So my NaNoWriMo project this year will not be 50,000 words, it will be fewer than 10,000 words: a new Pimchan story. I do NaNo how I want to do NaNo, so I always “win” by me. Who’s a NaNo slave? Not I!
ANYWAY, in preparation for the new story, I’m reviewing the prior ones. In “Simplicity,” the All-Father maneuvers Pimchan into danger, trusting her to come up with a way out that will give the whole country an edge against the foreigners who are becoming a threat. Her housekeeper, Nadia, believes she has the answer.
Nadia Proposes a Spell
excerpt from “Simplicity”
by Marian Allen
Nadia greeted her in the compound’s entry court with a wide grin and a dance step. “I have it! It’s an enchantment I’ve been using in the kitchen!”
Pimchan felt her expression go flat and her eyes go hooded as she suppressed her outraged pride. “Kitchen magic?”
The housekeeper presented her palms in apology but never lost her grin and did her dance step again. “Hear me, O Mighty One, O Giver Of My Sustenance, O Mistress Of My Very Existence, O – ”
“Be silent and speak!”
“It was given to me by the butcher, after I mixed an herb packet that eased his headaches. It’s called bone-break.”
“He focuses it on where he wants to chop through a bone and the cleaver goes through it like warm honey through bread.”
Could it work? Pimchan saw the Fahr-ang army again in her mind, saw them marching with their terrible exploding weapons, saw their legs buckle, saw them fall, whole ones tripping over the broken ones, tangled and distracted and vulnerable. Chaos triumphant!
“Teach it to me,” she said.
“I can do that,” Nadia said, “and I can do more, if you’ll consent.”
“Do more in what way?”
“I can inscribe a rune.”
Now Pimchan saw Nadia truly humble, truly offering a service she wanted to give but was afraid would be rejected. And rightly so. Warriors’ runes became a part of them, bound to them through ink in flesh. Done badly, a rune could be a waste of time, pain, and scalp; done very badly, it could be a detriment.
“Do it,” said Pimchan, without hesitation.
“Simplicity” appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword & Sorceress 31, edited by Elisabeth Waters, and was published November 2, 2016. It is available in trade paperback, Kindle, Kobo, and Nook formats.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Someone makes an offer in fear of rejection.