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Knossos Excerpt

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lauragill
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Knossos Excerpt

Postby lauragill » Fri November 1st, 2013, 5:13 am

I don't think I've ever posted a WIP excerpt for feedback before, but I've been working on Knossos for a year now and sometimes find it hard to stay motivated, especially when each chapter is a new story. I'd like to know that I'm on the right track, so please comment if you can.

In this excerpt, Master Architect Daidalos deals with a potential rival:

Late one morning, while he worked with the laborers on the storehouse site, he saw the high priestess approaching, deep in conversation with a young nobleman. Pasiphae rarely ventured into the construction area, as she complained about the mess, noise, and dust, but there she was with her attendants and guest, smiling and gesticulating. His fringed kilt and lovelocks were at odds with his potbelly and knobby knees.

Whatever he said to her, Pasiphae laid her hand on his braceleted arm and laughed. Daidalos had seen her flirt with young men and old priests, but there was something about the way he fawned over her that pricked his interest.

“You’re absolutely right, High Priestess! How can anyone ask for a more splendid view?” Daidalos did not catch Pasiphae’s answer, only the way the young nobleman caught her hand, lifted it to his lips, and kissed it as if courting her, though Daidalos doubted that any part of him liked women. “Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. The site is being wasted on these unsightly huts. I envision a magnificent portico with gypsum surrounds, and...”

Daidalos smelled a rival. Architects came in all types, and this effeminate posturer was just the type to appeal to the high priestess’s vanity. What Pasiphae was doing, flaunting a rival architect in his face to intimidate or irritate him, his Cypriot enemies had also done.

It was just like the gods to heap annoyances on him that day. That morning, he had discovered feces dripping from his doorjamb, and Kaphti signs scrawled on his threshold that, when Kurra translated them, read, “Go away!” So the malcontent was literate. Daidalos could not help but suspect Kurra, but the scribe seemed genuinely aghast, even more upset, in fact, than poor Pu-abi, who had to clean up the mess.

Despite his irritation, Daidalos had no intention of starting an altercation with an obsequious young architect who, from what little Daidalos had overheard, had no idea how to build anything. So he turned his back on the high priestess and her visitor, and returned to his task of supervising Enusat and his crew in establishing the foundations of the first block of storerooms.

After a time, the high priestess departed with her attendants, leaving the young architect behind. Daidalos continued to ignore him, even when Enusat and his masons indicated their confusion. Sooner or later, the interloper would grow disillusioned with the heat and dust, and leave for the comforts of his mansion.

Then, to Daidalos’s astonishment, a troupe of assistants appeared. The young architect directed them toward the storehouse site. They obeyed, trampled over Daidalos’s carefully laid foundation channels, and, pretending not to notice Daidalos, Enusat, or the masons, proceeded to plant their own stakes and lines. Enusat raised an eyebrow. The masons appealed to him, then to Daidalos, who bade them with gestures to be still. A brawl would only further disturb the site.

Once he established that there would be no confrontation, Daidalos slowly, calmly approached the other architect.

“Begging your pardon, sir, but...”

The young man favored him with a condescending smile. “Do not concern yourself, grandfather. We are simply taking over the project from your architect.” He must have been blind as well as stupid, not to have realized just from casual observation who he was talking to. “Ah, stand back.” He put out a bejeweled hand. “You are obstructing our view.”

Daidalos would have liked to obstruct his view with a good, hard backhand, but he knew how to play the game. If a dusty old laborer was all this idiot saw, then Daidalos would give him just that. “But who are you, sir?”

“I am Samushanas, Master Architect of Tylissos.” The young man did not acknowledge him with a look, but gestured to his men to adjust one of the stakes. A quick look told Daidalos that the other architect was laying out a portico. Daidalos suppressed an ironic snort. Of all the structures he might have erected, the amateur was going to start the temple complex with a useless portico!

“But what about—?” Daidalos waved to Enusat’s masons with a befuddled air. “That’s supposed to—”

Samushanas put out a hand as if to push him away. “Begone with you.”

As the other architect, moved to confer with his assistants, Daidalos finally lost his patience and dropped the charade. “Do all Kaphti builders put the cart before the donkey, or are you a spectacularly incompetent exception?”

Samushanas turned, bewilderment writ large on his painted face. “Insolent old man, are you questioning your betters?”

“When I encounter one of my betters, I’ll ask him.” Enusat and his masons, hearing this, laughed aloud. Samushanas’s assistants, meanwhile, appeared as confused as their master.

Daidalos indicated the intrusive stakes. “When did you survey the hill to determine that that was the best location for a portico? Are you certain the slope can sustain the weight of a new temple?” He shook his head. “Any architect worth his plumb-line knows that a temple complex starts with its central court, and storerooms and—”

“Are you suggesting that I am ignorant of my craft?” Samushanas’s nostrils flared.

Daidalos crossed his arms over his breast. “No,” he said calmly. “I am telling you.”

Samushanas’s eyes narrowed. “And who are you to tell me anything?”

“Who do you think I am, boy?” When Samushanas did not answer, Daidalos added, “I suggest you go back to Tylissos, or wherever it is you came from, and apprentice yourself to a builder who knows what he’s about.”

At this, Samushanas said nothing; he was shaking hard, either from anger or humiliation. After a few moments, he withdrew, leaving his assistants in the lurch. They, too, quickly departed, in the process neglecting to pull up their stakes.

Daidalos watched them depart, then calmly returned to his work, where the masons surrounded him, clapping his shoulders and laughing. He did not share their amusement. “Remove the stakes,” he told Enusat. “That amateur won’t be returning.”
Last edited by lauragill on Fri November 1st, 2013, 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: na

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sun November 3rd, 2013, 6:02 am

Pasiphae rarely ventured into the construction area, as she complained about the mess, noise, and dust, but there she was with her attendants and guest, smiling and gesticulating. His fringed kilt and lovelocks were at odds with his potbelly and knobby knees.


It's only a very minor tweak, but to me it feels as if there is a slight disconnect here, and that it would make it clearer just whom the description belonged to if you said something like:

...but there she was, smiling and gesticulating, with her attendants and guest. His fringed kilt and lovelocks were at odds with his potbelly and knobby knees


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