Fey Dangers Lurk in the Night: Snippets


I would like to give you an actual snippets post. While I have been writing, I have not been writing much, and so I've been quiet on that front. But I'm a writer, so I write. It's what I do.  Please forgive my hither-and-yonly attitude; at present I am going where the wind takes me.  At present I am also fighting a most damnable cold, and caught up in the speediest reading of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall that I can manage, so you can see how one's writing might slow...
snippets various
What is it?”
I noticed that, although considerably on the alert now, she took the letter regardless.
“It is a letter of introduction, madam.”
“Hmph!” Nevertheless, while I teetered on the edge of dreadful suspense, she ruthlessly opened the letter, and for a moment the room was quiet as she read. What I suffered in that awkward silence! My mouth felt dry, my head felt cold. 

Well?” demanded my cousin, leaping to her feet. “Who was it? You were hardly gone five minutes.”
I looked at her stupidly, barely registering her words.
Rudely, she pulled a face, presumably imitating my own. “Dunce-cap! Who was it? Lord! are you deaf? Tell us who it was! Who would come to see you?”
Of a sudden my mouth was dry, dry like cotton, and my heart felt stone-dead in my chest. “No one,” I said softly. Somehow my weak and feather-light body crossed the room and sat in its chair. “It was no one. It was a mistake.”

He turned at the clear sound of my abashment. For a moment—barely a moment—I had a view of his face, but I lost it again as he turned to me, his silhouette blotting out the light.
“Did I surprise you?” asked his disembodied voice.
I blushed. “I do not know how you perceived me. I made no more noise than a cat.”
“I could hear a cat.”
I had no footing to stand upon and felt smaller than ever in his presence. How tall he was, I noticed, and slim, built like a racehorse, somehow dwarfing the dark, looming furniture of the room. He seemed at once a long way off, and yet too close. Had he been any other man I would have stepped forward, closing the gap, to make us more comfortable in our mutual humanity. But with Mr. Tennfjord one could not quite be human.

Thankfully, he tossed away the topic like a spent match. I was conscious of it smouldering, but he seemed not.

Amy said briskly, “I’m as that glad naught become o’ thy sister, but I say nobut ought to be out o’ that hour. Naught good comes o’ folk out and about so late! ‘Tis a God-forsaken hour. Maybe I live in a household o' heathens,” the girl said frankly, “but I believe that strong as fey dangers lurk in the night for folk as foolish enough to be out when they ought to be abed.”
“Can’t help wondering if the dog didn’t do thy sister a good turn. Made sure as she got home safe, nenny touching a hair on her head.”
“Aye! Fey-like.”

Not like thy brothers. Art soft as a girl,” she mused. “Pretty, too.”
With an otherwise motionless face, he smiled. “Do you know why they call us the Devil’s cubs?” His smile faded. “My bones are made of iron, and my marrow runs with flame.”
She half-turned away, darting him a look under her lashes. “Not ice-water? That was the tale I heard.”
Quick as lightning he snapped out one hand and caught her a pinch under one ear. Scared and hurt, she screamed and yanked free, a hand on her neck, her eyes wide and flashing with alarm and rage.
“Thou—blackguard!” she rasped.
Bruin relaxed. “Yes, now you better know me. Do not provoke me.” 

The Commander was there already, with his shadowing orderly and the first-degree captains, including the man who had escorted the garrison’s supply of beef, herself, and her manservant. The cheap animal-fat lights made harlequin shadows of their faces, reddened, tough, veneered with cheerfulness over a growing tension. Someone made a joke and the lights seemed to flicker up, bolder, brighter, more golden now than red, and their faces were changed likewise with flashes of genuine mirth. In their cold, backwater outpost which was hardly of any account to the cartographer, they had their own ring of companionship. In their way, they loved it and were content. Nostalgia and loneliness bit at [her] where she ached under her right collar-bone. 

[She] looked down at the thing she had drawn from her pack. It was her chain of office, links of Pallas-metal enhanced with a single viridian spinel pendent in the shape of a branch. The firelight turned the white metal to gold; the gem breathed in the light and hid it away in the depths of a single facet, from whence it glowed a hot, angelic green. As she raised her hand a fraction, the light grew, as though taking a breath for a deeper plunge; light-bolts of fire flickered off the links.
“Philip,” she said, “let me have back my cloak.”

In a blank madness of depression I hurtled out of my chair and ran to the sideboard. A knife! A goodly, sharp knife would do the service. My hands flew among the tumblers and crystal bottles. I could not see. With one lip bit between my teeth, I held back all noise, but I could not wholly stop the tears. Glasses! amber fluids! waxes and seals! Where was the knife?
I shot open a drawer and the knife nearly flew out at me. I fumbled, caught it, cut my palm. Through my tears I had a dim impression of a hummingbird in silver, with one wing dripping red. Irrational shock sent the room lurching.
“By the twelve houses—not you also!”
Windows—doors—furniture swept round in a jerky movement and I stumbled headlong into a man’s chest. Arms gripped my head so that my mouth was crushed against a massive upper arm swathed in linen. I could not breathe. With all the animal panic in me I fought, kicking, writhing, screaming in muffled bursts.
“Maria! Maria! Maria!”
The arms shook me loose and flung me to their length. I wavered, dizzy with terror, then my eyes suddenly cleared and I found myself looking up into Goddgofang’s face, cleft with stark-blue concern, his teeth doggish bared and his eyes white like a horse’s as he stared down at me. He looked at me as though I were alien.
I felt alien. 

Catch. Catch,” breathed Alwin.
The wind guttered; for a second the sleet dropped back wholesale.
Dear God—his hand tightened on his sword-haft.
The first bale took in a colossal plume, white-hot and blinding. Light flooded the field and shone yellow off hundreds of horn-crested helms, naked swords, chain-mail shirts and chain-skirted horse-flanks. The ranks went on until the circle of light faded, and still, Alwin knew, there were more behind.
“Fire the engines!” he shouted. The bale would burn down soon, with such paltry tinder to scorch. “Ten—Eleven—release!”
Shunk! shunk! ch-r-r-r—clunk! Engine Number Eleven released on command, her handlers springing back as the arm hurtled backward, dragging the stone in its trough, and came free, arcing into the air with the blue fire etching her swan-wing arm against the night sky. Looking up, Alwin saw the net come open and eject the stone into the abyss.
The bale went out.
Darkness flooded back in.

Beautiful People: Drakeshelm

I was going to do an update and snippets post, but further up & further in posted September's Beautiful People questions, and they looked doable for my Drakeshelm manuscript, which I'm currently working on.  I went back to the very beginning and wrote the first chapter.  Going from the ground up.  Thumbs up - yay me!  I've taken out a few questions because it would be unutterably dull to get your interest piqued and then hear me say, "I...honestly have no idea.  What bearing does this have on my novel?" so I've inserted a few old Beautiful People questions to make up the difference.  Whoo.

In case you forgot or are new to the story, Drakeshelm is roughly sixth in line after my published novel Plenilune.  Yes, it's a long way down the line, but here comes the plot, so who am I to say nay when the spirit moves me?  
beautiful people: drakeshelm
She is in a crisis.  Who would she really like to see right now?
The mouth gashed backward into a crazed smile, and he wondered that he had not recognized that face before and the bloodline behind it. The movement seemed to bring Philip into view and she swung her head like a horse toward him. The man came forward a step, and the combined movements seemed to push [her] over the edge. Her eyes watered and she staggered forward, sobbing out,
“Philip! Philip, help me. I hurt—so much…”

Is she easy to get along with?
The ambassador was still looking down at him in that way, lids drooping a little, her mouth in a kind of mocking smile which might have been unconscious, but he doubted it. He felt the fully-formed desire to hit her steal into his brain.

She is in the middle of a huge crowd.  How does she feel?
With a pedigree and a misanthropic turn of nature, Drakeshelm is often annoyed, but usually self-possessed.  Like many who feel they do not owe the world anything, she will watch and she will judge and she will ultimately ignore.

Does she believe in luck or miracles?
Yes.  If they are of her own making.

Does she like and get along with her neighbours?
“I would like to kill you,” said Alwin after a pause.

If she could travel anywhere in the world, where would she go?
The headwaters of the Himmajol, the Shangri-La of Plenilune.

How does she feel about her body?
In terms of vanity, she puts the peacock to shame.  At the same time, she is human and sometimes wishes she were taller, or had ginger hair, or were a brunette, or didn't chew on one thumbnail when deep in contemplation, or grind her teeth when she sleeps.  Like you and me, she has good days and bad days.  But this question has really very little bearing on the novel.  At least now you're in the know, I suppose...  Hope you're happy.

Does she have any enemies?
It would be marvelous for someone of Drakeshelm's personality to not have enemies.  And it would be a stupid plot if I didn't involve antagonism. 

What is her strongest childhood memory?
Standing on a bench at the rough-hewn trestle table in the workroom of the kitchen in her family's farmhouse, watching her father drain honey into glass jars.  Never mind that directly afterward she was hit from behind by a passing alaunt and was thrown onto the floor.  The romanticism of the moment remains.
Out from under the shadow of the wall, Alwin could dimly see her face. It was no less finely bred than her horse’s, but had no softness about it as had the animal. The mouth was jewel-cut, deep scarlet, and the eyes were a demonized pale blue that held no warming tint of mercy.