Author’s Message: This is that new character I wanted to introduce! Except, she’s not new. This is the little girl from the excerpt of another book called The Story of Kazious (I know, the title is a little unoriginal, I’m not done writing yet so it’s okay, though) She’s all grown up now, though, and I wonder what happened to Kaz?
Come meet Sable, and we’ll find out together as she comes out more often.
Her mind took her wounds into its calculations without a stutter, seamlessly telling her to aim slightly to the left on account of the pulsating ache inside her arm. She pulled in a long breath, allowing it to push away the wailing and panic which swelled around her.
Her arms raised with a long smooth piece of wood in one hand, and her fingers of the other curled around the string. Her back protested immediately when she began to yank back that string, still it complied and locked her arm into a familiar place. Her bicep screamed at her, frothing in red dripping to the dry leaves crunching beneath her feet.
The arrow followed her exhale while her body relished its release and eased each aching muscle.
Two houses down, a body fell from the rooftop with a sickening thud and a cloud of dust.
Silence echoed the streets as the fires seemed to lose their strength, and the black clouds above squeamishly ran from the murder below while the woman fought bile down from her throat. She pulled her royal blue hood up, casting her face into shadow as awed eyes finally noticed the pale brown bow clutched in her shaking hand.
Ducking her head down, she clenched her fists at her sides, the right dripping blood in a steady stream beneath her armour. She managed two steps before someone called out.
A puff of warm air pulled out on a heavy, defeated sigh.
“Please stranger, let us tend to your wounds and give you goods for your travels. You saved us, stranger, do not leave us in your debt.”
She did not wish to linger in this place where darkness was receding from tainted buildings. The dead body disintegrated into dust while people crowded around. The girl took one step forward before she was frozen still by the voice.
~Accept their offer, you are not yet meant to move on. Rest, eat, and always observe. ~
“Yes, my lord,” she whispered inaudibly.
Reaching beneath her cloak, she hooked her bow onto her back, slipping it over the handle of her sword.
“I will stay,” came her assurance, louder yet slightly quivering.
All around her were murmurs of thanks and rejoicing while she turned to the gathered crowd. Smiling children danced in their easily regained safety while in contrast, all around them were young, somber adults appraising her with earned suspicion. The speaker was an elderly woman, only showing that age in wrinkles and a balding head of silver hair.
“What do we call you, stranger,” the elder’s voice rasped as if her breathing was strained.
The girl’s mouth frowned under her shadows, wondering if her name was safe among this town she was commanded to remain in.
Laughter whispered through her mind. ~Would I ask your presence to remain in a place which I could not see you were safe within? ~
“My lord… forgive my reminder, but you have had me stay in snake pits, and prisons, and at the hands of unstable kings,” she reminded in secret.
~Yet you stand among the living still, and your gifts do not deny your commands. Tell me why this is possible? ~
Her eyes drifted down respectfully to the earth while she answered, “my gifts are mine to command because you allow them to listen. I am your servant, and your child, therefore your gifts lead me, not I them.”
~Do you trust me? ~
The woman before her was wise and waited for a response, even though she was ignorant to her guest’s exchange.
Finally, the hood fell back to reveal coal black curls gathered about her shoulders, the long bangs pulled to each side in small braids meeting behind her head. This left her most prominent feature unobstructed, sparking memory in the back of the elder’s mind of stories the children tell about demons and death. Her large eyes were fierce amber, flecked with black and yellow threads like the coals of a forge settling after a sword was just pulled from their heat. They held the glare of someone who had seen the darkness in their world and does not fear its clutches.
“You can call me Sable.”
It came out with more strength than her quivering fists would suggest. She was already moving passed the elder by the time those in ear shot started to mutter about the stories they’d heard that name associated with. Sable was the child mistress to a madman who’d slaughtered his way through a hundred cities far to the east; or so says one version of the story. She was not supposed to be real. Sable was a myth.
Fear settled in as the rumors started to poor out; every version of her past a perversion of the truth, but she could not correct them now. She needed to be alone. Her breathing was tightening around a coil inside her chest.
“…stole her from her bed…”
“No, no, that’s not what I was told…”
“…a witch sold her off.”
“You dolt, she was a princess.”
Sable shut her eyes tight for a long moment and forced in one long, slow breath.
“She was always at his side, that’s for damn sure.”
“I heard she’d even laugh sometimes when he was killing ‘em.”
“Why would she save us, then?”
Yes, why indeed, she mused solemnly.