze rustling through the sparse trees that dotted the banks. Above them, the clouds watched, drifting demurely across the milky blue sky, and the sun peeked between them to dapple the earth below with whispers of fading warmth.

  Winter is coming. It murmured.

  Levelling his gaze once again, Jesse glanced at his companion. Sylvae had gone back to her sketch, a wispy representation of the creek dribbling over a certain cluster of rocks on the far bank. On the opposite page, he noticed several smaller drawings of people’s faces. He recognized them, people they’d met on their recent travels. Several of the sailors he knew, and a couple of Jasmine with her various expressions. He smiled a little to himself. Sylvae could spend months trying to capture all the thousands of faces Jasmine was known to make. How she’d manage to perfectly put down even those few ever astounded him. Art had never been a strong point of his.

  He shifted his gaze to her face a moment. Though her hair was a strange sort of white, her brows were the darkest brown, drawn together in concentration. Her lips pressed together, her blue eyes shifted from the paper to the cluster of rocks, back and forth, and her slender fingers manipulated the charcoal like magic. Occasionally she would tilt her head, narrowing her eyes, and Jesse could see where the long scar cut through her brow and ran down along her cheekbone to her jaw. He’d grown so used to seeing it that he didn’t notice it often, but he was well aware that it was one mystery he had yet to solve.

  But it could wait.

  “Those drawings of Jasmine are perfect,” Jesse finally commented.

  Giving him a glance out of the corner of her eye, Sylvae paused. “Are they?”

  Jesse nodded. “You got her expressions exactly right. She makes those faces all the time.”

  After a moment’s examination, Sylvae nodded in accession. “Thank you.”

  “How come you never draw yourself?”

  “Why would I do that?”

  Jesse shrugged. He didn’t really know why.

  She added, returning to her sketch, “I don’t know what I look like.”

  He frowned. “How can you not know what you look like?”

  “There aren’t any mirrors in my house,” She said. “And it never really seemed that important. Souls are more beautiful than faces, anyway.”

  “Then why do you draw faces?”

  “Sometimes you can see people’s souls in their faces.”

  “Don’t you think you could see yours in your face?”

  She tilted her gaze at him again. Jesse raised his brows in response.

  “I don’t know,” She finally replied, looking down again, though not continuing her drawing. She brushed her hair behind her ear.

  They sat in silence then. Sylvae had a comfortable silence that Jesse liked. It wasn’t awkward or exclusive. It was just quiet, a mutual sharing of each other’s presence that required no words or acknowledgement. He’d gotten used to doing this, as well, because even though Sylvae talked to him more now than before, she still had times often enough when she kept her thoughts to herself.

  And she had a similar appreciation for nature, so she normally settled in places that Jesse enjoyed being. Like this one.

  Leaning back on his hands, he gave the area a once over. He’d have to come back tomorrow or later today to practice his forms. There was a spot across the water with enough space between the trees to go through several sequences without having to worry about bumping into anything. Although, he thought, it could help to learn to avoid obstacles.

  “Can you see it?”

  Sylvae’s question brought him out of his thoughts. “What?”

  For a moment it seemed she wasn’t going to answer, her gaze on the ground between them.

  “My soul.”

  Brows drawing closer, Jesse sat up. He studied Sylvae’s profile, trying to think of an answer.

  Could he?

  He hesitated before admitting, “Not yet. But… I’m not very good at that kind of thing. Jasmine’s better. Maybe you could ask her sometime.”

  She looked at him long and hard, her expression unreadable, but her eyes a little wider and flicking in minute movements as Jesse realized she was examining his face. He let her, staring back.

  Suddenly he noticed that her eyes were blue, and couldn’t figure out why he hadn’t seen it before. It hadn’t occurred to him. But with the light from the slanted sunbeams aiding him, he saw the hue glinted in her irises so deeply it reminded him of the unfathomable depths of the ocean around his home island. Brilliant, and ever changing like waves, teasing with glimpses of what lay below but ever protecting the mysteries beneath the surface.

  When he realized he was staring, his face grew warm, but he didn’t move until Sylvae finished her inspection.

  The color of her eyes hid in a shroud of shadow when she turned her gaze back to her sketchbook. Jesse waited for her verdict.

  “I hope it was that disappointing.” He teased.

  The ghost of a smile passed over her lips, and she started drawing.

  “No,” He said. “Tell me.”

  She glanced at him.

  “With words,” He encouraged.

  “Some things speak louder than words.”

  “Words can be pretty loud, too.”

  “Not loud enough.”

  Jesse conceded. “Alright.”

  She began sketching again, and Jesse laid back to wait. He’d already seen his face, and he didn’t know that Sylvae could show him anything new. Oh well. It wasn’t all that important, anyway. His mind began to drift to their journey again, the roads they still had to take and obstacles they had to overcome.

  And Jasmine. He thought about Jasmine a lot. He worried about her, and the things in Septyni he couldn’t protect her from.

  Rising, Jesse slid his swords from their sheath and waded across the stream. At the moment, he didn’t care if Sylvae was watching. More likely she’d be preoccupied with her sketch while he practiced, but either way, he needed to channel the energy pent up inside him, and it couldn’t wait.

  He drew a deep breath, and let it out slowly, bringing his thoughts towards one focus and blocking everything else out. For him, time stilled, and his awareness extended only to his own movements, and the immediate area around him. Dips in the ground, the distance of the water and trees, the visibility in this lighting, the temperature of the breeze ruffling through his hair, and the steady in and out of his breath matching the rhythm of his heightening heartbeat.

  By the time he finished, the light had turned orange, and Sylvae was gone.


When it comes to my own writings, I either invest myself in an entire novel, or I write scribbles that are written mainly involving character dynamic and emotion. It becomes less important to know the characters or the backstory because that doesn't matter when the captured moment itself is so intriguing.

At least that's what I try to accomplish. Heh.

Now on to For The Greatest Good. While Dana and I did complete a fair portion of, I'm afraid it is yet uncompleted. It's difficult to continue with it, as well, as Dana is currently at basic training. Let's have a cheer for the United States Army, shall we?

So he's down at Fort Benning Georgia learning how to fire a myriad of weapons, use explosives, and do things with tanks, as his job will eventually be Cavalry Scout for the Army National Guard. Two months left before he graduates.

Anyway, down in basic training, there is little contact with 'the outside world'. So no skype, and certainly no time to transcribe For the Greatest Good segments. So that puts a bit of a pause on things until he gets back in December. When he does, however, we are going to figure out how to get this story both finished, and published. Until then I will be working on my other novel, The Land Between Time. Which is so far taking much longer to finish than I anticipated. Sigh. That's what I get for being optimistic. Haha.

Dia duit,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On the Wings of Chance and Hope

Even though it's only been part of a year, it seems like so much longer since I've come back to this blog. I tried to think of a clever way to start this post, but couldn't, so I'm just going to jump right in.

The reason for me restarting this blog is simple. I need it. I've missed having a place to put my thoughts, my writings, my ideas, my discoveries. Actually, what I missed most was sharing them. I didn't know how much I missed it until recently. And I thought, why not?

Of course reasons 'why not' immediately came flooding in. I'm too busy, I won't get anything done, I already have too many projects, I can't think of anything interesting to write... Which actually kept me away for a good month before I again thought, why not? If I don't do it now, when will I? What exactly am I waiting for?

So I'm going to do what I seem to do best. I'm going to wing it. We'll see where that takes me.

That does mean, of course, this blog might not be the same as it was. That's because I'm not the same as I was. One Summer changed a lot of things. But they didn't change my love of writing, and my desire to share with others all the little gems I discover along the wild and unpredictable path called Life.

So here I am. Hello, World. Penny's back.

Dia duit,

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Rest of Your Life Ahead of You

Usually, as a kid or a teen, when you hear those words, you think of them as the nostalgic utterances of old age. Middle aged folks wishing they could relive their younger days, or grown ups who, along with that sentence, are going to encourage you to take life by the reins and do something successful and brilliant with yourself. Which usually involves going to college, getting a degree, and launching into a career. Change the world! Make your mark! Occasionally you hear it said in a kind way, with an elusive glimmer of excitement behind it. Your whole life... A million wonderful possibilities. Travel, adventure, love. So much potential.

But most of the time, you don't really understand it. Duh, you have the rest of your life. More life than them, at any rate. But really, what does it matter? Sometimes you think you're going to enjoy your life more than the current grown ups seem to. Never grow up, forever 21, and all that, right? Not going to have our adventurous, fun-loving spirits squashed by adulthood.

Maybe that's not the norm. Maybe that was just me. I'm a ponderous person by nature, but that phrase, "the rest of your life ahead of you", never got much thought.

Last year I turned 21. Something happened. Well, many things happened. The year before, my life, and my whole family's lives, took a dramatic course change after my father retired from the military. Even in my 20th year I recognized something I had never thought of in my teens.

I have my whole life ahead of me.

All of it. And it's more than just a series of ages, moving from the twenties to the thirties to the forties. It's a life.

But it didn't sink in until 21. As I told my friends, when you're 18 and 19, you feel older, because you're at the top end of the teen segment. You think 20 is going to be the same. Just another year older. But it isn't. All the sudden, you're not on the top anymore, you're practically a child. You're an adult, but you're a child adult, at the very beginning of the beginning of your adult life. You knew it was coming, but suddenly you're there.

And you have the rest of your life ahead of you.

It's all yours. Your destiny, if you want to be dramatic. (Which I normally am. Hee hee.) There's a strange and terrifying mixture, in the potion of adulthood, of choice and circumstance. You're restricted by where you have been placed in life, but at the same time, your life is your responsibility, not anyone else's. It's up to you to do something with it. Or not do anything with it.

But even with your choices, there's only so much you can control. There are other people who make choices with their lives that affect yours, and also things that just happen, regardless of what you do.

And in the midst of all the strangeness and destiny, there's something I haven't quite grasped yet. Something I don't quite understand. I used to think I'd get life all figured out, hit adulthood, and then shoot off. It's proving to be quite the opposite. I turned 21, and the first thing I accepted was how limited my knowledge was on living life. I didn't feel like I'd been entrusted with the knowledge of the Grown Ups. In fact, I came to realize that that knowledge isn't out there to be entrusted. It's something I have to learn on my own. How? By living.

So all this has made me realize two things for certain. First of all, the wisdom of age. Without an instruction manual on How to Be An Adult, there are only a couple things we can do. Live it and see what happens, or talk to people who have already been living for a while and figured a few things out. No, they're not going to know everything, but they know more than you.

I have learned to listen, and truly value the wisdom of my elders. Truly, there is no substitute for experience. And when one reaches an older age, still not knowing exactly how to tackle the rest of your existence, you do know how to handle some of the issues of younger life. Useless to you, it's treasure to youth wise enough to seek it out.

The second thing I have learned is courage. Life takes a lot of courage. At least, any life worth living does. And I've discovered that a lot of things take courage. Faith, love, hope, dreams, kindness... All the things life is made up. Trials and temptations aren't the hard part, it's holding onto goodness in spite of them that takes real strength. That's what makes it all so frightening. The stakes are so much higher once you realize how grand the scale of life really is.

Humility and courage. I've heard those words my whole life, but now, with the rest of my life ahead of me, I can see a little more clearly what they really mean. At 21, with the rest of my life ahead of me, those two ideals have suddenly and unexpectedly become my sword and shield, in a quest with an end I have not yet determined, but a journey I am destiny bound to travel.

Told you I was dramatic.

Now, I have written all that as a very long goodbye. With life looming over me, a great many things are changing both within and without myself. It probably sounds a bit melodramatic by now, but take a moment to consider my honesty and sincerity. I am, in fact, trying to quietly explain what is going on. Do not allow your imagination to run away with you. Some great changes are quiet, and not grand, but they are nonetheless equal in quality. Inner journeys are often the most momentous, and the most silent.

So for now at least, and possibly for some time, I must retire from Barefoot Bladeweaver. By no means am I abandoning it. Just taking a vacation. My focuses have and must shift elsewhere for a while. Likely I will be writing elsewhere on the internet over the summer, and when I get around to that, I'll post a link here.

FtGG is not forgotten. Dana and I are still on track for publication, and have been scribbling out the climax and preparing a plan for editing, as well. If I do say so myself, it's a pretty good showdown. You won't want to miss it. I will post here when it's finished and published, and also offer discount codes (if I can figure out how to create them...) to those who have been faithful followers since I first started posting its segments here.

Thank you, all of you, who have read and enjoyed my blog. I guess it sounds a little shallow to be so grateful to people I've never met, and possibly don't even care one way or another about my little blog, but truly, I write because others read. There are some who write to discover themselves or amuse themselves, but I don't. I write for you. Whoever and wherever you are. I know there are others out there like me, and I want to encourage them.

Dana told me once, "Never give up on your dreams." Now I will tell you, it gets hard. But trust me, a dream that changes and grows does not mean it has died, it means it has matured. Dreams have journeys.

 Just like you.

Dia duit,

Monday, February 3, 2014

Medieval Occupations -- Scoundrels and the Underclass

Here come the scallywags, ragamuffins, and troublemakers.

Bandit, mugger, or thug -- steals by force; often part of a gang of thieves
Burglar -- steals by breaking and entering
Fence -- buyer of stolen goods, may serve as a pawnbroker
Pickpocket or Cutpurse -- steals by stealth

My brother Seph likes the idea of a cutpurse. Normally pickpockets are the ones that are used the most in stories, so a cutpurse is an interesting twist. Necessities being a good sharp knife, a quick hand, and a stealthy getaway.

Procurer -- streetwise specialist in finding whatever the client might be looking for
Smuggler -- moves stolen or illegal goods
Wanderer -- a "barbarian" nomad, drifter, or rover

Only one more class to go, and then that's it.

Dia duit,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Medieval Occupations -- Martial

Time for the warriors.

Bounty Hunter
Forester -- a ranger or game warden, often empowered to act as law enforcement within the forest
Gatekeeper or Toll Keeper (the grumpy old troll has a sword?)

Unlike in most movies, jailers were probably fairly formidable folk. Think about it. This has to be a trusted and competent fellow to be in charge of ensuring the security of prisoners, both important and trivial.

Mercenary or Soldier

Although I've looked, I've been unable to find a simple description of medieval military systems online. Really, I oughtn't be surprised. The web can be helpful, only so reliable, anyway. If anyone has any links or insights, please feel free to share them in the comments. I do know that at some point, armies were put together out of the people who worked for the lords (who in turn worked for a higher lord, who in turn worked for a still higher lord or the king himself). So your average footsoldier could be Joe Farmer fresh off the field. On the other hand, there were mercenaries who made fighting the name of their game and offered themselves and their skills to whomever had enough to pay them.

Obviously -- being both fascinating and somewhat annoying at the same time -- the military system changed over time, and also depended on the country in question. It'd be a very interesting study, but it's one I don't really have time for right at this very moment. At the very least, it's all interesting to ponder for worldbuilding.

There's another short-ish list. My Dad being retired military, I'm very interested in this aspect of the Medieval world, so like I said above, leave a comment if you have something to share!

Dia duit,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

In A Land Not So Far Away

I have written!

Yes, this makes me very glad. I have not written in, it feels like, absolute ages. Which I know isn't true, factually, but still. I made progress on editing LBT. Whenever I make progress on LBT, my mood improves drastically.

So, to celebrate, I'll post an excerpt here. Enjoy!

  Matthew was the first to notice their return. Sitting on one end of the table, his feet on the seat of the chair in front of him, he’d been staring out the window for some time now. While Rosella and Elisa had been set to work peeling some vegetable or other, he hadn’t bothered to remember the name, Matthew occupied himself doing nothing. Hours had passed. Mark and Roye had both gone out and come back again, carrying three rabbits, which they left outside. Matthew had stayed behind with the girls, who were resting upstairs at the time. Now Mark aided the Guardian in repairing a leather belt, using the chest in the corner as a work table, and leaving Matthew at loose ends. If his Mother were here, she’d reprimand him for sitting on the furniture improperly and ignoring the chores being done around him.

  But she wasn’t here. He wondered vaguely if his little brothers had remembered to put the trash out. Though by now that probably wasn’t one of their main concerns.

  Cassidy had been gone the whole time. It worried Mark. Matthew could tell, even though his brother didn’t show it. So when Matthew spotted the two coming up the path towards the cottage, he hopped off the table and moved to the window, peering out. He waited a few moments just to make sure it was them, then glanced back at the rest of the room.

  “Hey guys, Cass is back.”

  Elisa set aside the small knife she’d been using and rose, dusting off her skirt as she crossed the room to join him at the window.

  “Oh good,” Her brow smoothed. “I was so worried, but I didn’t want to say anything.”

  She glanced a smile at him, and Matthew pat her shoulder. “Cass can take care of herself.”

  A few moments later, Katarina and Cassidy came through the door.

  “Everth sends his regards to you all,” The female Guardian slipped off her cloak and hooked it on a peg by the doorframe. “And to you, Roye, he advises to remain on guard. He and the others watching the West Border have discovered evidence of an unidentified traveler.”

  Roye merely nodded from his place by the chest, needle and twine still in hand while Mark held a section of the belt in place for him. The frown that had dissipated when Cassidy came back returned. If he kept it up his face would probably freeze that way permanently. Not that anyone would be able to tell. Of the two of them, Mark was the least visibly expressive.

  After giving Cassidy a hug, Elisa went back to her chore with Rosella, and Katarina walked over to inspect their progress.

  Matthew leaned against the wall. He didn’t want to return to his place on the table, just in case Katarina turned out to be like his Mother in regards to etiquette.

  “Find anything neat?” He raised his brows at his cousin.

  Cassidy gave him a sidelong gaze, folding her arms, and moved over to stand next to him. “Yes, actually. Trees.”

  “That’s real fascinating.”

  The corner of her mouth quirked upward. “Well, it doesn’t look like you guys were exactly having a party.”

  “Are you kidding? We put Old Jenkins’ hoe downs to shame.”

  This drew a small chuckle from her, for which Matthew was immensely proud.

  “So who’s this Everth guy?”

  She shrugged. “One of the people we met, I suppose. They all spoke Meerinoran to Katarina, and she didn’t bother translating.”

  “She must have talked more than Roye, at least.”

  “Only by a little. She said English is called Common, in Xystia, and that we shouldn’t get discouraged.”

  “Because of Common?”

  “No,” She rolled her eyes. “In general. About getting home.”

  “Oh.” He said. “That was nice.”

  “Hm.” Was her only response.

  He didn’t get a chance to say anything else, for Roye beckoned him, and conscripted he and Mark into carrying wood from the stack outside, to the stack inside. Matthew couldn’t decide if the Guardian was just trying to keep them busy so they wouldn’t worry, or if he enjoyed having little minions to send to and fro on various errands. He still hadn’t decided by the time they finished, but the scent of roasting meat distracted him as he carried in the last armful of splintered logs.

  “I wonder what they did around here before we came,” He stepped aside so Rosella could pass by with a bucket in her hand. “All they seem to do now is eat and prepare to eat.”

  “Roye said he often visits the village,” Mark crossed the room, lowering his armful of firewood into the crude bin beside the hearth.

  “What do you mean, Roye said?” Matthew followed. “That guy never talks.”

  “Yes he does.”

  “Well, not to me he doesn’t.”

  Mark just shrugged, standing.

  Matthew knelt and half lowered, half dropped, his armful into the bin, settling it so it would stay in a neat-ish stack and not fall out. Patting his handiwork, he hopped to his feet again, dusting off his hands.

  “What else did he say?”
  A drawn out scream cut off Mark’s reply.

--Excerpt from The Land Between Time, Chapter II, Draft III

Dia duit,

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Medieval Occupations -- The Working Class

Here we are at the working class, now, and while I was starting to write this post, I got a sudden seizure of curiosity in regards to the rank order of classes in the feudal system. That's generally what we think of when we think of 'Medieval Times'; Kings, Queens, Dukes, Knights, and Peasants. Now, obviously, specifics are dependent on exact time period -- my friend Nairam is very well read on the 11th and 12th centuries of England, for example -- but I did find a list of general stations and classes used for the feudal system in the Medieval world.

I won't write down the entire list here, but this is the gist of it:

Tradesmen & Merchants
Castle Workers

I'm still unsure as to why entertainers are ranked above military -- though, most higher ranking military is placed in the nobility class -- but that seems to be the way it goes in most lists I've found. I'll look into it later.

Now onto the Working Class.

Boatman -- travel by lake or by river
Coachman -- drive of a coach
Groom -- one who tends animals
Herdsman -- keeper of livestock
Hunter or Trapper
Painter or Limner
Peddler -- an itinerant merchant of goods
Servant -- maid, butler, attendant, steward, etc.
Stevedore -- one who loads and unloads goods from sailing ships or caravans

I personally think messenger would be a neat job. Lots of travel involved. Of course, the phrase 'shoot the messenger' does come to mind...

Dia duit,