Friday, September 2, 2011

Write On Edge Assignment

This week's assignment was to write about a season of change for a character.  I'll have to admit, I cheated a little on this one as I have been incredibly busy this week.  So I took a short scene out of a longer story I am working on to post for this week's assignment.  That being said, please enjoy and maybe I'll be brave enough eventually to post more of this story.

            “Melas, what happened?”
            “What do you remember of your fight?”
            “We had just reached the Bendan when the Sarkai came at us.  I was so scared.  It was so crazy.  I couldn’t find a way out of the chaos.  It was too much; I was so overwhelmed with it all.  It felt like forever but I finally found a way out.  I rode up to a small rise to calm down a moment and figure out what to do next.  Then there were horses behind me.  Four Sarkai, for some reason, had not yet joined the battle.  They had such horrible looks on their faces.  The way they stared at me, I’ve never seen a man look at anything like that before much less a person.  It was like I was some thing or, I don’t know, like a goal to be conquered or a prize to be taken.  I tried to find a way around them but I was on the wrong side of the battle.  I had to fight.  The first one knocked me off my horse, but I got up right away.  I think that was when I got the slice cut out of my hip and side.  I tried to fight I couldn’t hardly keep up.  There was no way I was going to be able to beat four Raiders.  Then one knocked me to the ground.  I don’t remember anything after I hit the ground.”
            “Do you remember wounding any of them at all?”
            “I think I cut the one that knocked me off my horse, but I’m not sure.  I don’t think I got the rest of them at all.”
            “Mesara, you killed all of them.  You are now a blooded Bendai warrior.  No other woman has ever achieved that.  They have trained and fought, but not killed before.”
            Mesara looked away from him.  She was silent for a long moment.
            “Melas, I never wanted this.  I just wanted to be with you and Litan, to do what you two did.  I didn’t really want to hurt anyone,” she whispered, emotional pain saturating every word, “Who else knows?”
            “Karik and Tyrhan, Meathar and Litan, and a couple of Bendai who saw part of the fight.  I know you didn’t want this,” Melas paused and took a deep breath, “Mesara, there’s more.”
            “I don’t think I want to know anymore.”
            “’Sara dear, I won’t tell you if you don’t want to know, but remember we are all here to help you through this.  No one will hurt you.  No one blames you for what happened.  You won’t ever be alone, not if you don’t want to be.”
            Mesara laid still for a moment, silent tears streaming down her face.  She had a feeling she knew what Melas was going to tell her.  She could feel the truth of it before he even spoke the words.  Mesara begged him in her mind not to speak the words, not to make the words true by giving them voice.  Mesara reached up and wiped the tears away with her bandaged arm, wishing she could wipe away the awful knowledge Melas was about to confirm.  She turned back toward Melas.  The pain in her eyes almost broke his heart.
            “Tell me what happened.”
            “After the Raider pushed you to the ground the second time, they raped you.”
            “No,” she whispered softly, tears flowing down her face.
            “That was when you killed them.”
            Mesara turned away from him and began to cry harder.  Melas sat there for a moment then moved to get up.  He knew reaching out to her at this moment would not be good.
            “Please don’t leave me alone!” she cried softly.
            “Shh ‘Sara.  I’m just going to the door.  That’s all sweetheart.”
            “You promise?”
            “Of course!  I’ll be back in this chair in just a moment.”
            He stood up.  Mesara watched him move to the door of the tent.  Karik stuck his head in.
            “Get Inshaya.  Mesara needs something to calm her down so she can sleep.”
            “She’s taking it hard?”
            “Yes, though I think it was as hard on her to learn she killed the four Raiders as learning about the rape.”
            “Why does that not surprise me?  She kills while defending herself, then laments the deaths and blames herself.  We’ll be back in a moment with Inshaya.”
            Melas turned and went back to his chair beside Mesara’s bed.  She watched him the whole time.  She didn’t say anything, just wept silently.  Melas took her uninjured hand and sat holding it.  He could sense the tension in Mesara and knew that he dared not touch her any more than that at the moment.  Melas struggled with trying to find something else to do to help his adopted cousin.  He had grown up talking to this woman about most anything and now he did not know what to say.  Melas silently wished he could take those words back that had caused her so much pain.  Yet he also knew that in the end, Mesara would be stronger knowing the truth, that there was no way to keep that from her forever.
            Inshaya stepped softly into the tent carrying a cup.  She went to Mesara’s other side.  After glancing at Melas, she turned to Mesara.
            “Come girl, drink this.  It will help you feel better.  It will take away some of the pain,” Inshaya said soothingly as she coaxed Mesara to drink the brew she had brought with her.
            As Inshaya stood to leave, Mesara grabbed her arm, “’Shaya, don’t leave me, please?”
            “I must speak to Melas, so I will be near the door, but I won’t leave.  Now, close your eyes and sleep for a while.”
            Inshaya waved at Melas to follow her to the far side of the tent.
            “She knows about the assault?”
            “Yes.  She asked so I told her.”
            “Not necessarily the wisest thing you’ve ever done Melas, but I can understand why.  Go.  Let Karik and Tyrhan know she sleeps now.”
            “But I promised her I wouldn’t leave her.”
            “I am staying.  She feels safer, more comfortable with me right now.”
            “Why?  She’s my sister in all but blood and she knows it.”
            “Yes, but I am a woman.  You’re male.  After what happened, she feels safer with another woman.”
            “I would never hurt her!”
            “I know.  So does Mesara.  But it does not change the fact that you are a male and males did this to her.  Give her some time, she’ll get through this and feel comfortable around you again.  I promise.  She will not break like some of the others we have known.  She is stronger than that.”
            “Then why did she ask me to stay?”
            “Probably because she figured you were more preferable than being alone.  She knows in her heart that you will not hurt her and that you would do anything in your power to protect her.  I bet she also figured you would call me to give her something to calm her when she became upset.  Because you did, and I am here, I am now more preferable than you.  You know all of this Melas.  It does not change because it is Mesara in that bed instead of another woman.  Go, and do not wake Meathar.  He is to sleep until he wakes.  No one is to disturb him until he wakes on his own.  Am I clear?”
            “Yes ‘Shaya.  Take care of her for me, for all of us, will you?”
            “Of course.”
            Inshaya summoned one of the Bendai guards to her after Melas left.  She sent him for one of her saddlebags.  When he returned she took the saddlebag, thanked him and went back to Mesara’s bed.  Inshaya pulled out some sewing and began to work.
            That evening Karik, Tyrhan and Melas were sitting under a giant oak on a nearby hill overlooking the small camp when they saw Meathar approach.
            “Here comes trouble if I’ve ever seen it,” drawled Melas.
            “That is saying something considering you grew up with Mesara,” added Karik.
            “Karik!” Meathar called, “I must speak with you!”
            “What is it you wish to speak of, Meathar?”
            “You said you’d wake me if Mesara woke up at all.  I’ve just been to see her.  I find out from the healer there that Mesara’s been awake twice, that no one came to get me, and now I’m not even allowed to see her!” Meathar exclaimed in irritation when he reached the men beneath the tree.
            “Peace, Meathar.  None of us have seen her since shortly after you went to sleep.  The healer, whose name is Inshaya by the way, has banished us all from that tent,” answered Karik.
            “Meathar sprawled out over the grass by the others, the irritation beginning to leave his face and voice, “Why?”
            “Because Mesara asked us what happened to her, so Melas volunteered to tell her.  We decided it would be the easiest to hear the truth from him rather than rumors and innuendo she would most assuredly hear from the rest of the camp.”
            Meathar stilled.  Concern and fear replaced the angry frustration written across his face.
            “How did she take it?”
            “About as well as can be expected,” Melas answered, “She wouldn’t sleep so I had Karik bring Inshaya to give her something.  That was when Mesara asked Inshaya to stay with her instead of me.”
            Meathar whistled softly, “She must be pretty upset to not even want you around, Melas.  She’s usually glued to you almost as tight as your shadow.  Did Inshaya say when we could see Mesara again?”
            “No.  We have not been over to ask,” answered Tyrhan.
            Meathar bounced up, “I’ll go ask.”
            “While you’re at it, tell her that we must move soon.  Find out when Mesara and the others can ride,” added Karik.
            “Will do!”  Meathar called back over his shoulder as he bounded down the hill.
            “The fool’s going to end up on Inshaya’s bad side if he isn’t careful.  That is not a good place to be.  Trust me, I’ve had the misfortune of being there on occasion,” commented Melas.
            “She should give him a little patience as it is his sister Inshaya’s taking care of,” Tyrhan responded.
            “But remember that no one else, including Mesara and Inshaya, know that,” reminded Karik.
            “What are we going to do about that now?” asked Tyrhan.
            “She’s going to have to be told soon,” added Melas.
            “It is Meathar’s news to tell, but I will speak with him.  I agree, she does need to know as soon as possible,” answered Karik.

            Meathar reached Mesara’s tent and paused for a moment to gather his thoughts.  He tapped softly on the door as to not wake Mesara if she was sleeping.  After a moment Inshaya stepped out.  Meathar looked at her, studying her, for the first time since he arrived in the Bendai camp.  That night was too stressful and heart wrenching to have paid attention to strangers at the time.
            Inshaya was small, especially for a Bendai.  The top of her head barely came to his shoulder and he was almost short compared to the Bendai.  That made this woman positively tiny.  She had long, dark blond hair streaked bright gold by the sun.  She was young, too, much younger than Meathar had expected her to be.  In fact, Meathar thought she was a couple of summers younger than he was.
            “Yes, is there something you wanted?” she asked him a bit impatiently when he did not speak.
            “I am sorry.  My mind was wandering for a moment.  I was wondering when I could see Mesara?  I need to speak with her about some things.”
            “’Sara just woke up a bit ago.  Let me see if she wishes to see you.”
            “Before you go, Karik wanted me to tell you that we should be moving soon and wanted to know when Mesara and the others could ride again.”
            “The others probably could ride by tomorrow or the day after.  Mesara’s back and side injuries were a bit more severe than the others, not to mention her injuries from the assault.  She probably won’t be able to ride until at least the day after the others, probably even a day or two later than that.  Even then she may not be able to ride for very long or very far.  It just depends on how quickly she heals physically in the next day or two.”
            With that Inshaya ducked back into the tent leaving Meathar to wait outside.  He waited, fidgeting and thinking.  He wasn’t entirely sure how to tell Mesara who he was.  After all, he had been going to see Mesara since not long after she went to live with Litan.  And he had not thought it through before now.  He had been too excited at the proposition of telling Mesara about her family to actually think about how to tell her.  Stray thoughts of Inshaya also slipped into his thoughts occasionally.  Meathar shook his head trying to clear it.  He didn’t think this was a good time to let a pretty face turn his head and distract him.
            Inshaya stuck her head out of the tent and said, “She will see you as long as I stay too.”
            “Ok,” he answered as he went into the tent.
            Meathar stopped just inside the door.  Mesara still looked pale.  The bruises on her shoulder and collarbone stood out in garish hues of black, blue and purple against her pale skin and white sleeveless tunic.  He could not see the other bandages he knew were there.  She wouldn’t meet his gaze either, Meathar noted.
            “’Shaya said you wanted to talk to me?” Mesara said softly.
            “Yes, may I come over and sit down?”
            Inshaya moved her chair a short ways away from Mesara and Meathar and returned to her sewing.  She sensed that this was a private conversation and wanted to oblige them as much as possible given the circumstances yet also honor Mesara’s request for her continued presence.
            As he moved closer and sat down, he asked, “How are you feeling?”
            “Ok.  It hurts.  I can’t walk yet either.”
            “If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know.”
            Meathar was getting a bit frustrated at her short, submissive answers that really didn’t tell him anything.  It was so unlike Mesara to talk that way.  She’d been so much more outgoing and assertive before.  He also noticed that Mesara flinched away from him a little when he sat down.  It bothered him but he didn’t know what to do about it.  So Meathar told Mesara the only thing he could think of.
            “Mesara, I won’t hurt you.”
            “I know.  I just-,” Mesara paused for a moment, sighed, then continued, “I know you won’t hurt me but I can’t make myself stop.  I remember a little more of what happened and I keep seeing them.”
            “I wish I could have been there to protect you from them.”
            She had given Meathar the perfect opportunity to tell her.  She was showing a glimmer of real emotion in her eyes.  But he hesitated for a moment.  Meathar wondered if he should tell her now, and decided she needed something good to hold on to right now.
            “Mesara, this will be the last surprise you get today, I promise.”
            She tensed, backing away from him even more.
            “No, no, no.  It’s a good thing.  It’s something you’ve always wanted to know.  You’ve told me so yourself.”
            “What?” Suspicion was so thick with that one word, Meathar was not sure it could hold anymore.
            “I am your brother, your family.”
            Mesara’s head jerked up.  For the first time since he came in, Mesara looked Meathar in the eye.  Surprise and uncertainty warred across her bruised face and lingered in her green eyes.
            “My brother?  Why didn’t you tell me before?”
            “I couldn’t.  Please trust me.  I wanted to, but there were things happening that prevented it.  Your life would have been in danger.  It still is, but you have to know now.”
            “So that’s why you’ve been coming to see me all these years.”
            “Yes.  Father wanted to come too, but that would have given everything away.  Believe me, he’s been so frustrated and upset over not being able to see you and love you and raise you as his daughter.  He thinks about you all of the time.”
            “What about my – our mother?”
            “She was killed when you were three.  I was seven.  You look so much like her, at least from what I can remember.  So, it’s just you, Father and me.  I hope he and I are enough for you.”
            “Enough?  It’s incredible.  I’ve wanted this for so long and now it is really happening.  I don’t know what to say,” Mesara said, the beginnings of true joy tinting her words.
            “Just tell me you’re not angry with me for not telling you sooner and you’re not angry at Father for not coming to see you.”
            “No.  I’m not angry at either of you.  I’ve always felt I could trust you, even when I didn’t know you very well.  If you say there are good reasons for not telling me before, then I believe you.  I have one more question for you right now.”
            “What is it?”
            “Who is our father?  Where are we from?”
            “That’s two,” he teased Mesara as she smiled even though the smile did not reach her eyes, “But the answers are: Father is Saylen, King of Shrikhart, so that makes us the Prince and Princess of Shrikhart.”
            “That means we’re-,” Mesara stopped.
            “Yes, dear sister.  We are of the Shrikes.  We’ll live at least to the ripe old age of 200 if nothing happens to us along the way.”
            “Thank you, for telling me about our family.”
            “You are most certainly welcome.  Rest now, little sister, and get better.  Father would kill me if he saw you like this.”
            Mesara settled herself a little more comfortably and closed her eyes.  Within minutes, she was asleep.  Meathar watched her for a minute or two longer before he got up to leave.  As he passed Inshaya she reached out and touched his arm.  He stopped.
            “That was a good thing you did just now.  I won’t ask how she ended up with us instead of with you and your father.  I assume there was good reason for it,” Inshaya said softly.
            “There was.  Assassins were after her, even as a child.  Father made it look as if they succeeded and sent Mesara here instead.  I think it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do,” Meathar replied just as softly.
            “I could well believe that.  Don’t be surprised if it takes her a while to adjust, though.  She’s known for quite a while she didn’t belong here but has struggled to understand where she does belong.”

OK - I know it's a long piece but I couldn't leave it on a bad note!

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