caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Ere we sink to slavery,
Rise in war and strike us free!
Ere we fall to love of war,
Lay we down, to rise no more.

 
It would be a happier world if the human condition didn't extend to the ability to fail on both counts at once!  For the record, I think that love of war is by far our most intractable present problem of the two, especially - and here is the part that touches today - belligerence by conceited or cowardly persons who consider themselves only as legitimate authors of war, never as its participants or legitimate targets.

I do not want to hear a howl for war from anybody who has not just about broken their back and heart trying the alternatives.  Yes, sometimes the tree of liberty may well need watering with the blood of tyrants - but one of the best tests for a tyrant is whether all milder means of irrigation, such as taking the piss out of them, have ceased to be practical. 

And I fancy some extension of that rule might often apply across borders.


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 240 words. The Big Bad driven off - just how far she's 'defeated', or otherwise, being somewhat open to interpretation. She slipped a really dirty one right between the lines, even as I started writing this post. How did I not notice that whilst finishing the scene itself?  It's totally in the spirit of everything she's been up to for the last six chapters.

Now Carrowglaze the Dull Tower is fallen at last -

John and Liz and Beggar Bill
Knocked the hog from off his hill.

But my Bad Baron, the Blue Boar of Carrowglaze, is still charging around with all his knights below it - and it's going to take more than a rabble of Beggar Bills, even with Kate's and Luke's banners to rally them, to bring a herd like his down.  The last fatal surge of the battle must follow.  The way it's looking, I think I'm going to have to start pulling away, looking wide, retreating into the rhythm of the tales that will be told of it after.  Anything else after what's happened could only come as anticlimax and false tension.  The finish ought to strike the reader as foredoomed when it comes, and that was true even before what the Big Bad just dumped inside my head.

The close of this chapter will also close this whole Rising arc, and I have some hope to get there over the weekend. 

Then the short climactic Bonfire Arc, and the long-planned Epilogue, and the tale will be told and done.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 1,260 words.  Battle joined, unjoined, and come unstuck.  The Bad Baron, the Blue Boar of Langdale, gets his one taste of viewpoint, but fails to enjoy it very much.  His revolutionary consumer experience is not improved by the intervention of Something bigger and badder.  Nor is just about anybody else's...

MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 260 words.  Yesterday's fairy-tale fragment got them flowing and making sense again.  The great raw intake of breath before the rebel howl.

(I nearly wrote 'rebel yell', before realizing the utter grotesquerie of applying that term to this cause and its temper.  One might almost as well use it of John Brown as of Golden Kate, or of Nat Turner as of Edgar-a-Moss.  The mind and gorge stage a rebellion all their own.)

Grey wolf howls in crimson gloam.
Elf-horns cry, and gods keep mum...


But the elf-horns keep as mum as the gods, and the battle must begin before our rebels are ready.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 240 words.  The tragedy begins to close its jaws, and a nameless sergeant who is probably the greatest real hero on the Bad Baron's side closes skilfully with Fiery Younger Sister in her battle-taking.  The baronial side will never remember him because he was just another churlish servant, and the good guys will never remember him because he was just another soldier of fortune in the army of the Man.  In the grand scale of things, he is one of the least significant characters in the whole tale.

But this is his tale too, or it is no-one's; and though I know next to nothing of him, I doubt I will soon forget him.

Next, the culmination of the Assize in the market-field below.

Without this part of the story, everything before and after would go for nothing.  Also, I think it is doing more or less what it ought to do.  I never expected to hate writing it so very much!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 330 words.  The Bad Baron doesn't know it yet, but the battle's already started.

The timing of the next bit is some of the trickiest in the chapter.  Also, when I devised the blue forgetful hills on the southerly marches three years ago, I didn't foresee that both Luke and Bonecold would find creative ways of using them at different times.  This newest sleight of Bonecold's may yet make the difference between outrageous character daring and outrageous authorial cheating!

Like most magic tricks in the Kateverse, it's only in the narrowest senses a cheap one.


caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 270 words, riding towards the field of judgement. Riding - that's been central to the recent drought of writing. The more I thought about the Battle of Carrowglaze, the less my plans seemed plausible solutions to my heroes' logistics, stealth, and cavalry issues. I am not a great tactician, and it's taken me some time to even glimpse a way out without loading all the dice obviously in their favour. But now they have a fallback plan that makes sense, in a very desperate do-or-die way; and speaking of do-or-die and death-or-glory, it gives Golden Kate something to do in the battle that only she possibly could.

What I should have realized from the outside is that a captain as war-wise as Sir Richard would certainly have schemed to take full control of the timing, from well before his enemies knew a fight was coming. He's no genius, but he's no dummy either, and he has experience of a kind that Kate and her peasant allies simply don't. He's also served under a commander who - considered on the purely tactical level - was very good indeed.

Moving our friends' strategy thus wholly into the active column takes us from "waiting for terrible things' unfolding, then reacting suddenly and boldly" to "taking tenuous and covert control of the situation, losing it early when forced to react, and needing to recapture it quickly at grim odds". Not only is this much more dramatic, but I can actually believe it could work without my cheating. Which makes it much more attractive, as well as more pointful, to write.

Charge!
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 266 words, finally finishing the scene I've been madly cat-vacuuming all weekend in order not to finish.  The reason?  Turns out to be, the part I was resisting writing simply doesn't belong in this chapter at all.  Everything else takes place in one day, and the showdown scene doesn't.  Also, I've already caught Fiery Younger Sister's skewering on the prongs of the curse.  Whether she buys into the partisans' atrocity for the sake of her cause, or avenges it for the sake of humanity, the Enemy will be trailing peals of mad laughter along  the blue hills.

There is an answer to that too, but not soon - oh, and red tigress, it is not a cheap one.  To think I once considered writing this character out in the redraft, because I neither liked her nor knew what difference she would make in the end!

Three more mirrors to go in the kaleidoscope: Kate, Elegant Elder Sister, and - I'm almost sure of this now - Bonecold Refugee.  Another character I'd never planned to give viewpoint, but now has found her moment.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

770 words, and another chapter put to bed.  Yes, I did the morally cruel thing instead of the tactically cruel one.  Twelve Gods, my protagonist can be a shit when he needs to be.

But given the choice between betraying an old friend who loves him, or the men and women who've trusted him with their lives in a struggle against cruel foes at outrageous odds... I don't see what else he could have done.  Katy could never have gone there.  Kate would have done it blithely when she was 'young and golden', but less now even than Katy: it wouldn't occur to her any more, and trying it would destroy her.  Luke, though, is the man who'll win Langdale if anybody can - whatever it costs him, and up to a damned high bill all round.  He's a hard cold man, even as a champion of humankindness.  I knew that.  I thought I knew what it meant.  But I don't think I got all that it meant, in my bones, until I finished this scene this morning.

I'm glad I did it this way, because rigging the game so that he got to do a right thing yet again would have been both feebler and fouler.  I am prepared to write a just war: I am not prepared to write a good one. 

Eh, but what a kick in the gut it proved, to be there when it happened!  I hope this is a good omen for future readers, and not a bad one.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

...I wish to withdraw my application for the post of  'Unexpectedly Brilliant Natural Strategist' in your Plucky Drive To Rebuild Civilization From A Small Nucleus Of Unfashionably Sterling Worth.  While I am certainly of Sterling Worth, I no longer feel that any post involving me in any kind of military planning is appropriate.  May I please be considered for the post of Smartarse Political Oracle instead?

I've only just realized that my veteran skirmisher can use the background I gave Kate two months ago to completely screw over his mounted pursuers.  And that yes, of course he picked her brains thoroughly about the fell-country she knew so well in her youth, before he parted from her to get stuck into a guerilla war on the far edge of it!

No, Gray.  He hasn't forgotten about the obscure old hill-track that a four-generations old battle once turned on - not for a single minute.  But you did until today, didn't you?

490 words, and I am set to potato-peeling duty [Sulks].

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
About another Kword since last post.  Finished the chapter, and brought on - quite a tertiary character, but a pivotal one: a small survivor, with no great strengths except eyes wide open and the courage of utter disillusion.  She is not, I suppose, in many senses a very attractive personality.  But Flashy Elder Brother - and I too, I begin to think - really needed to meet her.  I've waited two years and thirteen chapters to see her again after a brief second-hand glance at the very beginning, and now the wait seems worth it.  I didn't anticipate half the difference she'd make, and I very much hope her sub-plot survives the Great Redraft.  In her way she is quite the equal of Katy.

Next chapter, the war of manoeuvre starts getting really crunchy.  Lots of research, sheaves of half-arsed ideas to gather over the next few days.  Original plans already badly battered: heroes and enemies keep punching through their weak spots as fast as I can shore 'em up.  Why didn't I write about bulging-thewed Og and the Mad Mage of Mollocking March instead?  Nnngghh!

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