Work in Progress: The White Raven, week 5

I’ve never really been sure how people can manage to do NaNoWriMo in November. Camp Nano in April, sure! But full on Nano in November? How? I mean, the holidays are starting and Thanksgiving is this week and I still have to get my words in?

I did get my words in this week. Yesterday, as a matter of fact. Which is good, because today brought in a whopping 71 words. Total.

The White Raven
Week Five Total Wordcount

Trying not to be spoilery. I suppose it might be a little spoiler to say that Lorcan ends up in Rome. But then, all roads led to Rome, right? And eventually, all stories must reach there, too. Lorcan finds out that his family is known outside of Ireland.

Excerpt:

“Lorcan has no Latin. At all,” Manius said.

“And you want me to teach him, the way I did with the Saxon last year?” Livia said. She picked up a cloth from the table and wiped her hands, allowing Lorcan a moment to shake off the shock of recognition and really look at her. She was almost of a height with him, perhaps a finger or two shorter, and her hair was dark brown, braided, and wrapped around her head like a crown. Strands had escaped to frame her face, making her look sweetly disheveled. She wore a draped gown that did nothing to hide her generous curves. She noticed him looking at her, and raised her chin in challenge. “Will you be a good student?” she asked him.

“I’ll try,” he answered. “I’ve tried to learn before, though. It didn’t go well.”

“We’ll try again. You’ve got more incentive to learn.” She smiled. “Where are you from, Lorcan? Hibernia?”

“Eire,” he answered, and she laughed.

“Same place. Hibernia is what we call it. Mother called it Eire. Come and sit. We’ll start now.” She looked at Manius. “Unless you have other plans?”

“None. Get him started. I want him fluent as soon as he can be.” Manius waved and left, and Livia gestured to a chair.

“Sit. Tell me about yourself while I finish.” She picked up a mortar and pestle. “That oaf interrupted me in my work.”

“I could help?” Lorcan offered. “I was training to be a healer at home.”

She looked at him, surprised, and Lorcan noticed the spray of freckles across her cheeks. “You’re a healer? Then how did you come to be a gladiator?”

“That’s part of telling you about myself, I suppose,” Lorcan answered. “What can I do to help?”

She handed him the mortar, and he ground herbs into powder as they talked. He told her of his training in Eire, about his parents and about Dun Morrigan. He told her about Cormac, and about being kidnapped and sold.

“Your father told me that if I give him a year, he’ll see me freed. And by that time, I’ll be trained properly and I’ll have earned the money to hire men, if I need them,” he finished. He tipped the powder in the mortar into a jar. “ You speak Gaelige with him. Why?”

“Because the gladiators don’t,” Livia answered. “It keeps our conversations private.” She took the jar from him. “Do you know how to make salves?”

“Yes.”

“Tomorrow, then. It’s getting late, and you’ll want to eat.”

Lorcan nodded. “I never did stop to eat earlier. I’m starving.” He picked up a cloth and wiped his hands. “Livia, is Gnaeus bothering you?”

“He’s an idiot. I wish my father would sell him,” Livia said. She looked over her shoulder, then shook her head. “It’s none of your concern, Lorcan.” She turned back to him and smiled. “But thank you. What’s your full name? You didn’t say.”

“Didn’t I?” Lorcan thought back and grinned. “I suppose I didn’t. Lorcan mac Diarmuid mic Morrigan.”

To his shock, Livia’s eyes widened. “Mic Morrigan? You… you’re one of the Raven Boys? My mother told me stories about them! About you, I mean. She said that they could change shapes, become ravens. I thought it was just a tale!”

Lorcan nodded. “We can. I can’t. Not now. But when I was home—” he stopped. “It’s not a tale.”

“How, though?” She studied him. “There’s a lot of you, and not a lot to a raven. How do you change?”

Lorcan shook his head.. “That’s a secret. We have to keep that secret, you understand. Someone found out once, and it went very badly for all of Eire.”

Livia frowned, sitting down across the table from him. “That… I think I know what you’re talking about. A spirit? An evil spirit? I can’t remember what Mother called it.”

“She told you about the deamhan aeir?” Lorcan asked, stunned.

“That’s it, yes. She and her family left Hibernia, for safety. Only their ship was taken by pirates, and she ended up here as a gladiator.” She leaned forward. “I won’t tell. How do you do it?”

What do you think?