Prompt: Write a brief scene illustrating an important moment in your character’s past (before you started playing them).
Danick tugged Cwen’s arm as he barreled through the woods. Faster, he urged. Faster. The sound of the attack on the watchtower grew faint but still he did not slow. His hood covered his bright yellow hair and allowed him to move through the shadows of the fading light. It also prevented her from reading his expression as he led them north, away from the Adorn River, away from their homeland that was besought on all sides by the Dunlendings.
Only when Cwen could run no more, falling and gasping on the rough lichen beneath her, did he stop. He disappeared only a moment and then picked her up and carried her to a small copse where a ring of oak trees formed a clearing. He sank to his knees and held her, rocking back and forth.
“You will run,” he said into her hair. “Promise me.”
“Danick -” she protested, “I have no where to run to.”
“You will run,” he repeated into her hair. His lips pressed against her dark tresses and then he tilted her chin up to look at him.
“Where can I go? Danick, let me go back and help – ”
“Go north,” Danick said calmly. “The watchtower is lost. With their armies in our lands, you will be able to sneak through. Stay aground. Stay smart. Cwendlwyn, you’re so smart – you can do this. Make it to the North, where this won’t exist. There is peace in the north.”
“Your men,” she said as she buried her face in his chest. “Your friends.”
“They die protecting what they hold sacred, Cwen. Wenfried’s mother and Biroan’s wife. Halulm’s sister.” Danick held her face in his hands. As the baying of the wolves grew louder, he closed his eyes. “I could not protect Thira, but Bema help me, I will protect you.” He looked at her intently. “Cwen. They’re coming. Run.”
She wanted to scream; the sound rose in her and caught in her throat, forcing tears from her eyes and her hands to grope for his strength. He took her in his arms and poured all his hopes into her. Their lips parted for the first and last time only when Danick let out a harsh cry. She tasted blood.
He looked at her, fear tainting his serene blue eyes for the first time.
He fell to his knees and Cwen saw the arrow in his back. Crying out, she reached for it and was nearly buzzed by another black arrow. It only narrowly missed.
Danick drew his sword and staggered to his feet. He turned to face their foe and never looked back.
** ** ** ** **
Jameson Sicklefoose stood over Emmelina Lilybrook with a triumphant grin on his face.
“Told ye I could steal Old Man Palater’s pocketwatch ‘n he wouldn’t e’en know.”
“So what?” asked Lina. “He wouldn’t even know it’s missing.”
“Well, then, little Emma. Let’s see what ye can do.”
She expected him to point out the tavern door and order her to rob the next fool to stumble through, but instead he grabbed her by the neck and drug her forward. His lips crushed hers and his whiskery face scratched her pale skin. He smelled of pipeweed and whiskey. Such manly smells for a nineteen year old boy.
When he pulled away, Lina could barely keep her feet. Her head spun and she gasped for breath.
“Ye serious ‘bout this, Cherry? Ye really want inta our little family?”
“Yeah,” Lina reassured him. “I want in. I need th’ money.”
Jameson growled against her lips. “Ye’ll git yer money. After ye earn it first.”
The eyes of the barn cats reflected like mirrors. A horned owl flew by to perch in the branches of the Kissing Tree. Exhausted, spent, Jameson pet Lina’s brown hair, disheveled and loose from the long braid down her back.
“Welcome ta th’family, Emma. I’ll take care o’ya now.”
** ** ** ** **
Frigga Tenorbekk stood in the large window overlooking the garden. She fanned herself, refusing to shed a single layer despite the July heat. She stood watch over the ladies cleaning for the evening – watching to make sure they did not sneak anything for themselves, to be sure.
“Your guest tonight was rather unusual, Kolrson,” she said to her husband as he strode into the room. “Wherever did you find him?”
“Came into the store,” the husband answered. He barked several orders to the servants clearing away the remains of the evening. “He travels and tells fantastic stories. If no contacts could be made, I figured at least the children would be entertained tonight.”
“How pleasant of you to think of them, dear. But their entertainment is not our priority.”
Sitting on the floor in the pantry sneaking the meal she was denied at dinner (”Proper ladies do not eat their food. You do not wish to be considered fat nor greedy.”), Anya paused as she heard her parents’ conversation shift to their evening guest. Anya had found the man to be absolutely fascinating. She often dreamed of the world beyond Dale and the shadow of Erebor. The man who called himself Bookie told great tales that evening of Golden Woods and spider infested forests. He claimed to know many more stories from both east and west, north and south.
“Luckily, he will serve as a great connection to the trade in Rhun. Hopefully, he won’t get any fool notion to head West again. There’s little profit there now. The woods have grown dangerous.”
Her mother scoffed. “I suppose we shall be seeing more of the man, then?”
There was a pause where Anya could picture her father nodding.
“Fair enough. Perhaps we can arrange for he and Ludwig to meet. Their stories would keep guests entertained for an entire evening. It would be like hiring a professional minstrel without the racket of the singing and playing.”
“And the expense of paying,” Kolrson stated with a gruff laugh.
Footsteps approached the pantry. Anya froze, a small tomato raised to her lips. The door swung open on silent hinges and her mother stood above her in shock.
“Anya! What are you doing?”
Without thinking, Anya bolted past her mother, knocking her aside. Her little ten year old feet thundered through the halls as she ran for the boys’ wing.
“Get back here!” roared her father. She could feel the floor tremble beneath his strides. She mounted the stairs and took them two at a time. Glancing back, her father was right behind her. He grabbed her just as she ducked a breath too late. Kolrson threw his daughter backwards down the stone steps. She tumbled and rolled, managing to sustain mainly bruises until her forehead connected with the edge of the bottom step. Bright lights clouded her vision.
“Creeping about like a sneak-thief!” her father bellowed. “Stealing from your own family! The food we serve you at dinner is not enough to satisfy the fat cow?”
“Kolrson, really! Just beat her and get it over with.” Frigga came out of the kitchen and surveyed the scene before her with distaste. Looking up, she saw her eldest son at the top of the stairs leading to the west wing. “Eirikr! Back to your rooms, now!”
Eirikr stood with clenched fists staring down at the dazed form of his sister. The anger seethed in his eyes.
“Immediately, young man!”
Eirikr’s little twelve year old body rushed down the steps and knelt beside Anya. “Isn’t being thrown down the stairs enough? She’s bleeding! Someone get help!” The boy took his own shirt and pressed it against the wound. “Gregor, go get a surgeon!”
As the servant ran for the door, Eirikr was lifted from the floor and raised to stare into his father’s eyes.
“You’ll pay for that, boy. She fell, you hear me? She’s always tripping over her skirts, the lass. And if you want to have any skin left on your back, you’ll disappear until I come for you with my whip.” Kolrson released the boy and he fell to his knees. “Now get.”
Ignoring the order, Eirikr dropped back over Anya, pressing his bloodied shirt to her head again. He sensed it and tried to relax to absorb the impact of the kick. His body tumbled over and over. His breath was knocked out from him and his head tilted back as his father grabbed a fist full of his hair.
Eirikr slowly climbed to his feet. Before he could take a step, his mother grabbed him and drug him up the stairs into the west wing where the boys’ rooms were located. She pushed him into the room and locked the door with her key. Abiorn huddled in the corner with his nanny, the toddler’s face streaked with tears.
Below, Eirikr heard the surgeon arrive and the false concern in his parents’ voices as they explained the ‘accident.’ He could feel the sting of his father’s lash with each lie. Powerless to stop it, he bowed his head and cried.