Random snippet: Iona

The echo of her own steps sent her eyes back over her shoulder more than once, the sounds slipping off the alley walls and disappearing into the night.
She clutched the girl closer to her chest and waited, making sure it was only her own bootsoles filling the night air.
The last thing she needed was a Witness. But if anyone passed, she hoped they would see a mother clutching her daughter in the night.
And miss the blood streaking the hem of her cloak.
When no sounds came, she continued, until the Abbey door opened and she and her heavy cargo were inside. Away from the cloying night smoke and mist.
‘Is it done?’ The pale robed woman waiting inside asked as she pushed up from her chair.
‘Yes, he is taken care of, ma’am.’
The shadows fell into the deep lines of the other woman’s face, as she approached to inspect the girl in the dim light.
As if her protégé would kill the wrong man, take the wrong daughter.
Her belly soured and she moved away before Mistress could reach them, moving with care through the narrow Abbey halls until she reached a room.
Her room, until just an hour ago.
As if mocking her, the little tin clock on the mantel chimed. One… Two…
‘Mm?’ The girl awoke as she set her on the mattress, whether by the motion or the loss of warm arms let in the cold night she would not know. The latter had her reaching for the wool knit blanket at the end of the bed, as she tried to coax the girl to lay down and be tucked in.
‘Papa?’ She murmured, letting herself be swaddled against the fluffy feathers and thick sheets. A nicer bed than her father would let her sleep in.
She should have felt some guilt, at the cry of a child for her parent in the night, when that parent’s blood still stained her clothes, her blade. But whether it was because of the contempt she held for the man she slew, or the training that made her forget her heart… She felt nothing.
‘Not here, dear heart,’ she said of instinct, the way it had been said to her ten years before.
‘Oh.’ In the dim firelight, the logs still burning from before she left, the little girl stared at her for a long moment. She would only see a pair of pale eyes, a scarf drawn around the rest under the hood.
‘Sleep,’ she said, tugging the blanket to the girl’s chin. Another woman might have smoothed her matted curls from her face, or wished her a good night.
But Iona only rose and added a log to the fire, before drifting down the hall to wash her cloak.

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#500WordsOctober 2014 “Guidelines”

I’ve decided to challenge myself and anyone else who wants to join up to do writing-habit-tune-up before NaNoWriMo (or whatever other writing goals you may have through the end of the year).  As I “pants” my way through NaNo in most years, preparing is a process of habit, not organization, so here we are.

500 words seemed a good amount to be able to pull off as a daily habit without exhausting the creative reserves needed for more strenuous upcoming challenges.  500 words is two sprints, 30 minutes with your notebook on a lunch break, a blog post you needed to catch up with, or even a background write-up for a character on a work in progress.  Easy peasy, right?

The “Guidelines” for #500WordsOctober are simple:

  • Write 500 words every day for the month of October.
  • If you miss a day, don’t make up the words; just skip it and focus on the next day.
  • Write on any project you feel like: fiction, non-fiction, game writing, blog posts, notes, post-by-email roleplaying… Whatever.
  • Use #500WordsOctober on your daily, semi-daily, weekly, or whenever-you-remember updates.

That’s it!  See you on Twitter.  And may the muse be with you.  (192 words)