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*This is the new free novel I’m posting here a chapter at a time. This is pre-first-draft, as it comes out. It is a sequel to Witchfinder which will soon be taken down (once edited) and put for sale on Amazon (And at this point I’m hoping that will happen by the beginning of July at the latest). Meanwhile, if you donate $6 or more, I’ll get you a copy of Rogue Magic, once finished and edited, in your favored ebook format. Of course, if you’re already subscribing to the blog at a level at which you get whichever books come out that year, you don’t need to worry. *
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,
I let myself go boneless on the seat for a moment, at the thought of another world, another magical threat. It had been bad enough to be caught in what we’ll call for lack of a better word the elvenland wars of succession.
To be caught in something else, something having to do with myth… I sat up suddenly and narrowed my eyes at the King of Elves. “Your majesty will forgive me, but—”
He grinned “That bad?”
“Beg your pardon?”
“You started with Your Majesty, not Penn, and certainly not Gabriel. That bad?”
I waved a hand away. “Bad enough. Your Majesty will forgive me my presumption, but would you tell me, perhaps how different such a world can be from yours? Isn’t your world considered a myth by mankind in most of the worlds in which magic is forbidden?”
For a moment, he looked genuinely shocked. It is always bad to guess whether an elf is showing his true face but this one looked to be doing just that and to be genuinely shocked. He took a deep breath. “Too far, my dear Jon,” he said, though his tone was not dangerous and he didn’t seem to be threatening me. “I am not responsible for what humans do when they make up stories to themselves of what is real and what isn’t.” He sighed. “No. I beg your pardon. I am human too or at least.” He rubbed the middle of his forehead with two fingers, as though he had a headache. I remembered the same gesture from Seraphim. “Or at least I remember being human, remember it vividly enough I didn’t mean “human” as an insult. No. In some ways I wish I had the luxury of being human still. But it is true that you – we – in our ignorance of deeper magic—“ He puffed out his cheeks and let himself fall back upon his chair, as though despondent. “When I ascended,” he sounded like a corpse describing his own death day. “When I ascended to my current… dignities I found that there were many things that not only do humans not know, but humans can’t know. The way my mind is now… I see in places you cannot see. It’s like having a wholly different sense that is magic and senses magic. You know how you can see magic patterns and the traces of magic, being a magic-user. My people, we… I, now, can see with magic, all the time, like an extra sense. To be honest I always could. Like the language of elves, which is inborn, so that our day-old babes can speak it, so is magic like that, existent, all the time. But I chose not to use it while on Earth. I voluntarily blinded myself to it.”
“But becoming king of elves,” he said, “forced me to open my eyes and forced me also to see things I didn’t wish to see, to know things—
“There are worlds, there are divisions in magic, there are flavors I can’t describe to you. Suffice it to say that fairyland is a whole integral land, that now and then interacts with human worlds. The mythworld is … I won’t say it was created by human minds and human magic. I was, at least in my human form, a Christian, raised as such in the Darkwater household.” He furrowed his brow. “I wonder what the good Reverend Dickson would think of me now, should I show up for the services. But whatever he may think there is no inherent war between my people and Christianity. There is a dispute over whether salvation applies to us, whether pure elves have a soul. I don’t know. I don’t see why it shouldn’t. We’re… close enough to humans. But the myth worlds are different. It might have been created through human belief, through human need for powerful entities in which to believe. It might have been created – Marlon thinks so, at least – through the fall of Adam. He thinks so but can’t prove it with math and I prefer not to follow where he goes just because I trust him.” He grinned at my expression. “My love does not blind me, Jon. He’s a man and therefore fallible. I’m an elf and therefore also fallible. Our fallibility is just of a different order. I don’t allow him here, by the way,” he gestured in such a way, that it might mean this office or his whole realm. “I can’t. He’s too much of fairyland that it would start colonizing his mind, and make it hard for him to live where he has chosen. I visit him, when I can. That is good. It helps me remember being human. And right now, my memory of being human tells me he’s guessing. But in either case, the mythworld is… subservient to humans. I told you it was a parasite. It might not be able to be anything else.”
“Yes, but why would it attack our world now? And why our world in particular. Is it simply our turn?”
The creature who’d been Gabriel Penn shook his head. “Oh no. It is in dire crisis. One of their own, older than rational man, has awakened and it is … making demands. I think they built a prison for it, but I’m not sure how it works. This is disturbing as I think they have taken part of my realm, and are preventing me from seeing it. But their own is… cannibalizing them. Taking all their energy for what it thinks will be an attack on human worlds.
“However, part of what caused him to wake… part of what… Your father, Jon, what do you know about your father’s activities?”
I felt color drain from my face, leaving me blanched and cold. “Good God,” I said. “Not Papa’s activities.”
“I’m afraid so.”
“I know he used magic to trade with and swindle humans. I know he unscrupulously arranged to have travel forbidden to non-magic worlds so only he could do it and his fraud could not be detected. He might have traded in objects of power. I know he was behind the kidnapping of the princess. How can there be more?”
He gave me an odd smile, lopsided. “It is good to know I’m not the only one who has to blush for his relatives.”
“I’m glad to give you pleasure, your majesty,” I said, in my most caustic tone.
He laughed, suddenly. “No, Jon, but leaving that aside. Your father seems to have found a way into mythworld and to have taken part of it.”
“Part of… what?”
He sighed. “I’m not sure. Valkyries. Maenads. What you call them. Warrior women full of vengeance. He found a way to bend some of them to his will, to make them do his bidding. I’ve not found out why yet. But it was those women, dislocated to Avalon who caused the elder god to wake up. It seems they were part of his guard. I’m not sure why your father would do that, or what benefit redounded to him.”
“Some, you can be sure,” I said acidly. “That much is guaranteed..”
“Yes, but I haven’t pinned down what yet, and I’m not sure it matters. When the elder woke, it steered the world towards Avalon, and there it connected to its lost members and… Since it was in dire need of magic due to the awakened elder, its members got a new mission – to take Avalon’s magic. As much of it as possible. This in turn corrupted Avalon’s magic, and the world as we know it will disintegrate without it.”
I opened my mouth to ask him what he cared.
“Don’t,” he said. “I know it’s not my world, anymore, but there’s Seraphim, and Nell, and Caroline and Michael, and yes, there is also Marlon. If I lost them I’d lose most of me. All that remains human in me.” He sighed. “And also, through them they can get to me, and through me Fairyland. Since their need is great because everytime they grow their irrational elders grow, this means they can devour all the worlds. Jon, think. Surely it is worth fighting?”
I stared at him for a moment, my eyes unfocused. “But… why would I be able to do anything?”
He sighed again. “Your mind,” he said. “tastes the same as theirs. Your magic is more similar to theirs than any I can see. Jon, no,” this was in answer to my half rising, offended. “I don’t say it to wound you, and I don’t even say you have anything of them, though surely you know gods copulated indiscriminately. But Jon, my friend, I’m using the only weapon I can. They are an irregular world. Only an irregular man can defeat them. Seraphim is too honor bound. I am not fully human, and… I can think of no one else to call upon.”
I almost asked if his own lover, once a necromancer might not be a better choice, but truth, I knew the man and except for one characteristic he was more conventional than Mama.
“Irregular,” I said, as I pondered it.