*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 2014. 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. There will be some missing, but you can find them by paging back. I need a minion to keep an up to date compilation and send it to me every Saturday night. If you’re good, you’ll get a t-shirt or something.
And sorry this is SO late. I had a weird incident this morning, and it threw me for a while.
Once I’d seen the place where I was kept prisoner for what it really was, it wasn’t difficult for me to get out of it. I mean, the shack was practically falling to bits. I could almost have walked out between some of the boards. Except that it had been set with a perimeter alarm should I try to leave.
However, further examination showed me the alarm was only set into areas bespelled to look like doorways. I wondered why then realized something. Flaithri was saving his magic force. That is, he couldn’t have the approval of his father, the king of the hill, as he was not drawing on common power, but on his own, which meant he couldn’t use too much before he rendered himself weak.
I collected hat as data, and then started towards one of the larger fissures, where I could pull the board away and walk out. But before I reached out for the board I did something else. I might be Un’uruh, but by father was an old-country elf, which meant his magic, or that portion of it which had passed on to me was stronger, and purer than the magic of city elves, which Flaithri had got from his father. Whatever he’d gotten from his mother, his magic was in fact not that far from my own.
It was something I’d never thought of. You see, I’d always thought of myself as Mother’s Daughter and no part of dad’s people. This was both because of mother’s untimely end, and because of the way the local elves had always treated me: as something someone had trailed in on his shoe, and which needed to be scraped of at all costs, and with the greatest expediency. Which meant that I was not of them because they defined me as being against them/separate from them and I accepted the definition.
But then I’d seen Ardghal, no more and no less Un’uruh than I was, and perhaps less powerful, since he had his father’s more dilute magic, and yet, he lived as an elf prince, commanded the elven steeds, and did everything the elves in my region had done. And I’d started wondering.
And now, looking at Flaithri’s defenses, I saw that I could in fact use the same power or a little more. Well, well.
So I used my power, carefully setting in some of the spells I’d learned – mostly by undoing my father’s people’s spells, in order to survive my adolescence – to make the fact I was not in this room less… obvious. Anyone coming in would see me, out the corner of his eye, just not when he turned fully. I had a feeling I wouldn’t get more than a cursory look-in for some hours, and that would do.
And then I set a do-not-trace me spell, making it as unobtrusive as possible.
Then I did reach for that half-hanging board and rip it off the wall.
I half expected some sort of magical alarm to sound or for Flaithri to come running into the room, but it didn’t happen. So I caught my breath and walked out.
Outside it was wild woods, and dark night. I sensed where my father’s hill lay, mostly to keep away from it. The “do not trace” should help there as well. No, I didn’t think Father was particularly interested in capturing me or recovering me, but midsummer was approaching and he might be looking around for a sacrifice. It wasn’t one of the mandatory years, but it was after all a way to space it further, before you had to take someone you actually cared about.
Then I found the road with mage vision and started towards it. This involved walking down a slope covered in pine needles, and made darker by the trees looming overhead.
Something large came lumbering towards me through the woods and I felt at it. Was shocked to feel the magic and mind of a unicorn, and stayed, stock still, while it approached.
It was a beautiful thing, white and shining and fugitive. The horn on the muzzle was a pure gold spiral, shining in the moonlight.
It approached and made a soft equine sound at me. Not that it looked fully equine. It was one of the creatures, like the true elves, who had survived in Atlantis when full submerged, by twisting themselves to another axis of time, and living there, until the continent had resurfaced and recovered enough they could return.
As such it was a member of an older order of creation and looked like a horse crossed with a cat.
I stood, frozen. There were many things I knew about unicorns, but perhaps the most obvious was the one veryone knew: they didn’t hurt virgins. In fact, it seemed to not be hurting me. The next sound it made was close to prrrr and I found a soft wet muzzle pressed against my palm. Its motion made me brush his horn with an electrical feel, and it widened green, slitted eyes at me.
And then, in a second, as though something internal had called it or sent it, he backed away and went running through the forest again, as not where it had come from but forward. I wondered who’d called it, as I continued my cautious way towards the road.
It was modern asphalt, well maintained, and I blinked at its solidity and modernity under the moonlight.
It looked like this was the main way out of here. That meant, if I sat out to walk along it, they would eventually catch up with me and capture me.
On the other hand, if I didn’t go on the road, I’d be even slower, and they could – with magic – find me from the surrounding forest as easily as seeing me.
So. I was stuck. Unless…
I remembered the unicorn and its reaction to me. It certainly hadn’t acted as it would have to a human maiden, which unicorns often enthralled.
I remembered Ardghal and his commanding of the elf steeds. For a virgin – for anyone really, except that unicorns were deadly for non-virgins, elf steeds were much more dangerous than unicorns. Unicorns would only attack you or enspell you. Elf steeds which you failed to command would eat you.
But Ardghal could command elf steeds, and he was no more pure elf than I was. And without transport, I would be caught and killed, anyway.
I closed my eyes. I sensed the forest around. This close to my Father’s hill there would be elf steeds. They grow wild on mountain slopes, anyway, and feed off the leakage of magic that comes from the hill. Their range is often twenty to thirty miles around the hill.
Of course they’ll ignore you – ignore most people – unless you call them, and fail to control them.
I bit my lip. I could sense wild herds nearby. I would have to call one. And hope I got only one. With my magic I sensed through, looking for a young and pliable colt.
Finding one, I called, with imperious magic, demanding he come to me.
For a moment nothing happened, and then, as though he’d been materialized out of the road and moonlight, he was there.
He was silvery white, his eyes as feline and slitted as the unicorn’s, his hide shining, his hooves pure silver on the ground, his body more what a dream horse would be than a real body, flesh and blood.
He was light and speed, and strength and enchantment not as real horses possessed them, but as humans imagined them in horses since time immemorial.
He dipped his head, not in obeisance, but rebelliously, then tossed it, throwing back his mane, and opening his mouth to show the sharp, serrated teeth of his kind.
“None of that, now,” I said, and extended my hand to him, trying not to think of withdrawing a bloody stump. Instead I thought of my ancestry, going back through the centuries in my father’s hill. They’d commanded fairy horses. And I could still.
I touched it, which was like touching the unicorn horn, all fizzle and electrical shock. “Stay,” I said. It stopped its dancing, and looked at me, slitted eyes surprised, shocked.
“Be,” I said, and thought the shape of a car at him.
Suddenly what I was touching was a low slung sports car, white and shining, and low under the moonlight. The door opened for me, and I climbed in and sat down. The interior was luxurious red leather.
The steeds weren’t physical. They never were. They simply could manifest how they wished in the physical world, in all senses and forms. They could choose how you experienced them. Or you could. I had. My beautiful steed was a very comfortable car.
I thought Pomae at him as a destination and leaned back and closed my eyes. When I got there, I thought, I’d first see the police and see what that Un’uruh detective knew that I could find out.