[Author's Note: This happens after "Eveining Respite" in Phoenix Rising. One could say I'm psycing myself up to enter the brain of my matermind General, but for r I'm just trying to figure out Marcus and why he's as annoying as he is.]
Marcus stared at Smith’s back stunned. How could he, no she, be so flippant? It still boggled his mind that Smith was female. He turned back to his bed scowling and shucked his armor. The female bit explained some things, like why he, no she, never joined in the bathing and the way she called them boys. Boys! He was nineteen for the Gods sake, and a man.
“I think Smith has the right idea.” Reed’s statement broke into his thoughts.
Kirk and Aaron extinguished the scones as Marcus rolled into his bed. He stared at the ceiling upon which rain had started to fall. Well that would make a mess of the trekking tomorrow, he thought, wondering how Smith would do. He’d seen him, no she, Marcus corrected himself yet again, find her warrior way during sword to sword. They’d brought Phoenix over to break her trance.
How much did Sergeant Phoenix know? Smith had mentioned she had hidden nothing from him. She didn’t seduce him to get him to recommend her to Scouting? That was impossible. It went against everything that he knew about Phoenix. He was a Lord’s son, his father a cousin to the King himself, his Mother the best Madame trainer of the kingdom. He was told to be fair and honest, and though some resented his quick rise, Marcus heard more about how deserved it was. In fact rumor had it he had been captured by General Wholowski and had come back, with his men, all of them.
Marcus furrowed his brows. So how did Smith get a recommendation from Phoenix? He’d seen the pride in the Sergeant’s face the moment before he stepped in to break her from her warrior way. She was good in sword fighting at least. He hadn’t seen her in hand to hand and he knew her archery was pitiful. Rolling onto his side Marcus sighed. She had bested him, veteran Hopeful of three years, under a Willow. A Willow with an audience? Did the Gods have to be so cruel?
Why where you so cruel to her? A soft and gentle voice whispered in his mind. Marcus sat up and listened to the rain and the sound of his mates sleeping. His eyes flicked to Smith. What if he took his dagger and gently ripped her shirt? When she rose she’d expose her bindings. Then Reed, Aarron, Kirk and London, the traitor, would know who they had become friends with.
Marcus silently climbed out of bed, slipping his dagger out from under his pillow. He crept the couple steps up to where Smith slept in the middle of the room, the only place they had been able to put a spare bed. Very carefully he pulled back the covers. Smith snorted and rolled over in her sleep. She was now facing him, her face peaceful in sleep. It was a perfect opportunity. He readied the dagger and gently tugged her shirt away from her body.
Do not do it! Marcus froze at the commanding voice in his head. He looked at his hands, ready to befoul a woman. What was he doing? Marcus stepped back, suddenly horrified. He had pulled all those pranks to assert his authority and the fact that he ruled the Hopefuls. He’d gone further in his pranks than any before because she would not acknowledge his rule.
So why did the others follow her? He was the one with experience? He was the one with a noble birth? Smith was a nobody from a place no one even heard of. Probably a cover up for an ignoble birth. Marcus stepped forward again.
“Jay,” Smith sighed and rolled over again, somehow managing to take the covers with her.
Marcus scowled and went back to his bed. Throwing on a pair of pants he left the room. A woman should not be a Scout. He stomped down the stairs and out of the barracks. Rain fell upon his head, quickly matting his hair to his head as he marched to Commander Josiah’s house. But when his feet finally stopped Marcus found himself underneath the training grounds Willow.
He looked up into the braches that seemed to glow slightly. Smith was a better leader wasn’t she, despite the fact that she was female. And he, he was just a failure. He ought to have become a Knight, but the Grand-Pairents had deemed his faith was not strong enough. Now he was approaching his third year of Scout training. If he failed this year he would have to go home in shame. A nobleman’s son who was not even good enough to defend his own King.
Marcus sunk to his knees tears mixing with the rain on his face. He hated Smith for making his short comings obvious. Hated her for being female and then being better at skills only a man should have.
We would tell you her story, the soft gentle voice spoke to him, that you might understand, but the time has not come for that.
Nor likely will, the deeper commanding voice spoke to him, for your paths are separate.
Keep faith child, the gentle voice comforted him. You have not failed.
Yet, the deep voice warned him.
Marcus looked up into the branches of the Willow tree and the light that had seemed to shine from them when he arrived had gone. Slowly he stood. Smith had said she was here because of top secret King’s business, though he did not understand her phrasing. Now it seemed to be the Gods’ doing. Marcus stepped forward and placed a hand upon the bark of the Willow.
Had that really been the Gods speaking to him? He, the one who had not had enough faith to become a Knight? He thought they only spoke to the Grand-Pairents. The tree seemed to rustle with laughter and he looked up its trunk. Suddenly his cheeks felt hot, they knew about Smith. He had not yet failed, and he would not fail.
Marcus turned and marched back to his bed a new resolve formed in his mind. He would pass the trials and he would do it on his own without cheating in any way. Forget Smith, she had nothing to do with this.
I will prove myself worthy, just you wait and see. I will not fail, not this time!
[The Gods and Elorithryn converse about the above passage]
Oh dear, the Great-Grand Moyther looked worried as she gazed upon Marcus, that was not the reaction I was expecting.
Me neither, Elorithryn muttered as she sat between the Vervellian Gods. I suppose I ought to have. I mean he was created as a bully and you have to admit he couldn’t just go suddenly accepting Sarah just because she bested him in a wrestling match and pretty much outdid everyone in sword fighting.
The Great-Grand Fayther chuckled. You’ve got some rewriting to do in the next few chapters now.
Yeah, Elorithryn sighed, but I think Marcus will be a much more believable character now. It’s hard to keep all your personalities from become mine you know.
The Gods smiled and gave her a kiss to the forehead like parents before disappearing to where ever it was they lived in her head.