history, writing

Breaching the Shores of an Unfamiliar Sea

WIPpet Wednesday BannerOnce again it’s Wednesday, which means I am providing you with a snippet of my work in progress (thus, WIPpet), a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel. Basically, you post a snippet of your current project which in some way relates to the date. Speaking of …

Today in history – December 18, 1620, to be exact, a rickety British tub by the name of the Mayflower landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts. There, they signed the famous Mayflower Compact, an agreement by which all would consent for the good of the party. Thanks to a friendly Native American by the name of Squanto, the beleaguered Pilgrims learned to plant crops and thus created the first successful settlement on the East Coast of the United States. Hurrah!

The snippet I chose from my WIP, Dark Ages trilogy (Book 1) in which reluctant knight Justus must redeem a thief (Tristan) and guide a barren woman (Richende) on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, involves docking somewhere unfamiliar. Although, alas, it does not turn out to be as momentous as the Mayflower landing. Here they land at Jaffa, the closest port city to Jerusalem:

The port of Jaffa was ancient and filled with well-worn, limp-sailed boats of all shapes and sizes. Most of the buildings facing the sea were in need of white washing, made dirty and dingy by the wind and weather, and broken down by the weight of years. The small stone church that faced the water, however, still looked tidy, a lush and flowering jasmine plant snaking up the front of the building by the door, perfuming the air with its tender scent. People dressed in flowing white or light-colored robes with accompanying turbans passed by or worked industriously in the glare of the noon sun. Richende stood on the worn granite stones of the portside, shading her eyes and taking in the languid harbor, the unfamiliar squat building styles, the guttural, distinct cadence of the language, and the stark rocky landscape rising up behind the town. Even the warm desert breeze, heavy with moisture and the buzzing of sand flies, seemed so unfamiliar and exotic and welcome that Richende could scarcely halt the tears prickling the corners of her eyes.

                From here, Jerusalem lay inland fifty or so miles through hostile territory. But what was a mere fifty miles after coming so far? They were close now, so close!

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history, writing

Discovery in the Desert – WIPpet Wednesday

It’s my second week as a member of WIPpet and I almost forgot to post today. *whips self with wet noodle* I will skitter off to add Wednesdays to my Google calendar as soon as I’ve made this post, since I apparently can’t remember anything that I don’t have online reminders for. So, for today …

Today in history, on November 28, 1529, Magellan reached the Pacific. According to History.com, he traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific:

His fleet accomplished the westward crossing of the ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that the ocean was named “Pacific,” from the Latin word pacificus,meaning “tranquil.”

Apparently, at the end of this journey his men had no food and were reduced to cooking the leather of their equipment. But, he had discovered the now-named Straits of Magellan, facilitating travel from the Old World to the New.

So, I suppose I will focus my snippet today on some sort of discovery. This is yet to be revised, but hopefully it is not too hideous. It is from my Dark Ages adventure, in which Justus, the reluctant knight, must guide a barren woman (Richende) to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage.

Arriving in Jerusalem was not like Richende had pictured it in her mind, as she had done so many times over the long course of the trip. She did not feel the rise of spiritual ecstasy as they trod the earth packed by countless generations, sanctified by the presence of so many saints and by the Son of God himself. Rather, sensations of the purely physical kind overwhelmed her: the sight of the warren of squat brown buildings, the city walls broken in places, repaired clumsily in others, the arches and towers and chapels, synagogues and mosques, the stalls of vendors interspersed with beggars holding their cups and old women clinging to the arms of their granddaughters. Sad-eyed donkeys and bleating goats and gobbling hens added to the clamor. Over all of this the oppressive, burning heat, hot breezes churning about the stewing mass of people. The rising din of voices and the sounds of daily activity hung like a pall over the city.

Here, in this place, could be found the hill where Christ was crucified, Golgotha, the stations of the cross that chronicled his journey along the Via Dolorosa to his death, the famed Garden of Gethsemane where he spent the night before. All this was here, and more, yet all she could think about was Justus, a man who she had no right to hold in such affection. But, oh, such a precious man, who had fought for her honor and her desires, and who even now lay weak and insensible on a travois, head jostling with every bump and dip in the road. Justus, whose body was pierced in the side even as Christ, too, was pierced in the side as he hung on the cross. Blasphemy, she knew, to think such a thing, though now, as ever, she could not seem to halt the contrary path of her thoughts.

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