Two Snippets

A little extra bang today. I have a small snippet of the new Hard Luck, and then, if you like, stay for something from a new (Rothganar) project. 🙂

~*~

First, Hard Luck! I’m adding material, did I mention that in the previous post? I think I did. This is from a chapter right after Dingus and Vandis actually meet.

Any tulon or tulua knew what Dingus was on sight, and no one would let him more than a couple of paces into any establishment. Humans didn’t know—Vandis himself wouldn’t have known—he was anything other than an elf, but a lot of them didn’t want him around because of it. “How do they all know you’re half-blood?” he’d demanded, when the third hitul place kicked them out.

“It’s the ears,” Dingus had explained, clinically, without a trace of woe in his voice.

“What about them?”

“It’s how they’re attached to your head.” He rubbed a finger behind one, leaving a trail of dirt. “See how mine are? They point sort of up and stick out farther. A real one of the People’s ears would point back and be flatter to their head.”

Vandis had scowled and said, “You are a real—”

“No, I ain’t,” he’d said. “Ain’t human neither.”

“Then what are you?” Vandis had asked, more curious about Dingus’s idea of himself than he was concerned with grammar.

“Does it matter?”

~*~

Now a little from another project. I’m calling this one Daddy’s Little Princess, the reason for which I’ll keep to myself for now. While it’s set in the Menyoral timeline and features characters from the books, it’s not a Saga of Menyoral book at all. Trying something a little different with this one, because if you stop trying new things, art stagnates. And business, haha. Anyway, check this out.

The alleys opened their pitch-black mouths, ready to swallow anybody who got too close, looked too close if they happened to be passing when lightning came. Martin wasn’t one for destiny, and he didn’t believe in fate, but when he passed that alley, lightning flashed, and what he saw, or thought he saw, gulped him down just that quick.

There was a woman there, all tall and wet and glorious, dark blood and clear water, and in the breath he could see her, she swung down with a huge knife and split Big Jimmy Pantucci’s head. It was frozen in Martin’s mind, the woman, her long hair flying in thick wet ropes. He remembered all the stories Jacques told when he was drunk as shit, the ones about La Reine Guirriѐre and her chariot drawn by wolves. He felt like he had seen her.

He felt like he had to see her again.

Against every skill and instinct he owned, and at least one unwritten rule of the streets, Martin went straight for the maw. Lightning lashed close by, close enough to hear it crackle, and the thunder broke reality wide. Any minute he’d wake up in his pallet with the sheet sticking to his hot sweaty skin, any minute. She whacked that chopper hard into the mass of Big Jimmy and wound back again, and Martin blinked a dazzled slash out of his eyes. Rain hammered the street. Wind made his sodden clothes flap.

He took a step forward, and another step, into the alley, wishing for a mage-lantern. Another sizzling flash, so bright he almost missed her standing there with Jimmy’s dripping messy head, bloody fist in the hair.

~*~

That’s all for now! Thank you so much for choosing this article, from among millions of others published just today. ❤

 

Snippet Sunday #19

I’m so close to finishing a beta draft of The Witch under Mountain. So close (if my own head would stop getting in the way). Here is a bit of it.

In a lot of ways this is Fox’s book. Hopefully, you’ll see why when you read it.

~*~

He turned his eyes across the cavern, where trolls stoked a great hearth-fire. One of them, clad in a burnt, greasy-looking apron, sharpened a series of wicked knives. Panic tightened its iron bands around Fox’s chest. He leapt to his feet and clutched at the side of the pen; he’d chosen the closest to Eagle last night, and had to listen to Eagle sob, but it was worth it. “Vo!” he called, clinging to the bars.

Eagle’s head went up, and he unfolded so quickly Fox had trouble tracking the motion. In half a blink he was at the bars too, with a couple of fairies trailing him; he didn’t say a word, only stood there looking at Fox as if from the bottom of the sea, faraway and longing.

Fox took him in. Lacy white sleeves spilled from an outsize velvet doublet. Silk stockings sagged into puddles around his ankles, above the tops of huge buckled shoes. His thighs were too slender for the pantaloons, and instead of puffing up as they ought to, they hung around his knees. The whole effect was dreadfully unbecoming—outright laughable, if it weren’t for the situation—as if the thinnest little chick were given clothes meant for a fat capon.

He ordinarily looked far different: unobtrusive, unassuming. His usual clothes were meant not to catch on anything, but not to foul his movements either, tough enough to hold up and fit well enough to accommodate intense activity. Under Fox’s regard he tried anxiously to smooth what he wore, but he couldn’t make it look well, or himself appear to advantage.

How little it mattered! Fox’s mouth curved in an involuntary smile. Most people wouldn’t have tried to apply an adjective like “sweet” to Eagle Eye, but with Fox he was sweet as the strawberry preserves on a breakfast buffet. He tried valiantly to smile back, but it didn’t quite come off.

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 #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.”