Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Works-in-Progress Wednesday: Inkweaver Excerpt--"Do You See What I See?"

"And just where do you think you're going?" said a familiar voice.
I turned. Leaning against the wall behind me with her arms casually folded in front of her was Ronni the Bandit Queen. I braced myself behind the shield, but she laughed scornfully at me.
She sauntered forward with a sure smile on her face. The flowing fabrics draped over her form swirled as she walked.
"Oh please, did you really think escaping would be that easy? That all you would need to do is follow the silver thread and you'd find your way?"
Her words seemed to hammer against my shield like blows from a club. My mind spun; how did she know about the thread? And why did her words sound very familiar just now? I chanced a peek over my shield.
Taurin stood before me, the same wiry, gaunt form, the same tattered tunic and leggings. The only difference, in fact, was that now "he" had Ronni's hair and features, and "he" stood in a heap of the clothes she had just been wearing. My stomach gave a great heave, and I thought I was going to be sick right there on the floor.
"Taurin" grinned at me. "Oh, by the way, the little tantrum you threw in there was quite convincing. I nearly thought I would have to work much harder to get you to be willing to ditch your friends." He—she—chuckled.
"What did you do to him?" I asked stupidly.
Ronni—she could not change her form enough for me to acknowledge her as my simple, kind cell mate—laughed aloud at this. "Can't you hear yourself, thickhead? Your precious Taurin who knew all the right things to say does not exist. I was there; I saw your magic tapestry."
Her words came at me like daggers in the fog, cutting and pricking from a distance. She kept right on going.
"You didn't think I'd just leave you in there, what with all that Wordspinner stench about you; me? Leave a prisoner for months?" She snorted and frowned at me. "Honey, I might be a lot of things, but I'm not that stupid." She bent down and retrieved her former dress. A twist here, a pull there, and she was her feminine self again. 
My breath caught in my throat; I had heard of quick-changers who performed at carnivals and could completely change their appearance in the blink of an eye, but I had never seen one since carnivals were too frivolous for the up-and-coming village of Mirrorvale. Now I could see that Ronni was one; such a skill no doubt served her well as a thief and a vagabond. She fixed me with her enchanting gaze, the fiery eyes that had drawn Belak to help her the night before. (or had it been longer? There was no telling how long I had spent in that cell)
"But now let's talk about you: you're scared aren't you?" She smugly watched me tremble, as much as I tried to hide it.

 [...]


"I have more than you know."
I taste the words on my lips as they echo through my head.
Ronni had turned her back, but she lifted her head at my words.
"What was that?"
I closed my eyes, willing something–anything—to happen.
"I have more than you know!" I repeated.
"And what would that be?" She was so close I could smell her scent, feel her warm breath blasting around my ears.
What did I have? I must have opened my eyes then, because I could see my shoes on the floorboards, and my skirt, and my sword—
Wait... My sword? That was new. I had a sword hanging around my waist, when I was absolutely positive there had been no sword in my possession at any point in my life. I pulled it out; the insignia on the pommel matched the device on the shield.
With the scrape of the sword came the crackle of fire. I looked up.

Ronni the Quick-Changer had executed her best change yet: she had somehow transformed herself into a large, fire-breathing dragon! It was the final scene from the Shepherd Knight dream, happening right here in the house! Ronni was the dragon, and I was the shepherd! The dragon roared at me, but I held the sword with both hands, and when it lunged, I thrust.
I remembered the words of the doe: "Behold, your time has come!"
The blade sunk deep into the dragon's throat, and it exploded with a roar and a fireball so bright I closed my eyes.
I did not open them for a long time. Halfway, I feared that if I did, the dream would be over and Ronni would be standing there grinning maliciously at me.
Finally, a door creaked, and I heard Larryn's voice say, "Shereya?"
I opened my eyes to see that long sword shining in that dark, soot-black room, brandished at—
Nothing. Ronni had disappeared completely, almost as if she really had been the dragon and it had not been a dream.
I couldn't move, and more importantly, I could not take my eyes off that sword. I looked down at the scabbard buckled around my waist. The feeling was more familiar than the sight of it. Had I really been carrying this the whole time?
My friends gathered around me. I felt Belak wrap his hand around mine.
"A-a-are you—" my voice shook and I could barely get the words out. "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" I asked.
Larryn threw her arms around my waist as if I had just come of age.