My Fair Lady - Excerpt from The Baron's Heart
The Baron's Heart hit another milestone this last week - 75,000+ words and counting. With 21 chapters complete, Kathryn and I are more than half way through the book. The target release date of early fall 2018 is looking good.
This month we are going to focus back on Kalyn Rhan. As the cover suggests, both Kalyn and the Lady Andrella play significant roles in this book.
The dynamic between the two is quite interesting. Kalyn is a bit of a "country bumpkin." Andrella, in contrast, is a cosmopolitan young lady, raised to appreciate the finer things in life. This makes for some rather amusing scenes between the two.
Kalyn is a very attractive young woman, but she is more a tomboy than not. On their first meeting, Andrella sees Kalyn's potential, and decides to do something about it. The mayhem that ensues provides much entertainment for the rest of the companions.
It is a welcome diversion, because dire events are unfolding in Ravenford. The Baron has been brutally murdered, his heart cut out and taken. This makes reviving him with magic nearly impossible. The companions have their work cut out for themselves if they are to bring Gryswold back to life before his body decomposes too far.
The key to finding his heart may rest in the Baron's past. The companions look to meet with Gryswold's old adventuring crew. The Lady Gracelynn pulls those still in town together for a dinner at Ravenford Keep.
Let's ends this month's blog entry with the scene leading up to that event. Kalyn has been invited, but the young woman has never been to a fancy dinner before. She plaintively states she has "nothin' to wear." That becomes Andrella's cue to makeover the countrified Kalyn in a scene that showcases both young ladies:
Kalyn had only ever worn the dresses her momma made her, and only when her momma made her wear them. They were modest, hot, and usually uncomfortable, and thus were only worn to midsummer parties which were awkward anyway. Though her momma had poured a lot of love and attention into the making of those dresses, none of them had been as fancy as the ones Andrella had picked out for her. Kalyn was still in awe of the young noble, but put her foot down on the bright red, pale yellow, and sky-blue gowns she had chosen.
“What do you think I am? A poppy flower? That one’s too red. That one too yellow. And that blue one shows not just my collar bone, but my shoulders to boot!”
They finally settled on a deep green one that reminded Kalyn of the forest, kept her decently covered, and pleased Andrella.
The dress fit Kalyn quite well with one exception—the length. Andrella was about four inches taller than her. Kalyn thought for sure she’d get her leathers back, but the “problem” was quickly remedied. Andrella sent for her friend, Kailay, whose mother was the town seamstress. With the bubbly young woman’s help, the dress was ready just before dinner.
Yet that wasn’t the end of it. Andrella had insisted on ‘painting her up’ as well. Kalyn’s face felt like it was suffocating, her eyelids heavy, and her lips sticky. She didn’t even recognize herself in the mirror. She had flat out refused Andrella’s shoes though—she was certain she would kill herself in those tiny pointed heels. In the end they compromised. The gown she wore was floor length so Andrella grudgingly agreed to let Kalyn keep her doe-skin boots.
“At least now I only feel kinda neked,” Kalyn grumbled.
Now both women stood at the entryway to the main dining hall. Kalyn felt like her stomach was going to drop clear to the floor as Andrella pushed the double doors open.
Kalyn’s mouth hung open as she gazed around the hall. It was not as big as the throne room, but there was a large hearth opposite the doors and two tall windows on each of the remaining walls. Floor length tapestries hung between the windows with the town’s insignia—a black dragon on a red, white, and blue background.
A pair of fancy chandeliers hung over a large table with seating for easily twenty folks. Several people sat around the table, but Kalyn’s eyes focused on the Lady Gracelynn.
The regal woman turned and motioned toward them. “Ah, here is my daughter. Andrella, Kalyn, please come and join us.”
Kalyn’s feet felt firmly frozen to the floor. Andrella knit her brows, then laced her arm through Kalyn’s and practically dragged the stunned young woman into the dining hall.
“Close your mouth,” Andrella hissed to her under her breath.
Kalyn had not realized it was still open. She did so, yet her eyes remained wide as she stared around the room.
The Lady Gracelynn sat at one end of that huge table. To her left sat a pudgy, balding, sour-faced man in the white robes of the clergy. To her right was a tall, white-haired gentleman garbed in long brown robes. I’d know a druid anywhere. That must be Almax, and the feller with the stick up his rear must be Abbot Qualtan.
Elladan was seated next to Qualtan with Glo on his other side. Donnie sat next to Almax followed by Lloyd and Sir Fafnar. There were two more place settings beyond Glo, and one more at the far end of the table, most likely in honor of the fallen Baron.
Kalyn felt extremely uncomfortable as all eyes in the room turned their way.
Donnie’s eyes went wide with surprise, as if he didn’t recognize her at first. “Well, you clean up nicely.”
Elladan stared at her sidelong, his eyes a-twinkle. “Martan would die if he could see this.”
The mention of her long time ‘friend’ stirred Kalyn from her shocked state. “Shut yer pieholes, gents, before ya get maggots in ‘em.”
“Kalyn!” Andrella hissed at her, the young lady mortified at her reaction.
Yet Kalyn’s comment had elicited a round of snorts and chuckles from the table. Almax in particular seemed quite amused. “Oh, I like her.” He turned to Lady Gracelynn. “From what I heard, she left quite an impression on High Druid Lysandra. Now I can see why.”
That was certainly news to Kalyn. She didn’t think the High Druid liked anyone, except for maybe Glolindir.
Andrella seated them both without further incident. Kalyn gazed wide-eyed at the number of forks and spoons spread out before her. She had no idea why there were so many. The young woman folded her hands together and silently prayed to the moon goddess, Synopei, that she would make it through this dinner without further embarrassment.