Katie, aka The Daughter, arrived Tuesday for a two-week visit! She came bearing gifts:
She came with food requests:
1. Lobster for dinner one night
2. Cinnamon Ice Cream
3. La Louisane Dip (which will have a post to itself someday)
She has essential shopping to do:
She has nonessential shopping to do:
1. Anything in the greater Central Texas area, up to, but not including, jeans
So for the next two weeks there will be cooking. And mother-daughter shopping. And many, many games of Munchkin. All enhanced by the wearing of flashy socks.
As a result, this post and next week’s will feature snippets of my fantasy novel, The Space Between, coming out later this summer! Today we meet Lugo, Master of the Penitents’ Keep, as he speaks with Deirdre about Mellis, the young human woman kidnapped and taken to the Space Between by the Penitent faery tribe.
From Chapter Two: Lugo and the Sibyl—
“You really believe she’ll do?”
“Yes, I think she will.”
“We’ve been wrong before.”
“The last failure was not because we were wrong.” The speaker put a slight emphasis on “we.”
“We’ll have to guard against mistakes this time.”
“Yes. We will,” Deirdre said. Again she stressed the word a touch.
Her companion was a man. The two were in the center of a large, high-ceilinged chamber, lit only by the logs burning in the two fireplaces at opposite ends of the room. Parts of the chamber were quite dim. Shadows clung to the corners.
“Where is she now?” the man asked without much interest.
“She’s in the same room as . . . as the previous choice. Blodgett and Laurel are taking care of her.” Deirdre paused. “And of her dog.”
“Dog? She was allowed to bring a dog?”
“Well, we couldn’t just the leave the poor thing to fend for itself in the woods. Fetters and Feldspar chose to fetch the two of them together, and I think they acted rightly. The creature’s presence seems to reassure her. The befuddlement charm I used helped too, of course, and the Jerusalem roses are very soothing. She appears to be comfortable, all things considered. More so than any of the others were at first.”
“Of course she’s comfortable—how in Heaven’s name could she not be?”
Deirdre regarded him in silence.
He began to pace about the room in an aimless way, pausing at one wall to touch an enormous tapestry, one of many that decorated the room. He looked at it absently as the fingers of his right hand caressed the silk threads. On his next-to-last finger he wore a silver ring set with a smooth, dark stone freckled with rust-colored spots.
Its dull, firelit gleam caught Deirdre’s eye. Bloodstone. The martyr’s stone. She was thoughtful as her companion continued to stroke the tapestry, which depicted a great, pale reptilian beast: a white dragon. It stood rampant on its hind legs, rearing up with translucent wings spread wide, scarlet flames shooting from its yawning jaws.
“Of course. How could she not be comfortable?” Deirdre said at last in a weary voice.
“When will I see her?” He turned from the tapestry to look at Deirdre. She stood with her rough fingers interlaced, her heavy grey braid draped down her bosom.
“When do you wish to see her?”
“Oh, there’s no real hurry, I suppose. We don’t want to be too hasty. More important to be certain she’s the one.” He waved his hand in vague dismissal, brushing the subject away. The dark stone in his ring glinted. “Whenever you think she’s presentable. And ready, of course.” He turned back to the tapestry and then was struck by a thought. “How is Leucaspis, Deirdre? I haven’t heard much news of him recently.”
Deirdre looked at Lugo, Master of the Penitents’ Keep, for a few moments before answering. “About the same, I’m afraid.”
“Ah. I expected as much.” He sounded bored again—as if he’d lost interest in her reply before she had made it.
He moved away from the tapestry and paced restlessly along the wall. He stopped before a tall, rectangular mirror and turned to scrutinize himself in its face. As he did so, the pair of stunted, supernumerary legs that dangled from his left hip swung outward and flopped against his side with a soft thud. The dark silk trousers that encased them whispered as the legs rubbed limply together. Polished, pliant leather boots, the color of oxblood, covered the tiny feet. He paid them no attention, instead leaning in close to the mirror to watch himself pluck a speck of lint from his silk sleeve.
After waiting a few moments to see if Lugo would decide to speak again, Deirdre withdrew from the room.