Dagen

Excerpt: The Nightward – The Lady Gretchen Sees Things Clearly

Here’s a bit more from The Nightward. Our little Queen and her protector have arrived at a Seat where they hope they will be safe.

Lady Gretchen stood a few feet from a torch as tall as Viyella herself, with Dagen on her right and the guard on her left.  None of them made a sound as they looked off into the distance and Viyella had an idea what they were staring at.  Steeling herself against the sight she had already witnessed, she stepped to the wall and stood on tip-toe.  She still could not manage to smother the gasp that immediately rose to her lips. 

What had only been an ink-blot before had grown into a massive, solid nothingness.  Not only had the High Court disappeared, but most of the grassland between it and Fairye as well.  The horizon before them was completely dark.  Tentacles so black they made the blackness of the night seem pale by comparison snaked along the sky and crawled across the land.  Heart beating, Viyella grabbed Dagen’s arm, causing him to glance down at her. 

“Viyella?” 

Behind her, she heard a low voice she recognized as Eleanor’s.  “This changes things greatly, my Lady.” 

“Indeed it does.”  The Lady made no attempt to hide her grim tone. 

She could not answer.  At that moment, one of the ropy lengths of darkness lifted away from the ground and swung a bulbous head toward her.  Her throat dried and cold, silvery feeling flowed through her veins.  A nameless compulsion made her want to throw herself, screaming, against the wall.  Instead, she hid her face against Dagen’s arm, the smell of blood and sweetgrass somehow keeping her still.  But it saw me and it will eat me.  I know it will. 

Dagen shook his arm slightly.  “Are you all right?” 

“I don’t want to see any more,” she answered still not looking up.  The cold feeling was beginning to fill her stomach now, and she felt ill.  She sensed someone kneel next to her.   

“Your Majesty, you must be brave.” 

She twisted her head.  Lady Gretchen’s clear-eyed gaze met hers.   

“It’s hurting me.” 

For the first time, the Lady touched her, smoothing her hair from her forehead.  Then she let her hand rest on Viyella’s brow.  A smell like the land on a summer’s day surrounded Viyella, and her eyes slid closed.  As if from far away, she heard Dagen ask a question. 

“Is it as you feared, my Lady?” 

Inside Viyella, the cold seemed to melt.  Warmth pushed it away like the sun’s rays on a winter morning.  With it came a memory of her mother’s smile, the smell of her perfume as she hugged Viyella.  I want Mommy.  She felt tears start to trail down her cheeks. 

“It is the Nightward.”  The hand lifted away from Viyella’s forehead and a sudden draft chilled the skin there.  “And it comes for her.” 

Have a great weekend and stay thirsty, my friends!

In Which We Meet The Heroine & Hero Of Our Tale

A bit from THE NIGHTWARD again, because I just wrote a nice section with Viyella and Dagen and thought you should all be introduced to each other. Most words of the week so far on the one day I really didn’t want to do anything. Woot for me!

He checked the rest of the balcony swiftly, but to no avail.  The Princess was not there.  He stood frowning at the top of the stairs, wondering if she’d somehow slipped past him.  No, that’s impossible.  The stairway is too narrow.  But where else could she be?   In his mind’s eye, for an endless, stomach twisting second, he saw a tiny body falling off the balcony.  He darted back to the stone ledge, warped with the cool, slick stems and slightly furry leaves of vines.  But only the faded abstract pattern of the courtyard cobbles looked up at him, red and yellow in the gathering dusk.

If she did not fall, then…     

Behind him, he heard a tiny sound–the silvery jangle of bracelets.  The little beast.  He turned, held out his right palm to the top of the stairway and circled it clockwise, muttering the counterspell Erwyn had taught him under his breath.  A thin mist filled the opening, pearl and coral strands wrapping around itself, coalescing into the tip-toeing form of the Princess.  Dagen grabbed her by the back of her vest and yanked her back, ignoring her gasp of shock.     

“The Princess will refrain from using her concealment spells in my vicinity from now on, or I will talk to the Dowager Mother about several unpleasant alternatives to her magic lessons.”     

Viyella made a little screech of disgust as he started down the stairs and clawed at his hand, kicking desperately.  “I only wanted to see the caravan!”     

“Be that as it may, you have inconvenienced the entire household, and using magic to evade your responsibilities is not something the Queen would look upon lightly.  Also, if you want to be put down any time soon, you had better stop kicking my legs.”

And now I’m off to dinner.

Stay thirsty, my friends!