This novel will get posted here a chapter every Friday or Saturday, or occasionally Sunday. If you contribute $6 you shall be subscribed for the earc and first clean version in electronic format. I think it will probably take another three months to finish. Less, if I can have a weekend to run through and get ahead of the game. It hasn’t happened yet.
NOTICE: For those unsure about copyright law and because there was a particularly weird case, just because I’m making the pre-first draft of my novel available to blog readers, it doesn’t mean that this isn’t copyrighted to me. Rogue Magic as all the contents of this blog is © Sarah A. Hoyt 2013. Do not copy, alter, distribute or resell without permission. Exceptions made for ATTRIBUTED quotes as critique or linking to this blog. Credit for the cover image is © Ateliersommerland | Dreamstime.com
Jonathan Blythe, the Earl of Savage
The thing was that it didn’t take me all that long to realize the king of fairyland had to have split into more than his human and his magical self. The person staring at me was all of 22, I thought, and looked much like Gabriel had when we were at Cambridge. He blinked owlishly at me, as though he had absolutely no idea why I’d appeared in his estate or what exactly I might want with him.
I understood this to some extent, and wondered if he’d somehow divided himself into periods of his memory. And then I wondered into how many pieces he’d divided himself, precisely.
I’m not the world’s best power reader. What I mean is, I can tell a witch from a commoner, and a shifter from a normal human, but that’s about it. I can’t discern levels of power.
Only of course, the level of power in Gabriel, once he’d come into his full inheritance and become king of fairyland had been… immense. So that I couldn’t so much see the glow of power around him, as everything stood in the glow of power around him. Even when he was reigning it in. Even when he visited Earth in his quasi-human persona.
But this Gabriel, assuming this was a piece of him and not a clever impostor, showed about what Gabriel’s power had been when we’d been in Cambridge. Decently high, but not astounding magical power.
And that was impossible, when his majesty the king of fairyland commanded in potential all the power of his subjects.
The other thing I realized was that Ginevra was very uncomfortable, clutching at my arm and breathing fast. I would like to make her breathe faster, but not like this. She felt scared, like someone who is barely keeping herself from screaming.
Upon my honor, I’m not a subtle man. I’m cunning, granted, when I absolutely have to be, but this didn’t seem like the time for it, so I looked at Gabriel and I said, “No, your Majesty. I’m afraid we’re not here to see Seraphim, but you, Night Arrow.” Only I said Night Arrow in elf-language, which is devilish and makes you feel like you gargled with gravel and thorns.
At the name, Ginevra clutched at my arm so hard, I felt like her nails would pierce the skin, but all Gabriel did was stare, then sigh, then shake his head. “Do not call me that,” he said. “I was expelled from Fairyland, and I have no wish to go back. I have no right to that title and no right to that name, nor do I wish to ever have it?”
Question. How do you treat an amnesiac king? I had no idea. I’d read an awful lot of stories about people who had amnesia, but it always seemed to me that it was just a way to duck away from your mother in law, escape the wife, and go have a grand old time, while claiming you didn’t remember anything.
I’d used the amnesia thing in a small way once or twice with both papa and mama. “Where was I last night? I have no memory. I must have drunk a little too much.”
But real amnesia?
Being myself, I decided to try blunt force, first. Which, oddly, didn’t mean hitting him on the head until he came to his senses. Oh, I wanted to. I wanted to rather badly. But first we were in fairyland and he was the king. It is said when you strike at a king you must be sure to kill him. I had a strong feeling that went over in spades and with bells on for fairyland, because to an extent the king was the land. I really didn’t want everything around us to rise and clobber me on the head. Though many would say no difference at all would be noticed.
So, instead, I said, as brazenly as I could, “So, your majesty, why did you plant a magical bomb on me?”
That was as big a fizz as the time when my friend Squeaker – that’s Gilbert Branson, Earl of Lochlamora – tried to impress that young lady in her first season by exposing himself to her. All right. So squeaker had had a few too many. Or a many too many. But the rest of us, also somewhat the worse for the wear, mind, would never forget the look she’d given him, after he’d let the fall of his pants down. There was that disdainful batting of eyelashes, and the long suffering sigh, followed by, “If that was all I had, I’d keep buttoned up.” Why, George and Michaelson and myself had gone off in peals of laughter, until Squeaker had challenged us all to a duel, but that is a rather involved story better left for another time.
In this time, in this strange land, Gabriel, or whatever part of Gabriel this was, looked at me with a blank expression and said, “Beg your pardon?” and then, “You know I don’t run in your set. If someone played a magical prank on you, it was not me.”
What else can you do? I did what I had to. I said “Night Arrow,” again, in a stern tone, or at least what I hoped was a stern tone. It’s fairly hard to judge when it sounds like you’re trying to rip masonry to shreds with your teeth. “You are in fairyland. And you are the king.”
He just frowned at me. “Beg your pardon,” he said again. “I should offer you refreshments, or call on someone to come attend to you until Seraphim returns.”
And as though he’d pressed a bell, there was the Darkwater butler, looking markedly younger, hurrying towards us.
Was this Gabriel’s idea of calling reinforcements? No. All these, the butler, who I was sure was still on Earth, and the children playing merrily around him were projections created by Gabriel. And Gabriel, in whatever form this was had less power than I.
The thought hit me like a blow between the eyes. And then I was reaching, with my magic, stopping the playing children, stopping the butler. Making them appear immaterial and semi transparent.
“Jon, no!” Ginevra said, but she underestimated my power, and this was easy, and Jonathan looked at the stopped figures and then towards me, his mouth dropping open in shock.
“You are the king, and you’ve gone mad, and these are just figures you’re spinning. You’re not fooling anyone Gabriel Penn, Night Arrow, Your Majesty. You must, I’m afraid, face the music.”
He swallowed once, twice. He looked at Ginevra on my arm. He looked at me. His lips formed words. I thought it was “you fool.”
And then around us the world became a dense cloud of grey fog. Cold grey fog.
I heard the baying of hounds, and I felt like the cold and wet fog was reaching right into my mind.
“Come and find me,” Gabriel’s voice said.
And then he was quite gone.