Origin stories can be fun. We all want to know more about our favorite characters. The following story is, in a way, one of those. The main character is actually the heroine of a novel I’ve been working on for… a long time. Sometimes the best way to know your characters is to write backstory for them, even if you’re not going to use it in the bigger project.
I’d been wanting to write about her beginning for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. Then the Tale Foundry writing group (yes, again) came up with a prompt that opened up an opportunity for me to explore an origin option. Perhaps I’ll return to it one day and expand on it. But, until then, please enjoy this piece!
Prompt: What’s the Catch?
The Gift of the Morrigan
A twig snapped in the forest. The sound was close, but too far from the light of our fire for us to see what had caused it. Helgi struggled to stand, hauling himself up with the haft of his spear. If he kept his weight on his strong leg, a stranger wouldn’t know his other was lame.
“Who’s there?” he called into the dark.
Three cloaked forms stepped into our ring of light. I crouched behind Helgi, a hand tucked behind my back, reaching for the knife hidden under my tunic. If they meant us harm, our best hope was that they discounted me as a threat. I was weak, small, and female, but I was quick of hand and foot.
“Oh, you needn’t fear us,” one of the women said as they lowered their hoods. She looked down at me with a comforting smile. “Take your hand from your blade, child. We have come to offer you the help you seek.”
“How did you know we needed help?” Helgi asked, hands tightening around his spear.
“The smell of desperation, grief, and death is thick around you,” said the youngest of the three. She inhaled deeply. “The last is my favorite.”
“Hush, Babd. You will scare them away,” the third hissed.
I straightened and stood beside Helgi.
“We come to offer help,” the first stated again. “Seven years of peace and protection for what remains of your people.”
“The De Danann never offer anything without something given in return,” Helgi said. “We have nothing to give you.”
“But with the gifts we offer you, you can do much for us in the future.” Babd gave us a predatory smile. “Once seven years have passed, you will be able to protect them on your own.”
“I’ll do it,” I blurted out.
“Blaithe, no!” Helgi staggered as he turned toward me.
“The ability to protect my family, our clan, on our own? To finally be useful? Even if it costs my soul, their safety is worth it.”
“Not quite your soul,” the first of the Morrigan said. “But close enough.”