Blogs by Geralyn Beauchamp
Shields and Broadswords and Dirks OH MY!
12/30/2007 9:58:24 PM
Research is very important when you are an author. Even more so when dealing with historical facts and times. One can research something for a scene, write the scene, then later find out something that isn't necessarily wrong with a found fact, but rather, how something seen and experienced in real life is much differnt than finding it in a book somewhere and learning about it that way. The Scots carried 'Dirks'. A interesting weapon to study. Quite another thing when seen for the first time. Enjoy this scene from Time Masters, Book One; The Call and my characters use of his, 'Dirk'. Then read about my own experience with the weapon.
... Dallan peered intently around the edge of the aisle, then looked at
Lany and brought a finger to his lips before returning his attention to the
sounds coming from around the corner.
"Little Bo Peep?" The voice was mocking, dangerous. "Where is your
sheep? Send it out to play with us."
Lany's eyes narrowed at the words, and he took a cautious step forward
to stand next to Dallan, who shot an arm out to keep him from getting too
close to the end of the aisle. Lany looked at the arm blocking him, then at
its owner, whose eyes were narrowed to two bright green slits, his jaw tight,
nostrils flared. Lany knew he no longer searched. Dallan was on the hunt,
stalking someone, and it wasn't the Maiden.
"Oh look, a little lost sheep with tender white meat, all for us to devour.
Can't wait to eat this young little sheep, too bad we've only an hour."
Dallan reached his right hand behind him, down the back of his loose
sweatshirt, and silently pulled a dirk out from underneath. Lany grimaced.
So that's why Dallan had worn his hair unbound today, he thought to
himself. To hide the weapon better. It also explained why he'd wanted to
rip the elastic off the sweatshirt last night.
Dallan's eyes narrowed even further. Lany tapped the Scot on the
shoulder and he abruptly turned his head around, eyes intense, brow furrowed
Lany mouthed the word 'No', indicating the dirk with a nod of his head.
Dallan remained expressionless and turned his attention back around the
corner. Now he heard nothing. Only silence. He began to move.
Lany grabbed him. "Dallan, wait," he whispered urgently. "This isn't
Scotland. You can't just kill someone and be on your way."
"Quiet, man," Dallan's voice was low. "She's running again."
Lany's face fell; because of Dallan's latest antics, he'd almost forgotten
about the Maiden.
They both froze and listened intently to the light footsteps fleeing down
the next aisle. This section of the library was like a huge maze, the shelves
and aisles all connecting in a pattern. The problem was, neither Dallan nor
Lany knew it well enough to know where they were, not to mention the
Maiden and the unexpected company which lurked nearby.
The footsteps stopped just as another set, heavier, could be heard in
another aisle, and yet another. They, whoever they were, had split up to
either try to box the Maiden in or simply flush her out into the open.
Dallan took a step forward and Lany again grabbed him and got his
face right in the Scot's ear, albeit on tiptoe. "No killing! If you do we'll all
be in a lot of trouble!"
Dallan turned to face him, narrowed his eyes, flared his nostrils, then
spun away and began to move stealthily into a passage connecting several
different aisles. Lany rolled his own eyes and started after him.
The Weapons Master crept down a side aisle, stopped abruptly, and
motioned Lany to do the same. He listened intently, eyes searching the
shadows of the next aisle, and then looked to Lany, a wicked smile on his
face as he twirled the dirk in his hand.
Lany glared back and folded his arms across is chest.
Dallan merely winked at the Assistant Councilor as he made his way
back down the aisle, only to stop midway, listen, and then turn to the wall
of books at his left. He listened again a moment before he brought a hand
to the shelf at his own eye level. He paused, as if calculating something,
then moved his hand to the shelf below and began to remove books.
Lany watched nervously as Dallan, one by one, silently set books on
the floor. Finished, he reached into the hole he'd created and started pulling
books from the shelf in the next aisle over. Comprehension dawning, Lany
tiptoed to the opposite end of the aisle to carefully peek around the corner.
Sure enough, leaned against the wall of books, directly parallel with Dallan,
was what must be one of the thug's buddies. The young man had a long
ponytail that swished every time he moved his head to scan the aisle. He
probably waited for the Maiden to come running by.
Lany turned and glanced back into his own aisle. Dallan looked at
him, flipped his dirk in the air once, caught it and smiled broadly. Lany
gulped as quietly as he could and waved his hands frantically. "No blood,
no wounding, no killing!" He mouthed then paused, mouth half open to
speak as he contemplated his next words.
Dallan's eyes narrowed in impatience.
Lany got an inspiration. "However," he mouthed, eyebrows arching
mischievously, "you can humiliate them."
Dallan smiled and reached through the hole in the books. Lany gulped
and carefully peered around the corner. Thug Number Two's head was
turned away from him at the moment. Lany had enough of a vantage
point to see Dallan's hand reaching through the books, straight for the
guy's neck. Lany switched his position and looked back to Dallan, who
had his left arm in the hole, the dirk in his right hand poised and ready for
use. The Weapons Master's eyes were intent on his prey.
Lany nearly gasped as Thug Number Two looked right at him, just
before a large hand grabbed his ponytail and pulled him into the shelf unit
so hard he slumped to the floor the second the hand released him.
Almost afraid to look, Lany leaned back far enough to see Dallan, dirk
still poised in his right hand and what looked like a long piece of hair in
his left. The Scot smiled lightly, and quickly strode past Lany, tossing the
severed pony tail at him as he did.
Lany caught the hair, looked at it, glanced at the unconscious form
in the next aisle and sighed audibly. He then threw the thing over his
shoulder and trotted after Dallan. "Well, that takes care of humiliating
that one." He still hadn't caught up when Dallan rounded the next corner,
probably one connecting them with another aisle. "Wonder what he does
for an encore."
Copyright 2007 Geralyn Beauchamp
It's one thing to see the weapons you're writing about in books, perhaps even as part of a Highland games participant dressed in full Highland rigout. But to then actually get to see and handle the weapon itself is quite another matter.
The other day I went into a Scottish store here in Portland to see if I could get my hands on a MacDonald plaid to utilize for book signings and events. The ladies of the shop were quite happy to help me out and made sure I had the correct plaid for Dallan's time period. (Seeing the illustration of Dallan didn't hurt the fun they were having in doing so either!). Whilst busy with Tartan catalogues and fabric samples, I noticed something within the glass counter beneath the folded pieces of tartan. A Scottish Dirk. The hilt alone was scary. Easily grasped by a man, not so easily as held by a woman. The shop keeper took it out for me and showed me the craftsmanship of the hilt and sheath. Though not an antique, it was still superbly crafted. I, of course, asked her to unsheath it. She pulled the blade from its cover and the steel flashed more brightly than I imagined it would. It was one of the most wicked blades I had ever seen. To then think of the scene I just shared with you, and picture Dallan reaching back and pulling something like that out from under a sweatshirt, well ... no wonder Lany freaked!
When I wrote the scene so very long ago, (I wrote Time Masters back in 1994) I was more concerned with measurments than anything else. Dallan, at 6'6", had to have a long enough and broad enough build to pull the stunt off, and after seeing the blade, I knew I had calculated correctly. But again, to see such a wicked and extrememly deadly looking thing was something else all together. My hats off to the Scots for so handling such a weapon. And to think in the next scene Dallan is picking at his finger nails with it!
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Shields and Broadswords and Dirks OH MY! - Sunday, December 30, 2007