18 November 2007

Snippet time!

Despite the unsolved riddle (don't think I have forgotten, Gabriele - I B 3 d V - you still have to solve it!), I'm posting a snippet. I'm in a rather good mood since I managed 1400 words in less than an hour (I love word wars) and Sven Kramer got a world record on the 5000 m speed skating.

This snippet is from my NaNo "Suddenly, ninjas arrived". It will get a new title sometime. Obviously.

Labeo has invited Merula over to have a cup of wine and share some gossip. Still not sure if what he says is actually true. I'll have to confront Imerix :)
It's very much a first draft. Unplanned, unedited, with dialogue that makes me cringe, a good deal of typoes (probably), characters acting completely out of character, but fortunately no ninjas. At least I hope so. They sneak in everywhere :) Labeo will probably be renamed sometime.

~*~

Merula shifted his cup from his right hand to his left. It was equally uncomfortable in both. This was not a normal friendly invitation, or even an attempt to impress a Roman of high birth, he had realised that a long time ago. But Labeo continued speaking airily of everything from the weather to the Silurian losses in the battle. Only when the sounds of the camp around them had become very faint, and an owl hooted outside somewhere, did he set down his cup. With his elbows on his knees and hands under his chin he regarded Merula. ‘There is something I have to tell you.’

‘Then say it.’ Merula felt a growing apprehension. He had raised his cup to his lips but now he quickly lowered it. Best to have his wits with him.

‘You asked me why I do not think highly of Imerix son of Servofredus,’ Labeo said carefully. He stared unblinkingly into Merula’s eyes. ‘I served with him in the auxiliaries before the revolt. The entire cohort went over to Civilis, except me and just a few others. I felt no loyalty to the prefect,’ he added with a slight smile when he saw Merula’s puzzled look. ‘He was Tiberius Claudius Victor, another of Civilis’ sister-sons.’

There followed a short silence during which the flame of the oil lamp danced and flickered. Labeo poured himself some more wine and took a careful sip. ‘But I know Imerix from before that. He is an able warrior, there is no denying that, but his sword sometimes has trouble distinguishing friend from foe.’

‘What do you mean?’ Merula shifted uncomfortably.

‘He did not always want to be in the auxiliaries, even before the uprising,' said Labeo delicately. 'The estate of his family is not so far from that of mine, and when he was a lad I saw him occasionally. From his mother’s side he is related to the Bructeri, and that is a tribe with fire in their blood.’

‘I have heard of them.’

‘A year or so before he was of age, Imerix left his home and went north, across the Rhenus to his mother’s people.’

‘That is no crime,’ Merula said. He still felt he had to defend the man who had rushed to his aid unarmed and without hesitation. ‘Family is family, though you are separated from them by a border.’

‘Of course,’ said Labeo. ‘I myself have a sister who is wed to a chief of the Frisians, and we have not become strangers to each other. But Imerix stayed in the north a long time, even though he had come of age and was supposed to carry his shield in the auxiliaries. I believe word was sent to him, but he chose to ignore it.’

The owl hooted softly again and the guards at the front of the tent talked together in a low murmur. The oil lamp spluttered and went out, but Labeo did not make as if to light it again. The only source of light was now the glow of the brazier, and that was very faint. It threw dark shadows onto Labeo’s face and made him look like a spirit from the underworld. Merula reached for the decanter of wine and poured himself another cup. He did not really want it, but he felt worse was still to come.

‘It is not uncommon for the northern tribes to go to battle against their neighbours,’ said Labeo. He had lowered his voice so that Merula needed to lean in closer to hear. ‘They do it for spoil and for victims to sacrifice to their gods. It is the same with the Bructeri. The Rhenus is broad and swift, but it does not keep all raiding parties out. A force of Bructeri crossed into Roman territory close to Oppidum Batavorum, no doubt hoping to raid the farms in the fertile lands along the river.’ Labeo’s fingers traced the inlaid patterns on his cup. He raised it to his mouth and took a gulp before continuing. ‘A cohort of the Fifth was sent to deal with it, and with them the Batavian ala. At that time it was stationed there in its homeland.’

‘And Imerix was part of the Bructerian raiding party?’ Merula said. He began to wish he had never accepted Labeo’s invitation.

‘Indeed he was.’ Labeo’s eyes shone like a cat’s, pale and forbidding, in the faint light. ‘And his brother, Maginwer, was in the ala.’

Labeo swirled his cup in his hand for a while before taking a sip. Then he said brusquely, ‘Imerix killed him.’

~*~

And suddenly my plot was much more complicated than I had intended it to be, lol.

Mount Doom, aka Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand.

4 comments:

Gabriele C. said...

But complicated plots are fun. :)

So Imerix saved Merula's live and has some skeletons in the cellar - and what made him join the auxiliary in the end instead of staying with the Bructer?. And what's Labeo up to?

I liked the snippet.

Celedë Anthaas said...

Glad you like it :)

I don't mind complicated plots, I just wish my characters would occasionally tell me important things before I had half the story written down :)

The conversation is longer than this but I don't want to post the rest because it's spoilery (and I don't really know the truth myself). But Imerix returned to his family shortly after the battle. Not many people know that he killed his brother (if he did...). Labeo only knows because he is 1) a sneaky git who makes things up or 2) the ninjas... erm, I mean, his uncle or someone told him.

Linwe said...

lol yeah complicated plots... that's one of the reasons why I had to give up NaNo... somehow complicated plots don't fit well with having 4 essays to write. :S
But cool snippet though. :)

Celedë Anthaas said...

Ssh! Don't mention essays! I have a few that desperately need to be written, but, erm...

*innocent whistle*