My eight week course has come to an end and I must admit I have learnt a lot. Not just about developing characters and plot but also about me as a writer and where I want to go with it. I am better equipped to analyse my own work and to put things right.
Reading will never be the same again. Though, I must admit it hasn’t been the same since I started writing. I have learnt to find inspiration from almost anything around me, sound, sight, touch, taste and smell. Where imagery is one of my strong points, there is always room for improvement.
I had one final piece to write and share. A character that I have been working on for some time but because of this course I feel she has more depth. A 1,000 word story! I dislike doing short stories…. well that short anyway. I also don’t do first person, which this one is in. The subject of this piece is a huge factor in the characters personality and drive and for me, answers many questions about her behaviour.
Where do I go from here with my education? I’m not sure but I would like to take it further. Having a job doesn’t help but I’m sure I will figure something out. Anyway, here is the piece. I hope you like it.
Since adolescence, I had been angry and envious, I felt my family had failed me. The other sisters in the Order had at least one sword passed down through the generations. Being the first of my family to make it this far in the Order I had no such heirloom and it became the focus of my anger.
“I don’t know what impressed me the most, the princess herself or the sword she carried.” I commented to my good friend, Lynwen, as we sat around the fire in a darkened room reminiscing over the past few years. Taking a sip of the drink I cradled in my hand, I let the burn kick in before swallowing.
“When did you first meet Princess Brigantia?” Lynwen refilled her glass, her hand steady for a woman of advancing years.
“I was sixteen, she was sitting crossed legged under a willow tree in the sanctuary, singing a childhood ditty and I was drawn towards the sound. I wasn’t supposed to approach but couldn’t help myself.
“Patting the grass at her side, Princess Brigantia asked me to approach. Sitting beside her, I stared in awe at her beautiful face. I’d never seen eyes so blue before, they were alive with light, reflecting a power I could not understand. It was like she held me under a spell.” Leaning back into the chair, I lost myself in memories as I revealed them to Lynwen.
“The next time I saw the princess was much different. Sister Dawn had entrusted me with a message to be delivered directly into the hands of the commander of the royal guard. I was informed she was in the garrison hall, so I headed in that direction.
“The room was full of soldiers in training attire who all stood like statues. I made my way through the crowded room until I could see what kept them enthralled. Princess Brigantia and her brother Prince Adam where sparring. She was dressed in tight, black breeches with a white drawstring vest tucked into the waistband. The royal guard insignia adorned her belt – a triquetra and the sun – a mark of the Leian royal family. Her golden hair lay over her shoulder in one long braid, that brushed the embossed buckle as she moved from one foot to the other.
“The crowd cheered as the siblings readied their stance. That’s when I first saw the princess’s sword, The Challenger. Its gold and steel snake-shaped blade was as distinct as Brigantia’s beauty. She deftly swung the blade, loosening her shoulders. When she prepared to strike the amethyst stone on the pommel came into view. It was the most magnificent blade I had ever set my eyes on and it triggered a knot of jealousy in my gut. Even when that sword was swung in my defence my envy never faltered.”
Shaking my head, I took another sip from my glass. Lynwen, nodded slowly, understanding written on her face. I had no blade of any reputation, only a simple specimen from the Order’s armoury. There was no honour in such a possession and it had eaten away at me for a long time. It made me feel inadequate.
“Now I know why you took all the extra training.” Lynwen’s voice held a touch of disapproval.
“Well, it didn’t rid me of the disgrace.”
“You are known for a great many battles, Sasha and your philosophies on the Order’s mandates are profound.” Lynwen lifted an eyebrow at me. She was right, as young as I was my achievements were impressive.
I leaned forward when Lynwen’s expression changed. Her teasing aside, something sad dwelled within her features. “What is it Lyn?”
“This whole mess with the Order is driving me insane. It’s a job for those much younger than I.”
“What are you saying?” It wasn’t like Lynwen to be downhearted.
A few moments passed before I realised what she’d meant. Lynwen had been my mentor, my friend. When Mother punished me, Lynwen was the one I would go to. Now, when I was being prepared to take over the leadership of the Order, my rock was about to crumble. I looked at her lined face and the grey streaking her hair. She did look tired. Guilt washed over me as I admitted my selfishness.
“Don’t give me that look, I’ve been at this far too long. I will always be here, your common sense, on your shoulder.” She laughed and I joined in.
“You’ve talked me out of some very strange and nasty situations.” I chuckled.
Retrieving her scabbard from the floor at her side, Lynwen drew the steel from the black leather. The well-honed blade caught the light from the fire, the diamond-embedded pommel reflected tiny stars on to Lynwen’s face. “I have something for you.” Resting the tip of the blade on her left hand and the pommel in the right, Lynwen offered me her sword.
The gravity of the moment held me in shock. I stared at the offered blade before transferring my gaze to my mentor.
“I never had a child of my own. You’re the closest thing to a daughter I will ever have.” Lynwen whispered.
“I can’t accept such a gift.”
“Why not Sasha? I want you to have Wraith.”
My heart pounded with excitement yet my mind thought of a thousand reasons to talk Lynwen out of retiring. She reached a little closer, imploring me to take the offered gift. “Lyn, I don’t deserve it.”
“I know, I had to put up with your moaning!”
We laughed together, remembering the times I’d complained. With trembling hands, I took the sword. I knew its weight, the feel of the leather that cushioned the grip and the strength needed to wield such a weapon. “I could never thank you enough.” Pride dissolved the envy that had been my companion since my adolescence. Owing to a friendship forged by blood, tears and loyalty, I felt lighter, honoured and at long last, whole.