Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fifty-fourth excerpt from 'Twelve Towers'

He woke to the sound of someone clambering up the side of the capstone. Morning light shone on him. He covered himself with his clothes just before Bleddyn’s head appeared. “Go back down son. Wait until I can help you up so that you are safe. It’s dangerous to climb this by yourself.”
Bleddyn’s head dropped out of sight. Gwilym dressed and leaned over the side to give his hand to his son. “Were you comfortable here last night, Da?” he asked, looking around at the stone and his father.
“I slept like the dead,” replied Gwilym. “We should be able to see Sir Kay’s party arrive from up here. Would you like to be the watchman while I make sure everything is in order below?”
Bleddyn said he’d love to and promised not to come down until his father was there to assist him.
Gwilym walked through the tower one last time, cleaning up some last minute things and gathered his crew for a final speech. Along the way he had found no trace of Grainne. Infuriating woman!

Sir Kay and his three assistants arrived and inspected the site. Gwilym made a point, this time, of getting to know who these three were. The one who inspected the rune-stones that capped each structure was called Mostyn. He was close-lipped about the meaning of the runes or the origins of the stones. “I come only to see that they are installed correctly.”
Gwilym paused at this. “The stones and the towers are square, yet the runes on them have a design that can be read in one direction. Have I been turning them the correct way?”
“Of course you have,” replied Mostyn.
“Yet I put no thought into the direction when I placed them. Are they all facing the east? No, that’s impossible, the other towers were all facing off the compass points due to the wind or the angle of the town walls.”
“Which way did the rune face at Huish?”
“I turned the tower to avoid the prevailing wind which comes from slightly north of the west. Then I placed the rune so that when you looked at it you were facing north of northwest. Why that way? Because it was closest to north?”
“And Airmyn?”
“There the wind came down the river so I turned that tower almost completely to the north. But I faced the rune so that looking at it you were facing away from the river, almost due south.”
“I had to follow the angle of the tower which was lined up with the city walls and they were lined up with the bend in the river. The rune faced to the northwest.”
“And this one faces east. You were perfect.”
Gwilym thought for a moment, then his furrowed brow cleared. “They are all facing toward the next tower! I’m building my next tower due east of here.”
Mostyn smiled and continued tracing the designs of the rune on his paper.

Nantlais was the name of the man who checked the structure of Gwilym’s towers. He was in deep discussions with Arthfael when Gwilym arrived. They were talking about the recent attack by the Eirish on the castle walls and how the projecting tower would have made their jobs easier. He stopped to ask Gwilym a question. “You incorporated the castle stones into the walls by building them at the same time. That makes both structures stronger. Was that your intention?”
“Yes. Just as you never stack stones directly on top of each other when building a wall, I didn’t want to end the wall flush with the tower, I wanted to continue the pattern.”
“Good work. And make sure all future towers project beyond walls. Did you notice how that can help during the attack?”

Sir Kay was going over the accounts of this tower with Euros.
“You’ve done good work here again Gwilym. The tower will stand forever. Yet once again the costs were higher than planned. I thought you were going to take care of that.”
Gwilym was prepared for this question. “In order to meet the schedule I had to keep men around whose work wasn’t needed right then. I had them doing other work to speed up those activities but it wasn’t the most efficient use of their time. ”
“Couldn’t you have predicted this?” Sir Kay asked.
“We planned for the most likely scenario. Not the most optimistic or pessimistic. So the costs were mostly in line.”
“And yet you come asking me for more money. Next tower I want you to ask for the right amount the first time.”
“That may mean returning to you for the correct amount after we have planned the project.”
“Do so.”
“And the next tower is in the east?”
Kay gave Gwilym a sharp look. “Salthouse, on the east coast. It is a larger tower and requires a bit of preparation. You had better start there by next month.”
“What news of Palomides?”
“He has paid recompense for the damage he did in Huish.”
“Has he been told to leave off his intentions to steal from me?”
“He claims you stole the book from his house. If this were a dispute between two knights, you would fight it out and God would reward the knight telling the truth. Since you are no knight, that would be an unfair fight. I choose not to tell Palomides where you are.”

Viviane looked up from the well. “Their relationship is getting strained.”
“She cannot use that power against him anymore.”
“Grainne is impatient, it is her curse.”
“The last tower must be completed with love or the spell won’t work. Foster out her oldest.”
“She will be devastated.”
“She will still have the second son. Use it as a threat to make her do things right.”
“We still need her when the spell is done. This isn’t her last act. I’m still grooming her.”
“The spell is more important than her future. Keep her happy if you can but not at the cost of the spell.”

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

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