Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - My Minstrels

The monster work in progress I have been slaving away at, joyfully, I will add, is a story about a band of minstrels. The idea came from this question: "Did minstrels have groupies?"
I slept on it, and the next day wrote out the first 2,000 words.

For today I thought I would share this bit, from the first quarter of the story. Where our heroes are invited to stay at a magic school, because the headmistress and the piper have a history. It's a nice bit of rest after being attacked the night befor

This is from my first draft, very rough around the edges. Just to warn you.

Carey woke up Rand. He sat up and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked around while waking up.

“Where are we now?” he asked.

“At a school,” Morvana said. “But now you are being invited to lunch.”

“Food, good.” Rand said. “Who are you?”

“This is Morvana,” Grail said.

“Okay.” Rand jumped off the cart.

Grail walked up to the keep with Morvana on his arm. Drake walked behind them with his mouth opened. It had been too many years since Grail had seen Morvana. He had often been assigned to her regiment when they had skirmishes.

Morvana nodded to some of the other mages as they walked into the keep. Some of the younger students giggled as they passed.

“The school looks like it's doing well,” Grail said.

“Yeah, it's the only thing that is keeping this area from being attacked. I think both sides are scared of me,” Morvana said.

“I never could figure out why you settled in Angiva.”

“The land was cheap, and this place was perfect.” She led them up the spiral staircase. “Besides, it's a very beautiful valley.”

Grail glanced out the window. Morvana was right. The valley did look very peaceful and quiet. The type of place you dreamed about retiring to after the army. Morvana leaned in and rested her head on his shoulder.

“You think I settled down, don't you?” she asked.

“You?” Grail chuckled. “You were the quiet one, the one we had to watch out for.”

“So what are you doing here?” Morvana asked as they entered a small dining hall. She waved to a young student. “Joyce, could you tell the kitchen to bring up a cold meat tray, please.”

“For how many?” Joyce asked.

“How many do you see?”

“Sorry.” Joyce hurried down another set of stairs.

Morvana motioned to a large table. Grail took the seat by the fire. Morvana sat next to him. Drake sat on the other side, staring at Morvana. She chuckled. “What is it?”

“Sorry, I just can't believe I am in the same room with Morvana,” Drake said, his face turning red.

Jena shook Drake's arm. He ignored her. She sat back in her chair and crossed her arms.

“It's alright,” Morvana said. “I know what you are thinking, here is the great Morvana, the mage that help turn the Battle of Tracelin Grove. But I was only doing my job, nothing else.”

“But you cause the rout!”

“I was told to give any assistance to the seith corps as they tried to turn back the animated dead,” she said. “So I did.”

“You knocked out an entire line of corpses!”

“I put a hole in the ground big enough for them to fall into, the seiths blessed the ground and I covered it. They were trapped.”


“I was an army mage, nothing more. Besides if it wasn't for Grail playing the call, everyone would have bolted. He is the true hero.”

Grail chuckled. He pulled out his pipe. Morvana reached over to the fire and handed him a small piece of lit kindling. Grail used it to light his pipe. Rand had laid his head on the table and was snoring softly.

“All of you are minstrels?” Morvana asked.

Drake nodded.

“No,” Jena said.

“I just started,” Carey said.

Joyce came back into the room, carrying a large plate of sliced meat and bread. Morvana went over to a smaller table and brought over the bowl of apples and peaches.

“You all look hungry, so dig in,” she said. Morvana went over to the patio that overlooked the valley. Grail joined her.

“You were surprised to see me,” he said.

“No, I have a scrying orb,” she said.

“So why didn't you send us some help last night?” Grail asked, leaning on the railing.

“I wasn't looking last night, but I would have, you know that.”

“I know,” Grail said.

“You never answered my question. What are you doing here?”

“Heading to Dragonspring.”

“For what reason?”

“A competition.”

Morvana smiled. “I think I know which one. I'm surprised you haven't gone before.”

“I only found out about it a few nights ago.” Grail reached over and pulled a piece of fluff that had fallen onto Morvana's hair.

She brushed her hand against his. “Well, I am glad you stopped by. Go join your friends, I have some business to take care of.”

“I would like to catch up,” Grail said.

Morvana smiled, “Tonight, after dinner, if you can stay?”

“We can.”


A bell rang in the courtyard below them. “I have to go. I will send a porter up to get you all rooms.”

Morvana hurried down the steps, her white robe flowing out behind her. Grail puffed on his pipe for a few more moments. She had lied earlier, he thought. The last time they saw each other she had to hurry out of his tent before the march.


  1. This is great! I love the concept of 'minstrel groupies'...and the ensemble cast..and the mix of adventure/fantasy...

    A few suggestions for this scene specifically...when Rand first sees Morvana, I would love to know more about how she looks + his reaction. Is he surprised by her? Is she startling to see? She's famous, does he have a response to that?

    Then when they have lunch, I got a bit confused...I realized there was more people there than I thought (the whole group?)...I wonder if some additional description of them might help 'solidify' there presence there...?

    It could also be because I'm reading this out of context, presumably I would know who everyone is by this point!

    Great read! Eager for more!
    Julie Johnson

  2. I think the idea is a very good one, unique and interesting. It will take me a little more to understand precisely what is going on, but I'm intrigued enough to keep reading, and that's what is really important.

    When you lay down your first draft, you must go for dialogue first and then come back to fill in with prose. I do that too, in some scenes. In others, I have to come back and break it up with dialogue.

    I enjoyed it and am glad to see your post for #teasertuesday!

  3. On Morvanna's character, is she being falsely humble, there? By her bringing up "I know what you're thinking" it seems to me like she wants them to think that "here is the great mage" and is just downplaying the event to SEEM humble. If she's truly humble about it, I'd have another character voice the thought "Aren't you the great mage?" Drake sort of alludes to it, but strengthening exactly what he means would help define the character more, maybe play it out a little with her pretending not to know what he's talking about with the "I can't believe I'm in the room" comment.

    That section is really the only trouble I had with it, outside of some niggling SPAG issues which a thorough proofread should fix. It seemed, there, to be a bit too expositional and "plot talky"

    Overall, an interesting concept that I'm eager to read more of.

  4. I do apologize for the holey first draft. I usually tack on at least 20,000 more words. Then chop 10,000 of them.

    It was hard to pick a piece that was in the middle of the action. By this time, you would have a fair idea of all their personalities. Morvana was introduced a few paragraphs earlier.

    After a couple of edits, you should see a major improvement.


  5. Human nature never changes no matter the setting : historical, fantasy, musical, or a combination of all three like your WIP.

    Great job in pulling in the reader. You made me want to read more. Roland