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Marion

My nerdiness revealed.  Here is a little character sketch I wrote based on a D&D campaign.

The lady knight rubbed the balm on her cracked and weathered hands and thought of her mother. Her mother’s hands were calm, cool and soft, except for that sewing callous on her index finger. Once, Marion bought her four silver thimbles for the Harvest, one for each finger. She was six years old. She had had to win a lot of races against the boys to get the coin for those thimbles and when she gave them to her mother, wrapped in a colored scarf, her mother had laughed. That was before Martin.  All the silver thimbles in the world couldn’t cover what the knight had done to her own hands and she had a feeling that they wouldn’t have had much effect against who (and what) Marion had had to kill.

She could hear the rest of the band outside her tent, settling down after a day’s journey. Bahb was swigging beer, loudly clearing his throat and hoping to drown out Isis’s wretched fiddle-playing. Leah was gently, patiently trying to play along on her lute. Marion really didn’t understand elves’ tolerance. If she had tried to play that cursed instrument that way at home, her brothers would have put her face through it.  Zefania had started taking long walks since Horace joined the group.

Horace may be an extraordinary bastard, but the man knew battle tactics, weapon technique, military discipline. King Dominic’s gracious bestowal of knighthood was more than Marion could have ever dreamed for herself, but it wouldn’t replace the training in the palace that she missed as a wandering warrior, learning the sword from those she paid. It wasn’t that Marion had no compassion for Zefania—the thought of her own mother’s body, cold and bloodied, made her hands itch for her blade.  Martin had taught her a lot about men, more than she would ever learn as a woman, and Horace was a different breed, to be sure.  More disciplined, less rash.  But Marion knew arrogance when she saw it and his religious fervor made him self-righteous (second ear down from Bayon, donchaknow).  All the better.  Let him show her up, again and again.  Beat her with his practice weapons, cluck when she failed.  In between the humiliating illuminations of her lack of formal training, she was learning.  Oh, was he good.  She would get faster, stronger, better.  Sometimes the best way to beat your enemy is to become him.

Replacing the lid on her balm, Marion quickly rose and immediately regretted it.  Suppressing a yelp, she forced herself to stretch her protesting muscles.  She could almost feel the bruises on her arms, legs, and middle coloring deeper.  Horace had obliged her a sparring lesson during the midday break.  She perhaps should have paid attention to the rest of her companions’ warnings (blah blah blah treaty blah blah).  She also probably shouldn’t have called Horace a grub-eating priest-licker.  She was paying for it now–his teaching skills went into serious decline when he was angry.  And sitting on that damn horse across a rocky beach for the rest of the ever-loving day really didn’t help her soreness.  What a bastard.

The salty air soothed her sun-scorched face as she emerged from her tent and slipped her feet into her boots.  She squinted against the sharp wind and sun’s last rays glaring off the choppy ocean.  Leah was attempting to explain music theory to the wizard, which had convinced Horace to join Bahb in drinking.

Marion watched Leah, her slender hands caressing her instrument, her silvery hair cascading down her shoulders instead of tied up neatly as usual. The elf’s lips betrayed a smile at Isis’s humor, her eyes creasing in silent merriment.  The men eyed her, though they pretended they weren’t.  There was just something about a pretty female, Marion supposed, no matter what you did in this life, that’s what everyone noticed first.

Annoyed, Marion turned her gaze back down the beach to the small fishing village.  They had passed it earlier before deciding to camp upwind, a decision finalized after witnessing the fishwives gutting the day’s catch.  Rubbing her fingers into her rough palms, she headed toward the cluster of buildings.

“I’ll be back,” she called over her shoulder. She hoped that Horace hadn’t noticed her favoring her right leg.

A particular shop had caught Marion’s eye when they passed through earlier.  Women in dresses streamed inside, and out wafted the scent of cinnamon and secrets.  She knew it was the sort of shop that her mother would have visited to buy perfume, after expressly promising her father she wouldn’t.  Now Marion stared into the window, her hazel eyes filled with the beautiful things that lined the walls—hats, scarves, and shifts made of velvet, linen, cotton, dyed in all the colors. There were racks of feathered hairpieces and cloaks. There were mirrors and shells everywhere.  You won’t beat Horace wearing one of those dumb bonnets, thought Martin treacherously.  The shop was mostly empty except for three women, maybe sisters, who were laughing and chatting.  One was playing with another’s long black hair.  Marion watched them for what felt like a long while.

“I’m just going to look,” she said finally.  She secured her belt and sheath and straightened her green linen tunic.  Steeling herself, she opened the door, which jingled.  Marion inhaled the scents of perfumes, candles, and potions.

The three women turned and looked at her.  Three sets of eyebrows raised.  One of the women, who wore a magnificent purple robe, wrinkled her nose.

“Can I help you?” The woman with the long black hair sounded like chocolate.

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