Just for fun and experiment….. Warning about 3,000 words here.
This is an extract from my latest fantasy volume still under construction. Karlyn is one of three women involved in a complex many-sided struggle. Irreverent and idiosyncratic from an exotic heritage and born Lady Maighdean Ardea she is trying to shake free of this resulting in fractured memory and a dual identity. She has been captured by a faction of her ‘own folk’. I like working with Karlyn because she encourages quirky comic interludes. For those not familiar with previous volumes: ‘Whychie’ is her name for Trelli her best friend and ‘Flaxi’, is Arketre her lover, now wife (and who calls her ‘Kitlin’). When reading this much of it is from her perspective which explains some odd idioms…… and her secret power of being very, very annoying…(Stommigheid & ethereally makes reference to the evasive power used by some)
Karlyn was aware she was hurting; pains in all sorts of places, enough to make her not sure of at least half of her memory or why she was wherever she was. Someone had shot at her, with some weaponlike Flaxi used….Yer! Flaxi an’ there was Whychie, they were somewhere else though. Shifty Krongar had a part in it. As she bored through the sharp jabs and dull aches, other names and actions came into place. This place and The Why were still avoiding her though.
Since her limbs were held to the arms and legs of a not uncomfy chair and the room was quite ornately decorated in bright pastoral shades, which to her mind jarred a bit, she had to reckon she was captured, but not in a dungeon. She pushed into her memory for the right word, hoping it might shake loose some other recollection.
‘Detained. Yer. That was the word, she was detained’
There were four stiff faced guards in royal blue uniforms with gilded breastplates and helms. Now, she could remember something to do with them, too. Were they the ones wot had shot at her? Or just another part the same crew? They were ignoring her, probably under orders, not even looking at her. Since she hurt too much to move, she resolved to use some other weapon.
She said, and repeated, putting on her most sullen and determined face. Each exclamation hurt, and in turn made her crosser, which in turn hardened her will. She was going to keep this up, for as long as she cared, until someone got fed up of it.
She changed the pitch, higher, grating, increased the tempo. Paused, slumped long enough for them to think she’d stopped and then she started again. She kept on with variations, experimenting. She could detect a twitch from one and there was a distinct gripping of the weapony thing by another.
She pressed on.
One eventually broke.
‘We should inform the Officer of the Watch,’
‘We were under orders that she was to wait for a representative of the prince, at his behest alone,’
‘Owwwwwww! HHHHHoWWwwwWWWWW!. Ow-ow-ow-ow-OW!!’
‘I think her wits have gone,’ one said, sounding hopeful as if he had found a loophole to the orders.
‘Ow!…Ow-ow-ow!. Ow!Ow! Ow!. HHHOOOOOoooowwww!’
By then all four were peering at her.
‘Ow! Ow! Ow!’ she said, sounding very determined.
One, who she assumed by a gilded red epaulette was in charge, huffed.
‘Yes!’ he said obviously looking to convince himself ‘She is indeed bereft of wits and sense. The Officer of the Watch must be informed,’
One guard hurried off.
Karlyn now enjoying herself kept up the symphony. Actually this exercise of giving vent to anger, dispensing mischief and generally being a nuisance was very good for the pains, Flaxi would’ve called it ‘Thurrrapee’ or something.
An elderly fellow with a beard halfway down his chest, lovely head of white hair kept in place by a golden band, and all dressed in blue and crimson finery eventually entered along with a fellow with an even more golden helm than the others. Karlyn assumed the helmed one was the Officer of the Watch and the old goat some court official, neither she reckoned looked noble enough for her to speak with. She was pleased she could recognise absence of nobility. Some other threads of memory were coming back.
In the meantime though, she was feeling more of the humour of the situation and the attendant control of matter, therefore she continued with variations on the theme of ‘Ow’
The elderly fellow appeared to find this a most interesting circumstance and since she was tightly bound and no threat to him, he peered into her face studying her with all the intensity expected of a person scholarly in the subject of afflictions to the mind or soul. After a while due to the proximity of volume and pitch he was obliged to withdraw slightly.
‘The poor creature is quite unhinged,’ he told the officer, Karlyn detected a disapproving element in his voice, so raised the pitch to a most mournful tenor intending to bring sympathy to those of tenderish hearts ‘You and the Prince should have been more careful Captain,’
‘She was deemed dangerous Lord Surgeon,’ the officer replied stoutly, and had to repeat the phrase because Karlyn had increased the volume of her lamentations as he had begun to speak.
‘I daresay,’ retorted the elderly fellow ‘However as the prince’s senior court lord physician I feel objections are to be raised, if the prince wants to gain some benefit from her capture,’
At the next drawn out wail, the physician returned to Karlyn and with some delicacy and caution laid one hand on her shoulder.
‘Child? Can you hear me,’ he produced a phial of something like Flaxi would have done and wafted it under her nose, it smelt of gooseberries mixed with carnations, she thought that was a peculiar mix. Guessing anything so odd was supposed to calm her she played along, and stopped with the word, blinked and sniffed a lot.
‘Where am I?’ she pleaded with all the heart wrenching innocence of a lost child ‘My tummy ‘urts. Like someone kicked me in it,’ she whimpered ‘And why am I tiedid to a chair?’ more sniffing, becoming violent and very nasal indicating a threat of starting up the assault on the senses again. This caused one of the guards to flinch, another to look anxiously to the officer and the physician to pat her on the head, not something she usually cared for, but in that case she would make the exception.
With use judicious use of snuffling, blinking tears and a little whimpering complaint about her ‘tummy’, the latter requiring some translation the physician urged the freeing of her bonds. Karlyn’s returning memories of experiences indicated this would normally be the time when she would leap free and start thwacking folk. However being sore, quite weary and not sure where the frib she was and with who, thus wanting to find out wot was wot, she remained placid. She agreed she would like a drink of something mild and yes, if she could lie on that couch please an’ yes she would like something to dry her eyes and cease the dribbling from her nose that would be very nice, please.
The guards were quite unable to distance their attention from her. The woebegone individual before them did not configure with the portrait of the haughty warrior daughter of a lesser house trying its best to ascend the stairs of rank. There again she hardly appeared have those brutish traits associated with humans.
She was seated, bare feet curled up underneath with toes moving up and down in a slight, somewhat nearly charming manner. Each sip from the cup of lemon water, interspersed with a slight sniff. Now she had calmed down her eyes had a wide innocent and confused quality.
Which Karlyn had practised and finessed on her Flaxi to stop the soldier being so cross over some minor thing Karlyn had done and shouldn’t have.
Judging by the way the door was opened without a knock and butting into a guard then the entrance of two rather important looking fellows with fancy staffs and some wraith like female pretending to be a maiden while annoying the strings of a harp and everyone already in the room bowing to the knee. Here he was…
Sadalene of House Destinian, Prince of. She had a sort of memory of him, but it was all fuzzy on account of being knocked by them weapons.
He was tall, all graceful in his movements, maybe a bit too much, ‘cas he made Karlyn think he was about to do one of those complicated ballet dance moves and she could recall there was a precise power in those feet. Carried himself well too, that sword was a proper one and one hand resting on the pommel. She glanced to his footwear, soft indoor, he hadn’t been wearing those when they first met.
‘You kicked me in my tummy!’ she said taking the offensive.
Whereas everyone else, no doubt, out of habit and training was horrified as her obvious lack of respect, Sadalene studied her; she’d seen cats doing it like that before they pounced on something.
‘I wonder,’ he said tapping one long, slender finger on a perfect bow of an upper lip ‘Despite the apparent evidence,’ he leaned in ‘Where are you hiding Lady Maighdean Ardea? I really do need to speak with you and not this fabrication,’
Looking straight back into his eyes Karlyn could feel more of her memory seeping to the fore. Yes, he might look all graceful and very above it all, but he had kicked her, and it was the sort of kick you saw when someone had gone down in a tavern fight and was out, dirty. She pushed all her own noble stuff deep back down, because she had an instinct of what might coming, she began to bring up every recollection of thievery, burning down wicked places, battles, friendship with Whychery, and oh my all she’d done with Flaxi. All that noble stuff was long gone and not important anymore.
The act had been a swift and focused one, so much she appeared to be replying promptly to him.
‘Fab-re-ka-shun! Uh! No! I am Karlyn Nahtinee of Elinid. That’s who I am matey!’
‘I have witnesses you said otherwise,’
‘Yer, well you got me there. I was playin’ them. Giving them the scares, wasn’t I?’
‘You seem to be acquiring a more aggressive tone young woman,’
‘That’s ‘cas I ‘member you kicking me in the tummy!’ she screwed up her face. ‘You wobbler you, kicking someone when they’s down!’ she huffed into his face.
And in response there was the slight narrowing of the eyes, tightening of the lips, even though he tried to cover it all up with a superior sort of smile.
‘Very well Lady Maighdean Ardea. You wish to play this game, for some sort of childish amusement?’ he raised the index finger of his right hand, and one of the functionaries stepped to his side. ‘Lord Xenthon ask Lady Ionrach to attend please?’
Faces positively paled, glances were exchanged, and the physician was about to open his mouth in proest, one very hard stare from the prince and he stopped.
‘You were careless enough to let your guard down once and reveal the confirmation of The High King’s Intentions, now I would have more torn out of you and your part in this. Confirmation of the details I require,’
‘Shit. Here we go then. Face to face. Let’s just see wot’s wot,’
By the time the door had opened again Karlyn had prepared herself. She had brought out her most irreverent and sceptical, like the time when she was new to Elinid and some pompous translator from the snooty part of the City had tried to lecture her on knowing her place, and she’d deliberately wondered how an understanding of fish would be of and spiritual use .
While the frosty lady approached Karlyn prepared herself by skewing perceptions in a mocking way. When she thought about it, everyone was tall, or tallish and no one clumped about the place. You could’ve expected them all going to do that ballet thing. They just needed a whole orchestra of harps, flutes and stuff, a background of weedy excuses for trees and bowls of fruit to pass to each for frib’ knew why. Anyway back to the frosty lady. ‘She’ wore black, inscribed with twiddly silver threads. Karlyn supposed they were runes or phrases out of old languages. She made up meanings either silly ones or just downright crude. Then she saw one on left of the lower part of the dress which reminded her of what Whychie must have seen a lot of when visiting her boyfriend Osavus.
‘….most skilled in the arts of drawing out information through the mind,’
The prince was saying, perceiving by the rather distant expression the wretched girl was not paying much attention he added ‘By means most painful if necessary,’
‘As long as she doesn’t kick me in the tummy,’ Karlyn said behind a most magnificent sulk.
This was met with a grand princely gesture. As a result she had the water snatched away, was hauled off of the sofa and dropped into the chair to be restrained again.
‘I wanna go for a squirt,’ she announced. There was a brief discourse on translation. The prince was not for giving into this request.
‘Oh dear. You should have said earlier,’ he retorted, she thought it was good sarcasm.
‘I’ll soak yer chair,’ she warned.
‘I will take the risk,’ she thought this a credible response, he was getting wise, she’d have to be careful. She turned her attention to the approaching lady whoever, the angular features, heightened cheek bones almost to a knife edge, eyes heavy with piercing purpose, Karlyn wished she was smiling, smiling ones were always weedy, trying to prove something. This one didn’t have to.
Cool hands grasped Karlyn’s face holding it tight as any metal clasp, there was a pressure on her forehead, like they had a third hand and with it was pushing on her. The force was growing stronger, if you lost your notions of wot was wot you could get afraid the bones were going to crack. The frosty one spoke, actually a melodic, rather bedroomy voice. Commanding, a bit friendly like they wanted to help her out of this mess she’d got herself into.
‘Speak to me Lady Maighdean Ardea. The pretence cannot be sustained. No one can come for you. They have no indication where you are. Our servant Krongar has confounded his fellow humans, and we have our own skills to cover our intentions from our deluded own folk. Speak to me,’
There was a sudden stab of the type of pain you could get from being careless and getting thwacked on the noggin in a fight. Her vision filled up with bright lights, her stomach lurched.
‘Ow!’ just the once for continuity, while she concentrated on the memory of the time in the yard she’d stood up quickly and cracked her head on an open window; Flaxi had been there right away, holding her in her dizziness, soothing her with kisses to the pained area and then gently fussing over her to administer salve and soporifics. She’d been so lovely.
The Lady didn’t like that response at all. The pressure grew. Karlyn had the oddest sensation of things like small roots growing down into her mind, they were sharp slithery things, burrowing, crawling; could roots crawl? Now that was not nice, they would learn all sorts of embarrassing things.
Lady Ionrach observed the fog drift into her perception, quickly to be cleared so the memory was clear to perceive.
Two figures stood at the bottom of a tree, Lady Maighdean Ardea was in it, the wrong way up. One blonde and ruggedly dressed spoke in a curious drawl
‘Not that ah’d ever doubted Trelli’s word but jus’had to hear from y’ own lips Kitlin. Naw y’all explain; why y’ of all folk, are bein’ stuck upside down an’ danglin’ from a tree?’
‘Aww stop bein’ mean Flaxi and ‘elp me down!’
‘Confession being good fer the soul Kitlin,’
‘Ooooh you! Alright! So I said your brew of carrot wined tasted, err…weak. And slopped back ‘arf a bottle cause I was thirsty,’
‘An’ fergot ‘bout it packin’ a sneaky kick?’
‘Hmmp! So I got swiffied. An’ being uncertain on my legs tried to sneak upstairs by going through ethereally realms…then ended up here,’
‘An’ Trelli being your best friend of Stommigheid tracked you three myles out of town?’
The laughter echoed on.
They squeezed her face. She didn’t think that was part of their process. More a smidge of frustration. She bit her lip as the burrowing continued. The sensation of crawling, invading creatures was becoming stronger and finding ways to get beyond her feeling of irritation and seek out the places where her fears dwelt. Nasty, sneaky things, like creepy little demonic Zerstorung looking to play with her, in parts she did not want anyone to go, apart from Flaxi of course. Karlyn let the shudder break out, maybe the action would make The Lady think she was wearing Karlyn down, actually she was, Karlyn though from association with Flaxi had kept a few reserves.
The Lady Ionrach had managed to force herself through the one idiosyncratic memory, now she came upon another….
Silly laughing and puerile jests as three beings in mild intoxication of a more unsubtle brew engaged in some very crude game which used pieces of uniform sized card, blank on one face while the other had all manner of basic symbols. The process was quite incomprehensible, the wave of good fellowship though was somewhat distracting, instilling in one a hint of a pang of loneliness. Despite their lack of subtly and the more advanced skills and perceptions, nonetheless the trio were possessed of a shrewd cunning, born of a pack instinct. Those two humans might not be here in proximity; however they held a long reach in both the temporal and the emotional. And this wayward servant of The High King was fully aware of the potency both as a shield and a sword…….
Karlyn, by the way, is proud to be a warrior-pest