Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
A curse can be a powerful thing, especially when cast on a great hero…
Onto the story:
It was hardly fair, Jess thought from her sprawled position on the muddy grass. But lately, when was it ever? Above her and to the left the tower of hope gave up towering, and the headquarters of the resistance tumbled to the ground. Her discarded sword left a dent in the dirt beside her, but although the setting sun beat down, no reflection shimmered on the muddy blade.
She groaned and rolled over with a wince, as her right arm twinged beneath her. Bruised, fractured, or worse? What would it be this time? Once upon a time her bones never broke, or even bruised, but since that day in her fathers tomb her luck had changed for the worse. Now they’d lost another kingdom, and it was all her fault.
Her left hand fumbled for the hilt of her sword, and when her fingers closed around it she shuddered despite the warmth in the air. ‘Cursed blade,’ she muttered, as she used it to push herself to her feet. She leant on it heavily as she staggered away from the tower, and the fallen soldiers littering the base. Progress was slow, but steady, until her foot caught on a tree root and she slammed face first into the dirt.
‘Need a hand?’
Jess brushed the dirt from her face, and her cheeks flushed as she looked up at the familiar figure. ‘Thanks Cass.’
Cass helped her to her feet and grimaced at the remains of the tower. ‘Hell of a mess, Jess.’
‘Yeah… I never meant for this to happen.’ She ran a dirty hand through tangled hair and grimaced as her right arm twinged. Not broken, she wasn’t in agony when she moved, but probably bruised. Small blessings.
‘This and the last, what, twelve times?’
Jess scowled. ‘You know it’s not-‘
‘Your fault. I know.’ Cass gestured to the sword. ‘Still can’t get rid of it?’
Jess shook her head and fell into step beside her. ‘I threw it in the ocean last night, yet when I woke it was taunting me from its place in my scabbard. I don’t know what to do.’
Cass had no words of comfort for her. Between them they’d tried everything, but no matter what they did the sword always returned to her side.
When they reached camp they were greeted by a flurry of activity as carts were loaded around them. Only their tent remained standing. Jess sighed and hobbled beside Cass towards the fire pit, followed by the whispers of the few survivors.
‘…Supposed to be a renowned hero.’
‘I wish we’d never sought her help.’
‘If it weren’t for her, the tower would still be standing.’
She kept her head down, and her eyes on the flattened grass. ‘Do you think I’ll ever be worthy?’
Cass glared at her, but it was softened by her smile. ‘You always were in my eyes. Can’t be helped if a bunch of dead guys don’t see it.’
Jess frowned and eyed her through messy bangs. ‘Even after we fled home and left it at the mercy of Alexandra?’
‘You had no choice.’ Cass nudged her. ‘Hey, no matter what you do you’re stuck with me. Just like you are that sword.’
They reached a smouldering campfire, and Jess stuck the sword in the dirt with a growl. She slumped to the ground and pulled her knees to her chest. ‘Thanks Cass, you’re a great friend.’ Maybe more, someday. For now it wasn’t worth the risk. The dark curse had already taken her brother, and run rampage over her home and reputation. She couldn’t risk Cass too.
Cass slumped beside her. ‘Tomorrow we’ll regroup, and, cursed or not, take the enemy down.’
‘Really?’ Jess peered through dirty bangs and glanced furtively around the nearly deserted camp. ‘Just the two of us?’
‘Yup, same as always.’ She flinched as a whip cracked, and spun around as a lame horse dragged a crooked cart, stacked with survivors and provisions, past them. ‘If it’s just us, no one else gets hurt.’
‘That’s what I’m afraid of,’ Jess muttered. She stood and staggered towards their tent, with a backward glance and a scowl at the sword. Maybe her luck would return, and someone would steal it whilst they slept.
Cass slung an arm around her waist. ‘Can’t get rid of me that easily. Come on, you look like hell. I’ll take first watch.’
Jess nodded, and her shoulders slumped as she let Cass bear some of her weight. Sleep sounded like a dream, and her eyelids fluttered shut as her friend lowered her to her sleeping bag. Darkness welcomed her, and her heavy limbs felt lighter as consciousness left her.
Warmth assaulted her, and when darkness fled at the sound of cheers she knew she was dreaming again. She stood before a crowd, Cass’s warm eyes twinkling with mirth and her arm slung over her shoulder, but instead of jeers they sang her praises.
‘You saved us all!’
Jess frowned as the dream faded, and she sat up to take her turn as lookout. She’d been a hero before, a glimmer of hope in dark times, but ever since she’d taken the sword she’d been cursed to fail, unable to stand up to even the most petty villain, let alone the terror who stole her throne. Were her dreams harsh reminders of her former glory, or a taste of her future?
She rubbed her hands together to stave off the cold and glanced at the sword. Suddenly a vision assaulted her, and, with a certainty she couldn’t explain, she knew she must return the sword to her family crypt. Until she earned the right to wield it she’d be nothing more than a cursed hero, doomed to find solace only in her dreams.
Thanks for reading!
I’ve had two new ideas I’d like to expand on recently, and this is one of them. I like the idea of a cursed hero, and her adventures as she tries to overcome the curse.
I start my MA in Creative Writing tomorrow 😀 More on that in next week’s post!
Share lines with #sunscribbles every week on Twitter, or write a short story based around one of the prompts. The prompts for October are:
One word not enough? I post expanded prompts on Pinterest:
‘Are you sure you want to do this?’
She looked at the tome and bit her lip. ‘No, but what choice do we have if we want to break the curse?’
If you use one of the prompts feel free to share your story links in the comments.
See you next week!