The Talisman

Talisman by Sarrah Nussbaumer

Mace ran a finger over its smooth surface. His symbol, his luck, his talisman. The first bounty he’d ever taken from a raid. He grinned and turned back to his current prisoner, a girl about eighteen, chestnut brown hair, slim build, dark brown eyes that burned with hatred toward him.

Her name was Brissa. She’d gone to his school, they’d known each other a little. Enough that he’d remembered her the moment the others mentioned her. She was an idealist. One who thought that utopia could be achieved and war stopped forever, if only the two sides would talk and settle their differences.

Bah, talk. It was a woman’s idea. Talk didn’t belong in war. No matter how despicable war was, humans were greedy, always seeking more. Land, money, power. War would exist until the end of time because humans would always fight and no amount of talk could change that.

But Brissa had never understood that. She still thought her utopia could exist. Dumb girl. She’d learn the lesson now. She could have had respect, if she hadn’t turned traitor, gone to play peacemaker ‘carrying messages’ on both sides. Her precious cause would be extinguished without second thought and she’d shut up then.

He turned to his comrade, a fellow young soldier, “Go get yourself a drink. This one couldn’t escape me if I had one hand tied behind my back.”

Brissa glared at him, with that same angry passion she used to get while she tried to save a dying animal, while they were kids. Mace shook his head. Age hadn’t changed her a bit. She might be a woman now, but she was still that same fiery tempered tomboy on the inside.

His comrade hadn’t noticed the glaring, too happy going to help himself to the ale. A chance to drink instead of being on duty? A dream come true.

Spinning on his heel, Mace turned back to Brissa. One finger lifted her chin as he forced himself to carelessly inspect her face. There had been a time when her features were more familiar to him than the back of his own hand, but he hadn’t seen her in three years, and those years had changed her greatly.

“Tell me,” he began flippantly, as if torturing an old friend was something he did every day, “why would you throw your life away, just to end up here?”

She jerked her chin away, “Because I would rather die for something that has meaning, than live in pointless luxury.”

He grinned, so like Brissa. Of course she would. “Ah, so die saving a small child, why would you betray your own people, knowing you would end up being tortured? You knew. There was more to your decision than that.”

Her eyes shifted away but she didn’t answer.

Mace frowned, he’d hoped he could get her to talk about nothing important, so that when he had to ask the harder questions, the names of her comrades, she might list them off without forcing him to do what his commander required of him.

He gripped her chin between his index finger and thumb, tilting her face up at him, “Brissa let me make it abundantly clear, you are here because you have information. Information that you *will* tell me. Whether you tell me willingly or not I will report to my commander with what he asks for, or this will be incredibly painful for you, got it?”

She glanced at the floor. Of course she got it, he thought, she bore the scars. She wasn’t a new prisoner. Every one of these sessions had driven that fact into her mind. He sighed and rubbed his talisman again.

“You still carry that…..thing.” She noted, glancing at the twisted piece of metal. It had once been something, made of silver or white gold, but during the raid it had been melted down in a fire, leaving a twisted object with the shape of an incredibly small wishbone, but at the very top was a small hole. He’d put it on a chain around his neck. He never took it off.

He ignored her subject-change and turned off his feelings. The emotions that ran through him, pity, regret, anticipation. All blocked out. He had to be cruel.

He turned around, “Have you ever felt like glass, so easy to break, but trying so hard to appear solid?”

Now it was Brissa’s turn to hesitate, and Mace got his answer immediately. She’d already been broken in a way. There was nothing left that could ruin her. Her family was dead, he knew that personally, and she’d already withstood enough pain, they couldn’t hurt her worse without killing her.

He pounded the table angrily. Why did he have to get assigned to her? Of all the prisoners there, why her?

“Yes Mace.” He jumped at her whisper, “Of course I feel like glass. Only I don’t feel like the glass that is unbroken, and trying hard to remain so. I’m the shattered glass. Broken beyond repair. I know what fate awaits me.”

He nodded and pulled off his talisman, running his hands across the surface. Of course she knew. But he had to begin, because if he didn’t, they would know and she would only be hurt worse in the long run. He scanned his orders once more and pulled the iron from the fire. As he approached her, he murmured, “I’m sorry.”

She looked at him, not with fire in her eyes, but with compassion and sadness, “I know.”

He pressed the talisman in her scarred hands, then did what he had to do.

_____________________________________________________________
The above piece was a combination entry to Inspiration Monday, and Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press. Thanks to both of you. =)

And as a disclaimer, I did not choose to end it like I did, it was just the only thing that fit the story and the characters. I wanted him to let her go.

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About Jinx

I'm a writer, what else is there to tell?

25 thoughts on “The Talisman

  1. JINX, THAT WAS AWESOME, BUT SO SAD…NOT ONLY FOR HER, BUT FOR HIM.

    YOU GET BETTER AND BETTER WITH EACH THING I READ THAT YOU HAVE SHARED WITH US HERE ON SITE. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK HON.

    MARANTHA

    • Jinx says:

      Thank you Marantha! =)
      And I’m sorry I ended up never posting that blog award, I’ve been so busy lately I’m having a hard time finding time.

  2. THAT’S QUITE ALRIGHT, I KNOW YOU HAVE A LOT GOING ON. BY THE WAY, I WOULD STILL LIKE TO DO AN INTERVIEW WITH BOTH YOU AND YOUR BROTHER, WHEN YOU HAVE TIME, BUT YOU WILL NEED THE YAHOO MESSENGER FOR IT. I ALWAYS DELETE THE NAME ONCE THE INTERVIEW IS DONE UNLESS THEY TELL ME THEY WOULD LIKE TO STAY IN TOUCH.

    WISHING YOU AND YOUR BROTHER LOADS OF LUCK AND SENDING YOU BOTH A HUGE CYBER HUG,

    MARANTHA

    • Jinx says:

      Uh let’s see….I’m booked through until the 4th. I will be busy packing for vacation and being gone after that…..wow I’m pretty much booked through till the end of July….I *might* be able to squeeze it in on the 6th of July though….

  3. Indigo Spider says:

    Color me impressed. Is this part of a longer story? If yes, point me where I can read the rest! If no, it should be. The characters are well developed so you obviously “know” them well. The anticipation of what he had to do to a friend and his clear dismay at having to do it was great yet it was also clear that he had no choice. Her resigned acceptance of the inevitable was very believable, not contrived or forced. The ending fits perfectly. Very well done.

    • Jinx says:

      Sorry, no its not and it probably won’t ever be. I do know the characters well, but only because they’ve been in a few other pieces of mine, or in some text based role play games. I find those really useful for character development.

  4. Trevor says:

    As Indigo Spider has already said, this feels like it is from a much longer piece though it has enough to stand on it’s own.
    A really tough story that reads really well with well defined characters for so short a piece. Excellent read!

  5. Ditto Trevor and Indigo. Felt very well developed. I feel like this is the moment at which Mace can never turn back. Sad, but good.

  6. pattisj says:

    This is sad, both characters so young, yet have seen so much. You did a great job writing this.

    • Jinx says:

      Mace is actually a couple of years older than her, but yes they’re both very young. =)
      I just randomly realized I never ended up specifying that in the story.

  7. jenna says:

    I love how you describe both of these characters. I can picture exactly how they are and I can feel how long they’ve known eachother.

    Well written! šŸ™‚

  8. Kay Camden says:

    Their history tugs at me, just how it should. Bits of back story just to entice, so it can piece together in the action of the story. Very, very well done. You sound like an old pro.

  9. noobcake says:

    An enjoyable piece. I always find those types of story intriguing because it feels as if we have just dropped into their world and given a chance to observe without a build up or knowing what happens next. Good characters, rivals yet old friends? The tension was good and the dialogue sharp enough to keep me reading.

    The snippets of back story were well positioned so it didn’t feel like an information dump. A well weaved story!

  10. […] The Talisman by Jinx Writings […]

  11. solomondutch says:

    Very well written, really loved this short:-)

  12. Wow,Jinx. What a story. I felt myself holding my breath several times and especially at the end when what I didn’t want to happen had to happen!

    Great job!

  13. Mike says:

    A great story Jinx.
    A sad ending – the pain and the torture had to continue even though they both knew it would change nothing.

    • Jinx says:

      I know, I was really sad it ended that way, but the way the characters think, and that the situation had to play out, it couldn’t be avoided.

  14. pink woods says:

    Wow, this is beautiful! I always love this kind of “hanging stories.” And it seems that there is a good backstory between the two characters. Like it!

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