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Swallowing Darkness Ch2 SPOILERS!!
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(last edited Sep 19, 2008 10:06AM)
Sep 19, 2008 10:04AM
So here's Chapter 2, that a VERY nice person emailed to me. WARNING, it ends in a clifhanger, so if that's something you can't stand i would suggest waiting until the book comes out before you read it. Well....happy reading!!
Also, the first part is a bit confusing, and i think that there is a big chunk missing...but you'll get the jist.
I woke to sunlight and Galens's smiling face. His curls were very green in the light, haloed with it, so that even the pale white of his skin showed the green tin it that usually only showed when he wore a green shirt. He was the only one of my men that had short hair. The only sop to custom was a braid of hair that now trailed over his shoulder and down past the bed. I'd mourned his hair at first, but now, it was just Galen. He had been just Galen to me since I was fourteen and had first asked my father to marry me to him. It had taken me years to understand why my father said no. Galen, my sweet Galen, had no head for politics or subterfuge. In the high court of faerie you needed to be good at both.
But he had come into the Seelie Court to find me because he, like me, was good at subtle glamour. We could both change our appearances while someone was watching and stand a chance of having them see only the change we wanted. It had been the magic that had stayed with all of faerie kind, as other more seemingly powerful magic had faded.
I reached up with my hand, but the IV made me stop the motion. He leaned down and laid a soft kiss on my mouth. He was the first man that had kissed me there since I was brought into the hospital. It felt almost startling, but good. Had the others been afraid of truly kissing me? Afraid it would remind me of what my uncle had done?
I smiled for him. He'd been making me smile in spite of myself for decades.
He touched the line of my cheek as delicately as a butterfly's wing. That one small touch made me shiver, but not with fear. His smile brightened, and it made me remember why once I had loved him above all others.
"Better, but I have someone here that I think will help the smile stay." he moved so I could see the much smaller figure behind him. Gran was over a foot shorter than Galen.
She had my mother's long, wavy hair, still a deep chestnut brown even though she was several hundred years old. Her eyes were liquid and brown and traditionally lovely. The rest of her wasnt so traditional. Her face was more brownie than human, which meant she had no nose. The holes were there, but nothing else, and very little lips, so that her face seemed skeletal. Her skin was wrinkled and brown and it wasnt from age, just taking after her brownie heritage. The eyes might heave been my great-grandmother's eyes, but the hair had to be my great-grandfather's. He had been a Scottish farmer, and farmers didnt have portraits painted. I had only glimpses of Gran and my mother and aunt to see what I could see of the human side of my family.
Gran came to the edge of he bed and laid her hand over mine. "Dearie, my little dear, what ha' they done to thee?" Her eyes were shiney with unshed tears.
I moved my free hand to put over hers where it lay over the IV. "Dont cry, Gran, please."
"An' wy not?" She asked.
"Because if you do, so will I."
She gave a loud sniff and nodded briskly. "That's a good reason, Merry. If you can be this brave, so can I."
Sep 19, 2008 10:04AM
My eyes burned and my throat was suddenly tight. It was irrational, but somehow I felt safer with this tiny woman beside me than I had with my guards. They were trained to give their lives for me, and some of the finest warriors the court could boast, but I hadnt felt safe, not really. Now Gran was here, and there was still something of that childhood feeling that as long as she was with me nothing truley bad could happen. If only it were true.
"The king will suffer for this outrage, Merry. My oath on that."
The tears began to fade on a wash of pure terror. I gripped her hand tight. "I've forbidden the men to either assassinate or challenge him to a duel, Gran. You are to leave the Seelie Court alone, too."
"I am not your bodyguard to be bossed around, child." The look on her face was one I knew well; that stubborn set to her eyes, her thin shoulders. I didnt want to see it on this topic.
"No, but if you get yourself killed trying to defend my honor, that wont help me." I rose up, grabbing at her arm. "Please, Gran, I couldnt bear to lose you and know it was my fault."
"Ach, it wouldnt be your fault, Merry. It would be that ******* king."
I stared at him, and didnt try to keep the surprise off my face. Kitto was the only man in my life that ws shorter than Gran. He was four feet even, eleven inches shorter than her. But his skin was the moonlight white like mine, and his body a perfect male replica of the sidhe guards, except for th eline of glittering iridescent scales down his back, the tiny fold away fangs in his mouth, and the huge slit pupiled eyes in their sea of blue. All that proved that his father had been, or was, a snake goblin. His curling black hair, skin, and the magic that sex with me had awakened were from his mother's bloodline. But Kitto had not known either parent. His sidhe mother had left him to die at the dge of the goblin mound. He'd been saved because newborns are too small to make a good meal and sidhe flesh is valued for food among the goblins. Kitoo had been given to a female goblin to raise until he was big enough to eat, like a piglet being saved for Yule dinner. But the goblin female had come to....love him. Love him enough to keep him alive and treat him as another goblin, not as food on the hoof, as it were.
The other guards had not considered Kitto one of them. He was too weak, and though Doyle had insisted he hit the gym along with the rest so there were muscles under that white skin, Kitto would never be a true warrior.
Doyle answered the question that must have been plain on my face. "Everyone I trusted more went into the faerie mound with us. Of those we left behind, who would have understood what those two locks of hair would have meant to you, our princess? Who, but one of the men who had been with you since the beginning of this adventure? Only Nicca was left behind, and though a better warrior than Kitto, he is not stronger of will. Besides, our Nicca is soon to be a faher, and I would not involve him in our fight."
"It is his fight, too" Rhys said.
"No," Doyle said.
"If we lose and Merry does not take the throne, our enemies will kill Nicca and his soon bride to be, Biddie."
"They wouldnae dare harm a sidhe woman that carried a child inside her," Gran said.
"I think some of them would," Rhys said.
"I agree with Rhys," Galen said. "I think Cel would rather see all of faerie destroyed then lose his chance to follow his mother onto the throne."
Gran touched his arm. "Ya have grown cynical, boy."
He smiled at her but it left his green eyes cautious, almost hurt. "I've grown wise."
She turned to me. "I hate to think that any sidhe noble is so hateful, even that one."
"The last I heard from my aunt, my cousin, Cel, had plans to get me with child, and we'd rule together."
A look of disgust showed on Gran's face. "You'd die first."
"But now, Im already pregnant and it cant be his. Rhys and Galen are right; he'll kill me now if he can."
"He'll kill you before the babes are born if he can," Sholto said.
"What concern is my Merry to ya, King Sholto of the Sluagh?" Gran didnt even try to keep the suspicion out of her voice.
He moved closer to the bed, standing at the foot of it. He had let the other three men do most of the touching. I appreciated that since we were still more acquaintances than friends. "I am one of the fathers of Merry's children."
Gran looked at me. It was an unhappy, almost angry look. "I heard the rumor that the Sluagh's king would be a father, but I didnae credit it."
I nodded. "It's true."
"He cannot be kinf of the Sluagh and king of the Unseelie. He cannae sit two thrones." She sounded hostile.
Normally, I would have been more diplomatic, but the times for diplomacy was past, at least among my inner ciclr. I was pregnant with Gran's great-grandchildren; I might be seeing alot of her. I did not want her and Sholto bickering for nine months or longer.
"Why are you angry about Sholto being one of the fathers?"
Sep 19, 2008 10:05AM
It was a very blunt question, rude by any standard among the sidhe. The rules were a little less subtle among the lesser fey.
"One day of being the next queen and you would be rude to your ol' grannie?"
"I'm hoping to see alot of you while Im pregnant, but I am not going to mess with bad will between you and my lovers. Tell me why you dont like Sholto."
The look out of her lovely brown eyes was not friendly, not at all. "Did you nae wonder who struck the blow that killed your great-grandmother, my mother?"
"She died in one of the last great wars between the courts."
"Aye, but who killed her?"
I looked at Sholto. His face was its arrogant mask, but his eyes were thinking too hard. I didnt know his face as well as Rhys's or Galen's, but I was almost certain that he was thinking furiously.
"Did you kill my great-grandmother?"
"I slew many in the wars. The brownies were on the side of the Seelie Court and I was not. I, and my people, did kill brownies and other lesser fey of the Seelie Court in the wars, but whether one of them was your blood, I do not know."
"Worse then," Gran said, "you willed her and it meant nothin to ya."
"I killed many. It becomes difficult after a time to separate out the dead, one from another."
"I saw her die at his hand, Merry. He slew her and moved on as if she were nothing." There was such pain in her voice, a raw hurt that I had never heard from my grandmother.
"Which war was this?" Doyle asked, his deep voice falling into the sudden tension like a stone thrown down a well.
"It was the third call to arms," Gran Said.
"The one that started because Andais boasted her hounds could out-hunt Taranis's," Doyle said.
"So that's why its called the War of Dogs," I said.
"I do nae know why it began. The king ner'told us why we were to fight; only that to refuse was treason and death."
"Think about why the first one is called the Marriage War," Rhys said.
"That one I know," I said, "Andias offered to marry Taranis and combine the two courts after her king died in a duel."
"I cant remember any more which of them took insult first," Doyle said.
"That war was over three thousand years ago," Rhys said. "The details tend to get fuzzy after that much time."
"So all the great fey wars have been over stupid reasons?" I asked.
"Most of them," Doyle said.
"The sin of pride," Gran said.
No one argued with her. I wasnt certain that pride was a sin. We werent Christian, but pride could be a terrible thing in a society where the rules had absolute sway over their people. There was no way to say no, no way to say, isnt this a stupid reason to get our people killed? Not without getting imprisoned, or worse. That went for both courts, by the by. Though the Seelie Court was more circupspect over the centureis, so that their reputaiton among the media had always been better. Andias liked her torture or execution more public.
I looked from Gran to Sholto. His handsome face was uncertain. He tried for arrogance, but there was a flinching in his tri-yellow eyes. Was it fear in his eyes? Perhaps. I think he believed in that moment that I might cast him away, because once three thousand years ago he had slain my ancestor.
"He waded through our people as if they were so much meat, something to be cut down, so that he could get to the main fightin," Gran said with rage in her voice that Id never heard, even for the abusive ******* that had been her husband at the Seelie Court.
"Sholto is the father of your great-grandchild. Sex with him awakened the wild magic. Sex with him is what has given back the dogs and faerie animals that are appearing in the courts and among the lesser fey."
She gave me a look, such bitterness in that one look. It frightened me a little. My gentle Gran, so full of hate. "Rumor said that, too, but I didnae believe it."
"I swear by the darkness that eats all things that it is true."
She looked startled. "Ya didnae ha' to make that oath to me, Merry-girl. I would believe ya."
"I want this clear between us, Gran. I love you and I am sorry that Sholto slew your mother, my great-grandmother, in front of you, but he is not only the father of one of my children, but he is the consort that helped me bring back much fo the maginc that has returned. He is too valuable to me and to faerie to be accidentally poisoned."
"The sidhe cannae be poisoned," she said.
"Not with anything occurring in nature, no, but you've lived in the human world for decades. You know very well there are manmade poisons now. the sidhe are not proof against artificial creations. My father taught me that."
"Prince Essus was a very wise man and for a sidhe royal he was a great, great man," Gran said, and here was a ferociousness to her words. She meant them, for she had loved my father as a son, for he, more than my mother had loved me, had allowed Gran to help him raise me. But the rage in those words didnt match what she was saying, as if there were other words in her mind than those on her tongue.
"He was, but his greatness is not what is in your mind, grandmother. I see a rage in you that frightens me. The kind of rage that all the fey seem capable of, so that they will trade their lives and the lives of those who depend on them, for vengance, and pride."
"Do nae compare me to the lords and ladies of the court, Merry. I have a right to my anger, and my thoughts on it."
"Until I can trust that you are more my ally and grandmother then a vengeance-seeking daughter, I cannot have you around me."
She looked startled. "I will be with you and babes as I helped raise you."
I shook my head. "Sholto is my lover and the father of one of the children. More than that, Gran, sex with him brought back the most magic to faerie. I will not risk him to vengeance; unless you make our most sacred oath that you will not harm him in any way."
She searched my face as if thinking I must be joking. "Merry-girl, you cannae mean this. You cannae think that this monster is more to you than me?"
"Monster," I said softly.
"He has used sidhe magic to hide that he is more a monster than any a' the rest."
"What do you mean, the rest?" I asked.
She motioned at Doyle. "The Darkness kills with'ou mercy. His motherr was a hellhound, his father a phouka that bedded the ***** when in dog form. You could ha' puppies inside ya. They act as if the high lords are perfect, but they are jus' as deformed as we are; they can just hide it behind their magic better than us lesser folk."
I looked at the woman who had helped raise me as if she were a stranger because in a way, she was. Id known she resented the courts, most of the lesser fey did, but I had not known she had this prejudice inside her.
"Do you have a special grudge agaisnt Doyle, too?" I asked.
"When ya came to me, Merry, you and Galen with ya, and Barithus. Them I ha' nothin agin, but I did nae dream you would go to the Darkness. Ya feared him as a child."
"I remember," I said.
"Do ya not understand, girl, that if the queen had your father killed, who she would ha' sent to do the deed?"
Ah. "Doyle did not kill my father."
"How do ya know, Merry? Did he tell ya he didnae?"
"Doyle would not have actd without the queen's express orders, and Andais is not a good enough actress. She did not order my father, Andais's brother's, death. I watched here anger over it. It was real."
"She didnae love Essus."
"Maybe she loves only her son, but her brother meant something to her, and she did not like that he died at someone's hand. Maybe it was anger that she had not had the ordering of it. I do not know, but I do know that Andais did not order the deed done, and that Doyle would not have acted witout that order."
"But he would ha' done it, if ordered, you do believe that," Gran said.
Sep 19, 2008 10:05AM
"Of course," I said, my voice was as calm as hers was growing strident.
"He would ha' killed your father at the queen's order. He would have killed you."
"He was the queen's Darkness. I know that, Gran."
"How can ya sleep with him, then? Knowing the blood that must be on his hands?"
I tried to think how to say it so she would understand. Her reaction had caught me completely off guard. I didnt like that, and not just for the normal reasons that a granddaughter might not like her grandmother hating her husband to be. I didnt like that she had been able to hide this level of hatred from me all these eyars. It made me wondder wat else Id missed, what else shed hidden.
"I could say, simply, that I love him, Gran, but the look on your face says that wont do. He is my Darkness now. He would kill at my orders, now. He is one of the greatest warriors to ever walk the courts, and he is mine now. He is my strong right hand, my killing blow, my general. In all the courts I could not have taken a king that would have made me stronger than Doyle."
Emotions chased across her frace so quickly that I couldnt follow them all. Finally, She said,"So ya took 'im to your bed because it was good politics?"
"I took him to my bed because the Queen of Air and Darkness ordered him to my bed. I never dreamed that I could part her from her Darkness from her side."
"How do ya know that he is nae still her creature?"
"Gran," Galen said, "are you feeling all right?"
"Ne'r better. I just want Merry to see the truth."
"And what is the truth?" Galen asked, and his voice held a tone. I studied his face, but his eyes were all for Gran. It made me study her, too. Her eyes were a little wide, her lips parted, her pulse rate up. Was it just anger, or was it something else?
"They cannae be trusted, an'a of them."
"Who, Gran?" Galen asked, "Who cannot be trusted?"
"The queen's me n, girl. Ya grew up knowin' the truth of that. She must see the truth." And the last was whispered, and she had lost her accent. She was upset. The accent wouldnt lessen, not on its own.
"Did you see anyone from either court when you went to her home?" Doyle asked.
Galen actually thought about it before saying "No, I didnt see anyone." He put too much emphasis on the "see".
"What's wrong with her?" I asked, softly.
"There be nothin' wrong with me, girl" Gran said, but her eyes were a little too wild, as if the spell, for it was a spell, was growing stronger.
"Gran, you and I were buddies once," Rhys said, moving up, so that Doyle would move back out of her sight.
She frowned at him as if she were having trouble recognizing him. "Aye, you ne'r did me or mine a harm. You kept to yourself in the old days, and you were on the side of gold and dreams. You were allied to us once, white Knight." She grabbed his arm. "How can you be with them now?"
The accent was gone; the voice was almost not hers at all. "What's happening to her?" I asked. I reached out, and she reached for me, but Galen and Rhys stepped in the way, nearly knocking each other over in their haste.
"What is it?" I asked, and this time my voice raised. I could hear the monitors getting excited again. If I didnt calm down, we'd have doctors and nurses in here. We didnt need humans in the middle of what looked to be a magical attack. I tried to calm down while my grandmother tried to push past Rhys and Galen. She was trying to persuade them, as well as me, that we were on the side of evil.
Doyle's voice cut through the rising voices. "There's something in her hair, a thread, or another hair. It glows."
"I see it," Rhys siad.
"I dont," Galen said.
I couldnt se earound the two of them. I had any glimpses of Gran's long, brown arms, trying to reach past them, almost frantically.
The door opened and Dr. Masonand two nurses came in. "What the hell is going on in here?" And this time she sounded truly pissed.
I guess I coudnt blame her, but Ii also coudnt think of a way to explain. Was being pregnant making me slow to think, or was I still in shock?
"Everyone out. I mean it this time!" Dr. Mason had to shout to be heard over Gran's progressively more strident words.
Then the glass of water of the bedside table levitated slowly up into the air. It hovered there about eight inches above the tabletop. The bendable straw inside it moved a little bit from the upward movement, but the cup hovered, steady. Gran was really good at levitatting, like all brownies. She'd served me tea in china cups like this, since I was very small.
The lamp beside the cup began to rise, also. Then the water pitcher bobbled upward. The lamp got to the end of its cord and moved gently in the air like a boat moored to a dock. It was all very gentle so wy was my heart rate skyrocketing and my pulse choking me? Because brownies dont lose control of their powers. Ever. But bogarts do. Whats a bogart? A brownie gone bad. What do I mean by that? Darth Vader is still a Jedi Knight, right? The Christians still believe that Lucifer is a fallen angel, but what most people forget is that he's still an angel.
Dr. Mason had a death grip on her stethoscope again. "I dont know whats happening here, exactly, but know its up setting my patient. So it stops now or I will call security, or the police and have this room cleared." Her voice was only a little shaky as she watched the bobbing lamp and floating cup.
Sep 19, 2008 10:05AM
"Gran," Galen said, voice sounding loud in the sudden silence. She had stopped yelling. In fact, the room felt too quiet, like that hush that falls upon the world just before the heavens open up and the storm crushes the world.
"Gran," I said softly, and my voice held the panic of my pulse in it. "Please, Gran, please dont do this."
Galen and Rhys were still between her and me so I couldnt see her, but I could feel her. I could feel her magic as it spread through the room. The pen lifted out of the doctors pocket. She made a small yip sound.
Rhys said, "You told me once, Macha, that Meg went bogart because she was weak and let her anger best her. Are you weak, Macha? Will you let your anger be your master or will you be the maste of your anger?" There was more to his words than just what I could hear. There was power to his voice that was more than words. Power, magic of a sort, filled his words like the push of the tide fill the riffling of waves. Waves can be small, but there is always that sense that behind the easy froth that curls around your ankles, there is something much larger, much less gentle. So it was with Rhys's voice, simple words, but there was a feel to them that made you want to agree with them. Made you want to be reasonable. He would never have tried such a trick on another sidhe, but Gran wasnt sidhe. Try as she might, even to marrying one of the great sidhe, she was lesser, and magic that would not work on the great, might work on her.
It was both an insult from someone she thought a friend and a move of desperation because if it didnt work, then Rhys might have done the proverbial sowing the wind. I prayed to Goddess that he wouldnt reap the whirlwind.
Doyle said, "Go, doctor, go now."
She started for the door, but said over her shoulder, "Im getting the police."
Rhys kept tlaking to Gran, slow, reasonable. Doyle said, "Unless the officers can do magic, they cant help here."
Dr. Mason was at the door when the water pitcher smashed itselfto pieces so close to her head that the plastic cut her cheek. She screamed and Galen started to go to her then hesitated at the foot of the bed. He was torn between helping the woman and staying at my side. Rhys, Doyle and Sholto had no conflict. They moved up to the bed. They meant to simply shield me, I think, but Gran stepped back. I could see her now that Galen was half way to the door.
She stepped back, hands at her sides balled into fists. Her brown eyes were to wide, showing white. Her thin chest rose and fell like she'd been running. The big chair in the corner rose into the air.
"Gran, no!" I yelled, and reached out as if my outstretched hand could do something more that my voice alone could not. I had hands of power, but none I was willing to use on my grandmother.
All the small objects in the room rushed toward the threee men around the bed. Rushed toward me. But I knew that the small objects were a ruse. Throw the small then hit them with the big.
I had time to take a breath, to warn them. Then Doyle was on top of me guarding me with his body. The world was suddenly black, not from passing out, but from the fall of his midnight hair across my face.
I heard the doctor scream again. I heard unknown voices yelling from the direction of the door. Rhys yelled, "Sholto, no!"
Sep 20, 2008 01:13AM
You're soooo awesome cat thanks for puting this up here.
Sep 20, 2008 01:39AM
OH gosh I don't know if I'm glad I read it I totally want to read more now ahhhhhh!
Sep 20, 2008 08:53PM
The missing part. After "Ach, it would be that ******* king."
I shook my head, almost sitting up with all the tubes and wires tugging at me. "Please, Gran, promise me you won’t do anything foolish. You have to be around to help with the babies."
Her face softened, and she patted my hand. "So it is to be twins like they’re my own girls."
"They say twins skip a generation. I guess it’s true," I said. The door opened and the doctor and the nurse were there again.
"I told you gentlemen not to upset her," Dr. Mason said in her sternest voice.
"Ah, and it were me," Gran said. "I'm sorry, doctor, but as her grandmother, I'm a wee upset at what has happened."
The doctor must have already see Gran, because she didn’t do that double take that most humans do. She just gave Gran a stern look and waved her finger at her. "I don’t care who is doing it. If you can’t stop sending her vitals up and down and sideways, then you are going to have to leave. All of you."
"We've explained before," Doyle said, "the princess must be under guard at all times."
"There are policemen just outside this door and more of your guard."
"She can’t be alone, doctor." This from Rhys.
"Do you truly think the princess is still in danger? Here in the hospital?" she asked.
"Yes," Rhys said.
"I do," Doyle and Sholto said together.
"A powerful man with magic at his beck and call, who'd rape his own niece, might do anything," Gran said.
The doctor looked uncomfortable. "Until we have a piece of DNA to compare to the king's, we don’t have proof that it was his..." she hesitated.
"Sperm," I said for her.
She nodded and put a death grip on her stethoscope. "Very well. His sperm that we found. We have confirmed Mr. Rhys and the missing guard, Frost, as two of the donors, but we can’t confirm who the other two are yet."
"Other two," Gran said.
"It's a long story," I said. Then I thought of something. "How did you get DNA to compare for Frost?"
"Captain Doyle gave me some hair."
I looked past Gran at Doyle. "How did you just happen to have a lock of his hair with you?"
"I told you of the dream, Meredith."
"We exchanged a lock of hair between us to give to you as a token. He had mine and would have given it to you to remember me if I had been chosen. I gave a few strands of lock to the doctors for comparison."
"Where were you hiding it, Doyle? You had no pockets as a dog."
"I gave it to another guard for safe keeping. One that did not travel into the Golden Court with us."
Just by saying it that way, it meant he'd planned on the possibility of none of them surviving, but the fear was still there deep inside me. That fear of loss.
"Who did you trust to hold such a token?" I asked.
"The men I trust most are in this room," he said in that dark voice that seemed to match his color. It was the kind of voice that the night itself would use if it were male.
"Yes and by your earlier words you planned for failure as well as success. So, you left the locks of hair with someone you didn’t take inside the Golden Court."
He came to stand at the foot of the bed. Not so near to Gran. Doyle was aware that he had been the Queen's Darkness, her assassin, for centuries, and many of the folk of the court were still nervous around him. I appreciated that he gave Gran room, and I approved of him sending Galen to fetch her. I wasn’t certain there was another guard among my men that she would have trusted. The rest had been too near to enemies for too long.
I studied his dark face though I knew that his face sometimes didn’t help me at all. In the beginning, he had let his emotions show around me, but as Id come to read his face better he'd schooled that face. I knew that if he didn’t wish it, I would gain nothing from his face but the pleasure of looking at it.
"Who?" I asked.
"I left both locks of hair with Kitto."
Sep 22, 2008 01:01PM
THANKS SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH Amber!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sep 22, 2008 01:27PM
Oh Goddess!!! I hate and love that I read that!!! I just cannot wait for November!
Sep 22, 2008 08:30PM
You're totally welcome Cat.
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