A Writing Workshop Writing Sample (Right!?!)
(NOTE: Scary Writing Samples is a series of excerpts created by me and others for use in writing workshops. I needed excerpts that weren’t by “real people” so participants would feel free to say what they really thought. If you wish to use any of these as a sample in a writing workshop or other creative endeavor, please contact me first! This one in particular was for training contest judges.)
Princess Morgaine Brianna stomped her dainty foot on the flagstones of the king’s audience chamber and tossed her ebon locks streaked with diamond white. “Uncle!” she demanded. “I will be heard in this chamber, though I am but woman, and a magicless woman at that! I will not marry that cretin Daemon Von Aragonne the Dark Wizard!”
In the kingdom of Dragonne, only females who possessed magical powers of healing and plant speaking were considered worthy of any status but that of wife, mother or serving wench. Morgaine Brianna, though the niece of Good King Theolas, was not regarded as worthy since her only value was that of her exceptional beauty and her relationship to the king–value, yes, but not the value the she desired. She longed more than anything else to be the equal of men and to that end spent most of her time taking sword or horseback riding lessons.
Her uncle normally indulged her but not this time. He had grown tired of her spoiled fits and starts and had decided ‘twas time for her to be married off.
“You shall, too,” he said to his rebellious niece in portentous tones that be spoke no argument. “The contract has already been drawn up and the Dark Wizard arrives at midnight via portal to claim his bride. You should be flattered. The Dark Wizard has never actually taken a bride.”
“I don’t want to marry him. He is rumored to have unnatural appetites.” Brianna shivered in her flowing hunter green woolen gown that complimented her eyes and emphasized the discrete swell of her breasts, which she kept bound as their large size embarrassed her. Women in this age were supposed to be delicate and sylphlike like her mother had been, in Brianna’s mind and most of the Court’s, the epitome of womanly beauty. She had met the Dark Wizard briefly at her come-out ball last year and had been unable to get his dark piercing regard out of her mind, but never did she suspect that behind that hooded gaze dwelled unholy lust for her! No such brooding fiend would bed her, she vowed, for she kept herself sacred for her true love the old gypsy woman at the market promised would come to her.
As she oft did in times of stress, Brianna allowed herself to recall that fateful day. She had crossed the old woman’s palm with silver and in her palm the woman had read of a long life and many children, all with a man who would be her true love. She also read a dark and divided destiny to come and troubles, but Brianna had figured that would be the case for any in the beleaguered Dragonne, beset on one side by the sea and its pirates and on the other by the mountains and their goblins. “Your true love will wear two faces and only you will see the fair one,” intoned the old gypsy woman with her many scarves. “Be not afraid and be not afraid to seek your true destiny, though others will tell you it’s too dangerous.”
And now she was supposed to give up that shining future, that man who would love her despite her magiclessness and her unfashionable body, for her uncle’s politics? Oh if only her parents had lived to be king and queen but alas they had been lost in the first Goblin wars defending the borders. Her uncle was a barely competent substitute who was barely holding the kingdom together and had a son of his own, her horrid cousin Nesbitt, who would inherit now since Brianna had no magic. Any man could inherit but unless a woman had magic, she was but a druge or a possession.
Her uncle was unfair and blinded by greed for power. He thought she didn’t know but Brianna was no fool. “He has made your marriage a condition of our alliance,” the king said. “Who would gainsay the Dark Wizard, the head of the Wizard’s Kirk?”
“Then I shall…run away!” declared the saucy wench. Her uncle’s serving maids who waited to either side with grapes and wine gasped in shock.
Uncle Theolas laughed but he was not amused. He had plans for the kingdom and they didn’t include this young woman, though using her to cement an alliance with Aragonne was an admirable way to be rid of her. He’d have an alliance and doubtless with the Dark Wizard as her husband she would not last long enough to discover her true destiny. “You will not make a fool of me! We need to ally with the Kingdom of Aragonne to hold off the dreaded Goblin Hordes when they attack. You know they mass upon our borders and only the failing might of the weak border lords hold them back with incongruous magics.”
“Then perhaps I could try again to be tested and…”
“But no!” the King cried out, afraid for his plans. “You know that if a female has not evidenced her power by the time she reaches her sixteenth birthday, then it is dangerous to undergo the testing again to see if any latent powers could be made to surface with a Bonding.” Brianna, at nineteen, was long past the time for such rituals to be considered safe or fruitful though sometimes they were attempted on peasant girls whose parents had both been magical, through the Wizard’s Kirk. But Brianna was no peasant girl and had be better used as a marriage prize. “I cannot lose you to that. I love you too much,” he continued and tried to let a gentle love show in his rheumy gaze.
“But you can lose me to the Dark Wizard?” Brianna retorted, stamping her foot with anger. Her uncle’s love for her would have touched her heart had her heart not already been hard to all men. Especially after knowing the truth about what happened to her cousin Fey, her uncle’s daughter by his second wife who died long ago. Nay, she would not marry any member of the Wizard’s Kirk with that knowledge! Nesbitt was the son of her uncle’s first wife who had died even longer ago. Her uncle did not have a third wife though Brianna would have loved to have more women in the house, especially a magically empowered woman who could have spoken for her step-niece in this matter. Her uncle wouldn’t bother with a woman who wasn’t magically endowed.
“We need his strength and the Kirk’s cooperation to link our failing border stones,” the King raged. “It is your duty. Even if you were to have latent magics this late in your life, they would not serve in war except for healing and no gently bred girl needs to be healing soldiers. ‘Tis not womanly.”
“Oooh!” Brianna said angrily. “You are so sexist! I hate you.” And with that she rushed off to her room in the tower of the grand castle but her uncle, in fear of her rash actions, had his guards lock her door to await the Dark Wizard’s pleasure.
Now that the princess was gone the king cackled with glee and called for his son. “Nesbitt, my lad,” he said to the young man with a hungry look in his eyes and a scrawny frame, “the girl is as good as out of here. Nobody will suspect me since I merely want to cement the borders. It was a wonderful plan I had!” King Theolas gazed upon his son and for a moment could see the features of his first wife, a strong witch who had been his only true love. She had perished giving birth to Nesbitt and Theolas had pined all his hopes and dreams upon the boy.
“Yes of course father.” Nesbitt’s beady eyes lingered on the throne but soon switched to the serving maid. She was a comely wench with flowing black hair not unlike his tempestuous, beautiful cousin. Though he agreed that the girl could not be allowed to discover her true destiny it was a shame the Dark Wizard would destroy her. Nesbit admired the wench and would bed her anon for she was naught but a magicless female but he lusted after his cousin in his heart. He always chose dark haired woman and pretended they were Morgaine Brianna, even made them wear clothes of hers he stole. Though she too was magicless, he would have married her if his father had allowed it but his father had become too insecure in his old age. The girl’s destiny could never be discovered as long as she continued to wear the pendant they told her was her mother’s that had been left to her when her mother perished. And if he knew Brianna–and he did know her, thanks to all the priest holes in the castle he used to spy on her–she would never take off the reminder of her beloved parents.
Well, his father was old. He was the only child though sometimes he missed his sister, who had been a sweet girl not unlike his Stepmother. She had almost brought goodness and light into this dark house but had wasted away after the death of Fey in the testing by the Wizard’s Kirk that had been…too vigorous, King Theolas too desperate to find great power in one of his offspring, as Nesbitt’s power was weak. The Wizard’s Kirk had even then been led by Daemon of Aragonne, and surely it was no coincidence he wanted another Dragonne female.
Weak power had not weakened Nesbitt’s brain. Perhaps something could be arranged so Nesbitt could still have the girl for himself, perhaps after the Dark Wizard was done with her. He didn’t require the girl’s soul after all, just her body… He hastened off to alter the contract with the Dark Wizard and add a clause about if his uncle died then the girl would have to be released to Dragonne to be with her family as the only surviving female in the Dragonne line.
* * *
Daemon tossed and turned upon his soft, goose down mattress as the dream beset him. Wolves slavered at his heels as he ran through the woods, briars slashing his naked limbs and some desperate sense of transformation in his heart. He just knew he had to hurry, he had to get there before…before…he wasn’t sure but every time in his dream, he was too late. He reached the deep, still pool in the heart of the Endlesse Forest just in time to gaze upon his own pain wracked visage as it warped in the light of the moon, becoming….
Daemon cried out and his hand struck warm, yielding flesh. A feminine shriek and Daemon bolted awake and grappled with the stranger in his bed. He clasped strong fingers about the vulnerable neck of his attacker, squeezing squeezing….
“Please milord,” his victim cried. “You’re only dreaming.”
It was Betsy, the downstairs maid whom he sometimes took to his bed when the need was upon him. Betsy or Jill or Janetta or — when the need was upon him, he cared little, so long as she was warm and mostly willing. He could persuade her with his skillful lovemaking.
He let her go. She sat up in bed and rubbed her throat. A fearful look in her eye as she took in his naked form. “Perhaps I should go, ’tis nearly the cock’s cry,” she said.
His manhood rose as he gazed upon her large, pert breasts and frightened eyes. “Some cock is arising but ‘tis not the one you think,” he said, surprised at the growl of his voice. It reminded him of something…. Something that escaped him, like a lingering touch of his dream.
The maid’s gaze dropped to his monstrous appliance stirring to life at his thighs. “Yikes,” she said.
“Love me one more time, Betsy,” he said. “For tonight I wed my bride, and I doubt she’ll be such a good lay.”
The maid tittered. “Surely you could continue to…”
“No, Aragonne men are faithful to their mates. I need a son, Betsy, a son that I can’t get on a girl like you. No offense, but your parents weren’t wizards. The Wizard’s Kirk prophet says it has to be Morgaine Brianna for me, though they won’t say why.”
“I would not have wizards for parents,” shuddered the maid.
Daemon moved atop the woman and pressed her back into the pillows to dispel the last remnants of his bad dream. “Do you forget that your lover is a wizard?” he asked with a glint in his eye.
“No…no my lord,” whispered Betsy, suddenly afraid, and it was that fear that drove Daemon into her willing body with the sharp edge of desire.
Nay, the little Dragonne wench would never be this good a lay, but she would be afraid…and that was something.
All women feared the Dark Wizard. He struck fear into their hearts, not love, and it was safer that way–safer that he could never be awoken to love himself. For in his dreams, fear for the safety of his true love drove him, and it was her, his love, whom he failed in the end.
He had vowed to never penetrate or even be long around a woman who didn’t fear him, so he would never be put in that position. Now the fear had become an aphrodisiac stronger than powdered unicorn’s horn.
* * *
Brianna tightened the last knot on her rope of sheets and started trailing them off the balcony to the ground. They could almost reach and she could jump into a tree for the rest of the way. Her time spent doing boyish things would finally pay off when she escaped down the wall! She just wished there was a way to untie the sheet rope so her uncle would think she had found her latent powers on her own and turned herself into a bird or convinced a vine of ivy to serve as her rope.
Brianna had packed what she’d need for her flight and before leaving clasped her mother’s amulet in her small hand to utter a prayer for luck. The metal amulet was shaped like a dragon with a round, odd red stone as its belly, that was where the fire of the legendary beast was made. There were no longer dragons in Dragonne or anywhere else she knew of, having been hunted out hundreds of years ago, but still it was the symbol of her kingdom. She had thought it strange that her mother would pick such a red, manly amulet as her soulstone but she had grown used to the little beast and never felt dressed without it.
Then she put both her legs over the balcony and began the long downward climb, shimmying from knot to knot like a monkey from the far-off land of Affrikana. Her pack with her provisions and clothes slapped against her back. She climbed down and down, trembling with trepidation, until she reached the end of her rope. She swung to the branches of a huge oaken tree.
Unfortunately the oaken tree had a bole as big around as her tower, nearly and no branches close to the ground. Brianna hadn’t counted on this! She rubbed her scraped hands against her skirts which she had kirtled up around her waist for safer climbing. There were no soldiers as she had planned her downward climb during the change in guards. She had ten more minutes before they would come around here again, see the sheet, and find her, and she planned to be well hid by that time.
She heard a cheerful whistling from the gardens below her and looked to see a tall man in brown peasant’s garb striding along the path headed towards the palace. Who could that be? He was not from around here but he was very attractive in a large man type of way. The sun shone upon his dark brown hair which was long enough to go down past his collar, not the style of the times but attractive on him, with his manly, strong face that you would never mistake as effeminate.
Brianna summoned up her courage and decided if he wasn’t from around here he wouldn’t know who she was.
“Psst,” she said. “You there. I need assistance.”
The man glanced up, and she was swallowed into his dark black eyes for a moment, as a chill of strange desire rattled through her. Then his eyes were naught but a soft brown like her favorite boots.
“Hello there,” he said. “What have we here, a pretty little bird in a tree?”
“I’m not a bird, and you know it,” she said, not liking the tone of the rascally knave. “I merely require some help getting down. There was a kitten I meant to assist, and it has scampered off and left me. I would not be surprised to find the kitten was but a mischievous sprite that managed to find its way into the palace gardens. Little wretch.”
He stood under her and looked up admiring her legs bared so she could climb. If she kept his eyes on her he wouldn’t notice her sheet rope down the tower wall. She would have to suffer his gaze on her legs and smiled her prettiest.
“Please, sir,” she begged. “My mistress is the Princess Brianna Morgaine and she would not like for me to be late.”
“Well, if it’s for her royal highness I suppose I should help.” The man held up his arms. “Drop into my arms and I shall catch you.”
“It is too far!” she protested. She didn’t want to be in his arms! That was closer than she ever was to men, except her cousin and uncle. He didn’t look like a detested Wizard but most men couldn’t be trusted. You had to have a certain degree of power before you could join the Wizard’s Kirk although never were females allowed to join, no matter their power. Some minor wizards had been said to suck the power from witches to achieve the Wizard’s Kirk. She bit back a tear at the thought of her cousin Fey.
“Surely if you weren’t afraid to climb up the tree it isn’t too far to come down?” the man taunted.
“If you drop me,” she threatened, overcoming her momentary sadness, “I shall beat you about the head and shoulders.”
“I’m not afraid,” he laughed.
There was nothing else for it. First she threw down her pack, which he caught with a grunt. At his expression, she raised an eyebrow and explained, “I have been doing my mistress’s laundry.”
Then she carefully got on her belly on the branch and let herself slide slowly off, conscious of the fact that her legs were exposed to her short knickers and the knave below was having a great view! As she’d hoped, he didn’t notice the sheet because he was too busy ascertaining that she wore knickers and did not go with her parts abroad as was the habit of some forward wenches beneath their skirts.
Just in case he grew bored with the view when he discovered she was fully clothed beneath, she gave a little wriggle to her behind that she’d heard her maids discuss that a man much loved to see. It made her feel a bit cheap, yet also a bit excited, to know a man was inspecting her as a female instead of having the boundary of royal princess to protect her. Her uncle and cousin would have thrown any man in the dungeons who dared to eye her as the man below. She could still see him over her shoulder, having not let go of the branch, and his eyes were indeed trained on her thighs and perhaps more. He winked at her in a knowing fashion.
“Come on, just a bit further,” he encouraged, and she didn’t know if he meant for her to drop or to raise her skirts!
There was only so far a princess was willing to go to be rescued. She dropped, her heart pattering in her chest, and he caught her hard in a pair of very muscular arms.
“I think you owe me after that,” he said when she caught her breath and gazed up at him. He barely even staggered with the impact of her weight. Her green eyes widened at the suggestion in his. “I think…a kiss.”
“Nay!” she gasped, but he silenced her missish complaint with his lips.
Instantly desire surged through her just as when his eyes had seemed as black as midnight. But that had been just her imagination, perhaps her excitement at the escape, this was real, very real. She clung to him and sighed into his mouth as his hot, questing tongue awakened parts of her she had no idea were connected to her mouth and lips. She had only ever been kissed by her horrid cousin Nesbitt who had several times attempted to force himself on her, only to be convinced otherwise by a swift knee to the ballocks. It had been awful and slimy and not like this blissful erotic sensation that turned her limbs quickly to quivering jelly.
She heard the tower bells that told the hour ring and realized the guards would soon be here. She could not allow them to find her! Not only would her uncle and cousin have this man jailed but her perilous climb down the tower wall would have been for naught.
“Oh, oh, I must go!” she said, breaking off the kiss. Shame blossomed through her at her wanton actions. Yet still she did not want him to come to harm by the king’s wrath. “You cannot kiss me.” She could not tell him the real reason why as a common maid without magic would have been free to kiss as she pleased. “I…I…have not granted you permission!”
“Don’t worry, I won’t kiss you again…Princess,” he said. “At least not until tonight.”
Her lips moist from his kiss she gasped. “How did you know who I was?”
Those brown, cheerful eyes turned suddenly black again and she felt a sputter of fear like when she had climbed over the balcony and her death awaited below if her hands but slipped. “Why, don’t you recognize me, my love? I am your betrothed, the Dark Wizard, or so I’m called.” He shrugged and let her down out of his arms but still held her tightly. “King Theolas called and asked me to come early for the ceremony since he was afraid you’d run away. Looks like I was just in time.”
“You tricked me! You shan’t kiss me again!” Her scraped fists beat his chest. How could this be?
“I shall,” he said, and touched one of her white streaks, the only thing she had of her mother besides the dragon, “and you shall like it, my wee frightened virgin.” Her limbs turned to water and she felt the thrust of him against her belly, as his desire surged convulsively in response to her panic.
What manner of man was he? As evil as they said and willing to drink of human souls to increase his power…or was he the merry rascal who’d stolen her first real kiss?
He let her go but his eyes were still black as night, black and deep as the pool of truth in the heart of the Endlesse Forest, or so it was rumored. “But you’ll have to wait for that kiss until tonight. At which juncture you’ll belong to me and have no say in the matter. Too bad, so sad.”
© 2005 Jody Wallace