Miscreation Excerpt: Helping in the galley

miscreation-mdI’ve been doing some more writing for my new serial, and I’m having fun. The tricky part right now is that I have ten characters to introduce in a short amount of time, and I don’t want all of them to run together. But it’s also kind of fun, because I’m trying to set up situations where I can put just a couple of characters together at a time, and thinking about how their different personalities and motivations work or clash.

In this scene, a new passenger on board the ship is looking for something to do, and ends up helping the cook in the galley, making one of the first friendships between a passenger and a crew member. Not everyone will get along this easily. (And readers from A Flight of Marewings may recognize Aristia as the girl who broke into the late duke’s garden and had an unfortunate encounter. I saw from reviews that some people thought she died? There’ll be an explanation in the serial.)

It’s a bit of a long excerpt, but I just loved this interaction between the two of them.

Leina laughed. “I’d love your help when you’re not busy, Aristia.” She waved a hand at the room crowded with barrels of food, cooking pots, and hanging herbs, then winked. “On a ship, we call this a galley.”

She beamed. “I didn’t know that! I’ve never been on a ship before. Do you have different names for everything?”

The cook nodded. “Oh, we have lots of different terms. Like this front part of the ship is the ‘fore’, and in back is the ‘aft.’” She worked as she talked, with the skill of long practice, stuffing grape leaves with a rice mixture. “You’ll pick it up soon enough. I bet you must be really smart to be an apprentice for a mage.”

Aristia blushed and looked down at the soup, afraid that she would mess it up if she didn’t pay attention. “Well, I dunno about smart.” She chewed on her lower lip. “I didn’t go to school or learn nothin’ until a couple years ago, when my ma started working for the duke. My teacher said I was catchin’ up to the other kids, but there’s so many big words in those magic books. The mage said he would help me learn better.”

Leina looked over at her with a sympathetic smile. “He must have had a good reason for picking you, though.”

“Yeah, something.” Aristia shifted from one foot to the other and looked up at the ceiling. Someone had painted brightly-colored flowers and vines on the wood, curving up the empty parts of the walls to the ceiling. “It’s so pretty in here. Did you decorate it yourself?”

The cook nodded. “I had to do something to brighten up this dark little hold.” She pointed at a brilliant yellow circle in the corner. “I bring my own sunshine.”

Aristia looked at Leina with a smile. “Yeah.”

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