Sunday, August 8, 2010

Prisoner of Water: Chapter 5

Kiza stared in cool indignation at her opponent as he stood alone in the doorway of her room, evil gleam on his putrid teeth. She grabbed the heavy bronze sheers, with her other hand, a fistful of gleaming black braids. There was the cold, heavy sound of metal slicing though hair, like a knife being sharpened on a wetstone. Zuma watched her hungrily, licking his lips in nervous anticipation.

Then it was done. The black pile of tresses lay in a heap on the floor. He began advancing upon them, as if to collect the compulsary love tokens. But Kiza was not done. She placed the shears down on the hearth next to a candle, then elegantly and gracefully sweapt her hand sideways, knocking the candle to the floor. The hungry flames licked at her locks almost as greedily as Zuma’s eyes. He walked forward briskly and with agitation as he snatched a lone braid from the flames. Kiza turned away from him signaling that his audience was over. Instead, he stepped up closely behind her, her eyes closing as she felt his cool breath on her shoulder.

“You think you’re so clever, little princess.” he said, stroking her neck with her own severed braid. “So pretty and so clever. Well that pretty little face of yours better learn some respect, otherwise it won’t be pretty for much longer.”

He mistook the way Kiza shook with rage to be fear.

“Hmmmm. Well, don’t cry, Princess. Your hair will grow back. And just in time too. You see, your father has promised me anything for helping him. Anything... and anyone.” He said, taking her chin in his hand while leaning forward to whisper in her ear, her eyes shutting tighter. “You know, you don’t look nearly as pretty without your hair, little princess. What a shame.”

He pushed her head away fiercely and strutted out of the room, his dark mantel flaying out behind him.

The room was dark and quiet for a few moments before Kiza spoke, “Thank you.”

Ismes stepped from the shadows, his knuckles turning white on the hilt of his spear, his teeth clenching and unclenching with rage.

“Thank you for not doing or saying anything.” Kiza spoke softly, placing a placating hand on his wide, strong shoulder.


“Who are you, stranger?” asked Anai’s grandmother walking through the parting crowd to the edge where the warriors stood, weapons at the ready.

There was no response. The figure stepped forward, a half halting, half slouching step, as if his leg and foot had no ankle to connect them. He raised his entire arm straight up, then pointed it towards the old woman. The mist began rising behind him, building up like a tidal wave ready to rush upon the shore. Within it, soldiers began to take shape, starting as shadows that became more distinct as if smoke was falling from them in the wheeling mists.

“Get back everyone! Warriors, at the ready! I don’t know what kind of foul demon you are, but you had best go back where you came from! You don’t know who you are dealing with!” the wisewoman yelled.

He raised his face, to reveal a nose and mouth perfectly normal. But where his eyes would have been was nothing. Just skin, and a strange glowing greenish blue symbol. His mouth curved up in a wicked grin, as if seeing the sudden chill that entered the old woman’s soul. She had seen this all before. She knew what was coming.


“Why!? Why do you let him treat you like that?! You are strong! You don’t have to put up with his... ways!” Ismes was fuming, pacing the room back and forth before wiping his shaved head and taking a deep breath, saying, “I’m sorry, highness. It is not for me to question your ways. It’s just-”

“Shhhh. Its okay. Ismes, listen to me. You want to protect me, right? Well right now the only way to do that is to make Zuma think he is in control. If he thinks he has control he won’t do anything rash. I’ve known people like him all my life. Trust me, I know how he operates and how to push his buttons.” she reassured him.

“But what if your plan fails... what if Zuma is smarter than you?” Ismes asked with a sudden dispair. “I don’t know what I would do...”

“You would do your duty, as you have always done. You will do what you have to do.” Kiza said a smile almost on her lips, “We will both do what we have to do, in order to survive.”

“And what do I have to do?” asked Ismes, bowing.

“Exactly as I tell you. And everything will work out. Trust me.”


There was a sickening moment of silence as the troops on the one side watched the soldiers in the mists, waiting and watching, neither side daring to make a move just yet. Then suddenly the soldiers all stood at attention, the rigidity of their motions like marionettes on strings. They turned on their heels and faced the mountain defenders in a straight line. A sicking minute counted by hearts beating under adrenaline and fingers straining on leather weapon hilts. And then there was the sudden crunching of feet as soldiers began running towards the village. The defenders roared their battle cries of defiance and leapt forward, running low and with their spears held sideways.

The moment they made contact they brought their spear handles down hard on the first wave, severing the leather that held the two pieces of their weapons together, and began fighting with a piece in each hand. The weapons were built this way, for long or short range fighting. But their enemies were ruthless, thin shallow skin breathing in ragged, almost desperate breathes. As the fighting continued there was a sudden blood chilling scream from one of the defenders.

All looked and saw his enemy, whose arm he had severed. However, instead of blood spilling from the amputated limb, there was thick, brownish green mud slopping from the wound, and where his arm should have fallen there was also merely a puddle of brown green on the snow. The enemies did not seem at all thwarted by their discovery and continued their assault, but it only took the mountain defenders a moment to recover from the shock and begin to fight in earnestness. Because now the rules of propriety and engagement no longer bound them.

Soon, the last soldier fell, save for the leader, and the victorious defenders gave a shout of celebration, raising the weapons, a few nursing minor wounds. But their victory was short lived. The mist was pulsating and a sultry, female voice spoke from within,

“Really, must I do everything myself. You really are worthless.”

The woman from before appeared from the mist. She stepped forth and the leader shrinked away from her in fear. Lifting her black gloved hand like a swan raising its neck, she gracefully took hold of the edge of the hood over her face, and pulled it back to reveal her features. Her hair was black, or perhaps darkest pine-green, and her skin was pale but not an earthly pale, as if it had never seen daylight before. She was shockingly beautiful, but she did not smile, her red mouth the colour of blood.

“Up.” is all she said.

And up came all of the fallen soldiers, rising piece by piece from the sloughy water that they were. The defenders fell back at the sight, many yelling in fear as they passed the wisewoman, looking down at the snow, before turing to face the woman before her, who merely gave a sideways grin, revealing her sharp teeth.

“Anai! Get the villagers back! Leave this to me.” her grandmother called as she and the stranger faced each other.

1 comment:

  1. So at this point I have to stop and ask a question; How do you picture my characters? I know I haven't really stopped to go into deep details but there is one specific detail regarding almost all of my characters that I'm not sure if its come across, if its coming across too harshly, or not at all. So please, even if you don't leave a detailed comments, just a one word answer will do. Is there any one feature/characteristic of all my characters that stand out to you?