Here’s a scene I wrote using the tips described in this post. My starting point was this wonderful concept art! Enjoy!
“M’lord, we found her,” Adrian’s advisor said, bowing before the king.
Adrian nodded, gesturing to his guards to relax at the advisor’s sudden entrance. “Bring her in immediately.”
The advisor then turned, pointing to the door. The guard nearest opened it. The woman was escorted in, though Adrian could clearly see there was no point in his guards who looked positively shabby next to the legendary woman.
She did not bow her head as she drew near. She was dressed in a tunic of many materials, all wrapping tightly around her torso and her head was covered in a cowl, but what struck him was not the long thin sword at her hip, or the magic dancing in between her fingers, but her face. Which he couldn’t see. It was behind a smooth, shapeless mask that seamlessly blended into her cowl. There were sword marks hacked into it, likely from previous encounters, and the smooth surface was scraped from years of use. There was one eye hole, and though he could not see the eye, stories said it was deep and endless like the sea, but held many more secrets than even the vast ocean.
Adrian gestured to his guards and advisor to leave the room. Once they were gone, he left his throne, advancing slowly on the woman.
“You are a hard person to find…” Adrian struggled with what to call the phantom in front of him. “How should I address you?”
“If you are hiring me, whatever you wish, son of Abrinac,” she said, her voice airy and surprisingly feminine.
Adrian closed his mouth. What should he call her? This legend? In the flesh before him? She was a destroyer of armies, a slayer of beasts, a master of magic, a friend to none, but a foe to many. She had no allegiance, no place to call home. In the most basic sense of the term, she was a sword for hire.
“I would like to hire you. As a companion for a journey I must make,” Adrian said at last, not settling on a name at once.
“What is the job, son of Abrinac? My contract must first be in order,” she said.
Adrian nodded. “In good time. But first, surely you can understand that I can’t hire you on the basis of legends and stories.”
A chuckle laced her voice like poison. “You want a demonstration?”
Adrian barely nodded. He was playing with fire and they both knew it. But she did not hesitate, drawing her sword swiftly and smoothly. Adrian blinked and found the blade inches from his throat, suspended. He tried to move, but the room had grown dim except for the figure, who was glowing with a greenish light. Her hands were engulfed in magic, and though he could not move, he watched the magic dance across the room, around the blade, sizzling as it went by his head.
Now she was advancing on him, slowly, with ease. “Normally I kill those who ask for such a petty show, but, son of Abrinac, you, and your heritage intrigue me. I am as the legends describe, but not everything makes it into the stories, young king. You’d do best to remember that.
Adrian tried to nod, as the woman took hold of her sword, the magic vanishing from the air releasing a harsh cold over the room. She sheathed her sword, standing in wait for Adrian.
“What is it you want me to do, son of Abrinac?” she asked at last.
Adrian straightened, his eyes brightening. “Are you aware of the stories of the Portal in the centre of the world?”
“For centuries it’s been said the centre of the geographical world, but I believe it’s the core of the world, and I know a way down,” Adrian said, the stories his father would tell him ringing in his ears.
“Adrian, my son, you are going to inherit a peaceful land. You will be able to chase whatever dreams you can catch. I hope you find what your heart desires.”
“I would like you to join me on my journey, as protection, as companionship, as a guide of sorts,” Adrian said.
The woman’s shoulders shifted. “I see.”
“What is your price for such an expedition?” Adrian asked.
Her hand resting on the pommel of her sword tightened. “What’s on the other side of the portal, son of Abrinac?”
Adrian faltered. “There are stories, but no one knows for sure. It could be a portal to another world, it could lead to the future, or the past, or any number of things.”
Her hand was shaking now. “There is no telling what happens on the other side of the portal. You would risk your life, the security of your kingdom?”
Adrian had thought of this. “I have a council ready to take over in case I don’t return, but I don’t plan on dying.”
“What do you think is on the other side of the portal, son of Abrinac? Surely you’re not stupid enough to chase a legend alone.”
Adrian swallowed. “I want to find my parents and I believe that’s where the Portal will lead me.”
Her grip loosened now, and her hand fell to her side. “It’s been nearly a decade since they disappeared.”
Adrian nodded. “I’m not waiting for a second decade to pass. Name your price.”
She was still. “There is only one thing I want, son of Abrinac. To disappear. Forever.”
Adrian’s brow furrowed. “I don’t understand.”
“I want to go through the portal,” she said.
Adrian felt like it was a trick. “That is your price? Not gold, power, land?”
“I have had all that, son of Abrinac. All those things fade away, yet I continue. Let me go through the portal, and I will accompany you.”
Adrian shrugged. “If that is your wish, I cannot deny it.”
She nodded, and now, her head bowed. “Then a contract is made. Seal it by giving me a name.”
Adrian swallowed. “Zaraj.”
She looked up. “Dragon tongue. What does it mean?”
“Nameless one,” Adrian said. “Zaraj.”
And he could have sworn she smiled.