More significantly, I have just finished the tedious annual round of exam marking, which puts money in my wallet, but also prevents me from doing what I really want to do, which is write books, for several weeks every May and June because I am simply too busy. This year has been particularly heavy, to be honest, marking for two boards as well as holding down a long-term teaching appointment at the same time. Starting immediately, I have decided to ditch one of the exam boards with immediate effect, which should make the workload lighter next time round (and the interruption to writing much briefer). It will also mean less money, of course, but increased royalties should more than compensate.
Most significantly, I can now turn my attention back to 'Larussi's Heartsong' at last. Nearly six weeks have elapsed since I was last able to work on it and I am having to go back to the very beginning just to remind myself of what I have already done. Here is a taster: the fist page as it currently stands.
The final rays of the sinking sun flooded overhead, igniting a glow in the citadel’s newly-rebuilt high tower. To mark the occasion, King Rudnik’s personal banner broke out on the topmost flagstaff for the first time in five years. The cheering was faintly audible, even from this distance.
Mother Sulsa sat, chin on hand, at the very pinnacle of the rugged hill where her abbey nestled. At her feet, the great cliff fell away vertically to a glinting arc of river. Behind her, a winding set of stone steps led down to the abbey.
Her sisters and the postulants would be at their private devotions now. When the weather was benign, she preferred to make her own in this place with the beauty of Dragotar laid out before her, and the Heavens directly overhead. The privilege of rank.
Murmuring her closing, “Amen,” she crossed herself and composed her hands in her lap, allowing her eyes to drift over the immense view, but taking little of it in. On another day, she might have given thanks to God for having preserved so much of it from the pillaging armies of Morgonnun, but not on this day.
That dark time had doubled the size of their little cemetery. Twenty of the graves bore no name, for none had survived who could identify the bodies. They had died where they stood, defiling God’s sacred earth, struck down by righteous, but nonetheless bloody, hands. Dragotar’s only war in living memory had ended in victory — but also in such a litter of shredded corpses, shattered stone and grieving hearts that an entire generation of undisturbed peace would not erase it.
The abbey was built on what looked like a mountain, but was really little more than a ripple in the rolling tide of rock and larches that rose, wave upon wave, into the mighty fissured bastions of the Kingdom. Had she turned, she would have beheld their cascading mantles of ice flushing rose as the light dimmed, but she did not. Her eye was fixed upon the city’s western gate.