(Each week, Spun from Ink will be posting a writing invitation. Readers are encouraged to send a short piece to SpunFromInk@gmail.com for the chance to have it featured on this blog. For more information, including submission rules, please visit the Weekly Writing Invitations page.)
I am so excited to bring you the first winner of Spun From Ink’s weekly writing invitations: Kate Foley.
I am a 14-year-old homeschooler, author, daydreamer, voracious reader, and fangirl. I love the impossible (which might explain my obsessions with fantasy novels and Harry Potter) but I dip into the real world . . . occasionally. I tend to get overly emotional when reading sad parts in my favorite books or whenever anyone mentions “Doomsday,” “The Reichenbach Fall,” and basically anything related to “Supernatural.” I write to survive and will often yell at my characters if they aren’t behaving, which is always. It doesn’t usually help. I am a contributor to the “Fauxpocalypse” anthology. You can check out my blog at http://themagicviolinist.blogspot.com/ and follow me on Twitter at @Magic_Violinist.
This is a short chapter from my YA novel, The Sorceress. It’s a medieval fantasy about a girl named Anya who wants to be a soldier in the king’s army, even though it’s against the rules for a woman to join.
Anya slammed the door behind her as she walked into the house, sending a cloud of dust all around the room. She heard a faint achoo! Anya drew her sword faster than lightning and looked around.
“Show yourself!” she demanded.
“It’s just me!” a steady voice said. A shadowy figure stepped out from the darkness.
Anya lowered her sword.
“Hello, Ronald. What’re you doing here?”
Ronald stepped into the faint light from a window and gave Anya one of his goofy, but lovable, smiles. It reminded Anya of a happy dog, panting and wagging its tail without a care in the world.
“I heard you were living here now,” he explained, brushing back his shaggy, sandy-brown hair.
“Word travels fast,” she said dryly. Ronald laughed. Gossip spread faster than wildfire in Stormcastle. The kingdom had been given that name five hundred years ago when the castle was struck by lightning.
“Mrs. Melly saw you going into this house after she closed up the shop,” Ronald said, jerking his thumb at the quilt shop across from Anya’s house.
Anya sheathed her sword and kicked the floorboard. The floorboard flipped up and slid across the room. She set the sword down and replaced it.
“So what’ve you been up to?” Ronald asked.
“Nothing much,” she said with a shrug. She smiled and poked him playfully. “I got Esmeraldus.”
Ronald raised his eyebrows. “Really? This isn’t a joke, right?”
Anya shook her head and tucked her wavy brown hair behind her ears. “No joke. I got it just an hour ago. The king gave me a sack of gold and offered me this house as reward.”
Ronald smiled. “Good for you.”
“It’s more than good. It’s great! This is a wonderful start to my soldier career.”
Ronald gave an exasperated sigh that told her he was tired of this subject. “Anya, we’ve talked about this–”
“I know we’ve talked about this,” she said impatiently. “You’ve said many times that girls can’t be soldiers, and that you wish it were different, but it’s not. I say who knows? I may be the first. I see no point in why a girl can’t be a soldier. What’s the difference between a girl and a boy, anyways?”
“Well,” he started. “Boys are naturally stronger.”
Silence fell. Anya waited for him to continue, but Ronald seemed to have finished his argument.
“See, that’s all you can think of! I’ve trained, I’m strong, and I can fight. Who cares if a boy is stronger than me, I’m still strong and I can handle a sword and a bow and arrow just as well as any boy can. If I challenged you right now to a sword fight–”
“You would chop me to pieces,” Ronald interrupted calmly, trying to cool down her hot temper. “But I’m not good at fighting. You know I need training. People think it’s not right for a lady to be a soldier.”
Anya bared her teeth angrily. “I’m not a lady,” she said. “I’m nothing like a lady! If I were to chop my hair off right now, I would look and act like a boy. No one would know the difference except for you, the king, your mom, Jane, and Bert. Hey, wait a minute–”
Ronald pursed his lips as Anya began to plan some crazy scheme in her head.
“I know that,” Ronald said. “But the king would never allow–”
“How do you know what the king would and wouldn’t allow? I’ve worked for him for almost six years now. He knows what I’m capable of. If I have the proper training, I could become a great soldier. I could fight off goblins, armies, and so many other things! It’s just not fair.”
She broke off and bit her lip, trying to think of another argument. Ronald placed his hand on her shoulder.
“I know, Anya. It’s not my fault that girls don’t get treated fairly.”
“It’s not that they don’t get treated fairly,” she replied. “It’s that they’re expected to do normal girl stuff, like sewing and housekeeping. They don’t even get asked if they want to do something different. I don’t want to be a normal girl. I’m different, Ronald. I’m not like your mom, I’m not like Mrs. Melly. I don’t want to get married and have kids. Why can’t I do what I want to do?”
“I don’t know, Anya. Maybe you’re right and the king will let you become a soldier, but I just don’t think people will like this idea. No lady has ever been a soldier before.”
“I’m not a lady,” Anya said through her gritted teeth.
“Fine, no girl has ever been a soldier before.”
“Because no girl has ever had any interest! At least I’ve never known any girl that has wanted to be a soldier. And no one has ever given a girl a chance. I might be the first girl soldier in history.”
Ronald shook his head slightly and looked out the window. He knew better than to argue.
“It’s getting late, you’d better get some sleep if you’re going to guard tomorrow.”
“What? That’s it?”
“What do you mean ‘that’s it?’”
“I mean, you’re not going to talk to me more about this?”
Ronald looked completely bewildered.
“What else is there to talk about?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I just thought we were going to talk more.”
“We’ve already talked about it. There’s nothing else to discuss.”
Anya clutched her hands behind her back.
“I have one more question.”
“If I’m going to be a soldier, I need some way to convince the king I’m worthy and able enough to be a soldier. Can you think of any way to show him that I’m ready?”
“I’m not sure. Just work for him and train in private like you’ve been doing and after a while when you ask him, maybe he’ll let you.”
Anya nodded, taking this into account. Keep working for the king, train in private, ask after a while. She was positive that she already had his trust and he knew of her abilities, but she just wasn’t sure if it was enough to let her be a soldier. There had never been a girl soldier in an army in history.
“Now I really need to go, otherwise my mother’s going to be worried sick. Bye, Anya.”