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ABK

writer & photographer

Sorsha, Warrior Princess

She has always known that she will never be as much as her mother. Not as good — good is a word that few would use to describe her mother — but as much. Her mother is everything.

She can’t stand the thought of being a pale imitation of Bavmorda, so she trains to be a warrior. Her mother fights with words and magic; she will fight with might. She trains her whole life and becomes her mother’s most trusted ally—but never the leader of her army; that honor goes to Kael, even though she is the superior fighter. She does not question it but buries the disappointment down deep and works to show her mettle.

Then comes the prophecy.

Bavmorda imprisons all pregnant women and orders all midwives to her dungeons. Sorsha oversees the inspection of the babies, looking for the one with the birthmark that spells doom for Bavmorda. She questions nothing.

And one day, the child is born with the mark on her arm. The prophecy is true, and Sorsha goes straight to Bavmorda to tell her. In that time—so quickly!—the midwife steals the baby and escapes. It takes months, but Bavmorda’s wargs find her. The baby eludes them still, but Sorsha is determined to find her; to make it right with her mother. Bavmorda, angry that all she’s seen is the remains of the midwife, orders Kael to help Sorsha in her quest. Sorsha tries to object, but Bavmorda doesn’t listen.

Then one rainy night Sorsha raids a tavern. There's something off about the woman in the rose-colored dress holding the baby. Why do none of these men question this absurdly buxom lass? Oh. That’s why. Sorsha, who has no time for men and their foolishness, reveals his disguise with a flip of her wrist. But she never saw Lug coming, and the man in the dress escapes with the baby and a Peck. Her men give chase, but somehow the baby’s protectors luck out once again.

Finally Sorsha catches a break and captures the baby, the man, and the Peck at the lake’s edge. Slowly they caravan back toward home. The man is impossibly saucy with her, but she notices that he cares for the Peck when they encounter snow and the Peck falters.

At camp, Sorsha triumphantly shows Kael her prize. Now, at last, her mother will be pleased. The very next morning, her prisoners somehow escape their cage and the man finds his way into her tent, no doubt looking for the baby. But he can’t resist stealing a kiss. She pulls a blade but he says terrible things, claims to love her. He isn’t afraid of her. This is new.

Kael hears the disturbance and bursts in, breaking her reverie, but it’s too late. He distracted her and the baby is gone. Slipped through her fingers. And worst of all, Sorsha wants to be distracted. She can only watch as the trio escapes.

When she catches up, he’s waiting for her. He ambushes her and takes her prisoner. Perhaps it was all a trick. His friend Airk speaks freely in front of her, and Madmartigan and Willow explain their plan to take the child to Tir Asleen. Surely she is dead now that she knows the plan. He uses her as cover for their escape, taking her with them.

He holds her too tight on the horse, and says he doesn’t remember declaring his love. He says it just…went away.

“I dwell in darkness without you” and it went away?

She runs. He catches her. She sees in his eyes: it didn’t go away. She runs again. He watches her go. It didn’t go away.

She reunites with General Kael and leads him and their men to Tir Asleen. It’s crawling with trolls, but there’s only Madmartigan to mount a defense. The men aren’t as afraid of the giant troll as they are of General Kael. Why can’t she be as commanding as he is?

She watches Madmartigan fight off her men left and right, then catapult himself across the moat to save the Peck. What inspires such loyalty? Is it the Peck? Or is it the baby, who they are still protecting? He slays the monster and she has the chance to catch him, to kill him—but she finds herself kissing him instead.

In the fracas, Kael grabs the baby and rides to Bavmorda at Nockmaar, even as Airk and his men arrive. Willow seems broken, and Madmartigan promises they will rescue the baby. Sorsha finds her allegiances in question. She does not leave them.

She approaches the castle at Madmartigan’s side and watches as her mother turns the men into pigs. She begs Bavmorda to stop, and is rewarded with terrible, blinding pain. Being transformed into a pig is the pits. She is surprised to find herself a woman again, transformed by Fin Raziel, who Willow has somehow returned to her true form.

Time is of the essence. She knows her mother has already begun the ritual. Willow has a plan to get inside the castle; the men do not agree with it, but Raziel believes in him and Madmartigan comes around quickly. It’s time.

Kael laughs when Willow and Raziel call for surrender. He orders the gate lowered, and her men—his men—ride out to kill the sorcerers.

After what seems an age, Willow bangs the drum and they rush from their ferret holes and storm the castle. Inside the walls, Airk leads the troops and Sorsha leads Willow and Fin Raziel to her mother and Elora Danan. Her mother's men attack, but Sorsha cannot be so easily defeated. Bavmorda herself tries to kill Sorsha, her own child. Everything goes black and Sorsha’s allegiance is changed forever.

Sorsha comes to in time to see Bavmorda send herself to the netherworld. She learns later that Fin Raziel saved her; Willow saved Elora; that Kael killed Airk and Marmoartigan killed Kael to avenge his friend. Sorsha would like to have killed Kael herself, but if she could not, she is glad it was Madmartigan.

Everything changes. Sorsha no longer has to be as much as her mother. She can be as good as herself. She can care for Elora Danan and rule the kingdom fairly, the way her mother never could. She can make Madmartigan take a bath. He cleans up pretty good.

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