Sorry to be ridiculously late posting this but after an early wake up to get #2 son to an event on this snowy morning, we got back in bed to stay warm. I have been reading a stack of books on being young in England just before WWI — not sure where this is leading yet. It’s one of those cravings. Some glimmer of a mystery series, maybe, but when I don’t know since there are all sorts of popcorn kittens ahead of it. We shall see.
Meanwhile, despite being cold I couldn’t stand being in bed anymore, and besides I have copyedits on Sword and Blood (under pen name Sarah Marques) to go over, I have Darkship Renegade to do a last pass to (I have a theory that now that I’m no longer depressed I can clean it up a bit — might be wrong, who knows? But I had a sense of the voice being slightly askew on that one, I just couldn’t fix it. We’ll see if I can now. BTW this might be imagination, as I felt the same way about Darkship Thieves, but four years after writing it reads fine.) and it needs to be at Toni’s and done by Sunday evening. There’s also a Musketeer Vampire world novella to finish. Oh, and the trademark “Kitten and Dragon Christmas Card” to draw. So. No rest for the wicked. I’m up and about to go fight the coffeemaker, then get dressed in something warm so I can work.
I should go to the thrift store and see if I can find something for an art desk that allows me to use the monitor for models, but this MIGHT wait till next weekend because I don’t know about y’all but I don’t feel like carrying heavy furniture in light snow.
Now below is the continuing installment of Between The Night And The Morrow.
Through the flawless palace of fairykind Prince Darcy came striding, his spurs striking the glimmering floors in rhythm with his angry footfalls, his mouth set in a tight line, his eyes flashing the fire of displeasure.
If he were asked, he could not even say what had first disturbed him. The way Miss Elizabeth Titania Bennet so adroitly set the spells of enchantment upon him, or the way she’d let her middle name slide out so smoothly, so uncaring. Worse, he couldn’t tell if the fact that his anger was not directed at her had more to do with the fact that she had bespelled him, or the fact that he’d been lied to by his king and grandfather.
He and Bingley, aye, and Carola, also, had ridden their fairy steeds from the mortal world and through the magical forests of the night, on the way back to the hill, and he was vaguely aware that Bingley had tried to talk to him, that Carola might have tried to gentle him. He had some confused memory of her hand on his arm, trying to call him from his black mood, but he had not talked. And he’d not stopped. He’d spurred his horse on, and now he drove himself on, ignoring the courtiers that bowed and the ladies that curtseyed, and even Georgiana who said, “Fitzwilliam!” – his childhood name.
And now that he thought about it, it struck the ear as a very unlikely name for a fairy prince, a Lord of the elves. And now that he thought about it, he felt his teeth grinding upon each other, even as he heard his sister’s agitated steps speed up to catch up with him.
In vain, as he’d reached the doors of the throne room, smooth, polished doors being opened for him by two tall elves with the dark hair of the southern peoples, the marble countenance of those brought up in the king’s service. The King! Prince Darcy’s grandfather, who had much to explain!
He sat in the throne, in his full majesty, Titania beside him, the lady for whom Miss Bennet was named, and Darcy snorted at it, and approached far too close to the throne before he remembered to halt and bow. And even then he would never have done it if the guards at the foot of the throne stairs hadn’t moved, in a sudden slide, as though to block his attack. He wondered what his face must show – and what his magic flare – if they’d react thus to a prince of the blood.
“Darcy!” the king said, a tone of surprise in his voice, but he did not ask what happened, nor demand that Darcy give a report, as he doubtless would normally do. Instead, he stared at Darcy, his mouth a little open, his eyebrows rising. And Titania, his lady, leaned into him and clutched his muscular arm with her delicate hand which appeared to be gloved in spider web woven entirely of silver. But she said naught.
“Your majesty,” Darcy said, after what felt like a very long time, in which he strived to find his voice. And then, because he felt as though he needed to remind himself of these honors, as much as he needed to remind the one he addressed, “Sovereign of the high court of the elves, Commander of the magical isles, King of the storm and the lightening, Emperor of the Air,” he took a deep breath. He saw his grandfather start to half rise from the throne with alarm and wondered how oddly his voice must ring. “Whyfore did you lie to me?”
The king opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again. His wife’s hand squeezed his arm, visibly. “I?” he said. “Lie?”
Darcy inclined his head, not only in respect, but because he’d prefer to look at his highly polished boots, and the silver spurs shining on them, than at his grandfather’s face, right then. What he read there, he was afraid, would lead him to commit some folly. “You, your majesty, lied to me, your own kinsman, you liegeman, as you sent me out to brave the mortal world.”
The king said nothing. Perhaps it was better that he did not speak, Darcy thought, and looking up, he found that the king was looking at him, his expression indecipherable. “You lied to me, your majesty, when you said that the Bennet girls were descended from your majesty.”
“But–” the king said, and looked genuinely puzzled. “But… they are!”
“Oh, aye, and that they might be, but you know, as well as you know the uncounted years of your unnumbered life, that there are ways to lie which have nothing to do with words. You led me to believe… you led me to assume… that these girls were the result of an… an encounter with a mortal. Nothing more.”
The king again didn’t answer. Darcy fancied that he looked paler. “When in fact, your majesty…” he cleared his throat. “Both your majesties know that this cannot be true. That these girls are, in fact, descended from both of you. That my grandmother is these girls’ ancestor as surely as you are… grandfather.”
The magic the king tried to throw at Darcy was so clumsily aimed that Darcy had time to see it coming and to block it. He realized it was supposed to compel him to keep his mouth shut, at the same time that his grandfather must have realized it had missed. He brought his silvery eyebrows down over his eyes. He glared at the assembled company, and then down at Darcy, “This is not the place, son,” he said, using a word and a tone he rarely if ever employed to his grandson. “If you feel yourself injured, if you wish to discuss this, you must come with me. Into my private chambers.”
Darcy closed his hands tight with rage. “I wish we’d speak before the court.”
The king’s eyebrows went up, in disbelief. “Is this your challenge then, grandson? Do you intend to rule this kingdom tonight?” He spoke with incredulity, and his wife’s hand squeezed his arm tighter, and she whispered something in his ear.
It was the look on their faces, which should have been anger, but was not, that brought Darcy to his senses, in a sudden, cold awakening, as though he’d been doused in freezing rain. He knew that sometimes, in the smaller hills under his grandfather’s command elf lords fought their heirs – or their rivals – for the domain. He’d never heard of its happening in the halls of the high king. But then there was a lot he’d never heard of happening. And he realized, in a crash of sobriety that didn’t set his anger in flight but made him rise above it as though it belonged to someone quite different, that if it came to that – if he challenged his grandfather – he would lose. And then what would be left for him, but that mortal world, and those flawed creatures out there? And all while the traitor rounded, seeking to destroy all of fairyland. No.
No time for family quarrels. He forced his hands to open and inclined his head. “Your majesty commands,” he said.
He saw Titania’s hand unclench from Oberon’s arm, as both king and queen rose, and the court fluttered out of the way, and the chamberers moved, fast, with torches and lanterns to light the way along the glimmering hallway, and throw open the door to Oberon’s private chambers.