Friday, January 24, 2014

Economous Musgrove Chapter 9 Part 3

Wow, almost did not make it :O

I blame my preoccupation with a picture book I am working on that is due in little over one weeks time - I Don't Want to Eat My Dinner it is called, a sample for you below.

On posting this, I am painfully aware of missing details, of things not quite fleshed out, but such is the state of first drafts, so read on knowing that if this gets to a more polished stage it will be fuller, fitter, finer.



© D.M.Cornish

Chapter 9 PART 3
The Sulk & Through

                                                *          *          *          *          *

The tenth day of his travels and Economous was on the road again. Elated, he whistled softly to himself as he sat in the now moving lentum cabin, Miss Swift once again opposite and once again ignoring him. Two new somebodies sat beside each of them – some large lady in a thick shawl and coddling a covered basket, and a gentleman in sleek blue soutaine – either whom Economous took little time to observe: just to be moving on again was all his interest. The smudgy threat of the Ichormeer glimpsed once more from the hilltop road out of Poonemünd was enough to arrest his attention and he stared at it until the road dropped once more to the unending flatness of the Sulk plain and the dread mire was lost to sight.

“And what calls you out to Undermeers, my good friend,” the well-dressed gentleman said suddenly, addressing Economous directly in an accent somewhere between Gott and Bosch, with a strange Tutin ring to it too.

Though surrounded by people after so long in the strange near-solitude of this journey – this great crossing – Economous almost did not answer the forward fellow. “I have services to render to a great lady of the region,” he said, telling more than he cared to in his haste to make amends for his slowness to answer.

The well-dressed gentleman looked at him and nodded slowly. “Well for you, sir, well for you.”

“What of thee, dear girl?” the shawl-draped lady enquired with beady fascination of Miss Swift. “What brings thee hither to such out-away places?”

Tip of her fan touching her chin then fluttering with abrupt modulation, her falseman’s eyes hid again in the shade of a tricorn brim, the young woman also took a moment to respond.

“My answer is much the same, madam,” she said bluntly and turned her gaze to the view without to bring any further enquiry to an end, casting Economous a brief and subtly perplexed glance as she did.

“A great lady too, is it?” the be-shawled traveller pressed.

Miss Swift’s fan shut and tipped to the left, before snapping open and fluttering angrily – was the only word Economous could give the motion – again. “Indeed, madam” she said with careful politeness. “And I do not wish to say more on it.”

To this the portly woman smiled a peculiar, almost indulgent smile and inquired no more.

Economous did not know what to make of it all, but he was certain the two newcomers passed knowing looks.

                                                *          *          *          *          *

The lack of proper way-posts, coach-hosts or any such thing to change teams forced the lenterman to halt often to rest his horses along this stretch named the Lang Plat. Though these were only the briefest pauses possible to serve the contrary demands of both speed and equine wind, it was not until very late in the day that they achieved the intersection of the Lang Plat and the Conduit Limus – the Ichor Road it was commonly called, its southern arm running audaciously – and largely unused – through the threats and horrors of the Ichormeer. A long earthen dyke ran upon the western flank of the Ichor Road, reaching north and south as far as could be seen. Economous had some recollection of receiving instruction at the athy of a battle being fought here during the early days of the Sulk’s full founding, though between whom and over what he could not now bring to mind.

For the meeting of two reputedly major highroads, the crossing was strangely empty of settlement and traffic – no imperial bastion to watch and tax, nor even an eeker’s cottage to make advantage of the congruence. Leaning out and looking ahead – quite painful to achieve – the young fabulist beheld in the westering light the battlements of some fashion of fortress showing clear above the rises some miles further ahead.

With scarce a pause in caution of contrary traffic, the lentum crossed the Ichor Road and pressed on.

Yawning and stretching in his seat to clear the travel-drowse, Economous heard the lenterman shout the six horse team to greater exertions despite their weariness and to the young fabulist there seemed a note of fear in the harshness of the bluff man’s cries. Though the sensation was surely just the weariness of the road, but he almost dared to admit to himself that there was something unfriendly in the air without, something – dare he admit – threwdish about the entire darkling vista. Now that he was ken of it, the threwdishness pressed upon his wind and he found himself nodding in hearty accord with the driver’s hoarse infrequent barks. Surly they were about to be beset by some slobbering horror!

Why does the lenterman not drive us faster? he fretted, peering through the lattice at the darkening hurrying world without. Is he dumb to our danger?

Over a final rise and the bastion loomed, jutting from the acute slope cut into a hillside and running long and narrow along the flank of the road. Spangled by myriad windows, its west-facing battlements lit deep orange in the sun’s last light. With a loud “Heyah!” from the driver and a disconcerted bellow of horses and the lentum lurched, shaking its passengers sharply. Miss Swift was almost knock from her seat but for the quick steadying hand of Economous’ on her shoulder. Tossed about smartly, the four travellers clung to whatever hold they could. Rocking and leaping the carriage closed the final fathoms to the bastion gates at a sprint, making the foreyard with a clash and boom of a gate closed abruptly behind them.

Thank you, Mister Musgrove,” Miss Swift said as she coolly but firmly pushed Economous’ hand from her shoulder with the guardstick of her closed fan.

The cabin door burst open and the back-stepper was there, ready to hand the ladies alight, his face flushed, his eyes gleaming with glee the lantern glow of the yard.  “Did ye see the basket?” he exclaimed up to the driver and the sidearmsman even as he opened the cabin door and handed the ladies first from the lentum.

 “Nay, di’n’t catch a hook of it,” cried the sidearmsman. “But [NAME] thought he did and got us to th’ gate with all breath behind him,” he declared with tip of his head and a smirk to the driver beside him, clapping the pale and shaking fellow upon the back. “You getting the ghasts, me hearty?”

The lentum driver shrugged. “Better sure than sorry,” he muttered.

“A nicker was after us?” Economous asked as he clambered out, looking back to the closed gate that had made good their escape, then up to the wall tops where musketeers in Imperial mottle stood peering into the deepening gloom.

“I say it was, aye,” the lenterman replied sourly. “Just rose up outta the stubble and sprang at us. I thought I was done, but got us away. Where’s yer eyes at, [NAME]?”

“In me dial, as per usual,” the sidearms man grinned. “But I reckon yours are poppin’ out at any lurching fancy.”

The driver said nothing to thus but spitting a curse, stowed his whip and dropped stiffly from his high seat to the still hard earth.

A single musket shot hissed and popped into the silence from the battlements above, drawing gasps from the new arrivals. Passengers, lenters and yardfolk alike looked to the heights of the fortalice.

“Can ye see it?” came a gruff call from the yard.

“Nothing, bell-sergeant,” was the reply from pediteers watching from the wall-tops. “It has surly scunnered … if it was there.”

Looking to Economous then the rather paler sidearmsman, the lenterman adjusted his copstan to a jaunty angle. “Got the ghasts have I?” he uttered, then turned and went to help unharness the horse team.

“Aye.” The sidearmsman looked uncomfortably at Economous. “What ye gawpin’ at, townie!” he snarled and turned his back to clamber off his high seat on the lentum too.

But all Economous cared for was how close he had just come to dire monstrous encounter.

“Withdraw inside the coaching house, if you please, goodly peoples,” demanded a tired looking man of middling years resplendent despite obvious weariness in military harness of rouge, luec and or – red, white and gold.

Economous training at the athenaeum had been martial enough that he recognised the pediteer as a sergeant-at-arms of His Most Serene Emperor’s service. Compliantly, the fabulist turned his attention to his luggage being heft from the lentum roof, as he fellow three passengers retired with the elevated wind of those who have just scraped with danger.

                                                *          *          *          *          *


Edwin said...

Love the picture, Mr Cornish. The firemen remind me of the french peas from vege tales!

BrokenSphere said...

I would not be surprised if all 4 of the travelers have the same destination.

Ben Bryddia said...

Checking the map, it appears we're as far north in the Half-Continent as we've been thus far, farther north than Boschenberg. It also appears that whether the coach drives west or east, there's a swamp ahead of them. All good fun. Thus far Ms. Swift is proving much more dynamic than Aesthetica, although part of is the mystery and implied intrigue of her profession and destination.


chicken_named_george said...

Much excitement over finding your blog again. Much more excitement over finding new books are afoot! Huzzah!


old aggie said...

In threwdish regions - I love it!

I agree with Broken Sphere - it will be fun to learn how this plays out.

2 things:

It was a little confusing that the new lady passenger was carrying a "basket" and that the back-stepper asked "Did ye see the basket?" At first I thought that something had popped out of the lady's basket that she had tried to keep hidden; but then I remembered that "basket" is also slang for "monster." Maybe no one else stumbled over this, but I did a little.

Also, I felt I was guessing a little, that the "back-stepper" was part of the lentum's team, and not someone from inside the inn come out to receive guests. Maybe it's a 20th century Amereican thing, and Aussies & Brits are more familiar with horse-drawn coaches. Could you maybe say that he came round from the back of the lentum, or something like that?

Hope these questions are helpful - I am thoroughly enjoying the story!

Anemophagës said...

@old aggie: I forget if it was in one of the books, or an explicarium, but I recall DM discussed the crewing (staffing?) of coaches somewhere in his writing

Also, I'm interested why this "great lady" is apparently collecting servants

WinkTabby said...

First of all, I must buy myself a copy of 'I Don't Want To Eat My Dinner'! Please let us know when it's available.

I suspect we're very close to finding out the reason our travellers were summoned. It reminds me, in the best possible way, of a mystery/horror story where diverse characters are invited to a secluded mansion or island by a mysterious person for unknown reasons.

I stumbled on the mention of colors: "rouge, luec and or – red, white and gold". The nerdy side of my brain saw the conjunctions 'and' & 'or' rather than the color gold (also 'or').

From what I remember of an Explicarium entry, the backstepper is part of the lentum's crew. I interpreted his role in this entry as jumping down from the lentum immediately after it stopped (not coming from the bastion) to open the cabin door.

old aggie said...

Thanks Anemophagës and WinkTabby!

But ... unless this book will have its own Explicarium, I don't think it can be assumed that readers will go look things up in another MBT book, so I still think it might be clarified a little.

I guess I'm just living up to my tagline: "Always remember what it's like not to know." (I write instructional and technical stuff for a living.)

'Hope the "Dinner" book is coming along well, Mr. Cornish!

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Vanessa said...

Excellent history! Good work!

Lucius Gabrianus Germanicus filius Caesar said...

So I've read all the entries successfully throughout the past few days.

I don't think Ser Cornish was coming off "info dumpy" in the beginning . the wonderful flow of your prose, and the relevancy of all the information to the situations at hand for Mister Musgrove make for a nonetheless interesting read.

As for whether you dawdle overlong during travelling scenes, I disagree as well. Like Alyosha, I too enjoy the travelling bits, and there is usually some small matter or goings on that steals the boredom from the journey and adds interest. For example, the river-master's rush for the spindle, the meeting with the calendar dolours, and the fright of the lenterman before the arrival at the coaching house.

My only issue so far is with Economous himself. I feel like I'm still reading about Rossamund, the two are so alike, and yet it's uncomfortable to do so partly because this is the story of a totally different grown man, and partly because Economous himself doesn't have much of a personality. I'm not suggesting you change Economous. Just perhaps try to make his personality more immediately obvious.

Unknown said...

I have been waiting four years to see what happened to him after his last adventure with Europe;and I want to know whatever Threnody and will she and Rosamund ever cross paths again. COME DUDE ITS A GREAT STORY AND I WOULD LOVE TO SEE HOW IT PLAYS OUT. PLEASE DONT SAY YOU GAVE UP O. IT CAUSE THAT WOULD SUCK.

allieoopleson said...

The common reaction amongst us is: more! So you're doing a great job. Keep it up!
I like listening to audiobooks while i sew, and i need a new book to 'read with my ears'. I contemplated listening to MBT again, but thought I'd venture out some more....although not too far! Does anyone have any suggestions of books similar to Mr Cornish? Thanks in advance. :-)

Anemophagës said...

@nicole, DMC didn't give up, he finished Rossamund's story...we were there for a part of his life, and now it's simply time for us to move on. A lot of people really, REALLY like Rossamund, and I like him too, but honestly, my favorite character isn't even a character: it's the Half-Continent. DMC himself intended the HC to be the real star in his works, and I for one and loving see different parts of his rich and detailed world through the eyes of another. Rossamund is done, so enjoy what we have now!

And DM, pleeeease write a naval story sometime, I know you have lots of ideas and stories, but I for one think that that would be an awesome way to show off vast parts of your world.

old aggie said...

@allieoopleson -

I'm assuming you've already read/listened to Tolkien's works, which are the most similar IMO.

If you're looking for fantasy with a similar world view to DMC's, I'd try something by Stephen Lawhead - either the Song of Albion cycle or the Bright Empires series. Neither are YA, but they don't have as much violence as many other SFF series.

If you don't mind a little more violence (but still not gratuitous), I'd go with the new Stormlight Archives series by Brandon Sanderson. He creates interesting magic systems and well-developed characters, but these books are more intense than I might recommend to a young reader.

Nothing really matches the Half-Continent though - such creative use of language and characters who are easy to love. :-)

Anemophagës said...

If anyone reads this, I'm tired of there being no real community for this, other than the half-dead forums...I started a subreddit, if anyone's interested in talking there!

Anna the swede said...

Hrm, think my older post is gone...
Well, Mr C can´t always be here and post stuff, there must be time to write and all those things that are linked to that and to the publishing of books.
We just have to patience.

old aggie said...

Thanks for that Anemophagës!

There's a thread over at 17th Shard for MBT - I'll post the reddit link there (after I meet today's work deadlines!)

allieoopleson said...

Thank you thank you! I will check those out right now. Very much appreciated!

Unknown said...

so, D.M. Cornish, here is my question to you...

on the wiki, could I copy/ pste all the chapters of economous under their respective chapters? ergo giving them a hub from which one could easily read them all without navigating around blogspot. Or would you rather this story be kept on the blog?

Thank you for any reponse

blogger on said...

Thanks it´s nice .

BrokenSphere said...

@doomcreptus - While the idea would be helpful, as the wiki admin I don't condone this for the same reasons that copy and pasting explicarium definitions verbatim isn't allowed - copyright issues. However there is no problem with posting summaries of the chapters into the Economous Musgrove (story) article.

Anemophagës said...

The more on the wiki the merrier... I've been meaning to help more, but school has been crazy lately

Alyosha said...

I have visited both the Australian and the regular sites, and still have not seen any announcement of "Tales from the Half Continent." I am still 100% enthusiastic about buying it when it's available; but, has the publication date changed?

Tortiseshell said...

While at Orchard Harriet, Rossamund was served brooded rhubarb. Having in my fridge some rhubarb, I wanted to see how it might be brooded, but Google fails me. Anybody out there with a cooking lesson?

R20 Procedure said...

I'm liking this Economous Musgrove, nice. Keep up the good work!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alyosha said...

Even with your machine-generated-spam shields, I see that your blog has become a magnet for vague tattoo art advertisements. Perhaps if you change the name of the blog to the US "Foundling" title, you'll start attracting advertisements for adoptions?

D.M. Cornish said...

Nice, Alyosha, nice.

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