Sorry this is still very short. I promise make-up chapters as soon as I’m done with Through Fire.
*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.
I looked my shock, though I suppose I wouldn’t be shocked. Look, I have many complaints of my father’s people, but one of them is not that they are more suspicious of half elves than anyone else. Nothing equals the suspicion of an half-elf exhibited by normal humans.
I said, keeping my voice steady, “Why would I have killed Chara Parthlan? I didn’t even know her.”
“Didn’t you?” he said. He sighed, as though he were tired of dealing with people who didn’t behave or lied to him or something. “Look, I don’t have time to spar. I got awakened in the middle of the night and sent on this case which no one in his right mind would want to take. I particularly don’t have time to spar with you. What do you turn into, again? A lion? Or a dog or something?”
I didn’t quite laugh in his face. Look, yes, there are elves shape shifters. There have always been, although lions and dogs and such are pretty rare. Mostly they turn to high magic forms like centaurs and unicorns and Pegasus and the occasional winged fairy or angel-like creature. But a cackle escaped my lips before I could stop it. “You know better than that, detective. Or if you don’t you should. No half elf has the ability to change. Ever.”
He scowled. “You’re an half-elf? Not a full one?”
I inclined by head. This I wasn’t used to. Back in Mudhole the police know about elves. Perhaps because they’re fully half of the population. “You can send a detective with magical sight to look me over, but it’s not really hard. And I’m clearly a half elf. Un’uruh.”
“Oh, it means something like unclean or inferior. It’s an elf word.”
“Um…” he said, as though he considered all this baffling. And I started wondering what on Earth his police department could be thinking to send someone like him to what amounted to an elf hill in the middle of the city. But he got up and went to the door and shouted, “Jones!” and said something hurriedly. I couldn’t catch the words. Then he came back to the desk and sat down. “Okay, so, I’m getting your background looked into, right? And meanwhile, I’ll tell you what I gathered from the other interviews I had. It appears that you and Ardghal Parthlan have been lovers for years. At least that’s what the people at the party are sure of. And that Chara Parthlan was jealous, but it was al unavailing, because he still insisted on bringing you to this party and introducing you to the family.
“So you must have gone down the garden to have a row, and you shifted and killed her and ate her.”
“Interesting,” I said. “And all too human for a bunch of elves. They’re throwing the baby from the sled. But I wonder why.”
“The baby? What baby? You and Parthlan had a baby? Or Parthlan and his wife?”
I sighed. I really didn’t think he was stupid. He just looked like he hadn’t slept well in weeks. “I should be insulted, but I’m just baffled. Surely you have heard the legend of the people on a sled, pursued by wolves who throw out the baby in order to delay the wolves. Clearly I’m the baby, but my problem is that you don’t look like wolves.”
He gave me a hard, narrowed-eyes look. “Most people would dislike having the police after them? And might accuse someone to get the police off track. So I think—”
I never knew what he thought, and never had the opportunity to point out to him that these weren’t exactly people, not as such.
Instead, someone knocked at the door and a young man came in. He wore a well-cut suit, and white shirt, with the tie impeccably tied. If it weren’t for a certain tone of blue to the jacket and pants and, well, a certain way of holding himself up, you’d never know he was a policeman. And if you didn’t squint just right, you’d never know he was as Un’uruh as my unassuming self.
I saw him squint at me, then flash me a bright smile. He said, “Sargeant, they want to know if you want sandwiches with the coffee they’re about to bring in.” But I wasn’t stupid, I knew exactly what he’d come in for, and saw the imperceptible nod he gave the guy questioning me. And then moments later, when the butler came in with coffee and a tray of sandwiches, the bright young man – Jones? – put a few sheets of paper on the sergeant’s desk.
The sergeant read them, while drinking his cup of coffee. I noted they’d brought me one too, and didn’t ask his permission to have some. Instead I helped myself liberally to cream and sugar and started drinking.
He looked up at me, “So, it appears you told the truth about being only half elf, and the quick report our magical unit ran on you says you haven’t been involved with Parthlan. We’d know. That sort of thing leaves traces. Also Jones tells me that the people I talked to before tried to do a snow job on me with magical help.” He shrugged. “This is why all our detectives are thaumaturgically shielded, right? But here’s the thing, I want to know – why? Why do they have it in for you?”
I shrugged in turn, and told him that Mr. Parthlan had tried to hire me to be his social secretary.
“Secretary? Aren’t you some sort of PI?”
“I wasn’t surviving very well on that,” I said.
He pursed his lips. “That’s all very well and good, but why was the dead woman having you followed?”