This novel will get posted here a chapter every Friday or Saturday, or occasionally Sunday. If you contribute $6 you shall be subscribed for the earc and first clean version in electronic format. I think it will probably take another three months to finish. Less, if I can have a weekend to run through and get ahead of the game. It hasn’t happened yet.
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 Rogue, Himself
The Honorable Jonathan Blythe, Earl of Savage
There was a feeling like being dragged backwards through a piece of silk, which ripped as I went through. It reminded me of this time when Ferddy, the honorable Ferdinand Holloway that is, had taken us to this brothel in Cheapside, where we were supposed to lie naked atop silken sheets under which were the, so to put it, hospitality workers of the place. By their moving around and wiggling they were supposed to bring one to ecstasy, only I’d gotten annoyed halfway through, because I wanted to touch the gels, not the damned silk, and had left to have a drink at one of my favorite taverns.
Funny thing isn’t it wasn’t until I went to the second tavern that anyone – myself included – noticed I was naked. I’m not sure what this means about my normal state of dress or what people expected of me.
This time I didn’t arrive naked, which is a demmed good thing, because after the feeling of silk ripping against me, and a blink’s worth of darkness, I found myself in as elaborate a study as you’re likely to find, full of globes and mechanical contraptions, and with a gently curved glass-front window overlooking Fairyland.
And what’s more the room was full of chaps, in front of which it would be quite beyond the point to be naked: Seraphim Ainsling, his younger brother Michael, his half brother, the king of fairyland and my brother in law – and the king of Fairyland’s cher ami – Marlon, lord Sydell.
They all looked expectantly at me, as though they thought I were about to conjure a rabbit from the hat I was not wearing.
And then, without so much as a good-day, Seraphim turned to Marlon and said, “I can imagine, if the intention is to create a poisoned package of some kind that might corrupt the enemy, then conjuring Jon here into the middle of it is the way to go.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but Seraphim turned to look at me and smile a little, “Sorry, Jonathan, but you must admit when it comes to powers of corruption… Most of us still remember the games mistress and the frogs.”
I opened my mouth again, to explain that prank hadn’t even been my idea, and that turning the frogs into muscular naked young men was supposed to make her run screaming into the night, not… well, not run screaming into the night. But instead, I simply cleared my throat and said, “Where are we? And to what do I owe the pleasure?”
It was explained to me that this aerie – that’s what he called it – was by way of being the safe spot of the king of fairyland, and also, that the king of fairyland had not so much involuntarily split as split himself to hide from his enemies.
His kingdom was under attack by the mythworld, an older and darker world that claimed all our worlds came from it. If they took Gabriel Penn, such the connection between his world and himself, they would assuredly take all the world.
I contributed what I had gleaned, from Ginevra, “they mean to sacrifice those of us who are… uncomfortable in our position in life. I’m not sure why, but there is something about having great dammed up possibilities that will propel the greatest magic.”
Gabriel waved a hand, “I know that. That will give them power to take over my kingdom, myself and my world, and through it all the worlds.”
I frowned at him. There was something to what he said that made no sense, and which bothered the back of my brain, like a sweet you’re halfway through swallowing that sticks in your throat just out of reach and won’t be dislodged. But when I tried to think what it might be, it was just out of reach and refused to be expressed in words.
I’d have taken the next suggestion more easily if it hadn’t been made by Seraphim’s younger brother Michael, who wasn’t exactly what I’d call an engaging scamp, or not as we’d been at his age, but who’d nevertheless always struck me as a serious, well-intentioned and well brought up young man. So imagine my surprise as he said, “So we thought we’d have them sacrifice you, Lord Savage.”
I rounded on him, “Oh, you did, did you? How kind. I’ll have you know, young jackanapes, that they mean to sacrifice all of us. Myself, your two brothers, your sister, my sister, and a lot of other people connected to us, like the manager of manufactories for my house.”
His mouth dropped open in surprise, as though he’d never intended to give offense, which only goes to show you he had windmills in his head. And then he said, “Oh, but I don’t mean like that. You see, you have to agree to it. And you have to go into it with your mind fully alert, and be ready to counterattack. They will jump at the chance to take you, you see, because you have possibly the greatest power of the lot, and the more… ah… complicated power, being, as you are, descended from Hermes in the fifth generation.”
“I beg your pardon?” It was official. The young man was completely and utterly insane. I tried to catch Seraphim’s eye to give him my condolences that they’d have to lock young Michael up, but Seraphim was looking attentively at his brother, like an adult watching a precocious child say his lessons. Maybe the entire family was touched in the upperworks. I mean, I suppose Gabriel was no crazier than most kings of fairyland, but still that was an awful lot of crazy.
“Oh, you didn’t know?” My brother in law asked, conversationally. “Yes, the blood in your family line was not elf, as has long been rumored, though we can see how someone could have got confused, since it’s the blood of one of the trickster gods, but all the same, Lord Sydell, it is true that you have a very great power, and that if they sacrifice you, or start to, and you’re ready to counterattack, we have a chance of escaping.” I wasn’t sure what it meant that my brother in law called me Lord Sydell while Seraphim called me Jon, but neither was I going to investigate.
“Be clear at once, what is this thing about my counterattacking,” I asked, lost to patience.
“Oh, he means,” Michael explained. “The poisoned pill. You start to let them engulf your power, so you can get access to their… their magic and their… true selves, and then you act. Of course you’ll need to know exactly what to do and some of it… some of it is going to need to be instinctive, since people without the blood of the old myths can’t fully understand their power.”
“Oh,” I said. And then, as a memory emerged, “But isn’t that the spell that Merlin did that caused the world to shatter into several worlds, and which encased him in an impenetrable shell in the betweener forever?”
They didn’t need to answer. The answer was on all their faces.
“I think,” I said. “I’m going to need a seat. And a glass of brandy, if it’s all the same to everyone here.”
No man should be required to face death without brandy.