I’m attempting to keep on top of doing the 750 words challenge, but sometimes weekends slip away. But, I managed to knock a little more conceptual stuff out for some more fnh fluff-fiction.
I hope you all enjoy this bit of ACTUAL writing on a Writing Monday!
Written to the tune of: Palladio by Karl Jenkins
Light crawled down through the narrow slit window high above, illuminating a tiny patch of ground at the base of the tower where a solitary figure sat slumped on the ground. Hair knotted and tangled with dirt, nails torn and broken and dressed in rags, the figure looked nothing like the woman who had been cast into this dungeon to be forgotten. The chains around her ankle stopped her from climbing too high or from making her escape through the dark water that lapped at the broken stones within arms reach. The water was cold and bitter, but it soothed the ache in her stomach and reminded her that she was still alive. Once she had raged against her prison, now she sat in silence, waiting. Sometimes her keeper came to gaze down at her from atop the steps in the wall, saying nothing but mocking her with his eyes. Sometimes she brought up the fire to shake her chains angrily at him, but usually she turned her face away until he was gone with the creak of the heavy door and the fading echoes of his footfalls.
But not today.
Today her keeper came clattering down the steps with two guards in tow, hauling her to her feet and holding her by her armpits to make her face him. He pinched her cheeks and held her chin firmly, turning her face this way and that, inspecting her. He said nothing as he flicked his hand and the guards hauled her away.
They dragged her down the stone corridors and for a moment she almost summoned the strength to run, but her legs shook and she found she could not bring herself to be hurt anymore. So on they went, dragging their willing captive along the way until they came to a wooden door which opened at their knock with a billow of steam and she was tossed unceremoniously inside.
Lying on the stone she realised it was warm to the touch and mist stroked her face gently as she breathed in the heavy moisture laden air. She took in another heavy breath and nearly jumped out of her skin as a woman in a severe dress bent over her.
“Goodness child, you look as weak as a kitten. And as filthy as a gutter rat. What you need is a nice hot bath”
The girl shook in fright at the woman’s tone, barely comprehending the words after her days of silence and she cowered as two women joined the first and tried to raise her to her feet.
“Poor wee mite” one cooed, reaching out to stroke the girl’s hair before realising how filthy it was. They wrapped her in clean white towels and hoisted her between them, carrying her across the stone floor towards a deep stone tub from which rose a fragrant steam. As they carefully laid her in the tub, she winced at the water temperature and gasped as they poured another bucket of hot water into the bath until she was up her neck in scented water.
They allowed her to soak for a little while before bringing more water, dousing her head and beginning the long painful process of scrubbing and currying and combing and snipping out the hanks of hair that were too knotted for their own good. And the girl squealed and mewled but was unable to scream as she had forgotten what it was like to scream, cowering from the three matrons as they did their work. More water was brought for a fresh bath and the dirty water flushed away, taking with it the remains of the girl from the dungeon to leave behind a pathetic pink thing that clung to herself in fright.
Then came the towelling with fluffy white towels and being put into a shapeless cotton shift before being made to sit and her hair brushed and brushed until it was almost dry and long and soft and silky, to hang about her face in a collection of earthy ringlets that gleamed like a burnished and polished copper kettle. And when they were done, they wrapped her in the arms of a thick robe with embroidery on the collar and cuffs, slipped her feet into fine silk slippers and presented her to a pair of manservants in stiff white collars who guided her onto a golden chair. They carried the chair through the warm stone corridors and out into a long room furnished with fine tapestries and wall hangings and a long table with chairs for many guests. But there were only two places set at the head of the table, where a man in a black tunic sat savouring wine from a crystal goblet. They placed her in the seat at his right hand and left when he waved them away.
“So” he said evenly as he put down his goblet and gazed at her with wolfish eyes. “How is my guest feeling now?”
She gazed at him and opened her mouth, but no words came out and she lowered her gaze to the forest of glasses and cutlery before her.
“I understand. You do not need to fear me” He put out a hand and took her by the wrist, lifting her hand onto the table and turning it gently before raising it to his lips. “I have only your best interests in mind”
She watched him with timid eyes, feeling her cheeks burning at his touch but feeling icy cold deep inside, as if a shard of ice from the dungeon had grown inside her stomach and locked around her heart.
“You must be famished. I have had the kitchen prepare a light supper especially for you. Will you care to join me for dinner?”
She returned her gaze to her plate, unsure of what to say, confused and lost amongst the finery so strange after her days in the darkness, her days in the dungeon.
And her keeper smiled as he raised his crystal goblet, a smile that tugged at the corner of his wolfish eyes and he muttered softly as he took a sip “Will you not join me for dinner, Rowan Tait?”