Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Playing knucklebones

Sometimes life can be a gamble:  'Should I, or shouldn't I?'  "What if?' 'Shall I take a chance?'
'What are the odds?'  We've all had to make these choices and trust our instincts that things will turn out and that our choices are right. 

I'm taking a chance on my novel, trusting that it's going to turn out alright, that I'll find an agent and then a publisher who will love it.  So far I am getting positive feedback from my readers/editor so that's a big relief.  But will the novel sell?  Will anyone want to publish it?  Will I EVER get it done and in shape to send to an agent?  I just have to TRUST that these things will happen, that all my efforts will not be in vain.  Take a chance.  Toss the dice.  Throw my work out there into the big wide literary world and hope it becomes a hit.

The story is drawing to a close and now Alexander's son, Iskander, must make a life-saving decision.  Should he take a chance on it?  Or should he stay and hope that he'll live to take the throne of Macedon, inherited from his father.  It's a throw of the dice.  And he cannot delay his decision.

Knucklebones (astrigali), a popular 'dice' game played in ancient times.

Here is a little scene from my final chapter in which Iskander and his friend Orion are planning their next move...with a throw of the dice.

*   *   *

Later that day Iskander and Orion met in the barracks yard. They squatted on the flagstones in the open, pretending to be engrossed in a game of knucklebones. No-one was nearby except a guard who sat on a slab of marble, too bored to pay attention. Iskander held the leather dice bag, and muttered an incantation over it. The guard, who seemed to have no real interest in the boys and their game, gave an impatient cough

Orion cast an anxious look over his shoulder. “Will he hear?”

“Take no notice of him,” Iskander said . “He’s a new guard and he doesn’t know anything. He’s probably dreaming of the girl he laid with last night.” He poured the five onyx astragali into Orion’s outstretched hand.

Orion threw down the knucklebones and leaned his head closer to Iskander’s. “There’s no way out through the town. The streets will be full of Kassandros’ men. We’ll have to scale the south wall and make our escape down the hill into the ravine.” He scooped up one of the bones and tossed it up to catch it on the back of his hand. “Coan throw!” He tossed another bone and snatched up the others with a clicking sound as he leaned close to whisper to Iskander. “I know all the trails and secret coverts of the ravine. My father and I used to hunt there. We’ll go through the ravine to the river. I know where there’s a boat hidden in the reeds. That way, the hounds won’t be able to pick up our scent.”

“Well done! Chian throw. That’s a five. My turn!” Iskander scooped up the astrigali and threw them up scattering them in the dirt. Then he tossed one up and caught it on the back of his hand.

Orion cheered. “Good throw!” Then he lowered his voice. “I’ve shown you how to find the footholds on the citadel wall. I’ll leave first and wait for you by the river.”

“When do we go?”

“On the night of the Bouphonia, when everyone at the garrison is feasting and celebrating and all the town will be reveling. Arkon’s ship won’t leave port until the morning. We’ll have time to get ourselves down to Eion and slip aboard.”

“What about my mother?” The thought of leaving Roxana behind made Iskander ache with regret.

“There is no other way,” Orion reached out and laid his hand over Iskander’s. “By the next full moon you’ll be of age to ascend the throne, then you can free her.”

“How can I leave her here…with them?” The thought of how his mother had already suffered at Kassandros’ hands made him feel wretched.

“You must save yourself first!” Orion said.

His eyes met Orion’s and held the gaze. What Orion said was right. He threw down the dice bag and reached out to grasp his friend’s hand. “Noble Orion, you have always been a steadfast, loyal friend. I hold you in high regard, and always will.”

Always ready with a reassuring word, Orion replied: “I swear before the gods that I’ll be there for you as long as I’m alive.”

They looked at each other and clasped hands. There was no need to say more.

* * *

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Marie said...

That's true, you have to trust and believe that it will happen.

Great excerpt. It's certainly a novel I'd like to read.

Good luck with finding an agent/publisher.

Meghan said...

This is a great excerpt. I'm sure you'll be published in no time!

Wynn Bexton said...

Thanks for the encouraging comments. I appeciate that you read my blogs. I've been remiss in posting and will be trying to post more regularly now. The novel is within a matter of days of being finished.