I believe I have mentioned that I completed “Mistakes by Moonlight” a while back and have been at work on editing, adding and revising. Hereʼs your chance to get a glimpse of the process in action. Todayʼs bit of creative writing is the section I said that I had in mind to add to the end of the fight in the alleyway that opens the story. If you look back at the original post (and I refer you to that rather than the Longer Items version of the whole thing because I intended to update it to match my additions, revisions and corrections), my new material comes right after this:
The man glanced uncertainly away, noticing the five bodies, and he stepped back again, his blade lowered, defenseless. He looked from corpse to corpse. One groaned softly.
“You saved me,” he panted, speaking Aragon again, his head jerking from the blond man to the bodies to his bared blade and back to the Northerner. “Not one of them. —My …apologies.” He sounded breathless.
Carefully, the savior phrased a question. “Should they all… —sleep …forever?”
The victim, a little guy, although everyone seemed small next to the blonde giant, grunted, “What?”
“Uhh,” the Northman hesitated, the word for kill escaping his combat-fevered mind, and mimed plunging his sword at one of the groaning bodies, saying, “Muerte?”
“Dead,” the other echoed. “— Kill them? …Don’t bother. Let nature take its course.” The small guy bent low, wiped his blade on a stilled attacker’s tunic, so the Northerner cleaned his own weapon on a cloak beside the still-moaning figure. “And we’d better disappear quickly before anyone comes this way.” The little man started out of the cul-de-sac, changed from all three of his former attitudes — agonized victim, maddened fighter, bewildered stranger. “Come on, big fella, I owe you a drink after — ”
In other words, what I have to show you today starts immediately after the end of the original post (although with a tiny edit at the end) but before the second post starts. Now here is the new portion…
Suddenly, they heard noises — a strange stomping shuffle heading down the street toward their position, as of huge men walking slowly and clumsily to find them hiding there. Søren looked around hastily, realizing again there was no exit from this verminous alley but the street entrance where any moment the approaching walkers would appear.
“Hear that?“ the small, dark fellow asked sharply.
“Of course. Don’t you?“ Søren grinned somewhat uneasily.
“Sometimes I hear what others don’t.”
“Probably.” The steps were very near. “And thereʼs no way out.”
The Northman’s smile widened. “No? Watch.” He stepped back against the farthest wall, then with three quick running steps leaped mightily overhead, hands high, at the wall beyond the other man. Fingers on both hands scrabbled for a hold on the edge of the parapet a storey above and by main strength he hauled himself upward and out of sight. Very fast.
Then he leaned far out, using his great height, holding one long arm downward to his new friend. “Jump. Grab.” The Jew imitated his rescuer’s running leap and grabbed the arm above the wrist. Søren gripped the otherʼs arm as well and pulled, raising his new companion, almost easily, right up to his own level. The smaller man slipped as silently as possible over the lip of the low wall onto the rooftop. Tensely, they waited in the deepest darkness, crouching behind the barrier of the parapet.
They listened. The steps arrived at the intersection with their cul-de-sac.
The marchers stopped at the alley’s mouth. Silence prolonged. Both men held their breaths, trying to provide no sign of their presence, hoping the bodies lay far enough into the dark to be invisible to these odd newcomers. Time held as still as they. Then the sounds of footsteps resumed, moving away in the same direction they had come. Were they safe? The barbarian risked a glimpse from their perch and briefly perceived, vanishing, two huge figures, which might even dwarf himself. White in the starlit night, like dirty chalk. And they were gone.
“Monsters?” Søren breathed in his native tongue after a few more moments had passed.
“What?” the other asked quietly in Aragon.
“Those… things…” Søren shifted into the local tongue, still with some difficulty.
“What about them?”
“They are like…” and the word eluded him. But he caught a glimmer of recollection, “… giants — made of stone.”
The dark, bearded man made a low scoffing sound, but not with complete conviction. The barbarian added, “I donʼt like them. They seem… unnatural.”
The small man did not want to believe what his new confederate had observed, not sure what such a manifestation of the supernatural might signify. He tried a brave front. “Well, they are gone now. Personally, Iʼm glad. — Shall we get down?”
“Yes. They seem to be safely gone.”
Both men clambered over the wall to dangle themselves and then drop. The big man behaved as if it were nothing, although the former victim fell to his rear from the force of the two-storey fall. Scrambling after a stunned moment upright, he saw Søren bent over one of the dark shapes they had put to the ground, pulling a large red cloak from one of the bodies.
Noticing the curious gaze on him, the Northman chuckled. “Nice stuff. Chilly at night in this hill country,” adding more darkly, “I should know.” He threw the cape over his shoulders, clasping it with the large golden pin attached at the collar. “Nice clasp, heavy. But surely it can’t be genuine gold. Not on alley brigands like these.”
“It, however, looks like it,” the other man said dryly, drawing close. “Congratulations. And you make me realize the slenderness of my own purse.” He rapidly went through the garments of the fallen attackers, acquiring some coins and jewelry, even a chain from the neck of the moaning one. Brusquely, he arose. “Weʼd better be gone from here.”
“I agree. This place has seen too much action for such a rathole at this time of night. Who knows who, or what, else may appear.”
“Too wise, my newfound friend. Better we werenʼt around if anything else shows up. Come with me. I still owe you a drink. For saving my life.”
Søren laughed. “And now, thanks to these,” he kicked at a corpse, “you can pay for it!”
His compatriot shook his head and hastened off, out of the dark alley and around the corner, moving away from the direction the strange, large marchers had taken.
And then that second part picks up exactly as written (although I have some edits for that to set up the additional scene that will now end the Golden Bull portion.