Updated: Mar 28, 2019
I really like researching things, and being a writer this is a useful hobby to have. I have learned in theory, how you knock a bow, and that people used to bed down in straw before Argos came to be.
Where do you draw the line though? What amount of research becomes too much?
My book is set in medieval times, and I knew I would have a scene set at the docks. So, my fingers tapped on the keyboard, and my eyes devoured knowledge for hours.
The name of the different vessels, what all the parts of the ship were called filled my brain. What kind of cargo was shipped from port to port? Soon a full day had zipped by, and I had written zero words.
I woke up bright and fresh the next day, (okay I woke up) and decided to put all my new found knowledge to good use.
Only to realise that unless my readers were medieval pirates or wanted to spend the same amount of time as I had spent lost in cyberspace, all the new words I now knew were of no use.
Here is a peek at the scene, enjoy.
They wind their way down Saddlers Road, a terrible silence filling the narrow street. Wooden homes and merchant buildings are shuttered and quiet. Turning left, they cross the road and into Bakers Lane. The road parts, revealing the sprawling buildings of the harbour. He inhales the briny mesh of smells, his warm breath misting the cold morning air.
For a long while, Dayton and Paul search the horizon, seeing nothing. Stood as rigid as corpses, a long moment of silence passes between them. Seagulls loiter in an unfathomable grey sky, fringed with charcoal tinted clouds. The yowling wind ripples the surface of the murky waters, rising swell frothing and spitting against jagged rocks.
In the distance, a ship appears. Ploughing through the sea, bobbing and bucking with the current of the churning waves. Shafts of muted sunlight glint against its billowing cobalt-blue and vermilionred sails.
“A merchant’s ship, perhaps. I think I recognise the pattern on its flag, hard to be sure from such a great distance, though. I doubt my father sent word to anyone that the city would be abandoned.”
“It could be a godsend. What a better way is there to protect our vulnerable than sending them out of reach?”
“Yes, but let us not put the cart before the horse. Gather a dozen men, and you best include Merek and Herveus in that number. I'll stay here and keep watch.”
“Are you sure it’s safe for you to do?”
Dayton points his finger towards the skies. High above, flexing his wings, Aeolius catches an up-draft, lifting higher. Folding his appendages tight against his body, the dragon playfully dives towards the earth. Dayton holds his breath; a thousand heartbeats seem to pass. At the last moment, the dragon’s wings snap open again. He soars over the surface of the vast ocean of saltwater, barbed tail dipping into its depths. Shaking his head, he chuckles. “I don't think I'll be quite alone.”
“Of course, Your Highness.” On silent feet, Paul slips away.
A squall rolls in, raindrops lash against the pavement and plink against copper drainage pipes. Dayton takes shelter underneath the awning of a large warehouse. In a swift gust of wind, a rusty wrought-iron sign swings on its rattling iron linked chains. The storm snags at his clothing, and he rubs his chilblain hands together, stamping his cold feet.
Without a sound to announce his arrival, Herveus steps up to his side. “I've ordered the others to stay out of sight for now. They’ll stay in position until I signal them.”
Under his tunic, the muscles in Dayton's neck grow taunt. “If that is what you believe is best.”
The rancid salty stench of rotten fish smothers the abandoned fish market. Empty stalls crowd the square. Fabric awnings flutter in the wind, sagging under the weight of expanding pools of rainfall, their shadows flitting across the damp concrete ground. Wooden crates filled with delicate chalk-white bones picked apart by a legion of birds, rattle and groan. The downpour stings Dayton’s skin and soaks his clothes. The damp material itches his frozen flesh, and he shivers.
A great sea vessel drifts into the shallow waters of the harbour. The anchor drops and falls with a splash. Bellowing orders at his bustling crew, the captain carries himself across the ship with confidence, a man used to the vicious sway of a large vessel. Wooden planks groan under his feet and rigging creaks above. The wind whispers against the billowing sails making them snap to attention.
With efficient movements, men lower small boats, swaying over the sides of the ship to the churning waters below. Wooden crates are loaded onto the rowing boats, and two men climb aboard each.
Sheets of clear sky appear above, the storm calming. Dayton fidgets, releasing a short shuddering breath. “Do you think they’re bringing us anything useful?”
Herveus glances at his friend, shrugging his shoulders. “I doubt the barrels are filled with weapons.”