Tag Archives: Victorious Maiden

19 – Negotiations

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It’s been 16 months since I’ve written anything for Victorious Maiden. The recent art by my daughter necessitated I at least try to continue the story. These 1042 words incorporate prompts from Chuck Wendig, The Writing Reader & #SoCS.

* * *

Kamaria sat across from Talib and pushed bread around her earthen flatware. The olive oil had soaked into the rough bread a while ago and it left shiny trails on her plate. Well, she thought, not her plate. She looked across the table at Talib and each child at her side. Her eyes shifted first to the child to her right, then to another child to her left. These last four children now shared a bond with her. Their parents had fallen in the battle against the bandit horde. The pair next to Talib was brother and sister, but the children on the bench next to her were orphans with no one to comfort them.

Talib pushed his plate away and cracked the bones in his neck. First to the left, and then to the right. “I must look for Jezebel,” he declared and rose to his feet.

Kamaria met his gaze. “You’d abandon us?” she asked, a lilt in her voice betraying her disbelief.

Talib sighed. “I have to rescue Jezebel,” he insisted.

The feeling of betrayal from only days before washed over her. She clenched her jaw, her mind replaying the scene of Talib and Jezebel together in front of the fire. “I’m shocked that evil lurks in your soul, Talib,” she scoffed. “Only someone with evil is his heart would abandon five orphans and go chasing after that-“ Kamaria closed her eyes and tried to focus her rage. “Girl,” she continued.

Talib’s lips quirked into a crooked smile. “Evil?” he asked. “Then I guess doing a good thing sometimes means being evil.”

Kamaria slammed her palm against the table hard enough to make the plate jump. The flush that crept up her cheeks matched the pain that flowed along her arm. The orphans to either side of her flinched at her outburst. Talib returned to a sitting position and reached across the table, placing his callused hand over hers. She felt the heat from his body traverse the same synapses as the pain from only a moment ago. She blinked and slid her hand out from under his. She ignored the splinter she picked up in her palm, and clasped her hands below the table.

Her mind again wandered to the time in the Dawn Forest. Talib’s words hung like an albatross around her neck. She knew that Talib was not evil. In her heart of hearts, she also admitted that Jezebel was not evil either. A harlot, maybe, but not evil.

She sighed. “I’ve heard that the Marquis and the Denizens of Dawn are in our tiny village. Maybe you should leave the rescuing to the professionals.”

Talib opened his mouth to protest, but was interrupted by the shifting of their rough-hewn bench. Two women Kamaria’s age sat on each side of the increasingly crowded table. One seized the bread from Kamaria’s plate and popped the whole piece in her mouth.

The other tilted her head to the side, and admonished her companion. “Asis,” she hissed, “manners.”

Asis brushed crumbs from her tunic. She let out a loud belch, stood, stepped away from the table, and offered an insincere curtsy. Her eyes darted from one empty glass to another. She shrugged, grabbed the bowl of olive oil, and slurped loudly. The orphaned children snickered and even a scowl from Kamaria did nothing to prevent the chorus of giggles. Talib even allowed a smile to transform his stern features. Asis’s companion rolled her eyes.
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Will Victorious Maiden be completed?

As I’m sure some of you are aware, artists tend to want to be around other artists. I’ve never really considered myself an artist. I can’t draw worth a [crap]. Other typically “artisty” things like sculpting elude me. But, I need to embrace the artist moniker because writing is art. My wife is more of what I’d consider an artist – specifically she loves drawing cartoons. Now, my eleven year old daughter, may just be the most artsy-fartsy person in my household. She loves to draw anime fantasy characters:

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About two years ago, I took a stab at writing a young adult novel. It’s something I’ve never been able to do, and I like to challenge myself. When I finished what I like to call the “vomit draft,” (that’s where you just barf the words onto the page,) I put it away to percolate for a month or two. When I came back to it, I realized that I didn’t have a finished novel; I had the beginnings to three novels in a trilogy. After breaking out the individual storylines and seeing what I had, I realized that the one that was the most done only had about 18k words written. I shelved the project (that shelf is getting full!) and worked on other things.
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18 – Domain of Men

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[1000 words]

“Is she dead?”

Jahan turned to her second-in-command. “I think she is in a deep sleep,” she declared, and looked back to her rabble, as they descended the cliff via woven vine ropes. Jahan knelt and examined Asis’s injuries, only to discover they were not as bad as they seemed earlier. The blood and torn garments revealed where each injury was, but try as she may, Jahan was unable to find any.

“What of that,” one of the boys asked, pointing to the pile of freshly picked bones and scraps of cloth.

“In a day or two there will be nothing left.” Jahan turned back to Asis, and slapped her cheek gently.

Asis’s eyes fluttered open, and when she focused on the face of a concerned Jahan, she whispered. “I have basked in the glory of Lady Akila.” Tears welled in her eyes, and she lifted her dirty hands to wipe them away. “I have been blessed,” she continued.

Jahan nodded, and motioned for several of the boys to assist Asis to her feet. When Asis was standing, Jahan clasped her hands. “It is a miracle,” she said as she wiped dirt from Asis’s forehead and cheeks. “Can you climb?”

Asis flexed her arms, retrieved her daggers, and started the climb up the cliff. Several of the boys groaned as the realization of their rescue unfulfilled necessitated they climb back up to the Dawn Road, but a look from Jahan staunched all complaints.

As Jahan climbed hand over hand, she contemplated her next move. Her destiny was as easy to see as the Falls of Dawn in the distance.

* * *

Kamaria surveyed the village. Most of the huts were still smoldering. She sniffed. It wasn’t just thatch and wood that had burned. The children and Talib followed as she walked through the debris-filled avenues.

She didn’t have a specific destination in mind, but her feet having made the journey so many times, she saw a familiar house in the distance. As far as she could tell, it was fairly undamaged. She saw a figure push a broom, clearing off the cobblestone that served as a porch.

The figure looked up and when she saw Kamaria and the children, the broom fell from her grasp. The woman abandoned her cleaning, and rushed to Kamaria. Bree stepped out from behind Kamaria, and stared at the woman.
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17 – Muffled Silence

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Chuck has us using a title from the prompt last week. I chose Mozette’s title for this iteration of Victorious Maiden. I’ve collaborated with her in the past, and you should check out her site. Here are a 1000 words:

* * *

Jahan saw the glint off of a spying glass. The armored figure atop an armored steed was instantly recognizable, even without his flag-bearer.

“Wait here,” she spoke to the young boy, and her rabble of boys flopped to the ground, several of them pushing each other for the best view. Jahan heard the whispers from the boys… they were all afraid of the Marquis of Dawn.

Jahan raised her arm in greeting, and called to her brother. “Greetings, Ejaz, Marquis of the Denizens of Dawn.”

Ejaz dismounted, and returned the greeting. “You as well, Jahan.” He smiled and continued. “Leader of what? The downtrodden? A gang of miscreants and deserters?”

Jahan frowned, and advanced on her brother. He had removed his helm, and rested it against the hilt of his sword. When Jahan was within reach, she lashed out and struck Ejaz with her balled fist. Ejaz staggered back and dropped his helm. “What’re you doing, Jahan?” he hissed.

Jahan grinned widely, and perceptually looked over her shoulder. Ejaz nodded and looked over her to the rabble that leaned forward to see the confrontation play out. “You may tell Councilman Fahd; I have found my own army.”

Ejaz blinked twice, and regarded the boys watching from a respectable distance. “These…” he began, but Jahan inturupted.

“You and Fahd are not as discreet as you might think.”

Ejaz stepped back, and nearly tripped over his helm. A cheer erupted over Jahan’s shoulder.

“Jahan…” Ejaz hissed.

Jahan turned her back to her brother, and marched back to her “army.”

“Jahan!” he called out.

She turned and with another wicked smile, quipped, “You may join me, Ejaz. I still need a second-in-command.”

Jahan left Ejaz, mouth agape, and returned to the boisterous cheers of her crew. They moved as an amateur force, many taunting, and making obscene gestures at the Marquis of Dawn. Ejaz watched in muffled silence as Jahan and her crew marched toward the Dawn River.
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16 – Sleep of Ages

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[1000 words – Word-a-Week]Light flickered off earthen walls. The smell of charred meat filled the cavern. Kamaria watched the children gather clothing to provide beds for the youngest of them. The rest lounged in shifts, it all organized by Bree.

She fits the role of leader quite well, thought Kamaria. She saw minor cliques forming among the children from her village, but they all heeded Bree’s leadership, and ultimately Kamaria’s authority. She knew of bands of feral children, even in the capitol city. She suspected that what she witnessed in the cave had played out in cities across the land, and across time.

Kamaria had succeeded with her last arrow in securing the rope to the tree shadowing the crevasse. She was out of arrows for hunting, but she was able to pick several edible florae to augment the bats the children captured. Leaves and other castoffs filled coats and cloaks to use soften the uneven cavern floor.

Kamaria had gathered the materials to fletch arrows, but she wasn’t sure how to procure the feathers for fletching. The bones of the bats would make excellent inserts, and the larger bones could be carved into broadheads. The metal tips of her broken metal arrows provided a blade to carve, but her fingers were sore from holding such a delicate implement.

Kamaria leaned back against the cave wall, and watched the children as she allowed her cramped fingers a much-deserved rest.

* * *

Asis’s eyes snapped open and she watched a filthy boy crouch a few paces away. He stared at her, but made no move to assist her. The boy was covered from head to foot in mud. His long dark hair was braided and wrapped around his head. From a distance, she suspected it might be confused for a turban or other head gear.

“What is your name, boy?” she croaked, the sun drying her chapped lips and throat.

The boy regarded his hands, then felt over his own body. “Themba-” his voice cracked, and it appeared to startle him. He cleared his throat and began again. “My name is Themba.”

Asis stared, and waited for the Themba to continue.

He looked around, and glanced at his hands again. “Have you seen Lady Akila?”

Despite the pain, Asis made the proper hand gestures of respect. “You have seen her?” she asked.
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15 – Dawn Road Danger

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[1000 words – Word-A-Week]“Kamaria?”

Kamaria blinked several times and looked around. She wiped the tears still clouding her eyes, and focused on the voice.

“Kamaria, what’s the matter?” Bree asked.

Kamaria looked over her shoulder, and back to Bree. She had returned to the children in a stupor of grief. She responded to Bree before her mute sorrow worried the child more. “We can’t get out that way,” she declared. “I’m sorry I couldn’t find any food.” She would never return to that cave, even after the bodies had subsumed to adipocere.

Bree beamed. “We captured some bats.” She held up a rope, and seven furry bats, their heads in the loops. Kamaria noticed Bree’s blood-stained hands, and nodded in acknowledgement of Bree’s accomplishment. She wouldn’t discount Bree’s skills like the rest of the village had with Kamaria.

“Excellent,” replied Kamaria, “I’ll get us some wood.” Kamaria gathered a length of woven rope, and examined it before coiling it once she had a piece five times the height of a man. She affixed one end of the rope to one of her arrows, and sighted a tree root poking out of the cave ceiling.

Bree and the rest of the children watched Kamaria make attempt after attempt. Her aim was true, but maneuvering the rope to catch on the root, and not fall back down, was not something she had ever thought to practice. Twice the arrow ricocheted off the tree root, and up through the holes that provided light, air, and water to their subterranean cave. One time, she pulled down the rope and scowled at the bent arrow still attached.

“You can do it, Kamaria.” Bree handed Kamaria her last arrow when she dropped it when the nock slipped off the bowstring.

Kamaria smiled, accepted the proffered arrow, and launched it toward their salvation.

* * *

“Well, Well. A pretty young girl alone, and away from the sentries of the Dawn Road.”

Jahan opened her eyes, and looked toward the sound of the voice. Dirty features came into focus, and Jahan winced at the foul breath from the disheveled boy who leaned over her, one of his hands balancing his scrawny weight against the trunk Jahan was resting under.

“Don’t worry,” the boy said, when Jahan winced, “I’ll treat you properly. Right, boys?” The boy turned to face his crew and ham up his position.
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14 – Cacophony of Crows

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I guess I just can’t stay away from this story. Here’s 1000 more words utilizing prompts from Inspiration Monday, #WOW555, The Writing Reader, and Word-A-Week. I think I may get a chance to write some more of this over the weekend.

* * *

“Die with me, Asis.” The words repeated over and over, the voice morphing and overlapping until it was just noise. The noise she could block out, but the torrent of emotion attached to those three words were too much for Asis to bear. Tears streamed, displacing grime on her cheeks. Her body shuddered, and Asis flinched against pain that did not come.

She opened her eyes, and stared to where Nemr’s body should’ve lain. A field of grass unfolded as far as she could see. Blades swayed peacefully in the light breeze she felt on her wet skin. The grass was trampled here and there, as if a large force had recently marched across the green plains.

In the distance, Asis saw carrion birds circling something. She rose shakily to her feet, and was relieved to discover the pain in her ribs and arm were missing. She took her first step toward the something, and she arrived, as if someone else had performed the journey.

A flaxen-haired boy lie on the field, the grass beneath him no longer green. He gripped a giant leather scabbard, and his mortal wound stretched from his shoulder to his belly. The carrion birds had feasted on the wound, and Asis was forced to close her eyes and turn away, lest she be sick from the sight of carnage.

When she returned her gaze to the young boy, she realized she was not alone. A strange woman knelt over the body, her hands squeezing and twisting her long dark hair. Asis welcomed the opportunity to gaze upon the woman, and she let out a gasp as her view fell on the woman’s shoulders.

“It is so sad,” the woman whispered, turning her attention to Asis.

Asis tried to meet the woman’s eyes, but her own eyes were transfixed to a pair of gleaming clockwork wings. The intricate brass movement shuddered of its own volition, as if they were prepared to launch the woman into the pale blue skies.

Asis glanced at the boy, but a bright light interrupted her view. The wound on the boy’s body gleamed brilliant white, and his chest began to rise and fall again. His eyes opened and he looked at Asis.

She couldn’t keep her hands from covering her mouth, and a sigh escaped her lips. The boy’s eyes looked exactly like Nemr’s. The woman gathered the healed boy into her arms, and whispered into his ear.

“You will have another chance.”

The words, although whispered, were heard in Asis’s head clearly, as the clockwork wings spread to their full span, and a single thrust propelled the woman into the air, her white gown fluttering in the breeze. Three more times the clockwork wings moved, and the woman with her charge were but a tiny dot on the horizon.
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