In the meantime I have started work on a new/old story. It's lastest incarnation of a story I've been working on for years. So, since I have been neglectful of my poor blog, I am going to post the first two pages of it:
The Knight Protector of Ramni
Shaun woke with the sheet tangled around him. He struggled from the bed, keeping himself from falling by bracing his arms against the walls. He could touch both walls of his small sleeping chamber without stretching.
He wasn’t sure if that was because of the room’s size, or because of his own height. A bit of both, he decided as he shook the sheet from his ankle. He’d been dreaming again.
Shaun tried desperately to block the dream from his mind, even as he tried just as desperately to remember every detail of it. He made his bed while trying to decide which impulse to follow.
When the sheet was smooth on his narrow bed, he ran a hand through his hair—or tried to. It was long overdue for a cut and nearly as tangled as his sheets had been. He worked his fingers free with an effort and grimaced.
Was there any point in laying back down, he wondered. But he did so, abruptly making up his mind to ponder his dream. When he was prone, he closed his eyes and drew in a steadying breath.
Shaun found his dreams . . . disturbing. They weren’t exactly nightmares—at least, most of them weren’t—but they were so vivid that he often woke unable to tell dream from reality.
This dream had been a single image of a tree. He’d been sitting beneath it, Shaun remembered, listening to a gentle music, like the sound of wind chimes. Remembering, he felt a wave of peace come over him.
The sound of the pre-dawn bell chiming jerked him from his thoughts with a jolt that was almost painful.
Shaun sighed and rose from his bed. It was time to milk the cow and gather eggs before morning meditation. He took the faded brown robe from the hook by the door and dressed. There were times when living at a monastery was inconvenient.
On the other hand, he reflected as he made his way to the barn, nodding greetings to the sleepy-eyed Brothers he passed, he didn’t have to worry about his appearance. Remembering, he forced his fingers through his hair in a vain attempt to work out the tangles. It was hopeless. He really should cut his hair. Most of the Brothers had shaved heads, a sign of humility and their devotion to Lakthu.
Shaun didn’t consider himself a vain man, but he couldn’t stop the vague self-consciousness at the thought of cutting his hair. He automatically tugged his hair down around his ears as he stepped outside. Vanity aside, his head got cold. The monastery that housed the Brothers of the Lady of Wisdom was high in the mountains to the north of Tillete. Even though spring was well-advanced, the air here was still chilly, and mist puffed from his mouth as he walked.
Shaun patted the cow as he passed her to fill her manger with hay. He scratched the ears of her new calf before settling on the stool with the milk bucket. He didn’t speak, but he whistled softly, and it seemed to relax her as he did his work.
He passed the brimming milk pail off to another Brother, before leading the cow—he’d mentally dubbed her Daisy—out of her stall so he could clean it, and strew fresh straw. Daisy walked out to the pasture, with her calf beside her. She knew the routine as well as Shaun did. She would spend the day nibbling grass and enjoying the sunshine.
Shaun finished with her stall, and headed for the chicken coop, snagging the egg basket as he went. The same Brother who’d taken the milk pail was scattering grain for the hens. He smiled and nodded at Shaun before trotting off in the direction of the Prayer Room.
Shaun gently shooed chickens aside as he opened the door of the coop and bent to gather eggs. One would expect that a monastery would have a grand chapel for their devotions—or at least a large drafty one. But the Brothers worshipped the Fate of Wisdom, and it was far more practical—and comfortable—to hold their ceremonies in the snug room in the main wing of the keep. Why waste time erecting a whole knew building when there was already space for that purpose? There was no wisdom there.
He could have done much worse than to be sent here, Shaun reflected. It was a calm place, and most days he found the routine soothing.
He made his way back to the keep—for the monastery had originally been a keep meant to defend Tillete against invasion from the north. Eventually, they’d realized that there was no one to the north to invade, and the keep had been abandoned, until some long ago monk had found it and decided it was a perfect place for a monastery.
Very little changed here from day to day. The weeks were marked by market day, and the months by the changing of the seasons. The Brother he passed as he entered the kitchen could easily have been a ghost from a hundred years ago . . . or a vision of a man who would be born a hundred years from now. Shaun found comfort in that.
But as he inhaled the smell of bread dough and very strong tea, he knew he did not belong here. Soon he would have to leave this haven. He expected the pang of regret he felt at the thought. But he was surprised to feel a hint of anticipation, as well.
‘It is time’ he thought, and if he hadn’t been in a monastery full of monks who’d taken vows of silence, he would have said it aloud. ‘Time to move on.’
Shaun set down the egg basket and went to the Prayer Room. Since he had not taken vows, he was not required to attend, but he went out of respect for the Brothers.
He settled himself on a cushioned bench, and set his mind to meditation. The Brothers did not chant or sing, but the Prayer Room filled with a soft humming. Some of the Brothers drummed gently on the benched with their hands adding a rhythmic counterpoint.
Soothed by the soft music, Shaun allowed his thoughts to drift. When he’d first arrived, he’d tried frantically to stay busy, afraid of boredom, afraid of silence. But gradually he’d come to realize that he was in a place of peace, and peace was not the same thing as silence.
He looked up at the walls and ceiling of the Prayer Room. The Brothers of years gone by had carved the stone, inscribing their sacred teachings there, so that all could read and ponder them. It would have seemed a desecration in a more formal chapel, but here, it showed the Brothers’ devotion.Shaun thought then of his own two brothers, far away in Allis Lennin. He pictured them in his mind; James, his sober exterior guarding his sensitive heart; Jason, with his thoughtful face that many mistook for weakness. He had not seen them in four years now. He tried to put his brothers out of his mind, but thoughts of them kept intruding. It was a relief when the bell sounded, signaling the end of morning devotions.