Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Too late and too long

I’ve been so sick this week that I forgot to register for Six Sentence Sunday! then I forgot to link to my regular post from this one.

I have just about got a working brain again so sincere thanks to everyone who commented last week and apologies for not replying individually to you. Next time, I promise I will do better.

Six Sentence Sunday – lots of opportunities to sample a range of works from sci fi to paranormals to action adventure to historicals by way of masses of red hot het erotica.

But I’m not doing it this week so I can post a longer than usual excerpt from A Fierce Reaping.

Cynfal arrives in Din Eidin under stressful circumstances and sets about making an impression.

The sun was behind the rock by the time they reached the edge of the dun.

“Luath!” One of the lads on guard greeted Cynfal’s companion with a broad grin. “What have you brought us this time?”

“Fine young pigs, Cipno,” Luath said, waving to the cart. “Fat and ready for the slaughter.”

“Five young pigs?” Cipno stared boldly at Cynfal. “I’d have said the one in the cloak is a bit long in the tooth to make a good meal.”

Cipno had a shield and a spear. The first gloss wasn’t yet off the blade. Cynfal shrugged his cloak back from his shoulders to display his own battered weapons and scarred forearms.

“How does your commander feel about brawling on duty?” he asked. “Because we can go at it now and you’ll be in trouble as well as getting hurt, or we can meet up later and I might go easy on you.”

Cipno flushed and took a step forward. “When I’ve finished my duty then. Down by the shore. It’ll be easier to wash your guts off my blade.”

Cynfal couldn’t fault the lad for pride, but he clearly hadn’t the sense of his fellow who tugged at Cipno’s arm urging him back. Or perhaps the sound of hooves approaching, soft on the damp ground, meant more to them than it did to Cynfal?

“Cipno, Rhys.” A dappled horse pulled up at Cynfal’s shoulder, the rider looking down his nose at him. “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be greeting visitors not brawling with them?” His cloak was richly dyed, chequered green and gold, his hair dark, his expression alive with malicious amusement. Everything about him gleamed.

“We weren’t,” Rhys protested. “Cipno made a joke’s all. This one,” he nodded to Cynfal, “just didn’t think it was funny.”

“No sense of humour?” The rider glanced at Cynfal again. “That’s a pity. What is your name and business in Din Eidin?”

“My business in Din Eidin is my own, “Cynfal replied. “My name is Cynfal everywhere.”

Rhys was a lanky lad covered in freckles. He snorted a laugh and nudged Cipno.

“Cynfal Everywhere,” the rider said, “my name is Moried. Perhaps I can guide you on your way? I assume that you want the butchers rather than, say, the tannery or the church?”

“I can find my own way to the barracks,” Cynfal said. “Please, don’t let me keep you.”

Moried chuckled and kicked his horse into a walk. “It’s no trouble. I will wait for you at the gates,” he promised. Cynfal nodded and followed Luath’s cart up the incline towards the hall. He didn’t spare a glance for either of the boys.

Moried was as good as his word. As Cynfal approached the gate to the hall he spotted the horseman, his bridle over his arm, talking to two other men. “Ah here they are now,” he called when he noticed the cart. “Luath and his six little pigs.”

“That joke’s a bit old now,” Cynfal called. “Old and stinking. Can’t you come up with anything new?”

“This is Cynfal Everywhere,” Moried performed the introductions. “He wants to see someone at the barracks.” His raised his eyebrows suggestively.”

“Dear me,” one of the other men sighed, “we’re not as badly off for girls as all that. On the march though …”

Cynfal nodded. “And who are you?” he asked. “I like to know a man’s name before I carve his lights out.”

“Cynon ap Clydno.” He was tall – almost as tall as Cynfal – with a thick brush of dark hair and a beard that came well up his cheeks. His weapons were clean but they too had a scar for every visible inch. A worthy opponent, Cynfal thought, but the man’s smile seemed more amused than aggressive. He obviously knew the game inside out – that half laughing half intense banter of threat and joke that men used to test each other for weakness and strength. It was a game Cynfal had excelled at once.

“I am a man of the barracks,” Cynon added. “Come and see me. Moried – I think you were wrong. I think this one is answering our sovereign lord’s summons, not hoping for a job in the butchers.”

“My mistake,” Moried said with a grin and bowed Cynfal and the cart past.

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