Saturday Story: Reaping the Harvest: Part Five

Chapter 5: The Second Betrayal

 

The journey took four weeks, which the courtiers said was a fast time for spring. Kiara shuddered to think what a slow journey demanded. They had to ride on horses or in sledges because the roads. Well, there were no roads, not of the kind Kiara knew from Hämäln and had read about elsewhere. No Lander pavements remained in this part of NovRodi, or so her books had said, and what the men around her called a road Kiara would have called a pseudo-deer track. Except pseudo-deer did not make so much mess, cutting deep ruts and tearing up the ground. Everywhere around them trees loomed, cutting off the sky and closing the world into a small strip of not-road. Dardogs haunted the woods, and great spotted hunting cats lurked in the maze of trees and marshes. “Truly, the Landers displeased Godown, that he forced them to leave the plains and settle here,” one of the men said as he made Godown’s sign. Continue reading

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Delayed Saturday Story: Reaping the Harvest Part Four

Betrothal and Betrayal

 

The first snow had fallen before Kiara felt truly comfortable that she would not be sent home the next day. The crown prince spent time with her, having her come to his office and reception rooms, but while doing other things. So she listened to him, watched him, sometimes worked on her sewing, and tried to be a proper young lady. Her mother, well, she seemed occupied with other things, much to Kiara’s relief. And Kiara was permitted to ride.

She’d asked Pawl about it, hesitantly. “Imperial Highness, is it permitted for ladies to ride?”

“To ride what? Horses? Wagons? Boats?” He jumped up from the table where he was playing with toy soldiers made of wood and wax, paced the room, and returned to his soldiers.

“You pardon, imperial highness, a horse.”

“Yes, of course. Do you ride?”

Should I be honest? Not entirely. “Yes, imperial highness, I do.”

Three days later a riding dress and breeches appeared, and she discovered that the women of the court of NovRodi rode astride as well as riding the usual women’s way. A manservant and groom waited for her and led her to the courtyard, where three horses, all mares, stood. She looked at them considering until the crown prince rode up and ordered, “Ride the black one.” He was on a stallion, she noticed, not pleased. She didn’t like riding mares around stallions. The black mare had a wild look in her eye, and sidled and stamped as Kiara mounted. They rode out with eight of the younger nobles from Pawl’s small court. Continue reading

Saturday Story: Reaping the Harvest Part 3

Kiara’s betrothed is not quite as she thought. Neither is NovRodi…

Betrothal

 

Two days passed before Kiara met her possible husband-to-be. She spent the first being measured, remeasured, studied, and surrounded by seamstresses. No one noticed her lack of a filled promise chest, as best she could tell. She did manage to slip Sweetie out of the promise chest and into the little chest with her sewing materials in it. The next day Kiara tried on several pattern-dresses, learned how to use the steam-bath, and discovered that fasting in NovRodi meant far more serious things than in the eastern lands.

I’m glad Mama is not in here, Kiara decided after hearing that the elixir of wakefulness and comfort known as chokofee had not been introduced to NovRodi until only fifty years before, and remained an exceedingly rare luxury, and one not consumed on fast days. “Oh no, graceful mistress,” one of the maids informed her, eyes wide with dismay. “Godown does not permit such things unless one is dreadfully ill or confined. White breads, butter, milk, fatty cheeses, animal fats, meat, sweeteners, and eggs are all forbidden for the great fasts. Lesser fasts permit eggs and sweeteners and milk but no other animal foods.”

“Fish?” Kiara could not imagine fish being prohibited.

“White fishes, graceful mistress, if smoked or salted, for the great fasts. All fishes save eels for the lesser fasts. Eels are,” she flushed a little. “Ladies of quality never eat eel.”

“Ah, thank you.” I don’t really care for pickled eel anyway, but no sal-mon? No golden trout? Oh dear. Continue reading

Grasping for the Crowns: Teaser

The opening of the next Powers novel (WWI Alt -history). We are in 1915 and all is not entirely well with the Habsburg Empire.

Chapter One: Domestic Bliss (and Diapers)

“I am coming to believe that ‘perfidious Albion’ is a profound understatement,” Jószef Mátyás Eszterházy said, folding the newspaper with great care before hurling it across the small office.

His older brother, Count István Eszterházy, watched the flying foolscap hit the floor before turning to the next page in the ledger. He did not enjoy the minutia of the House’s forestry and lumber business, but he needed to know the latest numbers. And it kept his mind out of the town palace across the river in Buda, where his wife was in labor. “What foolishness are they propounding now?”

“More about German atrocities and the rights of Italians to be free of the shackles of the tottering Habsburg Empire.” Both brothers looked up at the picture of Emperor Karl Josef and his wife Sonja, displayed next to a statue of St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters.

“And no word at all, I take it, about their treatment of the Irish when they asked for religious freedom and self-rule within the British Empire.” István turned another ledger page, read a little, and backed up. “I though we’d sold this.”

Mátyás leaned forward to see what István was pointing to. “We did. They can’t make the payments so they defaulted. Their manager also swears that when the great Romanian nation takes back with is rightfully theirs, they will own it anyway, but they are graciously allowing us to manage it for them until then.” He sat back and ran a hand through his borderline-shaggy brown hair.

István shook his head and sat back as well. He’d inherited their father’s lean features, softened a little by his maternal side, medium brown hair with a touch of dark brown in it, and the lean but solid build of a horseman. At the moment his eyes appeared brownish-green, masking their true amber color and slit pupils. Mátyás resembled their mother, but with their grandfather’s heavier build. “They’d do better complaining to the Avars and Slavs about the loss of Transylvania rather than whining about the Magyars and Székely and Saxons. We’ve owned Transylvania for the last seven hundred years.”

“Shall I call in Cousin Imre to correct you?” Mátyás winked. Continue reading

November ’17 Book Update

Howdy!

Grasping for the Crowns, the second Powers book, will be out later this month. It is currently going through the last bit of editing and typoo hunting. The maps are already done, and the basic cover ideas are in hand, so it should be ready relatively soon.

There will be a Cat Among Dragons Christmas story this year. I’m still working on a title, but the story is mostly done.

I’m still re-writing a chunk of the next Cat novel. I thought I was done. Then I tripped over a large loose plot-thread this AM. *facepalm* The book is going to be long.

Beyond that, I just need to survive this week. I managed to have something every afternoon or evening this week, or both, in addition to Day Job. And I volunteered for about half… OK, almost seventy percent of the somethings.

Saturday Story: Reaping the Harvest Part 2

Kiara has been selected to marry the nephew of the Empress of NovRodi. Kiara’s mother has plans…

In a New World

 

The next weeks passed in a hazy mist of fabric, fussing, and her mother’s hysterics. Kiara began to look forward to going to NovRodi because after she married, her mother could no longer interfere with her every minute. Forgive me, Godown, but I liked it better when she pretended I did not exist.

Kiara leaned into the body brush, giving Woody a thorough cleaning before she allowed the grooms to put the saddle on him. She needed to get out of the manor house for a while, even though the low, dark skies and wind from the sea warned of a little late snow. Woody had already started shedding his heavy winter coat and red-brown hair drifted down around her, settling onto her cloak and split skirt. She did not care in the least. Smelling like horse was preferable to enduring her mother’s vapors. Her father had gone out on a diplomatic visit to Courland, leaving Kiara to her mother’s mercies. Continue reading