Chapter Two, Scene One: Laiyana Barque

On August 22, 2014 by T.
Laiyana's braids image by Methyss @Deviantart

Laiyana’s braids
image by Methyss @Deviantart

 

I’ve decided to reveal another scene of the book celebrating my milestone of reaching the first 25 pages of the first draft of the Stave and the Shroud.

This is my favorite character in the book. Laiyana is largely based on an amalgam of my three sisters, and she is just as intense, smart, and wild as they are.

Without further ado, here is chapter 2 scene 1.

The Page of Wands

The Stave and the Shroud: Chapter Two, Scene One (Draft #1)

Earlier that day, Laiyana Barque was being forced into a dress.

“You look like such a proper lady,” her mother said to her. “I can’t wait for your debut.”

“Ugh,” was all she could offer in reply. The dress was pearl white and smaller than her small frame. The bust had a conservative cut, the high neckline accentuated her delicate neck and covered her child-like chest, vaguely outlining her breasts, as if hinting at how she would look like when fully grown. The white pearl-laced corset suffocated her. She wore long sleeves, except that those were veil-like, semi transparent to showcase her slender arms and pale skin. The skirt was heavy and looked like a balloon, it made her feel like a fool, but it was the current trend in Syl, and it was customary to wear the latest fashion in your debut.

“Now,” her mother continued. “What to do with that hair.”

“What,” Laiyana did not ask, she objected. “No, please, not my braids.”

“A proper debutante wears the hair high,” her mother pulled her own graying hair up in demonstration. “See?”

“But, mother,” Laiyana said. “I’ve had these braids since we left. I never take them down. What will I do with all the shells and the starfish?”

Her mother gave her a look of disapproval. “One day, my sweetheart, we all have to grow up. Now, let me call Jazel to help us dismantle this… this mess.”

To her mother’s credit, Laiyana’s hair was a mess. But it was also her own way of displaying the things she found beautiful to her. Laiyana had the most curious dirty blond hair in all of Southerwake, or so she had been told. Her hair was as strong as a fishing net; some would have compared it to the thick ropes that tie the sails on a ship. She braided her hair with things she would find along her way. Things like seashells and starfish, sometimes precious (to her) stones and bird feathers, sometimes colored strings, or even branches and leaves. It was whatever she happened to find interesting and had room for in her head.

Her mother rang a bell by Laiyana’s dresser and promptly Jazel entered the small bedroom.

“You called, Lady Mery,” Jazel said closing the door behind her. Laiyana hated that servant girl. There was something about the way she acted that really bothered her. Secretly, however, whenever Jazel was around, Laiyana could not help but envy the servant’s looks. Jazel was everything Laiyana was not.

Jazel was graceful, tall and gorgeous. She strode as if she were listening to an unsong melody, weaving her steps like fire dancing to the music of the wind. She moved with elegance, as if her gestures had been rehearsed for the main part of some grand play. She had perfectly smooth brown skin, and luscious black hair held by a purple silk cloth. She wore a servant’s long dress that marked her voluptuous body; but she could have been easily wearing an evening gown, such was the attention she commanded.

“The Sun and the stars,” Jazel said when she saw her. “You look astonishing, Lady Laiyana! Your dress suits you like light suits day.”

“Pfff,” Laiyana rolled her eyes at Jazel, and instead turned to her mother. “I want to keep my braids. That was the deal. If I am to be debuted, I want to show the whole court the kind of girl I am. And that means braids.”

Lady Mery looked at Jazel, and thought for a moment. “Very well,” she said to her daughter. “We will keep the braids, but we will change the… embellishments, shall we say? Come, Jazel, help me rework those braids and add something more tasteful.”

“No!”

Jazel, who had almost touched Laiyana’s hair, jerked her hands back.

Lady Mery stood up. “That is my offer. It is either new braids with more suitable embellishments, or no braids at all.”

Laiyana felt her face welling up, and held back tears. “But mother, they remind me of home. This one here I got at South End. And these two I picked up with Teren while chasing seagulls by the pier,” tears came down, and she began to weep.

“Where did you get this one?” Lady Mery leaned over her, noticing an object attached to the end of a braid. A brass timepiece.

Laiyana sobbed, but said nothing.

The brass object could fit easily inside her mother’s hands. The protective case on the mechanism had been locked; a tiny keyhole on the back side was missing its key. The timepiece was dented on the top side. It looked as if someone had tried to force it open with a rock or a hammer. It was sturdier than it looked.

“Child,” Lady Mery said investigating the object closer. “I will ask you one last time.” She gave Laiyana a sharp look that made her lower her gaze to the floor.

Laiyana knew she was in trouble.

“I am going to ask you again…”

“It was Feeble’s idea,” Laiyana finally offered. “I didn’t want it, but she said I should have it.”

“Who?” Lady Mery asked.

“Her doll,” Jazel said pointing at a small doll perched on top of Laiyana’s bedroom chest, by her bed. “That’s Feeble.”

Laiyana curled her lips, showing her teeth to Jazel.

The doll, Feeble, was a straw mannequin. The strands had been woven together composing a large human head and a small body with no limbs. It had long wool braided hair the color of yolk, and it wore a tarnished brown dress. Its cloth eyes had been cut from a blue fabric and sewn into the straw. It used to have a mouth, but now only the cloth eyes remained.

“Laiyana,” Lady Mery said. “Where did you find this?” she examined the object again, looking for something written on its surface. Her eyes widened when she finally found it: the initials SV. “Remove this at once!”

“Is it father’s?” Laiyana got up.

“Remove this now!” Lady Mery, fervently red in the face, yanked the brass object off of Laiyana’s hair.

The braid held firm against her mother’s pull, launching Laiyana to the ground. She screamed in pain, falling over her dress. Her mother, still holding the brass piece, began undoing the braid.

“No!” Laiyana pulled her hair back. “I found it!”

As the struggle persisted, no one had noticed the chest by Laiyana’s bed move slightly. When Laiyana began to scream louder, the chest started to rock as if an invisible force tilted it front to back. Feeble, the doll, rolled to the ground.

“My Lady,” Jazel pointed at the chest. “Look! There’s something in there.”

Lady Mery stopped and stared at the chest. It jumped twice. On the third time it tipped over, breaking its front panel open on the hard tile floor.

The lock that held the chest’s lid flipped open the moment it hit the floor. A black creature stormed out of the chest. It darted in their direction.

Lady Mery dropped her daughter’s hair and shrieked in terror as an enormous rodent dashed at them. Its massive front teeth impossibly larger than its mouth. Lady Mery and Jazel both backed up, cowering by the door, and held her skirts up screaming at the giant furred rat. Laiyana, on the other hand, was still stunned on the floor.

“Kill it!” Lady Mery said frantically to her servant. “Kill the rat!”

Jazel couldn’t move a muscle. Instead of taking the front and protecting her lady, she had stepped behind her, and held Lady Mery by the shoulders as a human shield against the menacing creature.

Laiyana chortled at the scene. The rat zipped past her and cornered the two against the main bedroom door. The two women shrieked in terror. It replied with a hiss, showing its big yellow teeth.

“Mr. Nibbles,” Laiyana said. The rat turned and dashed back, heeding its mistress. Laiyana offered her arm and the rodent jumped on her, climbing until it nested under her braids. It gave a loud squeal and curled itself around her like a black living scarf.

“Get this thing off your dress!” Lady Mery screamed. “Guards!” She opened the door and ran, Jazel barely making it out of the room before her lady slammed the door shut.

Laiyana adjusted her hair, covering Mr. Nibbles, and jumped to her feet. She yanked at the door. Too late. Her mother had locked it from the outside. She could hear her screaming for the guards, and people rushing to her aid.

“I didn’t know she would get that upset,” she ran to her doll on the floor and picked it up with one hand. “I should have left it where it was.” She glanced at the brass timepiece dangling around her face, and then at her doll. “Now, what do you suggest?”

“Vanish,” Feeble, her doll, whispered to her. “We have to hide now, dear. Quick!”

She looked around her room. Wardrobe? Too obvious. Under the bed? No, she thought. She would have to get out through the window. To the garden.

There was movement outside the door. The guards were coming for Mr. Nibbles!

Laiyana picked up her bag of important things and threw her doll inside. Mr. Nibbles squealed on her shoulders as she climbed on her bed and jumped on the windowsill. She opened the wooden frame and stepped through the window, which was just a few feet above the ground, but her skirt got stuck on the window frame, prevented her from fully landing on the ground outside.

“Come on,” she reached through the window, trying to release her dress.

The door opened and a guard stepped inside. “Halt,” he said running toward the window.

“Too late,” she yelled and let off her dress, turning around. Her skirt ripping as she dashed away.

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