I want it to be known I am posting this primarily for Olga, who informed me that she liked it rough. 😉 I think a comment like that in response to, “Are you sure you want to read more of my work in progress? It’s extremely rough.” Deserves a reward. So, my friend, this is for you. (And for anyone else curious about my NaNoWriMo project.)
The following scene is the last part of my current Chapter Six. To set it up for you, Christian is having a chat with his brother, Jeffrey, and his best friend, Paulo, without forewarning Paulo that he had just hopped in bed with a noble woman during his previous job. (Christian, in case you missed it, is a mercenary.) The thing Christian especially takes for granted is what his sometimes-lover might think about that.
Warning: This is extremely unedited, first draft stuff. So, be gentle.
“Yes, I am. She… we, uh…” Aware both men were staring at me, I became suddenly self-conscious. “She took quite a shine to me. In the ways women fancy men.”
Jeffrey rolled his eyes and covered his face. “You’re more foolish than I thought, Christian. Any woman that willing to bare herself to you is anything but trustworthy. I thought you were savvier to whores than that.”
“Don’t call her that. Jane was an exceptional…” The moment my attention shifted to Paulo, my argument dried up in my throat. He wasn’t looking at me any longer. His disposition had soured and while I knew Jeffrey wouldn’t notice, I did because I knew him so well. Paulo glared at the wall opposing us and I suddenly felt foolish in a much different manner than my brother suggested. “She wasn’t a whore. Confused, yes, but until some man named Talbot can be dealt with, she’s trapped.”
“Be that as it may…” Jeffrey began, but the rest of his statement was lost to me. My heart sank as I saw my best friend’s strange behavior suddenly laid out before me in the most explicit of terms. I fought against my first reaction – to shut my brother up in favor of pleading with Paulo – and realized it wouldn’t be nearly as beyond his understanding if I was to do so. Still I couldn’t keep silent about it.
“It was… it wasn’t…” I said, interrupting yet still managing to stumble over my words. Paulo’s eyes shot up to me when he realized I was addressing him. My expression turned conciliatory. “My friend, I’ve not been nearly as transparent with you as I could’ve been. I was in a hurry to talk to Jeffrey and find out if all of this was true or not.”
Paulo shook his head and looked away. “What’ve you been dabbling in besides noble women?”
I winced. “Nothing else, I promise. She suggested… Well, she said a few things, but I…”
“I’m sure she filled your head with a lot of cazzata, but I think you liked hearing it.”
“I thought you needed to be protected from yourself, amico mio. I never realized how much.” He stood, abrupt, and headed straight for the door. My hands fell to my sides and Jeffrey watched with me, even more confused than I was, if such a thing was possible.
Jeffrey raised an eyebrow. “I very clearly missed something.”
“As did I.” I walked past my brother, headed out behind Paulo and catching the door when he tried pulling it shut. When Paulo saw me on the other side, he snorted and let go, but resumed his exit. I did us both the favor of shutting the door and allowing us to put a sizeable distance between us and Jeffrey’s house. When I was satisfied we had walked far enough, I jogged to catch up and grabbed Paulo by the cloak.
He spun around, but tugged the fabric away from me. I opened my mouth to talk, but he held up a hand to stop me, lowering it just as swiftly as he raised it and using the same momentum to turn his back to me again. Instead of walking any further, however, he remained standing in place. Profanity raced past his lips in a fevered pitch, one phrase bounding from another in what I could only guess was his native tongue. He gestured with his hands while I rubbed my face and attempted to get a word in edgewise. “Paulo,” I said. “For God’s sakes, please listen…”
“Stupido! Figlio di puttana!” He faced me, his eyes wild with anger. He shook his head and walked closer. “Listen to what? You telling me about a lady you let get under your skin after only a day of knowing her? That gave you her horse and promised you secrets… For what?” He pointed down below my belt. “Per il bene di tuo uccello stupido?” Paulo sighed, the sound bitter as he turned away from me. “I forgot. You still prefer women.”
“Stop it.” I frowned. “Don’t throw words spoken in jest back at me.”
“After what you’ve just thrown back at me?” He shook his head. “I’m finished.”
“Paulo?” When he started to walk again, headed straight for our horses, I began to panic. “Stop! Bloody hell, please stop and talk to me. Let me explain.” He brushed me off when I reached for him again and untied his horse’s reins in a huff. My heart sank down to my feet. “I still need you, Paulo.”
“I don’t think you need me. I think you need whatever’s going to let you run off and get in over your head.” With a hard swallow, he looked back at me. “I’m riding back to the village. I’ll wait for you to finish with whatever you need to do here and we can return to town. I need some time to think.”
“But…” The sole objection I could issue sounded impotent when it escaped my lips. Paulo mounted his horse and I watched him ride off, mouth agape and mind reeling. Both hands rose, tangling with my hair while tears brimmed inside my eyes. A distinct part of me wanted to chase after him. Another part needed to scream at the moon and stars above me. Why had this become so complicated all-of-a-sudden?
“Where did your friend go?” Jeffrey asked, bounding down the path behind me. I heard his footsteps pause and turned to face him, my expression undoubtedly a sight to behold. He furrowed his brow. “Christian? What happened?”
“Nothing. Not a bloody thing, Jeffrey. Leave it to rest for now.” I stormed off, walking for the barn and hopeful my brother picked up on the implicit request for solitude. When he failed to give chase, I breathed a sigh of relief and disappeared inside with the cattle. Fetching a lantern from one of the posts where they hung, I sat away from the animals and spent five minutes working on lighting the lamp. Mercifully, I managed to accomplish the task without igniting the entire place around me.
The warm glow of the fire dispelled the chill in the air, though I still found myself huddling under my cloak and rubbing my hands together. The spine of the book dug into the small of my back; I reached for it in frustration and tossed it onto the ground with a huff. It landed opened, more of its Latin gibberish and strange symbols visible when the flame flickered enough to cast more light on it. I stared at the pages and frowned, thinking of my father reading from a similar book, chanting its strange words.
Reaching for the book, I held it closer to the light with a frown, not certain what I was looking for when I angrily flipped from page to page. More of the same followed until I stopped on a page with a different sort of writing than had been in the previous sections of the book. A calming sigh slipped past my lips as I tried to shift my focus from anger to the notes written on the paper. The Latin was still there, but under each word was a broken up rendition of that term, hyphens separating each syllable with the occasional variance in the spelling. It wasn’t until I heard myself reciting the words in my head that I realized what had been done. The note taker was providing a means of pronunciation.
I furrowed my brow and mouthed the words at first before giving unction to them. “Evocatio Spiritualis,” I murmured, a shiver racing up my spine which should’ve dissuaded me, but didn’t. The words were shaky at first, but as I rose to my feet, lantern in one hand and book in the other, some form of energy gathered around me, giving the things drifting from my lips more clarity as I spoke them. My voice grew louder, the hand clutching the book shaking while I felt something churn under my skin, wanting escape. I stared ahead, finishing the last of the incantation.
Without warning, the door to the barn burst open.
I clamored backward, falling and losing the lantern in the process. The cattle reared, but I twisted onto my hands and knees, still holding the book, and fetched the lamp before its fire could escape. My heart raced in my chest, thudding in my temples and tightening my throat while my eyes found the opened door and remained transfixed. Whatever the spell had been for, somehow, I had tapped into whatever forces breathed life into the mystical. And I wanted to do it again.
Walking over to one of the pens, I lowered the lamp onto a post and settled it into place. If I was going to be experimenting with this, I wasn’t about to risk dying in the process. I jogged over to the barn door and shut it, then raced back to where I had left my reading light. Focusing on the page again, I held out my free hand, readying myself for whatever was to come. “Evocatio Spiritualis,” I began once more. Evocatio. Evoking. My pulse quickened as I continued reading. I focused on the door again, narrowing my eyes and drawing from the invisible energy building in my chest again, wanting to be expelled. This time, when I blew the door open, it swung so far it knocked into the barn’s side.
A sound of utter delight bounded from my mouth. I shut the door and flipped the page, finding another spell written out in a similar manner. Flames grew and shrank at my command. Winds blew through the barn and all of nature rang inside my ears, forming a chorus I had never heard before. I laughed like a madman, repeating spells just to see the elements dance to the tune I intoned.
For a brief moment, I felt like a god.