Today’s excerpt is again from my work in progress, Sword of Names. At her grandfather’s urging, Elthwen, the young daughter of the king and twin sister of Elthric, has changed into Tolmer’s clothes. The disguise, he insists, will keep her safe on the road and help hide her true identity from the bad guys who probably mean to kill her.
“I am afraid I will fool no one with this disguise.” With a sigh, she dropped the garment she clutched to her chest and opened her arms. Through the coarse-woven wool of the tunic, her nascent breasts made barely a wrinkle.
He smiled and opened his mouth to speak, but quickly reassessed the wisdom in proffering his candid observation. Indeed, she had grown. The progression from coltish girl to young woman—with all the complexities and annoyances associated with the female sex—had been hard to ignore, especially over the past few years. Yet, even a blind man would sense her want of certain feminine attributes. Outwardly, she lacked the fineness of feature and figure—some would call it beauty—that graced her mother’s face and shapely form.
As Elthwen grew through adolescence, so did her perception of these qualities as imperfections. If only she could see, he often pondered, that her features—while by no means plain—revealed a strength of character and intelligence that had long ago opened her child’s mind and heart to the world around her. It was obvious in her direct and penetrating gaze—the way she studied a flower or peered into a person’s eyes as if they were books to be read. The set of her jaw—noble without pretensions—a trait she had exhibited since her earliest years. But Nirmanath in Her infinite wisdom had chosen as her lot to be long in the leg and flat as a fintil seed cake.
“I was about to say that you make a fine-looking lad.” He could not lie to her. “Except for your hair…”
The pained and angry look with which she regarded him conveyed the tangle of thoughts and emotions coiled up inside her. He could not blame her, after all she had been through…all she had experienced over the past three days.
“It is only for a short time, my sweet. Until we reach Elyndrus.” His light touched her with gentle warmth. He smiled again and flicked his finger over her cheek. “Now put on your cloak before you catch a chill.”