Sunday, October 9, 2011

Twentieth Excerpt of "Twelve Towers"

Gwilym used his ruler to draw a wall from corner to corner that divided the tower neatly into barracks and silo.
“Now let’s write down exactly what this tower looks like,” said Gwilym.
The men all gathered around the second parchment. The overall placement and dimensions of the tower were set by Kay and caused no dispute. The placement and dimensions of the silo were hotly argued over. Half of the tower meant different things to the masons than to Gwilym. The masons expected that the interior dimensions of the silo should equal exactly half the exterior dimensions of the tower and they couldn’t be made to understand that the walls took up space.
Finally Fred spoke up. “This drawin’ down here shows a cross-section of t’tower, right Gwilym?”
Gwilym agreed.
“Then how about if I draw t’wall separatin’ t’tower from t’silo and t’masons pick which side they want?”
The masons were immediately suspicious and refused this trickery.
“Alright then, tha draw the wall and Gwilym will pick which side goes to t’tower.”
This brought a hurried consultation amongst the workers, farmer and shipper. They squatted on the ground next to the table and scratched out various options in the dirt until they realized what Fred was really proposing: the only fair way to divide the tower.
Finally Athelstan spoke to Gwilym. “You are de best writer here. You draw de separating vall and ve vill pick our side.”
Gwilym used his ruler to draw a wall from corner to corner that divided the tower neatly into barracks and silo. Athelstan picked one side and Gwilym drew the location of the stairs on the barracks side. Then he drew interior walls on the rest of the silo’s triangular section, indicating a smooth surface covering the wooden supports. There was still some grumbling as the men saw that their interior dimensions were smaller but Athelstan explained the fairness to them and they shut up.
Gwilym then worked with the farmer to decide where the road should go and where they should have an opening in the side to pour in the grain. Then he worked with the shipper on the placement of the openings leading to the channel. After computing in his head for a while, Gwilym wrote out a series of numbers, showing how much extra stone and clay they would need to line the silo and the channel to the water. “This you will need to supply,” he told Athelstan.
“Dis tower vill take all vinter to build,” replied Athelstan. “How do ve protect our grain until den?”
“Gather some building materials and build a temporary shelter here. Then, as we build the silo you can add grain as we go. You can use a temporary roof to protect it.”
When they had all reached agreement on every detail of the tower, Gwilym signed the bottom of both parchments and asked all men present to do the same.
He titled the first: Requirements of the Airmyn Watchtower.
He titled the second: Scope of the Airmyn Watchtower
Fred stared off into the distance, moving his lips, and Gwilym knew that he was composing another verse or two in his Project Management Guide song. Bleddyn brought more ale and then everyone broke off for lunch. 

Although Gwilym had solved the
budget crisis and motivated the men to work for free, he had inadvertently created a new problem. The workers were happy to work on the main structure of the tower but less interested in finishing off the barracks and easily distracted by protection for their grain. To build the temporary structure they raised as a silo next to the tower, they kept borrowing key materials dedicated to the main tower, causing delays in removing them from one and placing them in the other. When the rains hit hard that winter, the men refused to risk the health of their grain by exposing it to the elements while transferring key materials. Gwilym saw that listing the requirements and scope of the project answered the question of WHAT must be done. It didn’t answer the question of HOW this was to be accomplished. He needed another tool to document the HOW.
The good side of this delay was that Gwilym had time to spend with his sons. The little boys were tottering around the town getting into scrapes but learning rapidly.
Bleddyn was slowly answering the questions Gwilym had given him about the presence of Saxons in this region. According to Bleddyn’s sources, the original inhabitants had been British but had been killed or driven off the land by a series of Saxon raids. These raiders had been driven off many times, but had returned recently and had signed a treaty with King Arthur to stay here unmolested as long as they protected this land from future invaders and assisted the king with treaty troops to help in other wars. That was why there were so few men here of fighting age.
Bleddyn had found an old story-teller and was spending many days with him learning stories and writing them down on the scrolls provided by Gwilym.
“Listen to this story, Da!” Bleddyn said one day, and related the tale of an old Babylonian king named Gilgamesh who wrestled with a wild man named Enkidu and had many adventures. “Were you ever in Babylon, Da?” Bleddyn asked when the tale was told.
“Aye. I passed through Babylon on my way to and from the Holy Land. In fact, it’s really part of the Holy Land since the Jews were exiled there long ago. The city is in ruins now. Did you get to the part of the story where there is a great flood?” asked Gwilym. Bleddyn nodded.
“It is another story of the great flood that Noah survived but it looks as though he wasn’t the only one. Babylon is between the two great rivers of that land: The Tigris and the Euphrates. If they both flooded because of forty days and nights of rain, that entire valley would fill with water and destroy everything. You can see signs on the surrounding hills that such a flood has occurred a few times in the past. That valley is over fifty miles wide. If you were living there in such a rain and flood, it would seem to you that the entire earth was covered in water.”
“Which story was written first, Da?”

“Remember that the Jews were exiled in Babylon for a long time. From what my father said, they wrote their Torah while they were in exile. The tablets that the tale of Gilgamesh was written on are really old. I don’t know for sure who copied who. Both flood stories appear in their books as events outside the main story. But, given the location, and the fact that flooding in the Holy Land would not have looked like it did in Babylon, I believe Gilgamesh was written first and the Jews incorporated it into their Torah.”  
To read the entire first draft in one shot, click here:

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