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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 (It’s half done. My wretched health this year delayed everything. I hope to finish MY edits and cut and add this weekend — I almost made it last weekend — at which point it will take another two weeks at the editor). 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
The Earl In The Ointment
Jonathan Blythe, Earl of Savage,
Not only was I not nearly drunk enough, but my demmed brain was trying to work, despite the alcohol I’d ingested. The thing in my pocket had started glowing and tugging me in a specific direction, and after a long, stumbling walk, I found myself in front of Seraphim’s offices.
The worst part was that a cold breeze, from the river, had almost completely cleared my head by then.
Thoughts were assembling themselves, painfully, slowly, against the remnants of magic glamour, against the confusion of the gin.
It went something like this,
“Strap me, when have I found Seraphim to be on the wrong side of things?”
“And if he’s not, why am I trying to fool him.”
This was followed by, my own mind trying to be reasonable, something it had never been very good at, and which the encounter with fairyland’s king hadn’t helped,
“Gabriel Penn says his brother is too honorable for what needs to be done.”
This was not a good enough comeback and my sarcastic side was ready to pounce, “Is he now? The same Seraphim Ainsling who eloped with the Princess Royale on the eve of her marrying a foreign prince, and who presented king and court with a consummated marriage is too honorable for what needs to be done? Damme, Jon. How many infants will you have to throttle and how many maidens rape?”
This almost sobered me up completely, and the thought wouldn’t leave my mind. What I mean is, well, Seraphim is honorable, I suppose, in comparison to me, but then so are most creatures, including some cut purses. What I mean is, I’m my father’s son, not honorable at all, or dear Papa would still be alive and causing trouble in the world for the sake of his purse.
But the thing is, the thing is, Seraphim is the son of his father, too, the old soot we knew as Old Darkwater, and who, frankly, wasn’t that far off my father’s morals, only in different ways. You’d be safe around him for loyalty, and you’d probably come away better off for money because he was no good at holding on to his, but strap me if you could trust him with your peculiar, or your monkey for that matter. Not that I blamed him exactly. I’d never tried bestiality – had even less interest in it than in boys, so it hardly seemed worth the trouble – but Freddie had once told me that—
I brought my reeling thoughts back in order. The thing was that Seraphim was not a dead bore, either. When he came across me in Eton and I was up to some jolly prank, he never told. He might pull me aside and beat the startch out of me if he thought what I was doing would hurt others, but most of the time he’d just roll his eyes and say “you’re going to come home weeping from that one, Jon.” And he wouldn’t tell anyone, not even afterwards, when the cockatoo had been found in the master’s umbrella. Which goes to show you. He wasn’t a tell tale either.
And if something were right to do, if there were really kidnapped warrior maidens, if I really had to find them to keep the world of myth away, if– If any of that was true, then Seraphim would listen and help. There was no need to go behind his back. And it might be very ill advised. Because Seraphim… what I mean is, he’s a right one.
I became aware too, that I was far more befuddled than the blue ruin I’d drunk would account for. Which meant that Gabriel Penn – or Night Arrow, or whatever he was just now – had given me a whopping shot of magic to confuse me.
Question, why confuse the senses of someone you just enlisted as an helper?
Answer, You’d only do that if you thought the fully awake man would discover something you didn’t want him to know. And the shot of believe-me and I-am-right magic he’d given me, meant the truth was either right in front of my eyes, or truly heinous, and definitely not what his elf majesty had told me.
Which meant my instinct to get drunk had been right. There’s only one thing against that kind of spell and it is to tilt yourself off your magical axis enough it loses its grip. Alcohol will do it. So will a good petit-mort but I hardly had the time for that. Besides I was used to being drunk. During the last year of Papa’s plot, as I caught hints of what it was, I’d been drunk all the time, at least at a low level, just to keep myself from jabbering with fear.
It also meant I should trust my instincts. Jonathan Blythe, himself, might not be very smart. None of my masters thought so, at lest. And as for the Earl of Savage, I wouldn’t give two nubbins for the blighter. I’d known his predecessor. But the instinct of the inner Jon, the creature who’d got me out of scrapes more often than not, was, if not infallible, at least pretty close to it.
So the inner Jon said trust Seraphim and I’d trust Seraphim. It was as well the magical device was pulling me that way, anyway.
I walked up to the sentinels, tipped my hat, “I need to see Seraphim,” I said, purposely not calling him His Grace or The Witchfinder, to let them know I was an old and valued acquaintance. Damme, my brother in law who was his brother out-of-law had married his ex-fiance who was my late sister. What I mean is, his half-brother’s lover was raising my nephew who was his own half brother. That made us relatives, I think. Though the coils of connection would make a village gossip’s head hurt.
They took a moment to recover from the familiarity, and by then I was hallway into the entrance room. One of the guards ran after me, “Sir, Milord! His Grace is in conference – he said not to be disturbed!”
“Trust me, he needs to see me,” I said, and smiled, my best smile, which seemed to confuse him. Possibly because I never learned a respectable way to smile.
“Milord!” he said, but I was already ahead of him and knocking on the door to the office proper.”
From inside came Seraphim’s voice, “Who knocks?” I had the impression of a hastily suppressed babble of voices at the knock, but couldn’t be sure.
“Savage,” I said, which it occurred to me if we hadn’t been thrown together so much since Papa’s demise might be misinterpreted.
“Come,” Seraphim answered from within.
The gadget in my pocket was pounding against my high and felt hot.
The guard retreated muttering, “First Lord Michael, now this. As well hang a curtain.”
I opened the door. And stopped, in sheer shock. Because you see, in the office was my beautiful unconue, or to put it another way – since I was also the despair of my French masters – that beautiful piece of ginger nonsense I’d met when fairyland met Avalon and who’d helped me fight off demons and then disappeared without a trace. Except from my heart.
She was wearing a rather tight on the bodice … looked like a ballgown. Peach. Or pink. And definitely mouth watering, even if an odd choice for a ginger.
And she was between two guards. And Seraphim was half standing out of his chair. And his brother stood nearby.
I had a second, to take in the entire tableau, and then Miss whatever her name was, dove towards me, and the guards restrained her just in time.
But she screamed, “Oh, please. He has a magical bomb in his pocket. If you won’t let me do it, you defuse it. Or we all die in seconds.”