Work in Progress: The Lady and the Sword, week 3

So, my muse is a toddler. I can say this with good authority, being that I had one of those.

Me: “Okay, it’s time to write!”

Muse: “Yay! Vampires!”

Me: “What? No. No vampires. Not yet.”

Muse: “No vampires?”

Me: “No. Roland and Turpin. You like them, right?”

Muse: “Want vampires!”

Me: “Vampires later. Roland now.”

Muse: “Donwanna…”

In other words? This week has been a bit of a slogfest. I’m a little behind where I should be, but not too terribly much.

The Lady and the Sword
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 2

And, I happily have enough written that I can give an excerpt!


Turpin looked up from the book he was reading — he’d dragged a chair out of his tent to sit in a honeysuckle-scented breeze. June in Pavia was really quite pleasant. Not too warm. Not too cold. The spring rains were over, and the hills and forests were lush and green, alive with birds and flowers. Somewhere off in the distance, he could hear swordplay and the laughter of young men. Yes, it was quite nice.

It would be even better if they weren’t encamped outside the walls, with the city under siege. He closed the book and sighed, rubbing his forehead. Somewhere in that city was Desiderius, the father of Charles’ former wife. The man had never struck Turpin as being an idiot, but he had to have known that Charles, as devout as he was, would raise his armies in answer to a threat to the Pope. Which brought them to Pavia. They’d been chasing Desiderius across Italy, and now there was a chance of ending this. If they managed to last longer than the town, that was.


Turpin turned in his chair and smiled as the dark-haired young man came toward him. “No swordplay for you, my student?”

“Bored with it,” Roland answered as he came to sit on the ground at Turpin’s feet. He leaned his shoulder against Turpin’s knee and looked up. “I finished the reading you gave me. Read it twice. I don’t really understand it, though. Do you have another treatise I can read that might explain it?”

“Did you discuss it with Olivier as I instructed?” Turpin asked. Roland didn’t answer. Instead, he tipped his head against Turpin’s thigh.

“I didn’t, Master,” he admitted. But there was something more.

Roland? Is there a problem?” Turpin asked silently.

I don’t know. I know you told me to talk to Olivier, that he could share his insight. And I tried. I did. I think he’s avoiding me. And when he can’t avoid me, he won’t answer my questions,” Roland answered. “He’s very polite, but asking him anything about our studies is like asking a wall.” He paused, then sighed. “It feels like— like the end of some of the relationships I’ve had. Someone who wants me gone, or wants to be gone, but doesn’t know how to tell me.

“It’s not his to say,” Turpin said aloud. “And I’ll tell him that myself. When did this start?”

Roland swallowed and looked up. “It started before we left Francia.”

“And you didn’t say anything?”

“I thought it was something I’d done. That I could fix it.”

Turpin nodded. “You were going to say something else. You compared it to the end of a relationship, but that’s not what you were going to say.

The way that Olivier has started treating me feels the same as the way that Ganelon has acted towards me my entire life.” Roland’s mental voice was small, and pain-filled. “I don’t understand why.”

“Nor do I. But I’ll find out,” Turpin said. He frowned, thinking. Olivier had been more quiet than usual since the Frankish army had answered the Pope’s call. He’d been spending less time in Turpin’s tent, discussing his lessons and reading the books that he needed to advance his studies as a Warden. And his presence as Turpin’s aide had become a much more infrequent thing. Turpin had dismissed it at the time — they were further from home than his students had ever been, and he’d assumed that Olivier was missing his wife and his sons. But now he wondered if that was all. “I’ll talk to him,” he said. He reached out and rested his hand on Roland’s head, then gently stroked his hair. Roland shivered, a wave of pleasure echoing down the mental link that they had shared since Roland had become Turpin’s student. It had been two years since Turpin had claimed Roland as an apprentice Warden. It had been slightly over a year and a half since Roland had gently, patiently, but very determinedly gotten his way, and had become Turpin’s lover. That, to Turpin’s mind, was far more dazzling than any spell he’d ever known.

“I haven’t been practicing, either,” Roland said, his voice low. “Not much. I haven’t had someone to practice with. So I wanted to work on that cloak spell that you taught me.”

“You mastered that spell the first time I showed it to you,” Turpin replied, puzzled. “I would say that you mastered it faster than any apprentice Warden ever has.”

“But I’m not sure if I can maintain it while distracted.” Roland looked up at him and grinned. “Want to find out?”


I love these two. Writing them is just plain fun.

When I can get a cranky toddler to give me the words, that is.

What do you think?