Roadtrip Day 108
Hello to our last full day in the Carlsbad area. Woke to a totally overcast sky, kinda small-lump spackly clouds rather than huge cumulonimbus stormbringers. Some tea and oatmeal to get this coolish day started.
Overcast burned off to give us a sunny, hot afternoon. We hiked locally and are getting ready to go to Carlsbad Caverns for the evening bat exodus. Planning on a grocery trip and bed after that.
Well that was magnificent. First, there was the sunset itself. We were facing Eastish and there was a distinct line of clouds underlit in all those beautiful orange-salmon- red colors with the ¾ moon hanging above. Then the swallows started returning to the cave mouth and their nest therein. Fabulous. Finally, the bats themselves began their exodus. In swarms. Amazing covered in awesomesauce with a side of magnificent. But wait! There’s more. A hawk swooped in from the periphery, zooming through the bat cloud and landed on a nearby rock to devour his catch of the day. His first catch of the day. He repeated this process five or six times as the bats continued their exodus. Simply incredible. We’ve seen the bat show before. It was never this good. Leaving, we drove West into the end of the pure sunset and it was lovely. What an experience. Had some BBQ at a local joint and continued to talk about the evening with astonishment. Eventually, finally we hit the grocery and returned to camp. Very tired now.
As for my legionaries, after I finished chapter 13, I was a little tired of writing and unmotivated to start on chapter 14. In the past when I felt this way, I’d jump to my epilogue and work on that but I have now also finished the epilogue. Well, damn. I wanted to write something more but if I wasn’t willing to work on chapter 14 what could I do?
Our friend Lisa in her talk about her self-publishing efforts stressed the importance of writing books in series instead of an endless string of stand-alones. She also seems to end her books with cliffhangers, although I can’t say that as a universal truth cuz I haven’t read much of her work. I had never considered “The Lost Century” as anything but a stand-alone; however, I had always intended to end it with the survival of some of the legionaries and the last bit would be them heading off into the sunrise. So, that’s essentially an opportunity for them to have additional adventures. Personally, I dislike books that end in cliffhangers, forcing me to read the next one. “The Lost Century” will have a definite end with a completed story. However, they will be alive, (relatively) safe, and heading off into the sunrise; so…
Having been unwilling at first to consider a series about “Flavius’ Furies,” I gave in and decided to write a teaser for/from the (possible) next book of the legionaries’ adventures since I felt like writing but didn’t wanna work on chapter 14. I dunno whether I’ll use it, rewrite it, or throw it completely away; but it was a fun exercise to keep me writing about them, even if it wasn’t for the current book.
Here’s the teaser, as written on the spur of the moment with no thought to how the actual story might go, except *of course* the “dragons” would be living fossils – horse-sized (?) therapods, pack hunters, maybe able to come to these lands after a huge earthquake demolished some geologic feature which previously kept them separate (and alive for the past 65MM years). Or something like that. Here tis:
“Dragons, Sir?” Rock said skeptically. “Are you sure he said ‘dragons’?”
“Neptune’s incestuous daughters!, Rock, I dunno,” Flavius replied, frustrated and tired from his efforts at an awkward three-way negotiation. “This guy speaks terrible Greek and he’s translating from that guy’s barbarian blabber. He probably speaks terrible barbarian, too. For all I know, the village wants to hire us to kill a horde of beautiful virgins who’ve come down from the nearby hills and are rampaging through their crops and absconding with wandering villagers, male and female, old and young. Oh, and they’ve also slaughtered some local troops who went to kill them. Sounds like they might be some badass virgins.”
“Well, ask him if it’s ok if we rape ‘em before we kill ‘em,” Rock retorted.
Flavius glowered at Rock and Gus put a hand on Rock’s forearm, saying, “We’re all tired. Let the Centurion get this done.”
Rock nodded his assent, “Sorry, Centurion. Are we really gettin’ anywhere here?”
Flavius said something in Greek to the translator who turned and started jabbering with the village elder. Flavius turned to his NCOs and took a sip of the slightly bitter, slightly alcoholic beverage they’d been served during these negotiations.
The small room was decently lit with oil lamps and they all sat on thick, beautifully-woven rugs as Flavius faced his NCOs and summarized. “This process is slow and frustrating, BUT… Their village is being attacked by something nastier than they can handle with the local forces who now refuse to face whatever it is after losing some of their troops. They’ve heard from the caravan master that we’re tough guys who can face anything and they wanna hire us. The important part here is that they’ll pay us the weight of a man in gold to kill the ‘dragons’, whatever the hell they are. The weight of a man in gold just to face some predatory animals.
“We could use that kinda payday.”
Rock and Gus both went quiet. They were flinty men, used to keeping their emotions off their faces but had to work hard to do so now. Gus spoke first, “That’s a lotta gold. Are we sure these guys have that kinda loot?”
Flavius nodded to his Third Officer, “This city is a crucial spot on the Silk Road; the wealth of Croesus exists in this area. That guy’s village is essentially an exurbs where a lotta the wealthy merchants have homes. Money is much less of a problem to them than being eaten in their own neighborhood, no matter what exactly it is doing the eating.”
Rock chimed in, “Hades!, Sir! We’ve fought vampires. We can absolutely whip a buncha lizards no matter how big they are. So, is that the weight of a man their size, cuz they’re smaller than us, or more like, say, Blue’s size?”
Flavius grinned, the exhaustion falling from his features. Blue was a legionary who originally came from the Germanic areas North of Rome’s territories and he was a head taller than most legionaries and stocky in his build. “Now you’re thinking, Optio,” he said, citing Rock’s rank as his top sergeant. “That’s an important negotiating consideration.”
Gus smiled slyly, “Well, ‘dragons’ or ‘beautiful virgins’, it’s all Greek to me. But I sure understand ‘Blue’s weight in gold’. I understand the shit out of that, by Jupiter.”
They all considered it while the translator and village elder chattered. Blue’s weight in gold to kill some pesky lizards. After all they’d been through, how hard could it be?