Category: Snippet Sunday

Snippet Sunday #17

Today, another piece of Princes and Kings (a working title), introducing White Raven. He’s so damn interesting. You don’t see why right away, or in this piece, but he’s very interesting as far as I’m concerned — has a redemption arc. Anyway, go on and meet him, and later you can decide whether you like him or not…

~*~

White Raven jogged up the stone steps from the servants’ quarters, letting his hair down and anticipating a pleasant liaison with Slender Palm of Coral Spires. Lehua was bronze-skinned and dark-haired; she smelled of flowers Raven didn’t know, and her brown eyes and low voice were warm. The memory of his white hands on her dark thighs enticed, particularly with the tattoo that snaked down her leg. He’d first seen it when she wore a dress that was slit up the side to the weapons yard—and she’d seen him.

He was definitely looking forward to it. She fucked like she fought, loose-hipped and free. Too bad they were running out of time. Soon she would be back in Coral Spires, far away from everything, and he would be at Tangletree, and they might not meet again in either lifetime.

A figure flashed past him, well to his left. The exposed whiteness of stomach and the streaming hair might have been anyone, as well might the sobbing, but the way it—he—ran, like an untrained child no matter how much time Raven spent with him, marked him as Rhuez.

With a sinking stomach, Raven pinned up his hair again and strode after. In truth he minded less than he ought. He liked Rhuez, for all the boy was hopeless with the sword. It was only the loss of a night with Slender Palm he minded, and she’d probably tolerate an explanation. She’d seen Rhuez at his lessons.

His legs, longer than the Eiten Liedan’s, kept him close enough for sight, but not too close. He carefully turned his eyes from the huntsman’s cabin, where all the lights burned; he didn’t want to ruin his night vision. A fortunate decision, for Rhuez rounded the front of the Palace—Raven had to hustle after—and made straight for the oak lane that led away into the Valley. Rhuez squeezed into the lane and was lost.

Snippet Sunday #16

A little of (yet another) short this week. I’m calling this one “Crossbow Wedding,” and it’s about Dingus’s parents.

~*~

The first one Daddy hadn’t chased off, and he was lying to her. Lying! Sweet Rose had no patience for liars, and never mind Daddy had taught her that, Mama too: not to get mixed up with no low-down liar. “You can be sure they’re more trouble than they’re worth,” Daddy would say, and go off on a story about Silent Owl, dead now, who Rhiada remembered as an okay guy basically, even if she didn’t understand all what went on between him and Daddy.

Mama usually rolled her eyes and patted Daddy’s shoulder, and later in the kitchen she’d tell Sweet Rose what she thought: “Baby, half what he says is a lie and don’t let him tell you different.”

“Which half?” Sweet Rose would say back, like always, but she never really got an answer, and it had got to be a joke between them.

Now here was this big boy—in a man’s body, but a boy—lying to her and yelling “Wait, wait!” and Sweet Rose had had enough. She couldn’t get away from him, though, not with his legs so long and hers so short.

“Wait,” he said again, walking easy beside her. He didn’t try touching her. Just as well for him. Mama and Daddy had taught her a trick or two. She didn’t use them, didn’t have to, but she knew how to make him regret it. “Look, I know how you feel. My dad is Marcus Xavier.”

She stopped, blinking. “You mean that Marcus Xavier? Like those Xaviers?”

“Yes.”

“That don’t change it. You lied,” she said, shook her head, and walked on.

“I’m sorry. I won’t do it again, okay?”

“How am I supposed to believe one word you say?”

“You can’t, I don’t guess. All you can do is give me a chance.” He whipped in front of her then, and did she ever think about wrecking his hopeful smile! But she didn’t. It was a nice enough smile she didn’t want to wreck it, liar or no. He had a big old beard no tulon could ever grow, and it split around his white teeth that shone in the starlight.

Snippet Sunday #14

For Snippet Sunday this week, a little piece of an untitled work in progress (yes, I know, I have a million). This one’s about Kirsten Kalt, and it ought to go in a Tales from the Knights collection, if I can get my act together.

~*~

The familiar kid-again smell of the barn enveloped Kirsten as soon as she stepped inside. It was much warmer in here; the bodies of the reindeer made it a pleasant place to be in winter, even if it cooled off quick after they left. She yanked her mittens off with her teeth and put back her hood, never mind the flyaway hair it gave her.

It was quiet here, at least for now, and she stuffed her mittens into her pockets and blew out a sigh. She’d forgotten the bad parts of home in the middle of the missing it, just like always.

The house was even more crowded than she’d remembered, which only made sense. All the brothers and their wives and children, plus a couple of the sisters and their husbands and children, in to visit blasphemous little Kirsten… yeah, it made sense. Besides all them, there was Mama, with a woolen blanket around her shoulders, taking up three times the space an old lady ought to.

She finger-combed her hair, which never helped matters really, just made it crackle and zap, and leaned back against the door. There was somebody in here—she could tell because a lantern burned on a stall divider’s hook, and not even the tiniest Kalt would’ve left it. Ivar’s kids especially. Shit, she couldn’t even count how many he was up to. There were little ones and middle ones and older ones, even a baby. His wife must be exhausted. Kirsten could only be glad her skills hadn’t been called upon to deliver another screaming red thing.

Yet.

She sucked in another draught of the ordinary-life scent: sweet hay and dry oats, straw and shit, reindeer milk fermenting, richly sour, in the shed attached to the barn. Whoever was in with her, she couldn’t see, but now that she relaxed, she heard the rhythmic shuff-shuff of a currycomb. One of the hundredth generation (most likely) of barn cats chased a mouse, scuttling and scuffling.

Snippet Sunday #13

Hard Time again this week!

If you don’t love Wallace MacNair, I think you might just be kind of wrong. If you don’t know him that well, he’s in The Service and has the lead in a short story of his own, Live Free or Die.

~*~

It seemed to take ages more for the door to open, and ages after that for Dingus to come through it. At first, Wallace didn’t even recognize him; his hair had dulled, and he’d gone thinner even than he’d been at Moot, absolutely rail-thin where before he’d been simply lean. His face—oh Lady, his face, it had already, even after only a couple of months, utterly changed. It was all planes and bones, hard and sharp like one of Da’s axe blades. His cheekbones especially stood out stark, and he’d grown something like a sparse beard.

Wallace stood, slow, shutting his mouth, and against his will he swallowed. With the keen lowering eyes, Dingus reminded him of a book Evan had once shown him, a book about the elves. The People, they liked that better, and suddenly he wanted nothing so much as for Dingus to like him enough to take that look off him, that look like a storm out of a face far more terrifying than it was lovely.

He resisted the urge to dip his chin. Instead he raised it, and met Dingus’s fire-and-lightning gaze. He was barely aware of the others, rising behind him.

“You shouldn’t have come.”

“We—” Lukas started to say, but Dingus cut him off. Wrists chained in front of him and he was still scary enough to prickle the fine hairs on Wallace’s nape.

“I don’t want you here. You shouldn’t have come, and you definitely shouldn’t have brought her here. What’d you want anyway? Stare at the freak in his—”

“Oh, shut the fuck up,” said Kessa.

“I don’t want you here! I didn’t want you to see—”

“Shut up, Dingus,” she said, stepped forward where Wallace could not, and hugged him hard.

Snippet Sunday #12

A little piece of Hard Time this week. 🙂

Kessa and Lukas discuss reading material. There’s a little worldbuilding in here, too. It was extremely amusing to write.

~*~

Kessa scowled down at the old paper book Lukas was making her read for practice. They used to be able to copy things by magic, he’d said, and the result, if you didn’t have a copy of a copy of a copy, was nice, uniform writing. Once you got three or four generations down the line, it started to go all wonky, he’d told her, and six was unreadable.

The book annoyed her. It wasn’t that she couldn’t make out the text. That got easier every week. It was the content that set her teeth on edge. Magister Ferocious! Who cared about some dumb old guy who couldn’t do magic, and had stupid brainless girlfriends to make himself look smarter?

“Why’d you want me to read this anyways?” she demanded, as he shoved the broom under benches and table, trying to sweep up all the food the Ishlings dropped.

“I don’t know. I thought it’d be something a little different from those boring textbooks Vandis keeps making you read.” He straightened, shrugged, and leaned on the broom. “I sort of liked it.”

“You would,” she said darkly.

“What didn’t you like about it?”

“The girl.”

“Well,” he said, “I guess she wasn’t as smart as you are.”

Kessa rested her chin on one hand and let the book fall to the tabletop. “Something with a halfway intelligent woman next time, okay?”

“Tall order.” He grimaced. “At least sometimes.”

“Somebody should write one.”

“They don’t do these anymore.” Lukas tapped the book she’d dropped. “Can you imagine copying this by hand? A million times or whatever it sold? You’d have it memorized.”

“No fucking thank you.”

“Exactly.” He laughed, shaking his head, and returned to sweeping. “What used to pass for cheap entertainment! Go figure magic.”

“Are you messing with me?”

Lukas held up thumb and finger with the fraction of an inch between, and grinned at her. “I never said it was great literature.”