I’m not doing NaNoWriMo in the traditional sense – not writing a novel. But I am going to use it to try and write something every single day. And to hold myself accountable, I’m going to publish whatever I write here on the blog – unedited. I mention unedited so you know and remember that – this is raw words, whatever I write for the day. First up, I’ve been thinking about these characters I created years ago and keep going back to, trying to figure them out and do something better with them. Seven and her brother Julian have had a lot of versions, this is the latest attempt to ‘get them right’ in my head…
Seven – Part 1 (1022 words)
© 2018 Patrick Hester – All Rights Reserved
Seven pulled hard on her short sword, ripping it out through the flesh and muscle of the man’s neck. Blood sprayed in a cloud and he fell, gurgling, to the stone floor of the cavern.
Before she could take a breath, another dark form shot forward and swung something that could’ve been a club or a sword at her head. She turned the blow with the sword in her left hand, and cut across with the sword in her right, grinning at the resistance as it bit into armor and flesh and the accompanying scream of pain and terror that elicited from her opponent. He, she or it doubled over, hissing.
A quick snap of fingers and clap of hands behind her wiped the grin from her face.
“I can’t see your hands in the dark, little brother,” she said.
When he remained silent, she took advantage of that to lop off the arm of her attacker’s who bellowed and screeched. Warm blood splattered her skin. Moving in, her swords sliced back and forth at the shadowed figure before her, cutting him down and ending his misery.
The danger passed, she allowed herself several quick breaths. The smell of blood and death tickled her nose like an old lover back for more. It nearly overpowered the scents of water-rich moss and earth, her own sweat and the odd oil and tallow smell that seemed to hover around her brother like an aura.
A voice whispered in the darkness far too soft for her to hear, yet she felt the power in that voice. Her dark skin puckered, the hairs across her body stiffening briefly. Then her eyes tingled and a ghostly blue and green light seemed to spring up from the rock all around her. The shapes became clear. Dead men laying in their own blood and gore. Weapons of decent make next to open or severed hands. At least six, though she remembered killing only three. That happened sometimes when the blood lust took her – blackouts and lost time. She tried not to think about what that meant.
Uniforms on the dead, and well tended leather armor, not the hodgepodge mix she’d expect from mercenaries. These were soldiers in sone local Lordling’s guard. Using her left-hand sword, she peeled back a blood soaked cloak to reveal a crest on a breast. A cat-like creature on a field of blue.
Seven didn’t recognize it.
More snapping behind her.
She sighed. “This is good magic, Julian.” She waved at her eyes without turning around. “Very good magic. Impressive.”
In the silence, she assumed he smiled in pride. She would have. She took several deliberate moments to inspect the dead and slice throats – just in case – before turning to her little brother.
Even with the magic, he appeared as a shadow amongst shadows. A dark red robe covered him head to toe and with the cowl up, she could not make out even the barest hint of his profile. That bothered her given the magic he’d just used. Shouldn’t she be able to see within the darkness there? Or had he somehow kept that from her? Was the darkness there more magic?
She mistrusted magic, but loved her brother. Another sigh.
Julian stood rail thin and at least a head shorter than her, yet radiated menace and power in a way few she’d met ever could. And he barely seemed to even know or be aware while simultaneously projecting it.
Tattooed hands appeared from the sleeves of his robe and fingers flashed faster than she could track.
“Slow down, Julian,” she growled. “I’m still learning your damnable hand talk!”
His fingers froze and began again at a quarter speed. She caught most of the words and filled in the rest.
I am glad it worked. I had to think about it and use the right word so I did not freeze your eyes or cause them to explode.
Seven swallowed at that. “Truly?”
Yes, he said with his fingers.
“Well,” she said. “I am glad you took the time to find the right word. I couldn’t quite hear it, you know?”
Too loud could have been worse.
“Yes, yes,” she said. “Your voice is your power and the words are simply the tools you use to focus the power. I just wish you could focus the power a little faster and help with the fighting now and then.” Waving off his objections she said, “Only I can see this light? This is very good magic. Remember it so we can use it again.”
“Do you know this crest?” she asked, pointing with her sword.
“Did they not teach you such in that Temple? Crests of Lords? Banners?”
No. Only magic. Some history.
She grunted. “Interesting they attacked us here. This is the perfect spot for an ambush. You come out from behind the waterfall in the cavern beyond and step into darkness that is backlit from the falls. You are blind for a moment, they have adjusted and can see because they were waiting here. Waiting for us, which means… Do you know what this means, little brother?”
This was a trap. Our employer lied.
“Exactly,” Seven said. “The question is, why? What is there to gain from sending us into a slaughter house?”
Julian’s fingers flashed, froze, and started again slowly.
Move deeper into the caves. Might be a clue.
The next chamber held armor, weapons and belongings from at least a dozen people separated into neat piles, plus enough bedrolls for ten, a fire pit with pots for cooking and a passage leading away from the waterfall and into darkness.
Julian snapped his fingers and she turned to see his hands flash.
“I agree,” she said. “This is some sort of slaughter house for mercenaries like us. The local Sheriff has much to explain. I say we follow this tunnel and see if it leads to him. Perhaps you can whisper the question in his ear?”
Seven chose to believe the silence from her brother spoke agreement. Swords in hand, she stalked off down the tunnel.
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