Today, I give you an excerpt from my Warrior Pimchan story “Hostages of Honeycomb” in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s SWORD & SORCERESS 32. Yes, I’m pumped to have sold five stories to this series, and two to MZB’s late FANTASY magazine. Why do you ask?
Pimchan is a female warrior. Nadia is her housekeeper. Somboon is the chief of the city guard in the town Pimchan protects, and Lek is an old man who is taking them all to his (and Somboon’s) town to overthrow a tyrant.
His Wretched Bride
excerpt from “Hostages of Honeycomb”
by Marian Allen
They camped for the night under a wide rocky overhang with a small waterfall and stream at one end.
When they had eaten, Nadia passed around tea.
“Tell us about your bride,” she said, as she handed Somboon his wooden cup.
He slopped some of the tea out and had to move to dryer ground.
“What’s she like? Is she pretty?”
“This isn’t a sewing circle,” Pimchan snapped. “His business is his business. Never mind your bride; what do you know about this widow? What’s her name?”
“Zudora,” Somboon and Lek chorused.
Lek said, “Somboon knows her better than I do.”
“I grew up in the Widow Zudora’s house,” Somboon said. “My parents were farmers, in a very small way, but they produced more children than rice. They kept the ones who ate least and worked most, and parceled the rest of us off here and there. I was indentured to the Widow Zudora when I was three and was put to work cleaning the floors. She has a very large house. It has very cold, very hard floors. At fifteen, my indenture ended and I left.”
Nadia refilled the tea cups. “Not pleasant to work for?”
Pimchan cast a suspicious glance at her housekeeper, but detected no hidden complaint of her own treatment. Pimchan thought herself a lenient, almost an indulgent patron, but her thoughts and Nadia’s didn’t always agree.
“People think children of three can’t remember or think or feel,” he said, “but they give them tasks and instructions and punishments. Life on a small farm isn’t luxurious, but we had pleasures. Not at Zudora’s. No rest, no tenderness, no friendship, no play, no warmth, no softness, not enough food. So, no, not pleasant to work for.”
Pimchan listened for a trace of wistfulness or an undertow of vindictiveness, but heard only finality.
“And your promised bride?” Nadia asked, with a quick sideways glance at Pimchan.
The question irked the Warrior. Why does she persist in bringing up his wretched bride?
“Naturally, I was expected to make my way in the world before I claimed her. Then her parents got ill, and she asked to be left to nurse them. I had thought she might release me, but she never did.”
Lek said, “Back to Zudora.”
“Thank you,” said Pimchan. “What about Zudora?”
Lek said, “She’s bought up indebtedness all over town. Then she’s raised the interest, so even a little debt becomes an encumbrance. She’s lavished unwanted benefits on anybody who doesn’t owe any money, so they’re obligated to her, too. She’s dug up dirt on anyone who ever did anything they don’t want broadcast. The whole town is terrified of her. Now, she’s stretching her tentacles to other towns through family and business connections.”
“We’ll see about that.” Pimchan finished her tea with a decisive smack of her lips.
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A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: Write about a wedding not looked forward to by one or more characters.