So it’s about that time again, I think, to show our work. We’ve stated several times that we’ve been working on a series of fantasy novels (and if you have Rabbit in the Road, you’d know that the overall arching name of the series is the Twisted World as told per the back pages).
So rather than continue to say, “Oh yeah, we got some stuff coming”, I figured it was time to show a little bit of it. So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to one of the three main characters in the principal novel, Kurt Kathan. I particularly like this section of the story because it gives you an idea of what his personality is like. Kurt has been a fascinating character for me to develop, from the start.
Please bear in mind that this is stuff straight from the raw; There have been no edits, no rewrites, nothing. After all, half of the fun is showing a work in progress, isn’t it? Please keep that in mind as you read.
Camdel was still preaching about trade with Sollerus, in his thin, quavery voice. He pounded on the table, making silverware clatter and plates jump. His supporters pounded the table along with him, or stomped their feet.
The wives and Erons on Kimbroll’s side of the table were less enthusiastic. Eron Kimbroll’s beautiful young wife had a screeching, animal laugh, rough and over-bright at the same time. She tittered awkwardly every time Camdel tried to make a point.
Unfortunately, Camdel was a rather accomplished speaker, even dripping drunk. Valla Kimbroll’s derisive laugh had gone from silly to obnoxious quite some time back.
Kathan cast a warning look at Kimbroll. He wanted to tell him to rein his wife in, but he was pretty sure Donovan would object.
Kimbroll answered the look with an elegant, twisting sneer. He laughed as loud as his wife then, cutting Camdel off neatly.
“You should have been a priest, Camdel. Do you intend to preach all evening?”
Camdel sat back, regarding him coldly. “So you have a better proposal?”
Kimbroll raised his empty glass, asking for it to be filled. “I simply think you’re solving the wrong problem.”
“You are concerned about how our representative-” he said, flicking a glance at Kathan, “- would arrange trade with our closest civilized neighbor. I am concerned with how our closest civilized neighbor will receive our representative, such as he is.”
Valla Kimbroll squealed.
Camdel looked between Kimbroll and Kathan. “Do you take issue with our representative, Eron? The Law of Rule-”
“I don’t take issue,” Kimbroll sneered. “I merely have concerns. It’s a delicate matter for someone so new to our way of life. So many pitfalls and traps, so many things to remember…”
Kathan rolled his eyes. Pompous prick, he thought. If we were any other place, and you any other man…Instead, he gestured for the servants to bring the next course. There would be another, and another. These dinners went on for ages. Clive stood silently behind him, eating nothing, drinking nothing. Only watching.
Robben roared back to life, bellowing over everyone. “Again, I say, Sollerus is no friend of ours.” He slapped the table with a palm the size of a dinner plate. Wine glasses toppled. “Sollerus will expand it’s borders without a second-” he coughed, sputtering. He slapped at his chest, eyes watery and red. He waved the serving girl over, his glass clutched in his trembling hand.
Camdel patted his old friend’s back, sharing an embarrassed smile with the rest of the guests.
The young serving girl in the borrowed uniform from the balcony ran to his side. She raised her half-empty carafe, trying to track the glass the Eron waved back and forth.
He coughed again, directly in her face.
She recoiled, disgusted. Wine soaked the length of Robben’s sleeve, down his side.
Valla Kimbroll barked a laugh.
Eron Robben snarled, looking at his ruined shirt. His hand flew, cracking across the girl’s plump cheek. “You lousy waste,” he rasped.
Valla Kimbroll laughed harder.
Donovan watched him closely, sitting with the minor Erons at the far end of the table.
Kathan’s head was suddenly very clear. Each candle flame focused down to a tiny, hard point. Even Valla Kimbroll’s inane laughter faded. There was only the snap of Robben’s hand, the pinked up cheek, the look of mixed horror and expectation on the little girl’s face.
The girl cradled her cheek in her tiny palm. She had dark, wide eyes.
Kathan saw his youngest sister Sommae in there. Saw her in the round face, the dark hair. Saw her in the barn, by lamplight, threatening a horse thief with a pitchfork and her will. “Stay back,” she’d said, her voice too high and scared. “Stay back ‘cause I don’t want to kill you.” He saw the same mixed up look in her eyes.
“Again, you idiot, and keep it off my clothes this time,” Eron Robben grabbed the carafe and poured it into his glass. He shoved it back into the little girl’s hands.
Kathan didn’t remember when he’d gotten to his feet, or sat down his fork.
He tangled his fist in the Robben’s soggy collar, jerking him sharply forward. The Eron’s face smashed down onto his plate, splattering food.
Valla Kimbroll’s laugh pealed like a bell.
Robben leaned back, dazed. His forehead was red where it hit the plate. Sauce dripped from his bushy eyebrows.
Kathan stood over him, anger dark and hot in his face. “This is my house,” he said. “Do you understand? You’re my guest, all of you are.” He turned his gaze on the rest. “No one lays a hand on someone here without my say so. They belong to me,” he growled.
He threw his napkin down on the table and looked at Valla Kimbroll. “And you, madam, are much prettier with your mouth shut.” He turned on his heel and stalked out of the room.
Valla Kimbroll didn’t laugh at all.