Elf Blood, Free Novel, Chapter 23
*Okay, I have NOT had time to go back and reconcile the various details in the plot that contradict each other. I promise to do that this week. Last week was a blur, due to recovery from Liberty Con. So, forgive me if this sometimes reads like Atlanta Nights, and characters change names and where they were. I promise to fix that.*
*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.*
We walked along the dark streets, my mind trying to work through the events of the last two days. I’d complained often in my life in Mudhole that nothing Ever happened. This was not precisely true. Things happened, but they were predictable and usually unpleasant.
None of which meant I was happier with the crazy merry go round my life had become since I’d first seen Ardghal in my office.
As I walked through the dark streets of Pomae with the nice – was he nice? – Un’uruh officer, I found myself wondering whether the reality I’d thought supported and surrounded my life was true, or whether the truth was this other glimpsed reality, where Un’uruh were mistreated because everyone was afraid of their power, and where Un’uruh could become, at the drop of a hat, a sort of demi-god who drew from unsuspecting mortal populations.
On the one hand, my whole life, I’d been taught that Un’uruh were despised beings, not nearly as powerful as our full-elf cousins, and even they, for that matter, not nearly as powerful as the original forest elves from whom they were descended. This was because the forest elves before Atlantis sank, we were led to think, were one mind, in multiple bodies, and could therefore channel the magic of the many, the endless mind of immortals into every magical task. And the full elves still could, at will, share the mind and the magic of the hill, and were therefore more powerful than us, lowly Un’uruh.
I looked sideways at the policeman and my mind made one of the leaps my mind will make when I feel cornered and threatened. I raised my eyebrows at him. “Are you telling me,” I asked. “that this entire city is undergirded by mobs of the Un’uruh, each one competing with the other for full dominium and each one making a pretense of not existing?”
His perfect face distorted into a grimace. The chuckle that escaped through his twisted lips sounded hollow. “This city!” he said. “If only it were just this city. And the worst part,” he said. “The very worst part is not being able to tell your mortal colleagues what is really happening. They know – they think – that we are dangerous. Something in their most basic instincts tells them that. They don’t believe it, though. They think that we’re untrustworthy because we’re half elf. They think the elves are the real threat. And they feel saintly and tolerant for giving us work, we who are maimed and semi-useless elves.”
Our steps seemed to echo hollowly off the buildings, as he turned to face me. “You see, I discovered my powers…” He hesitated. “I was unusual, for the child of such a misbegotten union as we all are. Well, perhaps not as unusual as Ardghal, but unusual enough. You see, my parents fell in love, and my father, the younger child of an elf prince, escaped the hill to marry my mother and live with her. It didn’t last, of course. The hill will not tolerate runaways nor defilers of its blood, and it’s almost impossible to escape it when they can reach into your mind at any time. So, he was killed and my mother raised me, as an humble widow in one of the outlying districts of Pomae. I didn’t know I was Un’uruh, and no one found out, not even the mandatory magic scanning in elementary school. My father had, as his very last act in this world, cast a veil over my magic, before I was even born. That was to prevent his… relatives from killing my mother, and myself, at the time simply a glimmer in my mother’s eye, a potentiality in her womb. The veil held until adolescence, when I discovered my power.” He made a face. “Which is when I discovered what you have just had revealed to you. I was… I’d rather not speak of what I did in that time. Like any other young man with more power than wit, my mistakes were numerous and perhaps fell just short of crimes because I didn’t know what I was doing. But they weren’t any less monstrous for that.”
“And I found myself under the attention of … mobs is a good description for them. Associations of Un’uruh, each one wanting to suppress my individuality and to make me work for their ends. You see, what makes an Un’uruh dangerous is not the elf half. It’s the human half. Elves are predictable, even if high magic. Humans—” He shrugged.
“And so you joined the police?” I asked, not fully sure I understood the decision.
He laughed, catching my tone of doubt. “And so I joined the police,” he said. “Where I might fail, but I will at least fail in the cause of… trying to make sense out of this, our fractured polity. Where I try to keep normal people – elves and humans – safe from my kind.
Which is why this murder of yours—”
“It is not my murder!”
“This murder of yours called my attention,” he said. “You see, Ardghal is Un’uruh and it’s hard to tell how perfectly he is attached to his hill. And so are you, and you’re not attached to any hill, in any way.”