|[Original Fiction]: YAVNC, Chapter 13
||[Dec. 6th, 2008|01:53 pm]
Up to 12,100 words now.
The first 500 words of this are the result of a challenge from my friend Eve, to write 500 words without using adjectives or adverbs. This is bloody hard for somebody who writes as I do, and I may've slipped up somewhere.
"Iron and blood, muscle and mud." Voices were chanting it, off in the distance. Night and fog and rain. Thunder and smoke. She smelled charcoal and sulfur, saw the moon in the clouds, felt a tremour in the ground.
There was steel in her hand, the sword of the grandfather of her grandfather. The sabre he'd carried at Darien, and after, as cowboy and lawman and rancher. A weapon that had split skulls and sundered limbs. A weapon that had taken lives. A weapon that had saved lives. There was a horse under her, and a hill under the horse, and a plain before her.
An army stood in her sight. Robes over armour. Mask-helmets. Buffalo and elk. Beaver and bear. Pikes and halberds. Lances and swords and axes. Horses pawing the ground, snorting. Men on their backs, clashing weapon on weapon. Drums beating, horns crying.
A shout rose up. "Give her us! Give her us!"
"Never." The word ripped itself from her throat. "We will keep her. We will stand by her. You will not harm her. You will not have her."
The force parted in two. A horse trotted forward. A horse the size of an elephant. A man on its back, a giant wearing the head of a buffalo. A maul and a stake across his saddlebow. She smelled oil and rust and rot.
Her people were around her. Behind her. She could not see them, but knew them by sound, by presence, by feel. Clinks and clanks. They would watch her back. They waited on her word. They would shield her friend, even when she could not.
She spurred to meet the giant. They halted between the armies, face to face. "So," she said, "what brings you here?"
"Pray pretend I do not."
"The monster. Why do you ward and shield her? She's none of your kind."
"She is a friend. We have shared bread and salt. We have given her hearth and houseroom. We have sworn her safety and solace. She is of my kind. She is of our kind."
"She requires more than bread and salt."
"She does not take but what is given her. And seldom even that."
"She drinks blood. You do not. We do not. You should stand with humans. You should stand with us. Give the monster to us, who know the way to handle her, who know the way to negate her. We who have the cure for her." His hand caressed the stake.
"She is human. She knows love and fear. She knows trust and hope. I have seen her at the Mass, and the Presence did not smite her. I am sure she is a human, despite what she must drink once in the month. And you, who call her a monster and who seek to stake her, I am not sure that you are a human. More than that, I know you for a foeman. I name you. I call you destroyer, I call you ravager, I call you monster."
"So. It is war."
And Stanislava Morrison woke sweating. She reached out blindly in the dark, not knowing what she sought. Dermot? Ashley? Or the warhorse of her dream, solid and real as Rosie had been yesterday afternoon?
She barked her knuckles on the nightstand. The glowing dial of the clock told her it wasn't yet four in the morning. "And how many more times will I wake tonight?" she muttered. For a moment she thought of opening up the ordinator that sat on her desk, and throwing aside all thought of slumber. Dermot might not be waking, but she could always post him.
No. He would worry when he saw the time-stamp. Besides which, she was tired enough that she might slip up and put something else into the post, such as a wish for the revival of bundling.
She switched on the light, scrawled a few words to bring the dream back to her, and switched off the light again. In the morning she found herself clutching one pillow to her chest and with another wedged against her back. And she had no notion what "Sabre. Principal. I know which is monster." might mean.