I have been living with the main character of my Sacred Knight story, Steigan, in my head since 1994. People laugh when I tell them I have a tote full of notes and drafts which weighs 41 pounds! What they don’t realize is that there’s hardly a notebook or scrap of paper in my house that doesn’t have some sort of note in or on it that has some reference to my Sacred Knight series. Seriously, it’s everywhere!
I am pretty much use to it, though I do have the moments of frustration when I’m looking for notes on another story and only find things for Sacred Knight.
Recently, the point of how long I have lived with story really got driven home!
This is a span of 26 years I’ve been working on this story. Not so much for the surrounding stories, like Tangled Magic, thank goodness. I’m merely talking about the Sacred Knight portion, Steigan’s story. 26 years.
A couple weeks ago, my youngest son (who is in his early 20’s) and I were looking for the draft of one of my children’s stories. We found a bunch of diskettes where the story could be stored as well as papers.
When I started digging into the papers and searching the files on the old diskettes, I kept running into more of my Sacred Knight story. Old manuscripts which I thought were all contained in my tote. That’s when I really started realizing how long I’ve worked on this story.
I’m sure I mentioned before that this story has gone through several incarnations too. It started off as a fantasy romance, then took a tailspin and became a young adult book, then a comic, and finally landed as the epic fantasy it is today. When it was a romance, the title was Some Kind of Kiss. I had completely forgotten about that until I ran into a file on the disk that was labeled “Steigan.” Then I laughed and realized that’s how the “SK” came about which I eventually started thinking about as “Sacred Knight.”
One of those weird and wonderful ways that life works.
In one file, I found the original name I had for Lucinia. If you’ve read Quest for the Three Books, then you are familiar with the woman who “adopted” Steigan and her bustling, mothering fashion. Originally, she wasn’t his adoptive mother, but merely the wife of the owner of the inn.
I thought it might be fun to pull out an old scene I wrote which has Lucinia’s original name on it. I didn’t remember this scene, but I do recall a later time where I where I was trying to think of the wife’s name and couldn’t. I threw in the placeholder name of Lucy until I could find the name. Then I was developing the backstory between Lucy and Arlyn and it was Arlyn who kept calling her Lucinia. A quick search and replace later, all the Lucy’s were changed to Lucinia.
Now that I’ve found the original name, I really like the fact that my brain rejected it so hard I forgot it (grin).
I do remember writing this scene though and it’s fun to see the things that stayed, or how they shifted positions (like Dragzel, who I had forgotten was initially Steigan’s pet. Did you know that Ellis was originally LS which stood for Little Steigan and that is why Ellis now has Dragzel? Fun trivia.)
If you’re interested, take a peek now.
The Room Above the Inn
(Excerpt from an old draft of Sacred Knight)
By Dawn Blair
Before Steigan opened the door, it was flung open and a robust woman bustled in. She walked right into him and, though Steigan tried to grab her, fell backwards.
“Oh, my!” She stood up, brushed herself off, and pulled brown hair fallen from her bun out of her face. “I’m awfully sorry. My, what a hard chest you have.” She knocked her hand against his metal breastplate before he could stop her. “Oh, my.”
“Are you okay?”
“My, do you have armor under there?” She reached for his cloak.
Steigan stepped away from her. “Please, ma’am. If you’re all right, I should be on my way now.” He looked around to see how many people in the tavern room were watching them. This was drawing more attention to him than he liked.
He caught a whiff of stew and his stomach began to growl.
“Oh, my. A growing boy. Don’t tell me Sim let you go away hungry. Let me guess. ‘No money, no service.’” She pursed her lips. “Come on now. We’ll take care of that.”
Steigan wanted to pull away and scream. He did neither, not with his head starting to feel so light and his stomach filled with only hunger. “I just came in to talk to Sim.”
She dragged him into the kitchen, where she spun around to face him. She placed her hand on the countertop where several knives hung within her reach. “You. I know you.”
“Please just let me leave.” Steigan tried to step back, but the woman refused to let him get more than an arm’s length away. “This whole thing’s been one big misunderstanding.”
“Shh!” She swayed from foot to foot, at first keeping her hands near her face. Then, she reached out to push the cloak back. Her fingers touched the blue and gold armor, then she lay her whole hand against it.
“Really, I should be going.”
“I know.” She pointed a finger towards him. “I had a dream about you. That’s it.” She stretched to the tips of her toes and clasped her hands together. “I remember now.”
Steigan pulled the cloak back around him. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I have to be going.”
She grabbed his arm. Her short nails scratched him. “You can’t. I have to help you. I will help you.”
The woman reached for a muffin and slathered it in butter before handing it to Steigan. “You must be starving.”
Once Steigan took the muffin from her, she puttered around the kitchen gathering more food in a trencher. “My name is Larcina. I’m Sim’s wife. Do you remember your name?”
Steigan swallowed the bite. “Remember?”
“Yes, remember. There hasn’t been a dominus in the north for over five hundred years. Certainly you’ve been awaken. In my dream, you’d been laid to sleep by Saint Steigan and told to wake when the time was right.” Larcina picked out some chunks of meat from the stew and put them on the floor. She pointed at Dragzel. “For your creature.”
Steigan took Dragzel off his shoulder and placed him on the floor before taking the trencher. “Blessings to you.” He nodded. “My name is Steigan. I am from the south. I live in New Lilinar.” Lived came to him as an afterthought. It was hard getting use to the destruction of New Lilinar since for him it had happened only today. By the goddess, what was he doing here? Why had he ever wanted adventure?
Larcina went to stir the stew pot. “If you are willing to work, I am certain I can convince Sim to let you stay with us as long as you need to. You aren’t afraid of a little hard work, are you?”
“No, ma’am. But why are you doing this? Why are you so willing to help me?”
“Good. For your work, you will receive room and board. I can’t offer you one of our inn rooms because we must always keep some open in case the Holy Reverend comes traveling through, but I can give you the upstairs loft. I think you will find it to your advantage as long as you keep quiet.”
“Why? Why are you doing this?” he repeated.
Larcina lit a candle. The first thing we must do is hide your armor.” She kicked aside a rug covering a trapdoor in the floor. “If you’ll just pull that ring…”
The door was heavy and if something was pushed over it, it would be impossible to open from the inside. Finally it rose and fell back on the hinges. Steigan took a candle and tried to look inside. “A storage cellar?”
“A good place for you to keep your armor hidden. Sim has problems bringing up barrels from down there and if you could oblige us by getting the barrels, he’d have no reason for going down there. You armor would never been seen.”
Steigan started down the steps. Blackness quickly encroached and even the candle he carried wasn’t helpful. A light dusting of cobwebs brushed against his face once he was completely under the floor level. He rubbed then away with his hand and continued on.
“While you’re down there, why don’t you get a barrel of strickleberry ale?” Larcina called down.
The musty basement had a dirt floor and walls. Barrels were stacked against two of those walls and on a third were shelves that looked to hold canned vegetables and fruit.
Steigan unfastened his cloak and draped it over the barrels. He began removing pieces of his armor and stacking them on barrels to keep them off the floor. He’d be down here polishing the pieces ever day, he thought, to keep the rust away.
Once out of the armor, he grabbed a barrel and relized there was no way he could carry it out unless he put the candle down. Reluctantly, Steigan set the candle on a shelve. Balancing the barrel on his shoulder, he looked towards the top of the steep stairs.
From above, an angry voice boomed, “He is not staying, Larcina. He’s a vagabond. Fates, woman, you can’t take in every stray that comes knocking at the door.” Steigan knew instantly it was Sim’s voice he heard.
Neither Sim nor Larcina was in view, but through the cracks in the rough floorboards, he could see shadows of where they stood. Steigan half expected the trapdoor to be slammed shut at any moment.
“You’re letting your imagination run away with you,” Steigan whispered to himself. “What are they going to do, lock you in here?” Even trying to laugh it off as a ridiculous idea, he couldn’t get past the seriousness of it.
As Steigan emerged with the barrel, he saw Larcina standing with her hands folded against her chest. She was biting her lip and glaring at Sim. They both paused to glance towards Steigan. He set the barrel down. “I have to go back for the candle,” Steigan explained, pointing toward the cellar.
“Actually, we need another barrel brought up,” Larcina said. “The Holy Reverend is coming in tonight. Do you mind?”
Steigan looked toward Sim. “No, not at all.” Steigan started back down the stairs.
“This isn’t a good time to take in strangers, Larcina. First he shows up and now news of the Holy Reverend coming. I don’t like it. Something’s going on.” Sim said.
“He’s only a boy. He’ll cause no harm and I doubt he’s caused injury to another.”
There was silence again as Steigan brought up the second barrel then returned for the candle. He closed the trapdoor and secretly breathed a sigh of relief to be out of there.
“I have to go check on the rooms.” Sim turned on his heel and left.
Larcina turned back to her countertop where she had several balls of dough sitting on a heavy covering of flour. Diced vegetables were stacked in neat piles and little spice tins were scattered about.
Steigan leaned against the counter. “I take it this is not a normal trip for the Holy Reverend.”
She pounded one of the dough balls. Flour exploded, dusting all of her tins. “This isn’t a Traveler’s Moon. It’s too dangerous. Besides, this isn’t really a good time.”
The Room Above the Inn – copyright ©2020 Dawn Blair * Published by Morning Sky Studios