Teaser: Shards of Memory, #5

I’m sitting at 36k right now, just 14k short of my 50k goal. As I wrote on Twitter earlier, things are starting to get REAL, so I have a feeling that things are going to pretty much write themselves for this last bit. (Fingers crossed. I’ve probably just jinxed myself.)

I haven’t posted a teaser in awhile, so I’ve decided to post one. It’s completely unedited, so brace yourselves:

When I reached the library later that afternoon, he was already there. I found him in the history section, staring at the shelves of books that lined the back wall. His hands were locked behind his erect back, and he didn’t move at my approach; and yet, as soon as I drew closer he said, “How much do you know about our country’s history?”

“It depends on what part of our country’s history we’re talking about,” I replied. “Some of it interests me more than others.”

“How much of our early history do you know? Specifically, the part surrounding the fate of our country’s last Queen?”

“Queen Freya? I just finished reading her journal. It sort of just…ends. She disappeared, didn’t she?”

“Yes. Paving the way for the Calypsones to take the throne, almost four hundred years ago. And ever since, the throne has passed from father to son, or brother to brother, in an unbroken line. Until now, I suppose.”

“Why is there so much of an issue with Ethan inheriting?” I asked. “He’s the King’s brother’s son, right? According to the order of succession, that’s how it should go.”

“Because the supporters of Sir Edgar – my uncle chief among them – have reason to believe that Francis Calypsone – the Count’s father – wasn’t actually the son of Henry Calypsone – which means that Francis had no place in the succession, and therefore Ethan Calypsone doesn’t, either.”

My mouth literally opened and then shut again with no sound coming out.

“I haven’t heard that at all!” I said.

“Well, of course you wouldn’t,” Mr. Orion said. “Just look at who you’ve been surrounded by your whole life – everyone has an agenda, Milady, your father especially.”

“Don’t call me that,” I snapped.

“Don’t call you what?” Mr. Orion asked.

“Milady,” I replied. “My name is Calanthe.”

Mr. Orion shrugged. “Well fine, then, Calanthe. Don’t you think any of the rumors would’ve been shielded from your precious, virgin ears?”

I glared at him. I didn’t want to believe him – it seemed too ludicrous to be true – but he’d been honest with me so far – at least to my knowledge.

“What, exactly, do the rumors say?” I asked.

“His Majesty’s mother, Queen Isabella, took a lover sometime after he was born,” Mr. Orion said. “King Henry recognized the second son as his own, but there were whispers that he was actually a bastard child.”

I’d heard about Queen Isabella in finishing school, mostly as an example of how not to behave. But I’d never heard the rumors that Ethan’s father wasn’t actually King Henry’s son.

“But King Henry recognized him,” I protested. “Why would he recognize a child who wasn’t his?”

“Who knows?” Mr. Orion replied. “But Queen Isabella was also a mage, and would have been fully capable of casting spells on her husband. What if he didn’t recognize the boy of his own free will?”

“But – it’s against the law to use magic to influence someone’s will, especially in affairs of international significance,” I hissed.

Mr. Orion chuckled. “You’re not really that naïve, are you, Calanthe?”

He was right. Just because things were illegal didn’t mean people didn’t still do them.

“Why does Freya’s disappearance interest you?” I asked.

Mr. Orion – or Vantandal, I supposed, since we were on first name terms now – took a book from the shelf and took a seat on the floor. I stared down at him and he raised his eyebrows, as though waiting for me to join him. With a sigh, I plopped down on the ground.

“Right around the time she disappeared, she married a soldier – a clandestine marriage, obviously, since there was no way she’d gain the approval of the Council to do it properly. But still, it was legally binding. And the Council wasn’t pleased when they found out.”

I remembered my dream from last night, the scene in the garden…

“They had to hurry, because he was leaving for the war again,” I mused.

Vantandal looked tired. “I had that dream last night, too. Except, I don’t think it was a dream.”

“Of course it was,” I said, although I only half-believed the words. “What else could it possibly be?”

The whole bit with Ethan’s lineage was something I was unaware of until this point, which is probably unsurprising, given how much I hate outlining. That’s definitely something I’ll be developing more when I rip this sucker to pieces.

Okay…now, back to watching everything hit the fan in my WIP. Heh.

Currently Watching: NCIS
Currently Reading: XVI by Julia Karr

Teaser Tuesday: FIRE Prologue

I haven’t posted a teaser in awhile, so this week I’m posting the prologue to my NaNo, FIRE. It’s completely unedited, so there are some interesting things going on…heh. Enjoy!

The smell of smoke filled my nostrils; the gray cloud burned my eyes. My eyes were filled with tears as I watched the scene unfold before me, the orangey flames licking at my father as he cried out in agony, being burned for a crime he didn’t commit.

The crowd surrounding the pit was dead silent, silent enough to hear a pin drop. Everyone knew my father; most of them had either been taught by him, or had children or grandchildren who had been taught by him. The very idea that he might be a warlock was absolutely ludicrous, at least to those who knew him best. On what grounds the government had to accuse, try, and execute him, none of us knew. But we also all knew better than to question this judgment, for to question the government was to forfeit your life.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, my fate was going to be tied to the government for the rest of my life – it would be my livelihood, and it would benefit both myself and my family as it was a very high-status position that I’d attained.

On the other hand – this was my father who was being burned, right before my very eyes, while I was being forced to watch. And there was absolutely nothing our precious government could do to take that away from me.

My mother stood next to me, head held high, her stiffness the only sign that she was trying to hold back tears. My eyes scanned the crowd, locking on the official who stood in the crisp uniform associated with the administration, watching my family for signs of weakness to report back to the Council later.

I imagined the Council as a bunch of stuffy old men who took pleasure in the pain of others, a bunch of sadists whose only pleasure in life was making their people – the people they claimed to protect – suffer. After all, why else would they tear families apart? I knew they were probably sitting around in whatever fancy room in the Administration Building they convened in, watching the smoke and waiting for it to recede, waiting for it to signal that the latest threat had been eliminated and that they could breathe easily again.

My family would never breathe easily again. We’d have to live our lives in our small farming community with whispers following us, rumors being spread behind our backs, black marks on our reputations while people believed terrible things about a good man without cause. They may have been shocked, yes. They may not have wanted to believe what they were being told. But believe it they would.

They always did in the end, if the government willed it to be so.

It seemed like an eternity, but my father’s screams finally died away, replaced by silence, save for the crackling of the flames, the whistling of the wind through the trees, the harsh in and out of my carefully modulated breaths.

I was numb. There was no other word to describe what I was feeling, because what I was feeling was nothing. Absolutely nothing.

What I needed to do was run. Run as fast and as far as I could, to the mountains, over the mountains, beyond the mountains. I needed to run, as fast and as far as I could, and never, ever look back.

I needed to escape.

Currently Watching: The Colbert Report

Currently Reading: The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean