Goal: 3,530Written: 820 Story: The Burning City Approximate Chapter: Before Chapter 1
Author's Note: This is a new character (Alima Yash'evin) and her mother (yet unnamed) and is the beginning of a pre-Chapter One subplot. I have a lot to add to this, but 820 words was all I could manage before I called it a night. An angry, angry night. I haven't outlined enough to get back in to the flow of the story and I can tell because I'm not writing in a straight shot. This piece is mostly a cultural piece and will be changed later; I wanted to establish some of the tension between mother and daughter, show a bit of Alima's thoughts, and hint at another character. Nothing major, but I'm not just going to throw it away, either.
On a side note: Alima has been a character of mine for close to ten years. She was never a part of The Burning City until about five years ago. Her father appears in a short story I wrote in 2010 (also called The Burning City), and that history will remain mostly intact.
“You can't hide forever.” The Moon Queen's voice spoke right outside of her door.
Alima Sarani Yash'evin would hide for as long as it took. She pulled her sheer linen sheet over her head to try and drown out her mother's words. Behind the door, she heard her mother's harsh voice demand entry, and the locks on her door began to unlock, one by one.
A dozen locks total and Alima knew them all. She had less than a minute to sit up in bed and try and brush out her hair. She barely swung her legs over the edge of the bed and was reaching for her comb when her mother threw open the door, followed by two armored Royal Guards.
“I'm not hiding--” Alima began as she held the comb up to her hair. Her mother grabbed her wrist and took her comb with her free hand. The Moon Queen's golden gaze seemed to make her lose her words.
“You should have been ready an hour ago.” The Queen looked around Alima's bedroom; the window was open, the night breeze blew her sheer white curtains across the floor. A long black and white cat slept lazily on the stone floor. He opened one golden-colored eye to stare at his Queen before returning to sleep.
“Where is your personal guard?” The Queen asked. “Why is your window open? Get that cat out of here.” One of the Royal Guards moved to close the window, the other went to pick up the cat—who promptly ran away. Alima remembered not to sigh in front of her mother.
“He wasn't feeling well. I dismissed him. Besides, I can't sleep with someone in my room.” Alima said as she stood up and brushed off her night gown. “Why can't he just stay outside the door?”
“Alima, when you are Moon Queen and have sons and daughters of your own, you will understand. I won't risk my only daughter to some murderous blood mage sneaking in to your room in the middle of the night. Keep that window closed.”
“The entire Royal Guard couldn't stop a murderous blood mage from killing--”
Alima's jaw cracked as her mother slapped her across the face. She remained silent. The two Royal Guards returned; one held a squirming cat securely under one bare arm. The Queen turned to the empty-handed Royal Guard. “Go and find her guard, and tell him he is never to be dismissed from duty again or I'll personally throw in to the Endless Sands.” The Royal Guard bowed and swept out the doorway.
Alima reached in to her night stand and found another comb. It was her favorite with a carved seashell handle; a gift from her father. She began to brush out her long black hair. A light knock on the door frame and a young woman leaned inside.
The dark color of her dress marked the young woman as one of her mother's servants. The golden moon tattoo on her bare back confirmed it, as she fell to her knees outside the door way.
“My Moon Queen,” she spoke before rising again. She stood after she was invited in, and a dozen other women followed, each carrying a comb or soap or incense. They surrounded Alima, pulled a stool from beside the bed, and went to work. Alima's mouth formed a hard, straight line as she gave herself up.
The Moon Queen wandered through Alima's room and straightened a vase, checked that the balcony doors were closed and pulled the curtains tight. She went to the side of Alima's bed and pulled back the sheer curtains. A long curved blade rested in a sheath hidden behind a bed post. She pulled the blade from the scabbard and inspected it. Her mouth curved downward when she found a speck of blood. She used the sleeve of her dress to wipe it away and re-sheathed the blade.