“I thought I had masked my accent," Katryl said.
“When you are taken off-guard, you sound far too Dashani.”
“And the swearing makes you more Dashani than ever.”
Because I'm up to my eyeballs in my NaNoWriMo work-in-progress, The Seeing Queen, Book 3 of the Firewing Chronicles, I figured it'd be fun to present five juicy excerpts from the book (in addition to the one above).
What inferences do you make about Katryl's character from these excerpts? I'd love to know!
1. Remember the pommel
Katryl caught Edric’s blow on the flat of her blade, momentarily proud of herself for her quick action, when something struck her ear and her world exploded in stars.
“Great goddess, man!” one of the sailors shouted, darting forward. “What kind of man are you, Edric?"
Edric held up his hand as Katryl groped for the vestiges of her consciousness. The sailors halted, unwilling to cross a man with a naked blade still in his hands, and waited as Katryl raised herself on her elbow and blinked several times.
Edric crouched by her head, balancing on his toes.
“What was your mistake?”
“The pommel. I was paying too much attention to the blade that I forgot the pommel.”
“I know. I know. Every part of the sword and the opponent’s body is a weapon.” Katryl fingered her ear and worked her jaw.
“Look at me.”
Katryl turned her eyes to Edric and he pressed one hand to her cheek to steady her head as he evaluated the movements of her eyes.
“It was a harder blow than I meant,” he said at last. “I am sorry.”
Katryl grunted. “All the more reason to remember the pommel next time.”
2. Unfair Advantage
“Are you well, Katryl?” Edric asked as he entered the chamber. “I know they targeted you at the last.”
“I am well,” Katryl replied, unstringing the bow with practiced ease.
“Did you see their faces?” Rory chuckled. “An Onikan would have shot you without hesitation, but the Lassgardans withhold their hands from harming women except under extreme circumstances. You have to admire their conviction, even in the face of such an enemy.”
Katryl laid the bow-string aside grimly. “It was an unfair advantage.”
3. Is that all?
“May I be of service?” Katryl asked. “Among my people, I am considered a herb-wife.”
“My lady, it is kind of you," Calthorn replied, "but I must decline. Please, have no concern for me.”
Katryl withdrew and seated herself by her Troll. Tascu shifted a little, then whispered, “By Lassgardic custom, it is improper for a man to remove his shirt in the presence of a lady.”
Katryl cast him a sharp glance. “Is that all? I have tended to wounded men when they were fully naked. I have no sensibility on the matter.”
“But he does.”
“I hope it shall not be his undoing.”
“He will survive, tainay.”
4. You do not plan at all
Katryl rubbed her face with both hands. “How in all that is sacred do you expect to do such a thing?” She regarded Edric with almost maternal suspicion and said dryly, “Forget I asked. I know very well how you plan.”
“Like a master tactician.”
Katryl laughed outright. “You do not plan at all!”
“It is a brilliant strategy.”
“Oh, aye, brilliant. At least it carries the good fortune of ensuring that, as you do not know your next step yourself, neither does your enemy.”
5. A Dashani's Fear
“What is it, Tascu?”
“I only wish you to know that I am here. If you would rather that I give you time to yourself…”
“Yes, perhaps that is best.” Then, as he turned to go: “No. Do not go.”
She glanced toward the sea and ran her hands through her black hair as though it itched her. “I do not know what I want, Tascu. I am hemmed by fear on all sides.”
Tascu came close to her, close enough to touch, but not so close as to make contact unavoidable.
“I am not a speaker of feelings,” Katryl said. “I am Dashani. I should have no feelings. No”—she closed her eyes—“that is not quite true. I should show no feelings. My brother Fannad… He tried too hard to be the sort of man he thought he should be. But he forgot beauty, and it was a grief to my parents. My father knew I saw the exuberance of life, and he always encouraged it. He said it was a warrior’s strength to love beauty. That is what I have forgotten, Tascu.”
Tascu waited, observing her quietly, and his presence was like a balm to a burn.
Katryl spoke as though to herself: “There is no escape from the water. My people are ship-makers and seamen, but I have always lived in the Highlands. It is irony, is it not? A Dashani who fears water.”
“I would not know that you feared it if you did not tell me.”