I finished that story about young Fala Salali that I was working on. Here’s an excerpt from my fantasy trilogy, SAGE, in which she’s a character, an old trinket maker/seller.
Kinnan, Salali, and a girl named Elsie are all at the cabin of Moder Zglaria, whom you may think bears a striking resemblance to the old woman who sold Salali her trinket-making pack. Kinnan and Salali are conspiring to foment revolution so he can take the throne from an oppressive usurper.
You Wouldn’t Want To Meet It
excerpt from SAGE
by Marian Allen
Elsie shot to her feet, all but flew across the yard, and clutched Kinnan’s tunic in both her fists. The fury on her face shocked him backward; only her grip kept him from tumbling into the well.
“Keep it out of Fiddlewood! Keep your blood and glory out of here! – They’ll find it!” She shook the man’s clothing, trying to shake the man.
“They’ll kill it! I remember what it said: the hunters will find it through me!”
She looked around, wildly, as if she might see the thing she feared – or the thing for which she feared – beside her.
Kinnan put his big hands over Elsie’s slender ones. “Find what? What hunters?”
Elsie released her grip and stood, her hands in Kinnan’s.
“The…hunters…. Rhu….” She looked at Moder Zglaria. “Rhu beren Robia was here, looking for it…. Looking for me.”
“Keep thinking,” Moder said.
A look of tenderness Rhu beren Robia would have given much to see softened Elsie’s eyes and mouth. “He didn’t want to find it. Or me. He said…he loves me.”
“The Chamberlain?” Salali said. “That stone-face?”
Elsie turned on her, and Salali chuckled kindly.
“I take it back. I’ve never seen him show a flicker of emotion. But, then….” Her eyes lost their amusement. “I’m just an old market woman.”
“Elsie.” Kinnan jogged the hands he held. “What ‘it’ are you talking about?”
“The unicorn. I remember it clearly, now. I met it in the woods – the one you saw.” She raised her head. “Tremendous. Beautiful!”
“One of us must have seen it wrong. This was monstrous.”
“But beautiful!” Elsie insisted. “Just because it doesn’t look like what it isn’t…. How could you not see how beautiful it is?”
Salali sat forward on the bench. “Tell me about it.”
“I…can’t. The more I remember, the less I can tell.”
Salali nodded. “They say that’s the way of it.”
“You wouldn’t want to meet it,” Kinnan said.
“It isn’t pretty,” Moder explained.
Salali nodded again, with satisfaction. “That’s what they say. In my country, they call it ‘the White Tiger.’ They say it appears out of nowhere and strikes without warning. They say only purity is absolutely safe from it, but it is its own judge of who’s pure and who isn’t.”
Elsie spoke to Kinnan, her fury gone, but her manner solemn and intense: “We have to protect it.”
“It didn’t look like it would need much protecting. I don’t think it gets in trouble very often.”
Elsie turned to Moder Zglaria for support.
The old woman cocked her head as if her question were sincere: “How often does something have to get in trouble to warrant your protection, Young Master?” Before he could answer, she said, “A revolution’s headquarters is in the hearts of the people. If it isn’t there, it isn’t anywhere. Better to keep on the move, when you move against Sarpa.”
“That’s true.” Kinnan released Elsie’s hands. “All right, Kitten. If the fight comes to Fiddlewood, it won’t be me that brings it.”
Later, after supper had been cleared away, Moder and Elsie fed the stock and tucked them up for the night while Kinnan and Salali spoke of old companions and revolt.
When that was done and the four were grouped around the fire with cups of hot spearmint tea, Elsie said, “Who’d like to tell a story?”
“How about you?” Kinnan asked Moder Zglaria.
“A story from me?”
Kinnan felt himself flush, and told himself it was from the tea, but knew it was a form of panic. Now that he had asked, he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear a story from this particular teller. He wasn’t sure what he thought he might be in for, but he was certain it would be more than an evening’s entertainment.
“Once upon a time,” Moder said, “there was a badger who wanted to be emperor of the world.”
Moder cocked an eyebrow. “I see you know that one.”
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Your character wants to protect someone or something that doesn’t seem to need much protecting.