In answer to Kristi Simpson’s Saturday Six (or Sixty) Minutes Challenge:
My suggestions for you today are:
- Write a description of a major character from the point of view of the person with them when they… Save the world, wreck it, get into a fight or stop one, make the big discovery, etc.
- Make a list of names, if you haven’t already, that you could use for minor characters.
- You know that time that one customer service representative made you really mad? When they were horrible to you? Write about that person’s day, up to the point of getting your call.
- Use the picture. I know it’s hard to see him, but that’s a little turtle in the middle of it.
So I went with #1, as will be obvious I imagine.
This is a scene from my NaNoWriMo 2013 story from a minor character’s point of view.
He had observed the young woman since the master came back from Tir Dhuchais with her. Captain Aleix of Vihollishmaa had a sense that Eleanor d’Elmonte, with her bright golden hair and beauty, would bring doom to his country. For sure he knew that if Lord Aethelric brought her with him, that was because she carried magic but Aleix didn’t think it was enough in this case.
For one, the master seemed to care more than he ever had about any other before. The only thing he agreed to say was that he had known of her existence for a long time and that it was right she was here. Still he had ordered everyone to let her do as she pleased for now. But the lass didn’t even control her powers yet. That could be catastrophic in more ways than one could imagine and Lord Aethelric knew it. And then, he wouldn’t hear at all of treating her as a prisoner, despite the fact that she was Lord d’Elmonte’s eldest daughter. She could become such an important piece in the chess game they played with Tir Dhuchais’s King. And Elmonte had created havoc in the villages near the border in the past. Many had died by fire because of their men: she could be a way to get revenge. But their leader refused, even declared it treason to even suggest it. She belonged with them.
Well maybe she did, but she definitely didn’t see it that way. Eleanor d’Elmonte considered herself a prisoner and acted as such. Besides, she refused to accept her magic and denied it in spite of the fires she’d started that proved it. At least, she had seemed less prone to random outbursts of power since she started training with his men. He hadn’t wanted to allow her a weapon in spite of his master’s orders, but Aleix finally relented.
First, she’d surprised him when she revealed how much she’d discover about their settlement in a short week of observation. Before he was anything else Aleix was a soldier and he could see that Eleanor d’Elmonte – if she’d been born a man or among the Gaels – would make a good one and a decent strategist at that. Her father taught her well. Second, it seemed she was extremely stubborn. The fact that the master hadn’t yet convinced her to learn about her gifts was proof enough. After all, Aethelric could be extremely persuasive.
In the end, he wasn’t even surprised to discover she was an excellent swordswoman. In truth, he’d heard rumours about Eleanor and Roxanne d’Elmonte’s skills but it was something else to see it. Every inhabitant of the castle, of the country learned how to handle weapons: sword, bow, dagger, or shakos, whichever they felt most comfortable with. It was crucial to keep everyone as safe as possible; after all, magic rarely helped its owners in a fight. But few of the women volunteered for the guards. And even the men didn’t relish the idea of being captured and burned at the stake. In fact, most of them had small enough gifts – but just what it took to get labeled as witches in Tir Dhuchais. Mostly here, women and men preferred to help in the kitchen, the healing house or in the fields and hunting. The few who had more power held the barrier that Aethelric had finally succeeded in building around the country to prevent the enemy from invading. So few came to learn the craft of fighting; but Eleanor d’Elmonte knew it. She’d been well trained. He wouldn’t have wanted to cross her: sure he had the upper hand in height – barely for she was tall for a woman – and strength, but she was lithe and quick. And she seemed to see beforehand what movements her adversary might do. It might be magic but it could also be the trained eye of someone who knows their weaknesses.
To be fair, she had patience like few of his more experienced men and turned to be an excellent teacher for his newer and younger soldiers. In fact she helped some more seasoned men even if she didn’t realize it. She must feel that she belonged otherwise she wouldn’t teach them ways to kill her own. And yet… Every time she sparred with one of his men, she would cast defiant glances towards the castle as if challenging it to battle with her. He knew better; she was challenging Aethelric.
No! She may be with them but she didn’t belong, not truly. Eleanor d’Elmonte would change Vihollishmaa. He could feel it – his own small brand of magic. One he had long denied until his wife tried to kill him for it. He rubbed his chest where the scar left by the knife that missed his heart. He had wanted to die after that, heartbroken by her betrayal. But Aethelric found him, saved him and brought him here.
In fact his saviour and master had come down, carrying his own sword. He was going to accept the girl’s challenge. No! It was a bad idea. Aleix almost said something but the light in his lord’s eyes held something he recognized. Aethelric would show the young woman that her anger was misplaced, her fear understood, her plea heard. He intended to show her she must accept her gifts and harness them unless she wanted to let them consume her. Aleix hadn’t met many witches who denied their magic but all who did were swallowed by it almost and turned to darkness, becoming monsters like the witch Mary. In fact he recalled it was Eleanor d’Elmonte who beheaded the black sorceress. Why didn’t the master explain this to her instead of a duel that could prove catastrophic? She was said to be a clever woman; couldn’t she hear reason? Instead they fought.
As they did, the Captain understood once more how good the woman was. But he felt an incommensurable danger in that duel. He knew his master and he could tell that Aethelric brought forth his magic, at first little by little then more strongly. And though she didn’t seem to realize it, so did Eleanor d’Elmonte. And she matched the other magician strike for strike. Understanding dawned: she had the same sort of power he did. Oh no!
Though he kept a calm demeanour, Aleix of Vihollishmaa panicked; quickly he spoke with every person present near the field and ordered them to leave. Some obeyed – his more seasoned soldiers, though they didn’t look happy about it – but too few. The others were too excited about this duel. They had never seen the master fight before. He understood. He, too, was mesmerized but only sorrow and pain would come out of this. Why did the master choose this way?
There had to be a reason; it had to be about her. She was stubborn and proud… but she was said to have honour and to be fair. He had heard how before she sentenced Mary, she tried to understand her, offer the other witch a way back to the light, which Mary refused. That must be what Aethelric was doing: showing Eleanor d’Elmonte that her path led to darkness. He wouldn’t do so without considering all possible outcomes, would he?
Wait a moment! What was she doing? No! He almost screamed even as he started towards the fence, as fast as he could. She was going to let him kill her. The bound! Just when he made to jump the fence agonizing pain pierced through his heart, not unlike the knife his wife planted there once. He stopped in his track paralyzed by it. He could no longer move, couldn’t see why he hurt so much. But since his gaze had been fixed on his master and the woman, he could see… somewhat. And he knew. Eleanor d’Elmonte – for all that she wanted to kill their master and thought she could sacrifice her life to achieve that – was afraid of dying.
She had used her magic unknowingly to deflect Aethelric’s sword and they would all die in her stead. However, their leader had also employed his power to stop time, something he never did. So Aleix and all his men were held in a moment. When time resumed he would die, unless she saved them. But she didn’t belong with them.
He saw the anger on Aethelric’s face and the fear in the woman’s body. He saw when his lord forced her to turn and look at what she caused. She’d been so strong until now that he was surprised when she fell on her knees, crying, truly appalled by what she’d done. He couldn’t hear it, but he saw her speak and the surprise on his master’s expression. She’d agreed to save them even if it meant her death.
He’d have shaken his head if he could. She would let Aethelric use her power and bind it if she survived but that solved nothing. She wouldn’t learn. She had to. She must accept what she was for that. He saw the threads of magic and suddenly he could move again, the pain in his chest gone.
When he reached them, the lady had fainted. He knelt by his lord whose gaze held tenderness as he gathered her in his arms. That unsettled Aleix; there was never this expression in Aethelric’s gaze. Sorrow mostly. She would change everything.
“I know what you said before my friend. But I think she and her sister are the keys.”
“To what my Lord?”
“To ending the war.”
That made no sense. How could two girls, no matter how educated and different, change a conflict that had lasted for almost a thousand years.
“She won’t learn. You need to tell her what…”
“She’s not ready to hear it. It will take time.”
But it was time they may not have.