With the return of NaNoWriMo comes the return of excerpts from my current work in progress. This scene happens in the third act between my main character Tatiana (a strong-headed, blue blooded mechanic) and Guillaume (the French air pirate who welcomed her on his crew.) Éloi is the Captain’s son and Tatiana’s love interest.
Please note that this was written super fast (I’m doing over 3,333 words a day) and barely edited.
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Satisfied, I put the musket down on the table and moved on to double-checking every piece of ammunition. Two of them had taken a bit of humidity from the port which fell within my acceptable loss ratio. I set them aside and stored the rest of them in the transport bag.
“Are we all set for tonight then?” Guillaume entered the room and sat on my bed, a small bundle of fabric resting on his lap.
I took a deep breath to steady my tone. “We are.”
“It’s okay to have doubts at this point. Every leader has them.” His face blurred as tears unexpectedly filled my eyes.
A leader. No one ever put me in that category before and the pride was overwhelming. Yet, somehow, I wanted to argue I didn’t belong there.
But I did.
“You never seem to have any doubts.”
“Sure! I point a gun at my crewmate’s family every day without flinching.”
I laughed. “You hide them well.”
“The secret is to give them free reign while you’re alone. It makes it easier to muffle them in front of the men.”
He could have fought a war and hold the same speech. I knew he hadn’t. He had, however, pooled together a group of pain-stricken men and convinced them that taking flight was their doorway to a new life. Maybe not better than what they had lost, but certainly new.
In that regard, we had assigned ourselves the same mission.
“Back when I lived in France, our house was a reasonably big one.” The sudden shift in conversation surprised me. Guillaume’s attention wrapped around the memories and I knew whatever he was about to tell, he had been holding on to it for years. “Not big enough so to give the impression that we could afford guards but bigger than most. One day, a small group of thieves decided it was worth storming into.”
I sat by his side. I had no clue why he was telling me this story but it deserved my respect and ear.
“I was out. My wife was pregnant with Éloi. I found her tied up in our bedroom. They hadn’t hurt her and didn’t steal much but she had nightmares every night after that. It grew worst after Éloi was born.”
Guillaume pulled open the bundle on his lap. The cloth revealed a fine dagger in an ornamented sheath. The complex pattern of flowers and leaves engraved in the metal made it all very feminine, if such a thing was possible for a weapon.
“I gave her this to protect herself and our son.” He transferred the cutlass to my laps.
I dared not pick the gift up. I couldn’t.
“I was in the port this afternoon.”
Somehow, he didn’t need to say more; whatever he heard triggered this very moment. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know how little time I had left to tip the scales. If war was officially declared, it would be too late for me to change anything.