Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Burning down the Library of Alexandria

I have just finished the translation/revision/rewrite of my old story The Cursed Hieroglyph, hat I have half an idea of re-titling The Thing in the Library.
It’s been a lot of hard work, but I am quite satisfied with the results – Nennius Britannicus and his boys came out of it bruised and singed but certainly wiser, and the Great Library of Alexandria was burned down once again.
I mentioned this was, historically, quite a common occurrence.

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Seven Lives

I mentioned at the end of august how I was trying to do something in support of a cathouse in Lanzarote – because I like cats and because as a long-time Harry Flashman fan, I love the idea of telling people that I pay to help the ladies working in a cathouse.
Yes, I know, it’s juvenile, so sue me.

Cats with no name, by Robert McGinnis

Anyway, in the intervening weeks I realized that with my finances in shambles there is very little I can do for the cats and the ladies.
What to do?
The only thing I can do, in fact, is write.
And so I started writing.

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There’s a dead body in the library…

“All right, gentlemen, I need three volunteers.”
A chorus of groans and curses greeted centurion Nennius Britannicus as he entered the barracks of the contubernium. The sun had touched the horizon to the west, and the men were off duty. In one corner, hunched over a clay bowl, Brennius and Ranulphus were playing a game of dice. Festus Cimma was sitting on his bunk, cleaning his short sword, and on the next bed Scorsonides was reading one of his books. There was the smell of cooking in the air, and Troglodites was setting the table for dinner.
Dunius Clericus, the decanus of the squad and Nennius’ second in command frowned. “Trouble?” he asked, standing and smoothing his tunic. Then he turned to the room. “You’ve heard the boss,” he barked. “Three men, move it!”
More groans. Cimma slipped his gladius in the scabbard and stood, buckling it to his waist.
“A guy turned up dead in the Library stacks,” Britannicus said sourly.
Scorsonides put down his book. “You mean in the Great Library—?” he said eagerly.
Nennius Britannicus grinned. “Get your gear on, kid.”
In the corner, Brennius shook his head and dropped his dice with a sigh. “We’ll finish this when I am back.”

There are currently two Contubernium stories in the works, one being written from the bottom up and another being translated in English after laying abandoned and lonely in a folder on my hard disk because it was better that way than wasting it on a cul-de-sac anthology.
Both stories have a prospect place to go, hoping the respective editors of the two projects I’d like to contribute to will like them.
The two stories (8000 words and 5000 words respectively) are set along the Nile and in Alexandria, and are called Crocodile Island and The Cursed Hieroglyph.

This is going to be a fun week, writing-wise.


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Roman soldiers in Egypt

And so I said, what the heck, it’s Saturday afternoon, I’ve worked all the morning, I’ll take a break, eat some ice cream and forget about the rest for 36 hours.
But then the usual fear comes – what if I waste my time and miss my deadlines…
I forced myself to take it easy – it won’t be a day that will make that much of a difference, and I can use this downtime to do some minor research.

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That time I became a fascist

This is one of those “fun and surreal” stories it was suggested to me I should share to build my author platform. The ridiculous things that sometimes happen to a writer, oh my, what a cartload of laughs. I should do a brief cartoon of this one. But I can’t draw so here we go, it went like this…

I wrote the first Aculeo & Amunet story as a very first submission to an American anthology. It was, if I remember correctly, 2012. The story bounced back – deservedly, I should add – and I let it sediment for a while and then revised and rewrote it for self-publishing. Without a word-count limit and with the freedom to push the story in directions I wanted to explore.

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Back in Aegypt

“Welcome to Pelusium,” the Tyrean captain said, “gateway to the Delta, last haven of Pompeius, and our final destination. Here I think our routes will part.”
“Yes,” the tall Roman by his side nodded. “I think we’ll stay on terra firma for a while.”
The captain looked over his shoulder, at the Aegyptian woman leaning on the gunwale, her face pale, and somewhat greenish. She glanced at him and grimaced. “A pity the sea doesn’t agree with your woman,” he said. “Or the other way around.”
“She’s not my woman.”
A shrug. “Anyway, I could use a strong man in my crew. Should you ever change your mind—”
“I will come and look for you,” the other said.
They shook their hands the Roman way, grabbing each other’s forearm, and then the big man went to collect his things, and to check how the seasick passenger was faring. The captain frowned at them, and then went back to more pressing things. The crewmen were folding and securing the sails. From the pier, dock-hands shouted greetings and directions, and the helmsman started manoeuvring to moor.
As soon as the gangway was deployed, and before the harbormaster could walk up the pier with his table and his writing tools, the Roman and the Aegyptian nodded a goodbye and disembarked. The captain followed them with his eyes until the Roman’s red headscarf and the woman’s white tunic did not disappear, swallowed in the bustle of the port.

Two Roman roads departed from Pelusium – one followed the coast west to Alexandria, the other struck south to Heliopolis and Memphis.
Aculeo & Amunet are back (and there’s two new stories in the works).