(Sorry it’s so short this week!)
*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 now done and with beta readers and editor. My wretched health this year delayed everything. (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 when it’s done. 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
Myth And Man
Jonathan Blythe, Earl of Savage
I’d tossed her on the bed. It was the sort of bed you expected at Mage Place – big and soft, covered in velvet and crowded in lace pillows. She lay against the lace pillows, panting, her breasts pushing out on her dress, her skirts in a pile and exposing the exquisite form of a well turned and very white ankle.
I took a deep breath and thought of snow storms. After all, with a creature – whatever she was – such as she was – whatever that might be – one could never be sure these little displays were unintentional.
In fact, I’d wager quite a lot on their being intentional. And I never gamble to lose.
“Tell me why you set the blight on my world,” I said. “And what it means.”
She was looking at me, her eyes slightly crossed as though she were trying to look at my magic. She would too, I thought, but that was besides the point. But what she said next shocked me nearly out of my skin, “Who are you?” she said. “Really?”
That had never occurred to me as something that might be in question. I blinked at her. “You know who I am,” I said. “Jonathan Blythe, for my sins the Earl of Savage.”
But she shook her head, not so much calling me a liar but as though she’d asked me the time of day and I’d answered “cow.” She shifted among the lace pillows and so far forgot herself as to cover her ankles. “You weren’t supposed to be able to follow me,” she said. “None of you were. I let out a burst of magic, as I ran. Not even on purpose. It’s something like the ink a squid releases when scared.”
I refused to discuss ways in which this lovely woman – well, this lovely female creature, anyway way – was like a squid. Instead I cast back my mind over the last few moments in Seraphim Ainsling’s office. No. There had been no difficulty at all to following her. She’d taken the bomb from my pocket and run. Now I found there were obfuscating measures. Lovely.
How long before Seraphim set sniffers on our trail to find out why we’d maliciously exploded a statue? He’d probably think I was in league with the lovely Ginevra, too.
I’d like to be in league with her all right, but not that way. And in fact I was starting to wonder if I wanted to be associated at all. Some people, no matter how tuppable, are not someone you can live with. Or even consort with for a limited time.
Her eyes focused again, and she tried to give me what she probably thought was a smile, but which was really a small grimace. Then she shook her head. “Which story should I tell you?” she asked, worriedly, and frankly more as though she were speaking to herself than to me.”
“The truth,” I said. And heard my voice become frighteningly like Papa’s when he used to say the same thing to me in childhood. “Or I’ll know about it, and it will be the worse for him.”
Her eyes widened a little bit, and for a second the cross-eyed look was back in her eyes. Then she gave me a little prim school girl nod, rearranged herself so she covered her ankles and held her skirts down around them with her hands, and said, in a tiny voice, “I told witchfinder a great deal of lies.”
That was the truth, I realized, and at the same time I realized that her demure little girl act was just as much of a ploy to get me to go easy on her, as her showing her ankles and enticing me had been a ploy to distract me. I didn’t hold it against her. After all we each must fight with what we had, and what she had was a female form, a weak but pleasing body and the inherent chivalric conventions of my society. Of course she would use them to protect herself or gain advantage.
But I didn’t let the understanding show in my face. Instead, I said sternly. “I know, but now you’re going to tell me the truth.
She looked distressed, opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again. What came out was pretty close to a wail, “But don’t you understand that would be breaking all the rules?”
“What rules?” I asked.
“The rules of the… for lack of a better world, Mythworld.”
“You are entirely of them, then?”
She gave me a very odd look, like she thought I’d taken leave of my senses. “Of course not,” she said. “If I were, I wouldn’t be able to be here, in your world. That’s why…” She made a gesture midair and I was very careful to watch, in case it was some of her spells. “That’s why Zeus had so many half breeds with humans and why… Of all of our people very few pure bloods can walk between worlds. And it is between worlds. They can’t stay too long near the world of men.” Her eyes crossed again. “Hermes for ins– You’re not Hermes, are you?”
“I’m Jonathan Blythe,” I said, with unwonted patience. “Earl of Savage.”
Again the little head shake, as though I’d just informed her I was a particularly showy kind of duck or something equally inane. “Well,” she said, as though conceding points. “My mother was human.”
“I see,” I said. “Then why did you turn against Earth and set evil magics on us.”
She blinked at me. “Why, to save Fairyland, of course.”