My first attempt at serialized fiction is running at 1889 Labs. It's another historical fabrication, swords, blood and muscle in a world not unlike your own, which began with the contemplation of Plato's Critias and Timaeus.
I was looking at his idea that the perfect democratic society would maintain a military caste separate from the rest of the community. If they were esteemed, as Plato would have it, it would be one thing, but if, as with the first century Celtiberians, a fighting force was sent out just to keep the numbers of restless young men down, that would be another.
In a caste society I thought, it would serve to limit the lower classes, it would keep the rest of society in a state of constant vigilance, and as long as trade could continue unhindered, it would do no harm to the economy.
Hypothetical, of course, but I had fun with the idea.
Here's an extract from the first chapter:
Sitting on the balcony palisade, turning his back on the cold beauty of the early morning tarn, Dragan sipped the mug of bitter tea. It needled at his gut, but after a few moments the soothing effect of the opiates seeped though cramped muscles and cooled the pain behind his eyes. The only concession he made to the cold was to hold the mug up near his face so the steam curled gently under his chin and across his cheek. Bare-chested he sat, the rough cloth of his cloak tied and belted at his hips, broad back proffered as a single defense against the elements.
Freya paused in the shadows. After twelve years of teamwork, her partner’s formidable physical presence could still check her stride. She watched him sitting, silent and still, like part of the stonework on which he balanced, as hard and solid and impervious as rock.
There was nothing in him small or mean: the spirit of the man was what you saw. He was in all things constant. Stable. Firm. Immovable. She smiled; after so many years she had relied on that strength too many times to recall, or chaffed at his stubbornness, or thanked the fickle gods for his patience. He was everything she knew she could not be, and that was good. It served them well. It always had.
He didn’t change, or changed so slowly the small erosions went unnoticed. In a world where nothing lasted, where there was nothing she could hold that would always remain, he was her one sure thing. In this world, he was the only one, the only thing she trusted without question.
His hair too, would have to be cut. It fell forward like a wreath of rusted wheat that knotted around his ears and bunched into ringlets on his shoulders. When they’d first met it was long, hanging halfway down his back in a thick, sun-bleached swathe over dense auburn curls. It had been the first thing she noticed, the beautiful hair. Then the shoulders. Then the butt; wrapped in black leather with easily twenty pounds of studs and buckles. Unnecessary weight in battle. Even now she smiled at the vanity. Back then it didn’t seem to matter as long as it looked good.
Shaking her head at small regrets, she silently wished for days like those days again. Days when her knees did not crack when she bent and her joints moved without complaint. Her hair had been longer then, too, and the poppy tea she sipped as she walked didn’t wreak such havoc on her gut.
“You need a haircut.” She threw a sheepskin onto the bench and sitting, adjusted it up behind her shoulder, her own small concession to the cold of the stone. He didn’t answer, didn’t even open his eyes, so she continued. “Are you going to tell me why you’re sitting here like a shipwreck, sipping dope instead of eating at the mess and getting ready for Roll Call?”
He lowered his mug to between his knees, raised his face enough to look at her straight and said, “I’m not going.”
If you would like to follow the story, click here.
ps. There are no vampires, sparkly or otherwise.