Final Installment of Rule of Three Blogfest Story, and a Whisper

Renaissance has been good to Ayten.

If you've been following along, we've been having a Rule of Three blogfest, posting a story each Wednesday exploring the relationship between three characters in the created town of Renaissance.

The setting is the same for all of us, but everything else - genre, characters, etc. - are our own. I've been writing a historical romance:

Scene One featured Prince Cem, avowing his love for Ayten.
Scene Two featured Ayten herself, and a narrow escape.
Scene Three featured Devran, holding his emotions in check as he offered Ayten a way out of her dilemma.

And now, without further ado, Ayten on board ship:

She took up the lap desk on Devran's trunk and brought it over to the bunk, unhooking the silver clasp and lifting the lid. Two quills, a bottle of ink, a sheaf of smooth paper. She'd been using bits of lead and charcoal for weeks, while he'd had this wealth of writing material. Judging by the shine of the wood and lack of scratch marks on the blotter, he'd never used it once.

Of course, it was the only wealth he did have, and if he saw fit to squander his last coin on such temporary possessions, it wasn't her affair. If she'd been in his place, she'd have been more concerned with re-establishing her reputation among the rulers of the Ottoman Empire. Yet he seemed unconcerned with anything important. The feast he'd supposedly ordered for that night, and new writing implements – these held more worth, apparently.

"I see you've found it."

She gripped the quill, steadied the ink bottle. And peered at him out of the corner of her eye.

Devran kicked the door shut behind him. He had a cup in his hand, and did his usual trick of slipping his tongue out before taking a sip. The familiar thrill swept her at thought of how that tongue might make her feel, if once he set his mouth on hers. She shut the lid.

He drained the cup and dropped it onto the nearest shelf. "I did not have time to wrap it." One stride and he sat beside her, touching her at knee and shoulder. He raised the lid and pointed out all the items. "There's more paper underneath this partition. Sealing wax, a few sheets of parchment."

"It must have been quite expensive."

"Would you rather I'd handed you a bouquet of wildflowers?"

"I – me? This is for me?"

"Yes. A wedding gift."

"But it was meant to be a contract, in name only. To be annulled as soon as possible." The desk and all its contents would tumble to the floor if her hands didn't stop shaking.

"But I don't wish to. And I hoped you might... Never mind." He dropped the lid, narrowly missing her fingers, and headed for the window.

"What can you see?" she asked, after a while.

"Come, see for yourself."

She set the lap desk back on his trunk and stepped up to the window. Devran stood behind her, his breath cool on her flushed neck.

"I can see the whole town!" Despite herself, she was moved by the sight of Renaissance, fading against the horizon as their ship sailed away. The forests, the barest shimmer of light that marked the desert. "There are the Roundeli mountains, where we went on that expedition."

"And my heart nearly stopped beating when I thought you’d fallen to your death."

"Is that so?"

"Yes." His hand landed on her shoulder. "Ayten. I am not so impoverished as you think. And a letter arrived from the Sultan this morning. An official pardon. They've discovered the truth of the matter – the same truth I've been stating all this time. So I ask you..." His fingers left her shoulder, grazing her neck. "If we do not dissolve our contract right away, do you think you might come to care for me, a little?"

She turned in the circle of his arm, and met his gaze. Hope flared in his eyes. He had helped her elude Cem's clutches, after all.

"I think I already do."

He cupped her cheek in his hand and sealed their hope with a kiss.

Renaissance had a happy association for her now.

I used two of the prompts: "The misfortune is resolved/accepted" and "Relationships mend/are torn asunder" and came in at exactly 600 words (had to cut it down from the first draft of over 800!)

Thanks to all our hosts (Stuart Nager at Tale Spinning, J.C. Martin at Fighter Writer, Lisa Vooght at Flash Fiction, and Damyanti at Amloki) for such an exciting blogfest. I'll miss posting snips so regularly and reading everyone's exciting and mysterious tales.

On the other hand, this blogfest has been an amazing way to stick to my ROW80 goal of delving further into Ayten's story, Verse, Venice and Viziers, and [whispers] a warmup for NaNoWriMo.

Alright, it's out in the open. Yes, I'm doing NaNo this year, again, and hope to have as much success as I did last year (and way more than my first year, when I failed abysmally). As always, I promise not to fill up the blog with all NaNo all the time. Add me as a buddy, if you're doing NaNo, too!

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