Another character sample–Jenestra of Drake’s Hammer & Elise di Michaux

Okay, these two are from my first book (third in the trilogy but first written). They are friends and traveling companions. Both are majii; Jen picks up on languages, both spoken and written, unusually fast, while Elise is considered “twice-favored” as she is both a healer and an empath. They are also of different kindreds. Jenestra is a dwarf (called dwermer in my story) and Elise is human.

Jen protects Elise to some extent. She is a fighter, handy with a glaive, and keeps Elise from wearing herself out healing–or tries to. Elise hates to see anyone in pain–partially because she feels their pain–so she’ll do what she can to alleviate it, even to her own detriment. They travel in a well-equipped wagon pulled by creatures who look like pangolins. Elise was originally a character I developed for a role play I participated in and she’s pretty much stayed the same from story to story. (It took me a long while to settle on what kind of story she would work best in. I started with her in a current day Earth and branched out from there.)

So, here’s a little bit from Knights of the Hex.

“Ah-ah-achoo!”

The echoing sneeze broke through the still, heavy air of the main thoroughfare where a sole wagon traversed the worn cobbles. Birds, sleepy from the heat, burst from the surrounding trees in an explosion of wings and feathers and chiding chatter, setting the hard, turquoise leaves of the fanage trees to clattering.

The driver, a female dwarf, held the reins with one hand, keeping the other on a wide-brimmed straw hat as she sneezed in long, loud, explosions of spray. When the current string ended, she wiped watering violet eyes on a rolled up sleeve and ran a finger under her generous nose. Her placid team of draybeasts seemed unfazed by the noise, but then little bothered them. Their pliable armored hides shrugged off most buzzing pests while their well-calloused paws barely felt the cobbles, if at all. The wagon, enclosed, roofed, and made for living in, hardly tested their strength.

A groan sounded through the wide, open window behind her, prompting her to screw her eyes shut and curse under her breath.

“How are you, ‘Lise?” She turned her short, stocky torso toward the wagon’s interior where a sheet-covered woman stirred and sat up, blinking bleary, shadowed eyes back at her.

“Awake,” the sleeper grumbled. She ran a hand over her long chestnut plait to pull out a stray bit of straw. “I’d still be sleeping if you’d stop sneezing…”

“Hmph.” The dwarf turned back the team, sniffing. She ran a finger under her nose again. “I’m sorry, ‘Lise, but I can’t seem to get the hob-stink out of my nose.” When no sarcastic retort was forthcoming, she looked over her shoulder. “’Elise?”

“Here.” The sheathed, curved blade of a glaive was thrust towards her. She turned further, raising thick black eyebrows at her companion. Elise was tying her corset stays, but paused to meet the dwarf’s gaze. “It’s not hob-stink, Jen. We’re being followed. Paced, actually. Edonnan.”

Jen nodded slightly. She pulled the glaive up just enough, making the staff easy to grab. Transferring the reins to one hand, she loosed the sheath laces with the other, switching to the informal Dwermer Secondary to ask, “Ambush at the Silverrill bridge?”

“Yes, I think so. If we cross, we’re out of Padric’s territory altogether.” Elise answered in kind as she climbed out to join the dwarf. Jen maintained their pace as the other woman pinned her thick chestnut plait up into a corona.

“Jen, calm down.” Elise shot her a brief, annoyed glance before turning her attention back to the road with a grimace. “Damne! I wish I’d had time for a good purge before we left Burgeton. I’m too open.”

“I know.” Jen tried hard to keep her own irritation out of her voice. “I wish you could have had one, too, but that innkeep was more than eager to see the back of us, and I for one was glad to oblige.” Leaning over, she spat on the cobblestones, making a sigil in the air as she did. As she straightened, her eyes went wide. She shoved the reins into Elise’s hands. “I think I’m gonna … !”

“Oh no you don’t!” With an aggrieved huff, Elise grabbed the bridge of her friend’s nose with one hand. “You take the reins and let me do something about that sneezing.” As Jen blinked furiously, Elise rummaged around in a pocket set on her leather belt. She pulled out three smooth stones, grimaced, and pulled out two more. “That’s better. Black shale should do the trick.”

“’Urry up.” Jen closed her eyes; her voice sounded as if her nose was full of fleece. “I can’ ‘old id much longuh.”

Elise slid the flat black pebble between her thumb and Jen’s bridge. A golden sparkle appeared, oozing down from her fingers to cover the dwarf’s entire nose where it lingered for a few moments. Elise’s eyes glowed as golden as the power she wielded while her maje mark–a tumble of indiscriminate shapes that spilled down one side of her face from hairline to shoulder―pulsed in muted harmony. The sparkle lingered for a moment before withdrawing into Elise’s fingers. Removing the stone, Elise clenched her fist around it. A bright gleam peeked out from between her knuckles and when she opened her hand, the stone was bereft of color.

“Better?”

Jen took in a deep breath and grinned, nodding. “Much. My thanks.”

Article by Tikatu

Tikatu is the long-time alter-ego of L.D. Bennett. She enjoys cat naps, head bumps, and regaling the world with the further adventures of International Rescue.