The prequel to this — Witchfinder — has been removed. I do promise to go through the copyedits as soon as humanly possible and send the advance copies to those who pre-ordered. You’ll know when that’s eminent because I’ll remove scattered chapters from this blog. I do hope to manage it next week, but I’m not promising as I’m still finishing a novel under contract to Baen. Meanwhile, if you donate $6 and note it in the field, you’ll get advance-subscribed to this novel. I do, however, understand it can be a long time to wait, and if you want to, do so. I will continue to post chapters here, roughly one a week.
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, Earl of Savage
My charmer – and she was a charmer – was so sure she was putting one over on me that I decided not to fight her. I didn’t even hold it against her. After all, everyone needs a little hobby. And women are likely to take the most unnecessary pet if you actually tell them they’re not very good at their favorite art. Take m’ sister Honoria, God rest her soul, she was very fond of water color painting, but all her watercolors were like everything else about her: colorless, indistinct and giving you a feeling that something was badly off. However, the one time I was stupid enough to tell him that, didn’t she half create a ruckus, and run to mama and tell her that I was being cruel. Cruel. I ask you. If I wanted to be cruel, I’d have told her she was a scheming little piece and should think shame on herself.
Now I think about it, maybe I should have told her just that. After all, might have stopped her falling in love with a dragon and dying.
But Ginevra Mythborne was not Honoria for which thank the Lord. — Besides the obvious social faux pas of incest, well, what I mean is, if I were sleeping with one of my sisters, which I would not, because Mama wouldn’t half go off in a distempered freak, and besides, I’m not such a cursed rum touch with that. What I mean is, that sort of thing, likely to get you cutoff from society. Unless your society includes some of the less restrained Roman emperors. – I meant to marry Ginevra if I could.
I blinked at the thought, since I’d never come upon it. Not that way. I’d thought of bedding Ginevra, as who wouldn’t, given what she looked like, but it had never occurred to me I might want to marry her. I was surprised for a moment and wondered if I’d run mad, but the truth is that Ginevra achieved the near-impossible. She was the only female who’d never bored me. Indeed, I doubted she could. So, of course wanted to marry her. Stood to reason. Secure myself, permanently, the escape from boredom. Besides, of course, her being a charmer.
Problem was of course, would need to survive long enough to marry her. I could just imagine mama’s reaction, and it made me smile. She probably expected me to marry some prim and proper debutant. As though I’d wish myself on one such.
I encouraged Ginevra in her opening the portal to fairyland, fully expecting it to be a trap as cunning as that bomb that someone – Gabriel? His double? – had planted in my pocket.
I was almost disappointed to see that the coordinates were indeed taking us to Fairyland. When some woman is as cunning and enterprising as my fair one, one expects her to come up with something more… creative.
But then I’d noticed she’d put specific coordinates on her fairyland arrival. Which seemed unlikely if all we were going to do was get Gabriel out of a mess, what?
And then there was the arrival. She might think I didn’t know it, but I registered her little jump of surprise, like she expected someone to be here, who wasn’t. Interesting then. What had she meant to happen?
But she was a good enough actress she didn’t betray herself, and instead we wandered down the magical path that always greets one in fairyland. I kept an eye on her without seeming to. Something I remembered, from stories about Fairyland, it seemed to be that sooner or later there you walk your own path, and it might not coincide with anyone else’s. Fairyland is a devilish place, somewhere between real and existing only in people’s minds.
She didn’t betray herself until we heard children laughing, and sounds as though of children at play. And then she grabbed hard at my arm and jumped a little. Whatever her trap had been, this wasn’t it. In fact, this had surprised her.
It surprised me too, because though I didn’t know much about the Darkwater’s estate, I knew enough to recognize the piece of it that suddenly appeared in front of us. What I mean is, it was difficult not to. I’d attended that cursed engagement party between Honoria and Seraphim, and had contrived to take two… eminently approachable ladies behind that glassed in forcing house. Twice.
There was the forcing house, and, in front of it, a little paved area, which someone must have designed as a child’s play area, because there was a little table and chairs. The children playing… I blinked. For a moment I thought it was Seraphim, but then I realized it must be his youngest brother and his twin sister, Caroline. I’d never paid them much attention, but the children had a look of them, only aged about six.
And behind them, dressed in severe black, and looking like he would like very much to pass as a servant was…
He looked up and blinked at me. “I beg your pardon,” he said. “I don’t– Or at least, perhaps I do. Jonathan? Blythe? You must be looking for Seraph– For Mr. Ainsling. He’s away right now.”
I blinked back. I’d heard that the king of Fairyland had split and that his human half had gone into hiding, but damme, what kind of gudgeon seeks refuge in watching over infants?