Progress notes for 14 February 2006:
New Words: 708
Total Words: 708
708 / 100,000
Yeah, I know. But I can't really put my heels down until after Boskone anyway, so I might as well get it out of my head while it's cooperating.
Hey. I get to use jewel tone eye colors! Woot!
Reason for stopping: What a good place to stop!
Mammalian Assistance: none
Stimulants: Constant Comment, cranberry lime seltzer, some good Italian olive oil bread
Today's words Word don't know: haloed, velveted
Words I'm surprised Word do know: curlicues
Tyop du jour: the jungle of spurs (speaking of second-order cliches)
Darling du jour:
"To know all is not to forgive all.
It is to despise everybody."
-- Quentin Crisp
At the sound of footsteps, Roger backed into the shadows of the portrait hall, wringing a rag of soft leather between his hands. It was slightly greasy; the aroma of lemon oil rose.
If he closed his eyes and crowded the wall, he could convince himself that he smelled that, and not the blood. He could convince himself that the burled gold-and-black ironwood frame of the king's portrait--of the old king's portrait--was deep enough to hide him, even as it shadowed the image of Alasdair I within.
There was no black sash across the old man's portrait yet. Roger had it looped through the back of his belt, freshly pressed. Six of the other eighteen portraits in the hall were already crossed by mementos of mortality: the Princes Royal Seth, Finn, Niall, Gunther, and Barnhard, and the Princess Avia. Nine smiled or frowned from the wall, unmarked: Benedick, Ardath, Dylan, Edward, Ariane, Geoffrey, Allan, Chelsea, Oliver.
And three were turned to the wall. Roger had never heard what their names had been.
The blood smell wasn't fading, not really. No matter what lies he recited. And the footsteps were growing closer. Crisp footsteps, a woman's hard small boots. And the shimmering clink of silver spurs. He forced his eyes open, untwisted the rag in his hands, and began rubbing the scrolled edge of the frame, work smoothing the tremble from his fingers.
No gilt to concern him, just oil-finished wood from which a deep luster developed under his polishing rag. He wouldn't look up, wouldn't pause, wouldn't seek notice. Not until the jingling spurs drew closer. Then he put his back to the painting, lowered his eyes--closed his eyes, truth told--twisted that sorry rag in his hands again and bowed so low he felt it in his knees.
The footsteps paused.
Roger held his breath, so he wouldn't sneeze on the savor of gardenias and death.
"Your rag," the Princess Ariane said, her spurs ringing like dropped coins at the slight shift of her weight. Roger knew she was extending her hand. He risked a peek to find it, and laid his greasy yellow chamois across her callused palm.
Her hair was black-auburn, her eyes peridot. Her collarbone made a lovely line over the curve of her velveted mail, and her cheek would have been smooth as buttermilk had the plum-dark outline of a gauntlet's fingers not been haloed in yellow chartreuse upon it, pricks of scab maroon against the bruising where sharp edges had caught her.
Ariane laid the flat of her sword on Roger's sorry rag and wiped first one side, then the other.
She scrubbed a bit where blade joined hilt, angled it into the light for inspection, picked with a thumbnail and scrubbed again. At last satisfied, she returned the rag to Roger and sheathed her blade almost without steadying the scabbard.
"Will there be anything else, my Lady?"
Her lips pursed, and then she smiled. It closed her more swollen eye, but she did not wince.
"The King is dead," she answered. "Stop polishing the old bastard's picture and hang the crape, already."
Man, it takes me longer to lay words on paper than it used to. It's because I don't just write anymore. I stop and think about it as it's going down.
Fewer revisions, though.
Books in progress: Ken MacLeod, Newton's Wake
Interesting tidbit of the day: n/a
Other writing-related work: One critique