aegis

Aegis

So, at the moment, I’ve been working on a piece of fiction to do with my princess character. It’s not a novel (I mean, It’s length, but not a novel) and very few people are going to read it. Mostly I’m writing it because I want to, and if I’m writing something I want to write then that’s better than writing nothing at all, because I’m having a really bad week.

Also I’ve still got a kickstarter to cash in where I can get my own text printed on a scarf, and if I like this enough when it hits the upper word count, then there’s a chance that I’ll get this printed up and wear it around my neck, which is awesome.

However, since it is what I am currently working on, I thought I’d share an extract of it here. Because why on earth not, and I need to do a writing post for this week. So here’s an extract from my current fiction, about my character from the tabletop Princess game I play in.

***

“She is what she is, she does what she does. And she has an entire court that loves her for it,” Aegis said.

Before he could respond, there was a faint screeching noise from in the clouds, which caused them both to look up and around.

“What was that?”

“Not sure,” Aegis was scanning the clouds banks around them, looking for anything out of the ordinary among the fluffy white expanse.

The cry came around again, and echoed around them, less muffled this time.

He looked around, spotting a princess of spades and calling out to them, “What is that?”

“Not sure, we shouldn’t get anything up this high. I mean, the only thing that would be big enough to handle the currents is a-“

Out of the cloud on the left hand side of the ship burst a dark feathered form, cresting over the clouds, eyeing up the ship, before diving back down beneath the top layer, and the boat shuddered as the bird that was at least a third of its length battered against the underside.

“Roc!”

The cry echoed around the airship, and suddenly princesses were erupting from everywhere, shouting and calling to each other, adjusting various parts of the ship as it shook again, and Aegis spotted a number of them arming themselves.

He turned to look at her, his eyebrows slightly raised as he gripped the railing to steady himself, “Aren’t you going to join in?”

“I’m going to let the Princesses with the ranged weapons tackle the moving bird as it circles the ship. If it lands, I’ll very much get involved. Until then, there’s a lot of air between us that makes melee combat somewhat difficult.”

“True,” he turned to look out over the clouds, stumbling slightly as the boat shuddered again.

“Just hold on. It’ll be fine, these princesses are professionals.”

A number of grins flashed around her as the ranged weapons appeared, searching through the clouds, tracking the shadows and valleys that appeared.

“Here!”

The call came from the other side of the ship, and more than half the princesses moved over, leaving only a few to stand guard. A number of twangs were heard as arrows and other projectiles were loosed, several of them hitting their target.

Bursting out from the cloud cover, the Roc screeched, causing many people to wince or cover ears in some cases. Even Aegis narrowed one eye in discomfort at the noise, still watching as small volleys of projectiles were launched at the creature, more attempting to drive it off than kill it at the moment.

It wheeled and dodged, making another screech, before it rolled, going over the ship this time, raking its claws against the skin of the balloon. It didn’t manage to piece through it, the magically reinforced cloth apparently holding for now, but it did batter the balloon off centre, the ropes going slack on one side, taught on the other, making the deck tilt horribly as Aegis grasped onto a rope and she spotted the Queens emerging from the lower decks.

Then the deck swung to catch up with the balloon, snapping the ropes taught all at once, swinging wildly. Aegis rolled with it well enough, the vibrations jarring up her armoured boots, but there was a startled yell to the side that had her turning her head.

“Husband!”

There was a short cry from the Queen of Hearts as Aegis also spotted him, toppling over the edge of the ship, scrabbling for handhold as he was the wrong side of the railing.

Aegis leapt from where she had been standing, crossing the deck in a few steps, reaching out, only to have his grip slip as the Roc slammed into the balloon again, and the deck jumped a few inches.

Drawing her sword off her back, Aegis didn’t think twice as she jumped over the railing herself, tumbling over so she could reach down and snag the back of his tunic with one hand, the other one bringing her sword around and slamming it into the underside of the boat, angling it to trap itself against the wood, providing a good handhold.

As expected, the impact jarred her shoulders apart as she took the weight of him dangling against the grip of the other on her sword. Adjusting her feet, she managed to place them against the hull of the boat, giving her a little extra support. She turned down to look at the Rose Groom, grinning in spite of the ache in her arms.

“Whatever happened to holding on?”

He chuckled in an embarrassed fashion, not attempting to look around to make it easier for her to continue holding onto him, “Thanks for the catch.”

“No problem. Getting back on deck might be more of one.”

“Hey,” a head appeared over the side of the railings, belong to the Queen of Spades, “how’s it hanging?”

“You’re awful.”

She laughed, and then threw a rope ladder over the side of the railing, where it swung a couple of feet away from them. Aegis gritted her teeth, then using the motion of the ship, swung him out so that he could grasp the ladder, finding his own feet on the wooden rungs and she could let go of his collar.

With quick motions, he went up and over, back onto the deck, which just left Aegis, judging the jump between her perch on the hull and the swinging ladder.

Until the Roc screeched again, bursting up from the clouds beneath them, slamming into the hull next to where Aegis was.

“Naturally,” she looked up to the sky, well, upwards anyway, allowing herself a moment of resignation as the Roc turned to fix its gaze on her.

Gritting her teeth again, she judged the wind, and then leapt, pushing off from the hull as the Roc beat its wings, head snapping at her heels. Its head brushed the underside of her foot, and she used it as another slight boost, hands stretching out for the ladder.

Grabbing the last rung, she held firm as she swung out, the massive bird missing its second attack by inches as her shoulders were wrenched for a second time in as many minutes. Hauling herself up the ladder, it got easier once she could plant her feet on the rungs, and then she was up and over, feet planted on the deck again, which was a lot firmer than air.

Taking steps away from the edge she concentrated and held out her hand, summoning her sword back into it, before sheathing it.

“Sure you don’t want to keep it out?”

“Nah. She’s got this.”

Aegis had only glanced in Her (Wands) direction, but she had already seen that her weapon was out, and that she had one foot on the railing, timing her strike carefully so that the massive lance pierced down, skewering the bird’s wing joint as the Queen of Hearts stood next to her, keeping one eye on her to pull her backward should the deck shift again, and one eye on her husband, who was standing in the doorway to the lower decks, probably at her insistence, lest he lose his footing again.

It screamed once more, blood droplets flying through the air as it backpedalled and the Queen of Wands let it slide off the Lance, watching it carefully as it changed direction, away from the airship, attempting to fly and only partially succeeding as it had trouble flapping one rings.

Aegis looked over at the Queen of Spades, “Apologies for the hole in your ship.”

She shrugged, “It’s easier to replace than he is,” she indicated him with a jerk of her thumb and a grin as Aegis shook her head at her humorous spirit.

The Queen left to attend to something, and Aegis turned away, rotating her shoulder, her hand resting on top of her armour as she attempted to stretch it out, reliving the ache that came from overuse without warming up. Footsteps faded away, then came back, and a large hand was placed on top of her own. Aegis turned her head upwards to look at the face of her Queen.

“You okay?” she asked in a low voice.

“It’ll be fine.”

The hand moved up to cup her cheek, and the two of them gazed at each other for a few moments, before the queen leaned down and their foreheads touched.

“Try not to jump overboard again, okay?”

“No promises. Might have to save another damsel in distress.”

She felt her queen smile, then withdraw, the warmth of her hand lingering on Aegis’ cheek. She smiled to herself, eyes half closing in contentment, before she turned to find somewhere she could sit on deck out of the way.

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