Today for Free Fiction Friday I decided to go with my first published story The City of the Ladies!
On the matriarchal world of Muirin, seven-year-old Anwyn of the Dana Clan had no interest in going to the Delbhana Clan’s big party. Her arch-rival Siobhan would be there and Anwyn had promised not to pick a fight with her, no matter how tempting it was to break the older girl’s nose. When Anwyn’s efforts to protect her twin brother Cadfael from Siobhan’s bullying failed, she was ready to fight even if it would get her in trouble with her mother and aunts.
But an escalating series of near-fights between Anwyn and Siobhan led to a dare that Anwyn couldn’t turn down, not after Siobhan failed so miserably at it. Accepting the challenge was the only thing that honor and pride would allow her to do, as well as the only way she had to protect her twin from Siobhan’s bullying. So Anwyn marched off to the City of the Ladies, that alien fortress of crystal and silence in the middle of the river. What she found there was worth all the teasing and fights that had lead up to the challenge: the mysterious Ladies themselves at the heart of the City that the Delbhana Clan wanted everyone to forget.
I hope you enjoy the story!
The City of the Ladies
“Why do we have to go to their stupid park?” Anwyn demanded for the fourth time.
“Annie,” Mother said in her second most seriously warning tone of voice. “Quit it.”
“But why?” Anwyn insisted. “You hate the Delbhana Clan, Mother! I hate them. The whole family hates them. Why do we have to go to celebrate some big park they set up?”
She waved her hands at her Uncles who were busy packing carts full of baskets with food, blankets and several big tents so that they wouldn’t all be sunburned by the end of the day. Mother groaned, rubbing her forehead before glaring down at Anwyn. She had that expression that said ‘I’m glad that you’re a smart girl but do you have be so smart right now?’ All around them Anwyn’s aunts shouted orders and hefted the things that her uncles couldn’t lift. It was like loading a ship before it sailed only they were going out of the city to the new park that Siobhan’s stupid grandmother had ordered built.
If it was any other family besides Siobhan’s family, Anwyn would have gone willingly. The chance to get away from her lessons and training would be wonderful. But it wasn’t. Siobhan was a brat and a horrible bully. Anwyn knew that this was going to be horrible, even if her mother refused to admit it. As Anwyn and her mother glared at each other, Anwyn’s oldest sister, Gwen, tugged at her sleeve, trying to get her to come along with the other kids in the family to their cart. Anwyn shrugged her off.
“Okay, let’s go over this for the fourth and final time. Mind, the only reason you’re getting another run-through is this is part of your business lessons, girl,” Mother said. This time the glare was serious enough that Anwyn knew she couldn’t get away with asking anything else or else her butt would be spanked so hard that she wouldn’t sit down for days. “The Delbhana Clan are bragging about the new park. It’s stupid. We all know it’s stupid. Frankly, the whole damned city knows that it’s stupid. The park is going to flood and wash away as soon as the spring rains make the river rise. But they’re making it out to be a big deal and saying they gave the city a huge present. All they did was block the flow of the river and hide the City of the Ladies behind their stupid dirt mounds. Us attending is pure politics.”
“I got that part,” Anwyn said impatiently. “It’s a big whoopa-whoopa party and the Delbhana are spending tons of money on it. Why are we going though? We don’t need to go to their stupid party, Mother! Why are we playing their game?”
“We’re going because anything the Delbhana can do, we can do better,” Mother declared grouchily enough that Anwyn actually felt a tiny bit better about having to play nicely with Siobhan. “They make a park and have an opening celebration? Fine. Lovely. We’ll throw a party to beat all the parties ever held and we’ll hold it smack in the middle of their stupid park. Show them how it’s really done. The Dana do parties better than any other clan in the whole damn country!”
Mother waved a fist at the sky as if she was getting ready to hit the Tripartate Goddesses themselves and to challenge the Ladies in their own city. Anwyn grinned at her until Cadfael ran over, carrying a little basket full of napkins. He shoved it into Anwyn’s arms and stuck his tongue out at Anwyn when she squawked. Before she could give it back to him Cadfael ran off to help carry other things for their uncles. He completely ignored Anwyn’s angry glare. Anwyn would never understand how her twin could be so different from her. There were things to understand and do but all he cared about was getting petted for helping the grown-ups with the stupid party that they shouldn’t be going to anyway.
Then Mother grinned as she ruffled Anwyn’s flaming red curls. “No more questions, girl. We have a party to put on and you’re going to help whether you like it or not.”
“I don’t mind helping,” Anwyn spluttered as she tried to knock her mother’s hand away without dropping the basket full of napkins. “I just don’t want to deal with Siobhan!”
It’s also available as a 6″x9″ Trade Paper Back for $5.99 via CreateSpace: here, or you can also buy it on Amazon here. If you’re interested in getting one of the very limited Special Editions ($15 + shipping) please contact me. I have a handful left.