The first part of my story for the Rule of Three Blogfest featured Cem Sultan, finally confessing his love for the maiden Ayten, a guest at his temporary home in Renaissance.
This blogfest runs all month; each Wednesday we'll have a new post 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.
And today's post is belongs to Ayten. My word count is 594, and I was inspired by these three prompts, given by the blogfest hosts:
Someone is killed or almost killed.
A relationship becomes complicated.
A character lies to another on an important matter.
Ever since we arrived in Renaissance, we've been feted. I felt like idle lady of the court yesterday; choosing my gown for the masquerade, rifling through a stack of silk ribbons, sitting perfectly still -- with not even any needlework -- as my hair was piled higher and my neckline tugged lower than I'd ever dared. And that's nothing to say of the masquerade itself, when both Prince Cem and Devran Bey...
But that was last night. Today we've joined an expedition to the Roundeli Mountains, alongside a Professor, and a woman - apparently in Renaissance, there's no bar to a woman holding whatever position she chooses. Imagine! I could continue my father's business, use all my trader's skills, perhaps open my own merchant's booth in Smyrna.
I'm far from the Ottoman Empire now, though, travelling under Rosa and her husband's protection, as part of Devran's retinue.
I've been avoiding explaining to you about Devran. It's hard for me to speak coherently. Every time I mention his name, images crowd my mind.
There was that time I poked my head up through the hatch, only to see him on deck in nothing but his long shirt, washing, with two sailors pouring buckets of water over his head. His hair was plastered to his head as his shirt was to his shoulders, and --
Then there was last night, at the masquerade. I hid in a curtained alcove to rest my feet, and he came to offer me a cup of sherbet. His fingers brushed mine, and then he asked me to dance. I'd never dreamed that men and women could dance together like that. These Renaissance customs are very new to me.
So these images crowd my head, and I find it difficult to speak. Worse, now there are thoughts of Prince Cem that intrude and I --
Devran's voice rings down the cliffside in a scream so sharp it's as if he's torn my name out of his chest and thrown it down to me.
I've caught on a stiff bush, thankfully, but my sleeves are torn and needles prick my legs through the linen of my skirt. I can hear them up there, berating our guide for not warning us about the treacherous footing.
I try not to look down, and to breathe evenly. Somewhere down in the depths of the gorge I can hear rushing water tumbling along a stony bed.
The guide has a length of rope. Still they argue above; they do not trust the guide, and Prince Cem declares that he will come down himself.
I say nothing. I will not speak until there is solid ground under my feet once more.
Devran stands on the edge, not arguing, not even speaking, simply staring. Our eyes meet for an instant, or so I think. The sun shines bright and hot, so that the very air shimmers and his face is indistinct.
There's an inch of ledge beneath the bush. Cem steps aside onto the rock and winds the rope about my waist. His hands are steady and don't touch me at all, even as he knots the end. Of course, not with all those faces looking down.
I'm hauled up and stumble a little, clutch Rosa's arm as they lower the rope for Cem.
I can see the expression on Devran's face clearly now. He looks as though, if I tripped again, he'd rush over and taken me in his arms.
But I stand up straight. "I'm all right," I say. The lie burns in my throat.
Hope you liked it! Meanwhile, today is Rosa's birthday! She would be - counts on fingers and toes - 538 years old today. Happy birthday Rosa! It's also - not coincidentally - the day that a sailor, let's call him Santiago, Rosa's father, spotted land on Columbus' first voyage.
You know, next year is the 520th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage. Wouldn't it be exciting if I could promote Out of the Water at the same time? Even though Columbus only appears very briefly, at the beginning. He's also mentioned very briefly, at the ending, of the sequel, the story about Ayten, which I've begun tentatively calling Verse, Venice and Viziers.
I mentioned Jennifer Hendren's By the Pale Moonlight the other day. Here's the book trailer:
Enter Jen's contest to win a copy! You can also enter through the All The World's Our Page site. Ah, YA. What would I do without you?