Elf Blood, Free Novel, chapter 12
*Another short chapter. Sorry. It’s hard to ride two horses at once. I’ll speed up after New Years.*
*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.
Except for last week’s, which you can find by paging back….
“But I… why would you think I could do anything?” I asked Ardghal. “I am Un’uruh, and unlike you, I lack the … power most full elves have. I can’t see through elf glamour or elf magic. I… I couldn’t fight this battle. I’d be as helpless as the policemen if your family chose to… to cast a glamour or to confuse him.” I didn’t want to tell him, though I suspected he could read it in my look, that I felt as though I’d been pixie-led ever since he’d walked into my office.
For the first time it occurred to me to wonder whether he’d in fact cast a glamour on me, and if I’d been under it, ever since. Surely I felt like what I’d done wasn’t rational. I’d gone out to an elf hill. I’d agreed to come back with him.
But then there was the fact that I was starving and that money was its own kind of glamour. I didn’t want to go back to Mudhole.
His mouth worked. There was a long silence, as though he were trying to think of words, or perhaps to invent words to describe his predicament. Then he sighed. There was a bead of moisture on the table, either condensation or perhaps spilled from his glass. He started drawing on it with the tip of his finger. I kept a weary eye on it, because when elves draw, it could be doodling. Or it could be a spell in itself.
“Look,” he said. “I didn’t want to tell you, because you might think…” he paused and took a deep breath, as though drowning. “I mean, I know someone like you… we know something… that is… I found something of your history, and I know you’d be wary of elves and of elf magic and I…” He shrugged. “With midsummer approaching, on a cycle of the Great Sacrifice, I thought that with… that is Chara was you know, perhaps in love with my brother, or at least…” He foundered again. “I have trouble believing it, see. It’s almost impossible, though I saw it with my own eyes. My wife… We loved each other. There was no—“ He shook his head. “But I thought, if she loved him, or if she’d decided marrying him was a better way to get queenship and to… to be safe in the hill – my step mother didn’t like her, see, so I thought – anyway, I thought she might be chosen as assassin and myself as the sacrifice. So…” He liked his lips which looked dry almost to cracking, but he did not take a sip of his drink. “So I thought that I would do a casting. I went away from the hill. I know it can influence things. I went right away from the hill, and I did a casting, both for my fate at midsummer and for anyone who could bring me safety, and this is what I got–
“I got that I would be in great peril, and that you could save me. I didn’t know… I didn’t think that the death symbol that showed around the great peril was for Chara and not for myself. So I didn’t think to examine… to ask… but I did a casting, and that’s what I got. So you see…” He looked desperate and defenseless. “So you see you have to help me.”
I thought of telling him that his wife might have done her own casting, or sensed his, since she’d investigated me, but instead I chose to stay away from it, “But the most complex case I’ve investigated before this,” I told him. “Was the old lady who confused me with the fire department and hired me to bring her cat down from the tree.”
He looked surprised, but a wrinkle of amusement formed on the side of his mouth. “And did you?”
“Yes,” I waved my hand. “Elementary spell. I called it forth with a promise of tuna.”
He looked as if he were considering this. “See,’ he said. “There’s horse sense there, and I know your family… your bloodlines.”
I bristled. “I don’t have family. My mother died.”
“Yes. A great sacrifice.” He squinted. “You know, I’ve been wondering– lately I’ve wondered very much if my mother was also one.”
“What do you mean? You said she’d died in childbirth.”
“Yes, but the grand sacrifice doesn’t need to be overt murder.” He ticked off his fingers. “Why did my father call forth an elf midwife, to attend a mortal woman. You know that is not done. In fact, elves know far less of midwivery, they—We have fewer children. Also, what elves do know when they know involves magic, which can and mostly will be fatal to mortal mothers. Sometimes for difficult births, elves call human midwives…. Or kidnap them. But why an elf midwife, and why one who was the daughter of the king of a hill?” He shook his head. “And my sister was born on midsummer night.”
I opened my mouth to tell him that the whole affair seemed even more unlikely and fraught than I’d thought and the last thing I wanted was to immerse myself in it.
We’d been so busy, I’d failed to notice that men had entered the diner, men who now stood behind him, staring at him.
There was a big, burly policeman, unmistakably a policeman, from his expression, his sense of assurance and I’d have thought it was a mistake to send him after such as us – which clearly someone had – but for the aura of power around him that made him at least as magical as I. He was wearing a rumpled suit, and he hadn’t removed his hat. I wondered if it would reveal pointed ears.
“I see,” he said, in a tone of deep amusement looking us over. “That the accomplices are having a conference.” A gesture and he tore the veil of privacy that Ardghal had created. “Perhaps it’s time we found what they are saying.”