Elf Blood, Free Novel — chapter 9
*So sorry guys. I forgot to POST. I need a brain. Any brain will do.*
*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 eighth 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.*
For previous chapters, see here.
The car was as I expected – low slung and with the sort of lines that suggested it could go very fast even while standing utterly still. It was the sort of form that the fairy cattle took when it shifted. The only thing that surprised me about it was its bright, glittering green color.
Ardghal stopped in front of me on the drive, and the door opened of itself, making me jump back. Had he laughed at my startled jump, I would not have got in. He didn’t. Instead he looked at me, his eyes intent and almost owlish. I got in and arranged my dress, and submitted to the seat bet wrapping around me. Both the belt and the seat felt warm and living, of course.
Ardghal had on driving gloves, and was holding onto the wheel, but the car started at a muttered word from him. I thought if I closed my eyes, I’d hear the sound of hooves. I didn’t close my eyes. Instead, I said, “doesn’t it disturb you to be inside a living animal?”
“What?” he said, then blinked. “The—Oh. The car. I don’t think of it as a living animal.” He shrugged. “They weren’t precisely horses either, you know. They are… magical forces bound to our service. They took a horse form when horses were common and now…” He shrugged again. He looked somehow, tired. No, not tired. Vacant. I remembered the old legends, that the fey were the afterlife of unrighteous dead, and bit my lip. I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. I had been sired by one.
“Ah,” I said. “Well, I’m half elf. I don’t have enough power to control them, so– It doesn’t matter.”
His eyes widened at me, and then he said, “Not. Not while we’re within, shall we? I mean, shall we not discuss these matters? We are, you know, inside a magical force, and it is one with a self-directed intelligence. It can… understand human speech.”
No, I didn’t know that, nor did I know why what I said about being half elf mattered or if it did. It occurred to me I didn’t know much about fairy horses, either, and that my discomfort about them might have its origins in all the legends about carnivorous horses. Then I wondered if that’s what the legends came from. And then I shivered. But if these … ah… magical forces were self-aware, then these thoughts too were dangerous.
I started to think about Chara’s death, and what might have killed her, then I looked outside the window and cleared my mind of all thoughts but dresses. Because in a self aware magical force, thoughts of blood and death would be bad. You really didn’t want that. Nor around anything from the fairy. I reviewed in my mind all my dresses, and what they’d need done to them to be really smart, and presently we were coming to a stop in front of the house in which I leased a room.
“No,” I said, as the car slowed to a stop, partly dismayed by the thought that they knew where I lived. “No.” My mind had kicked in with the other uncomfortable ideas relating to this situation. If Ardghal bloody Parthlan thought I was going to invite him up the stairs and into my room, he was out of his ever loving mind. My landlady knew of my origins, of course. I’d thought it fair to disclose it, since sometimes fairyhills do very odd things to their half breeds and the members who escape their hold. She’d endured it because I was half-elf and not elf reared. She’d told me plainly that she would not otherwise have rented to me, and I understood.
So I could just see how happy she would be with my coming in with a glittering full elf, let alone that he was a member of a hill, and that he was male, too, which my landlady had said she wouldn’t tolerate. Well, not males as such, but “no hanky panky in my house.”
“Not in my house,” I said. “There is a diner, around the corner.”
I directed him to Mike’s – which took up the bottom floor of a nearby building. He looked dubious, but whispered a work to the car which let us out, and then drove itself of, whether to park or not, I didn’t know.
Mike’s was almost deserted that time of night, and since it catered to the after-theater crowd from down the block, our party clothes went unnoticed.
Ardghal and I claimed a table in a corner and I pretended not to see him setting in place a privacy spell which would make it hard for anyone to follow our conversation.
After the waitress took our order, Ardghal looked at me and sighed. “Half elves can control the elven mounts. I know.”
I opened my mouth and he sighed again. “I should know.”