Since I don't have anything worth writing about this week, here's a small character study from something I'm trying to work on. It's not much of a story, just me trying to get into a character's head and life a little. I've been having trouble with, well, everything, so I thought trying a different approach might help. No idea if it will.
Sophie lives among the undead, and never knows when she’ll join them.
Soon, they tell her. They tell her every day. The ones without voices, she sees it in their eyes, behind the dead blue glow. The ones who speak, they taunt her, their rattling voices telling stories of her inevitable end. They want her to become one of them. They want her to suffer as they do.
But Sophie knows they won’t kill her. They can’t.
Some of them still try to hurt her. They lash out as she walks the halls, swords and claws and chains and skinless fists striking at her, trying to make her scream. Over the years, she’s learned to endure it in silence. Every time hurts as bad as the first, but if she cries, they’ll try harder to make her cry again.
The new ones, the freshly raised, are the worst. They vent their rage at her, at all the living, in frustration at what they’ve lost. Some part of her still pities them, and she wonders if she’d do the same in their place. She hopes not. She hopes that death won’t make her cruel.
Sooner or later, they learn she hurts, but she can’t be harmed. She knows the way their blades feel, knows the difference between swords and axes and daggers by the way they try to cut her. She knows the sound of hammers on flesh, from all the times they’ve tried to break her. And the undead try, again and again.
But no weapon makes its mark. And eventually, they get bored and leave her alone.
When the change came over her, she doesn’t know. But the land is littered with the corpses of dead gods, so no one’s a stranger to magic they can’t explain. All she knows is the day she discovered that pricking her finger on a needle drew no blood, that holding her hand over a candle didn’t burn her. She felt the pain, she felt everything, but came away unharmed.
A wyrd, they called her, a name for people with magic from nowhere. And when the Lord of Bones came to her hometown, they offered her as a sacrifice, pleading with the undead master to spare them all in exchange for one.
For while any town’s people could become undead, the mayor said, what other place could offer a girl who it seemed nothing could hurt? And wasn’t the Lord of Bones skilled in the ways of magic and fallen gods? Perhaps he could learn the way of her wyrd, and make undead that couldn’t be stopped?
So the bargain went, despite the screams of Sophie’s parents and her own. Too many were willing to trade someone they didn’t understand for their own safety. And the Lord of Bones spared the town and took Sophie away.
She supposed she ought to be grateful; she saved so many lives. But she refuses.
Sophie sees the Lord of Bones whenever he wishes; his servants drag her from her room at all hours for his tests. He hasn’t yet learned how she works. He hasn’t yet learned how to kill her and preserve her wyrd. Every day, she wonders if this will change. Every day, she finds the faintest hope, that he would call her a mystery he can’t solve, and set her free.
But every day, he threatens progress.
In her years among the undead, Sophie knows her body has remained the same. Her hair hasn’t grown, she’s lost no weight though food is often scarce, and her reflection in glass looks as it always has. She tries not to think that her wyrd is somehow preserving her, keeping her always the way she is.
Because if that’s the case, then it could be that she cannot die. And she doesn’t want to know what the Lord of Bones will do if he cannot make her one of his own.