Posted: October 25th, 2023 under artwork, Craft, Horngard, the writing life.
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Instead of a snippet in words, a sketch–the kind of thing I often scribble on the back of an envelope or letter or any paper handy…this time the back of a 4×6 card, first with the gel pen and then colored in with colored pencils.   I made it Tuesday evening to clarify the terrain and situation for members of the Discord writing group I’m in–most of them not familiar with my work so not at all with Paksworld.    I don’t submit something every week, because they like shorter chunks of things, and that means fragments.  But what I often want most from a first reader is not detailed comment, but whether or not the flow of action makes sense or is jumbled.  In the first draft, I don’t worry about stuff that may not even be there in second draft.  (in fact, in this case I was editing right up to it being my turn because I knew they might have a problem visualizing the terrain without a lot more words than I wanted to spend…this area was described when the allied forced came in several days ago.

This doesn’t cover the entire area of the ambush sequence but the most relevant bits.  The card was white, but messing with the white balance enough to make it look white wiped out the other colors.  I need better light in the study.   Anyway.  North is up.  The Pliuni Road leads west and up to the citadel, or east  about 10 days’ travel through rows of hills (think the rumples of a kicked rug) to the walled city of Pliuni, about 5-7 days south of Valdaire.  That steep cliff on the left (contour lines close together) is the base of one of the “horns” of Horngard.  That lower hill on the right (contour lines farther apart) is the first hill east of the big cliff.   A waterfall comes down the cliff into a pool (out of scale)  with a bar at the east end that makes an easy ford for horses or people.  The stream flows east (and is also out of scale).  The red-brown seed-shaped ovals represent the horses of Clart cavalry exiting the citadel valley right before the ambush attack from across the stream.   Halveric Company (2 cohorts) is camped on the left, and Fox Company on the right.  Those triangular pointy bits are tents.  Green with squiggles inside is thick vegetation.  Ambushments include across the stream, from head-high bushes and young trees, and down from the end of that hill.  On the far side of the creek, there’s a hill like the one on this side; the attackers are armed with bows (blackwood longbows, a few crossbows, a few recurved bows) and the brush has been “sculpted'” by careful pruning to allow clear shots with maximum cover.   The distance across the creek is only 10-15 yards.  The vertical distance from the hilltop is somewhat more, but gravity adds punch.

In version 1 of this sequence, Nasimir Clart and his horse were wounded; in trying to dismount from his horse, an archer on the hill got a lucky hit into the back of his thigh.  However, that contradicted the sequence in “Bank Transfer” when he comes cantering across a ford some distance from here (not this ford) and is feeling great.  A deep wound in the back of the thigh would not let him ride again that soon, so the first major change in the story was changing out where he was and giving the injury to someone else.  (Sorry, Reassigned-Victim.)   Clart has not been a POV character before, and once turned loose he proved a superb one, producing good plot faster than I could write it.


  • Comment by Linda — October 26, 2023 @ 4:04 pm


    Your sketch gives information which leads to torrents of questions … especially having just re-read the end of the last Paks book before checking on Paksworld. Who is leading the Halverics now? Who is leading Fox Company? If that is the foot of Horngard, they are in the South … where are the Clarts from anyway? Given Arcolin’s backstory as the illegitimate son of Horngard’s last semi-competent ruler, one sees all sorts of possibilities for Horngard 1 and 2. I thought it was going to be mainly the younger folk, but maybe not.

    Where did the attackers get blackwood bows?

    I want a serious maps of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms! I can’t picture the location of Horngard … is it north of Andressat?

    I think I m going to add prayers for a publisher for these books to the ones for world peace and a functioning US government. I want them to appear before I am too much older/ suffering from another concussion.

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — October 27, 2023 @ 6:32 am


    That would make a very nice book cover.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 27, 2023 @ 3:20 pm


    Linda, we are now 5-6 (not sure of the fraction between) from Prince Camwyn being injured by iynisin and taken away by Dragon. After Dorrin returned the water stone to the lands, rain came back, and the very-very evil magelord who had owned Kieri and later the Duke of Immer was destroyed in Chaya…Aarenis had a period of relative peace in which the mercenary companies had barely enough work to keep them in beer and skittles. But that period is coming to an end, as Horngard I begins. Clart Cavalry was existed in Paks I, one of the alliance Kieri put together, and went with Kieri to Dwarfwatch to relieve the siege by some of Siniava’s people and rescue the Halveric and Duke’s Company troops inside. At that time they were one of three all-cavalry merc companies in Aarenis: Clart, Sobanai, and Sofi Ganarrion’s. Clart was mentioned again in the Paladin’s Legacy books. Ganarrion’s company was permanently joined to the Duke of Fall’s defenses by Sofi’s daughter’s marriage to the Duke’s son. Sobanai Company was first devastated by illness and the assassination of its command staff by the Duke of Immer, the remnants captured and enslaved, and the last survivors rescued by Fox Company (name change after Kieri left to take up his place as king in Lyonya.

    Arcolin took over Kieri’s company and lands, and eventually title, in the Paladin’s Legacy books. In the interim between that series and this, and in response to economic conditions in Aarenis and to King Mikeli’s desire for a standing force in Tsaia, Arcolin increased recruiting in the north, considered opening a recruiting/training center in the south to supply Fox Company there, while continuing to recruit and train for King Mikeli’s needs/desires in the north. He is now Constable of Tsaia, essentially (in our terms) Secretary of Defense or Commander of Defense Forces…the guy with the most stars on his shoulders, if there were stars in their insignaia. He renounced any interest in Horngard’s rule, in Paladin’s Legacy, giving Dragon back the ring he’d received from his father. At the start of Horngard I, Arcolin still owns and commands Fox Company, coming south every campaign season, but he’s been recalled early (sometimes with some of his troops) to deal with problems in Tsaia), several times. King Mikeli would much rather he stayed in Tsaia, within call. Arcolin will decide to retire from active field command, leaving it to his three captains but retaining ownership and thus Fox Company’s connection to the crown of Tsaia. Cohort size has increased to 120 minimum, as in Golden Company as well.

    As the curtain opens on Horngard I, Arcolin is coming back into Aarenis for what he thinks is the last time, one of his squires, Aris Marrakai (years ago, Cam’s best friend) is looking forward to another summer in Aarenis but this time with more free time, before entering the Bells training in the fall or winter, Camwyn is obeying Dragon and nearing Valdaire to start his trek to Horngard to install himself (?) as king in a place he’s never seen, Aesil M’dierra is looking forward to having a meal with Arcolin again and trading news, Gurtnor Sartanits is meeting potential clients who said they wanted to hire his merc company, The Blue Company, for a still un-explained “big deal, Count Vladi with his 400 Kostandanyan spearmen is deciding that since Sofi’s daughter’s husband will NOT succeed the Duke of Fall (he picked another successor), his duty to Kostandan’s king is done and at summer’s end he’ll go back to Kostandan permanently, and Gwennothlin Marrakai (formerly Dorrin’s squire, Aris’s older sister, now a Knight of the Bells in the Royal Guard) is bored stiff in her assignment and daydreams running off to become a merc like Dorrin. Most of these people will have their expectations ripped up and thrown into the trash.
    Camwyn is 20-21 now, Aris is 17-18 (was 12 when Cam was injured), Aesil M’dierra is low-60s, Arcolin’s mid-late 50s, King Mikeli is late 28ish, Sartanits is mid-40s, Count Vladi is 80+, Gwenno’s mid-20s.

    Horngard is west of Andressat, west of Pliuni (alsm west of Andressat but not far west–Horngard’s much farher, through a belt of foothill ridges.)

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 27, 2023 @ 3:22 pm


    Only if the labels were neatened up! And the contour lines done properly. But it is a useful little sketch and neatening it *would* as either a sketch in the book or a cover image. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 27, 2023 @ 3:33 pm


    I want to finish the next two books (this and Horngard III) and maybe even more before *I* have another concussion or lose my wits entirely.

  • Comment by Linda — October 29, 2023 @ 7:31 pm


    Thanks for all the details on who, what, where, when. And with prayers for a concussion free future for both of us.

    What drives me nuts is that mine seem connected to problems with not recognizing dangers which I should be able to see, do see, but don’t process as potentially dangerous. I have now taken the cupboard doors off the cabinets in the kitchen and adopted a new “protocol” for getting into the driver’s seat in the car.

    At least one still has books by favorite authors to look forward to even in a world so much is at risk. Bless you and your glorious efforts.

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