Ah the fantasy heroine, a feminist’s dream: strong in body and mind, a woman who is formidable and yet relatable. My aim in life is to become as powerful and brave as these women.
I love writing fantasy, I love reading fantasy, I love fantasy, full stop. So I’ve loved writing my intro to a fantasy novel with a strong female lead, so much in fact that I’ve written far to much to expect anyone to read in one post so I’m going to split it up into a couple over the next couple of weeks.
Crisp morning air swaddled the young girl as she clung to her mother’s body. The woman lay stiff, like a doll, on the cot they shared. Her skin grew paler by the minute as warmth drained from her lifeless form. The young girl’s fingers trembled and teeth chattered lightly in her waking state.
“Mama?” Her voice crackled. She learnt over her mother, took the woman’s shoulders and shook gently at first but got stronger when her mother failed to respond.
“Mama!” She screamed as tears left pale streaks on her soot stained cheeks, “please!” She whimpered, “don’t leave me” She choked on a sob that stuck in her throat, “don’t leave me here.”
Other inmates were starting to wake and the guards were lighting the lamps. A yellow haze gradually illuminated the cavern, revealing row upon row of cots, stacked high to accommodate the thousands of inmates at the salt mine jail. A shrill bell clanged to announce the morning and the guards made their rounds.
The young girl cried for help but her fellow inmates made an effort to avoid eye contact, not wanting to involve themselves in anything that could result in them being noticed. One guard picked up on the commotion and looped around to investigate then headed back to his station. Most of the inmates had finished changing and were forming orderly queues to make their daily descent into the mine. The young girl clung to her dead mother, with her eyes tightly shut. Four guards marched toward her, she could hear the echo’s of their metal toed books clipping against the stone floor.
“Up!” One bellowed in a stern voice. The girl didn’t move. “I said,” the guard grabbed the back of her shirt, “UP!” Dragged her off the cot and into air, her bare legs dangling like a dead fish on a hook. He then let her drop abruptly onto the stone, her knees cracking on contact and she could feel her skin split. But the pain never surfaced.
They marched her through tunnels and up stairs that twisted into darkness. The girl stumbled along the unfamiliar route, her toes, naked and numb, colliding with rogue stones. Suddenly she could see a bright beam of light that stung her eyes and warmed her skin.
She raised her hand to her eyes but was forced to shut them due to the pain. The rough hand of the guard was still wrapped around her upper arm. He dragged her along, she felt burning heat beat down onto her bare limbs. She heard clinking and the scrape of metal. Then she was shoved forward, onto the dusty ground, sand entered the fresh cuts on her knees. She heard the scrape of metal again and the dull thud of feet moving away from her.
She forced her eyes open, light blinded her temporarily and sprinkled phosphenes throughout her vision. Slowly her eyes adjusted to reveal a barren landscape, she sat upon orange cracked soil that begged for hydration. The only object that broke the steady Harrison was the iron warehouse surrounded by barbed-wire fencing. The girl squinted through short lashes that provided little protection from the dust being kicked up by the wind.
Feeling hollow, she picked herself up, and realised she was still wearing her nightdress. She spun in a slow circle, not knowing which direction would lead to the civilization she’d only heard about in whispers and her mother’s bedtime stories. She turned her back on the only home, the only hell, she’d known, and stumbled forward.
Now I know this doesn’t quite paint the strong heroine you were expecting, but all must have a back story, a reason as to why they are the way they are. So over the next few weeks I’m going to update Arro’s story instead of doing my weekly challenges (I’m very busy at the moment because I’ve started a new job!) I hope you enjoy!