Candidate #3: The Red Girl

Okay, FINE random number generator. FINE. You really want to hear the story of the red-skinned orphan beauty, don’t you? Fine.

Oh, hi, human visitor. Thank you for stopping by, um… hold on..

Okay. If you have no idea what’s going on here, start with this post first.

If you’d like, you can read the first two candidates here: Slave Chip, Relief: A Place to Back Up

This next one is the same one that random number generator told me to post last time. I said “no.” Then it chose it again today. Stop being so random, random number generator!

Anyway. It’s pure adult fantasy (ugh, WHY does the word “adult” have that connotation? It’s not ADULT just “adult,” as in FOR adults. And it’s not THAT kind of fantasy. It’s high fantasy. Think Dungeons and Dragons, Tolkien, elves and trolls and demons). It’s about a beautiful and charming orphan girl adopted into a noble family, but whose identity harbors a dark and bloody secret that could spell the end of all that is good in the world.

Working Title: Tiefling

Lady Jayne was not the first to hear it through the whistling of the night wind. The two maidservants at the front of the line were.

“What is it, girls? What do you fear? None shall harm us here.”

“No, m’ lady,” said Beatrice. “I thought I heard a weeping babe, is all.”

Jayne took a torch from one of the girls, and pressed past them, around the curve of the rock. The wailing ceased the moment torchlight fell upon the tiny infant, dirty and bald and, for all that, the most beautiful child Jayne had ever seen. Its dark skin seemed to glow with rosy light. Two amber eyes gazed at Jayne with astounding intelligence, shards of color in them dancing like flame in the torchlight.

It had been many years since abandoning infants in these hills had been common. When he had come into the seat, her lord husband had forbidden the barbaric practice on penalty of death. And tonight of all nights, the most holy night of the year, these hills were sacred, open only to women of noble blood and pure heart.

In the moment that her eyes met those of the infant, however, Jayne thought none of that. She saw only the exquisite beauty of this girl child, and knew without a doubt that her presence here was a gift from the goddess. When Jayne lifted the infant into her arms, the milk sprang to her breasts.

“Beatrice, lend me your shawl.”

Jayne wrapped the child and held it to her own bare breast. She smiled at the ferocity with which the girl began to suckle. Turning to her party, she announced: “The child’s name is Evalyn, for she is greatly desired.”

The girl did not disappoint her fostering mother. By the age of one, she was speaking in complete sentences. By the age of two, thick waves of amber hair had grown to her waist. At the age of three, she spread flour to convert the front room to a winter wonderland, carried in stable mud to turn her bedroom into a swamp, and smiled with such perfect white teeth and dimpled cheeks that nobody minded.

At age four, she began pestering the library master for books on philosophy and mathematics, “and please, something I haven’t read already!” At age five, she challenged her twin brother—the same brother she had shared her mother’s breasts with—to a wooden sword duel, and won.

And when Evalyn was six, her mother made a discovery that threatened to shatter their world. She was brushing Evie’s hair for bed, running her hands through the luscious curls to smooth them down, when her hands stopped.

What was it? Had Evie hit her head and forgotten to mention it? No. There was another on the other side. Both bumps exactly the same, hard and sharp and terrifying. No, no. It was nothing. Her imagination was running away from her.

“Oh, Mummy,” said Evie, taking a break from the story she had been weaving about a fire princess and her pet dragon.

“Yes, my darling,” said Jayne, barely trusting herself to speak.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you. Why am I growing horns upon my head?”