Just over a month since my last update but that does not mean I have not been actively writing.
I have been. I haven’t been editing and that is something I have to return to. Especially on the Shattered Mirror . I need to get this book out there.
What I have been writing is the Troll series and currently I am on Book 5, the last book in the lives of Humphrey and Gwendolyn Cutter. Being my age, I have a great deal more perspective on the stages of life. Those that Shakespeare saw and wrote down in As You Like It.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
But that is book 5. Since it has been a month it is time to share with you the opening of Book 3, Trolling for Dah Bears. Of course there are bears, but they are off camera at the moment. I should bring them back on camera. Just as in the Wizard of Oz, Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my, I set up Trolls and Giants and Dragons, oy vey. Well not the Yiddishkeit. So far in the series in books one and two we saw Trolls, so naturally we have to go forward to Giants and Dragons at some time.
Trolling for Dah Bears explores Giants.
“Have I mentioned how proud I am of our family lately?” Humphrey said. It was good to hear him talk that way. Now if he would say that he still found her desirable, she would be even better pleased.
“I think perhaps you have. Yesterday you were saying how the older boys were doing so well in arms training. That they would be better than you have ever been. And that gave you a sense of accomplishment,” she said. They had three boys, Daniel and Kenneth, the two oldest of their children and then the youngest child, still a babe really, Charles. Their two daughters, Millie and Bea came between Kenneth and Charles and those two girls already had older boys sniffing around thinking of things all young boys thought of.
Every senior officer helped Humphrey and her older sons keep track of her daughters virtue. Gwendolyn had no worries there.
“Well I’m damned if I don’t say it enough,” Humphrey said. He had done well since they had returned from Mah Wee with little Daniel. Humphrey was angered that all the men he had taken to the foreign kingdom had not survived, but that was the lot of a soldier. King William had not lived either, but his successor, King James Lemmons had done quite well. They had to live there two years after the birth of their son, so that the Talisman of Saint David and Great King Adam could be taken up into Teantellen and ensure that no Trolls were to come against Mah Wee, but it had been two good years once King James had been crowned.
He and Humphrey were as close as two men separated by an impassable mountain range could be. While the sea lanes were opened each year, the two corresponded regularly and the Cutter brood had returned to Mah Wee three times since, with King James traveling to Torahn twice himself.
Humphrey was now a member of the Council of Twenty-One which ruled Torahn. Her father had retired and now spent most of his time at a small estate outside of the city. Gwendolyn ran his business interests since Humphrey was also the commanding General of all the armies of Torahn, now over ninety thousand men, Elves and Dwarves. It would probably be over a hundred thousand soldiers within another two years. One of the last things Lord Faireweather had done as First was to take an accurate census of the Valley Kingdom as well as find out more about their many neighbors on this side of the continent.
The other kingdoms on the Western side of the continent were not as populous, though some were very close. But proportionately they all had more soldiers in their armies. It had been many years, over twenty, since Humphrey was a simple woodcutter and part of the militia system that had replaced the full standing army when Torahn had gotten rid of its kings. The system that the Council of Twenty-One had manipulated to fill their pockets with gold and silver and leave the country woefully unsecured against enemies. Enemies such as the Trolls that had vaulted her husband, and herself to prominence amongst the people of the Valley Kingdom.
None were more respected in Torahn for what they had achieved during those years. A time that many still remembered. Now though it was with some warmth, since the terrible sacrifices of the Troll Wars were long gone. Yet others would never forget the losses their families had suffered in the wars. Gwendolyn’s father had become First of the Council then. Now many thought it foolish that the Council of Twenty-One had reverted to the old ways of governance without a First. The ways that had given rise to insecurity amongst almost all of Torahn.
Gwendolyn and her father had been crafty enough to use the respect that the populace held for the Faireweathers and Cutters to ensure that when Lord Faireweather put aside the reins of leadership his son by marriage was there to take his seat on the Council. Her father had aged rapidly the last few years of his stewardship of the Valley Kingdom. But once he and mother had retired to their estate, he had become a different man. His cares were lifted and he relaxed. He said what he looked forward to most was those days when his grandchildren visited.
“My you are a fine looking woman. I probably do not say that enough as well. Though I must own that I think it often. And you have bourne five children now. Many other ladies who have carried less do not have near the beauty or figure that you do, my dear.” There, he said it and she smiled. Not that Gwendolyn believed Humphrey aware that she needed such compliments, but she did work hard to maintain her looks, not only for him, but for those in the Valley Kingdom of Torahn who thought to envision her as the first woman of the country. She was sure her waist was larger by two inches at least since they had married, and she never would discuss how her backside had increased in size.
“Thank you husband. So, the council is once more at an impasse?”
“Yes, of course. Tor stands with me, though you had said he would not. But Whelan and Jaston lead those against us. I thrust old William forward to fight Trolls in Mah Wee. Should have done the same with Pete Jaston when I had the chance.” King William died then. If Pete Jaston had as well, it might have been fortunate for the citizens of Torahn. The death of King William and his being replaced by King James Lemmons certainly had benefited those of Mah Wee.
“Yes, you should have. He has proved untrustworthy since you sent him packing from the Troll War. He is a coward and has never forgiven you for embarrassing him then. Even when it costs him, he will go out of his way to do you a disservice,” Gwendolyn said. At first she thought it was a phase of Pete Jaston. For his father and her’s were great friends on the Council. Even Pete would work with Lord Faireweather, just against Humphrey. One day she would have to crush the man. Something that she knew how to do well, though she did not think that the men on the Council thought she was capable of such actions. They certainly did not think Humphrey so, else they would fear him more. He did command the most armed men in the realm.
“Well, it is too late now. He means to thwart any motion I propose, though should one of our allies propose some new item and not I, he will back it. Perhaps if we need his vote, that is what I must do in the years to come,” Humphrey found a way to work around the problem. He did not like confronting these things in the Council for he might lose his temper. The other councillors were afraid of the General when he did lose his temper. Things seemed to happen then.
“What was the issue, the rice imports? That they want to maintain a tariff twice what we need, and the money that comes from it goes to a few companies improving the sewers and the water lines?” She knew very well what was at stake. They wanted 3 silvers for each ton of rice that was imported. Then half of the money was collected on such imports was more than was needed to ensure that the rice was good quality by inspectors the Council employed. That extra money had been allocated to a company to maintain the sewers of Torahn, and also the water supply. Two companies that eight councillors had their hands in the ownership of.
Two companies that seemed to be more efficient in prior years, doing more with less funding. An audit, Gwendolyn was sure, would reveal that a great deal of money was taken out of the companies by the owners and what was left was barely enough to do the jobs that the companies were tasked to do. Corruption on a grand scale.
“One day. One day I will turn my mind and my own men to seeing what occurs there.” An army that approached one hundred thousand men had several officers and men adept at auditing as well. Men whose honor Humphrey trusted for he and others knew that such a large group could also allow the burgeoning of corruption. When it was found, those responsible, if they were soldiers, were flogged. It discouraged the practice.
“That will do us all well. I have been thinking husband,” she began and saw the look on his face turn to one of shock. He always looked that way for usually her thoughts meant a great deal of work for him. She continued, “The parts of Teantellen that grew hot. Did not the Elves tell us that the Dragons and Giants would leave them, and of course we know the Trolls did as well. Does that mean that they are not inhabited by any creatures?”
She had been speaking to Jokazai, the Dwarf companion of her husband who now lived in their household. He did not drill with the soldiers like Bahgdahnzai did each day and now lived amongst the family as a tutor for the children. He insisted that Dwarven legend held that there were ways to cross Teantellen, and not underground in the realm of the Dwarves. Trails in the mountains that the other races had used at one time.
For the progress for the year, well I hope to get between 90 and 100,000 words for May. I have fallen a little behind with moving and unboxing. To date we are at 560,000 words and hope to be at 600,000 by the end of next week.
By the end of next week, should have the first draft of the last of the Trolling series down, and will start work on an Edwardian Romance. I wanted to do more Ruritanian Romances, so if I see a way to transform this, I might. Currently it will be Edwardian just at 1910/1911. The Last Peer that Edward VII creates.