A while back I tagged Sarah for the Lovely Blog Tag and she was exceedingly good and did it within a week! And now, just to make her feel special I have decided to temporarily bring a favourite character (that I wrote) of hers into the story...she's from a completely different story and I'm not going to give her much to do, but she'll be there for a short time. Sarah, you'll know who I'm talking about. :)
Sorry to all those who haven't read my WIP novel - The Bridge of Anskar, I'll just say that the two random characters are good guys and (to satisfy curiosity) their real names will be mentioned at the end of the post.
Option three was voted in (which is lucky because that one was the only one that I thought might possibly work for bringing in the random characters)...but on the unlucky side my head is really sore. In other words...I whacked in on the desk a lot of times. The Fragment was stubborn. Very.
Thus my head is sore.
“Who are you?” Maree gasped, blinking her eyes to clear her head.
“It might sound crazy to say this, but I’m not actually allowed to tell you,” a young voice replied near her ear.
Maree tried to twist around to see her companion but another wave of dizziness swept through her. The combination of pain and shock worked together and she knew no more.
Maree woke to the sound of lowered voices and crackling flames. She lay for a minute, not wanting to move. The bed under her was soft and the blanket warmer than any that she’d owned before.
“I think she’s awake,” a voice said, a different one than belonged to her rescuer.
Maree blinked her eyes open. She found herself staring at a dark roof flickering with firelight. A young woman’s face came into view, and Maree stared in fascination.
A long fringe of brown hair hung over her bright green eyes and a long, pale scar ran from above her left eyebrow to the corner of her mouth. A wide grin split her face when she saw Maree awake.
“Oh, it’s great you’re awake. We were beginning to wonder if you were okay. How are you feeling?” she asked, her voice foreignly accented.
Maree tried to speak but found her mouth was dry. The girl offered a mug of water. “Here, this might help,” she said.
Maree drained the water and tried again. “Noot to bad,” she answered, her voice finally responding. She sat up, wincing as pain shot up her shoulder. The room was small but homely, the firelight danced over the contents, illuminating them and leaving them in shadow in turn.
A man sat in a chair by the fire but other than him and the strange girl, there was no one else.
“Who do ye be?” Maree asked.
Her rescuer chewed her lip. “As I said before, we’re not allowed to tell anyone. But...you can call me...er...Ana if you like. And him – he’s my brother, by the way...can be James for now,” she shrugged. “Sorry. What about you?”
Maree hesitated by sensed that the girl was telling the truth. “Maree Freespirit,” she said, emphasizing the ‘Freespirit’.
“Pleasure to meet you,” came the cheerful answer.
Maree rubbed her forehead, thinking about Hacaz and his soldiers. Someone had to stop him. “Do you be havin’ any connection with the keeng?” she blurted before she could think any better of it.
‘Ana’ shook her head. “Sorry, we’re not from here, we come from...across the sea. Currently we’re just here to sear—” she stopped suddenly, clamping her mouth shut.
“We’re just visiting,” James put in, rising from his seat. “We’re heading back in a few days.”
“Why do you ask?” Ana tilted her head to the side, curious.
Maree lifted a shoulder – making sure it was her uninjured one – in a tired shrug. “Jest in case,” she replied. In another moment she asked, “Why did you save me?”
“Aww, that?” Ana shrugged. “It was nothin’, I’d been spying on the soldier’s camp and I saw that you were in a little trouble so I thought I’d lend a hand.”
Ana looked into her eyes but Maree avoided her gaze, knowing that her feelings were clearly visible. “What dey es eet?” she asked suddenly, looking up.
“Two days since I found you,” Ana said. “Thursday’s today.”
“Don’t you mean ‘today’s Thursday’?” James replied with a raised eyebrow.
Ana punched his shoulder, screwing up her nose at him. “You were unconscious for two days and half a night,” she continued, turning back to Maree.
Two deys, Maree thought, they’ve bin...deid for two whole deys. Tears threatened to overflow but Maree blinked them back. Nia, Jonny, Ellie, Freya, Sam, Anita, Tilda an’ Dael. They all be gone, and there ain’t nothin’ ye can do. She took a deep breath; she still had a job to do. She had to prevent it happening again.
Hacaz couldn’t succeed.
Maree tried to stand but Ana put a hand on her shoulder. “You’re to stay right there,” she said firmly.
Maree shook her head. “Ye dinna—”
Ana narrowed her eyes. “I don’t know exactly what is going on right now, but there’s something between you and those soldiers. They’ve searched this house once already, and getting seen by enemy soldiers wasn’t on my job description. I have certain experience in these kind of matters and I know that it is not a smart plan to run off to save the world after being unconscious for two days.”
James grinned. “Trust me, she’s had personal experience with that particular situation.”
Ana grimaced in return. “Aye, I have that. If I could give you one important piece of advice that I’ve learnt in my career it would be this: Don’t rush off if you’re injured. The world’s not about to blow up without you and it’s doubtful that anything is going to happen in another two days. It would be much better to wait until you were properly – or at least more so – healed.”
Maree released a puff of air. “But me shoulder dinna be hurtin’,” she protested.
Ana nodded exaggeratedly. “Course it’s not,” she remarked sardonically. “And I suppose you’re perfectly fit to go tramping about with no food or bed or anything?”
Maree slumped her shoulders, giving in. “I’ll stey for a while eef ye put eet thet wey,” she said reluctantly.
“I most certainly do,” Ana replied hurriedly.
Maree settled back down on the pillows, sighing heavily. Ana yawned and moved away, Maree followed her with her eyes. Her clothes were of very strange style; a green cape – offset to one side, black leather leggings and boots, a tunic of the same and worn over a full sleeved, white blouse. A long sword hung from a weapons belt at her side.
James was dressed in a more familiar fashion, with a heavy tweed jacket, flannel shirt and wool pants.
Maree wondered vaguely what their real names were. The soft sound of the fire soothed her and she soon fell asleep. She didn’t wake again until morning.
Maree stayed with the brother and sister for another two days but they parted ways on the morning of the fifth. Ana and James headed west towards the sea, and Maree went north, following the direction Hacaz and his soldiers had taken...
“An’ so, I followed ‘em ‘cross half o’ the coontry, tryin’ me beest to stop Hacaz. I coold niver git into the keeng’s court so I geeve tryin’.” Maree shook her head slowly. “Thet was near two years ago noow.”
I remained silent. In the light of Maree’s past, my own adventures in the last week could barely be considered mildly interesting. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.
Maree turned to look at me. “Dinna worry,” she said. “I’ve ‘bout come t’ terms weeth eet. I miss ‘em soome toimes though.”
I laid my hand on her shoulder. “I’ll help,” I said. “Now that I know, I can help you get to the king. Surely he’d let me in. All we have to do is get there.”
Maree smiled faintly. “Ye be right there,” she replied. “Jest a noice run across the coontry with a bunch o’ soldiers on oor treel.”
“Why has it taken Hacaz so long? Couldn’t he have just gone right and kicked out the king in the first place?” I asked, frowning.
“He’s gathering forces,” Jack spoke. I jumped, forgetting for a moment that he was there. “He’ll get onto the king’s good side and then quietly dispose of him, probably making sure that he signs the paper that says Hacaz is to be his heir.”
I pressed my lips together. “So we’ve got to warn the king that Hacaz isn’t a good heir?”
“Eet woold be better to tell heem all of what Hacaz be plannin’,” Maree said. “Then we ‘ave t’ see eef ‘e beleeves us.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
“We theenk up a deefernt plan,” Maree said steadfastly.
A small bird flew into cave, its tiny wings wet and bedraggled. It huddled on the stone ground and watched us. I stayed as still as I could so it wouldn’t fly away again.
It may have stayed but for a shout from far below us.
At the sound it jumped into the air without hesitation, disappearing into the misty rain.
I realised what had been shouted and looked at Maree. “Run?”
2. “Run,” she agreed.
3. She was frowning and peering out of the cave entrance. “Jest weet a moment,” she said. “Somethin’ dinna be quoite right.”
There, just as I promised. No more depressing-ness.
Here are the real names of 'James' and 'Ana': Eumin and Leonora! (The other names were just the first ones that popped into Leonora's head at the time) They are friends of the main character in The Bridge of Anskar so they play a fairly major role. Sorry that you don't really know much about them. :( If I was in an optimistic/dreamy mood I'd say that I may publish it some day...but at other times I feel sure that that is 'not this day'...
Looking forward to your comments.
Fare Thee Well!