This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

This is from an unnamed, just-started WIP, with the placeholder name of “Bluebeard,” because it’s very loosely based on that fairy tale. Every year on the Winter Solstice, a sorcerer takes a sixteen-year-old girl as his bride, divorcing her and exiling her before he takes a new bride the next year.

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One crisp cold morning, last night’s blanket of snow barely disturbed by human feet, the cart came bumping into our village. The sorcerer’s crest, an ivy growing from a split stone, dully gleamed in the early sunlight. Word spread quickly, families gathering in the square, the girls who it had come for clutching their packs, trying to seem brave, or failing that, calm.

This year it was me, Ellenyah, and Jao. Elle was fearful, yet hopeful. Girls weren’t allowed to marry until they went as a bride, so no promises had been exchanged between her and Tomas. But if she came back, and the odds were good that she would–after all, all but one girl did–then she would marry him, and his family would gain a skilled weaver and mother to the next generation. Her expression showed how she held onto that dream, carefully, in case it was ripped away from her.

*    *    *

This story is very loosely based on Bluebeard. The sorcerer is cursed, and the brides are caught up in the curse, though the nearby villagers don’t know how or why. He keeps the kingdom safe with his magic, and his brides tie him to a land he couldn’t otherwise protect. There are other ways to do this tying–but his curse demands a bride.

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About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

29 responses »

  1. I love how you’ve shown what’s at stake here, through Elle’s hopes and worries. I expect this to be a page-turner!

  2. Frank Fisher says:

    Good descriptions. I particularly like the one about fresh blanket of snow before people step in it.

  3. Spooky and wonderful pictures you’ve painted. Intriguing story you’ve created.

  4. Evelyn Jules says:

    Wow, what a fascinating premise. And your opening scene paints such a vivid and frightening/hopeful picture. Wonderful job!

  5. Alexis Duran says:

    It’s like the opposite of The Bachelor, no one wants to be picked! Great job of depicting how hard it is on the girls.

    • Well, some girls do. If you’re not too attached to your homeland and family, it’s a year of service in exchange for some learning and money. Not a bad trade, really.

  6. Carrie-Anne says:

    I love the world you’re building here, and the look into what’s at stake for these potential brides.

  7. Beautiful writing. I love how you set the scene so completely and show the reader what life is like for the girls. Great job and I can’t wait to read more:).

  8. Ed Hoornaert says:

    The girls’ emotions come through loud and clear. I wondered what interesting complication you meant when you said girls weren’t allowed to marry until they went as a bride. It sounds like stating the obvious, but then I figured you probably have some other meaning in mind that I couldn’t get from this short snippet.

    • Hmm, I’ll look at it and see if I can clarify. But basically–every girl has to go as a ‘sacrifice,’ a bride for a year to the sorcerer. You can’t disqualify yourself by marrying before, or anything. Everyone goes.

  9. Sarah W says:

    May the odds be in Elle’s favor (I think our narrator will probably take care of that, or it will be a somewhat shorter story than expected!).

  10. Gemma Parkes says:

    It’s an excellent snippet, full of intrigue- beautiful writing and I love that last line!

  11. Eden says:

    Nice details. You captured Elle’s hesitation and hopes very well. And you made it clear our narrator somewhat empathizes with her…

  12. chellecordero says:

    It’s a year of servitude, mystery and uncertainty. Some girls come back, but the unknown sounds frightening. Great tension and intrigue.

  13. Hanging on every word, Caitlyn! Write faster. I want to read this. 🙂

  14. Elle may be in trouble! Gosh, you’re killing me here. I’m thinking he is going to fall in love with her and keep her, could it be? Is it next week yet? I’ve got to read more!!! Great job!

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