The Rose Shield – Catling

Rose Shield 2
The Rose Shield is my current WIP. A month ago, I introduced Raker  (Here). He’s half mad, but has sparks of unexpected wisdom if you can get over the fact that he converses with the river fog. My main character is Catling, and here’s the start of her story:

Chapter One Excerpt

Hanging Day.

Catling clutched the back of her mother’s wool skirt as Keela picked a path through the market crowd. Head down, she kept her eyes on the bare heels slapping the pavers ahead of her, afraid of a swat if she let go.

“Stop tugging on my dress and tramping on my heels,” Keela said without a glance back. She wrenched her skirt free. “And keep up.”

Catling flinched and scurried to catch up. At six, she was a scrawny thing and easily buffeted by the larger bodies that failed to see her. The market was all shoving and yelling heads off on hanging day, and she wouldn’t have minded if Keela weren’t in such a hurry.

She spotted a split-copper and darted from safety to pinch it from the crack between two pavers. A pair of scampering boys dodged around her as she ducked back behind her mother with a crooked grin. She slid the coin into her pocket beside her carved waterdragon and considered where she might hide it. All over the warrens, she kept secret stashes of split and clipped-coppers, stowed into crevasses and holes and buried under stones. She was rich and someday she’d collect them in a sack and ride a ferry to the sea.

“Always big crowds Summertide hanging day,” Keela said over her shoulder. “The weather’s kind enough and food’s plenty. Maybe we’ll share a meat tart and catch a couple neck-stretchers.”

The mere thought of a tart set Catling’s stomach growling. During Summertide, the market circled almost all the way around the warrens. Tables, carts, stalls, crates, and planks balancing on rickety chairs were set up haphazard like river rocks that people flowed around. Servants from the tiers sauntered down with their guards and pockets of clipped silver to spend however they pleased.

Riverfolk sold fish and eels by the pier. Glassy-eyed twitchers lolled against a stone wall, begging for anything they could sell for a taste. Smelters and smiths hawked pieces of metal shaped into knives and tools. She passed other guilds peddling rag-cloth and rope, trinkets and baubles, lye soap and tallow candles, and just about everything else she could imagine. Cull Tarr preachers traded promises for prayers, and tradesmen from far off Lim-Mistral decorated tables with smooth glass bottles for nighttime luminescence. She caught her reflection in a standing mirror and winced at the sight, the ugly red halo on her face like a permanent bruised eye.

119 thoughts on “The Rose Shield – Catling

  1. Steph McCoy says:

    Oh man! I want more, I need to know what hanging day is all about and poor little Catling, I can hardly wait to hear more of her story. Thank you for this morsel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] met Raker, the man who hears voices in the fog Catling, a six-year-old with a rose birthmark around her eye Whitt, the boy battling crajeks in the swamp […]

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  3. […] Catling, my six-yr-old protagonist on Hanging Day.Whitt, her adopted brother, battling crajeks in the swamp.Raker, the half-mad rafter who kicks off the series. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] Catling, my six-yr-old protagonist on Hanging Day. Whitt, her adopted brother, battling crajeks in the swamp. Raker, the half-mad rafter who kicks off the series. […]

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  5. Erik says:

    You have a rare talent for creating not only immersive worlds and scenes, but of inciting both curiosity and tension quickly (the two of which take skill to create alone, let alone in tandem).

    (Aside: Have you read any of Karen Miller’s books?)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. inesephoto says:

    Thank you for the ‘snippet’ 🙂 Hanging Day must be a lot of excitement for a child. Tough times, but childhood only comes once. Great read!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Nitin says:

    A rich world crated, full of characters and their traits. To be able to create a new world and then to easily transport a reader into that is an achievement.. kudos 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I love how you make Catling and her world come alive with your words. Beautiful – and I want more! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. reocochran says:

    I really liked Catling and wonder about her “birthmark” and its story to be told. Hopefully she never got burned. I didn’t have time to read your lovely comments but I like the way this little girl is crafty and smart, also someone who has dreams of gathering all her “goodies” which include coins and carved wooden things, and set off to sea with them. Lovely, Diana! Simply the best story I have read the two parts of in a long time. The other story about the man, Raker, who was in the pub, made me think (about fairness and justice), Catling makes me dream!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Shame, this poor child, at her young age stashing coins and treasures and already thinking of a ride with a Ferry to the sea!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reading, Lynne. 🙂 Things are going to get a whole lot worse for the dear little thing. BTW – we have your broccoli salad at least once a week and I have to make extra so my husband can take it to work the next day. At the moment, we are addicted!

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  11. I like her secret stashes all over the warrens (and wonder what she has squirreled away along with the water dragon) A child perhaps but she has dreams and plans already of “riding a ferry to the sea.” An interesting choice

    Liked by 2 people

  12. This really drew me in! Lovely descriptions, and I’m interested to learn more about this world and its characters. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I really like this and it made me see everything right in front of my eyes! As always took me away!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. You captured the thoughts of a six-year-old perfectly. And what six-year-old doesn’t appreciate a meat tart to accompany a family outing to the gallows?

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Carling is a character after my own heart, Diana, looking forward to her adventures and my joining her in spirit.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Very descriptive and intriguing Diana. Is the part about her someday going out to sea a bit of foreshadowing?

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I talked to a young man (30s) yesterday who I know through a business connection. Found out he loves to read fantasy. Guess which book(s) I recommended to him! I hope he gets one of your books – your writing is outstanding.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Sacha Black says:

    Ohhhhhhh I like this a lot. You have such a power for description it’s amazing

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I was able to see that red halo, and the bruised eye.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. dgkaye says:

    Very mysterious intrigue here Diana. And now we must know what the ‘red halo’ is from. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Bernadette says:

    Diana, You drew me right in. I already am interested in Catling and what the birthmark indicates and why she is not happy with it.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Dandelion says:

    I love this! I am patiently awaiting for the finished work! D.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. This is a marvelous introduction, Diana. I could see the market and hear the sounds of it so clearly. Keep it going. Great WIP. Huge hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. adeleulnais says:

    Beautiful writing. The descriptions took me right there. I love this.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Ali Isaac says:

    Ooooh fascinating! I want to know more about her. Sounds very medieval. You describe the seedier side of it so well! Carys was born with a huge pink birthmark above her left eye that grew so big and hung over her eye she had to have it surgically removed for fear of losing her sight. 4 hours it took and she was only 4 months old. So I can understand the impact it would have on a little girl in those ancient times, when everyone was so filled with superstition and fear of God and the devil. A very interesting premise for a character and a story. Looking forward to more! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ali Isaac says:

      And of course now I understand the title.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ali. Poor little Carys going through that as a baby. I’m always amazed how resilient children are and how they find joy and smiles despite the challenges in their little lives. That’s one of the reasons I chose to work professionally with the under-5 crowd. Catling’s eye is going to have a significant impact on her life (it’s the source of her unique magic, a magic she does not want). Thanks for reading.Hope your weekend is wonderful!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Great descriptions and flow. I learn a lot from you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Pam, for the sweet compliment. I have to be careful about too much description in my writing and may pare this down a bit more than I already have. I too am always trying to learn this craft 🙂 Have a lovely weekend, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In an era of bare bones formula writing styles, I find your descriptions refreshing. When I read for fun, I want to be slowed down a bit and enjoy the details. You also, enjoy your weekend.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Erik says:

        I’d be interested to see the further paring down of this, since it felt pretty “ready” to me. The basics haven’t changed: the key is whether every part included serves to further character, setting or plot in a way that would lack without it; and through that lens, I have trouble imagining what you’d cut.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I cut a bit before posting, Erik. It’s interesting how much closer I look at 500 words when they stand alone, as opposed to being part of a larger section. I love detail, Erik, so I do have to be conscious of over-describing. Instead of more details, I’m training myself to use the right ones 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  27. Very atmospheric and the chapter sets the scene of a strange land from the POV of a sweet little girl, Catling, with a halo on her face. Good page turner and great writing. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Steven Baird says:

    Wonderful, Diana! You have a way of bringing it all to life, the bustle of the crowd, the aromas from the merchants’ displays. “She was rich and someday she’d collect them in a sack and ride a ferry to the sea.” I love that line… it struck me as such an authentic thing for a child to wish for.
    And “preachers traded promises for prayers”… simply terrific.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Your writing style is just exquisite, Diana!

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Sean P Carlin says:

    Great opening, Diana. Good artwork, too: Is it something you had commissioned for the book?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Sean. I did the composite image on MS Word using Pixabay free images. It’s not perfect, but it works. 🙂 Word actually has good image editing for the unskilled, like me. Pixabay is a great resource for images without strings. It’s the only image source I use for blogging now. Thanks for the visit and have a great weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  31. joannesisco says:

    First – I love her name, Catling 🙂 I’m glad she’s supposed to be a sweetie because it would be a shame to make her a baddie with a name like that 🙂

    Looking forward to reading more about her in the future!

    Liked by 3 people

  32. Elisabet says:

    Thank you for a peek into your new novel! Looking forward for the whole!

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Nurse Kelly says:

    Sounds so intriguing, Diana. Love the rose birthmark. Wish you lots of progress and continued joy in writing it! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  34. A good introduction with a likeable character.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. davidprosser says:

    A well written opening and introduction to what seems (so far) to be a sweet girl. You draw the reader in.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  36. A great opening, Diana. It’s so obvious that you’re having fun with this one. 💖 Your descriptive ability…amazing.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. SD Gates says:

    What a fascinating start. And I agree with everyone else, the descriptions are stellar and the story draws one in. Stay strong and keep writing!!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  38. What a great opening scene, Diana! Great atmosphere, and a great introduction to Catling. I can imagine she’s going to embark on an interesting journey. Keep writing! Next year will be here before you know it (I’ve first-hand experience OMG it’s almost May, and I wanted to have another revision of my WIP done) 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I keep telling myself, “I just need to get this finished or get through that, or polish off what’s on my plate, and THEN I’ll take a break and slow my pace. But I never seem to get to that point! I figure you can relate, Julie. It feels like a constant mad dash. Good thing it’s so much fun!

      Liked by 2 people

  39. philipparees says:

    Compellingly atmospheric! Great detail.

    Liked by 3 people

  40. Great descriptions, Diana, as I always expect from you. These are fascinating characters. It sounds like your WIP is well along. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 3 people

  41. Frank says:

    You have a nice eye for detail. Certainly makes me curious to read more…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for reading, Frank. I have to be careful about that detail – to not load up and bog down my prose. I’m getting better with a hachet, but it’s still something I need to be careful of. This will probably slim down a little before I’m done. 🙂 Happy Writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  42. noelleg44 says:

    I can’t wait, Diana. Another world to explore in your writing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Noelle. my goal is early 2017 as it’s part of a 4 book series and I’ll put them all out at the same time. That seems far away and right around the corner! Yikes. Happy Writing, my friend.

      Like

  43. The “ugly red halo” on her face says there is so much to come. The image shows what looks like a rose around her eye, and above we read she was afraid of a swat. We want to know why, of course. 🙂 Nice!

    I’m glad you have your blog back. I like the background.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Mary. My artwork isn’t ideal, but yes, in the book, the birthmark is supposed to look a little like a splotchy rose. I’ve just been editing for a few months and can’t wait to get back to writing this story 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  44. Al Lane says:

    Sumptuous writing ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  45. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, once again within a few words you’ve transported me into another mysterious world. This is a wonderful introduction to Catling (oh, how I love the names of your characters!). Your writing is detailed, beautifully nuanced and confident. I have a feeling this start will turn to the darker matters soon…there is the title after all to consider – ‘Hanging Day’.

    Liked by 3 people

  46. My Bean says:

    Enchanting! You had me with the water dragon!

    Liked by 3 people

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