Tag Archives: Victorious Maiden

Victorious Maiden & Other Happenings

So, as of yesterday, I’ve posted 29k words for Victorious Maiden. I like to pants the beginning of my stories, then when I know I want to keep going, I outline what I already have, and jot down the general story direction. I know I want to finish and publish Victorious Maiden, and 29k is more than half way, so I started doing my outline thing. I found out that I probably have not one story, but three companion novels. They aren’t direct sequels, but all take place in the same universe. Sort of what Aurelia Rising and Nala’s Story are to Champion Standing.

The other thing going on in my immediate world is that my last semester at Northern Arizona University is like two weeks away. I’ll have my undergraduate degree in Applied Human Behavior with a certificate in Community Development and Sustainability. It’s been a long eight years, but I’ve somehow managed to hang in there. Anyway, I’m taking it easy vis-à-vis, writing and blogging.

Of course, for those of you paying attention, I’ll graduate in December, and have a new baby immediately afterward, so until I figure it all out, I’m gonna slow my roll. Next year should see the publication of 16Sunsets, and Aurelia Rising. I should be in the second Stories on the Go anthology, and I’m hoping that my co-authors and I wrap up The Beginnings Project. (I’m looking at you, Miss A.)

You guys are great, and I know you’ll be cool with posts being more sporadic. In the mean time, check out this awesome cover concept for Victorious Maiden by the same artist that did covers for The Afflicted, and Forlorn Hope:

vm-mockup_zpsxijvkmaa


13 – Spirits Guide Us

Cover-RM

I’m gonna take a break from Victorious Maiden for a little while. I’ll talk more about it tomorrow. Here are 1000 more words:

* * *

“Piper,” a male voice whispered, “who is she?”

A female voice, presumably Piper, responded. “You know who she is, and she should not be here.”

“The battlefield is no place for a mysterious peasant girl.”

Piper scoffed. “Is this what you think of peasant girls, Sabiti, or all girls?”

“Help me get her up,” Sabiti retorted. The smile in his voice was evident.

The voices faded and Kamaria felt her body jostle. The sensations disappeared as well, and Kamaria returned to her slumber.

* * *

“Wake up.”

Kamaria moaned, but sleep still held her in its clutches.

“Please, wake up.” The voice was followed by a patting of Kamaria’s cheek.

Kamaria opened her eyes, and fuzzy shapes populated her field of vision. Her eyes slowly began to focus and the shapes took the form of faces. Worried, childlike faces. She placed her hand over her eyes and squeezed away the last remnants of the unnatural sleep.

“She’s awake.” A murmur of assenting voices followed. It took Kamaria a few moments to discern that the voices were of the children she shared the cart with.

She attempted to sit, but cobwebs of unconsciousness beat behind her eyes. Her tongue felt dry and the roof of her mouth itched. Tiny hands pushed her into a sitting position, and pairs of scared eyes scanned her face.

They’re terrified, Kamaria thought as she surveyed her dim surroundings. “Where is Elder Akua?”

“The Elder and her guard are exploring the cave,” a tiny voice replied. Kamaria had to strain to hear all the words.

Kamaria looked up to see rock towering overhead. Shadows played as deep fissures allowed scant light into the earthen room they were in. “Is one of you named Piper?” she asked, looking at her charge of children.

Heads shook in the declarative negative.

“Sabiti?” she asked, but the voice in her dream state definitely was an adult male, unlike the rabble of children.
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12 – Discovery

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[1000 words – #3WW | Word-a-Week | The Writing Reader]Jahan followed the cobblestone road out of the City of Dawn, thinking of her future. She would matriculate soon, and she could study philosophy, but the councilman’s conversation with her brother hung in the air.

“Hello!” someone shouted from the Gates of Dawn. “Where are you going this early, Jahan?”

“Just gathering herbs,” Jahan lied to the guard.

The guard squinted. “Are you armed?”

Jahan grabbed her golden sword from its sheath and waved it over her head. The long curved blade glinted in the torches lining the Dawn Road.

The guard waved his hand, and the gate creaked open, allowing Jahan to pass through. “Stay within sight of the wall in case you need help,” he called out. “Good luck, Jahan!”

Jahan nodded and walked down the Dawn Road, moving as quickly as she could without attracting attention from the gregarious guards. The stale air she’d breathed in the city cleared, and the addictive cool air of an early spring morning greeted her. It was welcome, she felt refreshed and ready for whatever the Dawn Road brought her.

* * *

That morning Jahan followed the Dawn Road through the Dawn Consortium. As her city faded into the distance, she followed the river instead of the road. She knew the ever-increasing cliffs to the sides of the river gave traveling bandits an advantage over her, but she suspected they, like the Denizens of Dawn would sleep most of the morning.

The river proper allowed her to avoid anyone traveling the road. She saw fish swim defiantly upstream against the current. They made the smallest of progress and Jahan knew her breakfast was only a splash away. There was a wide flat area ahead, where the river thinned and she knew she could build a fire from driftwood. Her mouth watered at the promise of breakfast.

As she got closer to the clearing, she saw something lying at the edge of the Dawn River. She withdrew her sword and gripped it with both hands, the blade curving downward. Her brother had taught her well, and his patient instruction flowed into her as she cautiously advanced on what appeared to be a body half in the shallow water.

She used the end of her sword to poke the filthy body, and when a feminine moan released, she rushed to the girl and rolled her out of the water.

The girl sucked in a breath slowly, and tried to reach up to wipe away sand and other river debris, but her arms seemed to disobey. Jahan reached and wiped her face, arranging the wet hair clinging to her cheeks and neck to get a better look at the girl. The girl smiled, and winced in pain.
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11 – Spend Eternity With Me

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[1000 words]They skirted the shadows and headed to the gate. Both knew their destination: a section of wall obscured from the sentries by an abandoned hut. Hidden against the wall of the hut was a bundle of wooden stakes. Had anyone surveyed the wall more than cursory, they would’ve noticed the grooves and scratches from climbing. Despite Asis’s tired arms, she leapt and stabbed the stake into a groove. She pulled herself up, adrenaline surging, and stabbed hand over hand until she reached the top of the stone wall. She crouched down and looked over to see Nemr only a few grooves behind her. She smiled, waved, and pretended to smack his fingers as he gripped the crown of the wall.

He brushed away her hands and reached into a recess hidden amongst the gaps of large stones, and retrieved a coil of rope. Looping one end around his stakes, he placed them into the recess and tugged on the rope. Satisfied it would hold his weight, he jumped away from the wall and landed below before jumping again. He repeated this five more times and stood at the base of the wall beckoning to Asis.

Asis smiled, grabbed the rope, and sprinted the length of the wall, running against the side. She made large turns, and by looping back and forth, ran down the wall to meet Nemr. Exhilaration stole her breath and she had to suppress laughter lest she alert the sentries. They had done it: they left the city unbeknownst to the guards.

They walked along the Dawn River. It meandered through the Dawn Consortium and started to sink into the ground from a millennia of erosion. She could see the Dawn Road level from the edge of what was beginning to be a sheer cliff down to the banks of the River of Dawn. A city ahead of them was split atop the cliffs and below another waterfall. It wasn’t as glorious as the Falls of Dawn, but a series of small cascades a little taller than an adult man. That city rose in the distance, painted white by the light of the moon. Asis was tired, but being with Nemr she felt alive – able to achieve great things. No parents, no spear lessons. Just her, her friend, the cliffs and the moon overhead. Everything was perfect, the stars seemed to glow as bright as the moon and there wasn’t a cloud in sight to block the celestial field of twinkling gems.

Asis looked at Nemr, wondering if he revered the celestial light show above. She stifled a yawn into her hand and asked her friend, “What brings us out here, Nemr? Everything okay in the city?”

Nemr fidgeted and kicked rocks toward the cliff edge. He didn’t meet her gaze.

“Nemr? Talk to me.”

“Well…” he muttered, focused on an imaginary blemish on his tunic. “I don’t know how to say this, Asis.”

Asis stared at her friend. “Nemr, you’re not making sense,” she huffed. “Speak your thoughts.”
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10 – Before Oblivion

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[1000 words]More warriors ran to catch up with Harris, many of the seasoned archers nodded toward Kamaria as they ran by … they all knew of her own amateur prowess. Many of them had offered her tips and revealed the secrets of the way of the bow. Kamaria stopped mid step as she realized that it wasn’t just warriors meeting the bandit force, but shopkeepers and merchants.

Merchants like Talib, she thought. She knew everyone in the village needed to band together to defeat this new menace. Kamaria started to follow the defending force, but a large hand gripped her shoulder and prevented her egress.

“Kamaria, you are not ready for battle!” Another patrolman spun her around. And shoved her in the direction of the Dawn Road. “Gather the young ones and take them along the Dawn Road to the next village.”

When Kamaria tried to argue, the large man crossed his arms over his barrel chest. “Worry not about the defense of this village,” he said solemnly, “but the scared children it is now your duty to protect!”

“But, I…”

The man adjusted his scabbard, and knelt in front of Kamaria. She could see he was holding back not only tears, but doing his best to keep the uncertainty of the impending battle from her. “If we fall to this bandit horde, it will be our children that suffer the greatest loss.” He placed his hands gently on Kamaria’s shoulders. “It is easy to find someone to die for a cause, but it is infinitely more difficult to find someone to live for one.”

Kamaria nodded, and the patrolman whose name she couldn’t recall ran to meet his comrades in arms. Kamaria looked toward the impending battle once again and did what she was told. She found a pair of village warriors loading children into a cart with the village elder and her personal guard. Kamaria slapped away and scowled at the hand of the warrior attempting to assist her into the cart.

“Don’t worry, child, the warriors of our village are more than capable of repeling a rabble of bandits.”

Kamaria looked to the aged elder and her guard. “Mistress Akua, if you are so certain, why do we flee from the battle?”

Elder Akua looked to the upturned faces of the children sharing the cart. It was a sea of concern, quivering lips and eyes wet with fear. Elder Akua motioned with her eyes toward the scared children. “Our warriors will prevail.” The words were spoken with authority, as if the outcome were predetermined.

Kamaria wasn’t satisfied. The words of the elder seemed hollow as the cart lumbered away from the village she’d been born in. The village, Talib and archery were the only things she knew. She felt betrayed again that day, not by a rival, but this time by her own people discounting her worth to defend the place that had given her so much. She was angry she’s been corralled with the children and forced from her village against her will. She looked around and determined to prove she was capable of fighting.

“I’ll not sit here and be coddled like these babies,” Kamaria hissed and leveled her most defiant glare at the village elder.
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09 – Fidelity Demands

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The Writing Reader does daily prompts, and I wanted to write today. I didn’t follow the prompt precisely, but click through and you’ll understand. Here are another 1000 words for this story:* * *

The morning following Ejaz’s return had been rowdy. Jahan woke to the sound of laughter and cheers, which meant her brother had invited his comrades to breakfast. Jahan would come downstairs as the last morsels of food vanished from the table. She rolled over and looked out her window to see that the sun had not yet risen. She sighed; it was just like Ejaz to not care who he woke this early in the morning. He expected the fidelity he received from his men to carry over to his home, even the passage of time.

Another cheer erupted from below. It was now clear to Jahan she would get no more sleep. She kicked off her covers, swung her legs over the side of her bed and almost shrieked at the cold touch of the floor. Normally, her small window allowed in the morning light, heating her floor to a comfortable temperature. She hopped to her chest of drawers, knelt in front of it, and grabbed a pair of trousers and a clean tunic. She glanced to her closet at the single gown hanging from a golden hook in the wall. She detested wearing gowns, and their assorted accompaniments, but when her brother was promoted to Marquis, her parents forced her into one for his ceremony. The single gown hung in testament to her thoughts on what was considered the ‘proper’ role and dress for a lady. She smiled at what she suspected Ejaz’s friends said about her when they were certain she wasn’t listening.

Dressed, Jahan ran her hands through her short-cropped hair. It’s getting too long, she thought, and she decided to have it cut that day – if she could avoid her brother and his entourage. She stood at the top of the stairs and sniffed the still air, before wrinkling her nose at the smell permeating from below. Regular bathing wasn’t high on the list of priorities of the Denizens of Dawn. Long hours of training and exercising followed by longer hours of partying into the night left an acrid odor amongst the army. Quaint bistros and taverns suddenly had no seating indoors, for if the warriors were allowed in the shops, everything would stink. When the Denizens of Dawn were in the city, some merchants hired doormen to sample any patrons attempting to enter. Most just moved their wares to the sidewalk and the open air.

Jahan crept as quietly as she could down the stairs, ensuring no loose boards betrayed her movements. She wondered how much of her attempted stealth was required, as it was likely her brother and her friends were already drunk.

“So what’s going on with Jahan?” a gruff voice asked from the kitchen. “She doesn’t have your fondness for war.”

“I noticed,” Ejaz muttered from the same room. “She’s grown used to a comfortable life in the city.”

“So?” the gruff voice asked after a loud burp. “Are you going to take her to the next battle?”
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08 – Superfluous Spear

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I stumbled across The Writing Reader while doing the internet thing. Liz hails from Arizona like I do, so I went with the fiction prompt, and here are 1000 words of flash fiction for you:

* * *

Although the moon rose bright on the horizon, Asis had difficulty navigating the shadow-filled sand. The Cliffs of Dawn and the great falls stood in the distance. The moon had just cleared the most known landmark for as far as she had ever dared to venture. Asis stopped and looked toward the City of Dawn, then back to the second largest city in the Dawn Consortium; her home.

Master Gahiji made his laziest student train into the night. Asis’s arms ached like she had spent the entire training session practicing with a spear of stone rather than the smooth wood. Her arms were stiff as if they had been cast in gold at the Forges of Dawn. Not that Master Gahiji had stayed awake to oversee his student. He joined the revelers celebrating another day stolen from the fates. Master Gahiji staggered to the training hut and dismissed Asis; her punitive training incomplete. As she made her way home, she moved slower than she would’ve had she not put in the extra time training.

The citizens of city were shouting in raucous laughter. With most of them in attendance of the nightly celebration, Asis was left alone to her thoughts – thoughts as dark as the silhouette of the City of Dawn in the distance. She passed by one of the temples to the Gods, her dark thoughts made their way home. She thought of excuses to stay away from what used to be a welcoming home. Her parents, unable to hide their dissatisfaction in her training, would likely instruct her to do her chores and go to bed. She disliked her parents’ constant reminder of the sacrifices they made to win her a chance to train with Master Gahiji. She couldn’t conclude if she hated the constant reminder or the spear training more.

She knew her parents cared for her. Despite the constant nagging, only parents that truly cared would have even attempted to get their daughter to train with Master Gahiji. Perhaps they care too much, she thought. How many times had they forbade her from gallivanting with Nemr and Fatma? Gallivanting was her parents’ word, not hers. Too many times, she thought with a heavy sigh. Asis cursed the Gods and the ancient traditions that prevented her from moving away. Her time was near, and she clung to the arbitrary date and counted the nights. She knew her dagger skills were sufficient to train young warriors in the towns and villages along the Dawn Road. She could even use what she learned from Master Gahiji to supplement the dagger arts with hunting. She reluctantly admitted, that even the worst student of Master Gahiji was a class above others.

Despite taking her time, Asis had successfully traversed the patchwork avenues of her city, and although she couldn’t see her home, she knew it was not far ahead. The dark thoughts and the musings of her life ceased as if someone had dammed their flow. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She thought she detected movement in the shadows. A primal fear consumed her and she had to remind herself that the monsters of lore simply didn’t exist. Her intuition screamed that she should run, but which way?
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