*You guys know we talked about doing a shared world. We went with a whole continent so that Dave can have his jungle and I can have my big city with diners. We’re working on a contract which we should have in a week or two (and yes, we’ll post it for your enlightenment although we haven’t decided yet if anyone not in the group can play. OTOH if it’s very successful, we’ll inevitably enlarge it. For now, here’s the second chapter of Elf Blood, book one of Risen Atlantis. And for now it is ©Sarah A. Hoyt 2013. All rights reserved. Do not copy, distribute or otherwise disseminate without the author’s name, and a link to this page. You do not have the right to alter it. You do not have the right to claim it as yours. For permission to do anything other than quote it for review or recommendation purposes, email Goldportpress@gmail.com. This is a work of fiction, all coincidence between it and real people place or events is assuredly imaginary.*
Previous chapter here.
The wait went on for three hours, and after the initial flurry of complaints no one said much of anything. A group of young people, including Treasa huddled in a corner, playing music on some magical player, and dancing. I tried not to focus too closely on it, because among elves dances were never simply dances, and I didn’t want to be caught in whatever the spell might be.
The older people walked around impatiently, or sat in one of several sofas that seemed to have been conjured for the purpose. After a while, waiters circulated with trays of sandwiches and beverages. After an hour I decided to chance it, particularly since what they were distributing were sandwiches made from raised bread, which as all know is impervious to elven spells.
Ardghal and the king were missing from the room. I entertained myself with thoughts that one or both of them had done a bunk, leaving for parts unknown, perhaps some bucolic destination like London or New York, where no one knew magic very well and where they might hide, unheeded for years or centuries. But I didn’t really believe it. As I saw it, the problem was that Ardghal had married a wood elf. If her murder weren’t solved carefully, then the wood elves would descend on the city, something even city flat-foots had to be aware of.
After what seemed like several days but my watch informed me was just short of two hours, the police arrived. I heard the sirens, and we all saw the reflection of the lights through the windows, meaning they had driven up and to the foot of the grand staircase.
After a while longer, the guests started being called out. It was like a reverse announcement. The buttler would come to the door and shout out, “Mr. and Mrs. Elftodder.” Or perhaps, because I didn’t need to know a lot about the world to realize a lot of these were magical nobility from various parts, “The Honorable Count of the Unseen Realm of Tomorrow and Miss Flittgibbet.”
By one, by twos, and at most in family groups of four, the guests would follow him out. Because none of them returned, we never knew whether they were interrogated and let go, interrogated and arrested as material witnesses, or perhaps ground to a pulp and used as fertilizer. Not that I expected the last. Not exactly at least. This was human justice, not elf justice.
I expected to be called last and steeled my soul in resolution, while picking up another two of the delicious sandwiches from the circulating silver tray, and drinking a cup of also most excellent hot chocolate. That last did have a mild spell – I could feel it fizzing against my tongue – but it was a spell for curing drunkenness, and as such it did not apply to me.
I contemplated the social advisability – and also the staining possibilities – of stowing one or more of the sandwiches into my dress. This planning was hampered by the fact that I had no pockets, but spurred on by the fact that my bank account stood at very little, and certainly not enough to allow me to buy the best bread and the tastiest pate filling. This job, as far at least as I went, seemed to be done with, and it was unlikely I’d get much more out of it than the price of a dress. Of course, perhaps I could sell the dress. Worn only once. If I mentioned I’d worn it at this party, I might even get a premium.
“Miss Kassia Smith!”
I shook a little in shock, then got up and followed the buttler out.
I’m not going to sketch the route we took. For one, it felt like we walked for miles and miles along many corridors. For another those corridors were either lined with mirrors or portals to other worlds. No, I don’t know which. I was fairly sure they were mirrors, until I realized I couldn’t see myself in some of them, and in one of them there seemed to be the image of a whole thicket of trees. I swear I caught sight of Ardghal kissing someone under one of those trees. Someone with golden hair.
But Ardghal looked much like any city elf, so it really could have been anywhere.
At long last, a door opened, and the butler shouted again, “Miss Kassia Smith.”
The shout was really overkill in this room, which was the size of a cleaning closet. In fact, I had the impression that was exactly what it had been, until the time had come to make room for the police when cleaning supplies and mops had been removed at speed and instead a battered desk and several chairs had been dragged in.
Behind the desk sat a man – all human. Yes, I used magic sight, if very briefly – in his mid thirties, perhaps. In youth he must have been muscular and powerful, but now he was running a little to fat. Not too much, just enough to show that his days of youthful sports were behind him. I was always reassured by men like that, without an ounce of elf blood. Of course, usually they weren’t reassured by me.
He looked like he’d dressed in the dark and in the clothes he’d worn the day before. His white shirt looked rumpled, and he rolled up the sleeves to the elbows. His tie was askew and also of an odd violet color that didn’t go with the blue coat over the back of his chair.
He hadn’t shaven. His hair, while still mostly black, displayed a few white threads. His eyes were surrounded by dark circles.
He smelled of coffee and cigarettes which mingled oddly with the disinfectant scent of the room – or cleaning closet.
He looked up at me, tired and frowning.
“Sit down, Miss Smith,” he said. “And tell me why you killed her.”