31 DaysDay 20: WITNESS PROTECTION {the prompt follows at the end of this post}

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The Legacy

Tessa wound her way along the trail on a majestic black steed barely noticing the changing colors of the leaves or the smell of the coming rain. Her mind was focused not on the route but on the destination, her arrival in the training village and what role she would be assigned. As the daughter of a peasant, chances were good that she would be assigned to work outside in the weather. She’d heard rumor of girls like herself being given work of endlessly hauling water from the well outside the village, of tending to the grounds around the knights’ lands or of being assigned as an apprentice to the village growers. Tessa couldn’t help but sigh at the prospects that lay before her and she grasped the sword that hung gallantly from the saddle of her horse – her brother’s legacy, him having died in the war against the Callifents just a year ago. A gifted warrior who had mentored her brother in the fine art of swordsmanship and battle, Tessa was determined to seek something other than the usual assigned roles she would be expected to fill.

The trees grew denser and the trail narrower and Tessa slowed her horse’s gait. She was in no hurry to reach the training village. Unfortunately, her brother’s servant, Edward traveled with her, several feet behind, or she would spur on her steed for parts unknown. Edward had been charged with seeing that Tessa arrived in the village a fortnight from their embarking upon the journey, and already they were closing in on that arranged arrival. As demurely as she was able, Tessa glanced over her shoulder for Edward’s whereabouts; he had been no more interested in accompanying her on this journey than had she and his pace continued to slow and distance his presence from hers. It was one of the only blessings for which she could find herself grateful.

Just ahead, Tessa thought she sensed movement along the trail and she pulled up on the reins so that her horse, her brother’s horse, slowed to barely a walk. She allowed Edward to close the gap between them as she scanned the forest that surrounded them. In between the clopping of Edward’s horse’s hooves, she sensed another presence and looked back at Edward. Suddenly, an arrow whooshed through the air to her left and pierced Edward through the throat. He immediately slipped from his saddle and fell to the ground with a dull thump. Tessa brought her horse to a stop, her eyes scanning the woods around her, one hand holding fast to the sword, the other gripping the handle of a dagger with which she could hit a target from a good one hundred paces away.

From the darkened forest, a figure in full knightly armor on horseback appeared in front of her and she lowered her eyes.

“My good Sir,” Tessa said, still not looking at the figure in front of her.

“Your name and your destination,” the man said.

“Yes, my Lord,” Tessa said. “I am Phoenicia Hollingberry of the Summerloch Hollingberries traveling to the Village of Freyden, my Lord.” Tessa bowed her head and waited his response to her words.

“My Lady, I shall escort you to Freyden,” the knight told her.

Tessa let a small gasp escape her lips and gripped her cloak tightly around her as she bowed her head even lower. “Oh, my Lord, what am I to do about my servant?”

The night nodded solemnly and surveyed Edward’s fallen form. “I extend my apologies to you, Maiden Hollingberry, for this unseemly loss, but I fear we must keep moving lest we find ourselves on this path after the sun fades and danger threatens.”

“It is such an untimely death,” Tessa said, holding her tongue despite her desire to address this man’s actions of such ill-intent.

“You have my sympathies, indeed, dear Maiden, but your safety is in question and your continued travel is imperative,” he said.

Tessa nodded as demurely as she could and finally met his gaze though she tried to keep the challenge from her eyes.

“You carry a sword, my Lady,” the knight observed.

“Indeed,” Tessa replied. “I carry the memory of my dear brother in this sword, my Lord. It is all I have left of my family and their memory. It is our legacy.”

“Perhaps you will allow me to transport it for you, Maiden Hollingberry.”

Tessa gritted her teeth and held tight to the handle of the weapon, taking strength from its smoothness and from the knowledge that she had shown her brother how to wield it in battle. After a moment, she spoke as softly as a Lady should in such circumstances. “My good Sir, if you will accompany me to the Village of Freyden, but allow me this time to mourn my servant’s death and my brother’s also, I will present this sword to you upon entrance to the village. I beg thee, my Lord.”

The knight regarded her for a long moment and acquiesced to her request as he drew his horse alongside hers. “Shall we then proceed to Freyden?” he said.

“Indeed,” Tessa replied. “Indeed we shall.” And as she spurred her horse to a gait matching that of the knight beside her, Tessa’s mind began to weave together a plan that would not only honor her brother’s and her family’s legacy, but one that would seal it into the written history of the land, starting with the Village of Freyden.

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{Just a reminder, we try to keep these writing exercises to 30 minutes maximum, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. And I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 30 minute time, I create playlists on Spotify that allow me to put together songs that come close to 30 minutes. I also select music that fits with the story idea and help inspire the words I write. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing. Usually.}

Writing Prompt: WITNESS PROTECTION – Put a character in a situation entirely new to the character, e.g., college, a new school, a new job, a new city or country. Let the character improvise a new identity, as most of us do when we’ve moved into a new world. This exercise should not be about the new situation but about how the character adjusts herself and her mind to new situation. What everyone should understand of this exercise is that each new person or friend in our lives who has any impact on us changes us slightly and sometimes significantly. Our social selves are made up of dozens and even hundreds of these subtle transformations. {Exercise 76 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley. Note, this is an affiliate link}

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3 thoughts on “The Legacy

    1. That’s a high compliment indeed. Thank you. As a writer you cannot help but wonder how your words will read for someone else. This lets me know that I’ve hit the mark at which I was aiming.

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