Today’s excerpt comes from a series of short stories I wrote some time ago as a ‘character sketch’. Jazira, an orphaned half-elf assassin, was ‘adopted’ as child labor by a caravan-driver, trained in combat by the mercenaries the merchant paid to guard him, and eventually fulfilled her genetic destiny by becoming a talented assassin (just like her father and his line). Then, emerging from the Underdark to ply her trade in a frontier town, she met a barrister/sorceress called Sissy. Her life was never the same.
Here, after a tumultuous few years that saw them fighting for their lives against unknowable evil, confronting their inner demons and terrible pasts to become better people, and bearing a pair of children through magical means, is the final chapter I wrote from her POV.
(Postscript: Yes, I know its almost painfully choppy, but first person is not my forté and this is a rough, unedited first draft.)
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I do not often return to Waldontown anymore, and never alone. We have everything we need in the house Sissy created; it is an insulated little world. It is never dull, with the antics of two growing children, but sometimes I wonder if it is enough. She would worry that I did not love her anymore, if she knew my doubts, so I keep them to myself. Still, as I walk through the heavy wooden gates, I think perhaps we should talk. The children are nearly four and old enough to be left alone with Betty. Xas, I tell myself, nodding to a familiar Rider, I will speak with her. We are not too old for adventure yet…
The day is clear and bright, though snow falls sporadically, and I am surprised to see such bustle on the streets. The town has been so quiet in recent years but now, it teems with merchants and children and adventurers and, as one would expect, even more Riders. I wander aimlessly, drifting in and out of the shops. I feel alive, with this humming throng of humanity around me.
I weave in and out of the small crowd of people who are trying to enter Sutter’s wagon and heave a sigh, straightening my tunic. A man approaches me and I offer him greeting. He introduces himself as Gamaliel and he seems friendly enough. Several moments later he is joined by a scarred elven man whom he calls Ruinathil.
The conversation flows quickly, the talk of dueling techniques and Gamaliel’s training. Ruinathil is his instructor and moves with the purposeful grace of an experienced fighter. I am challenged to a friendly duel and my blood sings; there is an excitement that I cannot place. I have not used my blade in a true test of skill for years and I smile at the men, leading them North and out of town for Usst would have my head for dinner if I broke the laws of Waldontown and drew weapon within its walls.
I caress the hilt of my blade, which even now hangs at my waist, tenderly as it were her delicate flesh. My steps are lighter than they have been in ages and as we prepare for battle I feel my heart racing in my chest. Playful banter spills from my lips and I maintain a cool exterior but inwardly, I am trembling. Will my sword arm be quick after so many years of disuse? Can I still move as agilely as I once did? Will Usst strike me dead if I return with so much as a scratch?
The teacher threatens to disown his pupil if he loses the duel, but there is a wink to his eyes which, despite his ferocious appearance, twinkle with humor. I will begin the fight, and I lift my blade, twisting to the side and striking Gamaliel with more force than intended. The battle will end quickly, I know it immediately. With a grunt, I send him sprawling on his back in the snowy grass.
He has skill, of this there is no doubt, but I have bested him and my confidence soars. Before his pupil has even caught his breath, the master has drawn his weapon and asked politely if he may have a chance at me. With a smile that I am certain must have appeared somewhat devious, I accept.
The master has scored me, and I catch myself lamenting the scratch for a moment before I lunge at him again. In moments, he too is on his back and yields to my blade. It has been too long, I tell myself, sheathing my rapier, it has been far too long.
Some hours of conversation and a tankard of ale later, I leave the Drunken Goose troubled and head for home. He, the man called Gamaliel, has expressed my feelings without knowing it. I do love my family more than I love life, and would give mine for them. Still, I know that I long for the old days.
Heaving a sigh, I rub my sore shoulder. The wound has closed but it still painful and I shake my head, wondering what Sissy will say when she finds that I have been fighting. A slow smile spreads across my lips. No matter the fight that ensues, it will be followed by passionate making up and when her desire leaves scratches upon my flesh – those marks I will not rue.
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And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Should I bother working on my first person voice? I’ve never done much using that POV, but it certainly has its uses. I miss Sissy & Jazira, the sorceress and the assassin. Once upon a time, I intended to write a novel about them with Jack. It isn’t even on the ‘back burner’ anymore. At least… For now. Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!
Love & Rainbows,