Painting of Zan Zig, a magicianFor my next act, Ladies and Gentlemen, I will pull a WIP out of my hat before your very eyes! If any of you are faint of heart, please turn away.

If you follow the WIPpeteers, and most of you do, then you already know that Fairy Blood is officially in hiding. But fear not, Harsha fans (or Zeeb fans, as many of you seem to be), Fairy Blood will make a return. In the meantime, I offer a brand, new WIP, which I am serializing WIPpet style.

Currently, this WIP is titled The Queen of Bears.

Kind of a lame title, huh? Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? It  is therefore highly subject to change. I considered using The Bear Queen instead, but, well, I don’t really want my high fantasy being confused for er…  romance.

You will literally be reading this story at about the same rate I am writing it. Feel free to offer constructive criticism in the comments. You’ve heard of beta readers? Well, I officially invite you all to be alpha readers.  Bear in mind, though, that I am the ONLY WIPpeteer, as of the moment I’m writing this, to extend that invitation. There’s no reason to go rip other WIPpeteers’ offerings to pieces.  Please just enjoy their lovely WIPpets for what they are: works in progress. You may do all the ripping you feel the need for right here. (Bear in mind. Teeheehee.)

Snow White and Rose RedIt may interest some of you to know that Queen of Bears is based very, very, very, very, very loosely on Snow White and Rose Red, by the Brothers Grimm.

Alright, that’s more than enough blab from me. And now! Chapter One…

Arvid swung her soft practice mace over her head. With a hard flick of her elbow, she slammed it down. Oya jumped left, the mace missing her by a hairsbreadth. Arvid thrust her wooden sword at Oya’s belly. Oya parried with her shield before thrusting a blunt spear at Arvid. She caught the left side of Arvid’s thick leather jerkin.

“Match!” The Master’s deep voice, gritty from years of shouting orders, came in the midst of Arvid’s counter swing. Nevertheless, orders were never to be disobeyed.

Arvid swung her arm out to the side, letting the mace fall harmlessly into the dirt on her right.  “What?” She kept her eyes on Oya, weapons and feet in ready stance.

“But Master,” Oya pulled her thrust and shifted her stance to counter Arvid’s, “I barely nicked Arvid. A match cannot end until one of the warriors strikes a mortal blow.”

Master sighed. The battle-ready confidence on both girls’ faces wavered. Questioning the Warrior Master rarely worked out in a trainee’s favor. Arvid’s common blue eyes silently asked Oya a question. Oya’s rare, earth-brown eyes widened slightly in answer. They dropped their weapons, turned and kneeled before Master, offering their forearms for the switch.

“That won’t be necessary today.”

Arvid kept her head down, hiding her expression. Not necessary? Since when did Master allow a trainee to go unpunished for insubordination? It troubled her. She shifted her eyes to Kiano’s feet. Unfortunately that was all she could see of him without lifting her head. His toes offered no insight into the Master’s decision, although they wiggled a little in acknowledgement of her attention.

“The sun is setting. You two have been sparring since dawn. I called the match because I am tired.”

He was lying. Just last week Master made a pair of the men spar for nearly three full days until one of them dropped from exhaustion. Not once did he turn away or shut his eyes. Arvid knew because he required her, and her alone out of all the trainees, to watch the entire match with him. She nearly dropped from exhaustion herself before it ended. More than once an undermaster’s switch came down on her forearms for wavering in her seat.

“You’re dismissed.”

Arvid crossed both arms over her chest, hands fisted, in salute. She and Oya waited until Master left the arena before rising. When she stood up, Kiano jogged over. Arvid walked toward him, Oya following. Kiano wrapped his arms around Arvid. She returned the embrace.

WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by My Random Muse.  If you enjoy WIPpets, click on the linky – that smiley, little blue fellow – at the top of the page.

To play along, post an excerpt of your WIP that somehow corresponds to the date.

Dueling Warriors

Drawing courtesy of Jake Powning