This might work as part of the very first scene in a fantasy/historical story, but for now I'm leaving it as a character sketch for one of my OCs
, a Nubian warrior princess named Neith (illustration here
). I hope the dialogue and characterization come across well in these few words, or is this too short for a decent character sketch?
Neith's Target Practice
Neith nocked an arrow against her bow, aligning its head with her target’s eye. She stretched and tensed her arm muscles as she pulled the string taut. Even though she clenched its grip in a fist, the bow wavered in her hold. The cold perspiration washing Neith’s dark umber skin did not come only from the sun’s baking above.
She slipped her fingers off the string. The arrow zipped over the grassy courtyard until it went thunk into the round leather target. It missed the red dot in the middle by half a finger’s length. Neith moaned and muttered a curse under her breath. Only one arrow out of ten remained in her quiver now, and not one of the past nine came close enough to hitting the eye.
“Well shot, my little lioness!”
So spoke her father, King Djeserka of Nubia. With a beaming smile across his wizened face, he clapped his hands from the arcade of columns that surrounded the courtyard. The sunlight reflecting off his gold jewelry gave the King an even stronger, less welcome radiance.
Neith narrowed her eyes in the glower she returned to him. “You know I don’t appreciate that, Father,” she said.
“Don’t appreciate what? I thought you liked your lioness nickname,” Djerserka replied. “You certainly did when you were still little.”
“I meant your praise. How could you call any of these ‘well shot’?” Neith pointed to the arrows embedded into the target. “I can’t even hit the eye after nine tries!”
The King chuckled. “Yet you never stray more than a quarter of a cubit away either. Given that you’re standing so far from the target, you aim better than half the army.”
Neith cocked an eyebrow up, shaking her head. “You know for sure?”
“Trust me, in my time I’ve seen hundreds of men who couldn’t hit an elephant if it stood one yard before them!” Djeserka walked down to his daughter and rested a hand on her shoulder. “My point is, you should show more pride in your own skills. It’s like you hold yourself to standards higher than any goddess.”
“You did name me after the goddess of the bow, didn’t you?” Neith tapped a finger on the hieroglyphic cartouche inscribed in her necklace’s ankh. “Am I not supposed to live up to that name?”
“Ah, but even the divinities make mistakes from time to time, and you still have a mortal body. You can’t expect to hit the eye every single time, you know.”
“But one miss can make the difference between life and death, and you know Mother found that out the hard way!” Neith’s eyes dripped wet with tears as her mother’s face flashed in her mind. She wrapped her arms around her father and cushioned her cheek into his chest.
Djeserka patted her woolly crown of hair. “Your mother caught many leopards before that one who caught her,” he said. “You don’t even dare to try. Maybe what you really need is the opportunity to apply your skills in the field and appreciate them.”
Neith’s blood stung cold and she recoiled from her father with a gasp. “In the field? I thought Nubia stood at peace these days.”
“Peace and war come and go like the seasons. Certainly they will after you take my place on the throne, my little lioness. Or would you rather Kawab inherit it?” Djeserka winked once he invoked the name of his eldest son, Neith’s younger half-brother.
“Anyone but him,” Neith said with a grimace. “Well, if I’m to follow in your footsteps, Father, I still need more practice at this, if you don’t mind.”
She slid out the last arrow from her quiver and nocked it against her wobbling bow. The perspiration came back to chill her trembling body. Murmuring a prayer to her namesake goddess, Neith drew the string back and then released the arrow.
It struck the edge of the target’s eye.
edited 7th May '13 5:21:12 PM by Jabrosky