Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Twelfth Excerpt from 'Twelve Towers'

Kay thundered in on his charger, accompanied by three other men.
Gwilym awoke from his exhaustion to find the morning sun shining in his eyes. His skin was warm and he heard the chirping of birds accompanied by the murmuring of the early risers. The smell of cooking meat awoke his hunger. He glanced around the tower in astonishment until he remembered last night’s love-making session. Grainne was gone. He thought about how he should feel about her. ‘Did she take advantage of me? Maybe at first, but it was I who consummated the evening. Was there a spell involved? No, just the lust of two adults. Would Kaitlyn have approved? No. His sons? No. The villagers? Probably half and half. Well, no use thinking about it any longer. Beltane was over and Kay would arrive today to inspect the tower. Better check it out one last time.’ He pulled on his breeches and tunic and climbed back down the tower.

Kay thundered in on his charger, accompanied by three other men. Along with Fred, they inspected the tower from foundations to roof stone, asking many questions of Gwilym and seeming satisfied with all the answers. One was especially interested in the capstone and questioned him long on its origin. He actually seemed happy with the mystery of its appearance on the worksite. Another was fascinated with the building techniques Gwilym had used and spent time making intricate sketches of the tower details. Finally Kay sat with Gwilym and the third man to go over the expenses.
“You stayed on budget, then?” inquired Kay. Gwilym ran through all the figures and showed Kay that he was actually owed three days work from the men and he had 200 silver left that was to have paid the quarryman for the capstone.
“But you needed that extra somewhere else, right?” sneered Kay cynically.
Gwilym handed Kay a pouch full of silver. “This is all the extra silver, Sir Kay. It can be used on the next tower.”
Kay looked at Gwilym in astonishment. “You’re the first man who ever returned money to me. I usually get asked for a little more to finish off something they had to ‘pay out of pocket’. Are you honest, or a good money manager or both?”
“I try to be both, Sir. It’s the King’s money. I already took my wages.”
Kay opened the pouch and counted out 50 silver. “Here’s a bonus for your honesty. Now let’s talk of the next job. We’re building towers like this one all around the coasts. I’d like you to supervise. We start right away on the east coast since that is where we expect the Norsemen to attack next year. The pay will be the same with the chance of a much bigger bonus if you can do as well there as here. Will you take the job?”
“Is there no work closer to Huish, Sir Kay? My boys are barely two months old and cannot leave their wet-nurses.”
“They’re not needed on the job-sites. You’ll be traveling most of the time anyway so you might as well leave them here. Come back and see them next year when they are no longer squalling babes.”
Gwilym struggled for the right words. “It is important for me to be with them now. I can be free to help you in the autumn. But for the summer, I will stay in the village. Thank you very much for the offer, and for the compliment. I hope I can assist you some other way in the autumn.”
Kay looked incredulous. “You’re passing up a grand job. It won’t wait for you. I need to find another man to take the reins. Can you recommend your second to me?”
“Fred is a good man. He can be trusted to treat the men well and take care of the money. He will build you strong towers.”
Kay read between the lines and put in, “But he is no leader of men. They’ll walk all over him.”
“He needs some more seasoning. Take him with you and use him for some of the work. He’ll be ready for leadership in a year or two.”
“Come to Caerleon when you are ready, Gwilym. There will always be work for you somewhere in this kingdom.”

To read the entire first draft in one shot, click here:

(End of Chapter One. I'll start posting Chapter Two in two weeks. I have almost finished drafting the Eighth Chapter. Once I've drafted all twelve, I'll go back and rewrite. Any suggestions you have on improvements, please e-mail me and I'll add those I agree with to my extensive list of needed edits. bruce@fieggen.com . Thanks for your attention!)

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