I’ve been up and down on the NaNo, even taking a break from writing to quib out this wee post. As of my writing this–in advance–I’m behind but not much. It’s not because of the time, it’s because of the thinking involved with being a pantser.
I’m constantly reimagining scenes in so much that I’ve given up on chapter numbers. Each chapter begins with Chapter ??. once I’ve completed it, I’ll fill those in. It’s better than wasting time changing it when I’ve added chapters.
So let’s talk about my first project: Talbot’s Game. For those who know, I already have a book published with this character. I near intended this to go any further than that one book. However, my muse had other plans. I kept thinking on the 18th century and what would Talbot be thinking when he realizes he doesn’t fall for girls. He likes playing with the boys. What kind of mindfuck would that have been?
So I came up with two prequels to Talbot’s Ploy. The second in these prequels was initially started for an anthology. Wasn’t meant to be, I’m afraid. So once I finish this one and NaNo in general, I’ll finish it. That will mean I’ll have two books to pander to Evernight.
I really need to make a series name on this but I’m terrible at that!
Anyways, here’s Talbot’s Game in the buff … unaltered … and raw. His beginnings!
The large room smelt of jasmine mingled with dirt and sweat. Men lined themselves in a wide circle across the dirt floor, pieces of silver and gold passing from hand to hand. The roar of the audience was deafening yet Talbot ignored their bantering. His opponent crossed foot over foot yet Talbot merely held his gaze. Fists at the ready, he’d already landed a blow to the man’s lips. Blood now marred the pompous fool’s mouth.
Stripped to the waist, Talbot ignored the aching pain of bruises yet to come. He only could indulge in the fighting when his father left town and wanted to take full advantage of it. His friends—Landis, Delron, and Maxime—laughed as they passed a flask around, mostly likely filled with brandy from Landis’ father’s cellar. They never tried a bout of fisticuffs in the underground muck of Paris but they enjoyed the revelry of Talbot having a bit of sport.
Young and brash, Talbot knew his time grew short before his father would reel him in to take over the family business. A tradition among the family, the Sauvageots trained their youth at a tender age on how to produce the finest wine in the region. While Talbot did hold an interest in the family business, he also enjoyed dabbing in the darker side of Paris. Should the low retches learn that their opponent was of a much higher stature, fists would turn into something a little more lethal. Being born of privilege only counted among your own kind. Down in the gutter, nothing but contempt for the lavish lifestyle festered.
Talbot ducked the man’s next blow, easily batting away his offending fist. Another rounding punch headed toward Talbot’s head, and he bent slightly before grabbing the man’s arm. He tossed him to the awaiting crowd. His audience eagerly thrust the man back toward him, and Talbot connected with the man’s chin with an upper cut. He staggered a bit before falling to the mudded floor. Cheers rose from the crowd on one side while the other fell silent.
Landis patted Talbot on the back. “Dear Lord, man. You’ve won me some francs to refill this flask for the evening.” His friend dressed in a ragged coat and a wine-stained tunic. Mostly likely his wardrobe came from the clothing he discarded when within his cups. Landis loved his private stock as much as any woman he had in his arms. Talbot know if his father found that Landis’ appearance fell well below his title, he would be sent to the countryside to learn to be grateful for the lush estate their acres of grapes provided.
“As if you need such coin to do so.” Talbot shrugged on his shirt. The fabric clung to his perspiration.
Landis put a finger to his lips and winked. He handed the flask to Talbot. The cool liquid burned yet soothed his parched throat. “I had hoped for a longer match.” Talbot licked the brandy from his lips.
“Not fair sport in here for you.” Maxime grinned.
Talbot quieted them with a signal as a grungy old man hobbled over. He smiled, though most of his teeth were absent, through a long stringy gray beard. “Fair game next time, Gaston.” He shook the belt pouch before pressing it into Talbot’s hand. “You’ll still eat right.”
Talbot nodded and tucked the purse into his tunic. The old man shuffled away.
“Let us take leave, gentlemen, before someone arrives that knows of us. ‘Tis common enough for servants to venture forth.” Talbot pushed past his friends, his dirty boots nearly sticking in the sodden floor. The fighting was for sport, the money but a bonus. His friend fell in behind, and they quickly traversed the rank streets of the lower end. With luck, the storms the heavens promised would rain down and wash away some of the putrid stench coating his skin. No amount of incense would rid Talbot of such a foul odor. Should his father be home, his sport would end with one whiff.