This is my audition for the character sketch. 2, 000 Words.
|Besa wants to cry, but doesn't give into the temptation, a rising burn growing behind dark eyes. If there's one thing the merchant has taught her, it's that it's fine to feel feelings, so long as you never show them. She keeps this lesson carved in the forefront of her mind, reviewing its merit over and over again as she stands with her hands held above her head, legs spread, the sharp blade of a sword pressing into her back, her body being searched by clumsy hands (perhaps intentionally so, as they wander back and forth from her hips to her chest) for concealed weapons and small treasures the bandits can enjoy after a job well done.
"Wus dis?" The heaviest of the lot (five in total; one with his sword pressed into her back, one with hands roaming her body, two tugging hard on the reins as they try to force Blanket to submit) plops down on a large rock, Besa's belt stretched out unceremoniously across his lap, fat fingers stretching wide the opening of her small pouch, turning it over and dumping out the small wooden toy horse.
Besa can't feel the hot breath of the bandit on the back of her neck, doesn't notice he's sheathed his sword, joining his companion under the pretense of searching her body for hidden treasures. Her senses have left her body, attuned only to the plight of the toy horse, and it's her own fading polished wooden skin being stroked and turned over by sticky fingers, weighed carefully by calloused hands. Besa wants to shout up at the monster from where she lies frozen in his palm, Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!
Suddenly he does, and Besa's slammed back into her own body as she watches the heavy man toss the toy horse over his shoulder in casual dismissal, and she loses sight of it in the passing shallow stream coursing through large boulders and tiny pebbles lining the grassy bank. "NO!" Besa screams, and the bandits gleefully exploring her body laugh as her heated terror breaks through the ice.
"Aw, c'mon Lass, we on'y wont tuh be friends." The bandit behind her places a soft, chaste kiss on the nape of her neck, another on her shoulder, his sharp nose nuzzling the dark curls coming free from the loose braid she'd managed the night before, and the bandit in front continues laughing, his hands starting to tug down on the tunic Besa wears.
Her attention leaving the shallow river where her toy horse has been forever lost to her, forever caught in the rapid tide, Besa's skin sparks in awareness of the danger she's found herself in. The heavy one is ignoring his surroundings, grinning at the gold he's found in a second pouch, but the other two bandits have finally managed to tie Blanket to a nearby tree, throwing rope over his mane, binding his front hooves to the bark. His outraged whinny travels down the road, but Besa knows no one will come to help. She chose this road for a reason.
"Get away from me," Besa snarls, her hands lowering to push against the bandit in front of her (all their faces are masked by black cloth, but she can make out brown eyes, shades lighter than her own, sparkling back at her, filled with mischief, as if this were a game they were all playing, everyone in on the joke), but the bandit behind grabs her arms, his fingers pressing forcefully into her wrist. It hurts, but Besa shouts more useless words to keep from crying. "Get off of me, don't touch me!"
She's forced to bend, her knees hit the ground, and there's a circle of four men and her in the middle, lowered before them, and she knows this is bad, this means trouble, and panic is a ladder of chains forced down her throat, swinging down the slide of her lungs, fear climbing quickly step by step. No. No. This cannot happen to me. There must be something I can do. This cannot happen, not to me, not to me, not to me.
Everyone is laughing, save her and Blanket, both screaming in their own way. Besa's way is silent, her eyes burning, but still she refuses to have tears. She knew this was a possibility. A lone woman traveling by herself, with only a horse for company, a small dagger for protection, and she hadn't even been sure of which direction to go, where the Chalice could possibly be. Her only hope had been that toy horse, her only purpose had been Belastar.
Belastar... She closes her eyes, as the bandits lean in close, their breaths mingling into one firestorm lapping at her skin, trying to scorch her. She thinks of her son, she sees him giggling in her mind. Besa knows she's worth nothing, she knows her body is already desecrated and used, she really deserves nothing better than to be a plaything for any passing men seeking a good time. But Belastar needs her. Belastar who is special, worthy of life, happiness, honor and respect. Besa can't let herself be hurt because she has to continue on, find the chalice, save her son.
Fingers creep up her tunic, a palm flattens against her belly, and gentle kisses mask greedy grins as they pepper across her cheek. Besa clenches her eyes shut, muscles tensing, and thinks hard about the spell she'd traded for two locks of her hair from the witch two towns ago. It would only work once, and wouldn't last long, but perhaps it would be enough. It has to be.
She's on the ground, she's covered from all sides, arms and legs pinned, and more and more of her dark caramel skin is being revealed. Besa opens her eyes, and sees a blue gaze creeping closer, the bandit's smirk forced against her lips. Besa presses back, and the bandit is at once pleasantly surprised by her submission, and too late realizes that Besa's mumbling words against his lips.
"Gerardar." She mumbles, teeth bared, the tip of the bandit's intrusive tongue nipped. "Gerardar!" There's a flash of something; not quite light, not quite wind, but something unseen flares (not quite heat) and ripples and sweeps through the air. "Gerardar!" Besa roars again for good measure, but the spell has done its trick and the men surrounding her (on top of her, kneeling beside her) are frozen. Besa breathes (one breath... two breaths... three...) and jerks her arms out from under two of the men, thrusting up and forcing Blue Eyes to roll off her.
Besa startles, jumping to her feet and whipping around to see Heavy drawing out a sword, slashing the offending air as he approaches her as quickly as his stumpy legs will allow.
"You a witch!" He screams it at her, continuing to brandish his sword.
Besa's instinct is to run. She can easily lose him behind, but she was warned the spell wouldn't last long, and down the road they would all catch up to her once more, take their reward is a less gentle way than before, and she'd have no spell to save her. So she straightens up, and matches the beefy red face with a steely glare.
"Yes, I am." She forces a smile to spread across her face, it slithers across flushed lips. "I was being merciful with your compatriots. Come closer, and see how much mercy I have for you."
He pauses, uncertain, sword still drawn, and Besa still wants to run away. But for Belastar, she needs to stay, free Blanket and retrieve her gold and weapon, be as prepared as she can be for the trials ahead. After a moment, Besa arches a dark brow, and steps forward, a challenge in her growing smirk and darkened gaze.
"Try me, fat man." Besa even manages to laugh, and sound older than her years. "I could use the exercise." Her fingers flex in exaggeration beside her, and as she raises them in a quick motion, Heavy flinches and steps two paces back, raising a hand and sword in surrender.
"Don' urt me!"
"Run." She growls in warning, and Heavy's eyes grow wide and his body turning to obey her command, dust from the road rising in a billowing cloud behind him.
The moment he's gone from sight, Besa's whole body sinks into herself, dropped from the powerful persona the spell had afforded her a chance to play. She almost can't deal with the transition, every angle softening until she's back to herself. Young and scared, desperate to return to the soft cradling warmth of her young son. But she has to push on, throw herself into more upcoming dangers. Get the chalice, get home, heal Belastar.
With Blanket still whinnying in the background, Besa quickly gets to work, crouching amongst the remaining four bandits, drawing out each of their swords and judging them carefully. She chooses the two of best quality and binds them with rope in hopes that she'll be able to sell them in the next town. The other two she cradles in her arms and hurries to the river, bare feet slipping on small pebbles and tosses them into the stream. As she turns to where Heavy had sat, she crouches to gather up the gold, when something struggling in the shallow stream tugs at her peripheral vision.
"Oh my," A sigh of wonder escapes her, and Besa's slim fingers reach between smooth pebbles to tug the toy horse from beneath cool water and dirt. She brings it to her lips, a gentle kiss, and finally the tears come. "Oh, thank you... thank you, thank you, thank you." She isn't addressing anyone, but maybe there's something in the gentle breeze, passing across her face, gently wiping the thin streak of tears trailing down her cheeks.
She gathers up the gold, she straightens her clothes, swings the belt around her waist and latches the clasp. She goes to Blanket and cuts him loose from his binds with the sharp dagger she owns, and saddles him up again. She's ready to leave, forget this whole incident (she's good at forgetting, ignoring and moving on, feelings and experiences shoved deep down inside where memories go to die) but she glances back.
It's a strain on her nonexistent arm muscles to drag the bandits so that they lay on their backs side by side. Besa pants, dirty and exhausted, but crouches in front of their heads and tugs off each mask one by one to observe their faces and watch their eyes meet hers from upside down. "I should maybe kill you guys," She hates that her voice trembles, and it comes back to her, shoots through her body, stings her blood, the knowledge of what they would have done to her. "but I can't. I don't know how. No one taught me how to be evil. I wish they had, just for this moment, just so I could punish you as you deserve."
It burns in her throat, and it's Belastar who holds her back. His health will always be more important than her own petty vengeance. Besa watches as feeling begins to return to the line of frozen faces, each bandit beginning to twitch, their eyes slowly blinking. Besa stands, and there's nothing more for her to do, but saddle up and ride on, leave and escape as quick as she can. But someone else will come along, another girl they can hurt, and she won't be like me. She won't actually deserve it.
Her leg draws back, and suddenly she's kicking dirt and sand into widened eyes who blink too slowly, and can do nothing to stop the onslaught. Besa leaves quickly, thighs clenched around the bareback of her horse, urging Blanket to ride faster, as screams rise unfiltered through the air behind her, the spell wearing off, the bandits now forever blind.