Time she couldn’t calculate and countries no-one under this sky had ever mapped behind her, Sylvie now only saw sea voyage between herself and home. It felt odd to again be negotiating with someone who spoke Seafarer tongue natively.
“Ship-mages usually have a better handle of wind than ‘hardly at all’.”
“I’m very good with wood, in case your ship has patched leaks you’d like properly fixed. And I can keep water clean, or pull the salt from seawater.”
The captain gave her a long look. “If we get no better offer by tomorrow, you’ve got your passage.”
I'm attempting the April A to Z challenge, with fiction with at most 100 words. "H is for Homeward" came from Lyn Thorne-Alder.
If you have prompts for later in the alphabet, please give them to me.
Yameh snuck through the thicket where the Spirit Wood grew against the walls of the city. Deep in the green she would be safer, because very few people went in there. They were scared. She liked the place. But she had to return home.
When she found the stone and dead wood of an alley, she peered from the shadows to see if the kids who had thrown things at her were waiting, or any other danger. Few people, not watching the wood.
But when she slipped out of hiding, someone said, “Don’t I know you?”
Yameh jumped, and saw the copper-haired storyteller in a doorway nearby. He smiled, and his voice was nice, and he was the only other human with red hair she’d seen, so she hesitated.
“I’m Rann. What’s your name?”
Without as much as shaking her head first, she ran to the mouth of the alley.
Nothing followed her but laughter and the words, “I’ll just call you Sylvie, then.”
Inspired by the prompt "Write a story using an adult and a child as the only characters." by KissOfJudas of Our Pens, Your Pennies
In a small courtyard made relatively quiet by the surrounding walls, Sylvie lay prone on a bench, breathing evenly while a tattooist worked on her back, and calming her mind by repeating in her head with each breath ‘I trust her’. Sylvie had not seen the design her friend Gumei had come up with. It was about the size of her palm, a cool sketch on her left shoulder blade gradually turning sore-warm under the needles.
I trust her.
Gumei was right here, getting a tattoo of similar size, in the same spot, that Sylvie had decided on. A gull in flight might not have been very original—Gumei owned a brooch in such a design—but suited her; she often seemed flighty, making her sudden decisive actions a surprise for those who did not know her.
I trust her. We've been friends for too long.
In contrast with Aman. The rhythm of pinpricks, her breath, her mantra had let Sylvie slip into a state in which she could stand thinking about him. The first boy who'd shown interest in her. A little older and taller than her, confident and charming. He'd plied her with compliments and attention. And laughed in her face for being stupid enough to believe him, after she had slept with him. She didn't even want to know what kind of gossip he and Cassar were spreading about her.
I trust her. I trust Gumei. I trust my old friends.
Sylvie couldn't let Aman take that from her.
But what if I'm wrong?
Sylvie and Gumei used two small mirrors to show each other what they had etched into their backs now.
Gumei's quick, delighted laughter at the bird could not be feigned, relieving one of Sylvie's worries.
Her own... "A lizard?" All right, that wasn't bad. Amusing since it was nothing she could have imagined, but not bad. "Why a lizard?"
"Because of the times I found you high up on a rock sunning yourself." Like when she had brought the idea of those tattoos up again, when Sylvie had been trying to see how big she could grow a plant from a seed using only magic, no soil or water. It had not worked well. "And because of the old story how lizards have leaf-shaped heads because they grow from seeds."
It drew the first genuine laugh Sylvie had had for weeks.
When she did not keep herself occupied, nightfall in Muirha nearly tore Sylvie apart. The settlement being snugged into a valley between high mountains meant the dull, purple shadows blanketed it early, while the sky was still a bright blue, and the light on the mountaintops started changing colour from the almost-white of day to golden yellow.
The principle was soothingly familiar; the same happened in the narrow streets of the city she had been born in, with the sun still lighting the tops of the higher buildings. But none of the towers of Yrn, even built on the island-mountain as they were, could match the splendour of those wild peaks.
In the east, the light gleaming from old snow slowly turned from yellow to orange, looking even more brilliant against the darkening sky. To the west, dark teeth had swallowed the sun already, and blocked the sunset proper.
Sylvie missed the wide horizon over the ocean, a view only a few sets of stairs or ladders away back home, the complete rainbow of colours each sunrise.
Twilight had never felt like a purple shroud at home.
Postcard sized portrait. I like the hair. Might finish this one of those days, or might leave it as is. One reason not to would be that I can't think of a frame motive for most of my other characters, so I can't turn it into a series.
ETA: After two people said they'd like to see this finished, [node:4280, title="it is"].
Worry and irritation mingled in Sylvie's mind. Ayu-Asra, the two-headed pet dragon she could not get rid of, had gotten her thrown out of an inn, and she had really looked forward to not having to sleep outside.
Not that she could blame the landlord. A glance at the animal trailing her by alternately running along the top of the fence next to the street and gliding a short distance showed her that its chest was still glowing faintly. Maybe she should have claimed this was normal and harmless, rather than admitting he had never done that before. The dragon didn't seem bothered, so maybe it was harmless, but what could it be? He was able to breathe fire, so maybe something going wrong there? Trying to remember if she'd ever heard of a dragon overheating and exploding, Sylvie flinched as Ayu-Asra whistled shrilly and veered off towards an orchard.
After a furtive look around, Sylvie followed to see what had him so excited, or what damage she would have to apologise for.
She found him chasing insects, his heads occasionally fighting each other for the fattest bugs.
Luminous fluid sprayed from the fat glow-worm corpses.