My blogger peep Elizabeth Mueller is hosting a “break the rules blogfest” today and I’m happy to participate by posting an early, “pre-educated” draft of a previous WIP. This was before I really learned about killing redundancy, showing versus telling, eliminating back story, and creating tension.
So, where’s the flake out? It’s really anxiety provoking to post a rough, unpolished version of a novel I trunked over a year ago! Anyway, here goes…
Completed in 1384, the Castle Kirkwood stood as a symbol of the wealth and power of the local Lord. Construction had started seven years earlier, but the time had finally come for his Lady Ruth Kirkwood and their infant daughter Arianna to move in. The wait was worth it. Lord William Kirkwood basked in its magnificence. Most of the other local Lords had built manors in which to live. That, of course, was not good enough for Kirkwood. His castle was a true reflection of his greatness and grandeur.
Lord Kirkwood, tall and solidly built, watched with pleasure as his beautiful wife, elegant and erect with her long dark locks braided into a tight bun atop her head, entered the threshold and took in the interior. Her bright green eyes took in the expansiveness of their new home. A great hall opened out to the right of the entrance, while a steep stair surrounded by thick walls ascended to the second level. To the left of the centrally located stair, the space was broken up into smaller rooms. A study for the Lord, where he would plan his conquests, took up most of the space. Smaller rooms to the back were parceled out to the servants. There was a door leading out to the back where a semi-detached kitchen stood. Despite being built with stone, having a separate kitchen respected the tradition of having a safety measure against fire.
Of course, the great hall had a long, rectangular dining table at its center and a large fireplace along its outer wall. The fireplace was flanked by tall windows, which were made of many smaller glass panes. The lady especially liked this feature as it made the large echo-prone hall seem “comfortable.”
Upstairs, the space was divided into several bedchambers, the largest of which was dedicated to the Lord and Lady. It was off to the right of the stair. To the left and front of the castle was their daughter’s bedroom. She was as of yet too young to sleep in the room on her own. Children grow fast, the Lady would say, and soon enough Arianna would be able to sleep in her own bed.
Since the castle faced the east, the room would be filled with the warm rising sun of dawn. An ideal place for a child, the Lady thought.
Lord Kirkwood was pleased that his wife was happy. Together, they watched their daughter grow through infancy and toddlerhood. She was happy and inquisitive and her lively chatter brought warmth to the cold stones. It was well known that Arianna shared many of her mother’s features. Most obvious of which were their dark hair and striking emerald green eyes.
In the five years that they had lived in the castle, Lord Kirkwood prospered as the nearby city of Dartford developed into a commercial center. Dartford had the premiere location of acting as a hub between London, Canterbury, and the Kent Coast. Trade flowed down Dartford’s mainstreet and the people of the city benefited from the constant stream of commerce. It seemed only natural that the Lord’s success would match that of his city. He was also pleased to see that his “neighbor” Lord Beckwith was sharing the same prosperity. And the neighboring Lord had plenty of sons. Lord Kirkwood did not waste time in setting up a betrothal between his daughter, now five years old, and Lord Jeffrey Beckwith’s eldest son, Hugh, who was nearing manhood at fifteen. When the Lord learned that his Lady was again with child, he dared to start planning for the birth of a son. His heir. Things were going so well, how could he not expect to be blessed with a son?
The higher you are, the harder you fall. He was blessed with a son, but his wife, his beautiful wife, hemorrhaged and died only moments after the newborn was placed in her arms. Her anguished cries were seared into Kirkwood’s memory as she mourned her stillborn infant before her own body gave out. Anger flared in him as he looked into her eyes, those clear green eyes that he so loved, as they glazed over. Fate, how cruel!! He thought.
Coldness descended on the castle then, setting in like a dense fog in late fall when the leaves have fallen but not yet the snows. The Lord’s heart turned brittle with bitterness. His clear, ice blue eyes became hard and cruel. He busied himself with leading armies and warmongering. Battles were easy to find and he had his share. It was in his blood. So much he thirsted for war. It was the only thing that sated his rage. Mentioning his name struck fear in the hearts of the people of Dartford. Since his Lady’s demise, he no longer had a check on his cunning and ruthlessness. People became pawns. They were objects. A means to an end. To see a human beneath risked hesitation in battle, a risk he could not afford. Nor would he abide by it.
Alrighty, gang. So how many faux pas do you see? (I think I hit most of the heavy hitters on Elizabeth’s list. Don’t believe me? Check out her post here. You won’t be disappointed. Plus, you can find links to all the other brave bloggers taking part in the fun. Thanks, Elizabeth for such a fun idea!)