Saturday, February 27, 2016

Gyan lays down the law in Ch 10/Sc 3b of RAGING SEA by @KimHeadlee #amwriting

Graphic overlay (c)2016 by Kim Headlee.
It can be a challenge for a writer to craft a realistic portrayal of a female character possessing military authority. 

I am fortunate to have spent two years learning about leadership—especially how being a leader relates to being female—at the US Air Force Academy as part of the second class to have accepted women (Class of 1981). When I chose to leave, halfway through that tour, I did so armed with knowledge that I never dreamed would be useful one day for my fiction.

A decade later, when a dream about a warrior-woman Guinevere (Gyanhumara) engaged in a swordsmanship lesson with her father inspired me to begin writing Dawnflight, the first installment of The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, I knew that Gyan would also be called upon to command troops in battle.

Leadership, however, is not solely about shouting orders in the heat of combat, as demonstrated in today's excerpt from Raging Sea.

Previous excerpts of Raging Sea 
Chapters 1–6 in Raging Sea: Reckonings
 Chapter 7: Sc 1 | Sc 2 | Sc 3 | Sc 4 | Sc 5a | Sc 5b |
Chapter 8: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 2 | Sc 3a | Sc 3b |
Chapter 9: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 1c | Sc 1d | Sc 1e |
Chapter 10: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 2a | Sc 2b | Sc 3a |

Raging Sea Chapter 10, Scene 3b
©2016 by Kim Headlee
All rights reserved.

Please forgive me!

Angusel couldn’t bring himself to voice the plea.

She may have heard it anyway; when he dared to look up, her countenance had softened. It heartened him to add, with every drop of sincerity he could muster, “I vow that it shall never happen again, Comitissa.”

Her lips curved into a faint smile. It surprised him to realize just how much he’d missed seeing it, and he fixed his gaze to the red and blue dragons on the wall behind her to avoid making an even greater fool of himself for staring at her.

“I trust that you will exclude battle frenzy from that vow, Ainchis Sàl,” she answered, also switching to Ròmanaiche. “There will come a day when your unit will need that unbridled . . . passion.”

What an odd choice of words, he thought, and blinked. When he regarded her again, the smile was gone and she appeared to be looking past his shoulder. He turned.

Gawain map Loth, damp haired and swathed in clean bandages, tunic, and breeches, was standing in the open doorway, followed by his two guards. The guards rendered smart legion salutes, pivoted, and withdrew. Curbing his anger, as he’d promised, Angusel prepared to leave too.

“Optio, stay,” she ordered, and Angusel faced her. “Soldier Gawain, enter. What I must say is for the both of you to hear.”

As Gawain stepped forward into position beside Angusel, who battled the urge to sidle away, she folded her arms and leaned back against her worktable. “Optio Ainchis Sàl, your assumption was correct. Soldier Gawain did indeed disgrace himself and, by extension—”

“We’ve been over and over this, Aunt Gyan! I swear by everything holy that I don’t know what came over me!”

She raised a hand. After Gawain fell silent and pursed his lips, she lowered it.

“Gawain, what Arthur and I could not tell you until we had returned to headquarters, far away from—other ears, is that we believe you were used by Fergus and Caitleen to cause an incident that would embarrass all of us.”

“What? Why?” Gawain shook his head. “And why me?”

“Our theory is that Fergus had decided to involve whoever won the match, and he made certain that he would be the other competitor.”

Gawain’s short chuckle sounded rueful. “I thought my win came too easily there at the end.” His eyebrows lowered. “But that doesn’t explain why it had to be me.”

“Win?” asked Angusel. “What sort of win? Against Fergus—the Scot? The man who had held you captive, Comitissa? That Fergus? He was at Morghe’s wedding?” He shook his head at the staggering implications.

To Gawain she said, “Bad luck. Or… perhaps good luck. If you had not been family, we would have had no choice but to execute you. So be grateful for that mercy, at least.”

As Gawain gave a thoughtful nod, she said to Angusel, “Urien has forged a personal alliance with the Scots. They have been deeded land near the Moray border with Clan Argyll.”

“Gods, no!” Angusel clamped his mouth shut.

“If Gawain wants to tell you the details of his part in the story, he will.” She redirected her gaze at Gawain. “And you will tell him.”

Over Gawain’s panicked, “What!” Angusel said, “Comitissa, I don’t have to know—”

She knotted her fists and stalked to within a pace of both of them. “You two have shown nothing but animosity toward each other for months now. Ever since… Loholt. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. So has Arthur. This ends now.

“Gawain, I am assigning you to First Ala. Optio Ainchis Sàl a Dubh Loch is your commanding officer. If he orders you to spit and you don’t, I assure you that you will regret it. Understood?”

“Yes, Commander Gyan.” It was the most sullen agreement Angusel had ever heard from him. Her glare sharpened, and Gawain’s countenance humbled.

A hundred questions spun in Angusel’s mind, beginning with, “Does this mean—that is, my lady, the legion’s command structure does not place any men under the optio. Do I have to order Gawain around?” The commands he issued to Drustanus did not represent official legion business except in the very broadest sense. To contemplate commanding someone on a daily basis who had until yesterday outranked him bordered on the outright ludicrous. To say nothing of the fact that Gawain had to be several years his senior.

That half smile reappeared on her lips. “As of this moment, First Ala’s optio has an assistant, and the Pendragon has concurred. You may do with Soldier Gawain as you see fit.”


If she could have given a response that was any less helpful, Angusel could not have fathomed how.


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