This is a ficlet based on my novel, Resistance, out now from Inkstained Succubus Press! You can purchase Resistance here directly from Inkstained Succubus (support small presses!) or here from Amazon.
The inaugural issue of The Elvish Arrow was set to go to press the next morning. Shandolin should have been elated, but instead she was frantic, mired in the details. She’d taken over the back three tables of the Cardinal’s Nest, her favorite place to work. Madan, the barkeep and her keeper, let her sleep in the closet and let her commandeer as many tables and candles and bottles of ale as it took to get the radical newspaper up off the ground.
It had taken months of prodding, of talking big and begging to get folks to write for her. It had taken weeks of harsh criticism and soothed egos to edit all that writing. It took all her wits to haggle the printer down to a decent price. It had taken pulling strings and calling in favors to get the local gangs to agree to help her distribute the paper. All of it was paid for with Madan. He let her work it off in his bar, but he fronted all the cash. “It’s important,” he said. “This is important. Make your voice heard, Doe. Shout it all out so loud they can’t help but listen. That’s being a soldier, too. That’s part of the fight, too.”
Shandolin sat there reading and re-reading all of that work until her eyes watered and her vision went blurry. She made edits and painstakingly recopied the articles. By midnight she had a wicked crick in her neck from sitting hunched over so long, and her hands and forearms were black with ink. She heard Madan approach—a distinctive thump-scrape thump-scrape due to his wooden left leg. She heard the clatter of stoneware against the wooden table top. “Eat, Doe.”
“Girl, all you are is hungry,” Madan said. He sat beside her. The smell of bread and cheese flooded her nose and suddenly he was right: suddenly she was nothing but a ravenous hunger.
She descended on the food with a fury; all her single-mindedness transferred from the nascent newspaper to the plate. Suddenly, she looked up at Madan, at his battered, scarred soldier’s face. “What if no one reads it, Madan?” she asked. “What if I spent all this time and you spent all this money on it and no one even reads it?”
Madan tore his own hunk of bread in half and dropped a bit on her plate. He smiled. “Even if no one reads it, it’ll have been said. That’s something. Truly, that’s something. But I think people will read it.”
“Really? You think they will?”
“I do,” said Madan. “So you’d better not starve to death before you put together the next issue, eh?”